Ephesians 4

The Call to Christian Living

Mamertine Prison

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord . . . (Ephesians 4:1)

It is noteworthy that Paul does not refer to himself as the prisoner of the Romans, but as a prisoner of the Lord. The Mamertine Prison is the traditional location of Paul’s second Roman imprisonment. During Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, when this letter was written, Paul was held under house arrest (Acts 28:30).

A Constructed Unity

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope (Ephesians 4:4).

The emphasis of Paul’s statement here is unity that is so complete that it appears to be a single entity. The Greeks and Romans often constructed pillars using a set of stacked stone drums. In their original state these columns gave the impression of being a single, carved pillar. The column shown here has clearly fallen and been restacked, so the individual parts making up the column are clearly visible.

The Church as a Body

From whom all the body, being fitted and held together through that which every joint supplies (Ephesians 4:16).

Paul uses the metaphor of a human body, composed of many different bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, etc., to describe the way in which believers ought to work together. This bronze statue of a boxer gives evidence that its sculptor had a good knowledge of human anatomy, including various muscles and tendons that held together the various joints. This statue dates to 100 BC and was discovered on the Via IV Novembre on the Quirinal slopes in Rome.

Hard Hearts

Because of the hardness of their heart (Ephesians 4:18).

Paul’s reference to the hardness of heart of the Gentiles echoes the words of Zechariah, who compared the hearts of the disobedient Israelites to flint (Zech 7:12). Flint was used extensively in cultures before Greece and Rome, as it could be shaped into sharp objects that could be used as knives, arrowheads, and cutting edges for sickles. However, by Paul’s day very little use was made of flint since it had largely been replaced by iron and other metals. At the same time, Paul (and perhaps his audience) would have been aware of the hardness of the stone; with his training in the Old Testament, Paul would have been well acquainted with Zechariah’s metaphor (cf. Isa 50:7; Ezek 3:9). This flint nodule was photographed at the Museum of Yarmukian Culture at Kibbutz Shaar HaGolan.

Stories of Theft

Let the one who steals, steal no longer (Ephesians 4:28).

Greco-Roman mythology was filled with accounts of trickery and theft. One of the well-known examples is that of the temple robber Diomedes, who stole an idol known as the Palladium (= Palladion) during the legendary Trojan War (which was believed to date over a millennia before Paul’s time). The Roman story is related in Virgil’s Aeneid and in other works. This cup depicts that scene.

Roman Seals

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

The word “sealed” (Gk. sphragizō) refers to marking something with a seal as a means of identification. One of the more common kinds of seals used in the Roman world may be found on clay roof tiles from Roman military camps. Such tiles were stamped by the legion that was responsible for making them. The example shown here was stamped by the Tenth Legion Fretensis, which is known to have operated from as early as 40 BC and to have continued through the early part of the 5th century AD. This tile was found in Jerusalem, which was occupied by the Tenth Legion following the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in AD 135.

Purchase the Collection:

Ephesians (Photo Companion to the Bible)

FREE Shipping plus Immediate Download