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Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: Ephesians Publication Staff President & CEO Cecil P . Staton Publisher & Executive Vice President Lex Horton Vice President, Production Keith Gammons Book Editor Leslie Andres Graphic Designers Daniel Emerson Dave Jones Assistant Editors Rachel Stancil Greco Kelley F. Land

Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc. 6316 Peake Road Macon, Georgia 31210-3960 1-800-747-3016 2012 by Smyth & Helwys Publishing All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information SciencesPermanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials. ANSI Z39.481984 (alk. paper) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Slater, Thomas B. Ephesians / by Thomas B. Slater. pages cm -- (Smyth & Helwys Bible commentary ; 27a) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-57312-624-3 (alk. paper) 1. Bible. N.T. Ephesians--Commentaries. I. Title. BS2695.53.S59 2012 227'.507--dc23 2012004751


Thomas B. Slater

PROJECT EDITOR R. SCOTT NASH Mercer University Macon, Georgia

OLD TESTAMENT GENERAL EDITOR SAMUEL E. BALENTINE Union Presbyterian Seminary Richmond, Virginia AREA OLD TESTAMENT EDITORS MARK E. BIDDLE Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia KANDY QUEEN-SUTHERLAND Stetson University Deland, Florida PAUL REDDITT Georgetown College Georgetown, Kentucky Baptist Seminary of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky

NEW TESTAMENT GENERAL EDITOR R. ALAN CULPEPPER McAfee School of Theology Mercer University Atlanta, Georgia AREA NEW TESTAMENT EDITORS R. SCOTT NASH Mercer University Macon, Georgia RICHARD B. VINSON Salem College Winston-Salem, North Carolina


xi xv 1 5 35 Eph 1:1-23 Eph 2:1-22 Eph 3:1-21 Eph 4:15:2 Eph 5:3-20 Eph 5:216:9 Eph 6:10-24 37 59 85 105 129 149 171

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Setting the Stage The New People of God The Mystery Revealed Attaining Community Sustaining Community The Household Codes Concluding Comments


187 191 193 197 199


In memory of Graham N. Stanton A true scholar and gentleman My mentor and dear friend


Books of the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament are generally abbreviated in the Sidebars, parenthetical references, and notes according to the following system. The Old Testament Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 12 Samuel 12 Kings 12 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job Psalm (Psalms) Proverbs Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth Song of Solomon or Song of Songs or Canticles Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Gen Exod Lev Num Deut Josh Judg Ruth 12 Sam 12 Kgs 12 Chr Ezra Neh Esth Job Ps (Pss) Prov Eccl Qoh Song Song Cant Isa Jer Lam Ezek Dan Hos Joel Amos Obad Jonah Mic


Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi The Apocrypha 12 Esdras Tobit Judith Additions to Esther Wisdom of Solomon Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach Baruch Epistle (or Letter) of Jeremiah Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Daniel and Susanna Daniel, Bel, and the Dragon Prayer of Manasseh 14 Maccabees The New Testament Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans 12 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 12 Thessalonians 12 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 12 Peter 123 John Jude Revelation Matt Mark Luke John Acts Rom 12 Cor Gal Eph Phil Col 12 Thess 12 Tim Titus Phlm Heb Jas 12 Pet 123 John Jude Rev 12 Esdr Tob Jdt Add Esth Wis Sir Bar Ep Jer Pr Azar Sus Bel Pr Man 14 Macc Nah Hab Zeph Hag Zech Mal

Other commonly used abbreviations include:



C. c. cf. ch. chs. d. ed. eds. e.g. et al. f./ff. gen. ed. Gk. Heb. ibid. i.e. LCL lit. n.d. rev. and exp. ed. sg. trans. vol(s). v. vv.

Anno Domini (in the year of the Lord) (also commonly referred to as CE = the Common Era) Authors Translation Before Christ (also commonly referred to as BCE = Before the Common Era) century circa (around that time) confer (compare) chapter chapters died edition or edited by or editor editors exempli gratia (for example) et alii (and others) and the following one(s) general editor Greek Hebrew ibidem (in the same place) id est (that is) Loeb Classical Library literally no date revised and expanded edition singular translated by or translator(s) volume(s) verse verses

Selected additional written works cited by abbreviations include the following. A complete listing of abbreviations can be referenced in The SBL Handbook of Style (Peabody MA: Hendrickson, 1999): AB ABD ACCS ANF ANTC BA BAR CBQ Anchor Bible Anchor Bible Dictionary Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Ante-Nicene Fathers Abingdon New Testament Commentaries Biblical Archaeologist Biblical Archaeology Review Catholic Biblical Quarterly

HTR HUCA ICC IDB JBL JSJ JSNT JSOT KJV LXX MDB MT NASB NEB NICNT NIV NovT NRSV NTS OGIS OTL PRSt RevExp RSV SBLSP SP TDNT TEV WBC Harvard Theological Review Hebrew Union College Annual International Critical Commentary Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible Journal of Biblical Literature Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods Journal for the Study of the New Testament Journal for the Study of the Old Testament King James Version Septuagint = Greek Translation of Hebrew Bible Mercer Dictionary of the Bible Masoretic Text New American Standard Bible New English Bible New International Commentary on the New Testament New International Version Novum Testamentum New Revised Standard Version New Testament Studies Orientis graeci inscriptiones selectae Old Testament Library Perspectives in Religious Studies Review and Expositor Revised Standard Version Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers Sacra pagina Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Todays English Version Word Biblical Commentary

The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary is a visually stimulating and user-friendly series that is as close to multimedia in print as possible. Written by accomplished scholars with all students of Scripture in mind, the primary goal of the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary is to make available serious, credible biblical scholarship in an accessible and less intimidating format. Far too many Bible commentaries fall short of bridging the gap between the insights of biblical scholars and the needs of students of Gods written word. In an unprecedented way, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary brings insightful commentary to bear on the lives of contemporary Christians. Using a multimedia format, the volumes employ a stunning array of art, photographs, maps, and drawings to illustrate the truths of the Bible for a visual generation of believers. The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary is built upon the idea that meaningful Bible study can occur when the insights of contemporary biblical scholars blend with sensitivity to the needs of lifelong students of Scripture. Some persons within local faith communities, however, struggle with potentially informative biblical scholarship for several reasons. Oftentimes, such scholarship is cast in technical language easily grasped by other scholars, but not by the general reader. For example, lengthy, technical discussions on every detail of a particular scriptural text can hinder the quest for a clear grasp of the whole. Also, the format for presenting scholarly insights has often been confusing to the general reader, rendering the work less than helpful. Unfortunately, responses to the hurdles of reading extensive commentaries have led some publishers to produce works for a general readership that merely skim the surface of the rich resources of biblical scholarship. This commentary series incorporates works of fine art in an accurate and scholarly manner, yet the format remains user-friendly. An important facet is the presentation and explanation of images of art, which interpret the biblical material or illustrate how the biblical material has been understood and interpreted in the past. A visual generation of believers deserves a commentary series that contains not only the all-important textual commentary on Scripture, but images, photographs, maps, works of fine art, and drawings that bring the text to life.


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The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary makes serious, credible biblical scholarship more accessible to a wider audience. Writers and editors alike present information in ways that encourage readers to gain a better understanding of the Bible. The editorial board has worked to develop a format that is useful and usable, informative and pleasing to the eye. Our writers are reputable scholars who participate in the community of faith and sense a calling to communicate the results of their scholarship to their faith community. The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary addresses Christians and the larger church. While both respect for and sensitivity to the needs and contributions of other faith communities are reflected in the work of the series authors, the authors speak primarily to Christians. Thus the reader can note a confessional tone throughout the volumes. No particular confession of faith guides the authors, and diverse perspectives are observed in the various volumes. Each writer, though, brings to the biblical text the best scholarly tools available and expresses the results of their studies in commentary and visuals that assist readers seeking a word from the Lord for the church. To accomplish this goal, writers in this series have drawn from numerous streams in the rich tradition of biblical interpretation. The basic focus is the biblical text itself, and considerable attention is given to the wording and structure of texts. Each particular text, however, is also considered in the light of the entire canon of Christian Scriptures. Beyond this, attention is given to the cultural context of the biblical writings. Information from archaeology, ancient history, geography, comparative literature, history of religions, politics, sociology, and even economics is used to illuminate the culture of the people who produced the Bible. In addition, the writers have drawn from the history of interpretation, not only as it is found in traditional commentary on the Bible but also in literature, theater, church history, and the visual arts. Finally, the Commentary on Scripture is joined with Connections to the world of the contemporary church. Here again, the writers draw on scholarship in many fields as well as relevant issues in the popular culture. This wealth of information might easily overwhelm a reader if not presented in a user-friendly format. Thus the heavier discussions of detail and the treatments of other helpful topics are presented in special-interest boxes, or Sidebars, clearly connected to the passages under discussion so as not to interrupt the flow of the basic interpretation. The result is a commentary on Scripture that

Series Preface


focuses on the theological significance of a text while also offering the reader a rich array of additional information related to the text and its interpretation. An accompanying CD-ROM offers powerful searching and research tools. The commentary text, Sidebars, and visuals are all reproduced on a CD that is fully indexed and searchable. Pairing a text version with a digital resource is a distinctive feature of the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary. Combining credible biblical scholarship, user-friendly study features, and sensitivity to the needs of a visually oriented generation of believers creates a unique and unprecedented type of commentary series. With insight from many of todays finest biblical scholars and a stunning visual format, it is our hope that the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary will be a welcome addition to the personal libraries of all students of Scripture. The Editors


The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary is written by accomplished biblical scholars with a wide array of readers in mind. Whether engaged in the study of Scripture in a church setting or in a college or seminary classroom, all students of the Bible will find a number of useful features throughout the commentary that are helpful for interpreting the Bible.
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Commentary and Connections

As each chapter explores a textual unit, the discussion centers around two basic sections: Commentary and Connections. The analysis of a passage, including the details of its language, the history reflected in the text, and the literary forms found in the text, are the main focus


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of the Commentary section. The primary concern of the Commentary section is to explore the theological issues presented by the Scripture passage. Connections presents potential applications of the insights provided in the Commentary section. The Connections portion of each chapter considers what issues are relevant for teaching and suggests useful methods and resources. Connections also identifies themes suitable for sermon planning and suggests helpful approaches for preaching on the Scripture text.

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Additional Resources Study

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Additional Features

Each volume also includes a basic Bibliography on the biblical book under study. Other bibliographies on selected issues are often included that point the reader to other helpful resources. Notes at the end of each chapter provide full documentation of sources used and contain additional discussions of related matters. Abbreviations used in each volume are explained in a list of abbreviations found after the Table of Contents. Readers of the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary can regularly visit the Internet support site for news, information, updates, and enhancements to the series at Several thorough indexes enable the reader to locate information quickly. These indexes include: An Index of Sidebars groups content from the special-interest boxes by category (maps, fine art, photographs, drawings, etc.). An Index of Scriptures lists citations to particular biblical texts. An Index of Topics lists alphabetically the major subjects, names, topics, and locations referenced or discussed in the volume. An Index of Modern Authors organizes contemporary authors whose works are cited in the volume.

Writing a commentary is rarely a lone endeavor, and this one is no different. I owe much to my many conversation partners who have written articles, monographs, and commentaries before me. Each in her or his own way has helped me to see clearer, redirected my energies, and challenged me to explicate my own positions more clearly. Reading this commentary will reveal their many names and their contributions to my study. More immediately, I want to thank the editorial board of the Smyth and Helwys Commentary Series for extending an invitation to me to write in this series. When Alan Culpepper (who is also my dean at McAfee School of Theology) initially asked me to write on Ephesians, I had begun to look again at the Pauline corpus, especially Galatians, and to rethink some consensus opinions concerning Paul. A special thank you goes to Alan for his initial confidence in me and continued encouragement and assistance throughout the project. Additionally, two separate sabbatical leaves in fall 2006 and fall 2009, granted me by Mercer University, greatly helped me to complete this project. The vast majority of the commentary was written during my fiveyear pastorate of St. Marys Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Elberton, Georgia. The prayers and regular encouragement of the members of St. Marys boosted my spirits on more than one occasion. Many of the major ideas in this commentary found their way into sermons, Bible studies, and discussions during Sunday school at St. Marys. I also taught a Bible study at Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia, where many of my ideas were well received. These congregational settings provided opportunities to see if some of my ideas made sense to laypeople. I am also indebted to the Reverend Otis Tate, now a retired pastor in the Georgia North Region of the C. M. E. Church, and the Reverend Robert Hodo, senior pastor of New Morning Light Baptist Church, Conley, Georgia (an Atlanta suburb), for their readings of different drafts of the commentary for clarity and applicability. Both found the comments helpful in their respective ministry settings. This has been most encouraging. Moreover, three seminars on Ephesians taught at McAfee in dialogue with my MDiv students helped me to see the need to discard some ideas and sharpen others.


They, too, have made contributions to the commentary. From all these partners I have learned much. Finally, I am most appreciative of the careful reading that Alan Culpepper gave this manuscript. His close scrutiny has enhanced this study in innumerable ways, and I am grateful for it. I must take full credit, however, for any shortcomings herein. I also owe much to my student assistants at the McAfee School of Theology who typed most of the first draft so that I might turn my attentions elsewhere. They are (in alphabetical order) Margaret Bartholomew, Priscilla Bryant, Jacqueline Dowdy, CaTrice Glenn, Charles Hawes, Greg Paulson, and Hope Sims Sutton. Moreover, several libraries have been invaluable to me in my research: Swilley Library, Mercer University; Bulow Theological Library, Columbia Theological Seminary; Pitts Theological Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, all in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Graduate Theological Union Library, Berkeley, California. I dedicate this work with fond memories (and a deep sense of loss) to the memory of Professor Graham N. Stanton, late Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. Professor Stanton supervised my PhD thesis at Kings College London, University of London, where he held the New Testament chair for many years. Graham was a mentor, an adviser, and a friend in equal value and always provided wise counsel. He had an uncanny ability to relate to international students where they were without losing himself in the process, perhaps because he (a very proud New Zealander!) had been an international student himself. In my first four months at Kings, he began every tutorial asking me how I was adjusting to life in the United Kingdom. It was good to know that my supervisor cared about more than my thesis. Thus, it is only fitting that I dedicate this work to him. I have no words to express how I felt when he told me that mine would be the first book so dedicated. Graham had doctoral graduates in over twenty countries, and I was blessed to be one of them. He personified the phrase a scholar and a gentleman, and his Christian faith was never in doubt. I have striven to be the same type of caring yet rigorous teacher for my students that Graham was for me. While I admittedly have fallen short, I still strive toward that mark. I was happy to have sent him the penultimate draft but saddened that he did not live to see the final product.


Translations from the Septuaginta (ed. A. Rahlfs) and the Greek New Testament, 4th rev. ed. (ed. B. Aland et al.) are my own unless stated otherwise.

Introduction to Ephesians
The book of Ephesians was written to persuade its original readership that an ethnically inclusive church based on religious affiliation and faithfulness was part of Gods plan and that both Jew and Gentile were equal partners in the new religious commonwealth. Moreover, following Christs model, the book espoused virtues and relationships that would ensure harmony and peace within the Christian Church. Before engaging in a verse-by-verse examination of the book of Ephesians, it is necessary to begin with a discussion of the primary issues surrounding the composition of the book. They are (1) authorship, (2) date and context, (3) genre, and (4) theological concerns.
[First-century CE Roman Empire] First-century CE Roman Empire The Romans saw themselves as the heirs to classical Greek culture, thus the term Greco-Roman. They spread their culture chiefly by means of conquest. Within the Roman Empire it became standard for religions and philosophies to borrow readily from one another. It should not be surprising that Pauline Christianity also borrowed from other movements. However, Paul consciously redefined the terms and concepts in light of the Christian witness of faith. The ease of travel via road and sea, the lack of civil disturbances for much of the first Christian century, the presence of both Hellenistic Greek and Latin as international languages and some familiarity with Judaism by non-Jews helped fledgling Christianity to spread quickly throughout the Empire.

A. Authorship

Tradition has ascribed the authorship of the book of Ephesians to the Apostle Paul, agreeing with the attestations of the book itself (e.g., 1:1; 3:1). There are also many parallels with other books in the Pauline corpus. Many modern commentators have found reasons to affirm this tradition. F. F. Bruce referred to Ephesians as the quintessence of Paulinism. By this he meant that Ephesians contains all the major Pauline themes and re-expresses them for a new context: a predominantly Gentile Church.1 For M. Barth and Bruce, among others, a decisive argument is the strong thematic similarity between Galatians and Ephesians. For example, both books discuss the place of the Gentiles in Israel, and both argue that salvation is by grace through faith and not works. Moreover, both books argue that Paul received his apostolic commission by divine revelation (Gal 1:11-16 and Eph 3:3-10).2 The similarities with other letters in the Pauline corpus are unmistakable. Many have recognized the strong similarities between Colossians and Ephesians. At least a quarter of the words found in Colossians are also in Ephesians. Indeed, there are strong parallels between Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians Galatians 1:15-17; Ephesians 3:3, 6-10 1:14; Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13; Galatians 1:15-17, NASB But when He who had set me apart, Ephesians 3:2 and Colossians 1:25; Ephesians even from my mothers womb, and called me 3:9 and Colossians 1:26; Ephesians 4:16 and through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 6:21-22 and in me, that I might preach Him among the Colossians 4:7-8. The most striking parallel is Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those the household rules where the same topics are who were apostles before me; but I went away to addressed in the same order employing similar Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. wording (Eph 5:216:9 and Col 3:184:1).
Ephesians 3:3, 6-10, NASB [T]hat by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of Gods grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. [Galatians 1:15-17; Ephesians 3:3, 6-10]

Colossians is not the only book with which Ephesians shares common themes or wording. Another is Romans. Both books address the inclusion of the Gentiles (Romans 3 and Ephesians 23), discuss Pauls ministry to the Gentiles (e.g., Rom 11:13 and Eph 3:1), and espouse that reconciliation comes through Christ Jesus (Rom 5:11 and Eph 2:16). Finally, both proclaim the international scope of Gods plan of salvation (Rom 11:25-26 and Eph 3:9-15). Such features have convinced many that Paul wrote Ephesians.


However, not everyone has been convinced by these similarities. Many have noted that Ephesians has long sentences with multiple clauses and continuously expresses itself in seemingly unending genitive clauses. Moreover, there is only one question in Ephesians, whereas questions are more frequent in the undisputed Pauline letters. Furthermore, the Church is a multi-ethnic, empire-wide phenomenon in Ephesians, while in the undisputed Pauline letters it generally refers to local congregations.3 Along those same lines, in the undisputed Pauline letters Paul himself is the founder of the congregations; in Ephesians, it is the apostles and early Christian prophets (2:20). In addition, Ephesians has a larger role for Christ than one finds elsewhere in Paul, and all but Galatians of the undisputed lettersRomans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemonend with greetings.4 Finally, there is little missionary zeal in Ephesians.5 A. T. Lincoln, who originally believed Ephesians to be an authentic letter of Paul, wrote, Most decisive against Paul as author . . . is its dependence on Colossians and its use of other Pauline letters, particularly Romans.6 He noted that over a quarter of the words found in Colossians are in Ephesians, and one passage has twenty-nine consecutive words verbatim. Main blocks of material are in the same sequence. Lincoln argued that a follower of Paul used Colossians as a model for writing Ephesians. Dating Ephesians between 80 and 90 CE, he concluded, The employment of key terms from Colossians with different connotations in Ephesians suggests a process of reflection has produced . . . a new context.7 I concur and shall attempt to develop this line of thought further in the commentary. These and other dissimilarities between Ephesians, on one side, and undisputed letters such as Romans, Galatians, and Philippians, on the other, present credible arguments against Pauline authorship. In order to counter those arguments, some have presented explanations that recognize the similarities while also being sensitive to the dissimilarities. J. Muddiman, for example, is one of the latest to argue that Ephesians is a composite work with a Pauline core and later deutero-Pauline expansions. He argues that Ephesians contains Pauls lost letter to the Laodiceans, saying that the letter . . . combines in almost equal proportions Pauline and non-Pauline vocabulary, style, forms, settings, purposes and theology.8 In this way, he hopes to explain why Ephesians contains


some passages that sound so Pauline and yet others that appear to be secondary reflections. According to Muddiman, there were three types of pseudepigraphy in Greco-Roman society, each based on intention: innocent (or nave), which employs the names of great worthies to gain acceptance and adherence (e.g., 1 and 2 Peter, James, Jude); imitative, a careful, respectful interpretation based on authentic writings; fraudulent (or subversive), an attempt to discredit and replace genuine writings. He says that Ephesians falls into the imitative category. Muddiman argues that Christian congregations begun in Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea by Pauls associate Epaphras were not known by Paul. The purpose of Ephesians was to create a suitably impressive work which could eventually be bundled with Colossians and Philemon in order to place Pauls Asian letters on a single scroll.9 Although clearly a most intriguing argument, it is without a shred of concrete evidence to support it. For example, let us grant that Ephesians is a careful and respectful interpretation of Paul. Where is the letter to the Laodiceans that would substantiate Muddimans thesis? How does one ascertain from our Ephesians what the content of the letter to the Laodiceans might have been? Finally, the book of Colossians mentions the letter to the Laodiceans. Colossians itself is a disputed letter. These questions adequately demonstrate the problems with Muddimans thesis. Furthermore, the presence of concatenating prepositional phrases throughout the book of Ephesians indicates one unified work, not two. Ben Witherington III offers a third argument. Following Moule and Reiche, he describes Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon as captivity epistles. However, Witherington advances the argument along new methodological lines. He argues that all four books are Pauline and that all four display elements of Asiatic rhetorical techniques. Furthermore, Ephesians is not a letter but a homily and also an example of epideictic rhetoric. The book was not written to solve problems but to provide theological information and moral guidance. Witherington argues that Paul used different rhetorical techniques in different contexts in order to conform to social norms in different locales and that Ephesians most reflects this (Asiatic) style precisely because it is basically a circular epideictic homily with only the bare minimum of epistolary elements added so that it could be sent as a written document.10


While all sides of the debate have their pluses and minuses, I think that Ephesians is deutero-Pauline. Determinative for me is the writing style. When one objectively examines the Greek of Ephesians, with an agenda neither to uphold the tradition nor to question it, one finds a mode of writing unlike any other in the New Testament. Romans, Galatians, and Philippians, to name a few, come directly to the point and require a position to be taken. Ephesians, on the other hand, adds prepositional phrase upon prepositional phrase. It is as if the author attempts to persuade his readers by the rhetoric alone aside from its content. Furthermore, there is a clear development of theological concepts, such as a more universal concept of the Christian community, a more universal understanding of the work of Christ, and an emphasis on the apostles as founders of the Church. Given the fact that Paul said that those who were apostles before him added nothing to him (Gal 2:1-10), it is unlikely he would sing their praises in a book that emphasizes the inclusion of the Gentiles in the elect community. These elements persuade me that a follower of Paul wrote Ephesians sometime after the death of the Apostle. Moreover, the book was written during a time when the Church was predominantly Gentile and its indebtedness to Judaism had come into question. This socio-historical context required a new interpretation of the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles to meet the demands of a new situation. Thus, for the aforementioned reasons, this commentary works on the position that Ephesians is deutero-Pauline. Furthermore, the author gives the argument from a Jewish perspective. For example, standard anti-Gentile arguments are constantly presented (e.g., 4:17-19), and the author consistently refers to Gentiles in the second person (e.g., 2:11-13). It is possible that Ephesians was sent to a congregation in transition from a Jewish majority to a non-Jewish majority. For many, the question of authorship and canonicity are inseparable: a canonical criterion for many is that a book has been written by an apostolic figure or a colleague of an apostolic figure. The early church made these attestations at a time of doctrinal uncertainty. The early church attempted to ensure respect for their favorite book/books by seeking an apostolic personage to attach to them. In some cases, certain books themselves asserted their apostolic origins. If done respectfully, such attestations can transmit to



later generations valuable insights into the divine-human relationship. Religious piety is necessary for a healthy, complete spiritual life, but even piety can be misplaced. For example, if Paul wrote a letter to a family member but did not refer to his mission or his religious faith or draw upon either in some way, what are the chances that this letter would or should be included in the canon? Except in the most conservative and/or traditional Christian circles, such a letter would not be included in the canon because it would not be deemed either inspired or relevant. Inspiration, not authorship, is the primary and major canonical criterion. While it might not have been so for the church fathers, it should be so for us. Throughout Christian history, the Church Universal has affirmed Ephesians place in the canon by its repeated and continued use in liturgy, sermons, religious instruction, and theological discourse. It is inspired. Thus, it is not who wrote it, but Who inspired it that should be of greatest importance to the pious reader, and that shall be the focus of this commentary. [The Roman Province of Asia]

The Roman Province of Asia The Roman province of Asia saw quite a bit of Christian missionary activity. The Pauline mission worked extensively in the Lycus River Valley. Christian tradition tells us that Paul had an extensive ministry in Colossae, Laodicea and Ephesus; 1 Peter and also Johns Apocalypse address Christians in Asia, also. These three very different traditions tells us that Asia was fertile ground for Christian missionaries.

B. Context and Date


1. Context I have argued that Ephesians is deutero-Pauline and that the book was written when the congregation(s) for which it was written was (were) predominantly Gentile. It was written respectfully and drew from other books ascribed to the Apostle Paul. Within this context, the link to Judaism seemed unnecessary to some Christians. Ephesians attempted to correct that perspective. There are three main positions concerning the context and rationale for the writing of Ephesians. The first is that Paul wrote Ephesians to a mixed congregation that included both Jews and non-Jews in order to affirm the connection with Judaism and to encourage the congregation to overcome ethnic tensions and live in harmony. The second is that Ephesians is a general letter written to a predominantly Gentile congregation. Its purpose was to serve as an introductory letter for the collection of Pauls letters. The Jewish Christian-Gentile Christian tensions are no longer relevant in this predominantly Gentile congregation. The letter Catholic (General) Epistles is deutero-Pauline. The third position argues Normally, this refers to letters sent to a number of churches or to the Church that Ephesians is not a general letter and it was Universal. These letters are distinct from letters written by Paul to new converts to explain to sent to a single church or to an individual. They them their connection to Judaism. [Catholic
(General) Epistles]

F. F. Bruce argues that Ephesians comes from Paul and addresses a mixed Jewish-Gentile congregation. According to Bruce, Paul exhorts an ethnically mixed congregation to disdain racial bigotry and to embrace ethnic diversity as a blessing from God. Ephesians shows how the new, united community . . . is the harbinger and instrument of the cosmic reconciliation yet to be realized.11 I agree with Bruces sociological conclusions but disagree on the authorship question for the reasons mentioned earlier. Additionally, the household codes were written to demonstrate to the community what it meant to live harmoniously within this new Christian household. E. J. Goodspeed, followed by Knox, Mitton, and others, argued that Ephesians was a general letter written in the latter part of the first century, influenced by Colossians; it was somehow connected with the collection of Pauls letters, probably as an introduction to

included some or all of the following for various scholars: Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John and Jude. Originally, this designation referred to both canonical and non-canonical writings and did not question the apostolic authenticity of a given writing. According to Eusebius, it denoted a specific collection (usually James, 12 Peter, 13 John and Jude) of canonical writings separate from the Pauline collection (H. E. 2.23.24-25).



them.12 Ephesians was probably written by a resident of the Lycus Valley who was inspired by the writing of Luke-Acts.13 C. L. Mitton argued that the dissemination of Acts created an interest in Paul that led to the collection of Pauls letters. Perhaps inspired by Pauls speech in Ephesus (Acts 20:18-35), the author of Ephesians composed it with the blessing of Tychicus. J. Knox added that Onesimus, a second-century bishop in Ephesus (see Ign. Eph. 1.3), collected the letters. While this understanding of Ephesians has been widely influential, it is not without its faults.14 Goodspeeds hypothesis, as with Muddimans, cannot be corroborated by any extant evidence. Its influence lies in its ability to persuade like-minded people. Goodspeeds hypothesis rests on the assumption that Paul was a relatively unknown figure in the early Christian movement prior to the publication of Acts. While this is possible, it is equally possible that news of a new convert who formerly and fervently persecuted the Christian movement might be a frequently repeated story within early Christianity and that such news might spread rather quickly. Moreover, many scholars have argued that Paul is the central figure of Acts 1428 because he was well known. However, this knowledge was by reputation only. 15 Furthermore, Pauls ministry in Palestine, Arabia, Syria, and Roman Asia would have contributed to his being known in the eastern Mediterranean region. Indeed, the greetings at the end of many of Pauls letters attest to the mobility of Paul and his colleagues. Finally, Paul wrote to the Roman church, a congregation that did not know him personally, to discuss his beliefs, and some have argued that his reputation preceded him (Rom 1:8-15). In any event, he does not have to tell them who he is. Thus, for these reasons, Goodspeeds hypothesis is inadequate. In my opinion, a better proposal would be that someone in Pauls churches initiated the collection of Pauls letters as a means of substantiating Pauls legacy over against the pillar apostles. At approximately the same time, Acts was published and helped to cement Pauls place as a leader in the growth and development of the faith. The Paul of Acts, however, is not the Paul of the letters. Pauls theology simply is not in Acts. More likely, Paul was known in many Christian circles for his missionary activities; however, his letters and their accompanying theology were not as extensively known. This explains Pauls popularity in Christian circles outside his congregations as well as Pauls role in Acts, yet the non-Pauline



theology in Acts.16 P. Vielhauer demonstrated quite thoroughly that the theology of Paul is only marginally found in Acts.17 Moreover, much contemporary Protestant New Testament scholarship has a pro-Paul bias. Eusebius designated certain NT books as general, or catholic, epistles in Ecclesiastical History 2. Subsequent lists generally include such writings as Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, James, Jude, and often the Revelation to John. These letters, supposedly, were aimed at the wider Christian community. Duane Watson provides an example that illustrates my case well. Watson writes that James, 12 Peter, 13 John, and Jude constitute the catholic epistles. The distinctive element of these works is that they were not sent to local churches or to an individual as were the letters of Paul. However, Watson contradicts himself almost immediately when he writes, Although 2 John addresses a local congregation and 3 John addresses an individual, these letters were so closely associated with 1 John that they were included along with it within the Catholic Letters.18 It is not the collection but the labeling of the collection that constitutes the problem. The designation Catholic/General Epistles is antiquated and should be discarded because it is unnecessary and erroneously labels these writings. Such a label is unfortunate and inappropriate in several additional ways. First and foremost, NT scholarship does not have sufficient knowledge of first-century Christianity to ascertain the general milieu of the movement and, thus, what would constitute a work with a broad enough appeal to designate it general. Second, in what sense are these books general? If they were truly general, we could expect them to be more uniform. They are not. In fact, in many ways they are mutually exclusive. For example, while Hebrews exhorts its readers not to return to Judaism, James exclaims the value of keeping the Jewish law; while Jude discusses conflicts within Christianity, 1 Peter details external social pressures on Christians to denounce the faith. While we know little about the social setting of Hebrews, 2 Peter, James, and Jude, we know much about the life setting of 1 Peter: it was written in the last quarter of the first Christian century to Christians suffering regional repression in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. One can find these places on a map between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. How would one explain the very different contents of the other so-called general epistles? Finally,



these books are also decidedly more clearly Jewish than the rest of the epistolary writings. It is unfair to designate these works as catholic epistles because (1) Paul did not write them, (2) more is not known of their original life setting, and/or (3) they are more Jewish. In labeling them this way, we lose sight of their individual value as Christian witnesses and create a canon within the canon in Pauls writings, writings that appeal to many twenty-first-century theological perspectives. Our lack of knowledge should not cause us to lose sight of each of these writings as works that gave different messages to different Christian groups whomever and wherever they might have been. This commentary will take the perspective that Ephesians is not a general letter and contains a message for a group of Christians in a specific locale. More cannot be said. Other problems exist with Goodspeeds hypothesis. He also assumed without proving that a more general letter would not speak to a specific situation. This is a post-Enlightenment, Western assumption that appeals to persons from a similar life setting. In fact, Ephesians might well speak to a specific situation in which a congregation sees itself more and more separate from Judaism institutionally but deeply indebted to it religiously. In such a context, an author might imitate Paul by incorporating key themes from several of Pauls letters. Such a letter would be more general than most of Pauls letters by its very nature. The central issue, or issues, might easily be overlooked because they appear to be simply another topic borrowed from one of Pauls letters. Such is the case with Ephesians. The book of Ephesians expands extensively upon two topics from its template, Colossians. The first is the inclusion of the Gentiles in the household of faith in Ephesians 2:11-22. The passage represents a development upon its parallels in authentic Pauline letters. The second is the household rules in 5:216:9. This passage also develops the parallel comments in Colossians far beyond the original. Both expansions would speak to social issues within a mixed community and would detail the socio-religious milieu of the Christian Church, a major theme in the book of Ephesians. Nils Dahl and Henry Chadwick take a different position. Dahl argues that Paul wrote Ephesians to provide new converts instruction on the meaning of baptism: its brings them into Gods elect community and reminds them of the ethical demands of that com-



munity. Christians are a new people composed of persons from a variety of ethnic groups, breaking down former barriers and destroying old stereotypes.19 Dahl is eminently correct about the purpose of Ephesians. Moreover, the forthcoming commentary will develop the sociological and theological dimensions that he identified. Chadwick argued that Ephesians is an apologetic against those who said that Christianity is new. The Romans viewed new movements suspiciously and feared these movements might lead to anti-Roman activities. Ancient traditions were honored because they had withstood the test of time. Ephesians, according to Chadwick, argues that Christianity is ancient, is rooted in Judaism, and is the fulfillment of the ancient divine plan. Thus, Gentiles should recognize that their salvation has been a reality since the dawn of time.20 Ephesians does not argue for the antiquity of Christianity within Judaism. Rather, it argues that Jewish and Gentile Christians should live together harmoniously as children of God. To what degree Ephesians is apologetic can be debated, but it is clear that the household codes would have functioned in this way to nonChristians. This commentary will identify other parallels with Greco-Roman writings on various topics in Ephesians. 2. Date Bruce, recognizing that his position was conjectural, stated that Tychicus might have passed through Ephesus en route to the Lycus Valley and showed the letter to the Ephesians, and that they made a copy of it. When the Pauline corpus was collected, since it came from the church at Ephesus, the letter was associated with that church. He dates the letter c. 60 CE.21 Muddiman dates the letter c. 54 due to its relationship, for him, to Philemon and Colossians. He also sees parallels in 1 Peter and Revelation, two other books whose provenance was Roman Asia.22 In both Ephesians and Revelation, the church is described as the bride of Christ and the Christian life as warfare. Additionally, both insist on continuing Jewish ways of worship and biblical interpretation. He should also have added that both have strong concepts of predestination (see Eph 1:4; Rev 13:8; 17:8). Both 1 Peter and Ephesians, writes Muddiman, open with a liturgical blessing (1 Pet 35; Eph 1:3-10), speak of the Church as a temple and Christ as its foundation (1 Pet 2:2-6; Eph 2:18-22),



Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, and Syria Pauls missionary activities began in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Nothing save Pauls own comments in passing is known of that work (see Gal 12). One reason for this is that no letters to those Christian communities have survived. Indeed, Pauls letters made letter-writing a Christian practice and popularized the Apostle to the Gentiles throughout Christian history. Of course, Pauls often brilliant prose helped a great deal, too.

relate Christs death to salvation (1 Pet 1:18-19; Eph 2:18), proclaim the supremacy of Christ (1 Pet 3:22; Eph 1:20), have household codes (1 Pet 2:183:17; Eph 5:226:9),23 and end with an exhortation to Christian warfare (1 Pet 5:8-9; Eph 6:10-17). The letter has a fourfold purpose of (1) offering encouragement and ethical exhortation, (2) celebrating Gods salvation through Christ, (3) preserving and transmitting Pauls thought, and (4) establishing a literary legacy for the church of Ephesus. Though I agree in general, this last purpose would make more sense if Ephesians were deutero-Pauline since there is no record of Paul doing this for another congregation. E. Best dates the book between 6090 CE, but closer to 90 since Ignatius is the earliest known person to quote it. The book was written to Christians probably living in Roman Asia. It is a general letter, but it was probably intended for a restricted area like Asia Minor.24 Ephesians also has an anti-Gnostic polemic, using terms later in vogue among Gnostics. The book is concerned with the unity of Jews and Gentiles as equals within the Church. The general nature of the address (to the saints) and the conclusion



1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:3-4, 7-8a (to the brothers) lends credence to his argu1 Peter 1:3-5 ment concerning the general nature of the letter, Blessed be the God and Father of our Best argues. On the other hand, they could Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great simply be terms of endearment. Furthermore, mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ the debate concerning the genesis, nature, and from the dead, to an imperishable and undefiled growth of Gnosticism and also the arguments inheritance and (it) will not fade away, reserved in for Gnosticism as a second-century developheaven for you who are protected by the power of ment are strong. [1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:3-4, 7-8a] God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Lincoln states that Ephesians was written between 8090 to Pauline churches in western Ephesians 1:3-4, 7-8a Asia Minor. The crisis of Pauls death created a Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus leadership vacuum. These predominantly Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, just as He Gentile congregations would need to be chose us in Him before the foundation of the reminded of Pauls suffering because of his minworld so that we might be holy and blameless istry to the Gentiles and what they owed to it. before Him. In Him we have redemption through Pauls death left the community without an His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He authority figure and might have created a loss of lavished on us. cohesion among the Pauline churches. Ephesians reminded these congregations of their place in the Church Universal, the need for unity, and the importance of continuing and maintaining the apostolic tradition. Moreover, hope in the parousia was also fading: Gentile Christians . . . would have needed reminding of the Churchs place in Gods purpose in history which had previously included his election of Israel (cf. 2.11-22).26 Goodspeed argued that this Jew-Gentile tension had long since passed when Ephesians was written. The existence of Jewish Christians well into the second century CE refutes Goodspeeds hypothesis. While the content of their doctrine and practices is open to debate, their existence is not. At least two groups existed, the Ebionites and the Nazoreans. Church fathers Justin Martyr, Hegesippus, Irenaeus, and others mentioned them.27 If they were in the church in the second century, it is conceivable that they were there in the first. Therefore, to argue that the issue of the place of Israel in Gods divine plan was settled within the first-century Christian community is not historically sound.28 The real problem is that we do not know where these Jewish Christians were. The separation from the synagogue did not occur simultaneously everywhere. When the church became totally Gentile, interest in the history of Jewish Christianity also waned.29



At the same time, Ephesians incorporates categories of GrecoRoman social mores and redefines social relationships in light of its understanding of the demands of the gospel. For example, household rules and virtue-vice lists were commonplace in Greco-Roman society, especially among the Stoics who perfected them. Household codes sought to establish proper human relations; virtue-vice lists identified proper human behavior. Both motifs are found in the New Testament.30 Colossians and Ephesians prominently employ standard Greco-Roman household codes in order to present Christian values in ways that both Christians and nonChristians could easily understand and appropriate. Also, they would serve as an apologia to relate the Christian movement positively to the wider society. In this sense, Lincoln correctly understands Ephesians as a social theology of some sort. How then would the absence of Pauls letters lead to their collection? Is it unrealistic to believe that someone within the Pauline circle collected the letters in order to substantiate the value of the Pauline mission to the Gentiles? Would not a disciple of Paul be a more likely candidate to collect the letters as a means of presenting Pauls side of the story against the witness of the pillar apostles and their disciples? These are more credible arguments for the collection of Pauls letters based on the available evidence. Many scholars assume that there were only two missions, one to the Jews and one to the Gentiles, one law-abiding and one law-free. However, this perspective represents an oversimplification of the data. Acts reflects a form of Gentile Christianity that is simultaneously neither pro-Paul/anti-Peter nor pro-Peter/anti-Paul. It is a Gentile Christianity that keeps parts of the Law but not all of it. Acts has found a way to maintain a connection with Jewish religiosity while still appealing to non-Jews. Yet, we cannot assume that every region of the Christian community made this transition at the same time or in the same way. It is quite possible that other communities continued to struggle with this issue into the second century CE, especially given the existence of Jewish Christians who held to a less developed Christology. Most topics in Ephesians have their parallels in Colossians. However, Ephesians 2:11-22 expands the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the covenant community far beyond what one finds in Colossians 3:11-13. Further, the household codes in Ephesians 5:216:9 exceed the parallels in Colossians 3:184:1.



Ephesians 2:11-22 attempts to articulate what the Jewish legacy means for this new, culturally integrated Christian community. As M. J. Smith notes, The author of Ephesians . . . documents the fusion of two ethnic groups under one economical salvific plan, which results in a united church as one body with Christ as its head.31 Second, the household rules in Ephesians 5:216:9 go beyond what one finds in Colossians 3:184:1. The rules address the sociological demands of theological truths. Those truths are that Christians should constitute a unified harmonious community of faith (Eph 2:11-22; see also 3:144:1). Ephesians 3:15:2 discusses communal concord. Ephesians 5:216:9 spells out what that means in households. Both discussions were extremely important in conveying to the original readers what Christian harmony and concord meant in the wider Christian community (2:11-22) and also in individual homes (5:216:9). Prejudice against Jews was always a possibility in antiquity. Periodically, anti-Jewish bigotry would arise with little instigation. Two examples come to mind: Philos embassy to the Emperor Gaius and Marcions rejection of the God of the Hebrew Bible (HB). Philos embassy to Gaius was not preceded by a decade of pressure on Alexandrian Jews. Rather, the negative stereotypes were dormant and arose under a given set of circumstances. Simmering tensions came to the surface, and Jews found themselves under duress. Similarly, there is no extant evidence that Marcion rejected the God of the HB after a long period of theological reflection. Rather, it appears that Marcion simply reflected Religious Apologetics to an extreme what was considered a normal Religious apologetics in this period had view of Judaism and Jews. [Religious Apologetics] three purposes: to defend and explain the tradition to outsiders; to do so in terms and ways There were many reasons for this social develthat outsiders could understand; and to gain, at opment. Many considered Jews superstitious worse, a measure of respect for the tradition, or, because of their Sabbath day observance and at best, to gain converts. also misanthropic because of their refusal to have table fellowship with non-Jews. 32 Moreover, Jews in many cities did not pay local taxes but sent a temple tax to the temple in Jerusalem. At the same time, they enjoyed all the social and cultural benefits of their non-Jewish neighbors who paid taxes. Finally, Gentile was never a Jewish term of endearment toward non-Jews. These things would not have made Jews popular with their nonJewish neighbors. Thus, prejudice against Jews was an endemic part of Roman society, and Christians from non-Jewish backgrounds



might naturally want to dissociate themselves from Judaism altogether. Ephesians argued that such a fragmented perspective is totally unacceptable.33 Christ has destroyed these social barriers and has created a community where Christian identity supersedes all else. The household rules, on the other hand, would assure all Christians that some social norms would not be changed. While the household rules have a Christian perspective, we shall see later that they are not significantly different from what well-known figures contemporary to Paul were writing. Ephesians adds Pauline Letters doing so out of ones devotion to Christ. While Colossians The parts of a Pauline letter: (1) salutation, has this same admonition, it is much stronger in Ephesians. What then can be said about the setting, date, and context of Ephesians? One should start with what is knowable. Ephesians is an expansion and a development of Colossians. The book is deutero-Pauline and is a respectful attempt to represent Pauls thought for a new, post-Pauline situation and employs Colossians primarily for this purpose. Ephesians also employs other books in the Pauline corpus, but its strongest affinities are with Colossians. Ephesians, however, contains a much stronger comment on the need to integrate Jewish and non-Jewish Christians into one new ethnic community (Eph 2:11-22) and also spells out the implications of the household codes in more detail (Eph 5:216:9). Why would the author of Ephesians feel the need to write a letter so close to Colossians and yet expand on it in certain places and sprinkle tidbits from other Pauline letters? The author wrote Ephesians probably because his original audience had not incorporated into their lives certain teachings of Colossians as fully as he would have wanted. He writes a second time and concentrates on the areas that need their attention. I fully Monotheism realize that this is a mere hypothesis. I believe, In Greco-Roman society, many however, that this hypothesis moves the discussion in philosophers and religious thinkers began to move toward the right direction. [Monotheism] monotheism in that they believed that This commentary will take the approach that these one supreme god ruled in the heavens in two topics constitute the primary concerns of the same way the emperor ruled on Ephesians and will read the book from this perspective. Earth. While it is clear that what is unique is not always central, at the very least we can say that it was important to the author of Ephesians. That fact alone requires that it receive special
(2) thanksgiving, (3) body of the letter, (4) closing comment, and (5) conclusion. [Pauline Letters]

Cappadocia and Galatia


attention. I date Ephesians in the last quarter of the first Christian century.
C. Genre

The question of genre is a minor issue for Ephesians. If Paul wrote it, he meant it to be read as a letter. If he did not, the author clearly and intentionally employs Pauls letters as its model. Aune correctly writes, The letter was one of the more flexible of ancient literary forms. Almost any kind of written text could be framed by formal epistolary features and regarded as a letter.34 Indeed, with Ephesians the content is more important than the form. If the book were a theological treatise, its message would be the same. The typical Pauline letter has five parts: (1) a salutation, (2) a thanksgiving, (3) the body of the letter, (4) closing comments, and (5) a conclusion. Ephesians clearly has many of these features. It has a salutation (1:1-2), a thanksgiving (1:3-23), the main body (2:16:9), closing comments (6:10-20), and a concluding postscript (6:21-24). As with some Pauline letters, a member of the



Determinism And he opened his mouth and spoke blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, that is, those who live in heaven. And it was given to him to make war against the saints and to conquer them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. And all who live on Earth will worship him, whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:6-8)

mission team is mentioned by name (cf. 6:21 and Rom 16:21). The body of the letter may be divided into an extended thanksgiving (1:33:21), a parenesis (4:16:9), concluding comments (6:10-20), and a postscript (6:21-24). The extended thanksgiving reiterates major themes found in Pauls letters (salvation through Christ by faith, the unity of Jews and Gentiles, Pauls commission to the Gentiles, etc.). The parenesis begins with a section on Christian unity that echoes 2:16-18, and it then goes on to restate themes found in other works attributed to Paul (4:15:20). Then follow the household codes from a Christian perspective (5:216:9). [Determinism]
D. Theological Concepts

1. God The concept of God in the book of Ephesians is a diverse but wellintegrated perspective. It has two major foci: Father and Savior. God has a traditional role of patriarch common to the first-century Mediterranean world. First and foremost, God is the source of life for all living creatures in heaven and on Earth. He is the one from whom every family in heaven and on Earth is named (3:15 [AT]). As such, God provides a divine template for his children to emulate (4:24; 5:1, 8-9; cf. 6:4, 7-9). Furthermore, God the Father is superior to all, and a divine pantheistic immanence is omnipresent (4:6). Similarly, divine patriarchy undergirds the image of God as an enthroned king (2:6; 5:5). Many in the empire saw the Roman emperor as the patriarch of the domain. Ephesians might have provided a conscious alternative to the imperial model. In any event, the concept would not be foreign to the initial readers of Ephesians. Finally, God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3). By means of Christs faithful obedience to the Father, the Church Universal has come into being. This multi-ethnic church has been predestined and purified (1:4) for service to God (e.g., 2:10; 3:14; cf. 3:20-21; 5:19-20). This brings us to the concept of God-as-Savior. By this time, the so-called mystery religions, such as the Isis cult, had garnered some degree of success in the Roman Empire. The majority of



these religions came from the eastern regions of the Mediterranean, were more personal than traditional Roman religion, and promised their devotees some form of existence beyond death: the deity saved the faithful from death. Christianity, as espoused in Ephesians, meets all these criteria and could have been perceived as another mystery cult (e.g., Eph 1:9; 3:2-5; cf. 1:17; 3:10-12; 5:17). Ephesians clearly incorporates the language. More important, the mystery referred to in Ephesians consistently has soteriological aims: God reveals Godself as one whose intent and purpose is to save women and men from sin and to adopt them (e.g., 1:4-9). This is most significant because in Roman society adoption could occur at any age and carried with it the full privileges of a biological heir.35 Along these same lines, Ephesians frequently employs economic terms to describe salvation (e.g., 1:7-8, 14, 15; 2:7; 3:6, 8, 16). Thus, Ephesians 1:14 and 3:6 refer to salvation as an inheritance. In this way, God-as-Father and Godas-Savior are integrally related in Ephesians. Moreover, not only is God a savior in Ephesians; his plan of salvation has also been predetermined (1:4-5; cf. 1:20-21; 2:4-8). Determinism, or predestination, was a common feature in first century CE Roman society. Within Judaism, it reached its zenith in Jewish apocalypticism. Jewish concepts of predestination would have been reinforced by astrology and Roman Stoicism, the preferred philosophy of the Roman intelligentsia. Stoicism had also manifested itself in various aspects of folk philosophy and religion. In its various forms, determinism usually has two basic concerns: to affirm without question or doubt the complete sovereignty of God and also to assure devotees of a given movement the immutable eventuality of their success, salvation, and/or vindication. For Ephesians, Gods plan from the foundation of the world (1:4; cf. Rev 13:8; 17:8) has been to create a people, through Christ Jesus, that was pure (1:4), multi-ethnic (3:6), and unified in every way (4:4-6). At once Ephesians affirms the Jewish heritage, the propriety of its continuity and fulfillment within a predominantly Gentile church, and the inevitability of the churchs salvation. In so doing, the book assures its original audience of their propriety and ultimate salvation. This salvation manifests itself in numerous blessings and gifts (e.g., 1:3-5, 18; 2:4-10; 3:16; 4:24; 5:23-24). Finally, Gods roles as Father and Savior are divine benefactions. The ancient Mediterranean world functioned on a reciprocity



God as Enthroned King God as an enthroned king would have been a familiar image and concept to most people living in 1st-C. CE Roman society. Since the emperor sat on a throne, non-Jews often depicted the highest god sitting on a throne in the heavens. The OT image of God as king would have been reinforced by this widespread concept.
King. c. 123035. North Italian; Lombardy or the Veneto. Limestone (pietra di Aurisina, province of Trieste). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. (Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Resource, NY)

O God Who Shaped Creation O God who shaped creation at earths chaotic dawn, Your word of power was spoken, And lo! The dark was gone! You framed us in your image, You brought us into birth, You blessed our infant footsteps And shared your splendored earth.
William W. Reid, Jr (1987)

system. After a gift was given by a benefactor, the beneficiary gave something in return. For example, for liberating a city from a tyrant (benefaction), the freed city (the beneficiary) might inaugurate annual games and name them after its liberator (benefactor). [T]he return gift then became an incentive for more benefactions, and so the cycle continued.36 [O God
Who Shaped Creation] [God as Enthroned King]

Christ in Community Christ joins the earthly Christian community and the heavenly community in Ephesians. Christ functions in the same way throughout the NT: he represents the will of God to the people of God (e.g., John 10:30; Rev 19:13).

