Winger, Thomas M. "Introduction: Authorship." Ephesians. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014, 21-77.
Since the 18th century, scholarship has brought Ephesians from universal acceptance as a Pauline letter onto a battleground where the authorship is disputed (Winger 2014, 22). Winger does not consider questions of authorship problematic by nature. However, as the apostolic authors sought to identify themselves to the recipients of their writings, it is important that we pursue the correct understanding of who the author was and what his concerns were (Winger 2014, 23). Interpretation is thus bound to the question of authorship.
Winger moves on to consider the case for Pauline authorship of Ephesians (Winger 2014, 25). The self-identification in the opening is in accord with the usage which is agreed to be Pauline. He identifies himself again in 3:1 as a "prisoner" in accord with Acts 21:27-28. His presentation of himself and of the Ephesians is consistent with other information we know. Other early Christian works uniformly identified Ephesians as a work of Paul (Winger 2014, 26). Further, early writings used the concepts and even wording of Ephesians as authoritative text, as illustrated on pp. 28-31 with extensive parallel quotations.
Winger next turns to the case against Pauline authorship (Winger 2014, 33). The move against Pauline authorship began in the very late 1700s and early 1800s. The arguments are admittedly piecemeal and work out only based on a cumulative effect. According to Winger, critics of Pauline authorship resist evaluation of their arguments one point at a time (Winger 2014, 33).
The style of writing in Ephesians is more ponderous than that of Galatians and Romans. There is a high frequency of long sentences, often characterized by lengthy periodic elements (Winger 2014, 34).
The vocabulary of Ephesians, while it is different from that of the New Testament as a whole, is also significantly different from the undisputed letters of Paul (Winger 2014, 37-38). The vocabulary is more similar to that of the Pastorals. Since those are considered to be of doubtful authorship by some in the scholarly community, Ephesians is as well. Winger considers this "a fragile house of cards" (Winger 2014, 37).
The thought and theology of Ephesians are also considered suspect by some. Ephesians takes a high view of the work of apostles (2:20) while 1 Corinthians makes a point of exalting Christ rather than his apostles and prophets (Winger 2014, 38). As to ecclesiology, Ephesians tends to focus on the church rather than Christ as the head. The relationship of Jews and Gentiles seems well settled. References to "church" are to the universal body, as opposed to a local instance, as we find in the other letters (Winger 2014, 39). As to Christology Ephesians typically looks not to justification and the cross but rather to the glorification of Christ and the resurrection to come (Winger 2014, 40). Baur and some others have suggested Ephesians in use of language about "mystery" places it as post-apostolic and a product of early Gnostic belief. Winger does not consider this to be a significant current trend (Winger 2014, 40). The expectation of a life of good works shown in Ephesians may be seen as contrasting to Paul's position of salvation by grace alone in Romans (Winger 2014, 41). Christ's nullification of the Law (2:15) is in tension with Romans 3:31, where Paul affirms the Law. Paul often speaks of salvation in the future, while in Ephesians it is a present reality. Some scholars take Ephesians' creedal formula (4:4-6) and view of baptism as a development too late for Paul (Winger 2014, 42). Rather than a sharp dividing line of tension between the present and future aspect of salvation, Ephesians may take less of an interest in immediate eschatological hope. This is normally viewed as a later theological development. The overall picture is that of the beginning of a broad, catholic understanding of the Christian life, which may have been a development later than Paul (Winger 2014, 42-43). Finally, both the distinctive nature of Ephesians and its striking similarity to Colossians have cast doubt on the authorship (Winger 2014, 44-45).
Winger steps through the arguments of the case against Paul one at a time, raising challenges (Winger 2014, 47ff). In terms of style and vocabulary, the structure is very like the acknowledged letters of Paul, though the sentence structure is more intricate than we normally see. There is not enough Pauline material to evaluate the matter scientifically (Winger 2014, 48). The specific vocabulary is not highly unusual. Winger further notes that within about 50 years we see other examples of the same words in use. This is not long enough to assume major changes in regional vocabulary usage (Winger 2014, 49). The relatively complex style of Ephesians suggests a "liturgical" concern to Winger. The stress on prayer, the doxologies, and the creedal statements lend themselves to a context in which the more elevated language is appropriate (Winger 2014, 53). The rhetorical elements used may also have been related to the known audience and their customs. Winger notes that Ephesus had its own dialectic customs, that Paul had been in Ephesus for several years, and that the rhetorical style matches that of 1 Timothy, addressed to the pastor at Ephesus (Winger 2014, 54-55_. As to doctrine and thought, Winger observes that Schnackenburg argues for much of the New Testament to be relatively late due to time needed for development of theological concepts (Winger 2014, 55). Winger addresses these distinctives in some detail. Each decreases or disappears in its significance under scrutiny. We leave to the student the detailed evaluations (Winger 2014, 55-68 passim). They serve not only to address the issues at hand, but also as an example of fair scholarly interaction with sources and ideas.
Winger freely admits the close relationship between Ephesians and "its fraternal twin, Colossians" (Winger 2014, 68). There is some question about whether the two letters use the concepts of headship (Winger 2014, 68), mystery, and stewardship in the same way (Winger 2014, 69). Winger examines the terms as used in context, concluding that the concepts in the two letters are managed in similar ways. The differences are primarily required by the variety of referents elsewhere in the sentences.
The final issue Winger considers in terms of authorship is whether Ephesians would be an example of pseudepigraphy (Winger 2014, 71). Writings claiming authorship by a respected master in a field were not uncommon in late antiquity, and Winger observes that the practice was not necessarily looked down upon (Winger 2014, 72). However, for the most part, pseudonymity was recognized and not considered to have the authority of a work by the actual named author. Ephesians makes a clear claim to be written by Paul himself. Paul does warn (2 Thessalonians 2:2) against letters claiming to be by Paul (Winger 2014, 74). However, Ephesians was weighed by the same early Christians who were warned against and effectively rejected some writings. It is reasonable to believe the evaluation was done with care (Winger 2014, 75). Ephesians was early and consistently recognized to bear the authority of Paul the apostle.