ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 227



IMMERSED IN EPHESIANS
W H I L E PA U L W A S L I V I N G A N D W O R K I N G I N E P H E S U S ,
he sent his co-
­ orkers out to start churches across the Roman province of Asia.
w
­Epaphras planted churches in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, but
Paul was arrested in Jerusalem shortly after leaving Ephesus to deliver
an offering for the poor. Paul was eventually brought to Rome and imprisoned while awaiting trial. By the time he heard about the situation
in Colosse, he had been away from the province of Asia for at least
three years.
Paul realized that by now other churches also needed advice, encouragement, and correction from him. (He likely got information about
many of them from people who came to visit and help him in Rome.)
So Paul gave his co-workers Tychicus and Onesimus a letter to read to
these churches in addition to delivering his letters to the Colossians
and to Philemon.
Today this letter is known as “Ephesians,” even though the earliest and
best copies of the letter are addressed to “God’s holy people,” not
“God’s holy people in Ephesus.” (As is the case for all of Paul’s letters,
we no longer have the original.)
Paul is apparently writing to people he has not met personally because he tells the recipients that he has only “heard of their strong faith
in the Lord Jesus.” By contrast, when he writes to the Corinthians, he
refers to “what I told you about Christ,” and he reminds the Thessalonians of how “we brought you the Good News.” In addition, the lack
of specific personal greetings at the end also indicates that Ephesians
was written for a more general audience.
Because this is a more general letter, Paul doesn’t begin by explaining his connection to the recipients as he does in other letters. Instead,
he writes a longer-than-usual opening thanksgiving, delivering a bigpicture description of everything God has accomplished through Christ.
The Good News is the revelation of how God has brought his
long-term plan to fulfillment. God is one, and he intends to unify all
things under the authority of Christ. Paul’s prayer is for the believers’
­understanding—that they would know the great scope of God’s work
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