This question was asked in April 2016: What arguments are given that Ephesians was not written by Paul?

One answer said the letter was written by Tychicus, to the Ephesians, and he wrote it in Rome. This reference was provided:

Written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus. Ephesians 6:24 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/eph.6.24.KJV

My KJV does not actually say that. Here are four relevant verses from Ephesians:

KJV Ephesians1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus...”

KJV Ephesians 6:21-22: “But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.”

KJV Ephesians 6:24: “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”

What I would like to know is what arguments support the view that Ephesians WAS written by Paul?

  • 2
    +1 Marvellous question. Could I give a Catholic perspective on this subject matter?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 18:25
  • 2
    1. The first word of the Greek text says 'Paul'. 2. The entire content is as Pauline as one can get.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 4:43
  • 1
    @KenGraham - By all means.
    – Lesley
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 7:50
  • 1
    All 61 of the following translations have the word Paul or a different transliteration of Paul in the first phrase of Ephesians 1. Including KJV and Authorized KJV. biblegateway.com/verse/en/Ephesians%201:1 Also, the tradition in Roman times was to write your name in the first sentence. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle#Opening Finally, the reference to Tychicus, makes much more sense as a direct address, as in "I write this comment to you, Lesley, hoping you'll read it."
    – nickalh
    Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 1:30

5 Answers 5


There are three considerations.

Paul Says He Wrote It

The Epistle Eph 1:1 says it is written by Paul.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

The Early Church Believed Paul Wrote It

Furthermore, the early church believed it was written by Paul. (emphasis mine throughout)

The earliest mention that Paul wrote Ephesians comes from the Muratorian Fragment.

It is necessary (47) for us to discuss these one by one, since the blessed (48) apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor (49-50) John, writes by name to only seven churches in the following sequence: To the Corinthians (51) first, to the Ephesians second, to the Philippians third, (52) to the Colossians fourth, to the Galatians fifth, (53) to the Thessalonians sixth, to the Romans (54-5) seventh.

About the same time, Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the apostle John wrote these things.

  1. Just as if any one, being an apostate, and seizing in a hostile manner another man’s territory, should harass the inhabitants of it, in order that he might claim for himself the glory of a king among those ignorant of his apostasy and robbery; so likewise also the devil, being one among those angels who are placed over the spirit of the air, as the Apostle Paul has declared in his Epistle to the Ephesians,4662 becoming envious of man, was rendered an apostate from the divine law: for envy is a thing foreign to God. -Irenaeus, AH, Book 5, Chapter 24-

even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that “we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.” -ibid, Chapter 2-

Likewise, Eusebius gives this assurance.

  1. Paul’s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed.593 -Eusebius, CH, Book III, Chapter 3-

The pertinent part of footnote -593- is shown next.

593 The thirteen Pauline Epistles of our present Canon, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. These formed for Eusebius an absolutely undisputed part of the Canon (cf. chap. 25, below, where he speaks of them with the same complete assurance), and were universally accepted until the present century. The external testimony for all of them is ample, going back (the Pastoral Epistles excepted) to the early part of the second century. The Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians have never been disputed (except by an individual here and there, especially during the last few years in Holland), even the Tübingen School accepting them as genuine works of Paul. The other epistles have not fared so well. The genuineness of Ephesians was first questioned by Usteri in 1824 and De Wette in 1826, and the Tübingen School rejected it. Scholars are at present greatly divided; the majority of negative critics reject it, while many liberal and all conservative scholars defend it.

The KJV Footnote Explanation

In regard to the footnote in KJV that says The following was added by editors of the KJV: To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.

It would appear not as an argument that Tychicus wrote the letter, but rather that he delivered the letter.

This is similar as the added piece regarding Onesimus in Colossians. The footnote reads, The following was added by editors of the KJV: Written from Rome to Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus. Yet, the last verse in Colossians 4:18 clearly says Paul wrote the letter.

In other words, Paul wrote both epistles (and the others), yet he employed letter carriers.


Good reasons for accepting that Paul the apostle, formerly Saul of Tarshish, wrote the epistle known to us as the Ephesian epistle.

