PETER'S ENCORE & LATER PAUL 

COMMENTARY

SAMPLE PASSAGES AND VERSES

A Sample Passage from the Comments on Ephesians:

This "letter" (see Witherington, below) was written circa AD 58, according to the critical analysis of John A.T. Robertson (Redating the New Testament, The Westminster Press, 1976).  Some MSS have a subscription: “To Ephesus.”  Others have the subscription: “Written from Rome, through Tychicus.”  Most scholars now agree that it was a circular document written to the communities in first century Asia Minor.  We can assume that Paul's audiences were primarily Gentiles, for in 2:11-13 he states:

"On which account (or: Wherefore) you must continuously call to mind (or: keep in mind; remember) that once you, the nations (multitudes; ethnic groups; Gentiles; non-Israelites) in flesh.... that (or: because) you were, and continued on being for that season (or: in that appointed situation), apart from Christ ([the] Anointed One; = [the] Messiah): people having been alienated from the state of being a citizen (or: estranged from citizenship in the commonwealth) of Israel and [being] strangers pertaining to the arrangements of (or: foreigners from covenants and testamentary dispositions whose origin is) The Promise.... But now, within, in union with and centered in Christ Jesus, you – the folks once being (continuously existing) far off (or: at a distance) – came to be (were birthed; are generated; are suddenly become) near, immersed within and in union with the blood of the Christ (the Anointed One; = the Messiah)."

Also, in 3:1 we find him qualifying his audience as, "you folks, the nations (non-Jewish ethnic multitudes; the Gentiles)."  And then, in 4:17 he admonishes them:

"NO LONGER are you to be continuously walking [your path] (i.e., conducting yourself; adjusting your behavior) according to the way that the nations (the multitudes; the non-Israelites; the Gentiles; the ethnic or special or pagan groups) are continuously walking around (ordering their behavior)..."

 

He is writing to people who have come into a new situation and into a new relationship with God and with the ethnic group known then as "the Jews."  Joseph A. Grassi writes,

            "The image of the Church in Eph. is more universal and catholic than in any other Pauline writing." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Vol. II, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968, p 342)

 

"The key thought of Ephesians is the gathering together of all things in Jesus Christ" (Barclay, ibid p 66).  Frederick J. Murphy (Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World, Baker Academic, 2012, p 360-362) states,

“The letter adapts apocalyptic images to reinforce the new identity of these converted gentiles.”  He then points to the fact that, “The author wishes for his readers ‘a spirit of wisdom and revelation [apokalypsis]’ (1:17), indicating that he wishes them to think the way he does.”  When commenting on 3:2-12, he concludes, “The apocalyptic framework is evident…”

 

Chapter 1

 

1.  Paul, a sent-forth person belonging to Jesus Christ (or: an emissary from, and a representative pertaining to, Jesus, [the] Anointed One [= Messiah]) through and by means of God's will (resolve; determined purpose; resultant choice), to all those who continue being set-apart folks (or: holy ones; saints) [other MSS add: within Ephesus], as well as to believing folks (or: and for trusting, loyal people) within, in union with and centered in Christ Jesus:

 

The bold rendering of the opening line gives Jesus Christ (other MSS reverse the order of the terms) in the genitive of possession, which accords with Paul’s opening line in the letter to the Romans where he says, “Paul, Jesus Christ’s slave…”  This clearly represents how Paul regards himself in relation to his Master.  Rendering these as an ablative (from) designates Jesus as the source for Paul being a sent-forth person (apostolos), an emissary and a representative

That Paul serves his Master in this function came about through and by means of God’s will, not through Paul deciding to perform as such.  If we recall Paul’s Damascus road encounter with the risen Christ (cf the accounts of this in Acts), we can observe the basis for Paul’s claim here.  In Phi. 3:12b, he informs us that he “was taken down by hand (seized; forcefully grasped and taken control of) by and under [the control of] Christ Jesus.”  This also recalls the words of Jesus to his apprentices, “You yourselves did not choose Me, but to the contrary I, Myself, selected and picked out (or: chose) you folks and placed (or: set) you…” (Jn 15:16).  Marius Victorinus (4th cent.) advises, “Those who consider this more closely will find that God and his will are inseparable” (Epistle to the Ephesians, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT VIII, [hereafter: ACCoS] InterVarsity Press, 1999, p 107).

