EPHESIANS - Introduction.
EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL, THE APOSTLE,
TO THE EPHESIANS.
Ephesus was a famous city, the metropolis of Asia Minor, upon the Ęgean
Sea, now called the Archipelago. In it was the temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the world. St. Paul had staid
there two years, and preached another year thereabouts. See Acts xx. The chief design of this Epistle was to hinder the Ephesians,
and others in the neighbouring cities, from being seduced by false teachers, who were come among them. In the first three
chapters he extols the grace of God, in mercifully calling the Gentiles. It was written when St. Paul was a prisoner; (see
Chap. iv. 1. and vi. 20.) but whether during his first imprisonment, at Rome, an. 62[A.D. 62], or in the latter imprisonment,
as others judge about an. 65, is uncertain. (Witham) ---Ephesus was the capital of Lesser Asia, and celebrated for the temple
of Diana, to which the most part of the people of the East went frequently to worship. But St. Paul having preached the gospel
there for two years the first time, and afterwards for about a year, converted many. He wrote this Epistle to them when he
was a prisoner at Rome, and sent it by Tychicus. He admonishes them to hold firmly the faith which they had received; and
warns them, and also those of the neighbouring cities, against the sophistry of philosophers and the doctrine of false teachers,
who were come among them. The matters of faith contained in this Epistle, are exceedingly sublime, and consequently very difficult
to be understood. It was written about twenty-nine years after our Lord's ascension. (Challoner) --- Ephesus was the chief
city in Asia Minor, much given to superstitions, and not less to debauchery and libertinism. In it was the famous temple of
Diana. St. Paul had preached in this place three years; (Acts xx.) so that all, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of
the Lord, till he was driven away by Demetrius, the silversmith. At his departure, he left Timothy (1 Timothy i.) to maintain
the purity of the gospel, and preserve them from the fables, which St. Paul had warned the Ephesians, would be introduced
among them by rapacious wolves, and men talking perversely, to lead disciples after them. The Gentile converts held fast to
the doctrines they had received form St. Paul: the Jews were the chief innovators. To the former the apostle writes this Epistle,
praising their steadfastness, and instructing them more fully in the hidden mysteries of faith, viz. redemption, justification,
call of the Gentiles, predestination, and the glorification of Christ, and his body, the Church.
In the fourth, and succeeding chapters, he exhorts them to the practice of morality, and to fulfill their respective duties
of parents, children, masters, servants, &c. and finally reminds all the soldiers of Christ, to be armed with spiritual
weapons against all the assaults of the devil. St. Jerome observes that this Epistle, especially the first three chapters,
are intricate and difficult; probably owing to the sublimity of the subject. The last three contain the most interesting morality.
(Estius. passim.) See also Acts xviii. 19. and following and Acts xix. 1. and following. --- When Cardinal Pole was consulted
by what method the obscure passages of St. Paul's Epistles could be best unfolded, he replied: Let the reader begin with the
latter part, where the apostle treats of morality, and practise that which is delivered there; and then let him go back to
the beginning, where points of doctrine are discussed with great acuteness and subtilty.