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.

, and the faithful [pistois]

Can be active: 'trusting', 'having faith' or passive: 'trustworthy', 'being faithful'.

in Christ Jesus: 2Grace [charis] to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed [eulogētos]

This eulogy resembles those pronounced in Jewish synagogues and homes or may have come to Paul from an oral, perhaps liturgical, stream.

be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed [eulogeō] us with every spiritual blessing [pneumatikē]

Contrast material blessings of OT (e.g., in Dt 28:1-14).

in the heavenly places [en tois epouraniois]

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.

in Christ; 4even as he chose [eklegō] us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy [agious] and without blemish [amōmous]

The OT word for an 'unblemished' sacrifice (cf. 5:27 and Col 1:22).

before him in love [agapē]; 5having predestined us for adoption as children [huiothesian]

In Roman law adopted children enjoyed the same rights as natural children.

through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire [thelēmatos], 6to the praise [epainon] of the glory of his grace [charitos], by which he freely bestowed favour on us in the Beloved [agapaō], 7in whom we have our redemption [apolytrōsin]

'Deliverance by payment of a price'; the term was specially applied to the ransoming of slaves.

through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace [charitos], 8which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9making known to us the mystery of his will [thelēmatos], according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him 10to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up [anakephalaioō]

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.

all things [ta panta]

Normally means the universe, cf. Heb 1:2-3.

in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him; 11in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained [klēroō]

Can mean to give or receive a klēros, an inheritance. The OT usage defines Israel as God's klēros, his heritage.

according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will [thelēmatos]; 12to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: 13in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News [euangelion] of your salvation,--in whom, having also believed [pisteuō], you were sealed [sphragizō]

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.

with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is a pledge [arrabōn]

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.

of our inheritance [klēronomia], to the redemption [apolytrōsin] of God's own possession [peripoiēseōs]

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.

, to the praise of his glory [doxēs]. 15For this cause I also, having heard of the faith [pistin] in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love [agapēn] which you have toward all the saints [agious], 16don't cease to give thanks [eucharisteō] for you, making mention of you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [apokalypseōs] in the knowledge [epiginōskō] of him; 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know [oida] what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance [klēronomia] in the saints [agiois], 19and what is the exceeding greatness [hyperballon megethos] of his power [dynameōs] toward us who believe [pisteuō], according to that working of the strength of his might [kratous tēs ischyos]

Lit. the energy of the might of his strength.

20which he worked [energeō] in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule [archēs], and authority [exousias], and power [dynameōs], and dominion [kyriotētos], and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. 22He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave [didōmi] him to be head [kephalēn] over all things for the assembly [ekklēsia], 23which is his body, the fullness [plērōma]

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.

of him who fills all in all.

2 1You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions [paraptōmasin]

A false step, involving either the crossing of a known boundary or a deviation from the right path.

and sins [hamartiais]

A missing of the mark; falling short of a standard.

and sins, 2in which you once walked [peripateō] according to the course [aiōna] of this world [kosmou], according to the prince [archonta] of the power [exousias] of the air [aeros]

Could be translated 'foggy atmosphere'.

, the spirit who now works [energeō] in the children of disobedience; 3among whom we also all once lived [anastrephō] in the lust of our flesh [sarkos], doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature [physei]

Seems to describe more than our natural condition but points to our fallen condition, our genetic inheritance and moral responsibility.

children of wrath [orgē], even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love [agapēn] with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together [syzōopoieō] with Christ (by grace [chariti] you have been saved [sōzō]), 6and raised us up [synegeirō] with him, and made us to sit with him [synkathizō] in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7that in the ages to come he might show [endeiknymai] the exceeding riches of his grace [charitos] in kindness [chrēstotēti] toward us in Christ Jesus; 8for by grace [chariti] you have been saved [sōzō] through faith [pisteōs], and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, that no one would boast [kauchaomai]. 10For we are his workmanship [poiēma]

His work of art or masterpiece.

