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Why do some people question Paul’s authorship of Ephesians?
Student: Reggie, we do have an account, written by Luke of Paul’s ministry to the Ephesians yet some people question Paul’s authorship of the book of Ephesians. Why do they do that, it strikes me as odd? Dr. Kidd: Well, when you read Ephesians you realize that some things are a little bit different here than the way Paul customarily expresses himself. The language is more elevated. Sometimes people call it more full. For instance, in Ephesians 1:19, Paul piles up four different words for power. And if you just read the Greek and kind of get used to the way Paul expresses himself in say, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans and you read Ephesians, it just feels a little different, a little bit more elevated, and a little more exalted. Then you notice that sometimes he’ll use a similar word, or the same words, only they mean something a little bit different. Like in Colossians, he talks about the mystery as being Christ and in Ephesians mystery is Jew and Gentile being brought together.
Some ideas that seem kind of important to him in the early letters have changed. Like in the early letters, every time he uses the word “works” in the plural, he means works of the law as some sort of attempt to establish a relationship with God. Well, all of the sudden now in Ephesians, “works” in the plural gets used for what we do on the far side of salvation. In the early letters, when he talks about gifts he seems to be talking more about function in the church. And here in Ephesians, when he talks about gifts it’s more about people who are gifted for an office to help other people serve. And in the earlier letters, it’s clear that he thinks relationships ought to be worked out in a godly way. But here in Ephesians, he’s talking about ordered patterned relationships along with Colossians: fathers and children, masters and slaves, husbands and wives. And so, some folks just feel that there’s just a different hand, a different mind in view here that’s in play. Now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s to the very extent that you notice the differences. It’s a little harder for me to imagine how somebody trying to pretend to be Paul would be so different. And how much easier it would be for Paul himself to unselfconsciously to express himself differently, to speak to a particular situation.