Ephesians displays a well‐developed theology of the church. The four major epistles of Paul (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians) are all addressed to specific congregations in various important locations in the Greco‐Roman world. Ephesians envisions not a single congregation but the universal church seen as a spiritual reality entrusted with the worldwide mission of Christ. Here the word “church” (ekklesia) acquires that new meaning of universal reality.
There are significant parallels between Ephesians and Colossians. The advanced Christology and ecclesiology, the apparent absence of Jewish‐Gentile tensions, and, finally, the unusual vocabulary unique to these two epistles among the Pauline letters prompt many interpreters to assert that Ephesians and Colossians were written in an era after the death of Paul. If that is the case, the disciple who wrote these letters was familiar with Pauline theology and style and adapted Paul's message to new times and circumstances. In our comments we will follow the usual practice of referring to the author of Ephesians and the other “Deutero‐Pauline” writings (see “Paul and His Writings,” RG 439–40 ) as “Paul,” all the while keeping in mind that nearly all Pauline scholars think of Ephesians as not from Paul himself, and a majority think the same of Colossians.