If using Hidden Testament we ask that you give a one off donation to one of the charities below
1 1Paul [Paulos], an apostle [apostolos] of Christ [christou; Heb. Messiah] Jesus through the will [thelōmatos] of God, to the saints [agiois] who are at Ephesus [Ephesō]
Originally a Greek colony and now capital of the Roman province of Asia and a busy commercial port. It was also the headquarters of the cult of the goddess Diana (Artemis) whose temple, after being destroyed in the middle of the fourth century BC, had gradually been rebuilt to become one of the seven wonders of the world. The words 'at Ephesus' are not found in the earliest Pauline papyrus which dates from the second century. Marcion in the middle century referred to Ephesians as having been addressed 'to the Laodiceans' (cf. also Col 4:16 on the basis of which some have thought that the 'letter from Laodicea' was in fact 'Ephesians', with Tychicus the bearer of the two (Eph 6:21-22; Col 4:7-8)). The matter remains unsolved.
Can be active: 'trusting', 'having faith' or passive: 'trustworthy', 'being faithful'.
This eulogy resembles those pronounced in Jewish synagogues and homes or may have come to Paul from an oral, perhaps liturgical, stream.
Contrast material blessings of OT (e.g., in Dt 28:1-14).
This phrase occurs five times in this epistle and nowhere else in Paul's letters. Ancient authors used to distinguish between 'the heaven of nature' (the sky), 'the heaven of grace' (eternal life already received and enjoyed by God's people on earth) and 'the heaven of glory' (the final state of the redeemed). 'The heavenlies' is rather the unseen world of spiritual reality.
The OT word for an 'unblemished' sacrifice (cf. 5:27 and Col 1:22).
In Roman law adopted children enjoyed the same rights as natural children.
'Deliverance by payment of a price'; the term was specially applied to the ransoming of slaves.
A rare word in secular Greek. Kephalaion meant 'sum', 'total' so anakephalaioō: 'to sum up' either in rounding up or condensing a speech or thought or in gathering up things together. Cf. Ro 13:9.
Normally means the universe, cf. Heb 1:2-3.
Can mean to give or receive a klēros, an inheritance. The OT usage defines Israel as God's klēros, his heritage.
A mark of ownership and of authenticity. Cattle, and even slaves, were branded with a seal by their masters, in order to indicate to whom they belonged. Cf. Ezk 9:4 f; Rev 7:4 f; 9:4.
Originally a Hebrew word which seems to have come into Greek usage through Phoenician traders. The word is still used in modern Greek for an engagement ring but in ancient commercial transactions it signified a first instalment, deposit, down payment, pledge, that pays a part of the purchase price in advance, and so secures a legal claim to the article or makes a contract valid.
In LXX the noun peripoiēsis occurs as a description of Israel, e.g., Ex 19:5; Dt 7:6, cf. NT Ac 20:28; Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9.
Lit. the energy of the might of his strength.
Can be active, i.e., 'that which fills' or the 'contents' of something, or passive, i.e., 'that which is filled or full', the 'container'. The active is the commoner and in classical Greek was used of the contents of a bowl or basin, and of either a ship's cargo or a ship's crew. The left-overs of the loaves and fishes are plerōmata (Mk 6:43; cf 8:20). Plērōma is the word used for a 'patch' of new, unshrunk cloth which when sewn on to an old garment fills up the hole or tear (Mk 2:21; Mt 9:16). Cf. LXX Ps 24:1. Calvin took plērōma in its active sense to mean that Christ was incomplete without the bride - although nowhere else in Scripture is the church explicitly said to 'fill' or 'complete' Christ. The Latin, Syriac and Egyptian versions and the Greek commentators Origen and Chrysostom take plērōma in its passive sense.
A false step, involving either the crossing of a known boundary or a deviation from the right path.
A missing of the mark; falling short of a standard.
Could be translated 'foggy atmosphere'.
Seems to describe more than our natural condition but points to our fallen condition, our genetic inheritance and moral responsibility.
His work of art or masterpiece.
