Ephesus was a large seaport. The people there worshipped
many idols, the most important being the goddess Diana (called
Artemis by the Greeks). The temple of Diana was one of the
"seven wonders of the world". Local silversmiths
made and sold many images of the goddess. When they saw many
people becoming Christians, following the Apostle Paul's preaching
there, they started a riot.
The people who became Christians at Ephesus included many
who had previously practised magic. They brought all their
books together and burned them publicly.
Even after the uproar had ceased, it was still dangerous
to be a Christian in Ephesus. Paul stayed there for 3 years
helping to establish a "church" (assembly of Christians).
The Epistle (letter) to the Ephesians was written by Paul
from Rome during the 2 years in which he was awaiting trial
before the Emperor. Copies of the letter were probably made
and taken to other churches.
The main theme of the letter is unity. Paul write
of the wonderful way in which God has planned from the beginning
that He and His people would be one. Gentiles, as well
as Jews, were called to be God's people, made one "church"
in Christ. He likens the people of God to a temple (much better
than the temple of Diana!) built on "the foundation of
the apostles and prophets" with Jesus as the cornerstone,
holding everything together (4:4-6).
The Church is also likened to a body - with Christ
as the Head and others being the various parts. There is only
one body - with one true set of beliefs (chapter 2).
Chapter 5 reminds us of the way a Christian is joined to
Christ and that husbands and wives should also show love and
understanding. Marriage is intended as a pattern of
Christ's love for the Church.
Chapter 6 contains advice to parents and children, masters
and slaves. Obedience is something we need to learn in life,
so that we can also be obedient to God.
Finally, Paul gives details of the "armour" needed
by the Christian if his own life and that of the Church is
to be preserved. The Roman soldier guarding Paul would have
been dressed in his armour.