2. Christ Christ is the one who connects the plan of God with the people of God. Through Christ, God the Father bestows blessings on humanity, adopts the faithful for a soteriological inheritance, reveals Gods will, and unites Jew and Gentile into one faithful community. [Christ in Community] First and foremost, Christ is the means of salvation in Ephesians. Christians become the Fathers children and heirs through Christ (e.g., 1:5, 7; 2:13; 6; cf. 3:17; 5:2). Christ brings the Fathers will into fruition through his death and resurrection (1:7; 2:3). Ephesians perceives this as an act of grace (1:13; 4:7). In addition, Christs work is integral to the creation of the Church Universal. In Ephesians, the Church refers to the international



movement, not merely particular congregations. The Church is also an interracial movement that brings together various ethnic communities into one. Ephesians says our peace comes through Christ (2:14). This peace should be contrasted with the tensions between Jews and Gentiles common outside the Church. AntiJewish sentiments persisted in the ancient world. Some non-Jewish Christians would be extremely reluctant to disavow their socially acceptable anti-Jewish bigotry. [On Bigotry] It is for this reason that peace within the Christian community was significant.37 Christ does not simply bring peace to this enmity; he On Bigotry replaces it with a harmonious, holy community planned by In vain do we confront the established prejuthe Father from the foundation of the world (1:4). The dices with reality: they are magnitude of such a development would not go unnoticed unshakeable. by the intended readers. It would challenge old stereotypes A. Heller, Toward a Sociology of Knowledge of Everyday Life, Cultural and prejudices on both sides. The aim was to create a living Hermeneutics 3 (1975):10. temple with Christ as its foundation (2:21-22). Similarly, Christ dwells within faithful Christians (see 3:17; 5:23-24). All these images were meant to convey the intimate relationship between Christ and the Church. Institutional Christianity has its roots in this soil. As head and foundation, Christ provides an example for Christians to follow. It is in this light that the household rules (e.g., 5:21, 23, 32; 6:5-6) should be read. The rules should be obeyed out of reverence for Christ. Indeed, if Christ truly dwells within each faithful Christian, this must be made manifest in human action. Finally, God the Father equips the Church for its life and ministry through Christ. As the head, foundation, and inner guide, Christ receives from the Father gifts that he passes on to the Church. Specifically, there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Their purpose is the edification of the Church in love and unity (4:11-16). 3. The Holy Spirit The pneumatology of Ephesians ably complements the two preceding doctrines. The Holy Spirit seals believers and thus ensures their inheritance-salvation (1:13). The Spirit facilitates access to God (2:18) and creates through the Church a living temple of God (2:22). The Spirit strengthens the inner person (3:16; cf. 4:23; 5:18) and also promotes unity within the Church. This relates directly to the ecclesiology of Ephesians: the Church always refers to the international fellowship of Christians, which Ephesians envisions as one unified body of believers (4:3-4; 6:18). [Communal Unity]



Communal Unity Romans 12:5 So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. Colossians 1:18 He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Finally, the author of Ephesians describes the Christian lifestyle in terms of warfare. Within this context, the sword of the Spirit is mentioned in connection with the word of God (6:17). Revelation 19:13-21 has similar imagery. Lincoln correctly notes that the Spirit gives the sword its power and penetration.38 Concurring, Best writes that the Spirit either supplies or empowers the sword and gives strength to Christians.39 [The Holy Spirit]

4. The Church Since the author envisions a new multi-ethnic group, the Church is always the Church Universal (e.g., 1:22; 3:10). This is extremely important given that (RSV) prejudice against Jews was always dormant, at the very least, in Greco-Roman society. The Christian Church is a new ethnic group The Holy Spirit that is qualitatively better The Christian concept of the Holy Spirit owes much to the OT tradition where God Almighty often sent his Spirit to prophets or other righteous than its diverse predecespersons. For example, 1 Kgs 22:24 reads, How did the Spirit of the LORD go from sors (see Eph 1:1) and me to speak to you? When the Spirit went from one person to another, it was a replaces the old orders sign that the first person divided humanity.40 had lost favor with God Almighty. The dove The Church and became the principal Christ are inseparable for image of the Holy Spirit for Ephesians. Ephesians many early Christians employs four images to because of the descent of the Spirit at the time of the describe the Church. baptism of Jesus by John Each demonstrates the the Baptizer (e.g., Matt intimate relationship 3:16). between Christ and the Church. The first is the Corrado Giaquinto (17031764). body of Christ. This The Holy Spirit. c. 1750. Oil on image recurs ten times in canvas. (Credit: http://upload. Ephesians (1:23; 2:16; commons/5/5f/Giaquinto%2C_ Corrado_-_The_Holy_Spirit_3:6; 4:4, 12, 16 [twice]; _1750s.PNG) 5:23, 29, 30). Ephesians expands on Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12, and Colossians 1:18, 24 and 2:19. Given the close affinity between Ephesians and Colossians, Colossians is probably the primary source for this imagery. With this image, Ephesians exhorts its readers to remain



faithful to Christ as Christ was to God. The Church should embody Christ and constitute Christs presence in the world. Christs lordship is understood in the sense of The Word of God both rule and determinative source of origin Ephesians 6:17 (4.15,16; 5.23).41 [The Word of God] Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Second, the Church is an extension of Christ (1:22-23; 5:23): Christians and Christ are Revelation 19:13 inseparable. Just as a head directs the human And clothed with a robe dipped in blood and his body, so too does Christ direct the Christian name is called The Word of God. body. While parallels to 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and Romans 12:12 are evident, Stoicism also provided a parallel. Stoicism, an optimistic and deterministic pantheism, taught that logos orthos was the hegemonikon, the guiding principle of orderliness in the universe. Each person had a piece of logos in her or him that should govern human action. Moreover, Stoicisms influence was so pervasive that everyday people employed Stoic concepts, ideas, and motifs without knowing it.42 Such an influential motif in society in general could only reinforce Ephesians teachings on the relationship between Christ and the Church. Third, the Church is the bride of Christ (Eph 5:21-33; cf. Rev 19:6-9). This image also conveyed the intimate relationship between Christ and the Church. They are mutually responsible to one another. While the Church owes its allegiance to Christ, Christ has made the supreme sacrifice for the Church. This is not a casual relationship between professional colleagues. It is one between two entities who define each other (see also 2 Cor 11:2; cf. Rev 19:1-10). In the HB, Israel was the bride of Yahweh (e.g., Ezek 16:8-14; Hos 2:2-3; cf. Jer 31:32 where baal could be translated husband). Ephesians continues this tradition with a distinctly Christian modification: Christ replaces Yahweh; the Church replaces Israel. [Exodus 19:5-6] Finally, the Church is the temple of God in Ephesians (2:21-22). In most ancient Mediterranean cultures, the temple was where their national deity resided on Earth. In the first Exodus 19:5-6 century CE, the Jewish people believed that Now then, if you will obey my voice and Yahweh resided in the Temple in Jerusalem. keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the Ephesians now argues that God resides not in a Earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of priests building but in a people (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-17). and a holy nation to me. (Exod 19:5-6) While this is not institutionalization of the



Roots of Catholicism Many NT scholars point to the roots of early Catholicism in the ecclesiology of the book of Ephesians. For such scholars, this was an unfortunate occurrence and the Roman Catholic Church is a regrettable development. Two points: (1) one finds this evaluation almost entirely among Protestant scholars; (2) congregational polities and denominationalism are not without their faults either. The roots of Catholicism might well be found here in Ephesians, but so is the affirmation for Christian unity.

Church per se, it is an early stage and a development beyond what one finds in Paul. [Roots of

Given the preceding images of the Church, the remaining emphases should come as no surprise. First of all, Christians are faithful and pure (1:1; 3:8). Through death, Christ has made the Church holy, splendid, without blemish (5:25-27). Given the close relationship between Christ and the Church discussed above, depicting Christianity in this way should not be unexpected. This coheres with the communitys sense of its calling and election. Lincoln correctly notes that this is Gods initiative: In the opening eulogy the variety of terms employed for Gods electing purposes is impressive.43 He correctly notes that chose, predestined, proposed, and appointed are The Churchs One Foundation found throughout Ephesians 1:3-4. In this way, The churchs one foundation is Jesus Ephesians depicts the Christian community as Christ her Lord; one selected by God and predestined for greatShe is his new creation by water and the Word. From heaven he came and sought her to be his ness. [The Churchs One Foundation] holy bride; Ephesians stressed the need for unity in the with his own blood he bought her, and for her life Church (2:14-18; 4:4-6). The Church is unified he died. in one body. It comes from the one God who Elect from every nation, yet one oer all the earth; has created a single faith and a single anointing her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one of the Holy Spirit based on their solitary elecbirth; tion (4:4-6). Salvation is found only in the one one holy name she blesses, partakes one holy Church. food, and to one hope she presses, with every grace The Church as a universal entity does not endued. mean Ephesians could not be directed to a local congregation or a group of churches in a given Samuel J. Stone (1866) region. The ideal Church is used by the author as a norm for which to strive. Paul himself does the same thing when he makes an appeal based on the norm for all Christians: For God is not (a god) of disorder but of peace as in all the churches of the saints (1 Cor 14:33). 5. Ethics Ephesians espouses an ethical lifestyle based predominantly on the cardinal Christian virtues of love, holiness, and truthfulness. It also mandated household rules to establish the proper interpersonal



relationships and other characteristics to support the virtues, such as humility, gentleness, and patience in 4:2. Love (agap ) is at the foundation of all Christian behavior for Ephesians. For example, Christians should be tolerant with one another through love (4:2), speak truthfully to one another in love (4:15), and grow together in love (3:17; 4:16). Indeed, God chose the Church in love (1:4). Christ provided the supreme sacrifice for the Church (5:25). This sacrificial love is . . . the distinguishing mark of Christian existence.44 Moreover, Lincoln correctly argues that this love comes from God. It is embodied in Christ and mediated by the Spirit and is the power within Benefactions Christians that empowers self-giving love, expecting How blessed and marvelous are nothing in return.45 [Benefactions] the gifts of God, beloved. Life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth Holiness (hagios), the second ethical norm, must in boldness, faith in confidence, discipline in be made manifest in their lives. It is their reason for holiness; all these are in our understanding. being (1:4; 2:21; 4:24; 5:25-27). Often Ephesians (Clement of Rome, 1 Corinthians 35, trans. asserts that Christians are holy. Such assertions are Bettenson) part hyperbole and part exhortation in order to motivate Christians to strive toward that high ideal.46 Lincoln notes two overlapping areas with regard to holiness: speech and sexual behavior. First, negative language destroys concord within the elect community.47 In that light, discussing sexual sins could lead to unfortunate tolerance of their practice and eventually to ones exclusion from the kingdom (see 5:5). The Christian lifestyle must now conform to their Christian identity as children of light (5:8).48 Truthfulness (altheia), the third cardinal virtue, recurs throughout the book of Ephesians. In 1:13, it refers to the Christian message; in 4:24, it relates to the creation of the new person made in Gods likeness; in 4:15, 25 and 6:14, it refers to speaking sincerely and accurately; in 4:21, truth resides in Jesus. Truthfulness, therefore, is of the very nature of God, Gods intent for the world, Christ, and the Christian fellowship for the book of Ephesians. All three virtues, love, holiness, and truthfulness, individually and collectively contributed positively to the ongoing life of the Christian Church. These three main virtues are often presented in tandem with one another and/or other virtues and outstanding characteristics, which shall be noted in due course. The household rules (see Eph 5:216:9) were standard ways of expressing the nature of social relationships. The family lay at the



foundation of Roman society. The entire empire was considered a family with the emperor as the imperial father. The home reflected this to a large degree. In this sense, the household rules in Ephesians constituted something of a Christian apologia. They would have demonstrated to non-Christians how much Christians were similar to the rest of Roman society. It also would have given Christians a feeling of contact and continuity with the John 8:32 broader society. [John 8:32] However, the Christian (A)nd you will know the truth, household rules have a distinctive difference that and the truth will liberate you. would not have gone unnoticed to non-Christians: (John 8:32) Husbands, parents, and masters were called to be responsible to their wives, children, and slaves as an expression of their Christian piety.49 Finally, Ephesians espoused three other virtues in order to augment love, holiness, and truthfulness: humility, gentleness, and patience. Greco-Roman society frequently identified virtues that it felt contributed to one becoming a person of good moral caliber. For example, the Stoics espoused that the complete man, the wise man, must be courageous (andreios), just (dikaios), moderate (sphrn), and wise (phronims), the four cardinal virtues required for moral propriety.50 Moreover, Roman culture believed strongly in courage and patriotism as positive male characteristics. Therefore, advocating virtues was part of the cultural fabric. Again, however, Ephesians goes against the societal grain by advocating the minor virtues of humility, gentleness, and patience that would have been seen as weaknesses at best and vices at worst. Ephesians is creating a new ethos for this new ethnic group, the Christians. Both the household relationships and the virtues are based on the self-sacrifice of Christ. Both would have been meant to create a loving, supportive, and righteous ethnically inclusive community. Best correctly concludes that Ephesians sets the same ethical standard before everyone, enabling the community to increase the sense of togetherness and to prepare the way for greater equality.51 Our discussion of introductory topics ends here. We turn now to a more detailed exegesis of the book of Ephesians.



1. F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT; Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1984) 22933, esp. notes 12 (hereafter Bruce, Ephesians). 2. E.g., M. Barth, Die Einheit des Galaterund Epheserbriefs, TZ 32 (1976): 7891. 3. See, for example, Rom 16:1, 5, 23; 1 Cor 11:18, 22; 2 Cor 1:1; Phlm 2. 4. While I believe that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians, I am aware that there is no consensus on the issue. 5. See, for example, E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) xxviiixxx; A. T. Lincoln and A. J. M. Wedderburn, The Theology of the Later Pauline Letters (NTT; Cambridge UK: CUP, 1993) 8386. 6. Lincoln, Theology, 84. Talbert believes it is not possible to discern which letter came first and might have been a resource for the other (C. H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians [Paideia; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007] 36). 7. Lincoln, Theology, 8586 (quote on 85). 8. J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 20. 9. Ibid. Muddiman also noted that Marcions canon replaced Ephesians with Laodiceans (2729). Muddiman listed the strengths of his argument (2324). 10. B. Witherington, III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007) 136 (quote on 2). See also pp. 22324. 11. Bruce, Epistles, 23132, quote from 232. 12. E. J. Goodspeed, The Formation of the New Testament (Chicago: University Press, 1933) 28. 13. E. J. Goodspeed, The Place of Ephesians in the First Pauline Collection, ATR 12 (1930): 189212; The Meaning of Ephesians (Chicago: University Press, 1933) 317; The Key to Ephesians (Chicago: University Press, 1956). 14. C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: University Press, 1951) 21320; 26668; J. Knox, Philemon among the Letters of Paul, 2d ed. (London: Collins, 1959) 8592. 15. For example, see the discussion in my own The Presentation of Paul in Acts, Bible Bhashyam 19 (1993): 1946. 16. A key to understanding Acts is not why Pauls letters are not mentioned or why Paul is rarely referred to as an apostle. Rather, it is that all the major figures of ActsJames, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and othersserve to explain the growth and development of Christianity from Jewish sect to independent religion. 17. P. Vielhauer, On the Paulinism of Acts, in L. E. Keck and J. L. Martyn, eds., Studies in Luke-Acts (Nashville: Abingdon, 1966) 3350. 18. D. F. Watson, Catholic Letters, in D. N. Freedman, ed., Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2000) 225.


19. N. A. Dahl, Dopet I Efesierbrief, STK 21 (1945): 85103; Adresse und Proeomium des Epheserbriefs, TZ 7 (1951): 24164; cf. J. C. Kirby, Ephesians, Baptism and Pentecost (London: SPCK, 1968) 14459. 20. H. Chadwick, Die Absicht des Epheserbriefes, ZNW 51 (1960): 14853. 21. Bruce, Epistles, 24426. 22. Muddiman, Ephesians, 3441. 23. Some would argue that the household codes in Ephesians actually start with 5:21. 24. Best, Ephesians, xxv. Best and Talbert (Ephesians, 1112) both recognize the problems with designating Ephesians a general epistle. 25. Best, Ephesians, xxv-xxxiii. 26. Lincoln, Theology, 8586; quote from 86. 27. See, for example, Justin Martyr, Dialogue 4748; Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 1.26.2. 28. For example, fragments of the Gospel to the Hebrews and the Gospel to the Ebionites indicate that their respective Jewish Christian communities did not have as developed an incarnational theology as one finds in the canonical Gospels. 29. James Dunn has written an insightful study on this topic (The Parting of the Ways: Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity, 2d ed. [London: SCM, 2006]). Prior to this, G. N. Stanton came to similar conclusions in a series of studies within the British New Testament Society. 30. For example, Roman authorities would applaud Rom 13:1-7 and 1 Pet 2:13-17. Examples of household rules are in Col 3:184:1; 1 Tim 3:1-13; 5:16:2; and 1 Pet 2:183:7; virtue-vice lists, Gal 5:19-26; Phil 4:8 (only virtues); Col 3:5-8, 12-15; Eph 5:3-5 (only virtues); 1 Tim 6:4-6; Rev 22:15 (only vices). Roman examples would include Cicero, The Duties and 1.17.53-58; The Ends 19-20; Epictetus, Discourses 2.10.7-23; 2.14.13; and 3.7.26-27. 31. Mitzi J. Smith, Ephesians, in True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, ed. B. Blount (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007) 348. 32. Table fellowship was and continues to be a major form of social acceptance in eastern Mediterranean societies. 33. Modern examples of Christians wanting to distance themselves from Judaism would include those who deny that Jesus was Jewish, those who deny that the Holocaust occurred at all, or those who state that the Holocaust was necessary for some misguided theological reason. 34. D. E. Aune, in Harpers Bible Commentary, J. L. Mays, gen. ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988) 48. 35. Thus, the place of non-Jews in the salvation-history as adopted children would in no way relegate their status nor would it have been a foreign concept to them. 36. Talbert, Ephesians, 21. 37. I have discussed elsewhere how bigotry often recurs whenever the group in power might feel threatened (On the Social Setting of the Revelation to John, NTS 44 [1998]: 23256, esp. 24256). Bigotry is always an entrenched social phenomenon. Sociologist A. Heller writes, In vain do we confront the established prejudices with reality: they are unshakeable (Toward a Sociology of Knowledge of Everyday Life, Cultural Hermeneutics 3 [1975]: 10).

38. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 451. 39. Best, Ephesians, 325. 40. Lincoln, Theology, 94. 41. Ibid., 98. 42. Examples in the NT alone are plentiful. Acts 14:16-17 is optimistic and positive in ways any Stoic could have affirmed. Furthermore, Stoics used virtue-vice lists (cf. Gal 5:16-26) and household codes (cf. Eph 5:216:9) for moral instruction. 43. Lincoln, Theology, 112. 44. Ibid., 119. 45. Ibid., 121. 46. John Wesleys concept of Christian perfection (sometimes called holiness or sanctification) is similar to the concept of holiness in Ephesians. See his sermon The Scripture Way of Perfection based on Eph 2:8 as well as The Circumcision of the Heart and Christian Perfection in A. C. Outler and R. P. Heitzenrater, eds., John Wesleys Sermons: An Anthology (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991). I am indebted to Ms. Natalie Williams of the Pitts Theological Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, for assisting me in finding this resource. 47. Lincoln, Theology, 122. 48. Ibid. 49. People outside Christianity made similar progressive statements. As progressive as Eph 5:21-33 was for its day, it still has degrees of inequity. This does not mean that contemporary Christians should disregard the household codes completely. Rather, one should be grateful for what they did say, as the forthcoming comments will argue. 50. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.126. 51. Best, Ephesians, 272.


Outline of Ephesians
A. Ephesians 1:1-23Setting the Stage 1. 1:1-2Opening Salutation 2. 1:3-14Opening Blessing 3. 1:15-23The Thanksgiving Proper B. Ephesians 2:1-22The New People of God 1. 2:1-10The Wealthy Savior 2. 2:11-22Unity in the Community C. Ephesians 3:1-21The Mystery Revealed 1. 3:1-13The Divine Mystery 2. 3:14-21Prayer and Doxology D. Ephesians 4:1-5:2Maintaining Community 1. 4:1-6Exhortation 2. 4:7-16A Witness 3. 4:17-24Moral Exhortations E. Ephesians 5:3-21Sustaining Community 1. 5:3-5Avoiding Infidelity 2. 5:6-9Avoiding Meaningless Rhetoric 3. 5:10-14Pleasing the Lord 4. 5:15-21Spirit-filled Lives F. Ephesians 5:216:9The Household Codes 1. 5:21-33On Marriage and the Church 2. 6:1-4On Parents and Children 3. 6:5-9On Masters and Slaves G. Ephesians 6:10-24Concluding Comments 1. 6:10-13Military Metaphors 2. 6:14-17The Armaments of Faith 3. 6:18-20Prayer 4. 6:21-24Conclusion

Setting the Stage

Ephesians 1:1-23
The book of Ephesians can be divided into two major sections. The first section includes chapters 13. Chapter 1 contains an opening followed by a blessing and concluded with a thanksgiving. Chapter 2 discusses the new ethno-religious group (Christians) derived from two antithetical groups (Jews and Gentiles). Ephesians 3 continues the discussion in Ephesians 2 by referring to the inclusion of the Gentiles into the elect community as a mystery. However, it is a revealed mystery.


The first chapter of Ephesians may be divided into three major sections. The first section is the epistolary prescript, or opening salutation. It identifies the sender of the letter and its recipients, and offers words of blessing. Similar expressions are found in first-century Jewish writings. For example, the letter of Baruch ( 2 Bar. 7887) begins, Baruch, the son of Neriah, to his brothers in captivity, Mercy and peace (to you) (2 Bar. 78:2).1 The second section (Eph 1:3-14) has words of blessing that describe how God has blessed and empowered the Ephesians to live righteously. This section, one long sentence in Greek, repeatedly makes it points by employing economic terms (riches, inheritance, etc.). The concluding section contains a thanksgiving for the Christian witness of the Ephesians. It also is one long sentence (vv. 15-23), and it also employs economic terms in the process. [Temple
of Artemis in Ephesus]


Ephesians 1:1-23

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Ephesus was a major city during the Roman period, as it had been for the better part of the millennium before the advent of Rome. For the Ephesians, Artemis originally was a goddess of hunting and fertility. Eventually, the citizens of Ephesus claimed that Artemis was actually born there. The original temple was destroyed many times between the 7th and 4th centuries BCE. It was rebuilt in 356, and this edifice was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (Pausanias 4.31.8; 7.5.4).

Balage Balogh. Temple of Artemis, Ephesus, 1st C. CE. (Credit: Balage Balogh/Art Resource, NY)

Opening Salutation, 1:1-2

The opening line of Ephesians, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, is similar to the openings of several letters attributed to Paul (e.g., Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal Greetings Romans 1:1 1:1), but the closest parallel is to Colossians 1:1, which Paul, servant of Christ Jesus, has an additional reference to Timothy. It is meant to called (to be) an apostle, being set ensure that it comes from Paul by reasserting Pauls conapart for the gospel of God. viction that he has been called by God. [Greetings] 1 Corinthians 1:1 Apostle meant different things to different Paul, called (to be) an apostle of Christians. For Luke-Acts and Revelation, for example, Jesus Christ by the will of God, and it referred to the twelve-man inner circle that worked Sosthenos our brother. with Jesus before his death.2 For Paul, it referred to leading figures in the growth of Christianity (e.g., Rom 16:7). 3 With the words by the will of God, we see the familiar Pauline assertion that his commission came from God alone and not from humans, not even those who were apostles Apostolos before him (cf. Gal 1:1, 11-12; 2:1-10). Apostolos (apostle) originally could mean
an ambassador or a messenger, i.e., an official representative of someone else. Early Christianity gave this term new meaning in Roman society. [Apostolos]

Many have sought to explain the phrase to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus (NRSV) or to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus (NASB).4 The Greek reads, tois hagiois tois ousin [en Ephes] kai pistois en Christ Iesou. Are the words en Ephes original to the text? The Chester Beatty papyrus, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus, three of the most reliable texts, do not have these words, and Origen, the premier text critic

Ephesians 1:1-23


of the early church, does not know them. They are not in the minuscule 1739 and are not in the texts used by Tertullian and Gregory the Great. The words in Ephesus (en Ephes ) are found only in less reliable textual witnesses.5 Given the fact that Paul spent some time in Ephesus (1 Cor 15:32; 16:8-9; cf. Acts 18:19-21; 19:1-20; 20:17-38), it is highly unlikely that he would then write them and repeatedly say that he knows little about them (1:15; 3:2; 4:20-21). It is also highly unlikely that a book attributed to Paul would have gone over a century without some sort of nomenclature. Some in the early church might have been sensitive to this and associated it with Ephesus because Paul had a substantial ministry there. For that reason, it was unfortunate since Paul would have known this congregation quite well. Others might have done so due to the prominent stature of the church at Ephesus within early Christianity. Still others in the early church associated the letter with Laodicea. This was a better choice, but unfortunately Marcion, whom the Church later The Quest for the Original Wording denounced, knew this name. His association These are the basic rules of textual critiwith this name doomed its future use by the cism: Christian community. All these factors indicate 1. The reading that explains the other readings is that the reference to Ephesus was an addition to probably the original. the text. [The Quest for the Original Wording] 2. The most confusing reading is probably the Most probably in Ephesus was inserted by a original because scribes would not have made something less clear. well-meaning scribe. There are two possibilities 3. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus usually have the most and they are not mutually exclusive. Some reliable readings. ancient scribes who were also familiar with the 4. Be mindful of the theology and writing style of Pauline corpus might have added the reference the book under study. in order to bring this letter in line with the other known letters of Paul, or it might have been added to clarify the passage because some, again familiar with Pauls customary usage, felt the need to relate the letter to a place. Similarly, some early Christian scribe(s), having read the reference to Laodicea in Colossians 2:1, 4:13, 15-16 and seeing that the two letters were strikingly more similar than any others attributed to Paul, referred to our Ephesians as Laodiceans. Both designations were attempts to ensure that this insightful and inspired book would be held in high esteem in the Christian community. However, our problems do not end there. Most commentators say that the sentence is awkward even without the reference to Ephesus.6 Most read hagiois as a noun, influenced by similar pas-


Ephesians 1:1-23

sages in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; and Galatians 1:2. Usually, the addressee and the locale are identified in the dative and followed by a participle form of the verb to be, except in 1 Thessalonians and Galatians. However, the closest parallel is to Colossians, and that is where one must turn to understand Ephesians 1:1. Most translations render Colossians 1:2 similar to this: to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus in Colossae.7 This is a rendering of the Greek tois en Kolossais hagiois kai pistois adelphois en Christ. These renderings of the passage in Colossians in most translations are dependent on Pauls use of hagios in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; and Philippians 1:1 where it is best rendered saints. Herein lies the problem. Hagiois and pistois are not nouns but adjectives. A more precise translation of Colossians 1:2 would be to the holy (or pure) and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus in Colossae. I am proposing that this is how the author of Colossians understood the passages in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Philippians and how the author of Ephesians understood Colossians. Furthermore, such a reading would have been intelligible in every instance and not change the meaning of the verse. Indeed, the primary definition of hagios is holy, pure.8 This translation is grammatically sound, makes sense, and does not significantly change the meaning of the passage. It is also consistent by translating both words as the adjectives that they are. Many exegetes have assumed that hagios must be translated consistent with its use throughout the Pauline corpus without considering other sound options. This is particularly interesting for those who would argue that Colossians and/or Ephesians are deutero-Pauline. This brings us to the parallel in Ephesians (tois ousin [en Ephes] kai pistois en Christ Iesou). If one translates hagios in the same manner, then the passage is clear and needs no additional explanation: to the ones who are holy and faithful in Christ Jesus. This translation is grammatically sound, makes sense, and clarifies the misreadings that have surrounded the interpretation of this passage. The author of Ephesians has employed the same wording found in Colossians. In both instances, hagios functions as an adjective and not as a noun. Finally, holiness is one of the two cardinal virtues of the book of Ephesians and a key part of the theological construct of the book (see 1:4; 2:21; 4:24; 5:25-27).9

Ephesians 1:1-23
Opening Blessing, 1:3-14


We move now from the opening salutation to the opening blessing. This section will detail how God has saved and empowered Christians to live as saints, holy ones. Some To the saints would argue that the thanksgiving is liturgical in Romans 1:7 nature,10 but Best correctly cautions that such (T)o those called saints, all who are language may derive spontaneously from the beloved in Rome, grace and peace to you from occasion itself.11 Indeed, Best provides the God our Father and (our) Lord Jesus Christ. soundest explanation, one not based on form 1 Corinthians 1:2 but on content. The value of his explanation is (T)o the church of God which is in Corinth, to that he correctly perceives that form is most those who have been sanctified through Christ consistently the servant of content in early Jesus, to (those) called saints, with all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every Christian writings. Content is more important place, their (Lord) and ours. than form. More important, even MacDonald must acknowledge that Ephesians 1:3-11 is 2 Corinthians 1:1b dependent on its parallel in Colossians.12 [To the (T)o the church of God which is in Corinth, with
saints] all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia.

This section hangs together . . . with praise Philippians 1:1 of God13 that one finds in vv. 6, 12, and 14. Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all Verse 3 presents Gods blessing as the subject the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi with (the) bishops and deacons. and theme of this thanksgiving. Moreover, the thanksgiving repeatedly emphasizes Gods universal sovereignty as one based on mercy and loving benefaction. Christ is the one who mediates these blessings to us, including salvation. The divine plan has been preordained. Furthermore, God disclosed only to the Christian community Gods plan Breathe on Me, Breath of God for the universe. Finally, believers have received the Breath on me, breath of God, 14 Spirit as the first of many blessings. [Breathe on Me, Breath
of God] Fill me with life anew, That I may love what thou dost love, And do what thou wouldst do.

Verses 3-6 Edwin Hatch (1878) Verse 3 incorporates a Jewish liturgical formula (see Exod 18:10; 1 Chr 29:10) and adds a Christian element, the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Gods son. We find parallels elsewhere (e.g., Rom 1:1-6; 2 Cor 1:3; Col 1:3). As Best observes, There is thus continuity and discontinuity between the faith of the Old and New Testaments.15 The verse continues by affirming that God bestows the complete array of heavenly benefaction on Christians through Christ. The phrase in the heavenlies is peculiar to Ephesians and carries profound soteriological meaning for


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the books initial readers. 16 What has been accomplished in the heavens shall be repeated on Earth. While the Greek phrase en Christ could be translated in Christ, I would translate it through Christ, preferring to translate en as a dative of means.17 It connoted to the original audience that Christ had already secured their places in heaven through his death and resurrection. One should note that en Christ does not have the same strong sense of identification and unity in Ephesians that one finds in Pauls undisputed letters (e.g., 2 Cor 5:17). While in Paul it connoted a spiritual transformation as an end result, in Ephesians it denoted a process of transformation. Pauline language has become transformed in the hands of a well-meaning disciple.18 Verse 4 contains a strong statement of predestination.19 While it is clear that predestination (or determinism or preordination) leaves little room for free will, such a critique misses the point here. In the biblical tradition, determinism has two primary functions: (1) to affirm the complete sovereignty of God and (2) to encourage its target audience to remain faithful by assuring it Lift Every Voice and Sing of its ultimate vindication. These functions are Lift every voice and sing, mutually inclusive and complementary. For Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of liberty; Ephesians, God chose those who were to be Let our rejoices rise, saved before creation. This means that salvation High as the listening skies, is not haphazard or accidental but planned and Let it resound loud as the rolling seas. intentional. Such a claim would have been a Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past strong word of assurance for those who saw has taught us; themselves as the chosen ones. [Lift Every Voice and
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won.
James Weldon Johnson (1900)


For what have Christians been preordained? They have been preordained for salvation. Hagios is clearly an adjective here, further supporting my earlier argument concerning its proper translation in 1:1. In addition, ammos (blameless) is a synonymous term. The passage has a soteriological dimension in that Christians shall be pure and faultless before God at the judgment (see 5:27; Phil 2:15), concluding the reference to election. Bruce connects vv. 3 and 4. He argues that it is only through Christ that Christians have been chosen.20 Perkins notes parallels with the Qumran literature (CD 2:7; 1QS 1:10-11 and 3:15-17; 1QH 9:10-20), which speaks of divine predestination. She adds that Ephesians 1:4 does not imply the preexistence of the indi-

Ephesians 1:1-23


vidual souls of the righteous. Rather its focus is the experience of salvation, i.e., salvation has been predestined and not who will be saved.21 Perkins provides a necessary guard against the hubris of once-saved-always-saved rhetoric. Indeed, salvation is always a process in the Pauline tradition (e.g., Gal 5:5-6; Phil 2:12-13). However, this Paulinist has gone beyond the mentor by asserting a stronger concept of predestination. The words in love comprise the beginning of v. 5. 22 Verse 5 continues to discuss predestination. Thus, v. 5 would convey to its original readership that God has willed to adopt them even before the creation of the world and that God did so with love. In Paul this (adoption) is applied to the privileged new relationship believers have with God, but must also be seen against the OT background of Israels relationship with God. 23 These last two verses would have been a powerful message of encouragement to the original recipients to remain faithful regardless of their circumstances. Galatians 4:4-7 and Romans 8:18-23 both speak of God adopting children. In Roman society, adopted chilChrist loves the Church dren had the same rights as biological children, and Christ loves the church, even adults could be adopted into a family. [Christ With grace beyond all measure.
loves the Church]

In v. 6 the phrase for the praise of the glory of his grace (cf. Phil 1:11) connotes rather redundantly that adoption is entirely Gods gracious act Brian Wren (1985) and as such it makes us want to praise God for it.24 Moreover, the purpose of salvation is the praise of God, as Best and Lincoln have so ably argued.25 This grace has been given freely through (dative of means) the Beloved. Grace does not reside in Jesus Christ. Rather, it has been mediated through Christ to Christians: gifts are given to someone from Someone. In this instance, salvation (the gift) from God (the Giver) is given to Christians (the recipients) through Christ, the Beloved. This is an example of divine benefaction for Ephesians. Lincoln notes that en t gapmen (through the Beloved) is another way of expressing the same idea found in the phrases en Christ (through Christ [1:3]), en aut (through him [1:4]), and dia Iesou Christou (through Jesus Christ [1:5]).26 I concur wholeheartedly. Furthermore, all three phrases are clearer and make better sense if translated as datives of means. Indeed, the expression the Beloved became a messianic title within the first Christian

We bear his name, For all the world to see. He will not let us go or let us be, But chooses earthen vessels for his treasure.


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century. One finds a form of agap in Mark 1:11; 9:7; 12:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 9:25; Colossians 1:13, 3:12; Ignatius, To the Smyrnaeans inscription; and Barnabas 3:6; 4:3, 8. Forms can also be found in the LXX where often they refer to the elect community (e.g., Deut 32:15; Isa 44:2; Jer 11:15). Colossians 1:13 is probably the primary source for Ephesians 1:6 but not the only one. Like The Greek Dative Case Ephesians 1:4-6, Colossians 1:13-14 speaks of The dative case in Greek grammar is divine grace and human redemption through comparable to the indirect object in tou huiou ts agaps autou (his beloved son). English (to the man or for the man). However, the Greek dative has nuances unknown to its Finally, any reference to Israel as Gods beloved, English counterpart. One of those nuances is the as in LXX Jeremiah 11:15, could easily be transdatives of means (or dative of instrumentality) ferred to Christ by Christians, the true Israel which explains how something has come about for the early Christian community (see Matt (through or by means of). 4:1-11). [The Greek Dative Case] Verses 7-10 Verses 7 and 8 should be interpreted together. Verse 7 (cf. Col 1:13-14) reiterates the doctrine of grace denoted earlier and adds a reference to Jesus death as a sacrificial death (see Rom 3:25). The present tense of the verb to have suggests that Christ continues to be the source of deliverance from sin for believers.27 The sacrificial lamb on the Day of Atonement is probably in the background. Numbers 6:14 states that a year-old lamb without defect shall serve as an atonement for sin. The LXX has ammon to convey that the lamb is blameless and free of defect. It is the same adjective in Ephesians 1:4. Some might argue that Ephesians 1:7 refers to redemption, not atonement. Our author was more pastor than systematic theologian and probably saw little to no difference between the two.28 Apolytrsis (lit., buying back) often referred to slaves retaining their freedom. Ploutos meant wealth or riches. In Ephesians it is often used figuratively to convey a sense of overabundance (see 1:18; 2:7; and 3:16). In this verse, it conveyed to the original recipients that God is more than capable for the task at hand. This imagery shall be repeated in v. 8. Again, divine love is the reason for this. Verse 8 adds that divine grace has been lavished upon the Christian community. The point is that there was more than enough grace to complete the job. There was an overflow (perisseu). [Wealth] Wisdom (sophia) and insight (phronsis), synonyms in this verse, were classical virtues. Wisdom was one of the cardinal virtues. The

Ephesians 1:1-23


two virtues connoted to Greco-Roman culture that Wealth Plousios (adj.) and ploutos (n.) both one was intellectually gifted. In Ephesians, they connoted wealth. They referred to connote the rationality and propriety of Gods saving someone whose possessions were extengrace. sive and whose financial resources were Verse 9 refers to the divine plan as a mystery. The more than sufficient for daily living. purpose of life was not any clearer to the ancients than it is to us. For many, there was no doubt that there was a plan. Discerning the plan was the problem. Our author asserts that this plan, this mysterion, has now been made known (see Col 1:27). In biblical terms, a mystery referred to something revealed by God (e.g., Isa 48:3-6). In Greco-Roman society, mystery brought to mind the many mystery religions. They were given this label because their respective devotees were forbidden from sharing their rituals, teachings, and practices with outsiders. The New Testament redefines the concept by repeatedly stating that God reveals the mystery through the Christ event (e.g., Mark 4:11; Rom 16:25-26; Col 1:26-27; Rev 17:1-14). Thus, NT writers used a familiar term but redefined it. The term occurs six times in Ephesians (1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19; cf. Col 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3). In all but one instance (5:32), God has revealed the mystery through Christ. God has done this out of his love for the creation.29 Verse 10 tells us that God has a carefully designed strategy that involves Christ.30 This fullness is identical with the summing up of all things in Christ (see Eph 1:22-23; 2:21; 3:14-19). It is within this fullness that time attains its meaning. 31 Oikonomia referred to the management of a household or the administration of an office. It could also refer to stewardship or to a plan. In this instance, plan is probably the best rendering. The point is that God has established a means by which God shall culminate human history. The fullness of the times is a literal translation, not the fullness of time. It indicates the climax of all earthly times, the (eschatological) time of Christ, in which Gods mystery in Christ is revealed, realized and developed.32 It is already a completed act as the use of the infinitive of anakephalaio conveys.33 Verses 11-14 These verses conclude this section. Verse 11 tells us again that Gods plan was predestined (see 1:4) and that the Christ event was central to the plan. Again, the goal is the praise of God (v. 12).


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Beloved In classical Greek, agaptos originally functioned as an adjective meaning beloved or dearly beloved, or someone worthy of love. In its adverbial forms, it connoted contentment or cheerfulness. Love is also one of the cardinal virtues of the book of Ephesians.

While Colossians 1:12 emphasizes how Christians have been transformed so that they may share an inheritance with the saints, Ephesians 1:11 states that God bestows on the faithful an inheritance, their salvation. Klronome connoted coming into an inheritance. Prooristhentes connoted predestination again. The point would be to assure the faithful of their salvation and that God was in complete control of history. Verse 12 repeats the ideas found in vv. 5-6. The perfect form of the verb proelpiz suggests an action that has been completed with ongoing results.34 Verse 13 is an interesting passage. The first followers of Jesus were Jews, and some commentators argue that the reference to you also probably refers to Gentiles, assuring them that their share in Gods heritage is as full and firm as those of Jewish ethnicity.35 Others argue that this dichotomy is false and is never employed in such an uncomplicated manner in Ephesians. Rather, the author speaks here to new converts.36 Such an old/new divide might not have occurred to the author. Are Lincoln and Best arguing that these new converts might be Jewish? I think not. Rather, it might be better to argue that the dichotomy is between sustaining members and new converts and that most of these new converts were probably Gentiles. The expression in v. 13 having heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation has a Semitic ring (cf. Col 1:5; 2 Cor 6:7). Hebrew poetry operated on parallelism in which a second line either restates, complements, or contradicts the first. In this instance, the word of truth is complemented by the good news of your salvation, a parallel not found in Colossians 1:5. This word of truth has led to their salvation. Similar parallels between truth (altheia) and gospel/good news (evangelion) are found in 2 Corinthians 4:2 and Galatians 2:5, 14. This truth/good news combination would have been intended to reinforce the positive message of divine love and grace found in vv. 4-9, 11. Elsewhere, Ephesians asserts the superiority of the Christian message in general (4:14-15, 21-24). With Lincoln, I prefer to translate good news instead of gospel in this instance because it emphasizes the personal nature of salvation within a context (1:3-14) that focuses on divine grace and human salvation.37 Being sealed by the promised Holy Spirit (v. 13) conveyed the certainty of salvation to the original readers. Traditionally, sealing

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denoted ownership and/or being set apart. For example, Ezekiel 9:4 relates the identification of those who deplore debauchery, those righteous people who have not yielded to sin. One finds similar passages in 2 Esdras/4 Ezra 6:5 and Revelation 7:2-8 (cf. Rev 3:12 and 9:4) where sealing connoted both Gods ownership and protection. Additionally, some have argued that sealing also referred to the ritual of baptism.38 However, I agree with Lincoln that if it refers to baptism, it is to the baptism of the promised Holy Spirit39 (see Acts 2:17; Gal 3:14). While the identification of sealing with baptism occurs more frequently in the second century, the identification of a seal with ownership and protection are also found in 2 Esdras and Revelation. Revelation, 2 Esdras and Ephesians were all written in the second half of the first Christian century. The Holy Spirit (v. 14) then guarantees a Christians salvation, i.e., inheritance, so that God might be praised. The present experience of the Holy Spirit is but a foretaste and assurance awaiting the faithful at the end of time.40 It is a deposit, or guarantee, until God takes possession of that which is His.41 We move now from a description of the blessings Sealed And I heard the number of bestowed on Christians to expressions of thanksgiving for the ones who were sealed, their witness of faith. [Sealed]
The Thanksgiving Proper, 1:15-23

144,000 were sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Rev 7:4)

Ephesians 1:15-23 constitutes one long sentence. The thanksgiving actually begins with v. 15. Faith here has two functions: (1) holding correct doctrine and (2) incorporating believers into the body of Christ. Love is a fundamental quality of the Christian community. Hagios may be translated holy ones here since there is no noun for hagios to modify. Again, love and holiness are two of the three cardinal virtues of the book of Ephesians: the Come, Ye Thankful People, Come Come, ye thankful people, come, Church is a loving and holy community and Raise the song of harvest home; these virtues are mutually inclusive. Thus, the All is safely gathered in, writer speaks of the Church in the highest moral Ere the winter storms begin. terms. [Come, Ye Thankful People, Come] God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied; In v. 16, the writer asserts that he has continCome to Gods own temple come, uously given thanks for his parishioners so that Raise the song of harvest home. God might provide them wisdom. Giving Henry Alford (1844) thanks (euchariste) conveyed a sense of gratitude for some positive development. Their witness is so precious that the author mentions them in his prayers. One finds similar


Ephesians 1:1-23

statements in Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; and Philippians 1:34. Verse 17 tells us what he prays. It is that they might receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation from the Father of Glory. Father of Glory is a Semitic phrase similar to Lord of glory (1 Cor 2:8) and God of glory (Acts 7:2).42 This is a one-to-one, personal revelation. The revelations AE (the author of Ephesians) prays for his readers . . . relate to the way they are to live their lives. 43 Both MacDonald and Schnackenburg see liturgical dimensions here.44 Spirit refers not to the Holy Spirit (v. 13) but rather to a renewed human spirit (cf. Col 1:9). Verse 18 has three distinct images. The first is have enlightened the eyes of (your) heart. The heart was considered the source of knowledge in the HB. Mitton argues that this is a prayer for spiritual insight.45 Similarly, Lincoln argues that it refers to the inner enlightenment at the time of conversion.46 Indeed, this imagery connotes inner spiritual development and growth. The second image is the hope of his calling. This hope refers to their eschatological expectation as well as their selection by God from the foundation of the world (v. 4). An example of determinism, it also reminds the readers of their past calling in order to encourage and strengthen them in the present as they anticipate the future. This phrase could also connote Gods Examples of Thanksgiving in Paul hope for the world. If this is correct, Gods hope Romans 1:8 First, I give thanks to my God through and Gods salvation would constitute parallel Jesus Christ concerning all of you because your statements in this verse. [Examples of Thanksgiving in
faith is proclaimed in the whole world. Paul]

The third phrase, the riches of the glory of his inheritance for the holy ones, declares the overflowing abundance of Gods grace (cf. 1:7). Grace is defined as an inheritance. Lincoln, on the other hand, says inheritance refers to Gods Philippians 1:3-4 I thank God in all my remembrance of you, ownership of Gods people. Best, however, counalways offering prayer with joy in every prayer of ters that inheritance refers to salvation for Jews mine for you all. and Gentiles (see 1:27).47 In fact, Gods parental possession and their inheritance are two sides of the same coin, the same reality viewed from divine and human perspectives. This inheritance is for the holy ones. Holy ones, another term for Christians, relates to the ethical expectations of the book of Ephesians discussed earlier in the introduction. The point is substantiated in v. 19, which refers to those believers who are
1 Corinthians 4:1 I give thanks to my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus.

