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Authorship

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Authorship

Although the early church uniformly supported the Pauline authorship of Ephesians, many modern scholars (including the most important commentaries by Schnackenburg and Lincoln) have disputed it. They have tried instead to explain the letter as the writing of a student and admirer of Paul’s, bringing the apostle’s gospel to his own later generation. The arguments hinge largely on the issues raised above, and on alleged subtle shifts away from a Pauline perspective to a later one. The issues are too complex to deal with at length here but are summarized in the commentaries by Caird (pp. 11–29) and Foulkes (pp. 19–49). Our own position is that Paul is indeed the author, and that alleged differences from the Paul of the other letters are either misunderstandings of Ephesians (some of the important ones will be raised in the Commentary), or are to be explained in terms of the special nature and circumstances of the writing of this letter.

 Authorship

Twice in this epistle Paul referred to himself by name as the author of the book (1:1; 3:1). Yet the Pauline authorship of Ephesians has been greatly disputed in recent years. Some critics think that the book reflects aspects of vocabulary, style, and doctrine that differ from Paul’s writings. Though the book has a close affinity with Colossians, critics claim that Ephesians is uncharacteristic of Paul. They suggest that the book was pseudonymous, that is, it was written by someone who did not use his own name but who instead claimed to be Paul.

However, pseudonymity was not practiced by the early Christians. Also this book is regarded by many as the crown of all Paul’s writings. Thus it seems strange that a disciple of Paul would be greater than Paul in theological and spiritual perception. Furthermore, Ephesians was extensively and undisputably accepted in the early church as Paul’s letter. There is no strong reason for rejecting the Pauline authorship of Ephesians.

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