 

Grassi observes that reference to God’s will occur six times in this letter (1:1, 5, 9, 11; 5:17; 6:6), mentions that the term “holy” [i.e., set-apart] is used 14 times, and states that “Eph. emphasizes the continuity of God’s holy people in the OT, now broadened to include the Gentiles” (ibid p 343).

 

This “sermon” was not written as an evangelistic outreach, but rather to believing folks who are already existentially within Christ Jesus (a phrase which we will discuss in more detail, below).  They can also be described “trusting” folks who are in union with Christ Jesus: a spiritual, mystical, although existential, reality.  They are “abiding in the Vine” (John 15:1ff).  They are also “loyal people” (pistois) that are centered in Christ Jesus.  Their loyalty (or: faithfulness) was birthed out of God’s “eschatological deliverance through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22a).

 

2.  Grace and peace [= shalom] to you (or: Favor and harmony [are] with, among, for, and in you folks) from God, our Father and Lord, Jesus Christ (or: from our Father-God, even the Owner, Jesus [the Messiah]; or: from God, our Father, and [the] Lord Jesus Christ).

 

Rudolf Schnackenburg (The Epistle to the Ephesians, A Commentary, T&T Clark, 1991 p 43) points us back to Jesus’ instructions to His apprentices in Lu. 10:5, “Yet into whatever house you may enter, first always say, 'Peace [= Shalom] to this house.'”  Jesus also said,

I am continuously sending off (releasing away; hurling off) peace to (or: for; by; in; with) you people.  My peace I am constantly giving to you (or: in, by, for you folks).  I Myself am not giving [it] to you the way (or: according as) the System (the world of religion, politics and culture) continually gives [it]Do not let your heart be constantly shaken, disturbed or agitated, neither let it be habitually timid (shrinking, as with palpitations; responding cowardly).” (Jn14:27; cf Deut. 31:8; Josh. 1:9)

 

The salutation, “Grace and peace to you…” is similarly found in 2 Jn 3.  But, especially considering Witherington III’s assessment of this work being “an informal address,” or “a conversation,” perhaps Paul is making a statement, a reminder, of the new reality that now exists: “Favor and harmony [are] with, among, for and in you folks!”  The conflation of rendering the prepositions expresses the potential functions of the dative form of the plural “you” (or: “you folks”).

 

Grassi sees the use of the term peace as a basic theme of the letter: “unity and harmony among all men through Christ” (ibid).  The final phrase states the source of the grace and peace, and the genitive forms of the string of descriptors following the noun God, or applying to Jesus, give us pause for considering Paul’s perception of God, the Father and Jesus.  Is this part of a trinitarian formula, or has it just been “read” that way.  Let us consider the options on offer here:

            a) “our Father and Lord” can be seen as modifying “God,” and thus “Jesus Christ” would

            be identified as: God, and our Father, as well as our Lord.

            b) “from our Father-God, even the Owner,” also leaves “Jesus [the Messiah]” as being

            identified as Father/God/Owner-Lord.

            c) the third option, “from God, our Father, and [the] Lord Jesus Christ,” falls in line with the

            traditional formula: here, two personas of the “Godhead.”

My own view of this is not yet settled, and for me it is not all that important.  I simply want to provide you with these options, as I have done with other NT epistles.  Jesus functioned as a father (e.g., Jn 14:9; it is the Seed of His Word/Logos that has been implanted within us), compared Himself to a “mother hen” (Mt. 23:37), and even Paul saw himself as a father to those to whom he was the first to proclaim the message of goodness that pertains to Jesus, the Messiah (1 Cor. 4:15).  Here, Paul’s use of the phrase “our Father…” presents an attitude of solidarity and union between himself and his audience.  Jesus used the same expression in response to His disciples’ request for Him to teach them to pray.  Jerome observes that, “both grace and peace apply no less to God the Father than to our Lord Jesus Christ” (Epistle to the Ephesians, ACCoS, ibid p 108).