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empowered by God. This statement would also have been a means of exhortation to its first-century Christian readers. Witherington has a similar argument from a rhetorical perspective.48 Ephesians 1:19 returns to familiar imagery found earlier in the chapter. The expression the immeasurable greatness of his power reminds us of the riches of his grace (v. 7) and the riches of his glorious inheritance (v. 18). All three passages affirm Gods inexhaustible power to execute Gods will in human history. The phrase according to the working of his great power simply reiterates the first part of the verse. Verse 20 recounts a familiar early Christian confession, the resurrection. It adds a reference to Christ seated at Gods right hand. Being seated at Gods right hand is an empowerment image (see also vv. 4, 18, and 19). Most soldiers held their shields in their left hands, their swords in their right. Thus, the right hand was seen as the one that inflicted injury on ones enemy. It is powerful. This verse conveyed that God Almighty has given Attempts at Purity Christ the authority to act in Gods stead in the Purity was at the core of most Jewish heavenly places. Christ is Gods eschatological sectarian movements during the second temple period. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls divine warrior. His authority is extensive (v. 21). community lived an ascetic lifestyle and took Christ is specifically named as the head of the several ritual baths daily in order to be pure. Church Universal, the movement that embodies Pharisees strove to keep the Law as faithfully as Christ on Earth (v. 23a). As the embodiment of possible in order to be pure. The Sadducees performed temple rituals faithfully in order to be pure. Christ, the Church must be pure and holy (1:1, All believed that if everyone adhered to their form 4; 2:21; 5:27). [Attempts at Purity] of Judaism, the people Israel would be a holy and Ephesians 1:21-22 continues the thought righteous people of God. begun in v. 20 (see Col 1:16). Christ has been enthroned by God above all earthly powers. Schnackenburg notes, The addition and every name that is named enlarges upon the group of four . . . in a generalizing combination.49 The names probably refers to heavenly beings. It was commonly believed that if one knew the deitys name, one possessed a certain degree of power over the deity. Being above every name connoted that these heavenly beings were evil and that Christs name alone is enough for a successful confrontation with powers of evil.50 Moreover, Christs dominion is unending. The quote from Psalm 8:6 in 1:22 reinforces the belief in Christs extensive power.51 Christ is the authoritative leader of the Church. This is the first reference to the Church (ekklsia) in Ephesians (see 3:10, 21; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32). This verse is implicitly anti-Roman at the very least by


Ephesians 1:1-23

implying a contrast between God, the source of all creation, on one hand, with the Roman emperor, the father of the Roman Empire, on the other (cf. 3:9, 15). The fullness clause in 1:23 is fraught with exegetical possibilities (see also Col 1:18-19; 2:9). Mitton writes, To appreciate the full complexity of the problem a knowledge of Greek is needed.52 This is truly an understatement. The passage presents three major problems. First, how should fullness (plroumenou) be translated? Its Greek form can be either a middle participle (the One Who fills oneself ) or a passive participle (the One Who is filled). Second, does the term mean (1) to make full as in Matthew 13:48; (2) to complete as in Mark 1:15; (3) to finish as in John 3:29; (4) to fulfill as in Matthew 1:22; or (5) to bring to an end as in Luke 7:1? Finally, to what is fullness in apposition: body, Church, or him (Christ)? I translate the phrase in this manner: the fullness of the One Who fulfills all in all. I see plroumenou as a middle participle and fullness in apposition to him (Christ). Fullness is not a technical term for the writer of Ephesians. Fullness is a Christian Gnostic (or Gnostic Christian) technical term developed in the second century. Best argues that second-century Christian Gnosticism is probably dependent on Ephesians.53 In Colossians, fullness in general refers to Christ as the One Who possesses the divine nature in its entirety (1:19, 2:9); in Ephesians, it is a characteristic of Christs nature (1:10, 23; 3:19; 4:13). In every instance in Ephesians, fullness is associated with Christ, and this association is not inconsistent with Colossians. Rather, it is dependent on Colossians and builds on it.54 There is soundFullness ness here. [Fullness] Plrma originally conveyed that which fills up. It connoted a full complement of Our comments on Ephesians 1 end here. This something, such as a full crew on a ship, or the chapter has discussed the salutatory opening of sum of a number. In Gnosticism it came to mean the work that identifies the sender as the Apostle all the divine beings in the highest heaven. Paul and the recipients as ones who possess the virtue of holiness and who are also faithful to Christ Jesus (vv. 1-2). The blessing describes in economic terms the benefactions bestowed graciously by God upon the audience. The blessing also discusses how through these benefactions God has empowered Christians to live faithfully by means of the Holy Spirit (vv. 3-14). The thanksgiving concludes the chapter by detailing how Christians have indeed lived faithfully, having been empowered by God through the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:1-23
Temple of Artemis Considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Ephesuss Temple of Artemis was dedicated to the goddess of the hunt. Only the foundation and one column remain of this temple, which once measured 425 ft long, 220 ft wide, and 60 ft high. Pauls successful ministry in this city was considered a threat to this very temple (Acts 19:27).
(Credit: Todd Bolen/


Chapter 2 of the commentary shall examine Ephesians 2 and discuss how God has created a new ethnic community, Christians, composed of both Jews and non-Jews. Within this new community of faith, former ethnic demarcations serve no purpose. Jews and non-Jews are equals and co-heirs to the salvific inheritance of God.
[Temple of Artemis]


This greeting identifies the sender and the recipients. The writer describes the recipients in glowing terms: they are holy and faithful. He continues by asking that Gods blessings come to them in the form of grace and peace. Regardless of the purpose for communicating, Christians should remember that their sisters and brothers in the faith are precious to God and should also be precious to them. There is no law against wishing the best for other Christians.

Predestination has been and continues to be a major topic of debate in the Church Universal as well as in barbershops. The


Ephesians 1:1-23

common understanding is that some people have been set aside for salvation and others for condemnation, and that these results are unavoidable and immutable. Many rightly ask, however, What about free will? Are we merely robots who do what God has already preordained? Interestingly, most often those who insist on predestination also insist most fervently on holding people responsible for their ethical decisions and fail to see the inconsistency in holding this position. An understanding of how predestination functioned in ancient societies might prove helpful here. First and foremost, predestination always carried with it an element of reassurance; that is to say, it was in part apologetic. On the one hand, it attempted to persuade its audience that God was in control of the situation. On the other hand, it sought to assure its audience of the propriety of its beliefs and chosen lifestyle. These two elements are mutually inclusive in predestination. One might perceive a distinction between them, but A Contemporary Form of Predestination Hes got the whole world in his hands, there is no separation. [A Contemporary Form of
Hes got the whole wide world in his hands. Hes got the whole world in his hands, Hes got the whole world in his hands.
African American spiritual


Predestination is but one way to argue for the sovereignty of God. Other options work just as well and do not leave one with the conundrum of explaining the problem of free will and human responsibility. One such way is to assert that God is in control of all situations, that omnipotence means that God is the greatest power or greater than any combination of powers and that no situation can exceed Gods power. Gods sovereignty is affirmed, the free will/human responsibility question is avoided, and one does not slip into an amoral hubris about ones status with God. Predestination also attempts to assure its target audience that it is on the right track and to encourage individuals to stay the course. In other words, it carries with it a degree of hyperbole. Indeed, the book of Ephesians works with this understanding. Ephesians 1:4 states that Christians have been saved before the foundation of the world, and this is quickly followed by these words: so that we might be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians understands that salvation is a possibility but not a divine decree. If this were not the case, why would Ephesians 35 be replete with ethical instructions? The author gives these instructions so that his readers can enter the kingdom and receive salvation (5:5). Ephesians uses predestination language to point toward the ideal, ever mindful of the potential for sin.

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Now admittedly this will make some people uncomfortable, but this is precisely what Paul meant when he said the righteous shall live by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11). Faith is not knowledge; it is more powerful than knowledge. Knowledge confines. Faith breaks the boundaries and surprises us in the process. Ephesians 1:3-14 assures its original readers of the commitment of God to their salvation in order to help them sustain their faithfulness and stay the course. The author uses economic termsthe riches of his grace (v. 7), lavished on us (v. 8), obtained an inheritance (v. 11; cf. v. 14)to assure the readers that God is more than able to complete the job. They have nothing to fear. God has the situation well in hand. A second topic of interest in this section is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (1:13). While this is not an issue in African-American denominations, it remains problematic for other mainline denominations. Many believe that any discussion of the Holy Spirit immediately identifies one as a Pentecostal or charismatic Christian and, thus, marginalizes one. This is not nearly as great a concern among Black Christians who expect Christians to display a variety of spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit brings gifts from Divine Inspiration God to the Church, and members of the Church should Indeed we say that the Holy not shrink or be ashamed of their gifts individually or Spirit himself, who inspires collectively. [Divine Inspiration] those who utter prophecies, is an effluence from God, flowing from him At the heart of the problem is the gift of speaking in and returning like a ray of sun. tongues. Many Pentecostals and/or Charismatics state Athenagoras, Leg. 10 (C. C. Richardson trans., that only those who speak in tongues are true Christians. Early Christian Fathers, LCC) Speaking in tongues is the true sign of endowment by the Holy Spirit, they argue. This is a fascinating assertion by people who claim that their doctrines are biblically based. First of all, it is unbiblical because it is the opposite of what Paul says about the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 1213: speaking in tongues is the least of the gifts. Even the most biblically conservative Christians can ignore Scripture when it suits them. Paul states that God has bestowed all spiritual gifts for the betterment of the Christian community, not to draw attention to any one individual. Again, those who assert the supremacy of one gift violate Scripture. It is not about the gift or the one who received it. It is about the Gift-giver and the Church. All Christians should be charismatics. God has bestowed a variety of gifts upon the Christian community through the Holy


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Spirit. One does not have to speak in tongues to be a Christian, but one should have and display some spiritual gifts for the edification of the Christian community. It requires that we be open to the work of the Spirit in our lives. This is difficult for some who would rather praise God with their minds or their planning or their musical talents. All gifts are necessary for the ongoing life of the Church: praising, counseling, nurturing in the faith, preaching, organization, and other gifts. Paul correctly understood that the foundational gifts are faith, hope, and love and that they give all other gifts their Christian character. The late Reverend L. T. Trammell was my father-in-the-ministry. Before my first sermon, he made it clear to me that there was a difference between a good address and a good sermon, and the difference is our calling from God. This is true for all Christians, for we all have been called by God and given gifts for some type of ministry Ignatius to the Ephesians I devote myself for you, and I dedicate to others. The types of ministry vary, but the myself as an offering for the church of same God calls us all. [Ignatius to the Ephesians]
you Ephesians which is famous unto all the ages. They that are of the flesh cannot do the things of the Spirit, neither can they that are of the Spirit do the things of the flesh. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians 8 (trans. J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984] 139.


This section focuses on the virtues of love and holiness. These two virtues must be balanced. Ephesians does not focus on one to the neglect of the other. Love without holiness is undisciplined emotion. Holiness without love is arrogant self-righteousness. This is a mystery to both liberals and conservatives. Some Christians tend to focus on love. Love covers a multitude of sins, but often it does not change human behavior. People must be held accountable for their actions or no substantive change will result in many cases. On the other hand, other Christians stress holiness often to the neglect of love. That is the reason for the many schisms in Christian history. People believe that they are tainted by association, working on the fallacy that any real Christian will automatically agree with them. Human beings are imperfect and even good people disagree from time to time. True Christians live with this reality and have faith that God will help them navigate through the differences. Faithfulness is not only doctrinal; it is also communal.

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That raises the next topic in this section. Ephesians argues for doctrinal correctness based on communal unity: your love for the saints, mentioning you in our prayers, that the readers might receive a spirit of wisdom, and your heart might be enlightened. These blessings are for the entire community. Ephesians affirms doctrinal unity (4:5), but not at the expense of communal unity. This is difficult for many Christians in many communions to understand. Tensions within the worldwide Anglican and Baptist traditions, for example, continue to threaten the spirit of fellowship within these traditions. These tendencies to separate say more about the separatists than Scripture: they suffer from the Sinatra syndrome (I did it my way!). This attitude is both unchristian and unbiblical. Some Christians are like children who take their toys and go home when they cannot have their way.

1. R. H. Charless translation as revised by L. H. Brockington in H. F. D. Sparks, ed., The Apocryphal Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984). 2 Bar. is a late first-century or early second-century CE work. 2. Acts 14:4, 14 are the only times in Luke-Acts when people other than those who worked with Jesus before his death are referred to as apostles. Even here it seems to be done in passing. It is possible that the redactor failed to edit his source as usual. It also could be that too much is made of the term apostle in Acts. One should note that James is not called an apostle either, but one would be incorrect to question his status in Acts (see especially Acts 15). 3. It is often argued that Paul was not concerned with offices but with functions. While that might be true in general, Gal 12 and 1 Cor 9:1-6; 12:29a tell us that it is not true in every case. 4. The notes in the NRSV and the NASB acknowledge that some ancient manuscripts do not contain a reference to Ephesus. 5. See, for example, the fine discussions in M. Barth, Ephesians, 2 vols. (AB 34, 34A; New York: Doubleday, 1974) 1:67; A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 14; E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 35. 6. See, for example, C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: University Press, 1951) 40; Best, Ephesians, 35; F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT; Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1984) 250; C. H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians (Paideia; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007) 34. 7. Cf. the Good News Bible, New American Standard Bible, and New Revised Standard Version translations.


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8. See H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. and aug. H. S. Jones et al. (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1996) 9; BDAG 1011. 9. See my Translating hagios in Col 1:2 and Eph 1:1, Bib 87 (2006): 5254. 10. E.g., Lincoln, Ephesians, 14; Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 197214. 11. Best, Ephesians, 10. 12. MacDonald, Ephesians, 206. The medium was not the message but merely the means of communicating it. 13. Best, Ephesians, 10. 14. Ibid., 1011. 15. Ibid., 11; cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 1015; MacDonald, Ephesians, 197. 16. Cf. J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 66; Lincoln, Ephesians, 1920. 17. On the dative of means/instrumentality, see J. G. Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners, 2d ed., rev. D. G. McCartney (Upper Saddle River NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004) 9091; E. G. Jay, New Testament Greek: An Introductory Grammar (London: SPCK, 1958) 3031; BDF 104105. 18. Cf. Mitton, Ephesians, 4547; Muddiman, Ephesians, 6667; Best, Ephesians, 1213. 19. See examples in Eph 5:27; John 15:16; and esp. Rev 13:8 and 17:8; cf. 1 En. 85-90; 2 Bar. 53-74. 20. Bruce, Ephesians, 254. 21. Pheme Perkins, Ephesians (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 38. 22. Muddiman, Ephesians, 68; so too the RSV; contrast MacDonald, Ephesians, 198; Lincoln, Ephesians, 2425; the NRSV, NASB, and the JB translations. 23. Lincoln, Ephesians, 25. 24. Mitton, Ephesians, 51. 25. Best, Ephesians, 1920; Lincoln, Ephesians, 26. 26. Lincoln, Ephesians, 2627. 27. Perkins, Ephesians, 39. 28. Cf. Bruce, Ephesians, 259. 29. Ibid., 261. 30. Mitton, Ephesians, 55; contrast Best, Ephesians, 25. See also Mark 1:15; Gal 4:4; and Rev 6:11. 31. Best, Ephesians, 25. 32. Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 59 (parentheses in the text). 33. Cf. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 5961. 34. MacDonald, Ephesians, 203. 35. Bruce, Ephesians, 264. 36. Lincoln, Ephesians, 38; Best, Ephesians, 29. Muddiman also argues that this is a pseudepigraphical motif (Ephesians, 78).

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37. Lincoln, Ephesians, 3839; cf. Mitton, Ephesians, 5859; Muddiman, Ephesians, 7879. 38. E.g., J. C. Kirby, Ephesians, Baptism & Pentecost (London: SPCK, 1968) 15354; H. Halter, Taufe und Ethos (Freiburg: Herder, 1977) 230. 39. Lincoln, Ephesians, 3940. 40. Cf. Mitton, Ephesians, 6364. 41. R. A. Culpepper in private discourse. Cf. W. O. Carter, The Glory of God in the Christian Calling (Nashville: Broadman, 1949) 97100. 42. MacDonald, Ephesians, 216; cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 56; Witherington, Ephesians, 241. 43. Best, Ephesians, 38. 44. MacDonald, Ephesians, 216; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 73. 45. Mitton, Ephesians, 68. 46. Lincoln, Ephesians, 58; cf. Best, Ephesians, 4041. 47. Lincoln, Ephesians, 59; Best, Ephesians, 42; cf. Talbert, Ephesians, 56. 48. See Witherington, Ephesians, 242. 49. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 78. 50. MacDonald, Ephesians, 220. 51. See also Ps 110:1 and 1 Cor 15:24-26. 52. Mitton, Ephesians, 77; so too Muddiman, Ephesians, 94; MacDonald, Ephesians, 221; Lincoln, Ephesians, 72; Best, Ephesians, 54. 53. Best, Ephesians, 55. 54. See the fine discussions in Lincoln, Ephesians, 7282; Best, Ephesians, 5457; MacDonald, Ephesians, 22027; Muddiman, Ephesians, 9397.


The New People of God

Ephesians 2:1-22
Ephesians 2 continues and develops the train of thought begun in Ephesians 1. Ephesians 2:1-10 recounts the former life of the original readers and the subsequent change brought about through Gods act of salvation through Christ. As a result, God has created the Christians, a new ethno-religious group composed of Jews and nonJews in Ephesians 2:11-22. These verses expand and elaborate on Colossians 3:11.

The Wealthy Savior, 2:1-10

While these verses focus on the human plight and the divine solution, they also focus on individual salvation, not salvation through the religious institution. At the same time, they provide an apt synopsis of Pauls soteriology.1 Those who support Pauline authorship of Ephesians might point to this passage as evidence of theological consistency in Ephesians with undisputed Pauline books. Again we note the use of economic terminology to convey soteriological meaning. Ephesians 2:1-10 links the discussions of the Church as the domain of Christ in 1:15-23 and the Church as a new ethnicity wrought through Christs sacrifice in 2:11-22. The desired result is a deepened commitment to remain obedient to Christ in every way and to one another in an ethnically inclusive community.2 Between these two sections, 2:1-10 discusses how Gods plan . . . is worked out through Christ.3 The first three verses focus on human sin, while verses 7-10 focus on human salvation. Schnackenburg notes five possible connections between Ephesians 1:15-23 and 2:1-10. First, as with 1:10-14, 2:1-10 demonstrates the relevance of Christs reign. Second, the move from second person in 2:1 to first person in 2:3 results from humanitys basic sinful nature.


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Third, the soteriological discussion in 2:5-6 relates back to 1:20. Fourth, the phrase in the ages to come in 2:7 might be influenced by not only in this age but also in that which is to come in 1:21. Finally, in Pauls undisputed letters, the thanksgiving sections often look forward to the eschaton. Ephesians 2:7 might be an eschatological statement.4 Verses 1-3 Ephesians 2:1-3 describes decadent human behavior before one finds Christ. The author employs a cadre of terms to drive home the point. Verse 1 says they were dead (nekrous) spiritually because of their worldly sins. The passage you being dead in your trespasses and sins is actually the object of the verb made alive with in v. 5. The subject of the verb is God (v. 4). The expression in your trespasses and sins incorporates synOn Human Sin Behold, [I was taken from dust] [and] onymous terms to denote the gravity of their fashioned [out of clay] as a source of transgressions.5 One finds similar expressions in uncleanness, and a shameful nakedness, a heap Romans 4:25, 5:12; Colossians 2:12-13; of dust . . . and a house of darkness. (The Dead Ephesians 1:7; 2:12; 4:18; 5:12-21 and also Sea Scrolls, 1 QH 19, trans. G. Vermes , The Dead Sea Scrolls in English [New York: Penguin Books, Matthew 8:22; Revelation 3:1; and 1 QH 19.
1975]) [On Human Sin]

Verse 2 conveys that this is a common human failing that leads to an improper allegiance to the ruler of the authority of the air, the devil (see 6:12; cf. John 12:31; Rom 6:23). Many in the ancient world believed spirits, both good and evil, resided in the air between Earth and the highest heaven. Many first-century Jews and Christians believed that Satan resided in the heavens and that his fall from the heavens signaled the beginning of the last days (cf. Luke 10:17-20 and Rev 12:7-12). It is to this area that Ephesians 2:2 refers. The spirit in v. 2 is an unholy spirit who encourages waywardness among the sons of disobedience on Earth (cf. Luke 16:8). The devil rules this precinct. Verse 3 continues that all people were once sinners with three parallel statements: living in the lusts of our flesh and practicing the desires of the flesh and of the mind and also children of wrath.6 While the first two statements are roughly synonymous, the third states that the result is Gods justifiable anger. This section is reminiscent of Romans 1:183:20, especially 3:9-20, where Paul argues that both Jews and non-Jews are under the power of sin.
[Fall of Satan]

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Verses 4-6 Fall of Satan Many 1st-C. Jews and Christians believed that Verses 4-6, however, reassure the reader Satan resided in the heavens and that his fall from that all is not lost (cf. Rom 3:21-26). the heavens signaled the beginning of the last days (cf. Theses verses explain how God has erad- Luke 10:17-20 and Rev 12:7-12). icated sin through Christ Jesus. Many of Pauls soteriological terms and themes are found in these verses. Verse 4 speaks of Gods mercy and love. God is merciful to unrighteous humanity because of Gods plentiful love toward us (see vv. 4 and 8; cf. 1:18-19). God is not simply merciful: God is plousios, a term denoting that God has more than God needs to save us (cf. Luke 16:19-25; Jas 1:10-11). Plousios normally connoted an exceptionally wealthy person. Moreover, Gods love (agap ) is polln, abundant. Finally, the author employs the noun agap to describe the source of Gods mercy and the verb agapa to denote the how and why of Gods saving action. Using these terms helped the writer to convey that Gods desire to save humanity was genuine, and Gods ability to save James Barry (17411806). Fall of Satan. Etching with engraving and aquatint. 1777. Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England. (Credit: V&A humanity was inexhaustible and Images, London/Art Resource, NY) grounded in divine love. Ephesians 2:5a contrasts being dead through sin with being made alive with Christ. We have here an image that could allude to the resurrection, to their conversion experience, to their baptism, or to some combination of these. The writer is not a systematic theologian making singular points but a churchman attempting to persuade his readers. Thus, it is possible that this language alludes to all three since resurrection, conversion, and baptism all represent a new beginning. Paul makes a similar connection in Romans 6:4: Thus, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead . . . so we also might walk in newness of life. Colossians 2:11-13 has similar language, joining baptism, death, and the resurrection. While some might be tempted to emphasize the sacrament of baptism in both contexts in Ephesians and Colossians, the point is that as Christ was made


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alive on Easter Sunday, they too were made alive spiritually at their conversion until the end of time. It is not one of these things, conversion, baptism, resurrection, but all of them that lie in the background of this passage as in Romans 6:1-11. The latter part of v. 5 employs a familiar Pauline concept and confirms my soteriological interpretation: you have been saved by grace. Paul normally uses the present or future tenses with the verb to save (e.g., Rom 11:14; 1 Cor 1:18; 5:5; 15:2; 2 Cor 2:15). Ephesians 2:5b employs a periphrastic phrase, a form of the verb to be with a perfect tense verb. Moreover, Best notes that Paul usually relates grace to justification.7 The use of a periphrastic form indicates that the means of salvation have been established and cannot be dismantled. It also indicates a development of Pauls original theological position. Our deliverance comes from Gods grace, which is bound up in Gods raising of Jesus Christ. It is a gift of God. There are no strings attached to this inheritance.8 Several have noted how the expression you have been saved by grace appears to be parenthetical, as if it would be good to place a familiar Pauline phrase here. Muddiman notes correctly the unexpected change from first to second person plural and states that it is probably the result of using a stock formula. 9 Furthermore, Schnackenburg correctly notes that the ethical Fictive Family and eschatological emphases normally associated Cultural anthropologists describe a fictive with the expression are not found here where a family as people who are unrelated biologically but interact as though they are present salvation is emphasized.10 For the aforebiologically related. Ephesians would advocate mentioned reasons, I readily concur. [Fictive Family] such a relationship among Christians. Many cults Ephesians 2:6 continues the soteriological and sects function as fictive families, but that theme, echoing 1:3 and 1:20 and recalling should not discourage Christians: early Christianity was very much like a fictive family, and this conColossians 2:12-13 and 3:1-3. In contrast to tributed to its growth and development. Colossians 2:13, where renewed life relates to forgiveness, here it relates to the ascension. Verse 6 completes the progression of being made alive (v. 5b), being raised (v. 6a), and being seated (v. 6b) with Christ in the heavenly places.11 It is a completed act. Being seated is enthronement language. Such language has its roots in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Ps 11:4), but it is not without its New Testament witnesses as well (e.g., Rev 3:21). It conveyed to the original readers an intimacy with God in the next life that involved God sharing Gods power with the faithful. This is a powerful motivation technique. Some might argue that this passage refers to the sacrament of baptism.

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While the parallel in Colossians 2:12 refers to baptism, there is no mention of baptism here. One finds similar language in Ephesians 1:20, where it denotes Christs resurrection and subsequent enthronement in heaven. Ephesians 2:6 has the same meaning. [Resurrection Imagery]

Resurrection Imagery Colossians 2:12-13 (H)aving been buried with him through baptism, in which you were raised up with him as well through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of the flesh, he made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.

Colossians 3:1, 3 Verses 7-10 If, therefore, you have been raised up with Christ, Ephesians 2:7-10 contains many familiar keep seeking the things above where Christ is seated Pauline expressions and some not-so-familiar at the right hand of God. . . . For you have died and expressions. These verses continue to your life is hidden with Christ in God. develop the soteriological emphasis found in the preceding verses. [Ancient Ephesus] Ephesians 2:7 contains a purpose clause12 in that it provides the rationale for Gods actions described in v. 6. Coming ages (ages to come in NASB) presents several problems for interpreters. Does it refer to future distinct eras of human history, to different kingdoms, to supernatural beings? Are they hostile or friendly?13 One might offer another proposal: coming ages could be a hyperbole to match extraordinary riches of his grace. The point would be that Gods grace more than equals whatever might come. Again, as in 2:4, the emphasis is on the fact that God has more power than necessary for the task. Christians can rest assured

Ancient Ephesus Originally holding 25,000 people, this theater was built in the Hellenistic period and was renovated by several Roman emperors. Designed for theatrical performances, later alterations allowed gladiatorial contests to be held here. When Paul was accused of hurting Artemis and her temple, the mob gathered together in this theater (Acts 19:23-41).
(Credit: Todd Bolen/


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that divine goodness toward them far exceeds any evil they might encounter. This position is supported by the next phrase: the surpassing riches of his grace reminds us of rich in mercy (2:4). In both instances, the overabundance of divine grace and divine power are conveyed. Similarly, kindness toward us connoted Gods unfathomable love for humanity, just as His great love with which He loved us (2:4) conveyed the same sentiment. This salvation is so plentiful and long-lasting that it stretches into the future.14 There is a noticeable shift from first person plural in vv. 4-7 to second person plural in vv. 8-9. The writer might be employing a source more in one section than the other. On the other hand, it could be that the author himself inconsistently makes these moves. The latter might be the case since the overall writing style and theological content are consistent. Saint Paul Entering Heaven However, the repetitions in vv. 8-9 cause one to draw conclusions cautiously. Verse 8a contains the familiar Pauline concept, salvation by grace through faith, which we also saw in v. 4. Verse 8 adds through faith. The association of salvation, not justification, and grace and faith is a theological summation not found in the undisputed letters of Paul. Ephesians 2:8b-9 affirms that salvation cannot be achieved through human effort but is given freely by God. For that reason, one should not point to ones own efforts (cf. Rom 3:24; 1 Cor 1:29). This is a standard Pauline theological statement, and it sounds rather wooden here. Mitton adequately states the case: the whole Hans Suess von Kulmbach (c. 14801522). Saint Paul Entering Heaven. Uffizi, Florence, Italy. (Credit: Scala/Art Resource, NY) process of salvation is something which we do not do for ourselves; For Paul, faith was indeed primary, but it was not a lonely faith: God does it for us.15 proper ethics were proof of ones conversion and also assured ones Ephesians 2:10 returns to first salvation. person plural and also presents a

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host of exegetical problems. Verse 10 seems to contradict v. 9 that says human effort is not salvific: Christians were created through Christ Jesus (cf. John 1:3) for good works. Some might argue that a soteriology that includes any type of works-righteousness is clearly un-Pauline. Such a conclusion would be premature at best and inaccurate at worst. Paul connects human effort and salvation in Romans 12:21; 13:3; 1 Corinthians 3:8-15; 2 Corinthians 3:10; 5:10; and 9:8 (cf. Phil 2:12-14). In contrast, servants of Satan will suffer because of their evil deeds (e.g., 2 Cor 11:15). To say that Paul does not have a place for works in his soteriology reflects more the strong influence of Protestant theology rather than Pauls actual ethical perspective. Indeed, John Wesley best understood the relationship between work and salvation in Paul. In a sermon on Ephesians 2:8, Wesley argued that salvation by faith through grace was primary for Paul. If one has time and opportunity to do good works, however, one must do so in order to maintain ones sanctification and to move toward ultimate salvation. Faith alone was insufficient.16 Similarly, E. P. Sanders argues that for Paul faith was John Wesley on Ephesians 2:8 primary, the means of entry into the elect comBut what good works are those, the practice of which you affirm to be necesmunity, and good works were the means by sary to sanctification? First, all works of piety, 17 which one remained within it. I concur. For such as public prayer, family prayer, and praying in Paul, faith was indeed primary, but it was not a our closet; receiving the Supper of the Lord; lonely faith: proper ethics were proof of ones searching the Scriptures by hearing, reading, meditating; and using such a measure of fasting conversion and also assured ones salvation. or abstinence as our bodily health allows. Faith must be active in positive, constructive Secondly, all works of mercy . . . such as feeding human interaction (Gal 5:6). This explains why the hungry, clothing the naked, entertaining the Paul believed that those in Christ are comstranger, visiting those that are in prison, or sick, or variously afflicted. This is the repentance, and pletely new people and should be irrevocably these the fruits meet for repentance, which are good moral agents (e.g., Rom 6:1-14; 2 Cor necessary to full sanctification. This is the way 5:17). This is also why v. 10 ends with another wherein God hath appointed his children to wait purpose clause, in order that Christians might for complete salvation. A. C. Outler and R. P. Heitzenrater, eds., John Wesleys live as God wants. Thus, in this instance, Sermons: An Anthology (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991) 37180. Ephesians 2:7-10 accurately re-presents Pauls thought and, like Paul, does not provide a detailed discussion of how faith and works relate theologically and ethically. [John Wesley on
Ephesians 2:8]

Ephesians 2:10 appears to say that God has created women and men and predetermined their actions. Predestination was a major belief in that era. It was central to ancient astrology as well as several first century CE philosophies and religions. For the Stoic, it


Ephesians 2:1-22

was a means of asserting divine sovereignty and ones immutable destiny; for astrology, the certainty of ones destiny. It could also convey the certainty of ones acceptance and ultimate salvation by God Almighty among Jews and Christians. All Gods Sovereignty and Human Freedom these elements are present in Ephesians 2:10. There is an inherent tension between There is another explanation. Verse 10a states determinism/predestination and human responsibility. If every action is predetermined, that the Christian community is Gods work. how can anyone be held accountable for his or The writer refers here to the creation of the her actions? If every action is predestined, why Christian community, not the creation of the should we pray intercessory prayers? If every world. The next phrase, having been created action is predestined, why is there such an emphasis on having faith if human events are through18 Christ Jesus, confirms this. The next inevitable? phrase, which God prepared beforehand, Through time, several attempts have been refers to the good works that God has planned made to keep the balance between Gods soverfor Christians to perform in the course of eignty and human responsibility. Some have argued that omnipotence actually means that God human history. The verse ends with another is the greatest power and that no combination of purpose clause: in order that we might walk in powers can overcome God. Thus, evil powers them. The subjunctive verb in this clause indihave limited influence and humans can be held cates that Christian actions are potentialities and responsible for immoral choices. Others have argued that God wants to save everyone, but God are not set in stone. The writer believes that God allows us the freedom to choose our actions. has planned the future, but we are still responHowever, the end is unavoidable. sible for putting the plan into action. In this way, Ephesians attempts to avoid the tension between predestined actions and human responsibility. [Gods Sovereignty and Human Freedom]
One in Christ, 2:11-22

This section strongly emphasizes unity within the Christian community. This unity cuts across traditional ethnic forms of identification. By the first Christian century, there were three forms of social identification: ethnicity, nationality, and religion. All three forms frequently overlapped in Mediterranean societies. Philo of Alexandria, a staunch adherent of Judaism who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, exemplified ethnic and religious identity. Romans who worshiped the Roman gods and maintained Roman religious traditions would represent people with a strong nationalistic identity. Cornelius in Acts 10 would be an example of a non-Jewish person accepting the religious traditions of Judaism through Christianity. There is no sign in Acts that Cornelius lost any sense of his national identity. Social identification could be rather fluid in

Ephesians 2:1-22


Roman society. Ephesians 2:11-22 states what that should mean for Christians. Ephesians 2:11-22 espouses a culturally diverse yet unified Christianity. According to Ephesians, Christianity forges a new socio-religious identity that also destroys old barriers and prejudices. It does not advocate forsaking ones national identity but affirming ones Christian identity as a social locator. This section goes far beyond the brief mention in Colossians 3:10-11. Furthermore, it indicates that the subject warranted more attention than when Colossians was written or that the audience failed to see its significance when they read Colossians. Verses 11-13 describe the problem, vv. 14-18 the resolution of the problem, and vv. 1922 the result. Verses 11-13 Verse 11 begins this section by establishing a Jew-Gentile dichotomy. Lincoln correctly notes a pote (formerly) and nyni (now) construction where the readers would cherish their present status over against their previous one.19 It implies that the Gentiles were previously outside the elect community. Gentile was never a term of endearment. From a Jewish perspective, it pointed to the moral inferiority of non-Jews. Circumcision was one of the many Jewish practices that distinguished Jews from non-Jews. The verse ends by reiterating a familiar Pauline anti-circumcision position (cf. Gal 4). The end of v. 11 appears somewhat parenthetical (done in the flesh by human hands). The entire section draws closely on Colossians 2:11, 13. For Ephesians, both Jew and Gentile are on an equal footing (cf. Rom 13). This is clearly from a Jewish perspective. It indicates that the writer is Jewish Christian and that most of the recipients are Gentile Christian. Lincoln argues additionally that the intent was to allow Gentile Christians to see their own historical place in Anti-Semitism in Antiquity the history of salvation.20 Concurring, Best writes, There were several standard accusaRecollecting their past should then lead readers to tions against Jews in antiquity: (1) consider the great change that has come over their misanthropy, the hatred of humanity, because position.21 [Anti-Semitism in Antiquity] Jews refused to have table fellowship with non-Jews; (2) superstitious because of their Verse 12 continues to describe the former state of Sabbath observance; (3) atheistic because these Gentiles before their conversion: separate they worshiped one deity and did not respect from Christ, strangers to the commonwealth of the gods of other ethnic groups. Jews often Israel, aliens to the covenants of the promise, were perceived by others as unnecessarily exclusive. having no hope and without God in the world.


Ephesians 2:1-22

These expressions reflect a Christian Jewish perspective in that being within the Israeli community is the religious goal. These socio-political phrases denoted the Gentiles previous exclusion from the covenant community.22 Covenants probably refer to the covenants in the Hebrew Bible that bonded Yahweh and Israel (e.g., the Abrahamic covenant [Gen 15], the Mosaic covenant [Exod 20], the Davidic covenant [2 Sam 7]). The Gentiles were previously spiritually and theologically disenfranchised from Yahweh and the elect community. Now they are within that community. Verse 13 shifts the focus from their past exclusion (formerly) to their present inclusion (now) into the elect community. Once far away, they are now near, close. This has been accomplished by means of Christs blood, by his death.23 Melbourne, following Bruce, argues that the far/near imagery comes from Isaiah 57:1819 and the passage in Ephesians parallels Testament of Naphtali (TNaph) 4:5. Originally referring to Diaspora Jews, Ephesians has adapted it to refer to the Gentiles.24 Lincoln disagrees. He argues that the near/far dichotomy does not come from Isaiah but the then common Jewish belief, based on such passages as Deuteronomy 28:49; 1 Kings 8:41; Isaiah 5:26; and Jeremiah 5:15, which depict Israel as being near God and Gentiles as being far from God. Lincoln further notes that the far/near Plousios contrast is not found in Isaiah 57:19.25 While Plousios denoted one whose posLincoln clearly has a point, we should also remember sessions were so abundant that she or he need not work (see Matt 27:57). that early Christians were not always rigorously In 2 Cor 8:9, it refers to Christs heavenly faithful to the original context. Ephesians 4:8-10 status. Josephus, for example, uses it in provides an excellent example. keeping with its basic meaning in Jewish Verses 11-13 comprise a Christian Jewish perspecWar 4.414 and Jewish Antiquities 6.295. tive in that being within the Jewish commonwealth is the religious ideal. This goal is not undermined or forgotten in vv. 14-18 but elucidated.26 [Plousios] Verses 14-18 These verses state how racial tensions have been resolved through the Christ event. One should also note the shift from second person plural to first person plural. Christ is the subject of the verbs in this section. Verses 14 and 15 might constitute an inclusio by beginning and ending with peace. [Men at the Wailing Wall] Melbourne argues that He is our peace in v. 14 has a twofold meaning.27 First, Christs sacrificial death reconciles us to God.

Ephesians 2:1-22
Men at the Wailing Wall To the right are men praying at the Wailing Wall, all that is left of the second temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Both Jewish and non-Jewish men can pray here. Non-Jewish men could enter the temple, but they could only enter the outer court. Thus, one could speak metaphorically of the temple as a dividing wall. Women also pray at the wall but in a smaller area to the right of the men.


(Credit: T. B. Slater)

Christ has given us a vertical reconciliation that allows for a horizontal reconciliation between humans, the second form of reconciliation.28 While I agree with the second reconciliation, I do not find the first in v. 14. It is in v. 16. It is, at most, implied in v. 13. Ephesians 2:14 celebrates the union of Jew and Gentile into a new ethnic community, Christians.29 The New Israel for the writer of Ephesians has been redefined and reconstituted through Christ. Although still seen from a Jewish perspective, the new covenant community contains two groups that previously segregated themselves. Melbourne correctly understands that in Ephesians Christ Jesus makes it possible through his death to end national distinctions, preferential treatment, and racial Purity bigotryespecially in the Christian Church.30 Similarly, And I went from the first Smith writes that racial inequities are overcome in the heaven into the second; and Christian community. Jesus becomes the great equalizer I saw there water hanging between the two. (T.Levi 2:7, trans. M. de and the common denominator.31 [Purity] Jonge in The Apocryphal Old The writer drives home his point by referring to the Testament in H. F. D. Sparks, The dividing wall and the Law. There is much disagreement Apocryphal Old Testament [New as to what the dividing wall refers. Melbourne is among York: Oxford University Press, 1985].) those who argue that it referred to the wall that divided the court of the Gentiles from the larger, remaining portion of the Jerusalem Temple. He argues that Jesus destroys this wall, thus giving the Gentiles total access to God. He finds support for his position in Epistle of Aristeas 139, 1 Enoch 14:9, Testament of Levi 2:7, and the Apocalypse of Baruch.32 It should be noted that Ep. Arist. 139 and 1 Enoch 14:9 indeed refer to the dividing wall;


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The Temple Wall 1 Enoch 14:9 And I proceeded until I came near to a wall which was built of hail stones, and a tongue of fire surrounded it, and it began to make me afraid. Its roof (was) like the path of the stars and flashes of lightning, and among them (were) fiery Cherubim, and their heaven (was like) water. (trans. M. A. Knibb)

however, Testament of Levi 2:7 does not (see below), and Melbourne provides too general a reference for the Apocalypse of Baruch to be helpful. Is this a reference to the book commonly referred to as 2 Baruch or 3 Baruch? Is there a specific passage in whichever Baruch? [The Temple Wall] Others read the passage differently. They interpret the dividing wall as the barrier between a righteous God in the highest heaven and sinful humanity on Earth. Schlier, for example, argued that a Gnostic Redeemer destroyed the wall that separated the heavenly realm from the earthly. In so doing, this redeemer created peace between the two realms. Those who follow this line of interpretation see the soteriological dimensions in the passage that Melbourne sees but go further by adding cosmic dimensions as well.33 This interpretation reads too much into the text. Even if we grant that this might have been the original myth, Ephesians 2:14-18 is far removed from it. Indeed, it is so far that it is not easily recognizable, if it indeed lies in the background. More important, while the antecedents to Gnosticism existed in the first Christian century, the general consensus is that Gnosticism proper is a second-century phenomenon, and it is extremely difficult to say with precision where the antecedents for Gnosticism were strongest. A third option is that the dividing wall served as a metaphor for the Jewish Law, a tradition that segregated Jews from non-Jews. Religious purity was sought by most Jewish groups, and they saw obedience to the Law as the means to purity. The Jewish Torah separated entire communities, leading to mutual suspicion and hatred.34 Indeed, Jubilees 22:16, 1 Maccabees 1:60-63, and Epistle of Aristeas 139-142 reinforced Genesis 17:9-14, Leviticus 20:24-26, and Exodus 31:16-17. A fourth option is that the dividing wall refers to both the wall in the Jerusalem Temple and also to the Law. While the writer of Ephesians engages in theological discourse, she or he is not afraid of mixing metaphors. The writer does not work with the assumption that a single point must be made for the sake of clarity. This person writes to persuade by any means necessary. The last option is preferable. Determinative is the reference to the dividing wall of hostility. It is pure metaphor. The Jewish law led to countless tensions, large and small, between Jews and nonJews in antiquity. It caused Jews to segregate themselves and

Ephesians 2:1-22


non-Jews to resent their perceived arrogance and unsocial behavior. The Jews saw themselves as a chosen, pure race and the only civilized people because Yahweh gave them alone the Torah. In contrast, they saw their neighbors as impure pagans. However, those impure neighbors were often more prominent and more powerful in society. Such social realities wrought Kosher unrequited Jewish aspirations on the one hand But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean and Gentile resentment and bigotry toward Jews food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled on the other. It was a wall of hostility. [Kosher] by food or to profane the holy covenant (1 Macc Thus, prejudice against Jews was always a live 1:62-63a [RSV]). option in antiquity, and non-Jews defending Jews was a minority movement. Several biases recurred through the Greco-Roman era. Jews were considered superstitious because of their Sabbath day observance; misanthropic because of their kosher dietary regulations; atheists because they refused to acknowledge the existence of other gods. Moreover, Jewish people in many cities sent a temple tax to Jerusalem but did not pay local taxes, while they still enjoyed the social benefits funded by those taxes. Of course, their tax-paying neighbors would resent this. Finally, as noted above, Gentile was never a term of endearment. Thus, because the Christian movement was predominantly non-Jewish when Ephesians was written and many of its members would have wanted to distance themselves from Judaism, the author of Ephesians asserts that such a perspective is inappropriate. Christ has broken down the old barriers of bigotry on both sides and created a new ethnicity to replace the former two. Verses 15-16 develop v. 14. The phrase by abolishing the enmity in his flesh draws our attention first. Enmity probably refers to the Jewish law as a line of demarcation between Jews and non-Jews in Greco-Roman society. In his flesh is the means of this abolition, and it refers to the crucifixion as the event that accomplished the feat. The result is one new person, a new ethnicity called Christians. Christ established peace between groups where enmity existed previously and also created a new group that is different from and better than the previous two. Verse 16 confirms this exegesis. The verb translated reconcile meant to restore to a former state/relation or some form of restitution.35 In other words, the multicultural Christian Church is what God intended from the start. The creation of the Christian community is a theological process (to God) with soteriological consequences (through the Cross).


Ephesians 2:1-22

It is a sacrament, a symbol, of the peace that should exist in the entire human community. Verse 17 is not a direct quote of any known passage. It appears to be an allusion to Isaiah 52:7 and/or Isaiah 57:19b.
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness. (Isa 52:7, NASB) As a season upon the mountains, as the feet of one preaching glad tidings of peace proclaimed, as one preaching good things, for I will publish your salvation, saying, Zion your God shall reign. (Isa 52:7, LXX) Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near. (Isa 57:19, NASB) Peace upon peace to those who are far and to those who are near. (Isa 57:19, LXX)

Ephesians 2:17 clearly is much closer to Isaiah 57:19 than Isaiah 52:7. Neither passage originally spoke of ethnic harmony. To the contrary, both are messages of hope to a community in exile. An undercurrent in both passages in Isaiah is the propriety of this exiled community and its eventual restoration to its ancestral homeland. Those who are near are Jews who were not exiled; those afar, the exiles. This passage says nothing about interracial harmony. In fact, it implies just the opposite. Thus, I would conclude that Isaiah 57:19 functions here as an authoritative text and not as an interpretative text. An authoritative text has authority aside from an interpreters context. An interpretative text is an authoritative text that sheds light on the writers context. Two things support my conclusion. First of all, it is an allusion and not a quote or paraphrase, indicating that the words were important and not the meaning. Second, the meaning behind the Isaiah passages has nothing to do with racial reconciliation, the point of Ephesians 2:11-22. This passage places a premium on unity, oneness. Christ has made the two into one, thereby creating concord where enmity

Ephesians 2:1-22


resided previously (2:14-16). The peace that Jesus has wrought has given Christians access to God the Father in one Spirit (2:18). Finally, the family of God (v. 19), the cornerstone (v. 20), and holy temple (v. 21) all indicate the inherent unity of the Christian community to one another and also to God the Help Us Accept Each Other Father. This unity will be reemphasized in Ephesians 4:4-6. Help us accept each other As Christ accepted us; Again, vv. 14-15 begin and end by referring to peace. Barth Teach us as sister, brother, notes that Christs priestly role here closely parallels Aarons Each person to embrace. role in Numbers 6:24-26.36 [Help Us Accept Each Other] Be present Lord, among us, Ephesians 2:18 states that Christians have access to the And bring us to believe We are ourselves accepted Father through Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 5:2; Eph 3:12). This And meant to love and live. access should be contrasted with the restraining wall in v. 14. Christians can freely approach God. In most religious Fred Kaan (1975) traditions of the day, only the priest could approach the highest God, thus the statement that Christians are priest-kings found in Revelation 1:6. Ephesians is not too far from Revelation in that while Christians are not described as priests, they are a holy temple (2:21; cf. 1:1, 4). Some exegetes ask whether the process is accomplished through one Spirit or through one spirit or in one mind. The author probably meant to convey all these things since the Spirit encompasses them all. Best notes a similar parallel between body and Spirit in 4:4.37 More important, this passage goes far beyond its parallel in Colossians 3.38 This suggests that ethnic tensions played some role in the community for which this epistle was sent. I believe three factors contributed to this expanded discussion in Ephesians. The first is that the community still has Jewish members in it who affirm their religious heritage. Moreover, the argument is always from a Jewish perspective, indicating a Jewish writer. Indeed, note how the author moves from first person to second person and back again: the author speaks directly to Gentile Christians using second person; when speaking to a unified community, he or she uses first person. The second factor is that some members who were not originally Jewish had qualms about maintaining any connection with Judaism. Such an attitude would have been totally understandable in a society where anti-Judaic sentiments were always dormant. Finally, while Colossians spoke to this issue, it has not gone away and the author of Ephesians tries a second time to eradicate it. Most of the undisputed letters of Paul came about as a way to reiterate, clarify, and/or elaborate on Pauls original teachings.