Far and near language of OT: Dt 4:7; Ps 148:14; Is 49:1; Is 57:19.
Lit. 'middle wall' (of the fence), a notable feature of Herod's temple. The temple building was constructed on an elevated platform around which was the Court of the Priests. East of this was the Court of Israel, and further east the Court of the Women. These courts stood on the same level as the temple. From this five steps led down to a walled platform, and then on the other side of the wall fourteen more steps led down to another wall, beyond which was the outer court or Court of the Gentiles. This was a spacious court running right round the temple and its inner courts. From any part of it the Gentiles could look up and view the temple, but were not allowed to approach it. They were cut off from it by a one-an-a-half meter stone barricade on which were displayed at intervals warning notices in Greek and Latin reading, in effect, Trespassers will be executed. Paul had first-hand experience of this when he was nearly lynched by a mob who thought he had taken a Gentile with him into the temple, incidentally, an Ephesian named Trophimus (Ac 21:27-31). (See also Josephus, 'Antiquities', XV,11,5 and 'Wars' V.5.2.) Two of the Greek notices have been discovered, one in 1871 and the other in 1935. Historically the wall itself was broken down when the Roman legions entered Jerusalem in AD 70 but spiritually it was dissolved when Jesus died on the cross.
Israel forgot her vocation to be a light to the nations, twisted her privilege into favouritism and ended up despising the heathen as 'dogs'. Until the time of Christ, the Jews held Gentiles with such contempt that they believed Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. Of all the people God had made in the world, God only loved Israel. If a Jew married a Gentile their funeral was carried out.
Evokes the scene of an oriental court, when subjects are granted an audience with the king or emperor, and are presented to him.
Cf. 1 Cor 10:32 on the basis of which texts Clement of Alexandria could distinguish Christians from Greeks and Jews as those who worship God 'in the third form' and 'the one race of the saved people' ('Miscellanies', VI.5), while the second-century 'Letter to Diognetus' calls Christians 'a new race'.
The Jerusalem temple had massive cornerstones. One ancient monolith excavated from the southern wall measured 38 feet 9 inches (about 12 meters). One of the cornerstone's functions was to bind two walls together.
Paul had appealed to the Emperor and so to Nero he had been committed for trial. What had led to his arrest in Jerusalem, his imprisonment there and in Caesarea, his successive trials and his subsequent appeal to Ceasar which had brought him to Rome, was fanatical Jewish opposition to his mission to the Gentiles - yet he spoke of his imprisonment and slavery to Jesus alone.
The Greek sense of this word does not connote something obscure, dark and secret but an open secret. Originally it referred to a truth into which someone had been initiated and came to be used of the secret teachings of the heathen mystery religions, teachings which were restricted to initiates.
'Leaster' or 'less than the least' from elachistos, 'least' or 'smallest'. Perhaps a play on the meaning of his Roman surname which is Latin for 'little' or 'small'. (Tradition says he was small).
'Not to be tracked out', cf. Ro 11:33 and LXX Job 5:9 and 9:10.
Cf. 2 Cor 4:6.
Means 'many-coloured', and was used to describe flowers, crowns, embroidered cloth and woven carpets; used in of Joseph's coat in LXX; Ge 37:3, 23, 32.
Note verbal assonance with patēr above.
Means to settle somewhere permanently (cf. Col 2:9). It is residence, not lodging (the word paroikeō from paroikos used in 2:19 for stranger or alien has a weaker meaning).
One of Paul's super-superlatives.
'Lowliness of mind' from tapeinotēs, lowliness. The Greeks never used this word in a context of approval or admiration. Lowliness was despised in the ancient world. To them it was an abject, servile, subservient attitude.
This virtue was warmly applauded by Aristotle who hated extremes and loved 'the golden mean', in this case the mean between being too angry and never being angry at all. For humble and gentle together see Mt 11:29.
Cf. Ro 2:4; 1 Tim 1:16.
This verb conveys the sense of urgency, haste and passion together with a full effort of will, sentiment, reason, physical strength and total attitude.
