Carson, D.A., and Douglas Moo An Introduction to the New Testament - Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. "New Testament Letters" Carson & Moo pp. 331-353
“Ephesians” Carson & Moo pp. 479-497
Carson and Moo introduce this chapter with a basic outline of Ephesians. They then discuss authorship. Traditionally Paul has been considered the author but that is disputed in recent scholarship. Support for Pauline authorship then evidence that detracts from this view is presented on pp. 480-486. In support is the claim of the letter itself s well as the personal notes. In early circulation the letter was accepted as authentic. It is full of Pauline features. The similarity of Ephesians and Colossians is used both to argue for and against authenticity. If a later author claimed Pauline authority to Ephesus, since Paul was not clearly honored in a great way in Ephesus (based on Revelation 2.1, compare 2 Peter 3.15) it would seem odd. Themes in Ephesians are very Pauline. The letter also states that Paul was a prisoner, which was a common situation in Paul’s later life. To detract from Pauline authorship, scholars claim that the theology of Ephesians is not sufficiently Pauline. It includes words not typically used by Paul. The style is different from some of Paul’s other letters, particularly in the very long sentences. Ephesians discusses ministry structure in a way which some say Paul did not see it in his other writing. Carson and Moo consider that Ephesians is genuinely Pauline and that it was written at approximately the same time as Colossians to address similar situations.
If the letter was written during Paul’s Roman imprisonment, which seems likely, it was written in the very late fifties or early sixties. The destination of the letter is more difficult, as “in Ephesus” is absent from the letter in some prominent manuscripts. It seems a little less personal than we might expect from the apostle who evangelized the Ephesians. Yet it is quite plausible that Paul would have written the letter to Ephesus with an expectation that it would circulate more broadly.
What is the purpose of the letter? It seems to have a great deal of miscellaneous instruction. We can’t identify a specific situation that would have led to its composition. Yet the predominant themes are purity and unity of hte faith.
Aside from the missing “in Ephesus” in 1.1 there are no significant variations in the manuscrpt evidence. The letter was accepted into the canon quite early.
In recent study many scholars have discussed authorship and the different themes of the text. We find the book of Ephesians very helpful in its view that salvation and life are due to divine action, beginning with Christ’s saving work, continuing with the Christian’s growth in knowledge of the grace of our Lord, and emphasizing life in conformity to God’s work in salvation. Throughout we see God as supremely gracious, bringing salvation to unworthy sinners.