Ephesians 2:1-22

Verses 14-18 build on the preceding three verses. Christ has destroyed the tensions between Jewish and non-Jewish Christians through the crucifixion. These tensions are identified as Jewish religious ordinances. While many non-Jews were attracted to Judaism, these rules and regulations often kept them from converting completely. Thus, for those who resented and those who respected Judaism, the Jewish law was at the center of Judaism, and it was a barrier. Ephesians 2:14-15a says the problem has been eradicated by Christ. The result is a new, harmonious ethnic community called Christians. This concord and social cohesion were brought about through the crucifixion (v. 16). In a world where people worshiped national gods and where ethnicity and religions were normally inseparable, this argument would have been understandable. The clear implication is that religious allegiance takes precedence over Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation everything else. Moreover, in this social Christ is made the sure foundation, setting, Ephesians argues for a new ethno-reliChrist the head and cornerstone; Chosen of the Lord and precious, gious label to replace the former ones.39 Binding all the church in one; Concurrently, conversions to other religious Holy Zions help forever, and her confidence alone. traditions occurred, but they did not involve changing ethnicity and/or nationality. [Christ Is Translation by John Mason Neale (1851) of the 7th-C. Latin original.
Made the Sure Foundation]

Verses 19-22 Verse 19 shifts back to second person and at once summarizes vv. 14-18. It also provides a transition to the following discussion. The Gentiles are no longer outside the covenant community (see vv. 1213). Xenoi kai paroikoi could be translated aliens and strangers, strangers and foreigners, foreigners and outsiders, or any combination of these terms since they are synonymous. Their purpose here is to reinforce the writers point.40 The Gentiles are now fellow citizens with the holy ones, the positive side of no longer being outsiders. Identifying the holy ones (or saints) has brought about several interpretations: (1) Israel/the Jews;41 (2) Jewish Christians;42 (3) the first Christians;43 (4) all believers;44 (5) a cosmic community that included angels and humans.45 The fourth interpretation is best because it looks at the use of the term within the context of the book of Ephesians. Previously, I have argued that hagioi, holy ones, refers to Christians in general and that holiness is one of the three most important virtues in Ephesians.46 Therefore,

Ephesians 2:1-22


the holy ones are the believers who rightly constitute the members of the household of God. Verse 20 employs imagery for constructing a building to describe the nature of the covenant community. This imagery might have been inspired by the reference to Gods household in the preceding verse. The foundation of apostles and prophets represents the first two generations of the Jesus movement. The apostles represent the first generation of people who were closest to Christ Jesus himself and carried forward his work. The early Christian prophets carried on the work of the apostles and thus the work of Christ. These two groups comprised the foundation of the Christian commonwealth for Ephesians (see Eph 3:5).47 Is Christ Jesus the cornerstone, the head of the corner, or the capstone/keystone of this commonwealth? Capstones, or keystones, were placed high in a building near the conclusion of the construction project to seal the arch. They would crown Foundation Stones a building and stand out significantly. While Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected head of the corner functioned as a christologhas become the chief corner. (NASB) ical metaphor, a cornerstone literally secured an entire building at its base. There are various Matthew 21:42 arguments for and against all readings. [Foundation Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the

Lincoln, for example, argues that capstone is correct because the apostles and prophets already were the foundation. Christ could not hold that same position. Therefore, Lincoln concludes that the writer must have intended for his readers to understand capstone, a highly exalted position in a building. Such a position befits one who is the head of the Church in Ephesians 5:23.48 [Capstone/Keystone] Witherington argues for head of the corner, suggesting that Psalm 118.22 might have influenced the writer (the Apostle Paul for Witherington). Citing Mark 12:10, Acts 4:11, 1 Corinthians 3:10-14, and 1 Peter 2:7 as support, Witherington argues that the head of the corner binds two walls together.49 To his credit, Witherington does not push the argument too far and recognizes that the central point is to give Christ a more prominent role than the apostles and early Christian prophets. While Witherington might be correct, one must note that Psalm 117:22 LXX (=Ps 118:22), Mark 12:10, Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7 all employ lithos (stone) and kephaln gnias (head of the corner); 1 Corinthians

Scripture, The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner; this came about through the Lord and it is marvelous in our eyes. (AT)


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Capstone/Keystone In the Church of St. Pierre (Peter) in Caen, France, the Apostle Peter occupies a prominent and key position in the interior architecture. Portrayed as sitting in the seat of St. Peter, his sculpted image caps the column on which it appears, while also seeming to provide the primary point of support for the superstructure above. Perhaps the reference to Christ as the keystone/capstone in Ephesians intends a similar view for Christ.
St. Pierre, Caen, France. Keystone with Saint Peter. French Gothic (11501500). Sculpture. (Credit: Foto Marburg/Art Resource, NY)

3:10-14 uses themelios. Ephesians 2:20 uses akrogiaios. Therefore, if these passages, save the LXX Isaiah passage, are in the background of this one, it is not in the linguistic foreground and can help little, if any, in interpreting this passage in Ephesians. The Isaiah passage uses akrogiaios and themelios. This passage might be in the background for both 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2, with Paul using one term and the author of Ephesians another. Schnackenburg is one who argues for cornerstone. The cornerstone was laid first, and the position of all other stones in the foundation was determined by this cornerstone.50 The cornerstone secured the foundation, which in turn secured the entire building. I find this third option persuasive. First of all, the phrase is a genitive absolute construction. These constructions require several steps for proper translation. To start, if the participle is present, while is often introduced into the phrase as an opening word; if it is an aorist, when or after is introduced. Ontos is a present participle of the verb to be, so we shall use while. Additionally, one must identify the noun that functions as the subject of the construction. In this instance our problem is simplified because the present participle ontos is a form of the verb to be, and either noun can serve as the subject or the predicate nominative, i.e., either Christ Jesus or capstone/cornerstone can function in either role. Finally, we translate the participle as an indicative. [Cornerstone]

Ephesians 2:1-22


Second, most translate autos in this Cornerstone As they do today, cornerstones formed the base of phrase as an intensive reflexive pronoun the foundation of buildings in the ancient world by in the predicate position. Normally, joining together two walls and stabilizing the foundation. when autos functions in this way it is Early Christians perceived Jesus as the cornerstone of accompanied by a definite article (e.g., Christianity probably due to the parable of the tenants (see autos ho apostolos or ho apostolos autos Matt 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-11; Luke 20:9-18). This parable [the apostle himself ]). There is no probably circulated in early Christianity among Gentile Christians who saw the Jews as the wicked tenants and definite article in this phrase accompa- themselves as the new tenants who replaced the Jews. nying autos. Thus, we must look for another use of autos. In this instance, autos is in the genitive and can also function as a possessive pronoun. Any attempt to have autos modify Christ Jesus as a possessive would be awkward at best. Since we have eliminated it on grammatical grounds from modifying Christ Jesus, it must modify capstone/cornerstone. Thus, a grammatically accurate translation would be either while Christ Jesus is its cornerstone or while its cornerstone is Christ Jesus. Thus, the phrase would mean that while the apostles and Cornerstone, St. Vincent De Paul Church, Bywater neighborhood of New (Credit: Infrogmation, New Orleans, prophets are the foundation of the Orleans. Church, Christ Jesus is that part of the foundation that stabilizes the entire structure. Furthermore, this rendering and interpretation is consistent with the theology of Ephesians: Christ is the foundational and authoritative head of the Church (1:22-23; 4:15-16; 5:23-24).51
[Divine Architecture]

Verse 21 confirms my conclusion. The continued growth and development of the Church is best explained as a result of every brick, so to speak, being fitted together upon the Divine Architecture Cornerstone.52 MacDonald notes the similarity here 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 with the temple imagery at Qumran. Both groups refer According to the grace of to themselves as Gods temple (e.g., 1QS 5:5-6; 9:3-8; cf. God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation and 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20). This is clearly a reference to the 53 another is building upon it. But let Jerusalem Temple for the Qumran community. While each man be careful how he builds Gentile Christians might not have been familiar with the upon it. For no one can lay a foundaJerusalem Temple, they were familiar with the widetion other than the one which is laid, which is Christ Jesus. spread belief that the temple was where the deity resided


Ephesians 2:1-22

when on Earth. Thus, it is not far-fetched to assume that the point would not be lost on them that God now resided in a people, not a building per se. Or better, the people Christian now constituted the Temple. This would have been a powerful metaphor to convey the closeness of God and Gods people. Furthermore, this Temple is holy, one of the cardinal virtues of the book. This means that the people of God are a worthy residence for this righteous God.54 The phrase in the Lord then identifies the Church . . . as a sacred building belonging to Christ.55 MacDonald writes, The believers are living stones that are being built together in a growing structure.56 I concur completely. Verse 22 continues foundation-cornerstone imagery begun in vv. 20-21 by continuing to speak of the Church and its growth in architectural terms. The phrase dwelling place for God parallels holy temple in v. 21; in the Spirit in v. 22 parallels in the Lord in v. 21.

Our discussion of Ephesians 2 comes to a conclusion here. Ephesians 2:1-22 describes how God has wrought a new ethnicity from among non-Jews and Jews, the Christians. Within this new community, old forms of racial bigotrythose of Jews and those of Gentileshave no place. Peace has replaced prejudice. Reconciliation has replaced acrimony. Everyone has equally inherited salvation from God. There is no preferential In Christ There Is No East or West treatment. In Christ there is no east or west, In him no south or north; This new community of faith is a holy temple, But one great fellowship of love throughout i.e., God no longer resides in a building but in a the whole wide earth. people, the Christian people. This explains why the people must be holy, pure. Christ serves as the corIn Christ shall true hearts everywhere their high communion find; nerstone of this new temple, while the apostles and His service is the golden cord close binding early Christian prophets are its foundation. The humankind. seeds of institutional Christianity, whether hierarchical Catholicism or congregations that respect no In Christ now meet both east and west, in him meet south and north; all Christly souls baptism but their own, have germinated in this soil.
are one in him throughout the whole wide earth.
John Oxenham (1908)

[In Christ There Is No East or West]

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What happened to sin? Once a staple of American Christianity, the topic began to wane in sermons, Bible studies, and Christian fellowship after World War II in some Christian circles. In a more affluent society, some Christian preachers began to talk about grace more than sin, and this led to more emphases on blessings. The thrust was that Christians should respond to Gods benefactions by living faithfully, and this would in turn lead to more benefactions. These benefactions were understood to be economic prosperity and a good family life without divorce or problem children. Inadvertently, this contributed to the rise of the prosperity gospel in the late twentieth century. When I was an associate pastor, I observed this firsthand and also discovered that people need to hear the entire gospel. Moreover, parishioners will respect pastors who remind them of their lesser selves on occasion. Thus, when I became a pastor I preached a sermon on human sin at least every other month on general principle for my parishioners as well as for myself. Ephesians proclaims the whole gospel. It reminds its audience of its former sinful state, but the book quickly moves to assure the reader that all is not lost. But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (2:4-5a). Moreover, Ephesians asserts that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (2:6-7). This enthronement language connoted that Christians would share an exalted status in the afterlife with Christ. It conveyed that Christ would share dominion with Christians. This would have been a powerful form of encouragement. This is not something that men and women have achieved by merit or through human effort: it is a gift of God (v. 8). This divine gift is a benefaction that expects a faithful obeChristian Conquering dience to the word of God by the original recipients. Revelation 3:21 I will give to him who conquers The demand on us is no less today. [Christian Conquering] (authority) to sit with me on my throne, Ephesians 2:9-10 presents an apparent contradiction as I also conquered and sat with my for many Christians. Verse 9 says that our salvation Father on his throne. does not result from works, yet the next verse says God has transformed us from aints to saints so that we might perform good works. Ephesians decries works-righteousness, but


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it does expect good ethics (see Eph 4). Good ethics includes good motivations and good intentions for Ephesians. To do less is to be less.

Melbourne has demonstrated clearly that the biblical ideal has not been realized in Christian history. Indeed, in the United States the more liberal the congregation, the less likely it is to be multicultural. Many congregations want comfort over communion, stressing that new members conform to our tradition rather than learn from other Christians. This narrowness hinders community. As an international student in London, England, I became immediately aware that congregations on average were much smaller in number. However, it was also clear that the churches were much more integrated racially. For example, my congregation had English, Scottish, Welsh, Filipino, Nigerian, Ethiopian, South African, and American members. This was the norm and not the exception in London. One Afro-Caribbean pastor told me that he ministered to a predominantly Black congregaDivine Affirmative Action tion with many non-Black English members Revelation 7:9 who were among his most faithful and active After these things, I looked and behold a members. Such is rare in the United States. large multitude which no one was able to count,
from every ethnic community and tribe and people and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands. [Divine Affirmative Action]

The FBI reported on November 23, 2009, in the year the United States inaugurated its first person of color as president, that there had been 9,168 hate crimes in the United States that calendar year and that over 50 percent were racially motivated. Race relations continue to be a major social issue, if not the social issue, in the United States. This is not a black-white issue. It is a people issue because racial bigotry has a home in all American ethnic communities. The Christian community has not done enough to eradicate it. Indeed, American Christianity too frequently reflects it. A few examples will suffice. There are two major types of polity in Christianity. Congregational polities provide for each local congregation to choose its own pastor. Episcopal polities give the prelate appointive power or a corporate episcopacy a role in selecting candidates for pastoral openings. In congregational polities, it is rare for congrega-

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tions to seek pastors outside their ethnic community. In episcopal polities, it is rare for congregations to ask for pastors outside their ethnic community. African-Americans ministers, justly or unjustly, have a reputation for being good preachers, but rarely does a congregation that wants a good preacher seek or ask for an African-American head pastor. It is uncommon for a congregation in a transition neighborhood to seek a head pastor who reflects the changing demographics more than the historical demographics: most congregations would rather watch themselves die than continue to make a meaningful witness in the community. Some church leaders work hard at sending minority pastors to transitional communities, but it usually comes when the congregation is near death and the new pastor must start basically from scratch. Regional leaders who sit back silently and allow these things to occur are as guilty as the congregations themselves. The problem does not stop here. Conservative congregations are more likely to be integrated than liberal congregations, but they are less likely to have interracial dating among their teenage members. Conservative congregations display African-American religiosity in music and spontaneous participation, but unless the congregation is predominantly black, the pastor is almost always Christian Unity white. Liberal churches welcome people of all ethniciGalatians 3:28 ties to their congregations, but those new members There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, must conform to our way of worship. [Christian Unity] there is neither male nor female; for you In the 1980s I was associate pastor of Hunter United are all one in Christ Jesus. Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. The late Beverly Sawyer was senior pastor. Hunter had about 200 members, and about 60 of them were African, African American, and/or West Indian. One family had an African father and Chinese mother. We figured we were one of two churches in cosmopolitan Little Rock (about 300,000 people at the time) where they felt at home. One day the pastor and I were thinking out loud and trying to decide what held this congregation together. We decided that it was because 90 percent of the congregation was middle class: most adults had education beyond high school and many had graduate degrees; most had professional or paraprofessional careers and most of the teens expected to go to college. There were no unwed teen mothers or high school dropouts. More important, the pastor appointed people to boards and agencies according to their skills. That is not to say that there were no tensions, but they were mini-


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mized to a large degree by the pastor appreciating each persons gifts and placing them in positions to succeed. The Church too frequently does not put people in position to succeed. Politics influence personnel decisions. What is easy takes preference over what is faithful. Until the Christian community confronts its prejudicesethnic/racial, class, genderit cannot fulfill the teachings of Ephesians 2.

1. Cf. Rom 5:12-20; 2 Cor 5:17-18; Phil 3:10; Gal 5:6; see also Col 2:12-13. 2. Cf. Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 8789. 3. Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 228. 4. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 8789. While I agree in general with Schnackenburg, his second point seems to be more secondary than primary to his argument. 5. Cf. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 8789; MacDonald, Ephesians, 228. 6. Mitton is probably correct when he argues that sons of disobedience and children of wrath are Hebraic idioms (C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians [Oxford: University Press, 1951] 83, 87). They are also probably examples of Hebrew parallelism. 7. E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 76. Rom 3:22-26, 4:16; Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9 are excellent examples that prove Bests point. 8. Mitzi J. Smith, Ephesians, in True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, ed. B. Blount (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007) 352. 9. J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 108; cf. Mitton, Ephesians, 90; Best, Ephesians, 75. 10. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 9495. 11. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 76; B. Witherington, III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007) 25556. 12. See BDF 18688. 13. See Best, Ephesians, 7981. 14. MacDonald, Ephesians, 233. 15. Mitton, Ephesians, 9697. 16. J. Wesley, The Scripture Way to Salvation, in A. C. Outler and R. P. Heitzenrater, eds., John Wesleys Sermons: An Anthology (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991) 37180. See also the sermons on pages 3947, 6984, 11121. Many Pentecostal Christians would be surprised to learn that originally sanctification was a Methodist doctrine, and so would many Methodists.

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17. See, for example, E. P. Sanders, Paul, the Law and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983). 18. We have here a dative of means (see BDF 104105). 19. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 12526. 20. Ibid., 136. 21. Best, Ephesians, 92. 22. I am indebted to R. Alan Culpepper for bringing out in private exchange the social dimensions of this verse. 23. Cf. B. L. Melbourne, Ephesians 2:13-16: Are the barriers still broken down? JRT 57/58 (2005): 10719. 24. Melbourne, Barriers, 111. 25. Lincoln, Ephesians, 129. 26. Smith, Ephesians, 35354. 27. Barth follows the Jerusalem Bible translation: For he is the peace between us. While it captures the spirit of the passage, this is more interpretation than translation (see M. Barth, Ephesians, 2 vols. [AB 34, 34A; New York: Doubleday, 1974] 1.262). 28. Melbourne, Barriers, 111. 29. Let us not forget Pauls comprehensive statement of inclusion and unity in Gal 3:28. 30. Melbourne, Barriers, 112. Similarly, see Mitton, Ephesians, 105108. 31. Smith, Ephesians, 354. 32. Melbourne, Barriers, 11314; cf. C. McMahan, The Wall Is Gone, RevExp 93 (1996): 262. 33. H. Schlier, Christus und die Kirche in Epheserbrief (Tuebingen: Mohr, 1930). 34. Mitton, Ephesians, 105. See Bruce for objections to all these options (100104). Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 14142; C. H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians (Paideia; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007) 7981; R. P. Martin, Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon (Interpretation; Louisville: John Knox, 1991) 3536. 35. Apokathistemi, apokatastasis, TDNT 1:38793. 36. Barth, Ephesians, 1:26667. 37. Best, Ephesians, 11315; cf. R. G. Bratcher and E. A. Nida, A Handbook on Pauls Letter to the Ephesians (New York: UBS, 1982) 5960. 38. Cf. Perkins, Ephesians, 69. 39. Cicero provides an example of the normal social expectations by emphasizing the family and the nation-state as the primary groups to which one must be loyal (e.g., On the Republic 1.43, 4.5-6, 5.5; On the Duties 1.17.54-57). Ephesians challenges the social norm by placing primary allegiance with the religious group, making biological and national allegiances secondary, if not marginalized. Roman authorities would not have welcomed this shift of emphasis. 40. Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 150; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 12022; MacDonald, Ephesians, 248. 41. E.g., Chrysostom and Theophylact. 42. E.g., G. B. Caird, Pauls Letters from Prison (Oxford: OUP, 1976) 60.



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43. E.g., J. L. Houlden, Pauls Letters from Prison (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970) 292. 44. E.g., Mitton, Ephesians, 110. 45. E.g., Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 12122. Lincoln has an outstanding discussion on this topic (Ephesians, 15051) that I shall not attempt to duplicate here. 46. See my section on Ethics in the introduction to this commentary. 47. Cf. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 12223; Lincoln, Ephesians, 15254; MacDonald, Ephesians, 24950; Best, Ephesians, 11820. 48. Lincoln, Ephesians, 15456. 49. Witherington, Ephesians, 26263. 50. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 124. 51. See my discussion of Christ in the introduction to this commentary; cf. Talbert, Ephesians, 8486. 52. While Witherington argues for head of the corner and I cornerstone in v. 20, his reading of v. 21 is similar to mine: In v. 21 Paul makes clear that it is Christ in whom the whole building is fit together. He is the key and the glue that binds it together. The building is growing into a holy temple of God (Ephesians, 263). 53. MacDonald, Ephesians, 250. 54. This community had high moral expectations, and the household codes should be read in this light. Also, institutional Christianity is not far from this teaching. 55. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 125. 56. MacDonald, Ephesians, 250.

The Mystery Revealed

Ephesians 3:1-21
Ephesians 3 can be divided into two sections. Verses 1-13 describe Pauls ministry as imprisonment for the faith; vv. 14-21 contain a prayer report (vv. 14-19) and a doxology (vv. 20-21). Ephesians 3:1 resumes in part the discussion begun in 1:15-23. Ephesians 3:2-13 discusses the efficacy of Gods power, a power made manifest as grace that has been preordained. Divine grace would have the community live in harmony. The first half of the letter ends with a doxology (3:20-21). The prayer in 3:14-19 indicates to Christians how they might be sustained spiritually in this world. Ephesians 3:1-7 draws on Colossians 1:23-29.1

The Divine Mystery, 3:1-13

Perkins provides a helpful rhetorical analysis of Ephesians 3:1-13, arguing that the account of Pauls ministry creates and sustains the speakers reliability. Often thought to be digressions, these verses actually argue that the readers can discern the authors veracity by the truth of his claims concerning special insight (see vv. 3-4). They set forth the mystery of Gods plan for the salvation of all humanity, Jews and Gentiles. Furthermore, this section creates a bond between the apostle and Gentile readers by reminding them of Pauls suffering for their sake. The exhortation not to lose heart adds pathos to the relationship.2 Verses 1-3 For this reason (v. 1) connects the preceding discussion of ethnic integration in Ephesians 1 and 2 with the discussion in Ephesians 3. The writer describes Pauls ministry on their behalf as an imprisonment for the sake of the Gentiles, hoping to secure their allegiance by reminding them of Pauls sacrifices on their behalf: anyone who


Ephesians 3:1-21

attempts to reconcile opposing parties runs the risk of being disowned by his own group and being distrusted by the other. Indeed, it is noteworthy that after the separation of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch recorded in Galatians 2:11-14, the two men never worked together again. One should also note the transition, marked off in many modern translations with a dash, that sets off Pauls explanatory aside in vv. 2-13. This discussion will resume in v. 14. Verse 2 is a rhetorical gambit that would put the readers on the defensive. If they are unaware of Pauls ministry, it reflects poorly on them. If they are aware, then they should trust what Paul has to say. Indeed, God has entrusted Paul with their spiritual birth, development, and care (oikonomia; cf. Col 1:25; 1 Cor 4:1). This verse works on the assumption that the original audience would have heard of the Apostle Paul and should see themselves in Many Gifts, One Spirit some way indebted to his ministry for their salvation.3 In God of change and glory, other words, Pauls ministry provides the readers a benefacGod of time and space, tion, and they should repay him with their adherence to his When we fear the future, Give to us your grace. teachings. [Many Gifts, One Spirit] In the midst of changing ways Hoehner believes that Paul did write Ephesians and reads Give us still the grace to praise. the passage slightly differently than those who do not affirm Pauline authorship. The enclitic construction, ei ge (if God of many colors, God of many signs, indeed, assuming), does not imply that the Ephesian You have made us different, Christians have not heard of Paul. On the contrary, this is a Blessing many kinds. rhetorical device: they most certainly have heard of Paul As the old ways disappear, and should heed his words. Since Paul has not been there Let your love cast out our fear. for at least four years, Paul is simply reminding them in a Freshness of the morning, subtle way of his earlier ministry there.4 While this is posNewness of each night, sible, I am not persuaded by the argument. Hoehner begins You are still creating with the assumption that Paul wrote Ephesians rather than Endless love and light. This we see, as shadows part, weighing the evidence and ascertaining it more objectively. Many gifts from one great heart. His assumption limits the exegetical possibilities open to him. Rather, ei ge works on the assumption that Pauls repAl Carmines (1974) utation is so widespread that first-century Christians should have known of him. Elsewhere, I have argued that Acts knows Pauls reputation, but not Pauls letters, in a similar manner.5 Witherington writes that oikonomia literally means household rules, and it might be recapitulating the discussion of Gods household in 2:19-22 and preparing the original audience for the household codes in 5:216:9.6 This is possible. Given the fact that Ephesians 2:11-22 and 5:216:9 expand on their parallels in Colossians, the writer might be making connections here so that

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the earlier statements in 2:19-22 and 3:2 prepare the reader/hearer for the more detailed discussions to come in 5:216:9. One might disagree slightly with Witherington on one point: Oikonomia literally means supervision of a household, an office responsible for household administration, and/or stewardship. While the household rules refer to relationships, oikonomia refers to overseeing the operation of a household and is similar to the work of a major-domo. In this context, oikonomia refers to Pauls apostolic office and the authority that goes with it (see Col 1:25; 1 Cor 9:17). The remainder of the verse supports my position: the grace of God that was given to me for you. This phrase connotes two types of soteriological benefaction. First, it is divine benefaction because this grace derives ultimately from God. Second, it is an example of human benefaction because Paul is the medium of this saving gift. The original hearers would be expected to respond obediently to God by heeding the words of Paul, Gods human agent. Verses 3-13 discuss revelation and mystery and the content of the same. Verse 3 refers to revelation (cf. Eph 1:9; Rom 16:25-27; Gal 1:11-17; Col 1:26-27; Acts 9:1-7). The point, as in Galatians 1:12-16, is that Paul has received information directly from God. The mystery of the divine plan has been shown to Paul (see 3:6). Ephesians regularly associates making a mystery or revelation known with disclosure of the divine plan for humankind. This is a significant theme in Ephesians (see 1:9; 3:3-10; 5:32; and 6:19); As in Colossians, it refers generally to the revelation in Christ that was once hidden.7 Does the mystery indicate a connection with Gnosticism? It probably does not. While such language was indeed popular among second-century Gnostic writers, it figured even more prominently among the mystery religions that pre-date Christianity. The term finds expression in the undisputed letters of Paul (e.g., Rom 16:25-26; 1 Cor 2:1-5; see also Col 2:2), but Paul regularly redefines it in Christian terms. Nowhere in Paul is the term as abstruse as among the mystery religions or later among the Gnostics. In both Colossians and Ephesians, mystery refers to the Christ event as having clarified Gods intentions for human history (see Col 1:26-27).8 [The Mysteries] The phrase as I wrote before briefly has caused some debate. Some have argued that it refers back to Romans 16:25-27.9 Others have argued that it refers to Pauls earlier letters and supports the


Ephesians 3:1-21

The Mysteries The so-called mystery religions, such as the Isis cult, got this name because outsiders did not know the central truth of the given religion. Moreover, each had another mystery as well. In many of these religions, initiates would go through a rite of passage before becoming full members when they would have a vision of the cult deity. The deity would ask a question, and if the initiate gave the correct answer he/she would become a full member. Both the questions and the answers remain unknown, a mystery. In Ephesians, the mystery has been revealed.

hypothesis that Ephesians is in some way an introduction to the Pauline corpus.10 Hoehner counters that it is doubtful that the church in Ephesus had a copy of Romans before them, and it seems from the present context that Paul was writing to the Ephesians and not to the Romans.11 Talbert and Witherington are among those who argue that this phrase refers to an earlier statement in Ephesians. The most obvious choice would be something in this letter that he now needs to expand. 12 Talbert argues that it refers to Ephesians 1:9-10 and maybe parts of 2:11-22.13 Bruce argues that it refers to Colossians 1:25-27 since the two churches were close and the Ephesians could have access to the letter to the Colossians.14 Given my own position on the relationship between Colossians and Ephesians, this has some appeal. However, in all likelihood, this phrase refers back to Ephesians 1:9-10 and 2:11-22 where we are told that the inclusion of the Gentiles into the elect community is the content of the divine plan. Ephesians 3:6 confirms my position: the Gentiles are now equal sharers of the election and promises of Israel through Christ.15 This is the revealed mystery of Ephesians 3:3. Why does the author employ mystery here? He uses it because it would not have been self-evident to either Jews or Gentiles that God intended for both groups to live together harmoniously.

Verses 4-7 Ephesians 3:4 has several significant terms. Nous connoted perception, intelligence, comprehension, and/or understanding. Sunesis connoted the same skills. Thus, to perceive my insight would have communicated that those who have read the letter to this point have gained sufficient intellectual ability to discern the writers acumen.16 The mystery of Christ also occurs in Colossians 2:2 and 4:3. In Ephesians 3:4, it refers to the union of Gentile and Jewish Christians in the Church.17 This knowledge was not revealed to earlier generations (v. 5). Again, the reference to apostles first and then prophets indicates that the author refers to Christian prophets. The apostles and prophets are holy, a cardinal virtue for Ephesians, because of their being in the Spirit. In brief, God has only revealed the divine plan fully to Christians, and the

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Spirit is integral to the revelatory process.18 Verse 6 reiterates the place of the Gentiles as full partners ( synklromomos, joint-heir; syssmos, belonging to the same group; symmetoxos, sharer) within the community of the saints. Christ Jesus made this possible (see 2:11-22). This is the mystery that has now Apocalypse The term apocalypse connoted a revelabeen revealed, and it is Gods purpose for tion of divine secrets. Apocalypticism was a human history. [Apocalypse] social movement that envisioned a new world order Ephesians 3:7 reprises Colossians 1:23, 25, in which those on the outside would replace those on which also refers to Pauls ministry the inside. While apocalypticism normally derived from marginalized communities (e.g., the book of (diakonos).19 Diakonos was a term used by Revelation), it could also come from a less powerful Paul to describe his own leadership role as middle-class minority group (e.g., Sib. Or. 3). well as those of his fellow workers and local leaders.20 This verse also takes up what has been said in v. 2. The parallel kata phrases have the rhetorical effect of emphasizing the source and power of the gift given to Paul.21 This ministry is not a privilege but an invitation from God, a gift and also an opportunity to work with and for God. Finally, this ministry is a sign of Gods great power. It is something only God could Mystery in the New Testament do. This verse provides a transition to the next. Matt 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Rom 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor 2:7; 4:1; Pauls diakonos (ministry, service) also refers back to 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Eph 1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; his oikonomia (stewardship, administration) on their 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess 2:7; behalf mentioned earlier in 3:2. [Mystery in the New 1 Tim 3:9, 16; Rev 1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7.

Talbert sees an inclusion here with vv. 2-3 where steward, grace of God, given to me, and by revelation correspond to minister, grace of God, given Lycus River Valley to me, and according to the The Lycus River Valley was the home of several Christian working of his power in v. 7.22 communities in the first Christian century. Hierapolis, Talbert is probably correct; this Colossae, and Laodicea in the river valley and Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, and Pergamum were not far from it. These Asian cities verse provides a transition to shared a common culture, and at least one early Christian preacher Ephesians 3:8-13. [Lycus River Valley]
other than Paul was active in this region (Rev 23).

Verses 8-13 Ephesians 3:8-13 continues and expands on vv. 1-7. Verse 8 continues the thought of v. 7. While v. 7 describes Gods commissioning of Paul as an act of grace, v. 8 describes Paul humbly as the least of all the


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saints, reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 15:9 (the least of the apostles). Perkins finds this expression somewhat puzzling,23 but it is no less puzzling than the passage in 1 Corinthians 15. In both instances, Gods mercy makes Pauls ministry possible. Again, the result is Pauls ministry to the Gentiles, describing grace in economic terms as unsearchable riches, a favorite motif in Ephesians to denote the potency and efficacy of divine grace (cf. Col 1:7, 18; 2:4, 7; 3:16; cf. Eph 2:7). Moreover, saints (lit., holy ones) speaks to the virtue of the Christian community. Pauls calling, position, and responsibility in Gods enterprise with humanity was a tremendous fact with him: it made him a factor in the success of the plan.24 Verse 9 reiterates themes seen earlier, albeit with interesting textual variants. Metzger writes that the UBS committee thought pantas (all men in the accusative) was original based on several outstanding ancient manuscripts. However, they realized that considerable doubt still remains.25 The problem is that in the Greek pantas agrees with nothing in the sentence. If one omits pantas, then the writer gives light to the mystery, not to people about the mystery. Relying on apocalypticisms influence on select passages from the Qumran literature, Perkins persuasively argues for the inclusion of pantas in the text and viewing Paul as fulfilling a routine teaching task to provide cognitive information about Gods design.26 Divine illumination functions within the Church, a community on Earth that actually belongs in the heavenly places with Christ, where God reveals to the elect Gods divine mystery.27 The author here returns to the pattern first seen in 3:5 (not known earlier/revealed now).28 The divine plan is no Mind longer a mystery: the Creator God has revealed Nous (lit., mind) was a technical that God wants to include everyone in the new term in many Greco-Roman philosophical writings. It connoted sound thinking and community. [Mind] understanding. Some thinkers gave this name Verse 10 continues the revelatory theme, but in to the highest god to convey that the highest this instance it is not on Earth but in the heavenbeing was pure intellect. lies themselves. The repeated reference in Ephesians to the heavenlies is not too distant from 1 Corinthians 12:1-5. These powers have not submitted themselves to God. They now have the opportunity to perceive Gods plan for the cosmos. However, it does not come directly from God but from the Church. For Ephesians, the Spirit enables this revelation through the earthly Church (see 2:22). The roots of early catholicism and the eventual institutionalization of the Christian movement lie

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here. This has resulted in a Church Institutional that is less reliant on the Spirit of God and more dependent on its own traditions, the very thing Ephesians wants to avoid (see 2:11-22)! Verses 11-12 state that Christ Jesus fulfilled Gods plan, articulated in 3:6, enabling Christians to approach God confidently (3:12).29 How are we to interpret the term wisdom (sophia) in this context? The wisdom tradition has deep roots in many ancient Near Eastern cultures. It usually related to practical knowledge that enhanced life. During the second temple period, the term took on new meaning. Wisdom and Torah became interchangeable, and Wisdom also became a personified agent of God. For example, Baruch 4:1 reads, She (Wisdom) is the book of the commandments of God and the Law which exists forever (cf. Ben Sira 24:23-27). Wisdom 7:25-26 has an example of personified Wisdom: For she is a breath of the might of God, and a pure emanation of the Almightys glory; For she is . . . a spotless mirror of Gods work, an image of (Gods) goodness. None of these elements seem to be present here. Ephesians is Misguided Faith influenced more by Pauline traditions that assoOften fundamentalist Protestant ciate wisdom with salvation through Christ (see Christians point to Roman Catholicism as 1 Cor 1:18-25). [Misguided Faith] proof of an institutional religion gone wrong, i.e., the institution can do no wrong. Many of these The words in v. 12 often translated boldness same Protestants do not criticize their favorite tel(parrsia) and confidence (pepoithsis) in some evangelists when they are caught in indiscretions. translations (e.g., NASB, NRSV) are actually In both instances, misguided faith has been Greek synonyms. Both conveyed confidence, placed in the agent of God instead of the God who calls the agents and the institutions. courage, or boldness in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 2:29; 2 Cor 1:15; 7:4; Phil 3:4; Heb 3:6; 1 John 2:28). The purpose here would have been to assure the original readers of the certainty of their salvation. 30 Finally, how should one translate dia ts pistes autou (lit., through his faith) in this verse. Howard is among those who would argue that it relates to the faith of Christ. It would mean that through Christs faithfulness to God our salvation is possible.31 Others argue that it means through faith in Christ and would convey that we are saved by our faithfulness to Christ.32 Both arguments have their merits, but in this instance Howard is probably correct. Christs faithfulness gives birth to our faithfulness, which in turn leads to our salvation (see Eph 2:4-10). Given what has preceded in vv. 1-12, the readers should not be disheartened but encouraged by Pauls sufferings for their sakes in 3:13. MacDonald sees several parallels between Ephesians 3:13 and


Ephesians 3:1-21

The Apostle Paul The Apostle Paul is often credited with the movement of Christianity from Jewish sect to independent religion. While it is accurate to give much credit to Paul for this development, he should not get all the credit. There were Christian missionaries to Gentiles long before Paul. However, the Acts of the Apostles represents a form of Gentile Christianity that is neither heavily Pauline nor antiPauline. Pauls legacy is his letters. Unfortunately, none of the other missionaries left letters for us to read.

Colossians 1:23-29. Both passages relate that Paul suffered for his readers sakes. Moreover, they both employ thlipsis to convey a sense of pain. However, Ephesians is not as intense as Colossians (see also Rom 5:3; 2 Cor 1:8; 4:17; 7:4). Second, in both Colossians 1:24 and Ephesians 3:13, they take place for the sake of the church.33 MacDonald adds that 3:13 contains idealized images of the apostle . . . also present in Acts and other deutero-Pauline writings.34 Furthermore, MacDonald writes that within the ancient Mediterranean context, Pauls suffering would not have been viewed as a glorification of suffering. Rather, within this context, which required external manifestations of honors, Pauls shame became a means through which the communitys honor (reputation) was externally manifested. She continues that suffering became a means of external honor in Pauline Christianity because it symbolized the promise of salvation.35 I concur. [The Apostle Paul]
Prayer and Doxology, 3:14-21

Ephesians 3:14-21 constitutes the closing section of this chapter. Verses 14-15 present Paul praying. Except in dire circumstances (e.g., Luke 22:41; Acts 20:36), people usually Statue of Apostle Paul on St. Isaacs Cathedral (Saint Petersburg, Russia). (Credit: LoKi, prayed standing (e.g., Mark 11:25). Perkins _Paul_on_St.Isaac_cathedral_(SPb).jpg) notes that people knelt when seeking favors from more influential people (e.g., Mark 1:40; Matt 17:14).36 Verses 14-15 Witherington notes that the Greek in vv. 14-15 has a vivid alliteration lost in most English translations: For this reason, I bow to the Father (patera) from whom every family (patria) is named in the heavens and on Earth.37 Talbert concurs and states that this passage relies upon the sounds of the words to make an impression on the audience.38 Witherington argues that this statement might be an anti-imperial statement that substitutes the sovereign God for

Ephesians 3:1-21


the Roman emperor who was often referred to as the father of the fatherland. If Witherington and Talbert are correct, Ephesians 3:14-15 would be contrasting the emperor, the leader of one country, with God, the source of all countries. [Patros] Patros For this reason repeats 3:1 in order to resume Patros gives us the terms of endearment Pa, Papa, and Pauls prayer. The literary connection underscored Pops as well as terms such as paterthe cosmic relationship, and this bonding would not nity, patriarch, and paternal with have gone unnoticed by the average reader. The expresreference to male lineage. sion every family in the heavens has caused some debate.39 Some argue that it refers to God as superior to Gods creation. Others say it relates to some type of Hellenistic cosmology, be it Stoic, Platonic, or Gnostic. The passage exhibits none of the features of any of these movements. Perkins argues that the focus is on God as the creator and source of all life.40 Similarly, Muddiman argues that the universal fatherhood of God is central here.41 I find Perkins and Muddiman persuasive. Verses 16-19 Divine grace is given to accomplish the following purposes: (1) to strengthen Christians in their inner being (v. 16); (2) to empower Christians to live by faith in Christ (v. 17); (3) to enable Christians to be rooted and grounded in love (v. 17); (4) to comprehend the revelation of God in its entirety in communion with the entire Church; (5) to know Gods love; (6) to be filled with Gods fullness. All these benefactions would strengthen Christians individually and collectively. Once again one should note the emphasis on bringing a mutual beneficence that would improve the quality of life within the Church Universal. Witherington argues that vv. 16-17 contain a well-crafted parallel construction. Both clauses contain twenty syllables. Both speak of the indwelling of God in the strengthening of the believer, i.e., strengthened through his Spirit in the inner person and Christ dwelling through faith in your hearts. The use of The Inner Person infinitives and dia reinforce the parallel.42 I concur. The inner person in Ephesians is
[The Inner Person] similar to the logos spermatikos, that spark of the divine in every person, according The riches of His glory (v. 16) is a familiar to the Stoics. means of expressing in economic terms the potency and sufficiency of Gods grace both qualitatively and quantitatively. This six-fold purpose constitutes the first part of the authors prayer request for his readers. Moreover, the means of achieving them are also identified. The inner person gains strength through Gods


Ephesians 3:1-21

Spirit to live in Christ through faith and to be firmly rooted and established through love (vv. 16-17). What does the phrase what is (the) breadth, length, height and depth mean? Schnackenburg lists five options: 1. He notes references in the HB that employ similar language to describe Gods infinite power (e.g., Ps 139:8-10; Job 11:7-9). 2. Among the Stoics, in Philo, in the Corp. Herm., and some astrologists, people were thought to be able to spiritually spread themselves throughout the cosmos. 3. It is a metaphor of perfection as found in Ezekiel 48:16-17, Revelation 21:16, and Herm. Vis. 3.2.5, redefined by the author of Ephesians. 4. It is a magical formula used to gain control over an omnipotent God. 5. It refers to the cross from a cosmic perspective. Schnackenburg has more than adequate rebuttals for all these options.43 I can only add that none of the options takes seriously enough the context of the book of Ephesians. Muddiman offers a sixth option: The meaning of the prayer is that Christians must make every intellectual effort to measure the immeasurable love of Christ.44 While having some appeal, Muddimans option also misses the point of this passage. To find edification through the Spirit (v. 16), by faith, and in love (v. 17), is not wholly intellectual. The point of Ephesians 3:18 is not simply to intellectually know the love of Christ in its fullness but Love Lifted Me also to experience Gods saving grace in its fullness.45 I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful Knowledge in this instance is based on a spiritual shore. encounter, an experience. This is most probably an experiVery deeply stained within, ence of the Holy Spirit. Experience and reason are not Sinking to rise no more. mutually exclusive human phenomena but mutually incluBut the master of the sea Heard my despairing cry. sive. [Love Lifted Me] From the waters lifted me This prayer begins with a request for the presence of the Now safe am I. Holy Spirit in their inner being, asks that Christ might dwell in their hearts, and concludes with a request for their Love lifted me. Love lifted me. being filled with the fullness of God. Talbert finds similar When nothing else could help, expressions in Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:45b, and Love lifted me; Galatians 4:6. Talbert writes that the author of Ephesians Love lifted me. prays here for the presence of God, the power of the Holy James Rowe (1928) Spirit, and the indwelling of Christ. He adds that they

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were interchangeable experiential realities for members of Pauline churches.46 Verse 19a complements the preceding verses. To know Christs love that exceeds knowledge is not primarily an intellectual enterprise. In this sense, again to know is experiential. It is a knowledge that touches emotions and the intellect almost simultaneously. Verse 19b ends with the third petition of this prayer: so that you might be filled with all the fullness (plrma) of God (cf. Col 1:19; 2:9; Eph 1:23). With MacDonald, Schnackenburg, and others, I reject the Gnostic thesis here with reference to the term plrma. There is yet no clear-cut evidence of first-century Gnosticism. Rather, Ephesians uses here a term from its Greco-Roman milieu. It is more probable that second-century Christian Gnosticism inherited the use of the term from its wider Greco-Roman milieu and also its presence in the book of Ephesians. Hellenistic and Greco-Roman philosophical schools and religious movements borrowed extensively from one another during this period. Syncretism and eclecticism were the modus vivendi. Thus, the fullness of God is a metaphor that refers to a fulfillment effected by God.47 Best says this fullness is Gods love.48 If Best is correct, v. 19 refers to a spiritual, perhaps mystical, encounter with the God comprehended as Love. Verses 17-19 have parallel statements. Verse 17 speaks of being positively related to Christ by faith and love. Its parallel is to know the love of Christ (v. 19). Verse 18, to experience Gods grace in its fullness, parallels v. 19, to be filled with Gods fullness. Talbert has an insightful discussion of benefaction in firstcentury Mediterranean society pertinent to this passage.49 The ancient Mediterranean world was a reciprocity system. After a gift was given by a benefactor, a gift is given in return, and the return gift then became an incentive for more benefactions, and so the cycle continued.50 Talbert continues by providing an example of human benefaction and divine benefaction. In the letter to Philemon, Paul is the human benefactor of Philemon, the slave owner who held power over Onesimus, the slave. Therefore, Paul could expect Philemon to honor Pauls requests. In Romans 5, God is the dishonored divine benefactor who bestows grace on humanity that humanity is incapable of repaying. Ephesians employs the benefaction system in describing God, but is focused repeatedly on the divine enablement of humans relationship to


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Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee Father, I stretch my hands to Thee. No other help I know; If Thou withdraw Thyself from me, Ah, whither shall I go? Surely Thou canst not let me die. O speak and I shall live; And here I will unwearied lie, Till Thy spirit give.
Charles Wesley (1741)

their heavenly benefactor.51 Thus, Ephesians 3:15 would say to the original recipients not only that they were indebted to God for their new gifts and status but that all creation at every level of life was indebted to the Divine Benefactor. Such a debt was far beyond their means of reciprocity. [Father, I Stretch My Hands to

Verses 20-21 Ephesians 3 ends with a doxology (vv. 20-21). Doxologies usually had three parts in Jewish and Christian writings from this period. First, God was named, referred to, or identifiable (v. 20), followed by a statement of praise (doxa) to God (v. 21a), and the doxology concluded with an eternity formula (v. 21b). The eternity formula gave reason for the awarding of the praise. While doxologies usually occurred at or near the end of a letter (e.g., Jude 24-25; Rom 16:25-27; Phil 4:20; 1 Pet 5:11), they could also occur at the end of a section of a letter (e.g., Rom 11:36), as is the case here. Verse 20 emphasizes Gods overabundant power, a theme seen earlier in describing the efficacy of divine grace as well as divine power. Muddiman argues that the phrase according to the power at work in us implies some type of limitation to God. For him, the phrase should be linked to what we ask or understand and not to God.52 I would make the same linkage but interpret its meaning differently. The phrase actually refers to Gods Spirit working within each member of the Church. It does not connote any type of limitation but rather Gods power to work even through flawed human beings. The God being praised is a God of immense power.53 God can always do much more above and beyond whatever we could ever conceive or ask and . . . his power already dwells within the believer.54 Verse 21, moreover, refers to the Church and to Christ as coequals, according to Muddiman. For him, glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus constitutes the eschatological consummation of the Church as the bride, the equal and complement of Christ the bridegroom.55 This is improbable. Muddiman appears to have a high ecclesiology because husbands and wives were not equals in the ancient world. It was a male-oriented, male-dominated society. There were influential women, but unfortunately they were not the accepted norm. Therefore, it is doubtful that the author of

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Ephesians understood the bride and the bridegroom as equals.56 To say that the bride and groom complement one another was not to say that they were equals in the ancient world. Rather, it simply meant that men and women had different roles and functions in the home and in society and that both their roles were important. While this made husbands and wives interdependent to a large degree, as Aristophanes Lysistrata demonstrated so humorously, these roles, functions, and responsibilities were not equal. In our exegesis of Ephesians 5:21-33, we shall develop this train of thought in more detail. Moreover, Talbert correctly argues that the existence of the Church comprises one way in which God is glorified in Ephesians. Gods purpose is achieved through Christ. As the Church is perceived as Gods workmanship and Christ as Gods means of summing up all things, Gods glory is recognized.57 The Christ Is All I dont possess houses or land, emphasis here is not on the Church but on God as the Fine clothes or jewelry, 58 Founder and Sustainer of the Church. [Christ Is All] Sorrows and cares in this old world Amen concludes the first part of Ephesians. My lot seems to be. Witherington states that originally the discourse might But I have a Christ who paid the price Way back on Calvary. have ended here if there had not been time to complete And Christ is all, the document. All and all, this world to me. Amen means let it be so. It is a way of reinforcing the content and intent of the prayer petition (see 1 Chr Christ is all, Hes everything to me. 16:36; Neh 8:6; Rom 1:25). Christ is all. Several have noted how the doxology in 3:20-21 He rules the land and sea. refers back to particular passages in Ephesians 13.59 In Christ is all. this way, 3:20-21 serves as a fitting end to the first half Without Him nothing could be. Christ is all, all and all, of the letter. It provides a smooth transition from the This world to me. more general admonitions in chapters 13 to more specific instructions in chapters 46. Kenneth Morris (1946)


This section refers to the ministry of Paul as a stewardship on behalf of the Gentiles. It also refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel as a mystery. This mystery, however, has been revealed previously, recapitulating the discussion


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found in Ephesians 2:11-22. A prayer for the well-being of the readers/listeners and a doxology conclude Ephesians 3. Stewardship conveyed to the original recipients of Ephesians that the Christian ministry is a sacred trust from God. Stewardship is not only a responsibility of clergy but of laity as well. It is not my Church. It is Gods Church. All Christians have the responsibility to take good care of the Church and pass it on to the next generation. It is our task not only to pass it on but to pass it on in better condition than we found it. If we do this, we are good stewards. Too many churches in transitional communities are led by poor stewards, both clergy and lay, local and regional. Lost in the past, local leaders try to maintain a vision that has long since passed its shelf life. Afraid of a backlash from local churches, regional leaders allow churches to die rather than institute meaningful changes that might help the congregation survive and bear a faithful, meaningful witness. This problem lives in all Christian denominations. Even worse are dying congregations that refuse to merge because local leaders are more concerned about remaining in office. Distrust overshadows trusting other Christians. In some cases, larger churches want to envelope smaller ones as if it is a hostile takeover and not a fellowship among Christian brothers and sisters. Ephesians 3:5-6 addresses the issue of racial harmony for a second time. It is described as a mystery because such concord is by nature foreign to humans. People simply want familiarity, custom, and tradition. Cultural differences bring social tensions. Ephesians demands that Christians not only put their faith in God but in each other as well. I have always marveled at Christians who profess so much faith in God but have none in other Christians. Indeed, they place no regard in the God who creates an international, multicultural community. It is as if they know better than God. We can learn much from one another, but often we close our minds to the possibility. This is not true in every case, and some Christians have been more inclusive than others. True inclusion does not mean merely hiring women and/or ethnic minorities. It includes involving viewpoints, values, and ways of doing things. For example, African-American Christianity has been appropriated by many Christian communities because of its religious spirituality. Paula White, a Euro-American female televangelist, preaches like an African-American male born and raised in the South. Many non-Black congregations sing fewer hymns and more contempo-

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rary music in morning worship. Often pastors deliver sermons with vivid images and with emotion instead of emotionless intellectual propositions. All these features are aspects of traditional African-American spirituality. How frequently is this borrowing acknowledged?
[Mastering Time]

Mastering Time The late Rev. Beverly Sawyer was at one time pastor of Marks Chapel UMC in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sawyer was EuroAmerican, and Marks Chapel was an Afro-American congregation. She often said that one of the things she liked most was that in the black church we are the masters of time. By this she meant that the length of the service did not matter as much as the spiritual quality of the service.


Ephesians 3:7-13 speaks to todays ministries that confuse socioeconomic well-being with spiritual well-being. Paul humbles himself because he realizes that his calling was an act of grace (vv. 7-8). He speaks not of his wealth and status but of Gods (v. 8; cf. v. 16). This statement is true to the historical Paul and his theology. The purpose of Christianity is not social status or economic security but being rooted in divine love and strengthened by faith so that Christians might comprehend Gods nature in full (vv. 16-19). Those who adhere to a so-called prosperity gospel possess a simplistic religiosity that cannot weather the storms of life. True faith not only weathers storms. It is also made stronger by them. At worse, the prosperity gospel is a travesty of the good news. When God does not do what we want God to do for us, we should re-examine our wants, re-read the rules by which God calls us to live, and check out Gods overall game plan for our lives; and when we do so, we will find that Gods grace is sufficient.60 The true gospel is anchored in the crucifixion and the resurrection, not in the imperial coronation and earthly exaltation. It is the message that God judges by a different standard than humans, and the sole criterion is faithfulness, not luxury. The prosperity gospel actually takes to an extreme a strain of thought common among everyday Christians: a good job, a good income, a wonderful home, and a solid family are blessings from God and the implication that good people are blessed. There have always been protests against this type of religious thinking (e.g., the book of Job), but these protests run against the grain of one fact of human existence: people like to feel good about themselves, and they especially want to feel good about their success when it comes.