There is a textual variant here, the original reading 'receiving…'. After conquests in the ancient world there was invariably both a receiving or tribute and a distributing of largesse. What conquerors took from their captives, they gave away to their own people, e.g., Gn 14; Jdg 5:30; 1 Sa 30:26-31; Ps 68:12 and Is 53:12. The verb in Hebrew could mean either brought or received and two ancient versions, one Aramaic and one Syriac, read it 'gave' so Paul was not breaking with tradition in translating this way. Liturgical custom in the synagogues associated Ps 68 with Pentecost, the Jewish feast commemorating the giving of the law. Paul makes analogy to Christ's giving of the Spirit to his people in order to write God's law in their hearts and teach them through the pastors he appointed (v11).
Lit. 'to come to meet' or 'to arrive at'.
From klydōn, rough water or surf.
Plato used this word of spinning tops.
'Dice-playing' and so 'trickery'.
Lit. 'truthing in loving' or 'maintaining', 'living', 'holding' and 'doing' the truth.
The terms which follow can be found in the writings of ancient Greek medics like Hippocrates and Galen. Perhaps they come to us via discussions with Luke, cf. Col 4:14.
Pōros was a kind of marble, or in medical writers a 'callus' or 'bony formation on the joints'. The verb pōroun meant to petrify, to become hard and therefore insensible or blind, cf. Mk 3:5.
In the biblical usage 'heart' and 'mind' are inseparable, since the heart includes our capacity to think and understand.
These last three verbs are the imagery of a school.
Some early baptisms included a ceremonial investiture with a white robe, cf. Gal 3:27.
'The lie', cf. Ro 1:25.
In the OT a moneylender who took a poor person's cloak as a pledge was required to restore it 'when the sun goes down', so that he might sleep in it, and an employer who had any servants who were poor was required to pay them their wages daily 'before the sun goes down' (Dt 24:13-15).
A word used of rotten trees and rotten fruit.
To cause sorrow, pain or distress.
'An embittered and resentful spirit which refuses to be reconciled' - Aristotle.
Describes people who get excited, raise their voices in a quarrel, and start shouting and screaming.
Cf. Lk 6:35.
Lit. 'acting in grace' towards one another.
Used of the heathen in 4:19.
These Greek words cover every kind of sexual sin. Immorality was rife in Asia and since the Greek goddess Artemis was regarded as a fertility goddess, sexual orgies were regularly associated with her worship.
Refers not only to association but also participation.
Test, discern and approve.
Normally introduces a quotation from Scripture (Is 61:1) or alternatively Paul could be drawing on an extract from an Easter or baptismal hymn.
Can mean 'redeem' or 'buy back' but probably means here to 'buy up'.
Implies a musical accompaniment. Some, like Ps 95, the 'Venite', are psalms of mutual exhortation, and not in reality worship of God.
Sometimes we sing responsively, as the Jews did in temple and synagogue, and as the early Christians did also, meeting before daybreak 'to recite a hymn antiphonally to Christ as to a god' (extract from the famous letter addressed to the Emperor Trajan c.112 AD, by Pliny the Younger, procurator of Bithynia.
This instruction begins what Luther referred to in his 'Catechism' as 'Haustafeln', lit. 'house tables' or 'tables of household duties.' Similar, though by no means identical, precepts have been found in the Jewish 'halakah' (their corpus of law and tradition) and in Gentile literature, especially of the Stoics.
Women were held in low esteem by the Jews. A Jewish man recited a prayer every morning giving thanks that God had not made him 'a Gentile, a slave or a woman'. In Jewish law a woman was an object and her husband's property. She had no legal rights. Women in the Greek world were worse off. The Greek way of life made companionship between man and wife impossible; home and family life were near to being extinct. The Greek expected his wife to run his home, to care for his legitimate children, but he found his pleasure and his companionship elsewhere. Fidelity was non-existent. And in Rome the marriage bond was at breaking strain in an adulterous degenerate state. A girl's or wife's status was described as 'imbecilitas' - her legal incapacity amounted to enslavement to her father or husband's wishes. However, the cult of the Great Mother and the Artemis Temple contributed to the fact of Ephesus' reputation as a defender of women's rights.
