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Introduction to Bible LiteratureIntroduction to Bible Literature

This paper closely examines the Ephesians. It seeks to unravel the following historical information: Authorship, date, occasion and purpose, origin and destination. It also seeks to answer literary questions regarding to the genre, outline of the book, the major and minor themes as well as the critical issues. Author The book begins by identifying its author as Paul the apostle (Ephesians 1:1). There are other early sources such s Irenaeus (200 AD) that attribute this epistle to the apostle Paul. Date

The epistle is one of the four letters believed to have been written while Paul was in prison (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1 and 6:20). Paul was imprisoned in Rome around 61-63 AD and it is around this time that these letters are believed to have been written. Occasion and Purpose This epistle was not written to address a specific problem in the church. It was more to encourage as well as to call the Christians to continue living in hope of a better life to come. Paul sought to explain a few truths so that the Christians could know how and why they were to imitate Christ.

Paul touched on themes that regard to the Christian’s position in Christ. As heirs to the promise that is through Jesus Paul wanted the Christians to be fully aware of their high position. Origin and Destination The epistle is based on the relationship that Paul had with the church in Ephesus. Paul had an encounter with the people of Ephesus when he was coming back from his second missionary journey. The people he talked to asked him to come back which he did. He established the church in Ephesus and stayed there for 3 years preaching.

This letter was written with a caring spiritual leader’s intent to strengthen the Christians. The epistle is believed to have been written to the saints at Ephesus. However certain consideration cast doubt on the correctness of this assertion. (i) The impersonal tone in the book does not reflect on the three years that Paul spent with the community. He does not seem to address any particular challenge. (ii) Paul is writing to a gentile audience while Acts 18, 19: 19, 8 suggests a strong presence of Jesus interested in the Christian faith.

(iii) In contrast to many other letters by Paul there are no greetings in the Ephesians from Paul’s companions even though both Timothy and Aristarchus were personally known to the Ephesians. These considerations have led to the belief that the destination of the epistle was to a group of communities which were close to each other as well as near Ephesus (Wikenhauser, A. (1958). Genre The literary form of Ephesians is an epistle. Outline. The outline of Ephesians contains 1:1, 2 Greetings and authors introduction

1:3-2:10 Description of the blessings that are at the disposal of Christians-the chosen of God. Paul also describes how those blessings are attained and the kind of relationship that exists between the Christians and God. In this chapter we are allowed a glimpse into the love with which the book is written through the author’s prayer. Doctrinal. 2:11-3:21 Gentiles are the children of God as much s the Jews and any other people. Before Christ the gentiles were far from God but through Jesus they have gained access to salvation (2, 13) (2, 19).

The mystery of the gentiles admission into the family of God has been revealed to apostles and Paul has been designated the bearer of the message to them. Moral. Chapter 4:1-6:9 Here is Paul’s exhortation to the Christians to live a life that is worth of the calling they have received (4:1). 1. They were to preserve the unity of the spirit throughout the Christian family in the midst of diversity. 2. The gentiles were not to continue in their old life but were to put off the old self (4, 22). 3. Exhortation to Christian households calling all members of the family to live right (6:10-20).

4. Exhortation to be ready to resist the devil by putting on the “armor of God”. This is spiritual warfare. 5. 6:21 Final Greetings. Major Themes 1. Spiritual blessings. Many Christians expected worldly blessings but Paul introduces the true blessings in the heavenly realms. 2. Unity in Christ. Since the Christians had now joined the family of God, they were now to preserve the unity and become like-minded. This is an important theme even today since the church ahs a tendency of each member doing their own thing. 3. Christian living.

Paul calls the Christians to a way of life that is worthy of the name. Christians should live a life that glorifies God so that they do not associate the name of God with ungodly living. 4. Grace and Peace 5. Christ’s exaltation Minor themes 1. Implications for the church. The church needed to be reminded that it served a risen but also a ruling Christ who is Lord over all. This Lord gives authority to the church to act according to His will. 2. Gifts. In Ephesians it is clear throughout that God has given Christians so much apart from spiritual blessings.

Christians are given forgiveness of sins (1,7), Grace (1,8), the Holy Spirit (1,13), given life (2,5), given access to the Father (2,18). All this God ahs given to the Christians. 3. Hope in Christ. Critical Issues As mentioned earlier there exist some critical issues concerning the authorship, the audience, the time. Some critics argue that the epistle is so dissimilar with the rest of the Pauline epistles that it could not have been written by Paul. The unusual diction and the hymns and liturgical materials are considered as odd for a Pauline letter.

Additionally, the impersonal tone, the generalization in Ephesians is seen as an indication that the letter may have been written to a congregation not personally known to Paul. The direct reference to a gentile audience suggests that it was written to a predominantly Gentile church.

References

The Holy Bible. New International Version. The Epistle to the Ephesians. Wikenhauser, A. (1958). New Testament Introduction (Cunningham, J. , Trans. ). New York: Herder and Herder. Retrieved April 25, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=94481001

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