Queen of the Epistles

The epistle to the Ephesians was written and sent as a circulating letter throughout the Asian congregations Paul planted, of which Ephesus was one. In the other epistles written by Paul, we see a pattern of him extending personal greetings to people he knows. Ephesians is the most impersonal letter written by Paul. There is almost no personal greeting, and it does not address any specific local issues, as in his other letters. In two places Paul mentions that he has not met some of his audience, but only heard of their faith (Eph 1:15; 3:2).

When we look at the original manuscripts in Greek, we see a different introduction than most modern translations give us. The first verse in the original goes like this: Paul, To the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus. There is no mention of the city of Ephesus. In verse two, Paul, like in all of his letters greets his readers with the words – grace and peace. Grace in Greek is charis and was a common greeting among the Greek speaking world, just like peace – shalom in Hebrew is the common greeting among Hebrew speakers. Paul is writing both to Jews and Gentiles.

Paul wrote this letter at the end of his life while under confinement in Rome. Paul uses seventy words that he does not use in any other letter. He had fewer distractions, was not traveling and had much more time to think in prison. This explains why many scholars refer to this letter as the “Queen of the Epistles” because of its high and expressive language. In the first chapter Paul writes one sentence that goes on for ten verses (3-10)! I imagine that, after years of obedience, intimacy and supernatural encounters with God, Paul is bubbling over with excitement and worship as he carefully writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Romans may be known as Paul’s systematic theology, but in this letter Paul pens the highest and weightiest revelations. Understanding the background of this epistle as a circulating letter to be read by all and its emphasis on the relationship Jews and Gentiles have in Yeshua – makes this book a clear handbook for unity and preparation for Yeshua’s return. Let us return to this epistle regularly for our thoughts to be elevated, purified and set in right order so that we would be holy and without blame before Him in love!

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, November 27, 2015.