    1. The first word of the Greek text says 'Paul'.
    1. The entire content is as Pauline as one can get, cf Colossians, Romans and Galatians particularly but also both Thessalonian epistles, both Corinthian epistles and Philippians ; and not forgetting Philemon also.
    1. Textual Critics of such massive lifelong achievement (far beyond anything that a common Christian, employed in a job and routinely working in business could ever hope to rise to) with undeniable Christian piety and devotion to the word of God (well above what is seen normally) as Dean John Burgon, Herman Hoskier and Robert Young attest to the authorship. The witness of such must surely bear significant weight with sincere Christians. As does the witness of such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and many, many others who spent their lives studying and ministering from the word of God.

One important detail to clarify, given your comment that your KJV does not say "Written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus" - that is only a footnote in the KJV. Similar KJV notes also occur at the end of all the NT writings from Romans to Hebrews. Nobody has ever implied that such footnotes form any part of the inspired text of holy scripture. That one about Tychicus comes after the end of the letter to Ephesian Christians. It would be interesting if a scholar could clarify whether that footnote was added by the 1611 translation team of the KJV, or many years later in subsequent editions.

As to authorship, here are introductory notes to Ephesians as in the New Living Translation Study Bible:

"Author - Ephesian is traditionally ascribed to Paul, as are the other prison letters (Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon). However, on the basis of vocabulary, style, form, setting, purpose, and theological emphases, some have thought that Ephesians was written instead by a later disciple of Paul. Others see it as an original letter from Paul that has been reworked by a later editor. However, the letter is not at all incompatible with Paul's thought and style (note the similarities between Ephesians and Colossians), and there is no compelling reason to deny that Paul authored it.

The supposed differences with the undisputed letters of Paul can be explained by taking account of (1) variations in Paul's own vocabulary and style; (2) the different content of this letter (for example, chs 1-3 include extensive sections of blessing, praise, and prayer); (3) developments in Paul's own thinking; (4) Paul's use of secretaries (see Rom 16:22), who may have exercised some degree of freedom in putting his thoughts into their own words; and (5) the nature of Ephesians as a general letter sent to several churches, not just one...

This opinion is based on (1) the omission of the introductory words in Ephesus in many of the earliest manuscripts, and (2) the lack of personal greetings or references in Ephesus - a surprising omission if the letter was intended for the church in Ephesus, given Paul's extended stay in the city and personal acquaintance with the church there (see Acts 19:10; 20:31)." (p 1996)

But even if Tychicus is thought by some to be the originator of that letter, that does not rule out him writing as the secretary, who had the contents dictated to him by the apostle Paul. Or, in light of ch. 6 vs. 21, he was a spokesman for Paul:

"Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you." (NIV)

Finally, the opening sentence is, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints..." Even if the following in Ephesus is disputed, that particular congregation was included in many others should the letter have been a circular. That would explain lack of personal details about those in Ephesus. It would also explain the phrase in verse 15 - "ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus" - strange, given how Paul spent some years in Ephesus, but not strange if the letter was meant for many different congregations, some whom he had not visited.

These are some arguments supporting the view that Ephesians WAS written by Paul. I expect there will be more.


What arguments support the view that Ephesians was written by Paul?

Authentication of s St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians from a Catholic point of view are taken in three domains:

  • Relation to other books of the New Testament;
  • Difficulties arising from the form and doctrines;
  • Tradition.

The Catholic Encyclopedia bears this out in it’s lengthy article on the subject matter.


If one would only remember to whom the Epistle was addressed and on what occasion it was written, the objections raised against its Pauline authenticity could be readily answered.

Relation to other books of the New Testament

The letter to the Ephesians bears some resemblance to the Epistle to the Hebrews and the writings of St. Luke and St. John, in point of ideas and mode of expression, but no such resemblance is traceable in the great Pauline Epistles. Of course one of the Apostle's writings might have been utilized in these later documents but these similarities are too vague to establish a literary relationship. During the four years intervening between the Epistle to the Romans and that to the Ephesians, St. Paul had changed his headquarters and his line of work, and we behold him at Rome and Caesarea connected with new Christian centres. It is, therefore, easy to understand why his style should savour of the Christian language used in these later books, when we recall that their object has so much in common with the matter treated in the Epistle to the Ephesians. Whatever may now and then have been said on the subject, the same phenomenon is noticeable in the Epistle to the Colossians. If, indeed, the Epistle to the Ephesians agrees with the Acts in more instances than does the Epistle to the Colossians, it is because the two former have one identical object, namely, the constitution of the Church by the calling of the Jews and Gentiles.

