How could Paul write that he “heard” of the Ephesians’ faith?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Ephesians 1:15 says: “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,….” This verse baffles some Bible students. How was it possible that Paul “heard” of the Ephesians’ faith in Christ and their love to all the saints? Did not Paul himself personally evangelize and minister to these Christians? Why does it seem like he has never met them?

Paul visited Ephesus in Acts chapter 19, about eight years prior to writing the Book of Ephesians. He spent three months teaching in the synagogue of Ephesus, followed by an additional two years in Ephesus. Luke writes in Acts chapter 19: “[8] And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. [9] But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. [10] And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”

From Acts 20:31, we learn Paul spent three years total preaching and teaching in Ephesus. Luke’s records in Acts are clear that Paul was there in Ephesus to preach to and lead these idol worshippers to faith in Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins. He personally saw them get saved and he personally taught them the principles of grace. Fast-forward to the end of Acts.

Paul is writing the Epistle to the Ephesians during the two-year “prison” (technically, house arrest) period of Acts 28:30-31 (cf. Acts 28:16). It has been five years since he departed Ephesus, and some three years since meeting with the Ephesian elders (church leaders) in Acts 20:17-38 in Miletus. During those years while Paul was absent from Ephesus, additional Ephesians have came to faith in Christ. News about their salvation has reached him in Rome. Tidings about the older Ephesians Christians have also gotten his attention.

Firstly, Ephesians 1:15 is the Apostle talking directly to the new converts in Ephesus, those whom his converts evangelized after he left Ephesus. Secondly, those whom Paul personally converted in Ephesus have grown in those years since he saw them and taught them face-to-face. He rejoices that they are growing in the Scriptures and maturing in Christian charity. Simple!

Also see:
» Why does 1 Corinthians 9:6 mention Barnabas, when he did not travel to Corinth with Paul?
» Why are Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradictory?
» What about those who have not heard about Jesus Christ?