, created [ktizō] in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them. 11Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh [ethnē en sarki], who are called "uncircumcision" by that which is called "circumcision," (in the flesh [sarki], made by hands); 12that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated [apallotrioō ]

Cf. 4:18.

from the commonwealth [politeias] of Israel, and strangers from the covenants [diathēkōn] of the promise, having no hope and without God [atheoi] in the world [kosmō]. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near [makran engys]

Far and near language of OT: Dt 4:7; Ps 148:14; Is 49:1; Is 57:19.

in the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition [mesotiochon; Heb. m'chitzah]

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.

, 15having abolished in the flesh [sarki] the hostility [echthra]

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.

, the law [nomon; Heb. Torah] of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace; 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross [staurou], having killed [apokteinō] the hostility [echthra] thereby. 17He came and preached [euangelizō] peace to you who were far off and to those who were near. 18For through him we both have our access [prosagōgē]

Evokes the scene of an oriental court, when subjects are granted an audience with the king or emperor, and are presented to him.

in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens [sympolitai]

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'.

with the saints [agiōn], and of the household [oikeioi] of God, 20being built on the foundation of the apostles [apostolōn] and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone [akrogōniaiou]

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.

; 21in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple [naon] in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together for a habitation [katoikētērion] of God in the Spirit.

3 1For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner [desmios]

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.

of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles [ethnōn], 2if it is so that you have heard of the administration [oikonomian] of that grace [charitos] of God which was given me toward you; 3how that by revelation [apokalypsin] the mystery [mystērion]

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.

was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words, 4by which, when you read, you can perceive [noeō] my understanding [synesin] in the mystery [mystēriō] of Christ; 5which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed [apokalyptō] to his holy apostles [agiois apostolois] and prophets in the Spirit; 6that the Gentiles [ethnē] are fellow heirs [synklēronoma], and fellow members [syssōma] of the body, and fellow partakers [symmetocha] of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News [euangeliou], 7of which I was made a servant [diakonos], according to the gift of that grace [charitos] of God which was given me according to the working of his power. 8To me, the very least [elachistoteros]

'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).

of all saints [agiōn], was this grace [charis] given, to preach [euangelizō] to the Gentiles [ethnesin] the unsearchable [anexichniaston]

'Not to be tracked out', cf. Ro 11:33 and LXX Job 5:9 and 9:10.

riches of Christ, 9and to make all men see [phōtizō]

Cf. 2 Cor 4:6.

what is the administration [oikonomia] of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10to the intent that now through the assembly [ekklēsias] the manifold [polypoikilos]

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.

wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities [archais] and the powers [exousiais] in the heavenly places, 11according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; 12in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him. 13Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory. 14For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father [patēr] of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15from whom every family [pasa patria]

Note verbal assonance with patēr above.

in heaven and on earth is named, 16that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 17that Christ may dwell [katiokeō]

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).

in your hearts through faith [pisteōs]; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love [agapē], 18may be strengthened [exischuō] to comprehend with all the saints [agiois] what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know Christ's love [agapēn] which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly [hyperekperissou]

One of Paul's super-superlatives.

above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21to him be the glory [doxa] in the assembly [ekklēsia] and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen [Amēn].

4 1I therefore, the prisoner [desmios] in the Lord, beg [parakaleō] you to walk [peripateō] worthily of the calling [klēseōs] with which you were called [kaleō], 2with all lowliness [tapeinophrosynē]

'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.

and humility [praotēs]

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.

, with patience [makrothymia]

Cf. Ro 2:4; 1 Tim 1:16.

, bearing [anechō] with one another in love [agapē]; 3being eager [spoudazō]

This verb conveys the sense of urgency, haste and passion together with a full effort of will, sentiment, reason, physical strength and total attitude.

to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called [kaleō] in one hope of your calling [klēseōs]; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. 7But to each one of us was the grace [charis] given according to the measure of the gift [dōreas] of Christ. 8Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave [didōmi]

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).

gifts to men." 9Now this, "He ascended," what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things [ta panta]. 11He gave some to be apostles [apostolous]; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [euaggelistas]; and some, shepherds [poimenas] and teachers; 12for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving [diakonias], to the building up [oikodomēn] of the body [sōmatos] of Christ; 13until we all attain [katantaō]

Lit. 'to come to meet' or 'to arrive at'.

to the unity of the faith [pisteōs], and of the knowledge [epignōseōs] of the Son of God, to a full grown [teleion] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness [plērōmatos] of Christ; 14that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth [klydōnizomai]

From klydōn, rough water or surf.

and carried about [peripherō]

Plato used this word of spinning tops.

with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery [kybeia]

'Dice-playing' and so 'trickery'.

of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15but speaking truth [alētheuō]

Lit. 'truthing in loving' or 'maintaining', 'living', 'holding' and 'doing' the truth.

in love [agapē], we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head [kephalē], Christ; 16from whom all the body [sōma]

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.

, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love [agapē]. 17This I say therefore, and testify [martyreō] in the Lord, that you no longer walk [peripateō] as the rest of the Gentiles [ethnē] also walk, in the futility of their mind [noos], 18being darkened in their understanding [dianoia], alienated [apallotrioō] from the life [zōēs] of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening [pōrōsin]

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.

of their hearts [kardias]

In the biblical usage 'heart' and 'mind' are inseparable, since the heart includes our capacity to think and understand.

; 19who having become callous gave themselves up [paradidōmi] to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But you did not learn [mathēteuō] Christ that way; 21if indeed you heard [akouō] him, and were taught [didaskō]

These last three verbs are the imagery of a school.

in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22that you put away, as concerning your former way of life [anastrophēn], the old man [palaion anthrōpon], that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 23and that you be renewed in the spirit [pneumati] of your mind [noos], 24and put on [enduō]

Some early baptisms included a ceremonial investiture with a white robe, cf. Gal 3:27.

the new man [kainon anthrōpon], who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness [dikaiosynē] and holiness of truth. 25Therefore, putting away falsehood [to pseudos]

'The lie', cf. Ro 1:25.

, speak truth each one with his neighbour. For we are members of one another. 26"Be angry [orgē], and don't sin." Don't let the sun go down on your wrath [parorgismō]

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).

, 27neither give place to the devil. 28Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. 29Let no corrupt [sapros]

A word used of rotten trees and rotten fruit.

speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30Don't grieve [lypeō]

To cause sorrow, pain or distress.

the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed [sphragizō] for the day of redemption [apolytrōseōs]. 31Let all bitterness [pikria]

'An embittered and resentful spirit which refuses to be reconciled' - Aristotle.

, wrath [thymos], anger [orgē], outcry [kraugē]

Describes people who get excited, raise their voices in a quarrel, and start shouting and screaming.

, and slander [blasphēmia], be put away from you, with all malice [kakia]. 32And be kind [chrēstos]

Cf. Lk 6:35.

to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving [charizomai]

Lit. 'acting in grace' towards one another.

each other, just as God also in Christ forgave [charizomai] you.

5 1Be therefore imitators [mimētai] of God, as beloved [agapēta] children. 2Walk [peripateō] in love [agapē], even as Christ also loved [agapaō] you, and gave himself up [paradidōmi]

Used of the heathen in 4:19.

for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance. 3But sexual immorality [porneia], and all uncleanness [akatharsia]

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.

, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints [agiois]; 4nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks [eucharistia]. 5Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance [klēronomia] in the Kingdom [basileia] of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. 7Therefore don't be partakers [symmetochoi]

Refers not only to association but also participation.

with them. 8For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk [peripateō] as children of light, 9for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness [dikaiosynē] and truth, 10proving [dokimazō]

Test, discern and approve.

what is well pleasing [euareston] to the Lord. 11Have no fellowship [sygkoinōneite] with the unfruitful [akarpois] works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. 12For the things which are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. 13But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light. 14Therefore he says [legei]

Normally introduces a quotation from Scripture (Is 61:1) or alternatively Paul could be drawing on an extract from an Easter or baptismal hymn.

, "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." 15Therefore watch carefully how you walk [peripateō], not as unwise [asophoi], but as wise [sophoi]; 16redeeming [exagorazō]

Can mean 'redeem' or 'buy back' but probably means here to 'buy up'.

the time [kairon], because the days are evil. 17Therefore don't be foolish, but understand what the will [thelēma] of the Lord is. 18Don't be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation [asōtia], but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms [Psalmois]

Implies a musical accompaniment. Some, like Ps 95, the 'Venite', are psalms of mutual exhortation, and not in reality worship of God.

, hymns, and spiritual songs [ōdais]

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.

; singing, and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20giving thanks [eucharisteō] always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; 21subjecting [hypotassō]

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.

yourselves one to another in the fear [phobō] of Christ. 22Wives [gynaikes]

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.

, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head [kephalē] of the wife, and Christ also is the head [kephalē] of the assembly [ekklēsias], being himself the savior of the body. 24But as the assembly [ekklēsia] is subject [upotassō] to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love [agapaō] your wives, even as Christ also loved [agapaō] the assembly [ekklēsian], and gave himself up for it; 26that he might sanctify [agiasē] it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word [rhēmati], 27that he might present the assembly [ekklēsian] to himself gloriously [endoxon]

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.

, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28Even so husbands also ought to love [agapaō] their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves [agapaō] his own wife loves [agapaō] himself. 29For no man ever hated his own flesh [sarka]; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly [ekklēsian]; 30because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. 31"For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh [sarka]." 32This mystery is great [mega], but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly [ekklēsian]. 33Nevertheless each of you must also love [agapaō] his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects [phobeomai] her husband.

6 1Children [tekna]

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.

, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right [dikaion]

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.

. 2"Honour your father and mother," which is the first commandment with a promise: 3"that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth." 4You fathers [pateres]

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.

, don't provoke your children to wrath, but nurture [ektrephō]

Lit. To 'nourish' or 'feed'; used in 5:29 of food to eat but also used of bringing up children.

them in the discipline [paideia]

Training by correction of the young; cf. Heb 12:5-11; Pr 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15.

and instruction [nouthesia]

Refers primarily to verbal education.

of the Lord. 5Servants [douloi]

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

, be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters [sarka kyriois], with fear [phobou] and trembling [tromou], in singleness of your heart, as to Christ; 6not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men pleasers; but as servants [douloi] of Christ, doing the will [thelēma] of God from the heart; 7with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men; 8knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is bound [doulos] or free. 9You masters [kurioi], do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master [kurios] and yours is in heaven [ouranois], and there is no partiality with him. 10Finally [To loipon]

Lit., 'for the rest', 'henceforward', or 'for the remaining time'.

, be strong [endynamoō] in the Lord, and in the strength [kratei] of his might [ischyos]

The same trio of dynamis, kratos, and ischys is used in 1:19 as here.

. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our wrestling is not against flesh [sarka] and blood, but against the principalities [archas], against the powers [exousias], against the world's rulers [kosmokratoras]

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.

of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places [epouraniois]. 13Therefore, put on the whole armour [panoplian]

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.

of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth [perizōnnymi]

'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'.

buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate [thōraka]

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.

of righteousness [dikaiosynēs]

Cf. 1 Thes 5:8 and Is 59:17.

, 15and having fitted your feet [podas]

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.

with the preparation [hetoimasia]

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.

of the Good News [euangeliou] of peace; 16above all, taking up the shield [thyreon]

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.

of faith [pisteōs], with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17And take the helmet [perikephalaian]

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.

of salvation and the sword [machairan]

Short sword used in up-front attack or defence.

of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [rhēma] of God; 18with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints [agiōn]: 19on my behalf, that utterance [logos] may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness [parrēsia] the mystery of the Good News [euangeliou], 20for which I am an ambassador in chains [halysei]

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.

; that in it I may speak boldly [parrēsiazomai], as I ought to speak. 21But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus [Tychikos]

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.

, the beloved brother [agapētos adelphos] and faithful servant [pistos diakonos] in the Lord, will make known to you all things; 22whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our state, and that he may comfort [parakaleō] your hearts. 23Peace [Eirēnē]

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.

be to the brothers [adelphois], and love [agapē] with faith [pisteōs], from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace [charis] be with all those who love [agapaō] our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible [aphtharsia] love. Amen [amēn].

© 2024 All rights reserved. Contact | Website design by Jacob