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Prosperity is not the good news. It is only good news. Prosperity cannot shield one from tragedy and regret. Its good feelings have a short shelf life. It has no spiritual dimensions and runs against the teachings of Jesus: If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have and give (the proceeds) to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me. After the young man The Good News I alone have escaped was heard (this teaching) he departed grieving; for he had the message of the four serextensive possessions (Matt 19:21-22). Unless one is vants of Job when they brought him willing to give up everything in this life in order to gain the tragic news of his calamities; but everything in the next, one has not understood the the fact that they escaped is good news from a good God. gospel, the real good news. The real good news Othal H. Lakey, Mama, will I have to shine shoes empowers Christians to go boldly where the faithless the rest of my life? A Few Sermons Out of the Black Experience (Memphis: CME Publishing fear to tread. It is the message that the faithful shall be House, 2006) 134. redeemed regardless of social standing or financial situation. This brings us to our next topic of strengthening the inner person. [The Good News]
Ephesians 3:14-19

The book of Ephesians emphasizes strengthening the inner person over dressing the outer person. The outward may change for a variety of reasons, but inner resolve will enable one to withstand a variety of setbacks. The Apostle Paul provides an excellent example. He endured persecution, rejection by his own converts, and accusations by other Christian missionaries. He never gave up or lost faith. He was faithful until the very end. His prosperity was spiritual strength and not economic security. The fullness of God fills the inner being so that faith and love might fuel the Christian community as it marches onward. It is much easier to look good than to be strong. Anyone can go to the mall, buy a good suit, get a good haircut, and take advantage of good sales. The task can be completed in a few hours. On the other hand, inner resolve takes time and commitment, and there is no guarantee of achieving ones goal. It is uncertain from the start. People want some certainty in their lives because human existence by its nature is volatile. Faith in Christ by its nature means taking risks, putting our trust in Someone who is never completely revealed to us. Those who have lived by faith for decades know that the rewards outweigh the risks.

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The inventor of the filament for the electric light bulb knew nothing about metallurgy. Thus, he read all he could on the subject. After his success, he said that if he had earned a degree in metallurgy originally, then he would have known what he wanted to do was impossible. Knowledge often limits our possibilities. It tells us what is and is not possible. Faith breaks the barriers of the known and takes us to the undiscovered country. Faith broadens the horizon and surprises us at the end of the journey.

These verses reiterate here in more traditional terms what finds expression in economic terms elsewhere: God is able to accomplish whatever God wills. This requires faith in order to bear fruit. That is the difference between merely asserting theological beliefs on the one hand and living by faith on the other.

1. Pheme Perkins, Ephesians (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 7880, with comparative table on 7980; cf. C. H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians (Paideia; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007) 9596. 2. Perkins, Ephesians, 80; cf. Talbert, Ephesians, 95103. 3. Cf. Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 261; Talbert, Ephesians, 9697; B. Witherington, III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A SocioRhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007) 264. 4. H. W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids MI: Baker, 2002) 42122. 5. T. B. Slater, The Presentation of Paul in Acts, Bible Bhashyam 19 (1993): 1946. 6. Witherington, Ephesians, 264. 7. MacDonald, Ephesians, 261. 8. See, e.g., C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: University Press, 1951) 83, 87, 12122; cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 26162. 9. E.g., L. Davies, I Wrote Before in a Few Words (Eph 3:3), ExpT 46 (19341935): 568. 10. E.g., E. J. Goodspeed, The Meaning of Ephesians (Chicago: University Press, 1933) 4142. 11. Hoehner, Ephesians, 42728, quote from 428.


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12. Talbert, Ephesians, 97; cf. Witherington, Ephesians, 26466; A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 75. 13. Talbert, Ephesians, 97. See also MacDonald, Ephesians, 261. 14. F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT; Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1984) 312. 15. See, for example, Hoehner, Ephesians, 428; MacDonald, Ephesians, 26162. 16. Cf. Perkins, Ephesians, 82. 17. E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 138; cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 262. Lincoln argues that this unprovoked self-affirmation supports his argument that the letter is pseudonymous (Ephesians, 17677). 18. This position is not far from Pauls attempts in Galatians to discern the role of the Law before Christ came. It is probably no coincidence that here in Ephesians and in Galatians the place of the Gentiles is central. 19. E.g., Rom 16:1; 1 Cor 3:5-9; 2 Cor 3:6, 6:4; cf. Rom 15:6; Phil 1:1. 20. MacDonald, Ephesians, 264. 21. Witherington, Ephesians, 266. 22. Talbert, Ephesians, 99. 23. Perkins, Ephesians, 83. 24. W. O. Carver, The Glory of God in the Christian Calling: A Study of the Ephesian Epistle (Nashville: Broadman, 1949) 131. 25. B. M. Metzger et al., eds., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: UBS, 1971) 603. 26. Perkins, Ephesians, 85; see also p. 84 for a fuller argument. 27. Perkins, Ephesians, 85. 28. Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 137. 29. Cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 26667. 30. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 155; Lincoln, Ephesians, 18991. 31. G. E. Howard, The Faith of Christ, ExpT 85 (19731974): 21215. 32. E.g., Lincoln, Ephesians, 190. 33. MacDonald, Ephesians, 267. 34. Ibid., 269. 35. Ibid., 267. 36. Perkins, Ephesians, 88. 37. Witherington, Ephesians, 272. The best translation might be something like the following: For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father from whom every fatherland in heaven and Earth is named. 38. Talbert, Ephesians, 272. 39. See, e.g., MacDonald, Ephesians, 89; J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 16667; Best, Ephesians, 16263. 40. Perkins, Ephesians, 89. 41. Muddiman, Ephesians, 167.

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42. Witherington, Ephesians, 273. 43. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 15051; see also Muddiman, Ephesians, 17073. 44. Muddiman, Ephesians, 172. 45. Cf. Perkins, Ephesians, 9093; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 15152; Witherington, Ephesians, 27475. 46. Talbert, Ephesians, 102103. 47. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 153; cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 27879. 48. Best, Ephesians, 17071. 49. Talbert, Ephesians, 2025, 6369. 50. Ibid., 21. 51. Ibid., 25. 52. Muddiman, Ephesians, 175. 53. Talbert, Ephesians, 103. See also Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 155. 54. Witherington, Ephesians, 277. 55. Muddiman, Ephesians, 17576. See also his comments on Eph 5:32. 56. While this male-centered perspective unjustly prohibited women from exercising and developing their inherent gifts and skills, the writer of Ephesians was not as enlightened as the Apostle Paul (Gal 3:28), as my exegesis of Eph 5:21-33 shall show. 57. Talbert, Ephesians, 103. 58. Cf. Witherington, Ephesians, 277. 59. Cf. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 15457; Perkins, Ephesians, 9293; Muddiman, Ephesians, 17476. 60. Othal H. Lakey, Mama, will I have to shine shoes the rest of my life? A Few Sermons out of the Black Experience (Memphis: CME Publishing House, 2006) 202.


Attaining Community
Ephesians 4:15:2
Overview of Ephesians 46

Ephesians 46 constitutes the second part of the letter. Ephesians 4:15:21 discusses the Christian lifestyle in a more general way. Ephesians 4:1-16 stresses maintaining unity even amid a diversity of ministries. Renouncing pagan forms of behavior and embracing proper ethical standards of behavior comprise the message of 4:17-5:2. Thus, 4:15:2 emphasizes the need for harmony and unity in different ways. This emphasis would have been necessary in a community with a mixture of Gentiles and Jews with differing cultural One in Christ norms and expectations. Ephesians 5:21 proAs sweet strains of heavnly music vides a transition from the discussion in Blend in one harmonious sound, 4:175:20 to 5:226:9, which is a discussion So the members of Christs body of specific roles and relationships within the In blest unity are found One in mind, and one in spirit, Christian community. As with 4:15:20, the One in doctrine, faith, and love; emphasis in 5:226:9 is harmony and unity. One in nameoh, precious union, As such, 5:226:9 is a Christian adaptation Like the angel hosts above. of a Greco-Roman social norm.1 Ephesians Not like waves upon the ocean, 6:10-24 contains final exhortations. Verses Tossing wildly, rolling high; 10-20 convey the difficulty in sustaining a Or the tempests great commotion, Christian lifestyle by comparing it to military As it sweeps across the sky; combat. The book ends with personal But like twilight, gently stealing Oer the verdant, shady lea, remarks and a benediction (6:21-24). So the holy saints in Zion We turn now to an examination of Restfrom all their sins set free. Ephesians 4:15:2 and its discussion of Christian unity. [One in Christ] Clara M. Brooks (1911)

Exhortations, 4:1-6

Ephesians 4:1-6 contains an exhortation. Following Malherbe, Perkins notes that the parenesis in the letter may be an ethical


Ephesians 4:15:2

Stoic Virtues The cardinal virtues of Stoicism were wisdom (phronimos), courage (andreios), justice (dikaios), and temperance/moderation (sphrn). Other virtues strengthened ones character. They included good counsel, understanding, good discipline, orderliness, equality, fair-mindedness, dependability, and strength.

reminder of what not to do rather than actual praxis as in Pauls undisputed letters. Many moralists of the day believed a teachers life should provide a living example of the teachers instruction.2 [Stoic Virtues] [Altheia] In verse 1, the author again refers to Paul as a prisoner (cf. 3:1; see also Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12; See Diogenes Laertius, Zeno 7.126. Phil 1:7). Once again the writer urges his readers Altheia to follow Pauls example, an attempt to get the This term connoted truthfulness and same type of commitment from his readers that dependability in thought and action as Paul had received from his. Moreover, the exhorillustrated in writers such as Homer, Herodotus, Philo, and Plutarch. Early Christian writings contation to lead a worthy life echoes Jewish noted the same meaning (e.g., Matt 22:16; Rom understanding of divine election.3 Perkins 2:20; Pol. Phil 2:1; 1 Clem. 63:1). further notes that 1 Thessalonians 2:12 gives evidence that a sense of their election remained within Pauls churches in spite of their freedom from the Law. I concur and would add that this same concept of election undergirded the discussion in Ephesians 2:11-22 on the inclusion of the Gentiles as heirs of the covenant. The point of 4:1 is to exhort the original readers to live consistently with their selection by God. It should not surprise that these new Israelites chose the element within the Jewish tradition that affirmed them the most yet cost them the least. Verse 2 underscores v. 1 by listing the virtues that comprise a worthy Christian lifestyle: humility, gentleness, and patience (cf. Col 3:12). While gentleness was an acceptable virtue in some circumstances, such as Plato, Republic 3.387, normally these were not the heralded virtues of Roman society. Humility and patience would have been considered weaknesses, if not vices in GrecoRoman society.4 The cardinal Roman virtues, garnered mostly from Stoicism, were courage, justice, moderation (or temperance), and wisdom/prudence. However, within second temple Judaism and subsequently early Christianity, humility, gentleness, and patience had become well-established virtues. For example, 1QS 4:2-5 mentions meekness, patience, and compassion as virtues and LXX Proverbs 3:34, The Lord resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble, is quoted in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5.5 Perkins notes another connection between Ephesians 4:2 and the Qumran literature in the phrase bearing with one another in love.6 Similar wording is found in Colossians 3:2-14, the most

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probable resource for Ephesians 4:2. For Paul, love was the greatest virtue (1 Cor 13:13), the true culmination of the Law (Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14), the foundation of all Christian virtues.7 The writer of Ephesians does not, however, simply say, Love one another. Rather, he exhorts his readers to allow themselves to be imposed upon by other Christians and to do so as an act of love. Practicing humility and gentleness within a loving context would help maintain unity within the Church. Here is the corollary to the high status given the Church in Ephesians: an exhortation to unity develops within a loving fellowship where all are servants to one another. Indeed, not hierarchy but mutual love should motivate the community, and that is how the household codes should be read (see Eph 5:216:9). The point is not that sin is not possible, but that it should not persist. The author has a vision of what the Church should be, but it has not blurred his understanding of what it is. Thus, statements that describe the Church as flawless are hyperbolic aspirations rather than reality (e.g., 2:21). Verse 3 contains two synonymously parallel expressions: unity of the Spirit and bond of peace. Both would have conveyed the need for harmonious relations within the Christian community (cf. Col 3:14-15). The reference to a bond may refer back to v. 1 (the prisoner in the Lord)8 or to the relationship among virtues in some Greco-Roman philosophical movements.9 MacDonald argues that this bond of peace maintains the unity of the Spirit in this multiethnic Christian community. I concur. She also notes that the word unity (henotes) is only used twice in Ephesians, here in v. 3 and later in 4:13.10 In 2:14, Christ personified peace within the Church, and two separate ethnic groups became one. He created unity where there had been enmity previously. World Council of Churches (WCC) In both 2:14 and 4:3, peace and unity are The World Council of Churches (WCC) is key terms. In both contexts, the goal is comthe most inclusive ecumenical Christian organization on the planet. Its ultimate goal is munal concord. The Church must incorporate Christian unity. Its members include over 300 the peace that Christ has brought forth. [World
Council of Churches (WCC)]

Verses 4-6 cement the theme of corporate unity. The Churchs unity . . . is now asserted through a series of seven acclamations of oneness with two groups of three that end with the affirmation of the one God.11 Verse 4 emphasizes corporate unity both organizationally and spiritually. This unity should

churches, denominations, and church fellowships in over 100 countries. Member groups include Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, and Reformed traditions as well as many independent traditions. Their combined memberships include more than 500 million people.


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reflect the one hope of your calling. The last statement is a strong attempt to persuade the readers to be faithful to this teaching (cf. Col 3:15; 1 Cor 12:13). These corporate (see 1:23) and spiritual (see 2:18) concepts of unity have been mentioned earlier in Ephesians. Lincoln argues for a Hellenistic Jewish context for the unity theme. He notes similar traditions in 2 Baruch, 2 Maccabees, Philo, Josephus, and Sibylline Oracle 3, a diverse group of writings in terms of genre, socio-historical contexts, and theologies.12 This leads one to believe that the concept had become widespread and imbedded within many Jewish circles. A few examples will suffice. Second Baruch 48:24 reads, For we are one famous people, who have received one law from the only One.13 Indeed, the syncretistic and eclectic nature of Greco-Roman religious and philosophical thought not only led some to think in terms of one pantheon with different manifestations for the different ethnic and/or cultural groups, but some also came to believe in a single supreme deity who ruled the cosmos. Thus, Cleanthes identified Zeus with the Stoic Logos Orthos/Universe in his Hymn to Zeus. These two traditions, Jewish and non-Jewish, would simply have reinforced one another as given truths in common parlance in the general society. The Greek in v. 5 uses masculine, then feminine and finally neuter forms of one. The one Lord in this instance is most probably Christ (see 1 Cor 8:6; Rom 10:9; Phil Oneness 2:9-11; John 20:28). For Ephesians, Christ is That is why there is one law, (given) by the one Lord who fills all things with his soverone (man), one world and an end for all who are in it. (2 Bar. 85:14, AOT) eign rule.14 Seeing one faith as referring to the baptismal confession of Jesus as the There is one God . . . who himself sees all things. one Lord, Lincoln continues, This baptism is No sculptors hand made him, nor does a cast of one . . . because it is the initiation into Christ, gold or ivory reveal him, by the crafts of man. (Sib. Or., OTP 362) into one body . . . and as such is a unifying factor.15 I concur. [Oneness] With regard to the all-formulae in v. 6, there are two major means of interpretation. Schnackenburg is among those who argue that it refers to the Church. The one God and Father of all in the Church is the same God Who stands over the universe, who is active through everything and in everything which exists and happens.16 Others see the matter differently. Lincoln argues, for example, that this phrase is similar to 1 Corinthians 8:6 and represents a Christian modification of Deuteronomy 6:4 (see Rom 8:16

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and Gal 4:6). In Ephesians, it affirms both Gods transcendence (above all) and immanence (through all and in all).17 He continues, Ephesians does not completely collapse cosmological . . . and ecclesiological categories. Also, in Pauls letters expressions about God that employ all have cosmic dimensions, as in 1 Corinthians 8:6; 15:28; Romans 11:36. Moreover, the earlier reference to Gods universal fatherhood in Ephesians 3:14-15 surely tips the balances against restricting the scope of that fatherhood here.18 Lincoln argues that the purpose of the concept in Ephesians constitutes the foundation of the Segregated Sabbaths Churchs unity. It is similar to Jewish thought in The multi-ethnic Church is still a dream in most meaningful ways. It is a modern which monotheism was seen as the source of phenomenon that the most liberal congregations Israels unity. He continues, [I]t is the Church and denominations tend to be the least intethat is the expression of Gods unity.19 In grated; the most conservative are the most general, I concur, but it is probably better to say integrated. Predominantly Black congregations are more open than the mainline congregations. that Gods oneness is best exemplified in the This is an indictment against the First Churches unity of the Church for the book of Ephesians.
[Segregated Sabbaths]

who have not found a way to make their welcome match their rhetoric, not to mention match the biblical witness.

Christ and Church, 4:7-16

This section of Ephesians may be divided into two parts. Part one (vv. 7-10) discusses the work of Christ as the ascending-descending redeemer; part two (vv. 11-16) discusses the various roles of the Church and their interdependence. Verses 7-10 Verse 7 reminds us of Romans 12:3 (as God has given to each a measure of faith) and also Romans 12:6 (having differing gifts according to the grace given to [each of ] us).20 Mitton notes that unity has not resulted in uniformity. Various gifts enhance the community. When this rich diversity of abilities is placed at the disposal of the Church, there is no proper function of the Church which is not provided for.21 This divine endowment is an act of grace that enables each Christian to participate in Gods mission. The use of metron (measure) implies that some are more gifted than others, but that such pleases God. In such cases, boasting is out of the question since gifts have not been given due to any form of human merit (cf. Eph 2:9). Thus, the proper emphasis should be on the Giver, not the gift or the one who receives the gift. This passage is also similar to 1 Corinthians 12 where Christian gifts


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Unity vs. Uniformity The issue of unity vs. uniformity occurs in the Christian community in many ways. For example, Anglicans have divided over the issues of female priests and homosexual priests. African-American Methodists often disagree over whether to be more liturgical (e.g., singing hymns) or less liturgical (e.g., singing gospels and spirituals). Congregations often divide over such issues, both claiming faithfulness to tradition.

and Christian community are inseparable. Perhaps we should interpret the household codes in this perspective with people given measured roles. [Unity vs. Uniformity] In v. 8, the phrase Therefore, it says, should communicate to the reader that the writer is about to quote Scripture. This presents a problem: this quote is not from any known Scripture in either the Jewish or Christian canons. It is possible that the writers canon might have been different from ours. The present Jewish and Christian canons were not the standards for either all Judaism or all Christianity at the time of the writing of this book. Many exegetes believe the quote is actually a misquote of Psalm 68:18 (LXX 67:19). This is one possibility. Another is that the tradition is no longer extant. A third possibility is that the quote is a rabbinic targum. Psalm 68:18 (68:19 in Catholic Bibles) reads,
You have ascended on high, You have led captives captive; You have received gifts from humans.

This passage celebrates Gods triumph over Gods enemies and Gods resulting enthronement in heaven. The LXX parallel to Psalm 68:18 is in Psalm 67:19. It reads,
You ascended to (the) height, having led captivity captive, You have received gifts before (en)22 man.

The LXX translation also celebrates Gods triumph and subsequent enthronement in heaven. The passages in the HB and the LXX are closer to one another than either is to the passage in Ephesians. Ephesians states that gifts were given to humans, while the passages in the HB and LXX state that the gifts were given to God Almighty. Lincoln has found a similar development in the Targum on the Psalms where the concept of receiving has been changed to that of giving in the same way as in Eph 4:8.23 This is probably the case. Lincoln believes Ephesians has employed an ancient rabbinic tradi-

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A Rabbinical Interpretation tion that the Targum has also employed. This is And the cloud of the Lord was over probably the case. [A Rabbinical Interpretation] them by day (Num. 10:34). Hence they This type of quotation was common at the time said that there were seven clouds. Four on their in Jewish circles. Perkins argues that v. 8 is an four sides, one above, and one below, and one in front. Every hilly place it leveled, and every example of a pesher, a form of eschatological bibdepression it raised, and it killed the serpents lical interpretation popular at Qumran. She and the scorpions. R. Judah says: There were identifies several examples and notes a fragment at thirteen clouds: two on every side, two above, Qumran on Psalm 68:19. Perkins concedes that two below, and one in front. R. Josiah says: There were four. Rabbi says: There were the remains are too slight to obtain any helpful two. 24 data. Pesherim involved quoting a scriptural Siphre Numbers 82, 83, in C. K. Barrett, ed., The New passage, followed by a comment on its relevance. Testament Background (rev.ed.; San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987) 186. Muddiman, on the other hand, thinks it reflects 25 early Christian worship. MacDonald notes that the connection might be that the rabAscension binical interpretations saw the Psalms passage referring to Moses, while Ephesians sees it referring to Christ, the new Moses.26 This is quite possible (cf. Heb 3:1-6; Matt 17:1-8). When he ascended on high refers to Christ going to the heavenly places, while he captured a host of captives refers to Christ overcoming the evil powers that he encountered on high. Having defeated his adversaries in the heavenly places, Christ shared the spoils of victory with humanity. Verse 11 makes it clear that Ephesians does not understand these gifts to be given indiscriminately but to the Church for its ministry. Many Jews and Christians in the first century CE believed that Satan would reside in heaven until the last days when he would fall to earth. Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (16061669). The Ascension of Christ. 1636. Luke 10:18 (I saw Satan fall from Oil on canvas. Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen, Munich, Germany. (Credit: Art Resource/NY) heaven like lightning) and Revelation 12:7-12 are two New Testament witnesses The Ascension of Christ along with the Resurrection reento this tradition. ergized the Jesus movement in the aftermath of the crucifixion. It restored the faith of an emotionally and spiriVerse 9 presents an interesting exegettually deflated community and gave birth to what would ical dilemma: to what does he went become a major world religion that would ultimately down into the lower parts of the Earth include Jews and non-Jews.


Ephesians 4:15:2

refer? MacDonald says it refers to the Incarnation and that of the Earth is in apposition since there is no mention of the underworld or subterranean regions beneath the Earth.27 However, a concept of an underworld was widespread at the time: Jews could speak of Gehenna or Sheol; Gentiles of Hades. It was a part of the general culture. A reference to an ascent could easily have brought to mind the possibility of descent to the underworld. The early church believed that Christ descended into Hell, as evidenced by the Apostles Creed. Here in Ephesians it is not a part of the argument but something naturally associated with Christs ascension. One finds a similar concept of a descending-ascending redeemer in Acts 14:8-13. Verse 10 concludes this unit by asserting that he who descended is the same one who also ascended. His purpose: so that he might fill all things (cf. v. 8: he gave gifts to men). Christ has captured captivity and is now the Lord of the Cosmos who brings gifts and unity to the Christian community (see 4:11-13). Thus, this purpose clause serves as a fitting transition to the next three verses. Verses 11-16 Ephesians 4:11 identifies the various offices that the author deems essential for the well-being of the Church. This verse has been offered as an argument against Pauline authorship since Paul never mentioned offices. That argument is imprecise; Paul refers to offices: the apostolic office (e.g., Rom 1:1; 11:13; 16:7, 17; 1 Cor 9:1-2; 2 Cor 12:12) and the diaconate (e.g., Rom 16:1; Phil 1:1). Furthermore, Romans 12:5-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 are similar to Ephesians 4:11. All three discuss the Descending-Ascending Redeemer diverse skills within the Christian community as The Gospel of John displays the an asset to a spiritually healthy community. descending-ascending redeemer concept More precisely, Paul refers to functions more throughout the book (e.g., John 1:1-18; 5:36-38). Another is Acts 14:11: The gods, having attained than to offices. In Ephesians alone is it said human-likeness, have descended to us. This clearly that these gifts come from Christ. motif was widespread throughout the culture and Lincoln correctly makes the point that the was adapted by early Christianity to spread its Greek requires a list of functions. He offers the message. The same motif is behind the hymn in Phil 2:7-8. following translation: it was he who gave, on the one hand, the apostles, on the other, the prophets. Furthermore, these are ministers of the word exclusively in contrast to the lists in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.28
[Descending-Ascending Redeemer]

Ephesians 4:15:2


As in 1 Corinthians 12:28, apostles and prophets lead the list. Some argue that apostles and prophets were past functionaries for the writer.29 However, John the Seer, the recipient of the Apocalypse, would argue that prophets were active in the region (Rev 1:3; 22:18).30 Furthermore, Didache 11-13 and the Shepherd of Hermas, Man. 11, indicate that prophecy continued in the Church well into the second century. This list is intelligible. The apostles were the founders; prophets, while probably diminishing in numbers, continued to have an influential role due to their particular gift; evangelists continued the itinerant work of the apostles; pastors were resident leaders who performed the more mundane aspects of ministry; teachers were local functionaries who nurtured people in the faith. This list is a catalogue of hierarchical roles. The purpose is the edification of the Christian community (v. 12). The phrases the holy ones (or saints) and the body of Christ connote the Church. The work of service represents what the Church does. The writer does not give details of how verses 11 and 12 relate. He operated more in the realm of conceptualization than praxis.31 The ministers endowed and selected by Christ shall bring the rest of Gods Church to maturity. These ministers shall enable the lay members to fulfill their spiritual calling. Their calling is On True Prophets defined in general as the work of service. This service Not everyone who speaks in is self-giving. The edification of the body of Christ is the Spirit is a prophet, only if the second purpose stated. This is actually a reiteration one behaves like the Lord (Did. 11:8 of the equipping of the holy ones in Ephesians 4:1. [AT])
[On True Prophets]

Verse 13 contains a tripartite description of the life of the Church. The first phrase is the unity of the faith. This expression continues the theme from vv. 3-6, with a particular emphasis on a unified belief. The knowledge of the Son of God, the second expression, is a major component of the faith, if not its entire content. Colossians 2:2-3 speaks of the knowledge of Christ as a treasure of wisdom and knowledge, but no such claim is made here. Christian unity is already achieved in Christ, yet it still must be sustained through the ministry established by Christ.32 The third description in v. 13 complements the first two (for a complete person fully mature in the fullness of Christ). The goal here is for the Church to be its best, to be complete. This passage contrasts Colossians 1:28 (so that we may present every person


Ephesians 4:15:2

complete in Christ) where the emphasis is upon individuals.33 While the emphases in the two books differ, the result is the same. Ephesians 4:14 contains a contrast with the preceding verse. While v. 13 counsels the readers to attain maturity in the faith, v. 14 exhorts them not to be infants. This is not a physical infancy but a spiritual one. Spiritual infants might be tossed about . . . by every wind of doctrine. This admonition tells us the writer knows the Church has not reached full maturity yet. Their holiness is more ideal than real. This lack of maturity comes from the dishonesty that results from trickery, craftiness, and conniving. The author takes a more positive note in vv. 15-16. Verse 15 contains a growth metaphor; v. 16, a body metaphor. In contrast to the malevolent, dishonest imagery found in v. 14, Christians must speak truthfully in love. Lincoln correctly notes that the LXX regularly used altheuein to convey speaking the truth.34 This verse continues the imagery found earlier of growing spiritually in v. 13 by exhorting the readers to grow to maturity in Christ (see 2:21). Christ as the head echoes 1:22-23 and looks forward to 5:23. Truthfulness, one of the three main virtues of Ephesians, exhorts its readers to the highest moral standard. Best argues that truth here is synonymous with the gospel. Believers can speak the truth in love because their lives are founded on and built up by love (3:17).35 When this happens within the Church, the Church grows into Christ (see 4:13c). As its head, Christ is the source of growth in so far as it is identified with Christ.36 This growth is a qualitative process in unity, knowledge and love. The goal is for the Church to be filled spiritually with all the fullness of God (3:19), to be built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (2:22), the fullness of the One Who fulfills all in all (1:23). The aim of growth is to be filled with Gods Spirit. The gifts that Christ gives the Church are all for this sole purpose. The goal of unity is to be fully mature in the fullness of Christ (4:13). Both Colossians and Ephesians combine the Christ-body and Christ-head metaphors. The body metaphor appears in Ephesians 4:4 and 4:12. Colossians 2:19 is probably dependent on Romans 12 and/or 1 Corinthians 12. In those passages, the point is the interdependence of various parts of the Church to function properly. In Ephesians, the growth of the Church into the fullness of Christ is dependent on the harmonious corporation of the various

Ephesians 4:15:2


Virtue-Vice Lists dimensions of the Churchs ministry. Lincoln Stoicism popularized virtue and/or vice argues that this growth can only happen lists in antiquity. Seneca provides an through certain people.37 At best, this is only example of a virtue list: courage, confidence, implicit in Ephesians, which mentions temperance, cultural refinement, candor, modesty and moderation, frugality and parsimony, compasoffices/ministries and not officers/ministers. The sion (Letters 88.29-30; cf. 113.24). Epictetus has former concentrates on functions, the latter on the following vice list: crafty, mischievous, wild, personalities. [Virtue-Vice Lists] savage, untamed, degrading, slanderous and illFor the building up of itself in love is the natured (Discourses 1.3.7-9; cf. 1.7.30; 2.1.11; 2.20.17-18). foundational virtue. Love remains the foundation of the community (4:16). Just as God acted in love Love Long before the Black (1:4; 2:4), just as Christians must be grounded in love Awareness movement and (3:17) and know Christs love (3:19), so too they must separate from the influence of ecuexhibit love in their relationships with other Christians menism, many Black Christians in the (4:2, 15, 16). [Love] South across denominational lines greeted one another as Brother or Sister.

A Witness, 4:17-24

This section begins with the strong assertion that what follows is not a personal statement but a witness in the Lord. Such a statement would give credence to the ethical instructions to follow. To walk no longer means to live no longer. They cannot continue to live as they have in their former, past lives (see Col 3:5-10).38 Many argue that ta ethn should be translated the pagans, not the Gentiles, in this context.39 While not opting for that translation, Lincoln states that the Jew-Gentile issue no longer existed as religiously significant.40 However, Lincoln cannot prove this. He cannot tell us for whom the book was written or where they might have lived. While he may be correct, his idea is still a hypothesis. This is especially true given the evidence for Jewish Christianity into the second century CE, if not later.41 Best, however, makes an insightful observation: In vv. 17-19 . . . AE (the author of Ephesians) draws a picture of the heathen (i.e., non-Jewish) world which depends in part on previous Jewish thinking (e.g., Wisd 14:22-31; Ep. Arist. 152; Philo, Vita Cont 40-7).42 Unwittingly, Best has shown that Jewish ways of relating to Gentiles had not disappeared. It is more likely that the writer of Ephesians spoke here to Gentiles who are now Christians. He has this Jewish, anti-Gentile tradition that tells him what that behavior entailed, and he uses it. Verses 17c-19 contain a litany of standard accusations of the day by Jews about Gentiles. This passage tells us


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two things: (1) the author knew what Jews said about Gentiles and was probably Jewish himself and (2) he saw Gentile Christians bringing parts of their former lifestyle into the Church. It is rather doubtful that a Gentile writer would have expressed it in this way. Moreover, while the Church was probably predominantly Gentile, this does not mean it was exclusively Gentile at the time. This passage is evidence that a Jewish contingent A Description of Gentiles remained that had not completely forsaken its Many Jewish writers held Gentiles in low esteem. Wis 14:26 provides an example: traditions. [A Description of Gentiles] confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of The more positive side of the authors argufavors, pollution of souls, sex perversion, disorder ment begins in vv. 20-21. First, the writer states in marriage, adultery, and debauchery (RSV). that they did not learn Christ in this way, i.e., their initial exposure to Christianity was not as a shallow intellectualism that is irrelevant and ultimately sinful (vv. 17b-19). Learning Christ is a singular motif for Ephesians. Lincoln correctly argues that Ephesians adapts Colossians 2:6-7, where you received Christ Jesus actually means they received the tradition about Christ Jesus. In both Colossians and Ephesians, the reference to Christ actually means the tradition about him, relates directly to Christian behavior, and is associated with the teaching of Darkening of the Mind same. This teaching involved cognitive and also And thus every young man is destroyed, darkening his mind from the truth, neither behavioral dimensions.43 [Darkening of the Mind] gaining understanding in the Law of God nor The infinitives to hear and to teach in heeding the advice of his fathers . . . . 4:21b are complementary in that one definition T. Reu. 3:8, OTP 783. of akouein (to hear) is to learn. Thus, learning and teaching about Christ involve the two aspects of the same activity.44 The point is that the readers religious training has thoroughly prepared them to live appropriately as Christians. The last phrase in this verse, just as truth is in Jesus, simply affirms what they have already been taught. The truth which is in Jesus means that truth which lies in the person of Christ, based on Jesus. Moreover, he is the one who . . . is the trustworthy guide for the ordering of a Christian way of life.45 Ephesians 4:22-24 contrasts the old person with the new Christian person. These verses are dependent on Colossians 3:8-10.46 The concept of becoming a new person in Christ has other New Testament witnesses. John 3:1-7 says a new, spiritual rebirth is necessary for one to be saved. Titus 3:5 and 1 Peter 1:23 have similar messages. Perhaps the most beautiful expression is found in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (cf. Rom 6:1-11). In all these pas-

Ephesians 4:15:2
I Surrender All sages, there is an emphasis on a total conversion that All to Jesus I surrender; starts life anew both spiritually and morally. Apotithmi All to Him (lit., putting/taking off ) is the key verb in many of I freely give; these passages.47 The former way of life was literally I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. rotting for Ephesians because it is based on lustful deceit. This imagery was a common feature of early Refrain: Christian baptismal liturgies. [I Surrender All] I surrender all, The writer then calls for a renewal in the spirit of I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, your mind (v. 23b; cf. Rom 12:2). Similar NT passages I surrender all. call for a rejection of the old lifestyle and an immediate acceptance of the new one (e.g., Rom 13:12-14; Col All to Jesus I surrender; 3:5-10; 1 Pet 2:1-2). Some argue that this is a reference Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken; to the Holy Spirit.48 Indeed, pneuma consistently refers Take me, Jesus, take me now. to the Holy Spirit in Ephesians, and this Spirit guides and directs the faithful (see 1:17; 3:16; 4:3; 6:18). All to Jesus I surrender; Mitton counters that spirit and mind together in this Make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel the Holy Spirit, context indicate ones inner being (see 3:16).49 Truly know that Thou art mine. Concurring with Mitton on this point, Lincoln states that this passage is functionally equivalent to . . . Col All to Jesus I surrender; 3:10, which speaks of being renewed in knowledge.50 Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power; I concur. Let Thy blessing fall on me. The author now exhorts the readers to put on the new person (v. 24). Lincoln correctly notes that the All to Jesus I surrender; new person has both communal and individual connoNow I feel the sacred flame. Oh, the joy of full salvation! tations. The new person represents a new community Glory, glory, to His Name! composed of both Jews and non-Jews that has replaced the former groups. Second, each new person must indiJudson W. Van DeVenter (1896) vidually live a morally renewed, different life.51 Lincoln is eminently correct. Ephesians high ecclesiology sees the people of God collectively and individually as faithful holy ones (1:1; 3:8), made so by Christ himself (5:25-27). They are righteous and holy (v. 24). Having been created in righteousness and holiness, Christians constitute a select group (4:24). Righteousness (dikaiosyn) and holiness (hosiotti) are synonymous virtues here that cohere with Ephesians elevated concept of the church (e.g., 2:21; 5:27). As stated previously, holiness is one of the three principal virtues in Ephesians. It conveyed to its original audience the religious and spiritual propriety of Christians both individually and collectively. In four of the five times it appears as an adjective in Ephesians, it is



Ephesians 4:15:2

Dikaios was primarily a legal term in classical culture, although it could also connote moral propriety. In many instances, it should be translated just, lawful, upright, righteous. It could also convey being fair or moderate. In the New Testament, it denoted high moral standards.

coupled with a similar adjective that connotes Christians as morally exemplary. [Dikaios]
More Exhortations, 4:255:2

Exhortations and moral guidelines for Christian living fill this section. Ephesians 4:25-30 contains four exhortations, followed by several attempts to elucidate the matter in 4:315:2. Falsehood, anger, stealing, and improper speech are characteristics of the former person; truth, avoidance of sin, honest work, and edifying speech characterize the new Christian person. Gods action through the Christ event provides the ethical example and norm for Christian behavior.

Verses 25-30 Ephesians 4:25 contrasts falsehood and truth and thus reiterates the message of 4:15 and 4:21-24. Part of the exhortation is a quote of Zechariah 8:16. The quote is closer to the LXX than the HB. The rationale for truthfulness is because Christians are mutually dependent on each other (see 2:11-22). Truthfulness maintains communal unity. Lying destroys it. Ephesians is not providing a revelation here but is reminding its readership of a fact of human existence. Here is another example of the deep concern for Christian unity and harmony in the book of Ephesians. Verse 26 contains a second exhortation that initially seems straightforward. It quotes Psalm 4:4 (LXX Ps 4:5): Be angry and do not sin. However, the manner in which one translates kai can significantly influence ones interpretation. For example, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) reads, Be angry and do not sin; the NASB reads, Be angry, and yet do not sin; the NRSV, Be angry but do not sin. Each of these translations is viable because kai can mean and, but, also, and however. Clearly the CSB gets its cue from Psalm 4:4. However, NT writers often reinterpreted OT passages differently in light of Christ Jesus. For example, Christians were the first to read Isaiahs Servant Songs as messianic prophecies.52 The NASB wants to be true to the passage and also remain true to the Greek. I think the NRSV has the best translation in this instance as the following exegesis will attempt to demonstrate.53 The passage wanted to convey to its original readers that anger is not unavoidable in some circumstances, but it should not lead to

Ephesians 4:15:2


sinful behavior detrimental to the community. Christians must find ways to disagree without becoming disagreeable. Bruce warns that there is always the temptation to see ones own anger as righteous indignation, ones opposite as bad temper.54 Indeed, the closing phrase encourages Christians to end disputes as quickly as possible (v. 26b). In this way, the disagreements might not develop into an enduring enmity. [When Growth Is Not

When Growth Is Not Growth Too often Christianity multiplies by division. Someone cannot get his or her own way in a congregational disagreement and pulls out of the congregation and starts a new one. There is a new congregation without new converts. This is not what the New Testament envisioned as expansion. Christians above all others should be able to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

Muddiman correctly connects v. 27 with the two preceding verses. He notes that 2 Corinthians 2:11 similarly connects an unforgiving attitude with the Devil. He also sees a connection with 2 Timothy 2:26. Further, he notes that Paul normally uses Satan, not the Devil. While this is clearly an argument against Pauline authorship, Muddiman sees it differently, arguing that Paul must have known the term due to its widespread use and employed it occasionally.55 Muddimans position is fraught with problems. First and foremost, it puts him in the position of not ever being able to argue for a term and/or expression being one of Pauls favorites based on frequent occurrence for two reasons: (1) if we argue for exceptions to the rule as he does with Satan/the Devil, anyone can make the same argument for or against any term/expression that Paul may or may not have used, and (2) given the fact that Paul wrote occasional letters, it is possible that certain occasions never suggested certain terms to Paul. Second, 2 Corinthians 2:11 uses Satan and is from an undisputed letter of Paul; 2 Timothy 2:26 is disputed and has the Devil. Muddimans position pleads for a better criterion of discernment. Verses 28 and 29 are parallel statements. Both begin with imperatives that function as prohibitions. In each case, the prohibition is followed by exhortations to proper conduct. Thieves are told to stop stealing and to pursue gainful employment in order to help the needy. Decadent speech is renounced and must be replaced by words that build and sustain community. The former is an admonition for proper behavior, and the latter for proper speech. In both instances, the good of the commonwealth is the central concern. Grieving the Holy Spirit (v. 30) is reminiscent of Isaiah 63:10 where Israels infidelity grieved God. It has a similar meaning here in that any fracture in Christian unity saddens God. Gods Spirit


Ephesians 4:15:2

On the Spirit Isaiah 63:10, RSV But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit.

within us can be disappointed and saddened by carelessness and lack of response on our part, just as the right response can bring joy in heaven. 56 In agreement, Schnackenburg writes that the Spirit is the Psalm 51:11 divine strength and the unifying bond in Christian Do not send me away from your prescongregations.57 Verse 30 continues the admonitions ence, and do not take your holy Spirit found in vv. 28-29. The Spirit nurtures and empowers from me. (AT) the Christian community. The destruction of that comProverbs 1:23 munity grieves the Spirit and splinters the group that Behold, I will pour out my Spirit upon the Spirit has sealed for salvation. The seal of the Spirit you; I will make my words known to probably has its origins in Ezekiel 9:4-6 where God you. (AT) tells an angel to place a mark on the foreheads of the faithful to protect them from death.58 Here the sealing is a means of protecting the community from disruption. [On the Spirit] 4:315:2 Ephesians 4:31-32 makes plain what it means to not grieve Gods Spirit. Verse 31 includes a list of social vices to be avoided, while v. 32 details virtues to be acquired and nurtured for the good of the community. It is noteworthy that the vices listed here destroy community; the virtues enhance its growth. The actions of God through Christ serve as the model for Christian conduct. In other words, just as God created the Christian community, Christians themselves must sustain it by following Gods example. Ephesians 5:1 confirms this by exhorting the readers to be imitators of God, as beloved children. Later in the household codes the author exhorts children to obey their parents in the Lord (see 6:1-3). Ephesians 5:1 expects the same obedience to God by all Christians. One finds similar admonitions in 1 Corinthians 4:16, Philippians 3:17, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, and 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 9; however, all but 1 Thessalonians 1:6 encourage imitating Paul. First Thessalonians 1:6 also encourages imitating the Lord.59 Ephesians 5:2 concludes the exhortations by encouraging the readers to walk in love. This admonition goes with the actions that create and sustain community found in 4:32: and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (RSV). The author attempts to consummate the argument by reminding them that through this same love Christ sacrificed himself for their sakes. They owe him their obedience. The fragrant aroma connoted behavior pleasing to God.60
[Other New Testament Seals]

Ephesians 4:15:2



While Ephesians 23 discusses the peace Christ has brought, 4:15:2 discusses the need for Christian harmony and unity. The various min- Revelation 7:3 istries of the Church should be viewed as Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees complementary tasks for the edification of the until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads. Church and not as competing factions. Ephesians 4:14-16 advocates avoiding doctrinal arguments Revelation 22:4 and also eloquent yet irrelevant rhetoric. Instead, They shall see his face and his name shall be it advocates that speaking the truth in love on their foreheads. strengthens the entire body (4:1-16). Ephesians 4:17-24 exhorts its audience to abstain from its past Gentile practices. Ephesians 4:255:2 provides positive, concrete examples of what the new life requires. Love is at the foundation of Christian behavior. Ephesians 4:1-6 argues against fights among congregational departments and/or staff members, or among denominational bureaucracies for scarce resources. Instead of fighting for the pie, Christians should find ways to share it. This passage argues for unity. This unity is not built on a single cultural perspective but is an inclusive unity that wants every segment of the community to participate and play its part. What does this mean in real terms? It would mean that board and/or committee meetings would have disagreements, but the tensions would not fester into rivalries. The focus would be on what is best for the congregation and not what a particular group wanted. Choir members who want to sing all the solos should be introduced to record producers and wished well. Board meetings would become more boring but more Christian. Moreover, denominational agencies would work toward sharing resources. Power politics has no place in the Christian community. Political games would be outlawed. Ideologies fueled by competition and not cooperation have no place among Christians. Christian unity begins with God and should move downward to the Church Universal. The Church has not lived up to this scriptural standard. The modern ecumenical movement has not succeeded in organizational unity because individual traditions focus more on differences than similarities, even when similarities

Other New Testament Seals Revelation 3:12 I will make the one who conquers a pillar in the temple of my God . . . and write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God.


Ephesians 4:15:2

outweigh and outnumber the differences. It appears that comfort overrules fidelity to Scripture. The clear theme of this section is unity in the faith (see 4:1-3, 33). This unity is based on lowliness, meekness, forbearance in love, and peace. It is not based on a childlike imposed uniformity in practice and praise. This unity is spiritual. It unifies without denying different gifts and points of view. Such a unity is more powerful because it does not turn people into clones. It allows for individuality while still bringing people together. This is risky because it has a dimension of uncertainty. In theological terms, we call this living by faith. True faith does not know everything but trusts the One who does.

This part of Ephesians addresses two contemporary topics. The first is the diversity of skills given to the community and the second is moving toward Christian maturity. The list in v. 11 begins with apostles because they were the first followers of Christ Jesus. The other gifts and graces connote the forms of ministry in the Church Universal and the local congregation necessary for the continuance of the body. It is not that prophets or evangelists or pastors or teachers are primary but that all are necessary and must work cooperatively for the good of the whole. The gifts are for the community and not to promote any single individual. Christians should work together cooperatively and lovingly. Many people say competition brings advancement. Rarely do people who love others and wish the best for others say this. This statement gives some people the license to ignore the feelings and the talents of others and to do what they want. Similarly, people who say that one can say anything to those they love rarely say anything lovingly. They simply want a license to be rude. One can say anything to loved ones if it is done in love. This method enables the other person to listen and really hear what is being said. Indeed, most people who want to say anything rarely say Im sorry, and when they do it is barely audible. Moreover, such people do not enjoy being corrected. The inability of Christians to live up to this standard continues to be one of the main arguments against Christians and Christianity. This was as true in the first century as it is in the twenty-first. Christianity cannot change human nature (neither can

Ephesians 4:15:2


any other religion, for that matter). It can only enable people to nurture their better selves and live accordingly. It cannot eradicate our lesser selves; it can only help us hold them at bay. That is why pastors who avoid sermons about sinfulness and holding their parishioners accountable do them a disservice. Everyone needs to hear sometimes, You are the one (2 Sam 12:7). The second topic is Christian maturity. Ephesians 4:14-16 admonishes Christians to speak the truth in love as mature people in the faith. It discourages behaving like spoiled children who cannot get their way in every occasion. Speaking the truth in love makes one more like Christ in that one does so for the sake of the other person. The competitive stanBridge dards of the world no longer apply. Before the Navajo bridge pictured here was opened in We live in a world that has confused 1929, people had to travel 800 miles around the Grand uniformity with unity. Uniformity has Canyon to reach the other side of the Colorado River. The opening of the bridge was celebrated with speeches from the a certain appeal. Everyone looks the governors of three states and the president of the Mormon same, acts the same, and believes the church, as well as ceremonial dancing by Native Americans. In same. It is reassuring. Uniformity is much the same way that this bridge brought together people of the moat that protects against sudden various locations and ethnicities, the Christian community is supposed to bridge the gulfs that too often separate people. change. Unfortunately, it does not represent humanity at its best. Moats not only keep people out. They also keep people in and make life stagnant. Changing times often require new approaches and answers. In the process, we learn something about ourselves that we did not know previously. Faith builds bridges as well as moats. [Bridge]
(Credit: Leonard G., jpg)

Too often Christians do not leave their former lives behind them. Some Christians want non-Christians to see them as mere people, and they believe that the only way to do that is to live at the other persons level. That is the opposite of what should occur. A Christian should strive to bring people to her or his spiritual level without coming across as a self-righteous, insensitive oaf. I had a relative who was an alcoholic. I loved him dearly but did not condone his behavior. I took every opportunityand there were far too manyto tell him alcoholism was shortening and


Ephesians 4:15:2

diminishing the quality of his life. He never heeded my advice. He knew he was loved, however, in spite of his addiction. Being Christian is not synonymous with being obnoxious, but it should be synonymous with being true to our calling. Another reason we do not change some aspects of our lives is because we simply do not want to do so. Some things feel too good to us to stop doing. All of us fight this demon. One day I simply got tired of disappointing myself and asking for forgiveness for something that I could change. So I changed. I do not believe I have received more blessings. Sometimes changing is its own reward.

Speaking the truth is not difficult for many Christians. Doing so in love can prove challenging. It is also worth noting that these same people reluctantly receive criticism well. They have forgotten that they are merely a part of the whole and not the central figure. Christ alone is the central figure. Speaking the truth in love speaks to the community, not the individual. Truth leads the community in the correct path. When done in love, the foundation of the community is not cracked but strengthened. It remembers that we are members of one another (4:25) and that we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as we would want them to treat us. Ephesians 5:1 uses a biological metaphor. Children resemble parents in some way. I do not resemble my father much physically, but I walk like him and have many of his mannerisms. As children of God, Christians should manifest some of Gods characteristics. Love is the chief characteristic of God discussed in Ephesians, and Christians are encouraged to love others as a manifestation of their discipleship to Christ and God. Challenges bring progress. Often the challenge is not external to the group but internal to it. It is the challenge to maintain positive interaction and sustain communal concord in changing times. Ephesians 4 says it can be done if we put others first and put our own egos in check. It is possible if we live for the good of the community with contributions from each individual.