The relationship between the Epistle to the Ephesians and I Peter is much closer. The letter to the Ephesians, unlike most of the Pauline Epistles, does not begin with an act of thanksgiving but with a hymn similar, even in its wording, to that which opens I Peter. Besides, both letters agree in certain typical expressions and in the description of the duties of the domestic life, which terminates in both with the same exhortation to combat the devil. With the majority of critics, we maintain the relationship between these letters to be literary. But I Peter was written last and consequently depends on the Epistle to the Ephesians; for instance, it alludes already to the persecution, at least as impending. Sylvanus, the Apostle's faithful companion, was St. Peter's secretary (1 Peter 5:12), and it is but natural that he should make use of a letter, recently written by St. Paul, on questions analogous to those which he himself had to treat, especially as according to us, those addressed in both of these Epistles are, for the greater part, identical (cf. 1 Peter 1:1).

The attacks made upon the authenticity of the Epistle to the Ephesians have been based mainly on its similarity to the Epistle to the Colossians, although some have maintained that the latter depends upon the former (Mayerhoff). In the opinion of Hitzig and Holtzmann, a forger living early in the second century and already imbued with Gnosticism used an authentic letter, written by Paul to the Colossians against the Judeo-Christians of the Apostolic Age, in composing the Epistle to the Ephesians, in conformity to which he himself subsequently revised the letter to the Colossians, giving it the form it has in the canon. De Wette and Ewald looked upon the Epistle to the Ephesians as a verbose amplification of the uncontroversial parts of the letter to the Colossians. However, it is only necessary to read first one of these documents and then the other, in order to see how exaggerated is this view. Von Soden finds a great difference between the two letters but nevertheless holds that several sections of the Epistle to the Ephesians are but a servile paraphrase of passages from the letter to the Colossians (Ephesians 3:1-9 and Colossians 1:23-27; Ephesians 5:21-6:9 and Colossians 3:18-4:1) and that still more frequently the later author follows a purely mechanical process by taking a single verse from the letter to the Colossians and using it to introduce and conclude, and serve as a frame, so to speak, for a statement of his own. Thus, he maintains that in Ephesians 4:25-31, the first words of verse 8 of Colossians 3, have served as an introduction (Ephesians 4:25) and the last words of the same verse as a conclusion (Ephesians 4:31). Evidently such methods could not be attributed to the Apostle himself. But, neither are we justified in ascribing them to the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians. For instance, the duties of husband and wife are well set forth in Colossians 3:18-19, but in these verses there is no comparison whatever between Christian marriage and that union of Christ with His Church such as characterizes the same exhortation in Ephesians 5:22 sq.; consequently, it would be very arbitrary to maintain the latter text to be a vulgar paraphrase of the former. In comparing the texts quoted, the phenomenon of framing, to which von Soden called attention, can be verified in a single passage (Ephesians 4:2-16, where verse 2 resembles Colossians 3:12 sq. and where verses 15-16 are like Colossians 11 and 19). In fact, throughout his entire exposition, the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians is constantly repeating ideas and even particular expressions that occur in the letter to the Colossians, and yet neither a servile imitation nor any one of the well-known offences to which plagiarists are liable, can be proved against him.