The word may hint at the bride's beautiful wedding dress, since it is used of clothing, e.g., Lk 7:25. But 'doxa' is the radiance of God.
In Roman society, fathers held power over their children's lives, so long as the father lived. A Roman son never attained his majority or came of age.
Child obedience belongs to that which the medieval theologians called 'natural justice', cf. Ro 2:14-15. Pagan moralists, both Greek and Roman taught it and Stoic philosophers saw a son's obedience as self-evident. Much earlier, one of the greatest emphases of Confucius was on filial respect. Cf. Lv 19:1-3; 20:9; Dt 21:18-21.
Could be used for fathers or mothers just as adelphoi meant brothers and sisters. At the head of the Roman family the 'pater familias' exercised a sovereign authority over all members of the family. His was not only the right to punish but also the 'iuo vitae necisque' (i.e., 'right of life and death', so killing the newborn). The head of the house could do with his children as he could do with his slaves and his things. He could in fact sell them as slaves, work them like slaves (even in chains in his fields), and taking the law in his own hands he could punish them as he liked and even inflict on them the death penalty.
The freedoms granted to Roman women may have been exceptional by the standards of the age, but the authority of a Roman father was even more so. His powers of life and death did not end with the acceptance of a child into his household. His daughters, even once they had been married off, might well remain his wards, while his sons, no matter how old they grew, no matter how many magistracies they might win, never ceased to be his dependants. There was no father quite so patriarchal as a Roman one. As was invariably the case with the Republic, however, rights brought obligations. At the census every head of a household would be asked whether he had married for the purpose of having children. It was a citizen's patriotic duty to contribute to his city's future manpower. More immediate, however, and no doubt far more keenly felt, was a father's duty to the prestige of his family. Status in the Republic was not inherited. Instead, it had to be re-earned over each successive generation. The son who failed to equal the rank and achievements of his ancestors (some of which alleged to reach back to a Trojan hero or even the gods), the daughter who neglected to influence her husband in the interests of her father or her brothers - both brought public shame on their family. It was the responsibility of the pater familias to ensure that such a calamity never occurred. As a result, child-rearing, like virtually every other aspect of life in the Republic, reflected the inveterate Roman love of competition. To raise heirs successfully, to instil in them due pride in their blood-line and a hankering after glory, these were achievements worthy of a man.
Lit. To 'nourish' or 'feed'; used in 5:29 of food to eat but also used of bringing up children.
Training by correction of the young; cf. Heb 12:5-11; Pr 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15.
Refers primarily to verbal education.
Slavery seems to have been universal in the ancient world. There may have been 60 million in the Roman Empire. Ancient society was economically dependent on slavery as modern society is dependent on technology. Slaves were the work force, including not only domestic servants and manual labourers but educated people as well, like doctors, teachers and administrators. They could be inherited or purchased, or acquired in settlement of a bad debt, and prisoners of war often became slaves. Plato took the slave class for granted and does not even mention it in his 'Republic'. Aristotle could not contemplate any friendship between slave and owner and wrote that 'A slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave,' 'Nichomachian Ethics', viii.11.6, and 'Politics' 1.2,4. Slaves possessed no legal rights of protection or of any other kind. The 'pater familias' held power of punishment by whipping and by confinement in the 'ergastulum', a workhouse or prison for offending slaves, and right of execution. Hence, slaves were treated brutally for trivial offences. Their desperation is evident from those who ran away (risking, if caught, branding, flogging and even summary execution), while others committed suicide. However slave owners may have been restrained by their own sense of responsibility, or by public opinion, or self-interest, representing a large capital outlay. Paul's Stoic contemporary Seneca was teaching the brotherhood of man and urging kindness to slaves (whom he called 'Comrades' and even 'friends' but not 'brothers'. 