Ephesians

1:1-2

Introduction

Address and greeting

Argument

As is typical of ancient letters, Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with the senders name, the recipients and a greeting. In Ephesians this prescript / salutation is short and to the point, possibly indicating that the letter is intended for a wider audience than just the church at Ephesus. As with Romans, another somewhat general letter, Paul does not mention any of his associates in the prescript.

 
Issues

i] Context: The contextual arrangements of Ephesians are many and varied. A simple two part structure is fairly common: theology, the first three chapter, followed by ethics in the next three chapters, so Lincoln. O'Brien opts for two parts, an extended benediction and prayer, 1:3-3:21, followed by admonition, 4:1-6:9/20. Hoehner suggests three parts, instruction, 1:3-3:21; exhortation, 4:1-6:20; and commendation, 6:21-22. Ephesians doesn't fit well with deliberative rhetoric, but Paul certainly hasn't abandoned the accepted ways of progressing an argument. The opening chapter of praise and thanksgiving does serve to introduce the subject matter and establish a contact with the readers, and as such is an exordium of sorts. Chapters 2 and 3 are focused on establishing doctrinal truth and so effectively serve as the probatio. These truths are then applied in ethical instruction, 4:1-6:9, a classic Pauline move, a digressio of sorts, before a concluding exortatio, exhortation, 6:10-20.

Following the usual prologue, from whom and to whom, Paul introduces his letter with praise and thanksgiving, celebrating the realization of God's eternal purposes in Christ for both Jew and Gentile, 1:3-23. Paul then proceeds to develop his proposition that in Christ, all things are unified in heaven and on earth. First, he establishes the means by which a person moves from death to new life in Christ, and thus to union with the divine - "by grace you have been saved", 2:1-10, and then examines the consequences for Gentiles, namely that they become one with God's historic people Israel and thus members of his household in Christ, a holy temple indwelt by God's Spirit, v11-22. In 3:1-13 Paul explains his part, as apostle to the Gentiles, in the formation of this one people of God in Christ, and then goes on to explain the purpose of this new humanity, the church, namely, to make Christ known (communicate the gospel / "the manifold wisdom of God" / the mystery / "the unsearchable riches of Christ" / grace / Christ). Given the task facing the church, Paul prays for love, that they might "be filled to the measure of the fullness of God", concluding with a statement of adoration, v14-21.

Having developed his proposition that in Christ, all things are unified in heaven and on earth, Paul goes on to apply his theology with a series of ethical admonitions, 4:1-6:9. He begins with a guiding admonition which concerns maintaining unity in the church, 4:1-16, reinforcing this by describing the old lifestyle and new life in Christ, v17-24. Then follows examples of practical love, 4:25-5:2, acting out of darkness, 5:3-14, acting out of light, v15-20. Paul then examines the Christian household under the principle "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ", 5:21: wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters, 5:22-6:9. The exhortation God's Mighty Armor follows, 6:10-20, concluding with an epilogue, v21-24.

 

ii] Background: As indicated in the introductory notes, there is some doubt regarding authorship, destination and purpose, but these notes proceeds on the assumption that the letter is a general letter written by Paul while imprisoned in Rome, AD56-60, and that it was addressed to the church in Ephesus where he ministered for two and a half years between AD53-56. It is likely that the letter wasn't just intended for the believers in Ephesus, but also Paul's mission churches in the Lycus valley (Western Turkey) / Asia Minor.

When it comes to the purpose of Ephesians, commentators again propose many and varied theories. Yet, there is one theme that most commentators at least reference, and that is the theme of unity. Hagner suggests that "the purpose of Ephesians is to promote a love for one another that has the love God and Christ as its basis. ..... This provides the basis for unity. Possibly realizing that the Ephesians were starting to forsake their first love, Paul wrote this letter to encourage them to love both God and their fellow saints more deeply."

 

iii] Structure: The prologue to Paul's letter to the Ephesians presents as follows:

Prologue:

from whom to whom, v1;

blessing, v2.

 

iv] Interpretation:

The impersonal nature of this salutation adds to the evidence used by those who doubt Pauline authorship, eg., Best. Yet, as already indicated, the letter bears the marks of a circular letter to Ephesus and beyond, a reworking of Colossians for a wider audience. In fact, like Romans, it may well be intended for all Paul's mission churches, churches that are primarily Gentile in makeup.

 
Text - 1:1

The Salutation, v1-2. From whom, to whom, v1. Paul follows the standard opening of a first-century Greek letter, although he gives it a particular Christian shape. The opening words are very similar to Colossians.

apostoloV (oV) "apostle" - [Paul] apostle. Nominative in apposition to the nominative absolute "Paul". Paul uses the word "apostle" to refer to a someone appointed directly by Christ as his witness to the new covenant, ie., the 12 + Paul. The word is used sometimes in the NT of an evangelist / missionary. Paul is not using the word here in that general sense.

Cristou (oV) gen. "Christ [Jesus]" - The canon of Apollonius applies where two nouns, here proper nouns, either have an article or both lack it, here both lack the article. Jesus stands in apposition to Christ. The genitive may be taken in numerous ways, either adjectival (subordination, relational, or possessive), or ablative, source / origin; "of Christ Jesus not only signifies that he belongs to Christ, but also that his is a messenger who is fully authorized and sent by him", O'Brien.

dia + gen. "by" - through [will of God]. Instrumental, expressing means (intermediate agency, so Wallace). "Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ Jesus, sends his greeting to those in Ephesus", Cassirer.

qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

toiV aJgioiV (oV) dat. "to God's holy people" - to the holy ones / saints. Dative of recipient. Those who are set apart for God; "who are consecrated to God", Cassirer.

toiV ousin (eimi) dat. pres. part. "-" - the ones being. The participle serves as a substantive, dative in apposition to "the holy ones.".

en + dat. "in [Ephesus]" - Local, space; "at Ephesus". Missing in some early texts, eg., p46, one of the earliest Pauline texts. This is further evidence that the letter was designed as a circular letter with the church name added as necessary.

pistoiV (iV ewV) dat. "the faithful" - [and] faithful. Dative standing in apposition to "the holy ones", an awkward construction due to the presence of the dative participle "the ones being." The word probably carries the sense "the believing / trusting ones" rather than "the faithful ones", so O'Brien, Lincoln, ...

en + dat. "in [Christ Jesus]" - Local, space metaphorical / incorporative union, "in union with Christ Jesus", although instrumental, means, is possible.

 
v2

Blessing / greeting, v2.

uJmin dat. pro. "[Grace and peace] to you" - Dative of indirect object, the verb being assumed, probably an optative verb to-be = a wish prayer; "may grace and peace be to you." To the normal Jewish greeting of "peace", Paul adds a Christianized version of the normal Greek greeting caire, "happy", or more formally "greetings". "May God's eternal favor and peace be upon you."

apo + gen. "from" - from [God Father of us and Lord Jesus Christ]. Expressing source / origin. The source of grace and peace is both "God Father" and "Lord Jesus Christ", also genitive. "Father" stands in apposition to "God", and "Christ Jesus" stands in apposition to "Lord".

 

Ephesians Introduction

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