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Ephesians 1:3-14: Setting the stage

The long expansion following “Blessed be God” is unlike any other Pauline letter except for maybe 2 Cor., which expands the “Blessed be God” line with a relative clause (see also 1 Peter, which opens more like Ephesians than does any other NT epistle). Indeed, Eph., 2 Cor. and 1 Pet. are the only occurrences of Eulogetos ho theos in the NT. But, like most epistles, many themes of the letter are found in the first few verses.

Some of the major themes introduced in Eph. 1:3-14 include the following:

  1. God’s blessings/grace/good pleasure
  2. God’s (s)election/deciding beforehand/will/plan/purpose
  3. Readers to be holy/blameless/to the praise of God’s glory and grace
  4. All of these themes are accomplished/known/lived through/gathered up in/in Christ.

On this last theme, note the following:

  • en Christo and other en phrases obviously referring to Christos (at least 11 times)
  • adoption dia Iesou Christou
  • God’s plan to bring/gather up (anakephalaiosasthai is more loaded than these English words can be) all things in Christ.

And therefore, on the last note, we can discern a very weighty theme indeed, namely unity in Christ – all things are under Christ’s headship (that kephalaios root was purposeful).

These themes are indeed broad. There is very little specific context one can discern from even the closest mirrored reading and most speculative reconstructions. So while the themes are broad and the context general, the resulting message is pointed.

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1 Comment»

  Chris wrote @

I got the following email from Pat. I thought it was worth posting here.

Hey Chris, Did you see Brandon Wason’s page on Ephesus? He’s interested in it more from the Acts perspective, but all the pictures and whatnot seem cool for thinking about the setting behind the Ephesian church.

Thanks Pat!


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