 

The opening section which follows (vss. 3-14) can be compared to the opening section (1:3-12) of 1 Peter – evidence of the unity of the good news that was being proclaimed by the sent-forth folks of the 1st century.

 

3.  Characterized by and full of thoughts of well-being, good words and messages of ease (or: Worthy of being spoken well of) [is] the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ – the One speaking Good to (or: blessing; expressing thoughts of well-being to) us within every spiritual good word (or: thought of well-being and blessing having the qualities of the Breath-effect) within the things situated upon the heavens (or: in the midst of the phenomena upon the atmospheres; [participating] in the full, perfected heavenlies; in union with the celestials; among the folks [residing] upon the atmospheres) centered in, resident within, and in union with, Christ ([the] Anointed One),

(or, taking eulogetos in apposition with a predicative force: The God and Father of our Owner, Jesus [the] Anointed One, [has] the qualities of a Word of goodness.  He [is] the One speaking goodness, ease and well-being [to] us in every thought, word and expression of goodness which embodies the qualities of [the] Breath-effect resident within the superimposed atmospheres [that are] centered within the midst of Christ, and [are] in union with [His, or the] anointing,)

 

Schnackenburg suggests that this eulogy “stands as the central theme and at the same time the title of the entire meditation” (ibid p 47).  He further sees “the aim of this eulogy,” not as “the cosmic glorification of God or of Christ, but… the basis of God’s global plan of salvation” (ibid p 49).

 

The expanded translations of the first word in the opening of the eulogy (rendering the Greek adjective, eulogetos) are literal renderings -- both the bold reading, and the parenthetical.  This phrase is describing characteristics of God.  He is "Worthy of being spoken well of," and is Characterized by and full of thoughts of well-being, good words and messages of ease.  This tells us much more than the common rendering, "Blessed be..."  The particle eu- means goodness, ease and well-being.  Combining this with a form of the word logos (thought, word, message) yields the bold rendering.  It is because of these qualities and characteristics that He is "Worthy of being spoken well of."  The common translations insert the copula "be" after the adjective, treating it as a religious formula.  But a different form of the copula is offered here, as an affirmation: [is], rather than as being a formulaic blessing, as though Paul is "blessing God."  Paul goes on to emphasize these qualities by the articulated participle, "the One speaking Good to (or: blessing; expressing thoughts of well-being to)" -- which is a cognate of the opening adjective.  We see another cognate, the noun eulogia, is the prepositional phrase that immediately follows the participle. God, the One characterized by goodness (etc.), is speaking God to us -- within every spiritual good word (etc., as seen in the parenthetical expansion).  This repetition of cognates, for emphasis, is a typical characteristic (redundancy, and here with alliteration) of the Asiatic rhetoric that we will find throughout this essay.  In this opening verse Paul has flooded us with eu-words to alert his audience to the importance of being aware of God's goodness.

 

The phrase “within the things situated upon the heavens (etc.)” is found only in this writing: in 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10 and 6:12.  “Its sense: God’s ordered plan and activity are now brought into human activity” (Grassi, ibid p 343).  The noun is the plural of the word “heaven/atmosphere/etc.” with the preposition epi- (upon) prefixed to it.  I have given a rendering of its literal meaning (upon the heavens/upon the atmospheres) with the location sense of the preposition en (within/in the midst of).  This would simply be descriptive of the sphere (or, spheres -- note the plural, heavens) within which those who have been existentially raised with Christ (2:6, below) are living: the realm of spirit/Spirit/Breath-effect.

