For the past few months, I've being doing the weekly devotionals for SEA. I figured since I write these anyway, I'll start including them in my blog. To some degree, they are a weekly practice in both exegeting and translation, though more the latter.
I waited until I was done with the book I was doing so I'll start here with a fresh book. I gave the matter some thought. Eventually I settled on the book of Ephesians because I love its ecclesiology. In my mind, I've nicknamed Ephesians "the epistle of unity", much as I think of Philippians as "the epistle of joy" or I Corinthians as "the epistle of discipline".
The occasion of Ephesians is linked to Colossians and Philemon since all three were dispatched with Tychicus at the same time. This can be seen by the presence of Onesimus in both Colossians and Philemon, and on the structurally similarities between Ephesians and Colossians. Colossi and Ephesus are also linked since they, along with Laodicea, which together formed a triad of sister cities. They were very close together, and therefore interacted with each other regularly. Out of these, Ephesus was the most important city (indeed, it was at times the most important city in the empire) and was thus the head of region. (All this data I received from lectures from Dr. Wayne McCowan at Northeastern Seminary)
What is relevant for the book of Ephesians is that this book is probably the least occasional letter in the canon. Indeed, the occasion seems to be a generalization of the much of the message of Colossians. It's as if the writing of Colossians gave him some thoughts of things to write to the population in general. Indeed, this is my understanding of the letter, and that it was given to Ephesians as the head of the reason for the distribution of the letter throughout the region (we see this overall practice described at the end in Colossians 4:16). This is merely theory of course, but it would explain the lack of occasion found in the letter.
It still is addressing concerns for the time though, as the principle issue is the relationship between the Church and the Jews, and proper Church life. These were major questions at the time. The Jewish Christians were confused as to why more Jews weren't being saved (see Romans) while the Gentile Christians were more confused about what precisely their relationship was to the Jews. Being a letter to Gentiles, this is mostly what the first couple of chapters of Ephesians is about as we shall see.
So join me as we go through this beautiful epistle as we explore Paul's heart for the church.