The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Ephesians, Epistle to the
EPHESIANS, Epistle to the, one of the canonical books of the New Testament. It consists of two parts, the first (ch. i. to iii. 21) being chiefly doctrinal, the second hortatory and practical. The epistle purports to have been written by the apostle Paul during his captivity. Its Pauline origin, generally recognized by the ancient church as well as by the early heretical sects, was for the first time called into question by Usteri (Entwickelung des Paulinischen Lehrbegriffs, Zurich, 1824), Schleiermacher (Einleitung in das N. T.), and DeWette (Einleitung in die kanonischen Bücher des N. T.), chiefly an account of the style of the epistle, which in their opinion shows marked peculiarities. The Tübingen school, in particular Baur (Paulus der Apostel, 1845) and Schwegler (Das nachapostolische Zeitalter, 1845), disputes its Pauline origin, on the ground that the epistle contains doctrines which are entirely foreign to the genuine Pauline epistles. According to Schwegler, it contains the principles of the Montanists, while Baur believes it to be pervaded by Gnostic views. The majority, however, even of the theologians of the liberal schools (among them Reuss, Rückert, and Schenkel), defend its authenticity. — According to the opening words, the epistle was addressed “to the saints that are in Ephesus,” but the words “in Ephesus” are omitted in the most ancient manuscripts extant (Vatican and Sinaitic codices), and appear to have been unknown to the earliest church writers. Hence some theologians, as Grotius and Paley, have adopted the opinion of Marcion that it was addressed to the church of Laodicea, and that it really is the epistle to the Laodiceans mentioned in Coloss. iv. 16, and commonly supposed to be lost. Others, as Archbishop Usher, Bleek, and probably the majority of modern exegetical writers, maintain that it was a circular letter for the use of several churches. It was formerly the common belief that the epistle was written at Rome about A. D. 57; but the opinion, first advanced by David Schulz (Studien und Kritiken, 1829), that Cæsarea has better claims than Rome, has been adopted by a considerable number of prominent theologians, as Schneckenburger, Schott, Wiggers, Thiersch, Reuss, Meyer, and Schenkel, who generally assume that it was written about 60 or 61, simultaneously with the epistle to the Colossians and Philemon. Special commentaries on this epistle have been written by Matthies(1834) and Rückert (1834). See also Bleek, Vorlesungen über die Briefe an die Kolosser, den Philemon und die Ephesier (1865).