 

The gospel of Matthew characteristically uses the word "heaven" in the plural form.  An example is Mat. 3:2, where John the Immerser proclaims,

"You folks be continuously and progressively changing your thinking – change your perceptions, attitudes, frame of mind, mode of thought and understanding, and turn back [toward God], because the reign of the heavens

(the expression and effect of kingdom rule which has its source in the atmospheres; the activity of exercising the sovereignty which exists being the heavens; the reigning [of the King] which pertains to the heavens; the kingdom which belongs to and comes from the atmosphere; the influence of the sovereignty which is the heavens) has approached and is now near at hand and is close enough to touch (= has arrived and is now accessible)!"

We see an apocalyptic picture of the post-resurrection situation in Heb. 12:22-24 which describes "Jerusalem upon the heaven" in a multi-faceted, or multi-layered, picture of the "place" or "sphere" where we now exist (the verb used in this verse is in the perfect tense):

"But to the contrary, you folks have approached so that you are now at Mount Zion – even in a city of a continuously living God; in "Jerusalem upon heaven"

(or: in a Jerusalem pertaining to and having the character and qualities of a superior, or added, heaven and atmosphere; or: in Jerusalem [situated] upon, and comparable to, the atmosphere) – also among ten-thousands (or: myriads) of agents and messengers (people with a/the message): [that is] in (or: to) an assembly of an entire people (or: an assembly of all; a universal convocation) and in (or: to) a summoning forth (or: a called-out and gathered community) of firstborn folks having been copied (from-written, as from a pattern; or: enrolled; registered) within [the; or: various] atmospheres (or: heavens), and in (or: to; with) God, a Judge (an Evaluator and Decider) of all mankind, even among (or: to; with) spirits of just folks (or: breath-effects from those who are fair and equitable and in right relationship within the Way pointed out) having been brought to the destined goal (perfected; finished; matured; made complete), and in (or: to) Jesus, a Medium (or: an agency; an intervening substance; a middle state; one in a middle position; a go-between; an Umpire; a Mediator) of a new and fresh (young; recently-born) arrangement (covenant; settlement; a deposit which moves throughout in every direction; a placing through the midst; a will and testament), and to and in blood of sprinkling, and to One continuously speaking something superior to (or: stronger and better than) Abel."

These "atmospheres" or "heavens" were symbolized by the design of the tabernacle (and later, the temple) which was God's home among Israel, and thus represented "heaven," or God's presence among them.  There we had the areas of the outer court, the holy place, and then the innermost chamber, the "holy of holies."  These were a picture, a type, of the "added heavens" which comprised God's kingdom, and which would come with the advent of the Messiah.

 

Next I presented epi- as an intensifier of the noun (full, perfected heavenlies) and en as the simple “in,” and added a suggested participle, “[participating],” to join this phrase with the previous phrase (within every spiritual good word; etc.).  The interpretation of this rendering speaks to attainment of the goal (telos) that was attained by the work of the Messiah.  He brought into being that to which the old covenant types pointed.

 

Then I rendered the relational sense of en (in union with) and rendered the noun “the celestials.”  The meaning here speaks of the eschatological joining of “heaven and earth;” the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21, 22), or the Jerusalem which is above (Gal. 4:26), in spiritual interaction with those who have not yet,

“…[been] born back up again to a higher place (or: can be brought to birth again; or: would be given birth from above), [and are thus] having no power (or: he is continuously unable) to see or perceive God’s reign, sovereign influence/activity, or kingdom.” (John 3:3)

 

Finally, I expressed en as “among,” as it is often translated with a plural object.  Here I rendered the plural definite article, “the folks,” and inserted the locational participle, “[residing],” to correspond with the locational/positional aspect of en.  The plural object is then given as “the atmospheres,” and the interpretation of the phrase can be a symbolic description of the called-out folks that are seated with Christ (2:6, below).