'Brothers' or 'brethren' is the commonest word for Christians in the NT. It is Paul's innovation and one of his major themes in Ephesians). Christian religion was not legally recognized by Rome and Christians were politically powerless. Were Christians to liberate their slaves, they would have condemned most of them to unemployment and penury. However, it was common and uncomplicated for slaves to obtain their manumission. Romans of the first century AD released slaves in great numbers (according to one estimate half a million Roman slaves were freed between 81 and 49 BC. It became the practice to free a slave then establish them in some trade or profession, so many slaves became wealthier than their patron; cf. 1 Cor 7:21; Phm 16. At this time slaves began to be treated more humanely, obtaining the legal rights enjoyed by free people, including the right to marry and have a family, and the right to own property, and to have a fair trial. The emperor Claudius c.50 enacted that slaves who were deserted while sick should be free if they recovered. Under Vespasian c.75 a female slave could under certain circumstances obtain her freedom if prostituted by her master. Domitian c.90 forbade the mutilation of slaves. Hadrian early in the second century refused to countenance the sale of slaves for immoral or gladiatorial purposes, and may have forbidden the execution of slaves by their masters. Cf. note on Col 3:22
Lit., 'for the rest', 'henceforward', or 'for the remaining time'.
The same trio of dynamis, kratos, and ischys is used in 1:19 as here.
Used in astrology of the planets which were thought to control human fate, in the Orphic Hymns of Zeus, in rabbinical writings of Nechadnezzar and other pagan monarchs, and in various ancient inscriptions of the Roman emperor.
The full armour of a heavily armed Roman soldier; cf. Is 59:17 which speaks of the Lord of Hosts as warrior fighting to defend his people. Paul was familiar with Roman soldiers, having met many in his travels, and as he dictated Ephesians he was chained to one at the wrist, cf. v20.
'To fasten clothes with a girdle' made of leather and essential to gather the soldier's tunic together and to hold his sword. It ensured that he was unimpeded when marching. As he buckled it on, it gave him a sense of hidden strength and confidence, cf. the modern saying to 'tighten one's belt'.
The soldier's breastplate often covered his back as well as his front, and was his major piece of armour protecting all his most vital organs.
Cf. 1 Thes 5:8 and Is 59:17.
Likely to be shod with the 'caliga' ('half-boot') of the Roman legionary which was made of leather, left the toes free, had heavy studded soles, and was tied to the ankles and shins with decorative straps. These enabled the soldier to walk on long marches, gave him a solid stance and prevented his foot from slipping.
Could be either the steadfastness which the gospel gives to those who believe it, like the firmness which strong boots give to those who wear them, or it could be that the soldier's shoes are his readiness to announce the gospel, cf. Col 4:5-6; 2:17; Is 52:7.
The word used here denotes not the small round shield which left most of the body unprotected, but the long oblong one, measuring 1.2 meters by 0.75, which covered the whole person. Its Latin name was 'scutum'. It had two wooden layers glued together and covered with linen and then hide. It was bound at the top and bottom with iron and was designed to extinguish fire-tipped darts which had been dipped in pitch.
Made of a tough metal like bronze or iron and lined with felt or sponge to spread the weight. A hinged visor sometimes added protection to the face. Helmets were decorative as well and some had magnificent plumes or crests.
Short sword used in up-front attack or defence.
Signifies among other things the golden adornments worn around the neck and wrists by rich ladies or high ranking men. On festive occasions ambassadors wore such chains in order to reveal the riches, power and dignity of the government they represented. Paul considers the painful iron prison chains as more appropriate insignia for representing his Lord.
A native of Asia (Ac 20:4) but associated with the Ephesian Trophimus (Ac 21:29) so possibly from Ephesus too. Paul sent him there during his second imprisonment (2 Tim 4:12) and seems to assume that his readers know him already.
It was customary in the ancient world for correspondents to end their letters with a wish - usually a secular wish, even if the gods were invoked - for the reader's health or happiness. Paul keeps the convention but with Christian overtones.