Jeremy Sarber

To whom did Paul write the book of Ephesians?

Chances are, Paul intended for his letter to the Ephesians to reach churches all over Asia Minor.

Interestingly enough, the earliest manuscripts of the Bible omit Ephesus from Ephesians 1:1, Paul’s greeting to the church. But without the word Ephesus, the sentence doesn’t quite make sense. So how do we explain its absence in the earlier manuscripts?

Most likely, Paul meant for this letter to be a circular letter. He mentions Tychicus at the end. Tychicus probably first carried it to Ephesus before moving throughout Asia Minor. In the original letter, Paul probably wrote, To the saints who are in [fill in the blank]” (Eph 1:1). He intentionally left it blank so that Tychicus could insert the name of whatever church he was visiting at the time.

Colossae was another church in Asia Minor to whom Paul also wrote a letter. At the end of his letter to the Colossians, notice what he says: When this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea (Col 4:16). What letter from Laodicea? Laodicea was another church in Asia Minor, but we don’t have a letter addressed to them.

Or do we? It’s certainly possible that Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the letter from Laodicea. Moving counterclockwise from Ephesus, the next stop would be Colossae followed by Laodicea. If the Ephesian letter was moving clockwise, then it would arrive in Laodicea from Colossae, making it the letter from Laodicea.

That’s a probable theory anyhow. My point is, Paul was likely writing to Gentile believers all over Asia Minor. His words were not specific to the circumstances in Ephesus. He is teaching universal truths for all Gentile believers.