He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:9-10
Paul was known to have midnight prayer meetings and songfests (Acts 16:25). He also probably wrote at all hours of the night when inspired, even chained to a prison guard. At such times, he considered himself an “ambassador in chains” and asked for prayers that he could boldly present the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:20), whether to people from outside the prison or to his guards.
Ephesians is one of the four prison epistles. Some modern scholars question the authorship because the book is somewhat different from Paul’s other epistles in which he addressed specific problems and mentioned specific people. Also, some of the earliest manuscripts of this epistle had a blank line where the others had the words, “to the Ephesians.” The epistle was probably meant to be circulated among the churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3, Ephesus being the first.
In Ephesians, Paul described invisible, spiritual kingdoms—good and evil ones. To help us picture these kingdoms and our calling, he used four images: a body with Christ as the head (1:22-23), a temple (2:21-22), a mystery (3:8-11), a new creation (4:21-24), a bride (5:25-27), and a soldier (6:10-18).
The book also includes practical—but not necessarily easy to follow—teaching on living as “children of the Light.” Paul gives specific advice to wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves and masters, bosses and employees (4:17-6:9).
Ephesians begins by describing God’s love given to us in the One He loves (1:5-6); it ends with a blessing of grace to all “who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (6:24). The book begins with our blessings in heavenly places; it ends with our struggle with evil forces in the heavenly realms. Wearing the armor supplied by God, we can become the loving servants and the valiant soldiers God wants us to be (6:10-18).