Moreover, it is chiefly in their hortatory part that these two letters are so remarkably alike and this is only natural if, at intervals of a few days or hours, the same author had to remind two distinct circles of readers of the same common duties of the Christian life. In the dogmatic part of these two Epistles there is a change of subject, treated with a different intention and in another tone. In the one instance we have a hymn running through three chapters and celebrating the call of both Jews and Gentiles and the union of all in the Church of Christ; and in the other, an exposition of Christ's dignity and of the adequacy of the means He vouchsafes us for the obtaining of our salvation, as also thanksgiving and especially prayers for those readers who are liable to misunderstand this doctrine. However, these two objects, Christ and the Church, are closely akin. Besides, if in his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul reproduces the ideas set forth in that to the Colossians, it is certainly less astonishing than to find a like phenomenon in the Epistles to the Galatians and to the Romans, as it is very natural that the characteristic expressions used by the Apostle in the Epistle to the Colossians should appear in the letter to the Ephesians, since both were written at the same time. In fact it has been remarked that he is prone to repeat typical expressions he has one coined (cf. Zahn, Einleitung, I, p. 363 sq.). Briefly, we conclude with Sabatier that: "These two letters come to us from one and the same author who, when writing the one, had the other in mind and, when composing the second, had not forgotten the first." The vague allusions made in the Epistle to the Ephesians to some of the doctrinal questions treated in the Epistle to the Colossians, can be accounted for in this manner, even though these questions were never proposed by those to whom the former Epistle was addressed.

Difficulties arising from the form and doctrines

The denial of the Pauline authenticity of the Epistle to the Ephesians is based on the special characteristics of the Epistle from the viewpoint of style as well as of doctrine, and, while differing from those of the great Pauline Epistles, these characteristics although more marked, resemble those of the letter to the Colossians. But we have already dwelt upon them at sufficient length.

The circumstances under which the Apostle must have written the Epistle to the Ephesians seem to account for the development of the doctrine and the remarkable change of style. During his two years' captivity in Caesarea, Paul could not exercise his Apostolic functions, and in Rome, although allowed more liberty, he could not preach the Gospel outside of the house in which he was held prisoner. Hence he must have made up for his want of external activity by a more profound meditation on "his Gospel". The theology of justification, of the Law, and of the conditions essential to salvation, he had already brought to perfection, having systematized it in the Epistle to the Romans and, although keeping it in view, he did not require to develop it any further. In his Epistle to the Romans (viii-xi, xvi, 25-27) he had come to the investigation of the eternal counsels of Providence concerning the salvation of men and had expounded, as it were, a philosophy of the religious history of mankind of which Christ was the centre, as indeed He had always been the central object of St. Paul's faith. Thus, it was on Christ Himself that the solitary meditations of the Apostle were concentrated; in the quiet of his prison he was to develop, by dint of personal intellectual labour and with the aid of new revelations, this first revelation received when "it pleased God to reveal His Son in him". He was, moreover, urged by the news brought him from time to time by some of his disciples, as, for instance, by Epaphras, that, in certain churches, errors were being propagated which tended to lessen the role and the dignity of Christ, by setting up against Him other intermediaries in the work of salvation. On the other hand, separated from the faithful and having no longer to travel constantly from one church to another, the Apostle was able to embrace in one sweeping glance all the Christians scattered throughout the world. While he resided in the centre of the immense Roman Empire which, in its unity, comprised the world, it was the one universal Church of Christ, the fulfilment of the mysterious decrees revealed to him, the Church in which it had been his privilege to bring together Jews and pagans, that presented itself to him for contemplation.

These subjects of habitual meditation are naturally introduced in the letters that he had to write at that time. To the Colossians he speaks of Christ's dignity; to the Ephesians, and we have seen why, of the unity of the Church. But in these Epistles, Paul addresses those who are unknown to him; he no longer needs, as in preceding letters, to combat theories which undermined the very foundation of the work and to refute enemies who, in their hatred, attacked him personally. Accordingly, there is no further occasion to use the serried argumentation with which he not only overthrew the arguments of his adversaries but turned them to the latters' confusion. There is more question of setting forth the sublime considerations with which he is filled than of discussions. Then, ideas so crowd upon him that his pen is overtaxed; his sentences teem with synonyms and qualifying epithets and keep taking on new propositions, thus losing the sharpness and vigour of controversy and assuming the ample proportions of a hymn of adoration. Hence we can understand why, in these letters, Paul's style grows dull and sluggish and why the literary composition differs so widely from that of the first Epistles. When writing to the Colossians he at least had one particular church to deal with and certain errors to refute, whereas, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, he addressed himself at one and the same time to a group of unknown churches of which he had received but vague information. There was nothing concrete in this and the Apostle was left entirely to himself and to his own meditations. This is the reason why the special characteristics already indicated in the Epistle to the Colossians appear even more pronounced in that to the Ephesians, particularly in the dogmatic part.