Ephesians 4:15:2


1. D. K. Darko has written an insightful and helpful study on this section of Ephesians. I deeply regret that I found it too late to incorporate it more here (No Longer Living as the Gentiles [LNTS; Edinburgh UK: T. & T. Clark, 2008]). 2. Pheme Perkins, Ephesians (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 94. 3. Ibid., 95. 4. E.g., Seneca, Letters 113.24; Cicero, Duties 3.3.13. 5. Cf. Luke 1:51; see also Perkins, Ephesians, 95; Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 163. 6. Perkins, Ephesians, 95; so, too, Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 164. 7. Perkins, Ephesians, 95. 8. Ibid., 96. 9. F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT; Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1984) 156. 10. Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 287. 11. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 237. 12. Lincoln, Ephesians, 238. 2 Macc 7:37 is a strong case for monotheism but not communal unity. 13. L. H. Brockington translation in H. F. D. Sparks, ed., The Apocryphal Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984); see also 2 Bar 85:14; Philo, Leg. 2.1; Spec. 1.67; Josephus, Ant. 5.1.25; Ag. Ap. 2.23; Sib. Or. 3.11. 14. Lincoln, Ephesians, 239. 15. Ibid., 240. See also Col 1:23; 2:7; Gal 3:27-28; 1 Cor 12:13. 16. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 167. 17. Lincoln, Ephesians, 240. 18. Ibid. 19. Ibid., 24041, quote from 241. 20. Perkins argues that Ephesians has conflated these two verses (Ephesians, 97). 21. C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951) 144. 22. The Greek preposition en has a multitude of translation options. This translation is offered knowing that a more preferable one is possible. See BAGD 25861. 23. Lincoln, Ephesians, 24243 (quote from 242); cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 290. 24. Perkins, Ephesians, 97. 25. J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 18698. 26. MacDonald, Ephesians, 290. 27. Ibid., 29091. 28. Lincoln, Ephesians, 249. 29. E.g., Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 180.


Ephesians 4:15:2
30. Elsewhere I have argued that the Balaam-Balak movement (Rev 2:12-17) and the Jezebel movement (Rev 2:18-29) are competing prophetic movements in the region (Christ and Community [JSNTSup 178; Sheffield UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999] 12438). 31. Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 25354. 32. Ibid., 25556. 33. Ibid., 256. 34. Lincoln, Ephesians, 259; cf. LXX Gen 20:16; 42:16; Prov 21:3; Isa 44:26; see also Philo, Moses 2.177; Abraham 107; Bauer, Lexicon, 3537. 35. E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 207; so too Lincoln, Ephesians, 260. 36. Best, Ephesians, 207; cf. 1 Cor 3:6-7; 2 Cor 10:15; 2 Thess 1:3. 37. Lincoln, Ephesians, 263. 38. Cf. Eph 4:17-24 with Col 3:5-10; Eph 4:17-19 with Rom 1:21, 24. See also B. Witherington III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A SocioRhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007) 29499. 39. Best, Ephesians, 213; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 196; Witherington, Ephesians, 294. 40. Lincoln, Ephesians, 276. 41. Some argue that the links lasted even beyond the second century. See, for example, A. H. Becker and A. Y. Reed, eds., The Ways that Never Parted (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003). 42. Best, Ephesians, 212. Lincoln adds Wis 1215; 18:10-19; Ep. Arist. 140, 277; Sib. Or. 3:220-35 (Ephesians, 27677). I would also add Rom 1:18-32. 43. Lincoln, Ephesians, 279; so too Best, Ephesians, 22021; cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 303; H. W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids MI: Baker, 2002) 594; Witherington, 126, 297. 44. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 22021; Lincoln, Ephesians, 280. 45. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 199. 46. On the infinitive functioning as an imperative, see Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 199201; Lincoln, Ephesians, 28384. For a contrasting view, see BDF 19697. 47. For a fine discussion of the nuances among these passages, see Lincoln, Ephesians, 28386. 48. E.g., Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 200. 49. Mitton, Ephesians, 165. 50. Lincoln, Ephesians, 287. 51. Ibid. 52. The point here is not to say that the Christians were the first to get it right and all their predecessors were incorrect, or vice versa. Rather, the point is to show that Christians often provided original exegeses in light of the Christ event. 53. An examination of some of my earlier publications will show that the NRSV is not one of my favorite translations (e.g., Homoion huion anthropou in Rev 1:13 and 14:14, BT 44 (1993): 34950; More on Revelation 1:13 and 14:14, BT 47 (1996):

Ephesians 4:15:2
14649; Pistos kai Alethinos in Revelation 19.11, 21.5 and 22.6, Notes on Translation 12 (1998): 3133 [hereafter NotesT]. The NRSV is not incorrect all the time. 54. Bruce, Ephesians, 361. 55. J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 22526. 56. Mitton, Ephesians, 171. 57. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 209. 58. Cf. Rev 3:12; 7:1-8; 14:1-5; 22:4. 59. The Lord in 1 Thess 1:6 might be Christ and not God the Father. 60. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 24244; Bruce, Ephesians, 36869.


Sustaining Community
Ephesians 5:3-20

The preceding section of Ephesians, 4:15:2, emphasizes harmony and unity within the Church. This admonition would be necessary in a multicultural community with differing social norms and expectations. By reminding the readers/listeners of their former lifestyle and also Gods grace (benefaction) to separate them from their past transgressions, this section expected a positive, faithful response. Ephesians 5:3-21 continues to exhort the listeners/readers to avoid their former practices and remain within the elect community. Verses 3-21 can be broken into two large sections: (1) vv. 3-14, a paraenesis composed of two parts (vv. 3-5 and vv. 6-14) and (2) vv. 15-21, a second paraenesis. Moreover, 5:3-8 closely resembles Colossians 3:5-8, 16-17; 4:5; and 5:15-20. These words encourage moral propriety and communal cohesion. Ephesians 5:21 provides a transition into the household codes. Verses 3-21 contain a series of ethical exhortations set within a dualistic framework. Dualism is a perspective where two viewpoints are perceived as either complementary or mutually exclusive. Ephesians 5:3-21 employs the latter motif. Cosmic dualism depicts two cosmic powers, e.g., God and Satan, vying for supremacy. Ethical dualism describes life in terms of moral and immoral human actions; soteriological dualism contrasts redemption and condemnation. Ephesians 5:3-21 contains examples of ethical dualism with soteriological consequences in order to guide its readers to the appropriate moral behavior. A major question is whether this section is dependent on the Qumranic literature. Kuhn argued that Ephesians 5:3-17 displays a definite relationship with Qumran texts and second temple Jewish writings influenced by Qumran.1 Culpepper has demonstrated persuasively that Ephesians draws on a dualistic framework common to Jewish and Christian writers of the time.2 [O Church of God, United]


Ephesians 5:3-20

O Church of God, United Though creeds and tongues may differ, They speak, O Christ, of thee; And in thy loving spirit We shall one people be. Lord, may our faithful service And singleness of aim Proclaim to all the power Of thy redeeming name.

Avoiding Infidelity, 5:3-5

Verses 3-5 have several references to sexual improprieties. In second temple Judaism, probably influenced by the book of Hosea (e.g., 1QS 4.9-10; CD 4.17; T.Sim. 5:3; T.Levi 17:11; T.Jud. 11:2; 15:1-6; Philo, Jos. 43), writers often May thy great prayer be answered described religious infidelity in terms of sexual That we may all be one, infidelity. Thus, one should look for evidence to Close bound, by love united In thee, Gods blessed Son: indicate whether the writer has spoken figuraTo bring a single witness, tively or literally. The language here appears to To make the pathway bright, be figurative. The sexual imagery is rather That souls which grope in darkness general, and the result is not a broken relationMay find the one true light. ship with a spouse or sweetheart but a broken Frederick B. Morley (1953) relationship with God and Christ (v. 5). Lincoln notes that there is no specific situation in view but generalizes about all impurity (cf. T.Sim. 5:3).3 The use of such language, therefore, must be seen as deliberate. Sexual misconduct (porneia) could include adultery, fornication, and sex with prostitutes, and it was seen as a grave transgression (see 1 Cor 6:1220). This manner of dealing with religious apostasy has deep roots in the Pauline tradition in 2 Corinthians 12:21 (uncleanness/impurity [akatharia], fornication [porneia], sensuality [aselgeia]), Galatians 5:19 (immorality [porneia], impurity, sensuality), and Colossians 3:5 (immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed). We find similar language in Ephesians 4:19. Here the author employs the motif to urge his readers to live Christian lives in word and deed. This very Jewish mode of expression indicates a Jewish author. Lincoln, however, argues that the author means the sexual sins themselves.4 This is true, but not to the degree Lincoln would want. The traditional, symbolic use of sexual improprieties has led the author to then think more concretely, especially in light of Ephesians 4:15:2. Unlike 1 Corinthians 5 and 7:25-40, Ephesians 5:3-5 does not address a specific issue, and the reference to things done in secret (v. 12) is yet another general comment on improper non-Jewish practices without a specific context. Rather, the stress is on the purity that is fitting for saints (5:3). This phrase indicates moral standards that clearly separate Christians from non-

Ephesians 5:3-20


More on Gentiles Christians.5 Indeed, this admonition implies that Testament of Judah 5:3 sinfulness is still a possibility in the community.6 And I knew that the race of the One finds Paul using sexual improprieties in exactly Canaanites was evil, but youthful impulses blinded my reason, and when I this way in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19saw her, I was led astray by the strong 21. [More on Gentiles] drink and had intercourse with her. Verse 4 concentrates on inappropriate speech. While aischrots literally means indecency or Testament of Levi 17:11 In the seventh week there will come obscenity, cognate forms relate to different aspects priests: idolaters, adulterers, money lovers, 7 of inappropriate speech. Its association with foolish arrogant, lawless, voluptuaries, pederasts, talk (mrologia) and vulgarity (eutrapelia) indicates those who practice bestiality. that here aischrots refers to obscene language. Such H. C. Kee translation in OTP 794. speech should be seen in negative contrast to that which is fitting for the saints (v. 3). Instead, members of the community should give thanks for their inheritance, their inclusion in the sacred commonwealth. Praise is the order of the day, and this point is reiterated and elaborated on in 5:19-20. Verse 5 contains a powerful exhortation: inheriting the kingdom. People who are sexually immoral, impure, and/or greedy cannot inherit the kingdom, i.e., be saved. First, a comment on idolatry: Earlier we noted the connection between sexual misconduct and idolatry. This connection went as far back as Hosea and continued in Judaism after the writing of Ephesians. Again, the connection and context of Ephesians 45 do not indicate that such practices are running rampant. Rather, it is a conventional way to contrast in a readily accessible way what it means to be faithful or unfaithful to God. The language itself leads to further comments. It is noteworthy that idolatry, not a divorce, is the end result. This tells us that sexual relations in this instance is a metaphor for a relationship with God.8 The verse moves back and forth from metaphor to literal referent: fornicator (metaphorical) to impure person (literal); covetous (metaphorical) to idolater (literal). The literal defines the metaphorical. What then was idolatry? It literally meant to worship a meaningless image. For Jewish people it connoted worshiping a false deity and, as previously stated, was often associated with some type of sexual sin (e.g., Wis 14:12; T. Benj. 10:10; cf. Rev 2:20-23). Best sees idolatry relating only to covetousness since idolatry refers to money and possessions as idols. 9 However, the Decalogue says differently that it includes adultery (Exod 20:17). Therefore, I con-


Ephesians 5:3-20

On Sex and Idolatry Wisdom 14:12-13 For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them was the corruption of life, for neither have they existed from the beginning nor will they exist for ever. (RSV)

sider all three vices roughly synonymous. Within this context, idolatry connotes turning oneself into a sexual predator that becomes prey to her or his own addiction. [On
Sex and Idolatry]

It has often been asserted that the kingdom of God is not a Pauline concept. Given the occasional nature of Pauls letters, this is a rash statement. Paul did, however, employ the concept. In the undisputed letters we find seven occurrences in four rather different letters (Rom 14:17; 1 Cor 4:20; 6:9-10 [twice]; 15:24; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Thess 2:12) to four very different congregations. Evidently the Apostle found the term useful occasionally. Moreover, it is found in some manifestation eight more times in five disputed Pauline books (Eph 5:5; Col Kingdom-language in the Pauline Tradition 1:13; 4:11; 2 Thess 1:5; 2 Tim 4:1, 18; Heb 1:8; One finds kingdom-language 12:28).10 If Paul wrote all these writings, he referred to in the Pauline tradition in the Gods kingdom fifteen times in nine separate writings. If following passages: Rom 14:17; 1 Cor Paul did not write Ephesians, Colossians, 2 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:24; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5; 1 Thess 2:12; 2 Thess 1:5; Col 1:13; Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, and Hebrews, several separate 4:11; 2 Tim 4:1, 18; Heb 1:8; 12:28. Paulinists thought kingdom-language was Pauline. The Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and assertion that kingdom of God is foreign to Paul is 1 Thessalonians are undisputed driven more by a desire to distinguish Jesus from Paul Pauline letters. This language would have had political overtones in Roman than to interpret Paul for his own sake. [Kingdom-language in
society. the Pauline Tradition] Bultmann on Jesus and Paul Rudolf Bultmann argued that Jesus and Paul viewed Christianity very differently. He argued that Jesus used kingdom-language but Paul did not. Bultmann argued, consistently with most conservative, moderate, or liberal NT scholars, that the kingdom of God was the central proclamation of Jesus. By denying a connection between Jesus and Paul, Bultmann could separate these two key early Christian figures and then focus on Paul. In fact, Bultmann said that Paul, not Jesus, was the true founder of Christianity. Paul appealed to Bultmanns existential perspective. Moreover, Pauls letters provided a primary testimony while the words of Jesus have come to us through the evangelists, a secondary witness. Bultmann would have preferred a primary testimony and judged the words for himself. He did not want to read them through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Thus, for these reasons, Bultmann had an agenda for stating that Paul, not Jesus, was the founder of Christianity.
R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951) 1:18789.

The phrase the kingdom of Christ and God is unique to Ephesians (cf. Col 1:13). The norm is the kingdom of God (cf. Rom 14:17) or simply the kingdom (1 Cor 15:24). More study of this phrase solely in Pauls letters without reference to the Gospels is sorely needed in order to arrive at a more balanced view.11 [Bultmann on Jesus and Paul] Lincoln correctly argues that Ephesians does not envision two kingdoms but one with both present and future dimensions.12 This peculiar phrase may be dependent on 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where Christ delivers the kingdom to God. On the other hand, it might have

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been influenced by Ephesians 4:32 and 5:1-2.13 While the precise meaning of the expression the kingdom of God is open to debate, it clearly had soteriological dimensions in the Pauline churches.14 Ephesians 5:5 is an admonition to avoid certain practices if one wishes to be saved.15
Avoiding Meaningless Rhetoric, 5:6-9

Verse 6 reverses v. 5 by exhorting the readers not to be persuaded by meaningless rhetoric. Then as now, gifted speech does not always equate to qualitative, ethical behavior. The wrath of God connotes the punishment awaiting those who do not avoid erroneous behavior. The phrase wrath of God has both present and eschatological dimensions, but the emphasis here is probably on the eschatological, when judgments will be permanent. Schnackenburg correctly notes that the present tense can have future meaning.16 It is difficult to ascertain from the context where the emphasis lies. The wrath of God is the enduring hostility of God to all that is evil. It is . . . in the punishment which often follows wrongdoing even within human history.17 The Greek literally exhorts the readers to avoid becoming sons of disobedience. This phrase is similar to children of wrath in 2:3 in that both describe sinful behavior in genetic terms. While Lincoln believes this expression refers only to Gentiles,18 Best correctly notes that the expression is not a technical term designating Gentiles.19 Thus, anyone could be a disobedient child, and such an appellation would derive from ethics, not ethnicity. Schnackenburg believes that this expression might be the authors own wording.20 While it is clear that v. 7 exhorts Christians not to participate with them, it is not clear if them refers to empty words or to disobedient people. Them probably refers to immoral people here. Above all the axis of the whole address . . . is oriented to the people: The sinners stand over against the addressees who are now required not to become participants with them.21 Symmetochos (lit., one who shares with) is found in the New Testament only in Ephesians (3:6 and 5:7). In both instances it conveys an integral partnership wherein the bodies are not simply close but inseparable. The closest Pauline parallel is 2 Corinthians 6:147:1, which exhorts its readers not to create a partnership (metoch ) between righteousness and lawlessness. While some have


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argued that 2 Corinthians 6:147:1 might be a non-Pauline interpolation,22 even if it is an interpolation, it is quite possible that for the author of Ephesians it was a genuine Pauline passage. A similar parallel is found in the Qumran literature. For example, 1QS 3:18-26 contrasts the righteous with the unrighteous, the spirits of truth with those of falsehood, the Angel of Truth with the Angel of Darkness. Since there appears to be no direct dependence or interdependence among Ephesians, 2 Corinthians, or Qumran, these works probably reflect a dualism common to second temple Judaism (cf. 1 John 4:1-6). The dualism becomes more explicit in v. 8 with the contrast of darkness and light (see 4:18-19). This contrast is present in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Isa 5:30; 9:2; 42:6), contemporary Judaism (e.g., 1QS 3; T. Levi 14:4; T. Gad. 5:7), and the New Testament (e.g., Rom 13:11-14; 2 Cor 4:6; Phil 2:15; 1 John 1:5). The contrast is stark: once you were darkness is not the normal expression.23 For example, 1 John 1:6 reads, while we were walking in darkness, and 1:7 continues, if we Jesus, the Light of the World walk in the light. The darkness enveloped and See the Bright and Morning Star, Jesus, the Light of the World! penetrated their whole life, inwardly as well as outHe has risen in our hearts, wardly.24 Thus, the writer communicated to his Jesus, the Light of the World! original readers that they were evil personified when they were darkness.25 In contrast, now you are George Elderkin (1998) light conveyed that their conversion literally changed them into righteous beings as light in the Lord. [Jesus,
the Light of the World]

Best states that light in the Lord could mean either that they provide light for others or for themselves.26 Best is probably correct in arguing that the emphasis in this context would support providing light for themselves. Culpepper writes, It is not the wickedness of the world that must be exposed but that of erring Christians. Likewise, it is not primarily the persons but their wickedness which must be rooted out.27 This enlightenment has its genesis in the Lord (see 2:21; 4:11, 17; 6:1. 10). While it is not a technical term as is in Christ, the phrase in the Lord conveyed ones righteous propriety and an inseparable relationship with Christ. Lincoln argues that in the Lord refers to their status as righteous people related to Christ.28 As righteous people, they should live (walk) righteously as children of light. Again we find Ephesians employing the offspring metaphor to encourage readers to remain true to the faith (cf. Gal 5:16).

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Verse 9 reminds us of Galatians 5:22, which refers to the fruit of the Spirit, and Colossians 1:10, which exhorts one to produce good fruit via good works (see also 2:6). Ephesians 5:9 refers to the fruit of the light. Goodness (agathsyn) occurs here and in Galatians 5:22. In Ephesians 5:9 goodness, righteousness, and truth are synonymous virtues. The virtues in Ephesians 5:9 tell the original readers what traits they must develop in order to be true Christians. These virtues are rather general in nature. Goodness, righteousness, and truth are found in the HB (e.g., 2 Chr 31:20; Mic 6:8), second temple Judaism (e.g., 2 Esdr 19:25, 35; 1QS 4.2-3, 24-25; Philo, Leg.Alleg. 1.163), and early Christianity (Matt 7:16-20; 12:33; Rom 15:14; 2 Thess 1:11). Goodness is usually the end result of the process; righteousness a result of a proper relationship with God and other people; truth a result of complete honesty.29 Truth, one of the three major virtues in Ephesians, recurs several times. In 1:13, truth refers to the Christian message, the good news of your salvation; in 4:24, it relates to the creation of the new person made in Gods likeness; in 4:15, 25 and 6:14, it refers to speaking sincerely and accurately; in 4:21, truth resides in Jesus. The closest parallel to 5:9 is found in 4:24 where truth is associated with the virtues of righteousness and holiness. In both 4:24 and 5:9, righteousness and truth are associated with each other. Righteousness in Ephesians, among other things, A List of Virtues describes the true nature of the Church (see 2:21 and But the fruit of the Spirit is love, 5:27). Thus, Ephesians 5:9 refers to the elevated moral joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfstatus, i.e., state of purity, awaiting those who are control; against such there is no law. faithful to Christ. Moreover, these verses reiterate (Gal. 5:22-23 [RSV]) similar passages in the HB and second temple Judaism. [A List of Virtues]
Pleasing the Lord, 5:10-14

Verses 10-11 Lincoln correctly argues that dokimazontes connects v. 10 with v. 9 and further defines the walking as children of light called for in v. 8, rather than as a separate imperative.30 I am persuaded by Lincolns argument. Ephesians 5:10 is a transition statement that joins what precedes with what follows. Dokimazein means to test or examine thoroughly. In Epictetus, it conveyed testing by means of reason (e.g., Disc. 1.20.7; 2.23.6;


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4.5.16). It is also found in Paul (e.g., Rom 12:2; Phil 1:9-10; 1 Thess 5:21), where its basic meaning is to test thoroughly. In Ephesians 5:10, dokimazein means to study intensely. Such study is needed in order to comprehend what pleases God. Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 5:9 employ the same verb in order to ascertain Gods will. Ephesians 5:17 connects this same verb to the will of God.31 Best and Lincoln note that pleasing the Lord has deep roots in the Jewish tradition (e.g., Gen 5:22; Wis 4:10; Sir 44:16; T.Dan 1.3) as well as early Christianity (e.g., Phil 4:18; Col 3:20).32 It is noteworthy that this is a rather general directive. If the readers motivation is to please their Lord, then living as children of light will involve exercising a responsible freedom and developing an intuitive sense about how to act in a given situation.33 Verse 11 echoes Ephesians 5:7 and 5:9. Verse 11 reiterates v. 7 by exhorting its audience to avoid taking part in immoral and/or sinful acts. It also echoes v. 9 by contrast. Moreover, the reference to darkness reminds us of the same image in v. 8 and the contrast in that same verse. Verse 11 implies that Light and Darkness Christians have the option to be faithful or Testament of Levi 18:2-4 unfaithful, to be fruitful or unfruitful, to be And his star shall rise in heaven like a king; kindling the light of knowledge as day is illulight or darkness. Again the dualism of mined by the sun. And he shall be extolled by the Ephesians comes through. Indeed, Christians are whole inhabited world. This one will shine forth not merely told to avoid unethical acts but to like the sun in the earth; he shall take away all contest them actively and openly. The verb darkness from under heaven, and there shall be peace in all the earth. (elenchete, expose) is present active imperative, lifting its meaning to command status. [Light and H. C. Kee translation in OTP 894.

Mitton believes the writer directs these words to pagans outside the Church, not delinquent members within the Church. Agreeing, Perkins argues that vv. 12-13 confirm this.34 On the other hand, Culpepper is one who argues that the parallels with Qumran and other early Christian writings indicate that this rebuke is aimed at wayward Christians.35 I am persuaded by Culpeppers argument. The entire section deals with the internal life of its original Christian audience. Verses 12-14 Those acts done secretly are so disgraceful that they should not even be spoken of.36 Lincoln persuasively focuses on how the light (vv. 8, 9) reveals misdeeds, not on how the light fortifies

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Christians.37 Verse 12 refers to the secret; v. 13, by referring to things revealed, provides a transition by means of contrast. Best argues that v. 13 is difficult to place in the flow of the argument.38 He notes verbal links with vv. 11 and 12. Whatever believers reprove or rebuke is made visible or revealed as wrong because believers are themselves light (v. 8).39 Similarly, Mitton offers three possible interpretations. First, the writer might be saying that those immoral deeds are shown up for what they are. Second, even evil deeds, seen from the proper Christian perspective, can make a positive contribution to ones faith experience. Finally, when immoral people are confronted with their deeds, they will be converted. Mitton concludes that a definitive decision among these possibilities is not possible.40 One should note that a form of elench (to expose) is used v. 13 as in v. 11. In both instances it serves as a command to expose wrongdoing. The purpose of v. 13 is to disclose sinfulness for the evil that it is, Mittons first option. Verse 14a confirms this: when things become visible they illuminate the context, i.e., they become light, and our faith journey becomes clearer, Mittons second option.41 The rest of v. 14 presents major exegetical problems. The hymn in v. 14b is introduced as if it were Scripture. The same introductory formula is found in 4:8 and also James 4:6. Best and Lincoln are among those who argue that the author does not consider this a quote of Scripture, merely an authoritative text.42 The first problem is that this quotation does not come from any known Scripture or any extant writing accepted as Scripture in the first Christian century by any known Jewish or Christian group. Its similarity to Isaiah 60:1 (Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you [NASB, NRSV]) has been noted; however, it is also noteworthy that significant differences exist between Ephesians 5:14 and Isaiah 60:1 and cast doubt as to the Isaianic origin of the passage. Thus, some have argued that the passage comes from an early Christian hymn that functioned as an authoritative text for the original recipients of the writing.43 As attractive as this argument might be, it is not without its own problems. First, the quotation examined earlier in 4:8 is not an accurate quote of any extant text, the same problem we have here in 5:14. In 4:8, it appears that Psalm 68:18 has been changed to apply to Christ, a practice common in the targums and also early Christian writings.44 Thus, it is possible that again the author has


Ephesians 5:3-20

employed this same method of interpretation in 5:14. [Sleeping Metaphors] To his credit, Best lists several possibilities for the source of the quotation. [I]t may be an amalgam of a number of Old Psalms of Solomon 16:1-4 Testament passages. This is quite possible When my soul slumbered, (I was far away) from the Lord, given 4:8. Luke 4:18 is probably an wretched for a time; I sank into sleep, far from God. For a example of such a quotation. Second, it moment my soul was poured out to death; (I was) near the gates of Hades with the sinner[.] [sic] Thus my soul could derive from a lost apocryphal was drawn away from the Lord God of Israel, unless the Jewish source. This is a possibility, but Lord had come to my aid with his everlasting mercy. He since it necessitates a hypothetical source, jabbed me as a horse is goaded to keep it awake; my it should not be our first choice. Bests savior and protector at all times saved me. (R. B. Wright translation in OTP 66465) third option is that it is a lost saying of Christ. Best argues correctly, in my 1 Corinthians 15:51 opinion, against this option due to style, Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we content, and the title Christ in the shall all be changed. quote. Finally, he notes that Severian probably first concluded that this is an early Christian hymn. 45 The first two lines contain imperative clauses. As does much Semitic literature, the lines begin with verbs. The third line contains a promise. Those who obey the imperatives will receive the promise. The verse suitably rounds off the discussion which began at v. 8. Best continues, The concept of light then both begins and ends vv. 8-14.46 This is a strong possibility. What, then, does this passage mean? Some have argued that the imagery comes from the mystery religions where initiates become aware of their true selves and the true nature of the cosmos, i.e., they wake up.47 Others argue that the passage must be understood in light of Gnosticism (see Acts of Thomas 110.43-48). Certain forms of Gnosticism call for one to awaken from ones sleep (living in the material world) to remember ones heavenly origin (being awake). A third option is Judaism. Sleep was a metaphor for death/sin in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Job 14:12; Jer 51:57; Dan 12:2) and second temple Judaism (e.g., 1QH 3:19-21; Pss.Sol. 16:1-4). Paul employs similar imagery (Rom 13:11; 1 Cor 11:30; 15:51; 1 Thess 5:6-7).48 Lincoln notes that the concept of Christ as a shining light has its background in Judaism (e.g., Deut 33:2; Ps 80:1-3; 1QH 4.5-6; CD 20.25-26; T. Levi 18:2-4). Moreover, other New Testament witnesses depict Christ as a shining light (e.g., Luke 2:32; John 1:4-5, 7-9; 8:12; 2 Cor 4:4-6; cf. 1 Cor 4:5;
Sleeping Metaphors Job 14:12 (S)o man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake, or be roused out of his sleep. (RSV)

Ephesians 5:3-20
Resurrection The Resurrection empowered the early Christian movement in ways it had not expected during the earthly ministry of Jesus. For example, it is clear that at least some of the disciples of Jesus looked for a messianic reign that was political to a large degree (e.g., Mark 10:35-45); however, after the Resurrection the Jesus movement blossomed into an independent religion outside Judaism with little to no political agenda, a development that most first-generation Christians would not have anticipated (see Acts 2128).
The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. (Credit:


Col 1:12; 1 John 1:5-10). Lincoln believes this hymn is part of a baptismal liturgy where sleep symbolizes sinfulness and arising symbolizes salvation.49 I am persuaded by this argument.

The hymn has three lines. The first line is Awake sleeper; the second, and arise from the dead; the third, and Christ will shine on you. All three lines are pure metaphor. The first line exhorts people to discontinue living a life of sin; line two reiterates the first using different words. Many have noted the parArise, Shine Out, Your Light Has Come allels between sleep as a metaphor for death in Arise, shine out, your light has come, 50 unfolding city of our dreams. second temple Judaism and early Christianity. On distant hills a glory gleams: The verbs egeiro and anistmi both can mean to the new creation has begun. rise or to raise up. Thus, the imagery connoted Brian Wren (1986) religious conversion. It could be that this hymn comes from a baptismal context, but it could also simply refer to conversion.51 The third line provides a salvific promise to the faithful. [Arise, Shine Out, Your Light Has Come]
Spirit-filled Lives, 5:15-20

This section exhorts Christians to live wisely filled with the Spirit (v. 18) in praise of God the Father. Once again we have a dualistic argument. Whereas in vv. 3-14 the dominant contrast is light and darkness, here it is between wise and unwise (see Col 3:16 and 4:5). Verses 15-18 The wise/unwise contrast is at home in Jewish and early Christian writings.52 The opening phrase, Therefore, be careful how you


Ephesians 5:3-20

walk, refers to ethical behavior.53 Colossians 4:5 reads, Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. In both books, living wisely is affirmed. In Ephesians it refers to internal relationships; in Colossians to external. Sophos (wise man) was a Stoic technical term. The Stoic sophos would have possessed the four cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, justice (dikaiosyn ), and moderation.54 In 5:9, the author has identified the Christian virtues of goodness, righteousness (dikaiosyn ), and truth. While the lists of virtues differ, there is overlap in that dikaiosyn is in both lists as well as the employAcceptance The Stoics argued that everyone has a ment of a Stoic ethical framework. In Judaism, role and should accept that role. the wise/unwise dichotomy is used extensively. Individuals should neither underachieve nor For example, Proverbs 9 contrasts living wisely attempt to overachieve. Each persons role, and living foolishly. We find a similar contrast, regardless of what it might be, was essential for the context to be harmonious and the people for example, in 1QS 4:24 and Testament of involved to be happy. If people accepted their Naphtali 8:10. Thus, from the broader society as place, happiness would transpire, according to well as from Judaism, the author has ample Stoicism. Whether emperor or slave, everyone resources for the employment of this ethical was important. construct. [Acceptance] Both Colossians and Ephesians encourage Christians to make good use of opportunities. MacDonald notes that while in Colossians the expression has some eschatological overtones, it has evangelistic overtones in Ephesians.55 Best states that v. 16a literally means redeem the time. Believers should use their time prudently and in a disciplined manner. Christians are not to contribute to evil but make the best use of time in order to redeem parts of each.56 In second temple Judaism and early Christianity, evil was seen as characteristic of the last days in general.57 For example, Testament of Issachar 6:1 reads, Understand, my children that in the last times your sons will abandon sincerity and align themselves with insatiable desire. One finds similar statements in Testament of Zebulun 9:5 and Testament of Dan 5:4. Similarly, 2 Peter 3:3 reads, Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with mocking following their own lusts. However, the expectation of an imminent end is not a central theme in Ephesians. While the present age remains under the domain of the Evil Prince (2:2), Christians must still live in the present evil age. Ephesians 5:16 sees this context as an opportunity to do good and expand the Christian community.58 Verse 17 contrasts foolishness with discerning the will of God. We find here an echo of 5:10 where the

Ephesians 5:3-20


children of light discern what pleases God. Wisdom, the contrast of foolishness, equates to an ability to ascertain the will of God. Verse 18 elaborates on v. 17. Once again, the writer establishes a dichotomy between improper and proper behavior. In this instance the contrast is between being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit (cf. Prov 23:31-35). We find similar injunctions elsewhere (e.g., T.Iss. 7:2-3; 1 Thess 5:6-8; Philo, De Ebr. 11,95 and 11,125-26). The term astia, translated debauchery in the NRSV and dissipation in the NASB, is the opposite of Holy Spirit, Come, Confirm Us soteria (deliverance). It connoted being hopelessly Verse 1: Holy Spirit, come, confirm us incorrigible. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is antiIn the truth that Christ makes known; thetical to astia. Again we note the dualism in these We have faith and understanding passages. [Holy Spirit, Come, Confirm Us] Through your helping gifts alone. Some commentators have argued that this statement is directed against some type of poor behavior during worship,59 while others argue that it is an attack on mystery religions.60 A third group links this passage with v. 16, which speaks of the evil days: imbibing is not a solution, and only the Holy Spirit can enable one to endure such times.61 While all these positions have their merit, there is little evidence to support any of them. Lincoln believes the writer has read 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, where sobriety functions as a quality of light, and Romans 13:12-13, where drunkenness, as here in Ephesians 5, is associated with debauchery.62 He concludes that the author here continues the contrast between proper and improper conduct, light and darkness. The idea of being filled with the Spirit recalls being filled to all the fullness of God (3:19) and the Church as the fullness of God and Christ (see 1:13, 17; 3:16; 4:30). Spirit-possession, contrasted here with drinking wine excessively, has a rich history (e.g., 1 Sam 19:20-24; Exod 31:3; Pss 104:30; 143:9-11; Isa 61:1-4; see also Matt 12:18; Acts 2:4; Rom 8:11; Rev 19:10).63 It denoted empowerment by God to function beyond the ordinary. Verses 19-20 Ephesians 5:19-20 (cf. Col 3:16-17) should be discussed together. Verse 19 gives credence to those who argue for a liturgical setting for the book of Ephesians. Ephesians 5:19a calls for a positive, pleasant, and joyous fellowship among Christians, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs of praise. It is impossible to distinguish precisely between psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The last term implies inspiration by the Spirit and


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Holy Spirit The dove is an appropriate symbol for the Holy Spirit in the NT because in many passages the Spirit connects the heavenly realm with the earthly realm. Thus, a descending dove would perfectly convey this belief among early Christians (e.g., John 1416; Rom 8:9, 1 Pet 4:6; Rev 1:9-11; 2:7).

may actually refer to the gift of tongues.64 This may refer to glssalalia; however, the reference could also be to all the spiritual gifts. For Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit involved a variety of gifts, not simply speaking in tongues (1 Cor 12:1-11; 14:1-19, 26-40). [Holy

as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Ephesians 5:19b reads, making music in your hearts to the Lord. This participle phrase parallels the first. While the first exhorts the community to have celebratory worship and praise for the spiritual edification of the community, the second urges them to praise the Lord in their hearts. The praise of the heart should not be understood as any less intense than outward praise. Rather, the inner praise strengthens the inner person and makes the outer praise meaningful and a true reflection of ones inner piety (e.g., 3:16, 19; 4:24). Verse 20 relates to communal worship. 65 The thought of always giving thanks connoted a life motivated completely by the Spirit, i.e., a life filled by the Spirit (v. 18).66 This James S. Baillie. The Return from Egypt. 1847. Lithograph. thanksgiving is not directed toward one (Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington DC). another but to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 5:4; Phil 2:10). So the Spirit inspires thanksgiving . . . and everything for which there is cause for thanks is summed up in and mediated through Christ.67 [More on the Spirit] We should note here a connection with Ephesians More on the Spirit 5:4 where thanksgiving is the opposite of fornicaExodus 31:3 (A)nd I have filled him with the tion, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, silly talk, Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, and buffoonery. Ephesians 5:19-20 tells us what with knowledge and all craftsmanship . . . . that contrast means positively. Thus, 5:3-20 is (RSV) something of an inclusion, beginning and ending Psalm 104:30 with an ethical dualism that contrasts praise with You send forth your Spirit; they are created; improper ethical behavior. and you renew the face of the earth. Ephesians 5:21 provides a transition from the ethical exhortations of a more general nature in 5:3Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit 20 to the more specific exhortations in the and they began to speak in other languages household codes found in 5:226:9.68

Ephesians 5:3-20


Ephesians 5:3-20 contains several admonitions to righteous living. One finds many similar admonitions among anti-Gentile Jewish writers. Here the contrast is between righteous Christians and unrighteous non-Christians. The use of a Jewish anti-Gentile polemic suggests a Jewish author. This section further identifies behavior that destroys community by contrasting it with actions that edify community. Thus, it continues the discussions in Ephesians 4:15:2 and prepares one for the more specific teachings of 5:216:9. Many of these exhortations are still relevant.


This section of Ephesians admonishes Christians to avoid certain practices that are not fitting. These things destroy community and cause disunity. This fact is all too evident in the Christian community today. No Christian tradition is immune. At one level, fornication and other illicit sexual activities serve as metaphors for infidelity to God. This is not to say that the author is not against sexual immorality. He is Ambrose on Human Sin indeed against it, and that is why he uses the If that first man . . . could fall so easily . . language to convey improper behavior. In some . when our flesh was not yet condemned by the curse of a guilty posterity; how much more Christian circles, however, it has led to a focus easily thereafter has the slippery path to sin on sexual sins almost to the neglect of other brought a headlong descent to humanity, when sins. [Ambrose on Human Sin] mankind has deteriorated through successive In the ancient world, marriage and paternity generations. Ambrose, Ep. 45 (H. Bettenson, trans. and ed., The Later were of prime importance. Wives were seen as Christians Fathers [London: OUP, 1970] 178). extensions of their husbands. Children were seen as extensions of their fathers. Both wives and children were little more than property in ancient Mediterranean societies. Paternity meant carrying on the name and the tribe. Thus, for the aforementioned reasons, paternity was extremely important. No one wanted someone elses son carrying on his name or inheriting what rightly belonged to someone else. These concerns have not abated in the modern world, although sexual infidelity need not lead to illegitimate pregnancy. This is because cohabitation remains personal in a way that nothing else is personal. For those reasons,


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fidelity (or infidelity) carries a great deal of emotional currency. Thus, it is a fitting metaphor for ones relationship with God. Indeed, Christian fidelity has had profound influence on the current generation of seminarians. Many twenty-something seminary students enter theological studies not wanting to go into ministry in the local church. While this usually changes considerably during their studies, the major reason for their reluctance is their experiences in the local church. We are not talking about recent converts to Christianity, but young people who grew up in the Church: confirmation, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, church campsthe whole nine yards. How has this come about? Their disillusionment has come about because they realized that their local church was far from what it should be. Instead of embodying love, faithfulness, righteousness, and holiness, many church members display envy, moral expediency, petty politics, and other vices. Because they encounter these ills among people whom they have known and loved for years, their disappointment is genuine and deep. It takes the better part of a seminary education to restore their love for the local church. What is ironic is that many in the local church complain that seminaries are not producing enough local church pastors. I am reminded of an admonition from an AME Zion bishop. He said many congregations complained about the pastors he appointed to them. His response was if they sent him better candidates for the ministry, then he would send them better Cyril on Free Will The soul has free will; and though the pastors. If local churches want more young devil can tempt the soul he has not the women and men with a love for congregational power to compel it against its will. He suggests ministry, they should be better Christians and to you the idea of fornication; the acceptance of exhibit Christian virtues that build community. the suggestion depends on your decision. They should embody love, faith, and holiness at Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses 4.21 (H. Bettenson, trans. and ed., The Later Christians Fathers [London: OUP, 1970] 35). the Wednesday night supper, the choir rehearsal, and the auxiliary meeting as well as on Sunday mornings. Christians need to be better Christians. [Cyril on Free Will] This leads to another issue in the local church. Many young seminarians who want to pastor do not want to pastor existing congregations for the reasons mentioned above. They want to start their own congregations so that they can grow them as they wish. While this is understandable, it is also unfaithful, and possibly heretical, in several ways. First and foremost, it is unfaithful for any pastor to make a congregation in his or her own image or to think

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that she or he could grow a congregation that might be inherently more Christian than existing ones. There will always be Christians looking for such congregations, but the problem is always the same: these new congregations still consist of flawed human beings who need to hear sermons on sin and grace in equal measure. Second, it is unfaithful because all churches are imperfect representations of the message of Christ. Newer congregations are not exempt from this. They are simply more comfortable for their founders. There is a third reason why this practice is unfaithful. Newer congregations, including mega-churches, have not had any significant impact on society. For example, politicians are not more responsible; homelessness has not been eradicated; crime has not been diminished; teen pregnancies have not decreased significantly. There are more churches but not better ethics. There are more churches but not more Christians. These new congregations have not excelled at conversions. They have excelled at attracting disgruntled members from other congregations. This is significant since these congregations were founded on the premise that they would make an ethical and meaningful difference in society. The freshness of new congregations excites people. It also offers the promise of relationships without the baggage from the previous congregation. Unless the individuals themselves change, their pasts will find them in their new settings. Ephesians 5:3-20 encourages Christians to avoid certain behaviors and practices, but what will be happen if they do not? In most instances nothing will happen. For example, Christian institutions often hide improprieties by church leaders rather than discipline them. They are more concerned about a bad image than correcting wrongs. This is true of both Protestants and Catholics. Do they not recognize that society rightly holds the Christian community to a higher standard? Do they not understand that speaking out against ills and injustices in the broader society does not give them the right to hide these same evils in their own ranks? Here is a hypothetical case. A church-sponsored charity goes broke. The denominational hierarchy learns that the manager of the charity embezzled the funds. It moves quickly to have the manager indicted, cooperates with the police completely, and provides as much funding as possible to keep the charity afloat until


Ephesians 5:3-20

communal confidence in it is restored. The embezzler is prosecuted, convicted, and given a stiff sentence. The denomination initiates a search for a new manager and employs a local headhunter to vet the applicants. The police and leaders of the community praise the denomination for being so forthcoming and cooperative. If anything, the social capital of the group increases throughout the community. Why is this not done? It is not done because people would rather live with guilt than risk possible ridicule. It is not done because we invest more in friendships than in faithfulness to God. It is not done because we fear what people might think more than how God might judge. Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear lives in a box. It hides its talents in the ground. Faithful people are cautious, but they are not fearful. Caution recognizes the risks and makes plans to reduce them. Faith knows that even if calamity comes, so will God. Faith overshadows fear and trusts God to be God.

This passage exhorts Christians to celebrate with one another. Wisdom and goodness are to be condoned! Christians should greet each other with joy and thanksgiving. Here we have another example of how Christian community should exhibit positive relationships, harmony, and mutual love. Relations should be so positive and strong that merely seeing another Christian should cause one to break out in song. We are not there just yet.

1. K. G. Kuhn, The Epistle to the Ephesians in the Light of the Qumran Texts, in J. Murphy-OConnor, ed., Paul and Qumran (Chicago: Priority, 1968) 11531. 2. R. A. Culpepper, Ethical Dualism and Church Discipline: Ephesians 4:25-5:20, RevExp 76 (1979): 52939, see esp. 52933. 3. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 321. 4. Ibid., 32125. 5. Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 311. 6. Cf. Culpepper, Ethical Dualism, 533.

Ephesians 5:3-20
7. BAGD 25. 8. Contrast 5:21-33 where the implications for marriage are stated clearly. 9. E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 249. 10. I consider 2 Thessalonians an authentic letter of Paul. 11. Bultmann made this distinction between Jesus and Paul in order to distance the two early Christian figures. Bultmann then asserted that Paul was the real founder of Christianity. This should be kept in mind when discussing the kingdom of God in Paul. (R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, vol. 1 [New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1951] 18789). 12. Lincoln, Ephesians, 325. 13. MacDonald, Ephesians, 312. 14. E.g., G. N. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus, 2d ed. (Oxford UK: OUP, 2002) 20317. 15. Lincoln, Ephesians, 325. 16. Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 221. 17. C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: University Press, 1951) 181. 18. Lincoln, Ephesians, 32526. 19. Best, Ephesians, 250. 20. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 221. 21. Ibid., 22122; so too Pheme Perkins, Ephesians (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 11718; Best, Ephesians, 252; Mitton, Ephesians, 182; Lincoln, Ephesians, 326; B. Witherington III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A SocioRhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007) 309. 22. E.g., V. P. Furnish, 2 Corinthians (AB; New York: Doubleday, 1984) 37183; R. P. Martin, 2 Corinthians (Waco TX: Word, 1986) 19095. 23. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 25253. 24. Mitton, Ephesians, 182. 25. Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 327. On the dualistic dimensions of this section, see Culpepper, Ethical Dualism, 52934. 26. Best, Ephesians, 253. 27. Culpepper, Ethical Dualism, 536. 28. Lincoln, Ephesians, 327; cf. Culpepper, Ethical Dualism, 52934. 29. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 25456; Perkins, Ephesians, 118; Mitton, Ephesians, 183. 30. Lincoln, Ephesians, 328. 31. Best, Ephesians, 256. 32. Ibid., 25657; Lincoln, Ephesians, 32839. 33. Lincoln, Ephesians, 329; cf. Best, Ephesians, 25657. 34. Mitton, Ephesians, 184; Perkins, Ephesians, 119; see also Lincoln, Ephesians, 32930. 35. E.g., Best, Ephesians, 258; Culpepper, Ethical Dualism, 53338.



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36. Cf. Philo, Opif. 80; Epictetus, Disc. 4.9.5. 37. Lincoln, Ephesians, 330. 38. Best, Ephesians, 259. 39. Ibid. 40. Mitton, Ephesians, 185. 41. Cf. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 227. 42. Best, Ephesians, 260; Lincoln, Ephesians, 318, 33133. 43. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 26062; Lincoln, Ephesians, 33133. 44. Best, Ephesians, 19295; Lincoln, Ephesians, 24244. 45. Best, Ephesians, 260. 46. Ibid.; cf. Mitton, Ephesians, 18586. 47. E.g., Aristophanes, Ran. 34042; Orph. Hymns 50.90. 48. Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 33132. 49. Lincoln, Ephesians, 33233; cf. Best, Ephesians, 26162. 50. E.g., MacDonald, Ephesians, 316; J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 24243. 51. Mitton, Ephesians, 187. 52. Cf. Prov 4:10-14; 1QS 4:23-24; Matt 7:24-27; 1 Cor 1:183:23. 53. Cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 317. 54. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Zeno 7.126. 55. MacDonald, Ephesians, 317. 56. Best, Ephesians, 266; see also 265; cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 34142. 57. Lincoln, Ephesians, 342. 58. Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 342. 59. E.g., J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (London: SCM, 1975) 238. 60. E.g., M. Hengel, Between Jesus and Paul (London: SCM, 1983) 188 n. 7. 61. E.g., Mitton, Ephesians, 18889. 62. Lincoln, Ephesians, 344. 63. Ibid. 64. MacDonald, Ephesians, 318. 65. Best, Ephesians, 269; cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 346; MacDonald, Ephesians, 319; Muddiman, Ephesians, 249. 66. Cf. 1 Thess 5:18. 67. Lincoln, Ephesians, 347. 68. Witherington, Ephesians, 313.

The Household Codes

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Few sections of Ephesians have attracted as much study as the household codes. Feminists and non-feminists alike have appealed to Ephesians 5:21-33 to support their mutually exclusive positions. Christian parents around the globe have employed 6:1-4 as a parenting resource. During the days of slavery, slave owners used 6:5-9 to keep slaves docile. In many instances, people have emphasized the points that supported their particular point of view and ignored those that have not. Best and Talbert are among those who argue that 5:21 goes with 5:20 and not 5:22. Best provides six reasons for his position. First, being subject (hypotassomenoi ) continues the participles in vv. 19 and 20 that are dependent on the imperative be filled of v. 18b [boldface in the text]. Second, 5:21 deals with the relationship of all believers to one another, while 5:226:9 deals only with relationships within Christian households. Third, v. 21 deals with mutual subordination, while 5:226:9 deals with subordination of individuals to other individuals. Fourthly, mutual subordination fits better with 5:19 where there are not hierarchical distinctions. Mutual subordination also continues the theme in 4:2 and rounds it off before the move to a new area. Finally, vv. 19-21 may form a chiasm with v. 19a and v. 21 discussing the relationship of believers to each other and v. 19b and v. 20 discussing their relationship to God.1 To his credit, Best also presents five reasons for seeing v. 21 connected to 5:226:9. First of all, v. 21 supplies the verb for v. 22. Second, 5:226:9 deals with a fresh subject, the household codes. Third, the theme of 5:226:9 is subordination. Fourth, the participle in v. 21 could be understood as an imperative. Finally, the references to fear in vv. 21 and 33 might indicate an inclusio.2 Talbert offers six reasons why 5:21 goes with what precedes it and not with the household codes in Ephesians 5:226:9. First, as with Best, he says the verb being subject to in 5:21 is dependent on be filled in 5:18. Second, 5:18-21 deal with worship inspired by the


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tongue, by which men are very closely bound together; it is a still closer relation to be citizens of the same city-state; for fellow-citizens have much in commonforum, temples, colonnades, streets, statutes, laws, courts, rights of suffrage, to say nothing of social and friendly circles and diverse business relations with many. But a still closer social union exists between kindred. Starting with that infinite bond of union of the human race in general, the conception is now confined to a small and narrow circle. For since the reproductive instinct is by Natures gift the common possession of all living creatures, the first bond of union is that between husband and wife; the next, that between parents and children; then we find one home, with everything in common. And this is the foundation of civil government, the nursery, as it were of the state.