 

In the parenthetical rendering of the entire verse, I rendered the sense of epi- as “superimposed,” again rendering the noun “atmospheres,” and en as “resident within.”  The language of the three final, successive prepositional phrases is apocalyptic and for this reason I have labored the point by giving all these possible renderings to the middle phrase of the group.  Pondering the varied aspects that they describe, then listening for the Spirit’s voice in your mind should prove productive for understanding just what the author is here describing.  I suggest referring back to this paragraph when you encounter the four remaining times where this word is used.  I further suggest that keeping Grassi’s “sense” in mind should keep us close to the mark.  Also helpful would be to keep in mind the varied ways in which Jesus used the word “kingdom/reign/sovereign influence/kingly activities” in His parables.  Grassi notes that various forms of “in Christ” or “in him” are repeated over 30 times in Eph. (ibid).

 

And now we should consider the first of these prepositional phrases, “us within every spiritual good word (or: thought of well-being and blessing having the qualities of the Breath-effect).”  The message of the good news (gospel; evangel) concerning, and which is, Jesus Christ (see my appositional rendering of Mk. 1:1) is a eulogia: a good word; a thought of well-being; a blessing.  The word spiritual can refer to the origin of the message or to the quality of the message, or the sphere of meaning and relevance, or the sphere of effect.  Jesus said,

The declarations (gush-effects; spoken words; sayings; results of the Flow) which I Myself have spoken to you folks are (or: continue to be) Spirit (or: spirit; Breath-effect; attitude) and they are (or: continue being) Life” (John 6:63).

 

The final of these three prepositional phrases, “centered in, resident within, and in union with, Christ ([the] Anointed One),” gives conflated meanings of the preposition en to present three viable ideas that are potential within what is normally simply rendered “in Christ.”  “Centered in” means that Christ is the center, the anchor point, the focal point, the location and the origin of the two prepositional phrases that come before, in this verse.  “Resident within” gives the sense of duration as well as location.  “In union with” speaks to both relationship and oneness with Christ, the Anointed One.  The apocalyptic character of these descriptive phrases need not lead us to conclude that there is no existential reality to them.  However, we should understand that the term “heaven,” which can also simply mean “sky,” had a figurative use in ancient Jewish literature.

 

Following the first expanded rendering of the verse is the parenthetical optional rendering.  We will present this again, here, for further consideration:

"The God and Father of our Owner, Jesus [the] Anointed One, [has] the qualities of a Word of goodness.  He [is] the One speaking goodness, ease and well-being [to] us in every thought, word and expression of goodness which embodies the qualities of [the] Breath-effect resident within the superimposed atmospheres [that are] centered within the midst of Christ, and [are] in union with [His, or the] anointing."

Here we can observe that "the qualities of a Word of goodness... embody the qualities of [the] Breath-effect (Spirit; = God)" which resides in the atmospheres that have been added in this new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  These new atmospheres (in which we live -- 2:6, below) are "centered within the midst of Christ."  The term "Christ" can also be rendered "anointing," thus I conflated the prepositional phrase with, "and [are] in union with [His, or the] anointing."  This latter translation points to the sphere of these atmospheres -- the realms of the Spirit, which anoints us.

 

4.  even as He chose us out (or: selects and picks us out) within Him, and in union with Him [F, G: for or in Himself] before [the] (or: prior to a) casting down (or: a laying of the foundation; a conception) of [the] ordered system (world; universe; cosmic order; or: human aggregate), [for] us to continuously be set-apart ones (or: to progressively exist being sacred and dedicated people) and flawless folks (people without blemish or stain; blameless ones) in His sight and presence (or: in the midst of the sphere of His gaze) in union with, and centered in, Love.

 

Notice the plural pronoun us: he did not say “each one of you.”  Witherington observes, “The concept of election and destining here is corporate” (ibid p 234).  He cites P.T. O’Brien (Ephesians, p 98 n 49): “The idea of the incorporation of many into the representative head (using the preposition en) appears in the LXX in relationship to Abraham (Gen. 12:3) and Isaac (Gen. 21:12) as well as in Paul with reference to Adam (1 Cor. 15:22)” (Witherington, ibid n 23).  We can see a progression in the figures: from one man (Abraham) to one nation (Israel) to all humanity (Paul’s use of Adam as “one humanity” – 2:15, below).