If we thus keep in mind the circumstances under which Paul wrote both of these letters, their peculiar character seems no obstacle to their Pauline authenticity. Therefore, the testimony which, in their inscriptions (Colossians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1), they themselves render to this authenticity and the very ancient tradition which unanimously attributes them to the Apostle preserve all their force. From the traditional viewpoint the Epistle to the Ephesians is in the same class as the best attested letters of St. Paul. Used in the First Epistle of St. Peter, in the Epistle of St. Polycarp, in the works of St. Justin, perhaps in the Didache and I Clement, it appears to have been already well known towards the end of the first century. Marcion and St. Irenæus ascribe it to St. Paul and it seems that St. Ignatius, when writing to the Ephesians, had already made use of it as Pauline. It is also to be noted that if the authenticity of this Epistle has been denied by most of the liberal critics since Schleiermacher's day, it is nevertheless conceded by many modern critics, Protestants among them, and held at least as probable by Harnack and Julicher. In fact the day seems to be approaching when the whole world will recognize as the work of St. Paul, this Epistle to the Ephesians, of which St. John Chrysostom admired the sublime sentences and doctrines: noematon meste . . . . . . . hypselon kai dogmaton.


I searched for Ephesians 6:24 many translations to English and Spanish of the Bible. None say "Written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus." besides KJV (which uses older manuscripts) Young's Literal translation also does not include it. It would be good to check if that verse is supported by manuscript evidence.

Although the epistle starts by mentioning Paul as the author in all translations, including the one you originally quoted:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. https://www.bible.com/bible/1/EPH.1.KJV

as you said in your question, Paul's authorship of Ephesians has been disputed since at least the 18th century (or even as early as the 15th) due to many reasons. Among them, different theological emphasis and different stylistic and linguistic choices from other texts written by Paul (this, and more, is covered in the original question you cited).

Despite all that, none of those arguments are definitive proof that Paul did not write the letter. Also, as you may know, Ephesians is considered to be the culmination of Pauline theology.

A middle ground would be to consider this letter to have been originally written by Paul (possibly dictated and written by Tychicus) and then edited by other authors.

The authorship of the letter to the Ephesians has been widely debated from both sides of the argument and is covered extensively in the introduction of Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary by Harold W. Hoehner. He covers most of the usual arguments against Paul's authorship and presents an opposition to them. The conclusion of that section reads:

The Pauline authorship of Ephesians not only has the earliest attestation of any book of the NT but this attestation continued until the last two centuries. The early attestation is highly significant. The early church was not only closer to the situation but also they were very astute in their judgement of genuine and fraudulent compositions. This overwhelming support of the Pauline authorship of Ephesians should not be easily dismissed.

In the course of this discussion, the various scholars and their views have been identified along with the many reasons given for rejecting Paul's authorship of Ephesians. Although Ephesians differs from other Pauline literature, the differences do not sufficiently argue for the refection of Pauline authorship of his letter. Variations can be accounted for due to differences in content and differences in the character and need of the recipients of the letter. Furthermore, it must be accepted that a genius such as Paul is not sterile in his expressions; allowances must be made for development in his own thinking. These elements are evident in his undisputed letters. Yet further, it is rather limiting to determine Paul's style and vocabulary based only on the writings that are canonical. If more of his writings were available, it would be easier to evaluate variances and consistency of vocabulary and style. Content, mood, and recipients affect the vocabulary and style of an author whether it be in the first or the present century. In fact, repeating the same content in identical or nearly identical circumstances would still produce variations in vocabulary, style and sentence length. Authors are not machines that duplicate vocabulary and style.

As I did, you may find this conclusion a little bit subjective, but if you read the whole section you will find a defense of Pauline authorship based on arguments.

  • 2
    The K.J.V. only has "Written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus" as a footnote, additional to the actual biblical text, which ends at ch. 6 vs. 24. There is no attempt to imply that the additional note is part of the text! The K.J.V. has further such footnotes as to authorship of the apostolic letters from Romans to Hebrews.
    – Anne
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 9:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .