writing things down…

Ephesians 1:3-14: Blessed be God

After a very brief greeting, the letter to the Ephesians begins with a rather long, complex sentence. The sentence is packed with several theologically loaded reflections all meant to unpack a rather simple main statement: “Blessed be God and father of our lord, Jesus Christ.” More specifically, the lengthy sentence expands on one thing, namely God.

With the use of three aorist participles, the author provides three reasons for which God is blessed: 1) God blessed us with every spiritual blessing; 2) God predetermined us for adoption; and 3) God made known to us the mystery of God’s will.

It can be argued, I suppose, that the last two are really expansions on the first. I believe, however, that the repeated use of the aorist active participle demarcates three separate sub-sections of this sentence. There is little doubt the three sections are interrelated and even expand on each other. But, for structural purposes I am taking these as separate pieces.

Thus, the sentence, as far as I can tell has three parts, each beginning with an aorist participle detailing what God has done for us and expanding with a kata phrase/clause. Each successive part is then expanded further so that the second is a good deal longer than the first and the third is even longer than the second. These expansions consist of a host of phrases and clauses, but primarily relative clauses. To me, the “in whom” clauses stand out as structural markers.

1. Aorist participle + kathos (kata+hos) clause

God…blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, just as he selected us in him before the foundation of the world for us to be holy and blameless before him in love,

2. Aorist participle + kata phrase + ‘in whom’ clause

decided beforehand to adopt us through Jesus Christ into him, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he graciously gave us in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses, according the riches of his grace, which he provided in abundance for us, in all wisdom and understanding,

3. Aorist participle + kata phrase + ‘in whom’ clause + compound ‘in whom’ clause

made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he set forth in him as a plan of the fulness of the times, to bring together all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth in him, in whom also we were chosen, by being decided beforehand according to the purpose of the one working all things according to the counsel of his will, in order for us to exist to the praise of his glory, [that is] we who first hoped in Christ, in whom also hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing, you were sealed with the promised holy spirit, who is a pledge of your inheritance, for redemption of possession, to the praise of his glory.

The translation is rough. I mean only to show the structure, not make firm decisions about English rendering of the Greek.


1 Comment»

[…] Chris from Katagrapho is beginning a long discussion on Ephesians complete with exegesis. […]

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