Holy Spirit as in 1 Corinthians 14:16-32. Third, the supposed theme of mutual submission does not fit the household codes. Fourth, while he acknowledges that the submission theme in vv. 21 and 24 establishes a connection, it does not follow that the two verses must be part of the same thought unit. He sees it as a linking verb connecting two separate paragraphs as walk does in 4:1, 17 and 5:2, 8, 15. Fifth, the absence of a verb at the start of a new unit has parallels in other Pauline writings. Finally, while phobos/phobeomai (fear; reverence) in vv. 21 and 33 may form an inclusion . . . , it does not necessarily follow that verse 21 is therefore part of the section defined by that inclusion.3 I am not persuaded by either Best or Talbert. Ephesians 5:21 actually functions as a transitional statement from the teachings in 5:3-20 to the household codes in 5:226:9. The literary links go both ways from 5:21, as Best himself has demonstrated. Ephesians weds power with loving responsibility as an expression of Christian piety.4 Such was not entirely original in Greco-Roman society (see non-Christian parallels in [Cicero, On Cicero, On Marriage I Marriage II], [On Holidays and Marriage], [Plutarch, Then, too, there are a great many degrees of closeness or remoteness in human society. To proceed Advice]). The most unique feature is the beyond the universal bond of our common humanity, there is instruction to husbands to be willing to the closer one of belonging to the same people, tribe, and sacrifice themselves for their wives.
[Cicero, On Marriage I]

First of all, the content of 5:18-20 has a slightly different emphasis than 5:21. While vv. 19 and 20 have basically liturgical features, v. 21 relates more to ethical behavior. The liturgical features simply mask ethical teachings. Second, Best argues that 5:21 relates to Christians in general and 5:22-33 only to Christian households. However, household codes normally moved from the more general to the more specific or Cicero, On Marriage, Off. 1.17.53-54 (LCL). from the higher to the lower stratus: v. 21 serves as a general introduction from the more general exhortations to the more particular household codes. The household codes then move from the higher status people to the lower ones.5 Bests third reason is not persuasive because it does not take into account how household codes were constructed, moving from the wider context to the more narrow one. (See [Cicero, On Marriage I].) Fourth,

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Best insightfully sees the connection between v. 19 and v. 20. What he fails to recognize is that v. 21 serves as a transition. Best correctly notes that 5:21 continues the theme of mutual responsibility in 4:2; however, it is spelled out in more detail in 5:226:9. Ephesians 5:19-20 refers to positive joyous interaction among Christians. Ephesians 5:216:9 spells out what that means in an ongoing Christian community. Finally, Bests fifth argument that 5:21 completes the flow of thought begun in the second half of Ephesians in 4:2 is partially correct. Again, 5:21 completes the thought begun in 4:2; however, various forms of the word phobos/phobeomai in 5:21 (in reverence), 5:33 (respects), and 6:5 (in fear) bind this section together. In similar fashion, forms of hypotass in 5:21, 6:1, and 6:5 sustain the literary unity of Ephesians 5:216:9. The literary connections go both ways as 5:21 functions as the fulcrum linking both sections. While many of Talberts points are also addressed above, Best and Talbert correctly note that the participle in 5:21 depends on the verb in 5:18. Along with the recognition of the repeated references to submission/subjection and fear/reverence in 5:216:9, this evidence should have indicated that v. 21 is a transitional statement that connects the two sections.6 In sum, Ephesians 5:21 serves as both a transitional statement that joins the household codes with 4:15:20 and as a superscription for the entire section 5:216:9. This section discusses what it means for Christians to be subject to one another within GrecoRoman society.7 Household codes were common in the first Christian century in the wider society. While again we find an ethical framework made popular by the Stoics, its roots are Aristotelian. For example, Aristotle wrote of three types of relationships with reciprocal relations. Like our household codes, the relationships were one-sided.8 Cicero and Epictetus provide examples of how two first-century CE Roman writers employed household codes. Cicero provides a helpful example of a household code set on a larger scale. (See [Cicero, On Marriage I] and [Cicero, On Marriage II].) In On the Duties 1.17.53-58, Cicero discusses social duties. One must note two elements. First of all, his codes move from the larger to the smaller social group, from the more general to the more nuclear. Second, Cicero understands these relationships to be parallel and interconnected. The country is an inclusive national family that binds together all the biological families. Biological units should reflect


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the orderliness present in the empire. For Cicero, these two social phenomena were mutually inclusive and contributed to the welfare of the nation. [Cicero, On Marriage II] It is within this social framework that one should read Ephesians 5:216:9. As the emperor is the head of the empire, Christ is the Head of the Christian community (5:23). As nation-state binds citizens together, so too Christ binds together all Christians and brings communal harmony and peace (see 2:11-22). Obedience to Christ is required of all Christians in order to sustain communal harmony. Christ did not create the Church through an exercise of power but through an exercise of self-giving love. What Christ does for the Church husbands must do for wives, parents for children, masters for slaves. In Cicero, On Marriage, Off. 1.17.57-58 (LCL). other words, order is established in the Christian community when the more powerful person relinquishes some power for the well-being of subordinates. Epictetus, a Roman Stoic (c. 50c. 120), wrote that humans should follow the example of the gods. If the deity is faithful, he (i.e., humankind) also must be faithful. If free, he must be free. If beneficent, he must be beneficent. He concludes, Therefore, he must act as an imitator of God in all he says and does.9 Epictetus advocated social responsibility frequently. On almost every occasion, he includes good citizenship, positive family relations, honorable transactions, and religious piety. Not all of these topics were mentioned in every instance, but they usually moved from the more general to the particular.10 We find strong similarities in Ephesians 5:216:9. Similar to Epictetuss teaching on following the example of the gods, Ephesians exhorts its readers to be subject to one another as an expression of their devotion to Christ (5:21). Throughout the household codes, not only in 5:21-33, Christ provides the example for moral propriety (5:23-27, 29, 32; 6:4, 5-6). Moreover, the codes move from the more significant social strata to the less significant (husband-wives, parents-children, masters-slaves). A distinctive Christian feature is that one behaves thus out of reverence for Christ. The primary purpose of the codes in Ephesians
Cicero, On Marriage II But when with a rational spirit you have surveyed the whole field, there is no social relation among them all more close, none more dear than that which links each one of us with our country. Parents are dear; dear are children, relatives, friends; but our native land embraces all our loves; and who that is true would hesitate to give his life for her, if by his death he could render her a service? So much the more execrable are those monsters who have torn their fatherland to pieces with every form of outrage and who are and have been engaged in compassing her utter destruction. Now, if a contrast and comparison were to be made to find out where most of our moral obligation is due, country would come first, and parents; for their services have laid us under the heaviest obligation; next come children and the whole family, who look to us alone for support and can have no other protection; finally, our kinsmen, with whom we live on good terms and with whom, for the most part, our lot is one.

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5:216:9 was to show commonality with the wider culture while still maintaining a degree of Christian distinctiveness. The codes might have also served as a means of communicating to nonChristians the true reason for household codes, or to show how similar Christians were to their neighbors. An expanded version of Colossians 3:184:1, these codes would have reinforced the earlier teachings from Colossians and also the social expectaOn Holidays and Marriage tions of Greco-Roman society. The teaching on marriage in The household codes are rightly divided into three Ephesians is frequently ignored in American families every Thanksgiving sections: 5:21-33 on husbands and wives; 6:1-4 on and Christmas. Many parents and grandparents and children; and 6:5-9 on masters and slaves. parents insist on their married adult Each of these sections can be further divided. The first descendents spending these holidays section has an introduction (v. 21), an exhortation with them as when they were children. Even families who alternate holidays are to wives (vv. 22-24), an exhortation to husbands (vv. guilty because they prevent their adult 25-32), and a final summarizing statement to both children from spending those times in husbands and wives (v. 33). Ephesians 6:1-4 can be their own homes and developing their divided into two subsections, one addressing children own traditions. Recently, I asked a class of thirty-five (vv. 1-3) and a second addressing fathers (v. 4). students if anyone could remember Similarly, 6:5-9 has an exhortation to slaves (vv. 5-8) spending Thanksgiving and Christmas in and one to slaveholders (v. 9). their own homes in the same year. The Some argue that en phob in 5:21 and phobtai in students ranged in age from their early twenties to late forties. Not a single 5:33 create an inclusio for the husbands-wives person raised a hand. Moreover, not a section.11 This is probably correct as v. 33 summarizes single person defended the practice of vv. 21-32. The presence then of phobou kai tromou spending these holidays away from (fear and trembling) in 6:5 is to reiterate the earlier home. On the contrary, everyone who spoke had grown tired of holidays in exhortation and intensify the final one. transit and longed to spend some holiFinally, Ephesians 5:216:9 develops Colossians days at home at least one year. 3:184:1 considerably.12 While Colossians serves as a Cleaving and leaving is a commandmodel, the author of Ephesians is not tied to it. His ment to in-laws as much as wives and husbands. own voice comes through clearly in 5:21-33, to which we now turn. [On Holidays and Marriage]

On Marriage and the Church, 5:21-33

Verse 21 This verse introduces the entire section, which repeatedly articulates what certain Christian relationships require of each party:


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each party must relate to the other in a loving and humble manner. This is not an altogether new concept in Ephesians (see 4:2-3, 20). Similar ideas appear throughout the Pauline tradition (e.g., Rom 13:1-5; Phil 2:3-4; Col 3:18). Galatians 5:13-15 provides an interesting example of what constitutes social relations within a Christian context: Christians are to serve one another through love and to avoid actions that will destroy Christian unity. Thus, the household codes, even if not written by Paul, carry on an authentic Pauline tradition of reciprocal, mutual love for one another. It should also be noted, however, that these relationships are not equal. Men have more responsibility but also more power. Verses 22-24 Ephesians 5:22-24 gives a traditional Greco-Roman view of the roles of spouses: wives must be submissive to their respective husbands (see [Plutarch, Advice] and [Josephus, Against Apion]). Indeed, Plutarch uses hypotass, while Josephus employs hypakou, a synonym to hypotass, to convey the subordination of wives to husbands. Ephesians 6:1 and 6:5 use hypakou to convey the same sentiment. While no verb exists in v. 22, v. 21 clearly supplies the verb (hypotass).13 Thus, 5:22 not only speaks the language of the culture but also employs a key term in doing so. However, as in Ephesians, neither Plutarch nor Josephus gives the husband exclusive, unreserved powers. Rather, both would have husbands be considerate of their wives. Plutarch wrote, And control should be exercised by the man not as the owner controls property but . . . through goodwill.14 Josephus stated that husbands should not humiliate their wives but guide them into proper behavior.15 Therefore, consideration of the less powerful person was not unique to Christians. The unique feature was doing so out of reverence for Christ. The phrase as to the Lord brings a Christian perspective for the original readers and echoes the exhortation in 5:21. The Lord here is Christ, not the husband. (T)his is the way she (the wife) can serve her Lord.16 Best astutely notes that the instruction is not aimed at women in general but only to wives. This is true, and it presents a problem for literalistic fundamentalist interpreters of Scripture. As appealing as his comment is, it is noteworthy that Best does not bring forth evidence that first-century Roman culture made such a distinction. Ephesians, however, sees the wifes role as

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a religious one that has greater meaning than simply her being her husbands servant.17 Verse 23 provides a theological justification for the preceding verse: as Christ is head of the Church, so too a husband is head of the wife. The introduction of the Christian element is a new factor in the equation, but in substance the passage is not significantly different from Plutarch and Josephus. Golden Wedding Anniversary Ephesians is closer to Plutarch than to Ephesians envisions Christian marriages that last a Josephus in that Plutarch admonishes long time. Such marriages would be built on three husbands to make their wives happy and principles: (1) the interdependence of each spouse upon the other, i.e., each person has a role to play; (2) a willingto be gracious toward them. Despite the ness to put the relationship above the relationship to fact that . . . most marriages in Rome parents and siblings; (3) doing so as an expression of love took place sine manu, and that Greek for ones mate and a manifestation of ones devotion to women also had greater legal independChrist. ence, writings about the household retained this particular structure as necessary for the stability of society.18 Headship in Ephesians, therefore, conveys power and authority (e.g., 4:15-16), but it also conveys consideration of the humanity of the other person in the relationship. [Golden Wedding

MacDonald argues that the ChristChurch analogy becomes important in Eugene and Amanda Bowie on their fiftieth wedding anniversary, March 1970. (Credit: T. B. Slater) subsequent verses, seeing its origin in the Hebrew Bible where the relationship between Yahweh and Israel is often compared to a marriage.19 The book of Hosea is the best example of this in the HB. I am persuaded by MacDonalds argument. Moreover, as Israel had corporate meaning in the HB, so too the Church has corporate meaning in the book of Ephesians (cf. Rev 19:1-10). The phrase He Himself (being) savior of the body anticipates the exhortation to husbands in 5:25-32. Str (savior) regularly appeared in Greco-Roman religious writings. For example, Sibylline Oracles 1, 73 and 3, 35 use it to refer to God as do LXX Psalms 24:5; 26:9 and LXX Micah 7:7. It could also refer to outstanding men, a prime example being the name and title Ptolemy I Soter (see also Plutarch, Agesippus 11, 13; Josephus, Life 259). The term str appears several times in the New Testament where it


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applies both to God Almighty (e.g., Luke 1:47; Jude 25) and to Christ (e.g., Luke 2:11; Phil 3:20). In Ephesians 5:23, it clearly refers to Christs ability to reconcile men and women to God (cf. 2:15). The body in this instance is not the singular one but the corporate one, the Church. As with Ephesians 2 where the Christian community is saved through Christs atoning death, so it is in Ephesians 5:23.20 Ephesians 5:24 reiterates the basic analogy that as Christians are subject to Christ, so must wives be to their husbands in all things. To this point, 5:22-24 is not very different from Plutarch, Advice other household codes of the day. [Plutarch, Advice] So is it with women also; if they subordinate themselves to their husbands, they are commended, but if they want to have control, they cut a sorrier figure than the subjects of their control. And control ought to be exercised by the man over the woman, not as the owner has control of a piece of property, but, as the soul controls the body, by entering into her feelings and being knit to her through goodwill. As, therefore, it is possible to govern a wife, and at the same time to delight and gratify her.

Verses 25-28 This section repeats the need to behave as a means of demonstrating Christian piety. Husbands should love their wives. This statement echoes and parallels 5:21: out of reverence for Christ, husbands must love their wives as they love themselves. Such a love has two dimensions. First, it involves loving ones wife Plutarch, Advice to Bride and Groom, Mor. 142.33 (LCL). for who she is and what gifts and graces she might bring into the marriage. It expresses an earnest desire for a love that appreciates what few others even see in someone else: the true self. Second, and equally as important, this love calls husbands to be willing to sacrifice themselves for their wives as Christ sacrificed himself for the Church. Such a love goes beyond the cultural norm of the day: while Plutarch (see [Plutarch, Advice]) exhorts husbands not to mistreat wives but to relate joyously and graciously, and Colossians 3:19 tells husbands to love their wives and not to embitter them, Ephesians calls husbands to be ready to sacrifice themselves for their wives. Clearly, the crucifixion is the template for this teaching. In this way, Christians follow the example of their God, as Epictetus also taught (Disc. 2.14.13; cf. Eph 5:1). This teaching to husbands is the distinctive, new Christian addition to the household codes. As such it is consistent with the love command throughout the book of Ephesians and also the New Testament. Lincoln correctly notes that Ephesians 5:25 is consistent with other admonitions to love in 1:4; 3:17; 4:2, 15, 16. In particular, he notes that 5:1-2 calls for a sacrificial love among Christians for

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each other as Christ has loved us. Lincoln writes, The exhortation to sacrifice ones own interests . . . finds a more specific application in the husbands role. He continues that any exercise of headship by husbands is not through self-assertion but self-sacrifice. Christs love for the Church provides the model as well as the grounds for a husbands love for his wife.21 I concur wholeheartedly. Verse 26 returns to the work of Christ. It places emphasis on the husbands sacrificial role by comparing it with Christs sacrifice for the Church. Best states the case well: the husbands obligations are stressed, not his rights. The husband must do all he can to ensure that the wife attains holiness, a major virtue in Ephesians, so that the wife might attain Christian virtue.22 Verses 26-27 spell out the purpose of Christs death for the Church.23 Christs death accomplished the Churchs sanctification or holiness. Holiness is a cardinal virtue in Ephesians (see 1:1, 4; 2:19; 5:3). In the Jewish tradition of the day, holiness (or sanctification) meant to set something/someone aside so that it cannot be defiled. The next phrase, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, conveyed the process of this sanctification. An allusion to baptism finds expression in by the washing of water (cf. 1 Cor 6:11; see also Matt 3:6; Acts 22:16; Heb 10:22). While Lincoln and MacDonald both see a possible allusion to the bath Jewish women took prior to their weddings, Schnackenburg, on the other hand, argues that such an allusion would make no sense to Gentile Christians and have little meaning to married men.24 I am open to the argument by Lincoln and MacDonald, and I am not convinced that the original readers were all Gentiles. Furthermore, against Schnackenburgs second Holiness Holiness, or sanctification, has lost its point, in every society there are people who are currency in many contemporary Christian aware of cultural norms and expectations that circles due to its identification with Pentecostal do not apply to them. We note that in both Christian traditions. This is unfortunate. Wesley verses the aim is holiness. [Holiness] brought the term into the mainstream of Christian thought in the eighteenth century. He understood The Churchs sanctification, its holiness, sanctification to be a process, what many occurs by means of the word (rhmati, a Christians today call growing in grace. dative of instrumentality, or means). It is unclear what this means precisely. Scholars have generally taken one of two options, either associating it with the end result of sanctification or with the process of sanctification. Many argue that if it refers to sanctification itself, then the emphasis is on the power proceeding from the word of Christ. On the other hand, if it relates to


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the process of sanctification, it emphasizes baptism. Whichever way we take it all the emphasis is on Christs action which is carried out on his Church and further in her.25 Verse 27 provides two additional reasons for Christs sacrifice for the Church. The NASB translates it in this manner: that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory. Similarly, the NJB reads, so that when he took the Church to himself she (i.e., the Church) would be glorious. The NRSV provides another rendering: so as to present the church to himself in splendor. However, Best provides a translation that is most faithful to the Greek: that he might present to himself the Church glorious. 26 Endozon is translated variously as a dative singular noun (NASB), as a subjunctive verb with an accompanying adjective (NJB), and as a dative singular adjective (NRSV). Only Best renders it correctly as a singular accusative adjective that modifies church. This purpose clause is a reference to the Churchs outer beauty, which reflects her inner purity. Thus, the phrase without spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind (NRSV) refers at once to her outer beauty as with a bride on the occasion of her wedding and indicates her moral purity. Thus, there exists here another use of marriage imagery. The latter part of the verse, so that she might be holy and blameless, refers to her inner holiness (cf. 3:16). This last reference to holiness and being blameless parallels the same virtues found in 1:4. In particular, ammos conveyed the purity required of sacrificial animals in Judaism (e.g., LXX Num 6:14; Philo, Sacrifices 51; 1 Pet 1:19) and being morally blameless (e.g., LXX Ps Josephus, Against Apion 14:2; Josephus, Ant. 3.279). It carries such meaning The woman, says the Law, is in elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., 2 Pet 3:14; Jude all things inferior to the man. Let 24; Rev 14:5). her accordingly be submissive, not for her humiliation, but that she may be Verse 28 ends this subsection (5:25-28) by reiterdirected; for the authority has been given ating the main point that husbands must love their by God to the man. wives as they love themselves. In the process, the writer Josephus, Ag. Ap. 2.24.201 (LCL). has said more about the relationship between Christ and the Church as a way of illustrating the depth of the husbands obligations to the wife. Verses 29-32 speak more directly to the husbands duties to the wife. [Josephus, Against Apion] Verses 29-32 Ephesians 5:29 tells the reader what it means for husbands to love their wives. First, it is stated negatively (For no one ever hates his own flesh) and then positively (but nourishes and cherishes it).

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MacDonald correctly notes that the ascetic tendencies found in 1 Corinthians 7 and Colossians are not present in Ephesians. She states that marriage involves physical union for Ephesians, and this language and its meaning would have been very familiar to a firstcentury audience.27 The writer uses sarx (flesh) in v. 29; sma (body) in v. 30. In this context, they function synonymously, in contrast to Pauline passages like Romans 8:9, Galatians 3:3, and Galatians 5:19-21, where flesh carries extremely negative connotations. It is not true that Paul always used sarx negatively (e.g., Rom 1:3; 1 Cor 1:26; 2 Cor 1:17; Phlm 16). Some might argue that the presence of sarx in the quotation of LXX Genesis 2:24 in v. 31 has generated its use in v. 29. This is possible. The verse ends by reaffirming that husbands should act thusly as an expression of their devotion as Christian disciples. Verse 30 then concludes the thought of v. 29b by repeating the nature of the relationship of Christ and the Christian community.28 Verse 31 contains a quotation of Genesis 2:24 that is close to the Septuagint. As a result of the bond between Christ and the Church, husbands should no longer perceive their primary responsibility as being to their parents but to their wives. The relationship to the parents is not dissolved. It must now come second to the marital relationship. The change in marital status brings a change in relationships, and Ephesians 5:31 affirms this change and places it within the context of Christian discipleship. Any deviance from this teaching represents a shameless selfishness that can only hinder the growth of the primary relationship, the marriage. This verse advocates a shift of priorities, not a severance of relations, which is necessary if the two shall be one. In a society where group identity was dominant and where mothers-in-law could have extensive influence, this would have been a difficult teaching to receive. It still is. The great mystery in v. 32 is first and foremost the bond between Christ and the Church. It involved Gods plan of salvation that includes both Jews and non-Jews in a new commonwealth, a totally unexpected development that needed explanation to both parties (e.g., Rom 1:16-3:31).29 Second, the great mystery is present in Christian marriage as two people become one. This concept implies not merely physical union but unity in thought, intention, and action as well (see Eph 3:1-13). The reality of marriage, even the best ones, argues against this. In the best marriages,


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spouses disagree and misunderstand each other occasionally. Thus, the unity that Ephesians teaches is a great mystery.30
Philo, Hypothetica Other rules again there are of various kinds: wives must be in servitude to their husbands, a servitude not imposed by violent illtreatment but promoting obedience in all things. Parents must have power over their children to keep them safe and tend them carefully. Each individual is master of his possessions unless he has solemnly named the name of God over them declaring that he has given them to God. And if he has merely made a chance verbal promise of them he must not touch or handle them, but hold himself at once debarred from them all.
Philo, Hypoth. 7.3 (LCL).

Verse 33 Verse 33 ends the section (5:21-33) by restating the main themes: that husbands should love their wives and that wives should respect (phobeomai) their husbands. [Philo, Hypothetica]
Parents and Children, 6:1-4

Ephesians 6:1-4 discusses the relationship between children and parents. It displays many of the same features seen in Ephesians 5:21-33. First of all, 6:1-4 is dependent on Colossians 3:20-21 but develops it significantly by providing theological rationales for the code, a feature noted earlier in Ephesians 5:21-33. Second, the Greek word for obedience, hypakou, is a synonym to hypotass (lit., submit, be subject to) in 5:21. Third, as in Ephesians 5:31, 6:2-3 quotes Scripture. Fourth, the instructions to the subordinate party are standard and normal social expectations (see [Plutarch, Advice]).31 Fifth, both parties have obligations to fulfill to the other. Finally, children and parents are admonished to adhere to the teaching as an expression of their Christian devotion (cf., 5:21, 22). Ephesians 6:1 exhorts children to obey their parents. The prepositional phrase en kyri (in the Lord) was probably original to the text. One finds similar expressions at 5:22 (hs t kyri: as to the Lord) and 6:5 (hs t Christ: as to Christ).32 The exhortation for this is good supplements the imperative to obedience. Verse 2 follows with a quotation from Torah (see Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16) that provides a proof from Scripture. Is this actually the first commandment with a promise? Mitton argues that this commandment is the first where the promise is part of the commandment itself.33 I agree that this is certainly how the writer of Ephesians understood it. Verse 3 continues the proof-text from Scripture and is closer to Deuteronomy 5:16 than to Exodus 20:12 in both the HB and the LXX. The promise of longevity in the Promised Land found in both Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16 is replaced by a promise of long life. This development might be an adjustment to

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include the Gentiles, an adjustment to the reality of Roman occupation of the Promised Land, or both to some degree. Ephesians 6:4 ends this section with an admonition to fathers. This section began by addressing both parents. Clearly Ephesians follows the example of Colossians 3:20-21, which begins The Return of the Prodigal Son by addressing both parents and then relates The book of Ephesians believes that it is as important for parents to hear their children solely to fathers. [The Return of the Prodigal Son] as it is for children to adhere to their parents. In this Roman society gave fathers extensive way, parents actually relate to where their children authority over their households. By are in life and not where they think they are. addressing fathers only, Ephesians reflects the Moreover, it makes parenting relevant for both parents and children. extreme authority given to fathers over their children in Greco-Roman society.34 The directive to fathers takes both negative and positive expressions. On the one hand, fathers are told what not to do (do not anger [ m parorgizete]). If fathers enrage their children, this would produce the opposite to what they were seeking, for anger is sinful (4:26) and enraged children would sin.35 The positive side involved discipline (paideia) and instruction (nouthesia) of the Lord (kyriou) (see 5:22, 28-29; 6:1). Best notes that Philo also uses these two terms together in Quod Deus sit Immutabilis 54 and De Specialibus Legibus 2.239 and 4.96 (see also [Plutarch, Advice]).36 Paideia and nouthesia are synonyms. Both connoted instructing children. Within this context in Ephesians, they reinforced one Pompeo Batoni (17081787). The Return of the Prodigal Son (Luke another. Similar admonitions to fathers could 15:11-32). Oil on canvas. 1773. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. (Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY) be found in pseudo-Plutarch, The Education of Children 8 and pseudo-Phocylides 207. To this point, Ephesians is completely in step with voices in the wider society. Just as Christians are counseled earlier to follow the codes as a means of Christian piety, however, so too are they here. The phrase of the Lord relates the teachings to both sides to a higher principle in which clear, firm and yet kindly instruction of the Lord is the decisive factor.37 Again we find a Christian rationale for the codes. We noted earlier a similar motif in Epictetus (be an imitator of God [Disc. 2.14.13]). [Philo, Special Laws]


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Masters and Slaves, 6:5-9

Philo, Special Laws And a father and mother deserve honour, not only on this account, but for many other reasons. For in the judgement of those who take account of virtue, seniors are placed above juniors, teachers above pupils, benefactors above beneficiaries, rulers above subjects, and masters above servants. Now parents are assigned a place in the higher of these two orders, for they are seniors and instructors and benefactors and rulers and masters: sons and daughters are placed in the lower order, for they are juniors and learners and recipients of benefits and subjects and servants. That none of these statements is false is selfevident, but logical proofs will ratify their truth still further.
Philo, Spec. 2.226-227 (LCL).

This final code follows the pattern of the first two. The subordinate party receives the traditional instructions while the superior member receives responsibilities as well, both from a Christian perspective (cf. Col 3:224:1). Ephesians 6:5 tells slaves to obey their masters according to the flesh. This is a literal translation of the Greek where the word translated masters (kyrios) is translated lord in the first two codes. This play on the meaning of words would not be lost on the original readers. Indeed, any translation that enables the reader to see the contrast with the kyrios in heaven in 6:9 is sound. Slaves should obey with fear and trembling. The word translated fear is phobos, the same word translated reverence in 5:21 and the verbal form rendered respect in 5:33. This speaks to the unity of the household codes. The phrase fear and trembling is also found in 1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:15, and Philippians 2:12, where it connotes religious piety. This is complemented by the remainder of 6:5, where haplots connoted sincerity, uprightness, simplicity, and frankness. In this context, sincerity is the best option since the sentence concludes with an exhortation to obedience as to Christ (NRSV). Again we see obedience equated with an expression of Christian discipleship. Verse 6 provides both negative and positive reasons for ethical motivation (cf. Col 3:22). Slaves should not attempt to openly deceive anyone in order to impress others (the negative). As slaves of Christ, they are encouraged to obedience (the positive). Slaves of Christ serves two functions: (1) it contrasts their status as earthly slaves and (2) it functions as a rhetorical metaphor for discipleship. This second function also elevates their status as slaves and puts it on a heavenly plane. Moreover, slaves of Christ echoes as to Christ in 6:5; acting from the heart reiterates in sincerity of heart in v. 5. These parallels also support my translation of haplots as sincerity in this context. Ephesians 6:7 restates the preceding verse and also adds met eunoias. Eunoia could mean affection, benevolence, or favor on the one hand, or zeal or enthusiasm on the other. In this instance, it

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should probably be translated either as zeal or enthusiasm, rendering something like with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm or zeal would be the opposite of the attitude one would expect of a slave. The Lord here is Christ. Throughout the household codes, the readers are exhorted to behave from their reverence for Christ the Lord (see 5:21, 22, 24, 25; 6:1, 4, 5). Ephesians 6:8 continues the thought of vv. 5-7. It states that the Lord rewards based on the moral quality of ones actions regardless of social status, a powerful rhetorical and theological statement in a status-conscious culture like Roman society. The divine arithmetic is done differently than human arithmetic, for God plays no favorites.38 Ephesians 6:9 concludes this subsection with an admonition to masters. As husbands and fathers were told not to abuse their positions, so too are masters. Masters are told to display the same Christian reverence, sincerity, and enthusiasmdo the same things to themtoward their slaves that Ephesians expects of slaves. Similarly, masters must behave in a way that pleases God, not other people. Their motivation is that their Master in heaven does not reward according to social status but according to faithful living. The Master in heaven in 6:9 contrasts the human masters in 6:5; Gods impartiality in 6:9 parallels Gods salvation according to the quality of ones behavior in 6:8. Cicero, On the Duties Slavery is an abhorrent system. It robs the But let us remember that we must have slave of dignity and the slave owner of regard for justice even toward the humblest. Now the humblest station and the poorest humanity. Our twenty-first century sensitivities fortune are those of slaves; and they give us no correctly would have Ephesians advocate the bad rule who bid us treat our slaves as we should abolition of slavery. Regrettably, it does not. We our employees: they must be required to work; are all children of our times, and we do not they must be given their dues (operam exigendam, iusta praebenda). know which of our norms today will be deemed Cicero, Off. 1.4.12 (LCL). inhumane a century from now. [Cicero, On the


The household codes elucidate their source (Col 3:184:1). Those who might not have fully understood or fully adhered to these


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teachings originally now have clarification. Despite efforts to the contrary, these codes are not significantly more progressive or enlightened than many non-Christian examples. Cicero, Philo, Plutarch, and Josephus are a few examples. The particular Christian addition of the first code is for husbands to be prepared to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their respective wives just as Christ gave his life for the sake of the Church. In this way, husbands follow Christs example of headship. These codes reflect their time and place. They represent a Christian version of the most enlightened views of the time. They are traditional social norms. The two parties remain unequal. Men retain the superior status in each case. The codes do not condone the abuse of a spouse, a child, or an employee/slave. In fact, they condemn abuse by admonishing men to care lovingly for those in their sphere of influence. Indeed, it is incumbent upon men not to exploit their positions of power. Rather, they must become benefactors in imitation of God, the divine benefactor who blessed us through Christ with every spiritual blessing (1:3) and lavished his grace on us (1:7-8). The same benefaction has turned enmity into peace and sinners into saints who have been grounded in love (3:17). It demands that a love-ethic rules, not doctrinal arrogance. The household code on marriage does not exhort Christians to equal relationships. Rather, along Greco-Roman cultural expectations, it teaches unequal mutual relationships. They are unequal because men have more power. They are mutual, however, in that, as Talbert correctly recognizes, they see both sides being responsible to the other in some way. The Christian addition, which would have stood out to non-Christians, was the directive to husbands to be prepared to die for their wives. This teaching has been ignored by many men and women: men who want to dominate women, and women who want to avoid responsibility. The teaching on marriage condemns husbands who treat their wives as property. Furthermore, it condemns those who physically and/or emotionally abuse their wives in order to inflate their own sense of worth. This is the opposite of being willing to sacrifice oneself for ones wife. As with other enlightened thinkers of the day, the writer of Ephesians calls for a respectful and loving marriage and not simply a business deal between a man and a woman. Moreover, while there were trophy wives in the first Christian century, such a concept is foreign to Ephesians. The book of

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Ephesians works on the principle that marriage should be based on a mutual appeal that goes beyond physical appearance and involves interests, lifestyle, and worldview, those immutable elements that form the bedrock of human personality. Ephesians works on the premise that husbands and wives should value one another for the people they are and not the ones they might appear to be. For Ephesians, marriage is not a business contract but a bond of love between a man and a woman. Marriage is tricky business. The advent of marriage counselors, books on the subject, and reality television programs that showcase it have not improved it substantially. Too many people marry in order to be married. Their intention is to be legally attached but not to be in a loving relationship. This is sinful because the other person in the relationship is being used and not cherished for his or her own gifts. Such marriages cannot be happy and cannot be described as successful when measured by the standard in Ephesians 5:21-33. The best marriages are not contracts but covenants of love. That does not mean that difOrigen, On Marriage ferences of opinion will not arise. Rather, it But by this time some of the leaders of means that if two people put their relationship the Church have contravened the scriptural injunctions in allowing a woman to marry before their egos, they should be able to work it again while her husband is alive. This is against out. [Origen, On Marriage] the letter of Scripture . . . , but it is not an utterly Household codes in the ancient world were unreasonable concession; for it is probable that about meaningful relationships and not indithe indulgence is granted in consideration of the worse evils, though it contravenes the law laid vidual roles. Communal identity was much down in the Scriptures. stronger in this world than our own. Origen, Comm. Matt. 14.23 (H. Bettenson, The Early Christian Communal identity, however, was second to Fathers [London: OUP, 1969] 25455). communal concord, the point of Greco-Roman household codes. The sense of individuality common to modern western society was not a dominant social factor at that time. Finally, the household code on marriage shifts familial priorities from the parents to the spouse. This is a tremendously difficult teaching for most American families. I only have one mother is so often used as a rationale for focusing on parents. This is a copout. Frequently, people with good parents cannot conceive that some parents are not good and in some cases are evil. Some parents treat their children like property adn do not deserve respect. First of all, if one wants to maintain the parental relationship as primary, one should not get married. Modern science has made it possible to be moral and to parent outside the bonds of marriage.


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Second, no relationship should remain primary all the time. The person who has the greatest need should receive the greatest attention. Furthermore, there are few social consequences if one remains steadfast in an unhealthy relationship with a parent. She stood by her father through thick and thin. Being a good child garners more social capital than being a good spouse, even if it destroys a marriage. This should not be. We should value all good relationships and devalue all destructive ones. The marriage should become the primary relationship. A marriage should be a loving agreement between a man and a woman to start their own tradition, and by its nature their tradition will differ from the ones from which they both came. Because of this, husbands and wives need time to work it out for themselves. Marriages and homes and families differ, and most universal norms are not norms at all but merely rules that work for some. There is one norm: wives and husbands must keep talking and trying to understand the perspective of the spouse. Too many confuse knowledge with understanding. Knowledge informs but leaves one on the outside looking in. Understanding informs and also brings one inside.

With regard to the code on parenting, it should be noted that parenting for Ephesians is more than passing along DNA. True parents earn their childrens respect and admiration and do so willingly. (This is a fact of life that escapes most teenagers.) Real parents carry on their parental duties even when they are not respected and loved by their children. They do so because it is their responsibility. Ephesians expects this. The book of Ephesians does not read, Obey your parents but Obey your parents in the Lord. Parenting is a responsibility, not a license. Parenting is being redefined in American society. I find it interesting that authors write how to parenting books as if one style fits all. Effective parenting varies from one ethnic community to the next, from one socioeconomic stratum to the next, from one culture to the next, from one child to the next. Parents of twins know that no two children are the same, and each responds to different stimuli. Ephesians 6:1-4 is not a manual on parenting as

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much as a guide on how parents should relate to their children. If parents follow the guide, then even when they make mistakes, and they will, the relationship with their children will not be broken forever.

Slavery is a demeaning institution, and its abolition in the nineteenth century was long overdue. Slavery by its very nature invites abuse. It is an institution that dehumanizes all who are involved. Again, it robs the slave of human dignity and the slave owner of human decency. There are no reasons for slavery in any form or fashion or for any reason. It is undeniably evil. The implication of this teaching, however, goes much farther than most perceive. If a Christian should treat his or her slaves humanely, it stands to reason that a Christian should treat his or her employees humanely. Christian employers should provide a spiritually and physically healthy workplace for employees. Christian employers should provide ample financial compensation and sufficient health and retirement benefits for employees. In this way, Christian businesses fulfill the teaching in Ephesians 6:5-9.

Unlike today, when many people perceive separation as the best means to purification, Ephesians 4:16:9 espouses unity and harmony as a sign of purity. It is no coincidence that the main critique of Christians by many non-Christians is the disunity of the Christian community, i.e., disunity is a poor witness of faith. The focus in Ephesians 4:16:9 is on Gods desire to bring Christians together in love. As such, an overemphasis on denominationalism, a non-ecumenical non-denominationalistic arrogance, and forms of Christian provincialism that assert that they are the only true forms of Christianity are not biblical. In fact, they are the very things the book of Ephesians is fighting. Such people clothe themselves in biblical teachings, but their unloving closed-mindedness reveals that those clothes do not fit them. Our examination of the household codes ends here. We turn now to the closing section of the book of Ephesians that ends with an exhortation to spiritual warfare.


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1. E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 271. 2. Ibid. 3. C. H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians (Paideia; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007) 13132, quotes from 131. 4. I have outlined here my disagreements with Talbert on this section. However, his overall discussion of the tradition history from the 4th C. BCE to the 2d C. CE is outstanding and most informative (Ephesians, 13657). For an excellent discussion of the household codes in the NT, see C. J. Martin, The Haustafeln (Household Codes) in African American Biblical Interpretation: Free Slaves and Subordinate Women in C. H. Felder, ed., Stony the Road We Trod (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991) 20631. 5. Cf. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 352; Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 244. 6. Schnackenburg (Ephesians, 218) and Witherington (B. Witherington III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles [Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007]) reach similar conclusions. 7. Cf. D. K. Darko, No Longer Living as the Gentiles (LNTS; Edinburgh UK: T. & T. Clark, 2008). 8. Aristotle, Politics I, 1253b, 1-4. See also Mitzi Smiths helpful discussion in Ephesians, in True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, ed. B. Blount (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007) 35860. 9. Epictetus, Disc. 2.14.13; cf. Eph 5:1. 10. See Disc. 1.1.14-17; 2.10.7-23; 2.23.38; 3.2.3,4; 3.3.8; 3.7.26-27. 11. E.g., J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 257. See also Best, Ephesians, 271. 12. Pheme Perkins, Ephesians (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 12732. One finds other early Christian household codes in Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:183:7; 1 Tim 2:83:13; 6:1-2; Titus 2:1-10; 3:1-2; Ignatius, Pol. 4-6; Polycarp, Phil. 4-6; Did. 4:9-11; 1 Clem. 21:6-9, 38:2. 13. Cf., Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 326. 14. Mor. 142.33 (AT). 15. Ag. Ap. 2.24.201. 16. Lincoln, Ephesians, 368. 17. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 28182. 18. Lincoln, Ephesians, 369. 19. MacDonald, Ephesians, 32627. 20. See Lincolns helpful discussion against any Gnostic influences here (Ephesians, 37172). 21. Lincoln, Ephesians, 374. Similar arguments are found in Best (Ephesians, 286), MacDonald (Ephesians, 328) and Schnackenburg (Ephesians, 24849). 22. Best, Ephesians, 287.

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23. Ibid., 286. 24. Lincoln, Ephesians, 375; MacDonald, Ephesians, 328; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 249. 25. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 250; cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 376. 26. Best, Ephesians, 279. 27. MacDonald, Ephesians, 330; also Lincoln, Ephesians, 37980; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 253; cf. Best, Ephesians, 292. 28. For an argument against including a textual variant in v. 30, see Lincoln, Ephesians, 351. 29. We should not assume that Pauls teaching on this subject ended the debate once and for all. Then as now, some teachings need repeating. Indeed, 1 Clem. reminds the Corinthians that Paul wrote to them concerning some of the same issues that he addresses. 30. Cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 33031. 31. See also Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Rom. Ant. 32. See B. M. Metzger et al., eds., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: UBS, 1971) 609. 33. C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: University Press, 1951) 21112. 34. MacDonald, Ephesians, 333; see also Lincolns fine discussion on the authority of fathers (Ephesians, 398401). 35. Best, Ephesians, 302. 36. Ibid. 37. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 263. 38. Witherington, Ephesians, 341; cf. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 26465.


Concluding Comments
Ephesians 6:10-24

This section of the book brings Ephesians to a close. While 6:1-9 discusses the relationship between fathers and children and then masters and slaves, vv. 10-20 contain an exhortation to faithfulness in a hostile environment. Verses 21-22 introduce Tychicus and his purpose. One finds the books second, closing benediction in Ephesians 6:23-24.1

Military Metaphors, 6:10-13

Ephesians 6:10 (see Col 1:11) brings the second half of Ephesians to a close. Best sees 6:10-20 as one of the most original sections of Ephesians.2 Perkins believes that 6:10-20 returns to the theme of divine power found in 1:19-21.3 Perhaps, but it must be noted that while 1:19-21 emphasizes Gods might, 6:10-20 is about human faith. It could also be that Perkins has found one of the authors favorite expressions (ts ischyos autou). Ephesians encourages its readers to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Being strong is an exhortation to faithfulness. Such fidelity opens one up to a volatile existence. Faithfulness to God will bring ridicule from society. The phrase in the strength of his might is an admonition to trust God for ones deliverance. Such devotion is not a passive theological laissez faire; it is an active engagement with evil (6:12). This lifestyle requires and demands spiritual strength in an enduring struggle. Military imagery was employed widely in classical society. Best notes its presence in Judaism, the mysteries as well as Greek moralists.4 Moreover, he finds it in Paul. Best is correct in that it provided adherents to these several religious traditions an assurance of their religious propriety. [I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord]


Ephesians 6:10-24

This concept finds its most complete expression in the image of God as the Divine Warrior, a depiction with roots in the ancient Near East (ANE).5 The HB has four main motifs: (1) Yahweh Sabaoth makes war against Israels enemies (e.g., 1 Sam 15:2; Isa 63:1-6; I was alone and idle, I was a sinner too. Zech 11:1-6); (2) God slays the sea monster I heard a voice from heaven say there is work to do. and brings order from chaos (e.g., Ps I took the Masters hand, and I joined the Christian 74:13-14; Job 41); (3) God punishes evil (e.g., band; Im on the battlefield for my Lord. Isa 3:1-15; Hag 1:5-11); (4) God liberates his people (e.g., Exod 14:1-15; Isa 35). Isaiah I left my friends and kindred bound for the Promised 51:9-11 contains all but the third motif. One Land, finds these same motifs in 1 Enoch 1:3-9, the grace of God upon me, the Bible in my hands. In distant lands I trod, crying sinner come to God; Judith 16:15, Wisdom 18:15-19, 2 Maccabees Im on the battlefield for my Lord. 3:24-34, and Revelation 19:11-16. Ephesians 1:19-21 also incorporates this concept of God. Now when I met my Savior, I met Him with a smile, In 6:10 it serves as a background to motivate He healed my wounded spirit, and owned me as His child. Christians to remain steadfastly in their faith. Around the throne of grace, He appoints my soul a In this way, the author stands firmly within place; the Pauline tradition, which often depicts Im on the battlefield for my Lord. Christians as soldiers (e.g., 1 Thess 5:8; 2 Cor Sylvana Bell and E. V. Banks (n.d.) 6:7; Rom 6:13; see also 1 Pet 4:1; 2 Tim 2:3-5; cf. Rev 19:14). Ephesians employs a word (endy) found elsewhere in the Pauline tradition. In Romans 13:14 and Galatians 3:27, Christians are encouraged to clothe themselves with Christ; in Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24, it refers to a new person in Christ. Some argue that here endy again involves conversion as in Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24.6 This is basically correct; however, the writer builds on the conversion experience by adding what it means to maintain that experience under duress. Lincoln himself says as much by asserting that the verse encourages its readers to make the assured outcome . . . their own by standing.7 [Soldiers in the Army] The term panophlia (lit., the whole armor) referred to a Roman foot soldiers equipment. It included both defensive armor and offensive weapons.8 Thus, a Roman soldier was prepared to defend himself or to attack someone else. Similarly, Ephesians wants Christians to be prepared spiritually for any contingency. Verse 11b confirms my point on the social context: this is an ongoing struggle against the Devil (see 4:27). The customary term for Paul is Satan.9
I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord (Chorus) I am on the battlefield for my Lord. Im on the battlefield for my Lord, and I promised Him that I would serve Him til I die; Im on the battlefield for my Lord.

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With Ephesians, 1 Timothy 3:6-7 and 2 Timothy 2:26 read the Devil. For the book of Ephesians, the Devil is the source of evil in the world, the reason for the need for spiritual armor, and the one behind the immoral schemes that threaten the spiritual and physical qualities of human existence. Soldiers in the Army We are soldiers, soldiers in the Verse 12 expounds on the preceding one. E. Best army. noted that Struggle originally referred to the handWe have to fight. to-hand encounter of wrestling but in time was Lord knows we have to try. applied . . . to other types of fighting, including We have to hold up the bloodstained banner. fighting and war.10 Here Ephesians employs the We have to hold it up until we die. term metaphorically to refer to the strife between good and evil, God and Satan. Flesh and blood, a synonymous expression for human beings, has a Semitic ring (e.g., Sir 14:18; 1 En. 15:4; see also Matt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50; Heb 2:14). The author conveys here that the fight is not with human, earthly adversaries but with heavenly ones. Such opponents cannot be defeated by earthly means alone; thus the need for Gods armor in its entirety. This is the only place in the Pauline corpus where believers are explicitly said to be in a battle against evil spirit powers.11 Lincoln states that Ephesians sees Christ as having won the ultimate victory; however, evil forces continue to try to obstruct the growth of Christianity before their final subjugation.12 The rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in heavenly places align themselves with the Devil (see Col 2:15).13 The rulers and authorities connoted evil spiritual powers as in 1:21, 2:2, and 3:10. The other descriptions simply drive home the point. Cosmic powers of darkness, found only here in Ephesians, probably derives from astrological/astronomical speculation at the time. For example, MacDonald says it is found in magical papyri and Gnosticism and originally referred to the role of the sun and planets in shaping earthly events.14 Best argues that the term connoted supernatural evil beings who will attempt to lure believers away from the light.15 Both options are strong possibilities. The final phrase serves as a comprehensive way to refer to the cosmic powers of evil.16 Thus, the reader should have no doubt as to the extent and magnitude of the struggle. Second temple Judaism is replete with similar expressions (e.g., 1 En. 15:8-12; T.Sim. 4:9; Jub. 10:3; 12:20; 1QM 13:2; CD 12:2). Their presence in the heavenlies confirms their connection with ancient


Ephesians 6:10-24

Wisdom 5:17-20 The Lord will take his zeal as his whole armor, and will arm all creation to repel his enemies; he will put on righteousness as a breastplate, and wear impartial justice as a helmet; he will take holiness as an invincible shield, and sharpen stern wrath for a sword, and creation will join him to fight against the madmen. (RSV)

astrology/astronomy.17 Verse 13 then reiterates vv. 10-12 and the need to stand steadfastly in the Christian faith. [Wisdom 5:17-20]
The Armaments of Faith, 6:14-17

These oft-quoted verses constitute the heart of the matter where the details of what the whole armor of God consisted of are stated explicitly. Verse 14 begins with an aorist imperative of histmi (lit., to stand). In the aorist, it conveys an immutable position or unwavering stance before an opponent.18 I would translate, Therefore, stand firmly. This reiterates similar calls for standing resolutely in 6:11 and 6:13. Standing firm in this way continues the warrior imagery in vv. 11-13 and connects vv. 11-13 with vv. 14-17. One finds similar imagery in Philippians 1:27-28; 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:15; and Galatians 5:1 (cf. Rom 5:2; 11:20; 1 Cor 10:12; 16:13; 2 Cor 1:24; Col 4:12). The Christian warrior must stand resolutely against the powers of evil. Perkins is among those who have helpfully identified passages in the Hebrew Bible that provide the background for 6:14-17. Persuasively, Perkins notes parallels with the belt with LXX Isaiah 11:5; breastplate of righteousness, LXX Isaiah 59:17 (cf. Wis 5:18); military footwear in 6:15 with LXX Isaiah 52:7; the shield in 6:16, Wisdom 5:19; the helmet in 6:17, LXX Isaiah 59:17; the sword in 6:17, LXX Isaiah 49:2 and Wisdom 5:20. If nothing else, Perkins and others have shown how the Jewish tradition played a key role in the development of the imagery in 6:14-17. Perkins correctly notes that no specific tradition of meaning evolved. Rather, the imagery is a means of expressing and/or affirming religious fidelity.19 This tradition/history strongly indicates a Jewish audience to some degree or people familiar with these Jewish traditions. The belt/girdle of truth reminds us of the faithfulness and steadfast loyalty of the Messiah in LXX Isaiah 11:5. Those qualities must now be possessed by Christians.20 The breastplate of righteousness reminds us of Yahwehs armor in Isaiah 59:17, Wisdom 5:18, and 1 Thessalonians 5:8. It now becomes the accoutrement for Christians. It is also a virtue required of Christians.21 The phrase the gospel of peace echoes LXX Isaiah 52:7 (as [the] feet of one proclaiming a report of glad tidings of peace) as well as Ephesians 2:14 (he is our peace). Romans 10:15 quotes Isaiah 52:8 more

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closely than the LXX: How beautiful [are] the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things. While Romans 10:15 might be in the background, the reference to peace in LXX, Ephesians 2:14 and also Ephesians 6:15 indicates a closer Roman Soldier relationship. Ephesians adds in preparaThe author of Ephesians employed the armaments tion (hetoimasia). Lincoln correctly and weaponry of a Roman soldier to convey to his or her readership the difficulty of being Christian in a nonargues that it connoted a Christian Christian society. Indeed, Nero did not blame the Christians soldier prepared to fight. He also rightly for the burning of Rome, nor were Christians martyred in sees the inherent inconsistency: It is the the Roman Arena because they were held in high esteem. appropriation of the gospel of peace that Such disregard for Christian life suggests that first-century Christianity was not held in high regard, and a Christian makes one ready for war.22 Indeed, witness left one open to ridicule at best. Christ embodies peace and makes it manifest in the Christian community (2:14-18). However, this same peace that brought down walls of enmity within the Christian community between Jewish and Gentile Christians has created new ones between Christians and the cosmic forces of evil (see vv. 10-13). [Roman Soldier] The shield of faith (see LXX Isa 59:17 and Wis 5:18) resonates with other passages throughout the HB that speak of God as a shield (e.g., Gen 15:1; Pss 5:12; 28:7). The shield in Ephesians, thyreos, was oblong and protected the entire body, as opposed to a smaller, round aspis. Soldiers with oblong shields were often fired upon by archers with flaming arrows. The shield, made of leathercovered wood, would then become David Lucas (20th C.) Roman soldiers in armor. Museum of London, London, Great Britain. (Credit: HIP/Art Resource, NY) inflamed and leave the soldier in a precarious position. If he dropped his shield, he might be attacked in another way. If he held on to his shield, he might incur fatal burns. Ephesians 6:16 tells its readers that the shield of faith can withstand even the flaming arrows of the Devil. This would have been a powerful promise within Greco-Roman culture.23 The helmet of salvation reminds us of Isaiah 59:17 again (see also Wis 5:18). In Isaiah 59:17, God wears the helmet of salvation. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, it provides a hope of salvation. Here it is salvation, protecting the head of the Christian warrior from attack. Like the other weapons Gods soldier also receives this equipment


Ephesians 6:10-24

from God.24 The helmets protection ensures salvation. While the helmet is a defensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit is primarily offensive. Here it is equated with the word of God. Divine speech often symbolized divine power and/or a means of judging evil in Judaism. For example, Hosea 6:5 reads, Therefore, I have slain them by the words of my mouth. A move toward hypostasis occurred in wisdom literature (e.g., Prov 1:20-22; Wis 18:15-19), apocalypticism (e.g., 1 En. 42; cf. Rev Onward, Christian Soldiers 19:13,15), and Hellenistic Jewish philosophy Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as (e.g., Philo, Fug. 50-51; cf. 1 Cor 1:18-25). to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Several commonalities exist among Wisdom Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; 18:15-19, Revelation 19:13, 15, and Ephesians forward into battle see his banners go! 6:17: (1) all three refer to the word of God; (2) all employ military motifs; (3) all use a sword as Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng, blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. a symbol; (4) all relate the efficacy of divine Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King, power. These things tell us that an exegetical trathis through countless ages men and angels sing. dition existed within second temple Judaism Sabine Baring-Gould (1865) where witnessing to and/or proclaiming the word of God was seen as a powerful weapon against evil. The Spirit plays a positive role in the life of the devout Christian (1:13; 2:18, 22; 3:5, 16; 4:3-4, 23, 30; 5:18; 6:18). [Onward, Christian Soldiers]
On Prayer, 6:18-20

The next three verses move from metaphor to direct exhortation (cf. Col 4:2-4). Verse 18 provides a transition from what precedes to what follows. The admonition to pray in the Spirit communicates to the reader that the warfare is a spiritual one in vv. 10-17.25 Prayer is the Christian way of coping with a time dominated by evil, and it invokes Gods presence and power to the struggle.26 MacDonald argues that Ephesians 6 encourages passive resistance since it calls for prayer. This can be the case; however, it is no longer passive resistance when a public witness will most assuredly lead to human suffering. Along with the admonition to prayer is one to be on the alert, to keep watch like a good soldier.27 Moreover, one must be fervently and continuously alert, not for the self but for the sake of other Christians. This type of concern for other Christians denotes a social context where Christians as a group are marginalized, at best, if not disenfranchised. It also reminds us of many passages that

Ephesians 6:10-24


affirm Christian unity and mutually self-giving love (e.g., 2:11-22; 3:14-17; 4:1-7; 5:1-5). Verse 19 implores readers to pray for Paul, as the preceding verse asks for prayer for all Christians, so that he might boldly proclaim the gospel.28 Asking for prayer engenders sympathy and support for Paul and his representatives as well as echoing authentic letters.29 Ephesians 6:19 adds in boldness to Colossians 4:3. In GrecoRoman culture, parrsia connoted speaking openly without reservations and without fear.30 Therefore, this passage also exhorts the original readers to witness with boldness, empowered by the Holy Spirit and by prayer (6:18). What then of the mystery? In the wider culture, mysterion referred to secret rites and/or teachings, usually associated with the mystery religions. In the Pauline tradition, it often connoted revealed knowledge that could not be perceived easily by humans (cf. Rom 11:25; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:9, 3:3-9; 5:32). The mystery here is the Christ event, its revelation of God, its ethical demands, and its new community of Jews and Gentiles. Verse 20 refers to Pauls imprisonment for his Christian ministry (cf. Acts 2728; Phil 1:12-26). He is an ambassador, Gods representative (cf. 2 Cor 5:20). He wants to speak boldly (parrsiasmai ) (v. 20b). This verse recapitulates v. 19.
Conclusion, 6:21-24

These four verses form the conclusion of the letter. Verses 21-22 refer to Tychicus, one of Pauls coworkers, and his particular mission; vv. 23-24 to final words of goodwill. Verses 21-22 These verses provide details of the Apostles condition while in captivity, details to be imparted by Tychicus (cf. Col 4:7-9; Phil 4:10-16; Phlm 22). Acts 20:4 states that Tychicus was an Asian. If Acts is correct, Tychicus might have been known by many Asian Christians. Second Timothy 4:12 says that Tychicus also brought that epistle to its recipients. However, 2 Timothy 4:12 might have been written after Ephesians. The person who brought the letter also responded to the recipient(s)s questions, provided additional details when necessary, and elucidated what was unclear. Talbert notes a similar role in Cicero, Epistulae ad familiares 11.20.4:


Ephesians 6:10-24

Please write me a reply to this letter at once, and send one of your own men with it, if there is anything somewhat confidential that you think it necessary for me to know.31 Personal details are common at the end of Pauls letters (e.g., Rom 16:1-24; 1 Cor 16:5-20; Phil 4:14-18; Phlm 23). However, there are no greetings to specific people in the congregation or from Pauls traveling companions in Ephesians. Similarly, there is no writing in the Apostles own hand. These details caution many not to attribute this writing to the Apostle Paul. Schnackenburg believes that since this is a letter meant for several congregations, the author intentionally leaves out greetings to people in a single congregation.32 Perhaps, but it could be an attempt by a pseudonymous author to mention an Asian Christian as the barrier of a letter to Asian Christians. One finds Tychicus mentioned in Acts 20:4; Colossians 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12. All these writings are questionable sources for information about Paul and his ministry. In all likelihood, Acts is the source for Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Timothy, and Titus concerning Tychicus. MacDonald writes that the reference to Tychicus adds support to the argument that originally the letter was intended for Ephesus because the Pastorals mention him as Pauls emissary to Ephesus.33 However, the pastoral epistles could be relying on Acts, Colossians, or Ephesians or any combination of them. Certainly, Ephesians is dependent on Colossians 4:7 and attempts here to solidify the letter as an Diakonos authentic epistle of Paul. [Diakonos] Diakonos originally referred to a servant, a waiter or a messenger; diakonia, to Diakonos (minister, servant) is not here an service or business. Thus, the early church origioffice but a role (in contrast to Rom 16:1). nally saw Christian ministry as a service for and to Ephesians 6:22 is identical to Colossians 4:8. others. Ephesians 6:8 is not a new sentence (cf. the NRSV) but is simply a new clause: whom (i.e., Tychicus) I sent to you for this purpose. This clause completes the thought of the previous verse concerning Tychicus. It also adds something. Tychicus is not only to bring them news of Paul but also to encourage them. It is unclear whether the news concerning Paul or Tychicuss ministry will boost their spirits. Verses 23-24 Verses 23-24 do not follow Colossians 4:10-17. Verse 23 a wish of peace and a benediction meant for both men and women. Peace and love are grounded in Gods act through Christ Jesus in

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Ephesians as in the case of 6:23 (e.g., 2:4, 14-17; 3:17, 19; 4:2-3, 15-16; 5:25-33). Coupled with the word of grace in v. 24, these words at the end of the letter parallel the same at the beginning (1:2, 4).34 The word of grace pronounces a blessing on all those who love Christ Jesus, a standard ending in Pauls letters (e.g., 1 Cor 16:23; Gal 6:18; 2 Thess 3:18; Phlm 25). The phrase at the end of the book, en aphtharsia, has presented translation and exegetical problems. Aphtharsia literally means incorruptibility, immortality, imperishability. We find it with this meaning in Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 50, 52-54. Some see a compressed version of a more complex idea and translate in his undying love. Others argue that the phrase should be translated in eternity, ending the letter with praise of the eternal. Others argue that it refers to the immortal life of Christians in communion with Christ.35 Still others see the blessing conferred on those who love Christ Jesus with an undying and/or pure love.36 Schnackenburg is among those who argue that the An Ending of a Letter phrase relates to the self-realizing power of grace. It I send greetings to the households of my brothers with their signifies the continuing effectiveness . . . of Gods 37 wives and children, and the virgins who are abundant grace which pours forth. The combinacalled widows. I bid farewell in the power tion of grace with immortality is an appropriate one, of the Father. Philo, who is with me, sends allowing for each notion to color the other.38 I greetings to you. I send greetings to the household of Gavia, and I pray that she concur. Throughout the book, virtues are coupled in may be grounded in faith and love both of a similar fashion. flesh and of spirit. I send greetings to Alke, The best witnesses do not include an Amen at the a name very dear to me, and Daphnus the end of the book. It has probably been added by some incomparable, and Eutecnus, and all by name. Fare well in the grace of God. well-meaning scribe in order to make it consistent Ign. Smyrn. 13. with the end of the first half of the book (see 3:21).
[An Ending of a Letter]


Ephesians 6:10-24 exhorts Christians to remain vigilant in a nonChristian world. The use of military imagery indicates such would not be an easy task for Christians and that at the very least it would open Christians up to harassment, if not worse. The Christian munitions are truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation,


Ephesians 6:10-24

the word of God (6:14-17). The sword, helmet, shield, etc. are simply metaphors. This passage is clearly metaphorical because the sword of the Spirit finds its expression in the word of God. The passage calls for an unwavering witness regardless of the circumstances and/or the consequences. MacDonald argues that this is passive resistance since it calls for prayer. This is excellent intellectual analysis, but it underestimates the power of prayer. The freedom movements led by Gandhi in India, King in the United States, and Tutu in South Africa in the last century were passive but powerful. This resistance required tremendous inner resolve (cf. 3:16) and led to tremendous social changes and the eventual empowerment of those previously disenfranchised. Putting on the whole armor of God prepares one for a spiritual war. Prayer is the means of sustaining strength throughout the conflict. It is not simply what one does. It is the power that enables one to remain faithful. In other words, in Ephesians prayer is the means of obtaining divine power (cf. 6:10), a way of connecting with the supernatural Resource. Divine power enables the faithful to stand firmly against evil. Thus, this passage is not a warrant for any type of war theory. The language here is metaphorical. It was meant for marginalized people who had no resources or means to defend themselves, people who found themselves on the fringe of society. Its intent was a call not to military action but to steadfastness in a society that distrusted new religions. It is more about faithfulness to God at all costs than about power at any costs. Christians outside the Americas might find this teaching applicable. Some authoritarian governments put pressure on Christians because they want no competition for allegiance. Such governments have replaced God for their citizens and will not tolerate any competitors. In some countries, Christianity is a minority movement and, like most minorities in human societies, suffers for it. Christians are regularly harassed and ridiculed for their faith/commitment. In still other settings, the overall society is so secular that anyone who has any religious commitment is open to ridicule and harassment. In such cases as these, social censure can become so intense that even the most faithful might seek ways to alleviate the pain and to attain a greater degree of social acceptance. Many contemporary American Christians cannot relate to this imagery because being Christian is not a social liability. More often

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than not, it is a social advantage. In the early half of the twentieth century, Catholics whose businesses transferred them to the South often became Episcopalians because the Ku Klux Klan would not harass Protestants. Often people in Pentecostal traditions became Baptists, Methodists, or Presbyterians when they became upwardly mobile socially and/or economically. The option was not whether or not to join a church but which one to join. Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, or Baptist congregations have traditionally been seen as pillars of the community. Thus, some have joined them to ensconce themselves in society. Others have gone from a small rural congregation to suburban congregations; from a struggling inner city congregation to a mega-church in the suburbs for similar reasons. For these and other social reasons, modern American Christianity is a different playing field than firstcentury Roman society. However, there is a point of contact between the early Christian community and modern American Christianity: acting out of ones convictions regardless of the consequences. Modern American life is full of opportunities for faithful Christian witnesses: protests against companies whose businesses harm human life; identifying laws that prevent justice and righteousness; renouncing public figures who betray the public trust. All these things make people unpopular. Living in a Christian society, many Christians avoid unpopular causes and risking unpopularity. Christianity does not call us to be popular or successful. It calls us to be faithful. Christianity calls its adherents to be uncomfortable with the way things are and to help make them the way they should be, remembering that we are all ambassadors for Christ (see Eph 6:20).

The greetings at the end of Ephesians reminded me of an experience I had during my internship. Part of my internship at St. James-Myrtle UMC/UTEP Wesley Foundation was to canvas the Loma Terrace barrio in El Paso and ascertain the needs of the community. For weeks, I visited the homes in the barrio, going door to door and learning enough Spanish to tell them what I was doing. After about six weeks, the pastor decided that the members should join me in this task. It was the first time I had done this with a companion. It was so much easier emotionally. I realized why Jesus


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Companionship Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed 70 others and sent them on ahead of him; two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.

sent his disciples out by two and why Paul always had traveling companions. [Companionship] Too many ministers are lone wolves. They cannot work with others because they fear being wrong or that someone else might have a better idea that would mean theirs would not be used. 1 Corinthians 1:1 Fear and insecurity are the opposite of faithfulPaul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of ness. Ministry is not ideally a lone wolf task. It is God, and Timothy our brother. strengthened by the companionship of good Christian friends. The ministry is not all about one. It is all about the One. It is also all about God and Gods plan for humankind. What is best for the common good is the goal and not what makes one feel good. There are too many Christians, both clergy and lay, who never know this. They have issues with staff in every congregation. They have problems with lay leaders in every church. It is time they learned that the ministry is not about them but about God. There are too many laypeople who do not know this. Every pastor is incompetent and/or immoral. No project can continue without their final approval. It is their way or no way. Pastors in some Methodist circles often jokingly ask one another, Who is the pastor at your church? They do not mean that someone else has been appointed co-pastor and the two are competitors. Rather, they mean the layperson in the congregation who must approve everything or he/she will make the pastors life miserable. This self-affirmation is not Christian and ultimately destroys community.
Final Thoughts

Our commentary ends here. The book of Ephesians divides into two major parts. Ephesians 13 constitutes the first part; Ephesians 46 is the second. Ephesians 1 identifies the divine benefactions that the Church has received through the Christ event. God has graciously bestowed these gifts on Christians in order that they might live holy, pure lives. The author expects a positive response to these divine gifts. Ephesians 2 describes Christians as a new ethnic group composed of Jews and Gentiles, two groups formerly at odds with one another. Old prejudices have been erased. Both groups stand equally before God as heirs to salvation.

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While Ephesians 1 describes divine benefactions, Ephesians 3 details the human benefactions for the original recipients through the ministry of Paul. The writer of Ephesians expects this discussion to be sufficient to obtain a positive response grounded in love from the original listeners/readers. The first half emphasizes ethnic (i.e., Christian) unity. Ephesians 46 constitutes the second part of the book. These chapters emphasize organizational unity based on good, loving personal interaction. Ephesians 4:15:2 admonishes Christian unity as the basic form of sustaining and maintaining Christian community. The community, grounded in love, must seek edification that strengthens it. Within this section of Ephesians, 4:3 echoes 2:11, one of many ways in which the two halves are interrelated. Ephesians 5:3-21 reminds the community of the perils of returning to their former lifestyle and also the blessings of maintaining their present devotion to Christianity. Ephesians 4:175:21 contains additional vices to avoid and virtues to nurture. Ephesians 5:216:9 presents traditional Greco-Roman personal relationships with small Christian emendations. These teachings are not revelations. They would not be different from many enlightened, progressive Greco-Roman writers who were not Christian. The main Christian emendation is to perform them out of reverence to Christ and for husbands to be prepared to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their wives. Moreover, the exhortations in these teachings do not give men carte blanche to treat wives, children, and employees however they might. Rather, these teachings espouse loving, protective roles by men and not exploitation. Ephesians 6:10-24 compares the Christian lifestyle to warfare in order to convey the difficulty of being Christian in Greco-Roman society. It is not a command to take up arms. It is a metaphorical way of expressing the difficulty of maintaining Christian fidelity in a non-Christian world. This perspective owes much to second temple Judaism where being Jewish in a Gentile world opened one up to ridicule and harassment and even worse at times.

1. Cf. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990) 43244; Margaret Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008) 34850.


Ephesians 6:10-24
2. E. Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 314. 3. Pheme Perkins, Ephesians (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 141. 4. In actuality, the Greeks Best cites are the Romans Epictetus and Seneca (Best, Ephesians, 314). 5. See, for example, F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1973); A. Y. Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (HDR 9; Missoula MT: Scholars, 1976). 6. E.g., C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Oxford: University Press, 1951) 220; Lincoln, Ephesians, 442. 7. Lincoln, Ephesians, 443. Elsewhere I have shown how many NT writings reflect an atmosphere where Christians were under duress, or worse (Christ and Community [JSNTSup 178; Sheffield UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999] 1822). 8. Mitton, Ephesians, 22021. 9. Cf. Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 5:5; 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thess 2:18; 2 Thess 2:9. 10. Best, Ephesians, 317. 11. Lincoln, Ephesians, 443. 12. Ibid. 13. Perkins believes Ephesians has coined these phrases (Ephesians, 145). 14. MacDonald, Ephesians, 344. 15. Best, Ephesians, 318. 16. E.g., Lincoln, Ephesians, 44445; Best, Ephesians, 318. 17. Cf. Best, Ephesians, 318; Lincoln, Ephesians, 44445; Perkins, Ephesians, 14445. 18. BAGD 382. 19. Perkins, Ephesians, 14243. 20. Lincoln, Ephesians, 44748. 21. Cf. Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001) 27677. 22. Lincoln, Ephesians, 449. 23. Cf. Mitton, Ephesians, 226; Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 27879; MacDonald, Ephesians, 346; Perkins, Ephesians, 14647; J. Muddiman, The Epistle to the Ephesians (BNTC; New York: Hendrickson, 2001) 292. 24. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 279. 25. Examples include Luke 18:1; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; Rom 12:12; 1 Thess 5:17. 26. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 281; cf. MacDonald, Ephesians, 34647. 27. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 282. 28. Cf. Rom 15:30; 2 Cor 3:12; 7:4; Col 4:3. 29. Cf. Lincoln, Ephesians, 455. See also 2 Cor 1:9-11; 1 Thess 5:25; 2 Thess 3:1. 30. Cf. BAGD 63031. 31. See C. H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians (Paideia; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007) 17172.

Ephesians 6:10-24
32. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 288. 33. MacDonald, Ephesians, 351. 34. In NA27, one finds agap in 1:4. 35. E.g., MacDonald, Ephesians, 35254. 36. E.g., J. L. Houlden, Pauls Letters from Prison (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970) 341. 37. Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 291. 38. Lincoln, Ephesians, 468.


Aune, D. E. Harpers Bible Commentary. J. L. Mays, general editor. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988. Barth, M. Die Einheit des Galater-und Epheserbriefs. TZ 32 (1976): 7891. . Ephesians. 2 volumes. New York: Doubleday, 1974. Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Second edition. Revised and argued by F. W. Gingrich and F. Danker. Chicago and London: University of Chicago, 1979. Becker, A. H., and A. Y. Reed, editors. The Ways That Never Parted. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003. Bettenson, Henry. The Early Christian Fathers. London: OUP, 1956. , editor and translator. The Later Christian Fathers. London, Oxford/Toronto: OUP, 1970. Best, E. Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary. London & New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003. Blass, F., and A. Debrunner, editors. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Revised and translated by R. W. Funk. Chicago and London: University of Chicago, 1961. Bratcher, R. G., and E. A. Nida. A Handbook on Pauls Letter to the Ephesians. New York: UBS, 1982. Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. NICNT. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1984. Caird, G. B. Pauls Letters from Prison. Oxford: OUP, 1976. Carver, W. O. The Glory of God in the Christian Calling: A Study of the Ephesian Epistle. Nashville: Broadman, 1949. Chadwick, H. Die Absicht des Epheserbriefs. ZNW 51 (1960): 14853. Charles, R. H., editor. Aprocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. 2 volumes. London: OUP, 1913. Charlesworth, J. H., editor.The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 volumes. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983, 1985. Collins, A. Y. The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation. HDR 9. Missoula MT: Scholars, 1976. Cross, F. M. Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1973. Culpepper, R. A. Ethical Dualism and Church Discipline: Ephesians 4:255:20. RevExp 76 (1979): 52939. Dahl, N. A. Adresse und Proeomium des Epherserbriefs. TZ 7 (1951): 24164. . Dopet I Efesierbrief. STK 21 (1945): 85103. Danker, F. W., editor. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Third edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Davies, L. I Wrote Before in a Few Words. Ephesians 3:3. ExpT 46 (19341935): 568.


Dunn, J. D. G. Jesus and the Spirit. London: SCM, 1975. Dunn, James. The Parting of the Ways: Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity. Second edition. London: SCM, 2006. Furnish, V. P. 2 Corinthians. New York: Doubleday, 1984. Goodspeed, E. J. The Formation of the New Testament. Chicago: University Press, 1933. . The Key to Ephesians. Chicago: University Press, 1956. . The Meaning of Ephesians. Chicago: University Press, 1933. . The Place of Ephesians in the First Pauline Collection. Anglican Theological Review 12 (1930): 189212 Halter, H. Taufe und Ethos. Freiburg: Herde, 1977. Heller, A. Toward a Sociology of Knowledge of Everyday Life. Cultural Hermeneutics 3 (1975): 10. Hengel, M. Between Jesus and Paul. London: SCM, 1983. Hoehner, H. W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids MI: Baker, 2002. Houlder, J. L. Pauls Letters from Prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970. Howard, G. E. The Faith of Christ. ExpT 85 (19731974): 21215. Jay, E. G. New Testament Greek: An Introductory Grammar. London: SPCK, 1958. Kirby, J. C. Ephesians, Baptism and Pentecost. London: SPCK, 1968. Knox, J. Philemon among the Letters of Paul. Second edition. London: Collins, 1959. Kuhn, K. G. The Epistle to the Ephesians in the Light of the Qumran Texts. In Paul and Qumran, edited by J. Murphy-OConner, 11531. Chicago: Priority, 1968. Lake, Kirsopp. The Apostolic Fathers. Volume 1, edited by G. P. Goold. Great Britian: St. Edmundsbury Press, 1998. . The Apostolic Fathers. Volume 2, edited by G. P. Goold. Great Britian: St. Edmundsbury Press, 1998. Lakey, Othal H. Mama, Will I Have to Shine Shoes the Rest of My Life? A Few Sermons out of the Black Experience. Memphis: CME Publishing House, 2006. Liddell, H. G., and R. Scott, editors. A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and argued by H. S. Jones, general editor. Oxford UK: Clarendon Press, 1996. Lightfoot, J. B., and J. R. Harmer, editors. The Apostolic Fathers. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1984. Lincoln, A. T. Ephesians. WBC 42. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990. , and A. J. M. Wedderburn. The Theology of the Later Pauline Letters. NTT. Cambridge UK: CUP, 1993. MacDonald, Margaret Y. Colossians and Ephesians. Sacra Pagina. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2008. Machen, J. G. New Testament Greek for Beginners. Toronto: Macmillian, 1923. Martin, C. J. The Haustafeln (household codes) in African American Biblical Interpretation: Free Slaves and Subordinate Women. In Stony the Road We Trod, edited by C. H. Felder, 20631. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.

Martin, R. P. Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon: Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox, 1991. . 2 Corinthians. Waco TX: Word, 1986. McMahan, C. The Wall Is Gone. RevExp 93 (1996): 262. Melbourne, B. L. Ephesians 2:13-16: Are the Barriers Still Broken Down? Journal of Religious Thought 57/58 (2005): 10719. Metzger, B. M., general editor. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Stuttgart: UBS, 1971. Mitton, C. L. The Epistle to the Ephesians. Oxford: University Press, 1951. Muddiman, J. The Epistle to the Ephesians. BNTC. New York: Hendrickson, 2001. Perkins, Pheme. Ephesians. ANTC. Nashville: Abingdon, 1997. Sanders, E. P. Paul, the Law and the Jewish People. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. Schlier, H. Christus und die kirche in Epheserbrief. Tuebingen: Mohr, 1930. Schnackenburg, Rudolf. The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Commentary. ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2001. Slater, T. B. Paul in Acts. Bible Bhashyam 19 (1993): 1946. . Translating hagios in Col 1:2 and Ephesians 1:1. Biblica 87 (2006): 5254. Smith, Mitzi J. Ephesians. In True to Our Native Land, edited by Brian Blount, 34862. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007. Sparks, H. F. D., editor. The Aprocryphal Old Testament. New York: OUP, 1984. Stanton, G. N. The Gospels and Jesus. Second edition. Oxford UK: OUP, 2002. Talbert, C. H. Ephesians and Colossians. Paideia. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007. Vielhauer, P. On the Paulinism of Acts. In Studies in Luke-Acts, edited by L. E. Keck and J. L. Martyn, 3350. Nashville: Abingdon, 1966. Watson, D. F. Catholic Letters. In D. N. Freedman, edited by Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2000. Wesley, J. The Scripture Way to Salvation. In John Wesleys Sermons: An Anthology, edited by Albert C. Outer and Richard P. Heitzenrater, 37180. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991. Witherington, B. III. The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical commentary on the Captivity Epistles. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2007.


index of modern authors

Barth, M. 6, 31, 55, 73, 83, 187 Best, E. 1617, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33, 41, 43, 46, 48, 50, 55, 56, 57, 62, 67, 73, 82, 83, 84, 95, 102, 103, 114, 115, 126, 127, 131, 133, 134, 13638, 140, 147, 148, 14951, 154, 15758, 161, 168, 169, 171, 173, 184, 185, 187 Bruce, F. F. 6, 11, 15, 31, 32, 42, 55, 56, 68, 83, 88, 102, 119, 125, 127, 187

Lakey, Othal H. 100, 103, 188 Lincoln, A. T. 7, 1718, 26, 2829, 3133, 43, 4648, 5557, 6768, 75, 8384, 102, 10810, 112, 11417, 12526, 130, 13239, 141, 14648, 15657, 16869, 17273, 175, 18385, 188

MacDonald, M. Y. 41, 48, 5657, 7778, 8284, 9192, 95, 101103, 107, 11112, 12526, 140, 14648, 155, 157, 159, 16869, 173, 176, 178, 180, 18385, 188 Martin R. P. 83, 147, 189 Martin, C. J. 168, 188 Melbourne, B. L. 6870, 80, 83, 189 Metzger, B. M. 90, 102, 169, 189 Mitton, C. L. 1112, 31, 48, 50, 55, 56, 57, 64, 82, 83, 84, 101, 109, 117, 125, 126, 127, 13637, 147, 148, 160, 169, 184, 189 Moule, C. F. D. 8 Muddiman, J. 78, 12, 15, 31, 32, 56, 57, 62, 82, 93, 94, 96, 102, 103, 111, 119, 125, 127, 148, 168, 184, 189

Caird, G. B. 83, 187 Chadwick, H. 1415, 32, 187 Charles, R. H. 55, 187 Culpepper, R. A. 12, 57, 83, 129, 134, 136, 146, 147, 187

Dahl, N. A. 1415, 32, 187 Dunn, J. D. G 148, 188

Furnish, V. P. 147, 188

Goodspeed, E. J. 1112, 14, 17, 31, 101, 188

Perkins, Pheme 4243, 56, 83, 85, 90, 92, 93, 101, 102, 103, 105106, 111, 125, 136, 147, 168, 171, 174, 184, 189

Hoehner, H. W. 86, 88, 101, 102, 126, 188 Howard, G. E. 91, 102, 188

Sanders, E. P. 65, 83, 189 Schlier, H. 70, 83, 189 Schnackenburg, R. 4849, 5657, 59, 62, 76, 8284, 9495, 102103, 108, 120, 12527, 133, 14748, 157, 16869, 17879, 18485, 189

Kuhn, K. G. 129, 146, 188 Kirby, J. C. 32, 57, 188 Knox, John 1112, 31, 188


Index of Modern Authors

Smith, M. J. 19, 33, 69, 82, 83, 168, 189 Stanton, G. N. viii, 2, 32, 147, 189

Talbert, C. H. 31, 32, 56, 57, 83, 84, 88, 89, 9293, 94, 95, 97, 101, 102, 103, 14951, 164, 168, 177, 184, 189

Vielhauer, P. 13, 31, 189

Witherington III, B. 8, 31, 49, 57, 75, 82, 84, 8688, 9293, 97, 101103, 126, 14748, 16869, 189

index of scriptures

GENESIS 2:24 5:22 15 15:1 17:9-14 EXODUS 14:1-15 18:10 19:5-6 20 20:12 20:17 31:3 31:16-17 LEVITICUS 20:24-26 NUMBERS 6:14 6:24-26 44, 158 73 70 172 41 27 68 160 131 141, 142 70 159 136 68 175 70

2 SAMUEL 7 12:7 1 KINGS 8:41 22:24 68 26 68 123

68:19 74:13-14 80:1-3 104:30 117:22 118:22 139:8-10 143:9-11

111 172 138 141, 142 75 75 94 141

63:1-6 63:10 JEREMIAH 5:15 11:15 31:32 51:57 EZEKIEL

172 119, 120

68 44 27 138

1 CHRONICLES 16:36 29:10 97 41 PROVERBS 1:20-22 1:23 2 CHRONICLES 31:20 NEHEMIAH 8:6 JOB 11:7-9 14:12 41 PSALMS 94 138 172 97 135 3:34 23:31-35 ISAIAH 3:1-15 5:26 5:30 9:2 11:5 35 44:2 48:3-6 118 175 49 62 158 155 155 175 120 110, 137 49:2 42:6 52:7 52:8 57:18-19 57:19 59:17 60:1 61:1-4 4:4 5:12 8:6 11:4 14:2 24:5 26:9 28:7 172 68 134 134 174 172 44 45 174 134 72, 174 174 68 68, 72 174, 175 137 141 ZECHARIAH 8:16 11:1-6 118 172 HAGGAI 1:5-11 172 MICAH 6:8 7:7 135 155 HOSEA 2:2-3 6:5 27 176 176 120 106 141 9:4-6 9:4 16:8-14 48:16-17 DANIEL 12:2 138 120 47 27 94

DEUTERONOMY 5:16 6:4 28:49 32:15 33:2 1 SAMUEL 15:2 19:20-24 172 141 160 108 68 44 138

51:11 68:18

WISDOM OF SOLOMON 4:10 5:17-20 5:18 5:19 5:20 7:25-26 14:12-13 14:12 14:22-31 14:26 18:15-19 SIRACH 14:18 44:16 173 136 136 174 174, 175 174 174 91 132 131 115 116 176

Index of Scriptures
1:40 4:11 9:7 10:35-45 11:25 12:1-11 12:6 12:10 LUKE 1:47 2:11 2:32 4:18 7:1 8:10 10:1 10:17-20 10:18 16:8 16:19-25 20:9-18 22:41 50 157 26 44 135 60 141 89 50 173 111 92 100 77 75 106 68 JOHN 1:1-18 1:3 1:4-5, 7-9 3:1-7 3:29 5:36-38 8:12 8:32 10:30 12:31 1416 20:28 ACTS 2:4 2:17 2:29 44 50 4:11 7:2 9:1-7 141, 142 47 91 75 48 87 112 65 138 116 50 112 138 30 24 60 142 108 156 156 138 138 50 89 182 60, 61 111 60 61 77 92 ROMANS 13 1:1-6 1:1 1:3 1:7 1:8-15 1:8 1:163:31 1:17 1:183:20 1:25 2:7 2:20 3 3:9-20 3:12 3:21-26 3:24 3:25 4:25 5:2 5:3 5:11 5:12 11:20 6:1-14 6:1-11 6:4 67 41 38, 112 159 40, 41 12 48 159 53 60 97 179 106 6 60 44 61 64 44 60 73, 174 92 6 60 174 65 61, 116 61 1 CORINTHIANS 1:1 1:2 1:4 1:18-25 38, 182 40, 41 48 91, 176 92 45, 89 44 139 92 77 44 75 10 1428 14:8-13 14:11 18:19-21 19:1-20 19:23-41 19:27 20:4 20:17-38 20:18-35 20:36 2128 22:16 2728 66 12 112 112 39 39 63 51 177, 178 39 12 92 139 157 177 6:13 6:23 8:9-11 8:9 8:11 8:16 8:18-23 9:25 10:9 10:15 11:13 11:14 11:25-26 11:25 11:36 12 12:2 12:3 12:5-8 12:5 12:21 13:1-5 13:3 13:8-10 13:11-14 13:11 13:12-14 13:12-13 13:14 14:17 15:14 16:1-24 16:1 16:7 16:7, 17 16:21 16:25-27 16:25-26 16:25 172 60 94 142, 159 141 108 43 44 108 174, 175 6, 112 62 6 89, 177 96, 109 114 117, 136 109 112 26 65 154 65 107 134 138 117 141 172 132 135 178 112, 178 38 112 22 87, 96 45 89

1 MACCABEES 1:60-63 1:62-63a MATTHEW 1:22 3:6 3:16 4:1-11 7:16-20; 12:33 8:22 12:18 13:11 13:48 16:17 17:1-8 17:14 19:21-22 21:33-46 21:42 22:16 27:57 MARK 1:11 1:15 70 71

Index of Scriptures
1:18 1:26 1:29 2:1-5 2:3 2:7 2:8 3 3:8-15 3:10-14 3:10-11 3:16 4:1 4:5 4:16 4:20 5 5:4 5:5 6:9-10 6:11 6:12-20 6:19-20 7 7:25-40 8:6 9:1-2 9:17 10:12 11:30 1213 12 12:1-11 12:1-5 12:4-11 12:12-31 12:12 12:13 12:28 13:2 13:13 14:1-19, 26-40 14:2 62 159 64 87 162 89, 177 48 76 65 7576 77 77 48, 86, 89 138 120 132 130 142 62 131, 132 157 130 77 159 130 108, 109 112 87 174 138 53 109, 114 142 90 112 27 26 108 113 89 107 142 89 2 CORINTHIANS 1:1 1:1b 1:3 1:8 1:15 1:17 1:24 2:11 2:15 3:10 4:2 4:4-6 4:6 4:17 5:10 5:16-17 5:14-17 5:17 5:20 6:7 6:147:1 7:4 7:15 8:9 9:8 38, 40 41 41 92 91 159 174 119 62 65 46 138 134 92 65 116 27 42, 65 177 46, 172 13334 91, 92 162 68 65 1:3-4 1:7 1:9-10 1:11 1:12-26 1:27-28; 4:1 PHILIPPIANS 1:1 40, 41, 112 48 106 136 43 177 174 5:22-23 5:22 6:18 14:16-32 14:33 15 15:2 15:9 15:24-28 15:24 15:28 15:32 15:42, 50, 52-54 15:45b 15:50 15:51 16:5-20 16:8-9 16:13 16:23 150 28 90 62 90 132 132 109 39 179 94 173 89, 138 178 39 174 179 GALATIANS 12 1:1 1:1, 11-12 1:2 1:11-17 1:11-16 1:15-17 2:1-10 2:5, 14 2:11-14 3:3 3:11 3:14 3:27 3:28 4 4:4-7 4:6 5:1 5:5-6 5:6 5:13-15 5:14 5:16 5:19-21 16 38 38 40 87 6 6 9, 38 46 86 159 53 47 172 81 67 43 94, 109 174 43 65 154 107 134 131, 132, 159 135 135 179 COLOSSIANS 1:2 1:3 1:5 1:7, 18 1:9 1:10 1:11 1:12 1:13-14 1:13 1:14 1:16 1:18-19 1:18 1:19 1:23-29 1:23, 25 1:24 1:25-27 1:25 1:26-27 1:26 1:27 1:28 2:1 2:2-3 40 41 46 90 48 11:2 11:15 12:12 12:21 27 65 112 130 2:3-4 2:7-8 2:9-11 2:10 2:12-14 2:12-13 2:12 2:15 3:4 3:17 3:20 4:10-16 4:14-18 4:18 4:20 154 112 108 142 65 43 162


42, 134 91 120 156 177 178 136 96

106, 135 171 46, 139 44 44, 132 6 49 50 26 50, 95 85, 92 89 26, 92 88 6, 86, 87 45, 87, 89 6 45 113 39 113

2:2 2:4, 7 2:6-7 2:9 2:11-13 2:12-13 2:13 2:12 2:15 2:19 3:16 3 3:14:1 3:1-3 3:1, 3 3:2-14 3:5-10 3:8-10 3:10-11 3:10 3:11-13 3:11 3:12 3:14-15 3:15 3:16-17 3:16 3:184:1 3:18 3:20-21 3:20 3:22 3:224:1 4:2-4 4:3 4:7-9 4:7-8 4:5 4:7 45, 87, 88, 89 90 116 50, 95 61 60, 62, 63 6 63 173 6, 26, 114 90 73 6 62 63 106 115, 117 116 67 117, 172 18 59 106 107 108 141 139 1819, 153, 163 154 161 136 162 162 176 45, 88, 89, 177 177 6, 178 129, 139, 140 178

Index of Scriptures
4:8 4:11 4:12 4:13, 15-16 5:15-20 178 132 174 39 123 HEBREWS 1:8 2:14 3:1-6 3:6 10:22 1 THESSALONIANS 1:1 1:4 1:6 2:12 5:6-8 5:6-7 5:8 5:21 40 44 120 106, 132 141 138 172, 174, 175 136 1 PETER 1:3-5 1:18-19 1:19 1:23 2 THESSALONIANS 1:5 1:11 2:7 2:13 2:15 3:7, 9 3:18 1 TIMOTHY 3:6-7 3:9, 16 2 TIMOTHY 2 Tim 2:3-5 2:26 4:1, 18 4:12 TITUS 3:5 3:12 PHILEMON 16 22 23 25 159 177 178 179 116 178 172 119, 173 132 177, 178 1 JOHN 1:5-10 1:5 1:6, 7 2:28 4:1-6 JUDE 24-25 24 25 96 158 156 139 134 134 91 134 173 89 2 PETER 3:3 3:14 140 158 132 135 89 44 174 120 179 2:1-2 2:2-6 2:7 2:183:17 35 3:22 4:1 4:6 5:5 5:8-9 5:11 17 16 158 116 117 15 75 16 15 16 172 142 106 16 96 13:6-8 13:8 14:5 17:1-14 17:5, 7 17:8 19:1-10 19:6-9 19:10 19:13-21 19:13 19:13, 15 19:14 21:16 22:4 22:18 JAMES 1:10-11 4:6 61 106 12:28 132 173 111 91 157 132 REVELATION 1:3 1:6 1:9-11; 2:7 1:20 23 2:20-23 3:1 3:12 3:21 7:2-8 7:3 7:4 7:9 9:4 10:7 12:7-12 113 73 142 89 89 131 60 47, 121 62, 79 47 121 47 80 47 89 60, 61, 111 22 15, 23 158 45 89 15, 23 27 27 141 26 24, 27 176 172 94 121 113

3:5-8, 16-17 129

index of sidebars and Illustrations

Text Sidebars
1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:3-4, 7-8a Acceptance Soldiers in the Army Alethia Ambrose on Human Sin Ancient Ephesus Anti-Semitism in Antiquity Apocalypse Apostle Paul, The Apostolos Arise, Shine Out, Your Light Has Come Attempts at Purity Beloved Benefactions Bridge Bultmann on Jesus and Paul Capstone/Keystone Catholic (General) Epistles Christ in Community Christ Is All Christ loves the Church Christian Conquering Christian Unity Churchs One Foundation, The Cicero, On Marriage I Cicero, On Marriage II Cicero, On the Duties Come, Ye Thankful People, Come 17 140 173 106 143 63 67 89 92 38 139 49 46 29 123 132 76 11 24 97 43 79 81 28 150 152 163 47

Communal Unity Companionship Contemporary Form of Predestination, A Cornerstone Cyril on Free Will Darkening of the Mind Descending-Ascending Redeemer Description of Gentiles, A Determinism Diakonos Dikaios Divine Affirmative Action Divine Architecture

26 182 52 77 144 116 112 116 22 178 118 80 77

Good News, The Greek Dative Case, The Greetings Help Us Accept Each Other Holiness Holy Spirit Holy Spirit, Come, Confirm Us Holy Spirit, The I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord I Surrender All Ignatius to the Ephesians Inner Person, The John 8:32 John Wesley on Ephesians 2:8 Josephus, Against Apion Kingdom-language in the Pauline Tradition Kosher Light and Darkness List of Virtues, A Love Love Lifted Me Lycus River Valley Many Gifts, One Spirit Mastering Time Men at the Wailing Wall Mind Misguided Faith Monotheism More on Gentiles More on the Spirit

100 44 38 73 157 142 141 26 172 117 54 93 30 65 158 132 71 136 135 115 94 89 86 99 69 90 91 20 131 142

Jesus, the Light of the World 134

Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee 96 Divine Inspiration Ending of a Letter, An Examples of Thanksgiving in Paul Exodus 19:5-6 Fall of Satan Fictive Family First-century CE Roman Empire Foundation Stones Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation Fullness Galatians 1:15-17; Ephesians 3:3, 6-10 God as Enthroned King Gods Sovereignty and Human Freedom 53 179 48 27 61 62 5 75 74 50 6 24 66

Breathe on Me, Breath of God 41

Golden Wedding Anniversary 155

Mysteries, The

Index of Sidebars and Illustrations

88 89 78 130 25 153 60 132 120 113 105 108 176 165 121 93 20 160 162 68 156 69 39 111 19 63 139 10 175 28 47 109 138 42 106 38 51 70 41 110 115 Wealth Wisdom 5:17-20 Word of God, The World Council of Churches (WCC) 45 174 27 107 Temple of Artemis (Balage Balogh) Temple of Artemis

Mystery in the New Testament In Christ There Is No East or West O Church of God, United On Bigotry On Holidays and Marriage On Human Sin On Sex and Idolatry On the Spirit On True Prophets One in Christ Oneness Onward, Christian Soldiers Origen, On Marriage Other New Testament Seals Patros Pauline Letters Philo, Hypothetica Philo, Special Laws Plousios Plutarch, Advice Purity Quest for the Original Wording, The Rabbinical Interpretation, A Religious Apologetics Resurrection Imagery Resurrection Roman Province of Asia, The Roman Soldier Roots of Catholicism Sealed Segregated Sabbaths Sleeping Metaphors Lift Every Voice and Sing Stoic Virtues Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Temple of Artemis Temple Wall, The To the saints Unity vs. Uniformity Virtue-Vice Lists

When Growth Is Not Growth 119

38 51

O God Who Shaped Creation 24

Illustration Sidebars
Ancient Ephesus Apostle Paul on St. Isaacs Cathedral, statue Ascension of Christ, The (Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, oil on canvas) Cappadocia and Galatia, map Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, and Syria, map 63 92

111 21 16

Eugene and Amanda Bowie on their fiftieth wedding anniversary 155 Fall of Satan (James Barry, etching with engraving and aquatint) First-century CE Roman Empire, map Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, The Holy Spirit, The (Corrado Giaquinto, oil on canvas) Keystone with Saint Peter (St. Pierre) (sculpture)

61 5 139 26 76

Return of the Prodigal Son, The 161

King (Lombardy or the Veneto) (limestone) 24 Lycus River Valley, map Men at the Wailing Wall Navajo bridge 89 69 123

Return from Egypt, The (James S. Baillie, lithograph) 142 Return of the Prodigal Son, The (Pompeo Batoni, oil on canvas) 161 Roman Province of Asia, The, map Roman soldiers in armor (David Lucas) Saint Paul Entering Heaven (Hans Suess von Kulmbach Uffizi) 10 175


index of topics

Altheia 29, 46, 106 Ammos 42, 158 AntiSemitism 67 Apocalypse 10, 6970, 89, 113 Apostolos 38, 77

En Christ 38, 40, 4243 Exhortation 16, 29, 35, 49, 85, 105, 107, 118, 131, 15355, 157, 160, 162, 167, 171, 176

Keystone 7576 Kingdom-language 132

Love 25, 2830, 41, 4347, 5455, 61, 64, 73, 7879, 86, 9395, 99100, 106107, 11415, 117, 12024, 130, 135, 144, 146, 152, 15458, 160, 16465, 167, 17779, 183 Lycus River Valley 10, 89

Fictive family 62 Fornication 130, 132, 14344

Beloved 29, 41, 4346, 120 Benefaction(s) 2324, 29, 41, 43, 50, 79, 87, 93, 95, 129, 164, 18283 Blameless 17, 42, 44, 52, 158

Goodness 64, 91, 135, 140, 146

Hagios 29, 40, 42, 47, 56, 189 Holiness 2830, 33, 40, 47, 50, 54, 74, 114, 117, 135, 144, 15758, 174 Holy ones 41, 4748, 7475, 90, 113, 117 Household code(s) v, 11, 1516, 18, 20, 22, 3233, 35, 84, 86, 107, 110, 120, 129, 142, 14954, 156, 16265, 16768, 188 Household rules v, 6, 14, 1820, 25, 2830, 32, 8687 Hypotass 151, 154, 160

Mystery v, xvii, 6, 2223, 35, 37, 45, 54, 85, 8790, 9798, 138, 141, 15960, 177

Capstone 7577 Captivity epistles 8, 31, 82, 101, 126, 147, 168, 189 Church Universal 10, 17, 22, 24, 26, 49, 51, 93, 12122 Cornerstone 7378, 84 Covenant 18, 27, 6869, 71, 7475, 106 Crucifixion 71, 74, 99, 111, 156

Nous 88, 90

Parrsia 91, 177 Patros 93 Pesher 111 Plousios 45, 61, 68 Plrma 95 Porneia 130 Predestination 15, 23, 4243, 46, 5152, 6566 Purity 49, 6970, 130, 135, 158, 167

Determinism 2223, 42, 48, 66 Devil 60, 119, 144, 17273, 175 Diakonos 89, 178 Dikaios 30, 106, 118

Infidelity 35, 119, 130, 14344 Inner person 25, 93, 100, 142


Index of Topics

Religious apologetics 19 Resurrection 17, 24, 42, 49, 6163, 99, 111, 139 Righteousness 29, 54, 65, 79, 117, 133, 135, 140, 144, 174, 179, 181

Sanctification 33, 65, 82, 15758 Satan 6061, 65, 111, 119, 129, 17273 Stoicism 23, 27, 106, 115, 140

Temple 15, 19, 25, 27, 3738, 47, 49, 51, 63, 6971, 73, 7778, 84, 91, 106, 121, 12930, 13435, 13840, 173, 176, 183

Unity 17, 22, 25, 28, 35, 42, 55, 66, 7273, 81, 83, 105, 107109, 11213, 114, 11819, 12123, 125, 129, 151, 154, 159, 160, 162, 167, 177, 183

Vice(s) 18, 30, 32, 106, 115, 120, 126, 132, 144, 183 Virtue(s) 5, 18, 2830, 3233, 40, 4447, 50, 54, 74, 78, 88, 90, 106107, 114, 115, 117, 120, 135, 140, 144, 157, 158, 162, 174, 179, 183