Ephesians Shows a Softer, More Spiritually Mature Paul
Part 3 in a series where I theorize that Paul, as he aged, showed spiritual growth and transformation, and I think that's important to note.
If you haven’t done so, I invite you to read Part 1 here—where I lay out my hypothesis—and then Part 2 where I continue to explore some of Paul’s earliest letters that reveal a man still pretty intent on “getting it right” and judging those who are different from he.
I think Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus shows a real turning point in his approach to Christianity.
We start to get a picture of a softer, more thoughtful Paul, who’s vision for humanity is more comprehensive and expansive than just those who “get it right.”
Unlike some of his other/earlier letters (eg, Galatians, Corinthians, Romans) where Paul came out guns blazing against people and ideas that differed from his own, in Ephesians there is no specific target of heresy Paul aims at. Now, this could be because there weren’t theological problems happening in the church in Ephesus, so Paul didn’t need to address them, but I’m dubious of that prospect. Ephesus was a major hub city of the day, a real cosmopolitan city with a diverse mixture of people, cultures, and ideas. I find it hard to believe there weren’t competing ideas about the Way, or following Jesus, in the area of Ephesus, similar to how it was in Corinth or Rome. And yet, as I mentioned, Paul’s letter to the church there wasn’t about calling out heretics or bringing down the fire of judgment on his theological opponents.
If you recall from the first part in this series where I provided a timeline of when Paul (likely) wrote each letter, Ephesians comes about ten years after his first letter to the Galatians. A decade is a long time. Especially if that decade is Paul aging into his 50’s, a time when people often experience a not-so-subtle maturation of their spiritual lives. A sort of mellowing out. An expanding of awareness.
A distancing from the dualistic narratives that defined many of their 20’s, 30’s (and for some into their 40’s still).
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Perspective Shift by Colby Martin to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.