 

In regard to the phrase “within Him, and in union with Him, before” we can observe a primal, organic connection and solidarity that looks back to before "the beginning" of God's plan of the ages -- a quick, enigmatic glance to, perhaps, the time of Gen. 1 in Paul's apocalyptic setting, "before [the] (or: prior to a) casting down (or: a laying of the foundation; a conception) of [the] ordered system (world; universe; cosmic order; or: human aggregate)." 

 

Union with, and inclusion within, Christ – an act accomplished by God – is the whole content of humanity’s deliverance/salvation.  We find a parallel description of the first clause, above, in Rom. 8:28-29,

            “… to the folks being called and invited according to [the] purpose

(or: for, in and with the people progressively experiencing love for God – in, with, by and for

the people being invited down from an advanced placing, congruent with a design and

corresponding to a before-placing and a prior setting forth) He is constantly working all

things together into good and is progressively working all humanity together into

that which is advantageous, worthy of admiration, noble and of excellent qualities,

because those whom He foreknew (whom He knows from previous intimate experience),

He also marked out beforehand (determined, defined and designed in advance) [as]

copies (joint-forms) of the image (material likeness; portrait; mirrored image) of His Son

(or: He previously divided, separated and bounded conformed patterns from the image of

His Son) into the [situation for] Him to be (or: to continually exist being) the Firstborn

among, within the center of, and in union with many brothers (= a vast family of

believers)!

Then in Rom. 9:11 Paul inserts this purpose clause:

to the end that God's purpose and aim, which He designed and set beforehand, may continually remain (abide; dwell) down from (corresponding to and in accord with) election (a selection; a choosing-out; a choice)…”

 

Next, we can find another picture of this same topic in Col. 1:15-16a,

It is [this Son] Who is the Image (portrait; the Exact Formed Likeness; the Figure and Representation; visible likeness and manifestation) of the not-seen God (or: the unable to be seen God; the invisible God), the Firstborn of all creation

              (or: of every creature; or: of every framing and founding; of every act of settling from a   

              state of disorder and wildness; or: pertaining to the whole creation; or: = the Inheritor of all

              creation Who will also assume authority over and responsibility for every creature [note:

              this is the duty of the firstborn]),

because within Him was created the whole (or: in union with Him everything is founded and settled, is built and planted, is brought into being, is produced and established; or: within the midst of Him all things were brought from chaos into order)…”

Schnackenburg quotes H. Schlier (Der Brief an die Epheser, Ein Kommentar, 1971) in this same context, “’If we are in him, then we were always so,’” and then he himself continues,

“If God made his plan of salvation in (the pre-existent) Christ, he also included us ‘in Christ’ in his plan.  Christ and those saved in him cannot be separated from one another” (ibid p 53).

To be “in Christ” is equivalent to being in the Last (eschatos) Adam, the Second Humanity (1 Cor. 15:22-23; 45-49). 

 

In 1 Cor. 2:7 Paul put it in different terms:

we habitually speak God's wisdom within the midst of a secret (or: we normally speak – in [the form or realm of] a mystery which only the initiated understand – the wisdom which is God): the [wisdom] having been hidden away and remaining concealed, which God before marked out and set its boundaries (or: previously designed) – before the ages…”

 

The last phrase of this quote from 1 Cor. 2:7, “before the ages,” may well correspond to our phrase, here, “before [the] (or: prior to a) casting down.”  Now let us consider this phrase, “casting down (or: a laying of the foundation; a conception) of [the] ordered system (world; universe; cosmic order; or: human aggregate).”  The bold rendering is the literal meaning, but the applied connotation is often in regard to “a laying of a foundation.”  I gave the extended meaning, “a conception,” from this word’s use in Heb. 11:11,

            “Sarah herself – being sterile – received (or: laid hold of) power and ability unto a conception (a depositing; founding; casting down) of seed (= offspring)…”

Looking at the semantic range of the word kosmos – from ordered system to “world, universe, cosmic order,” to “human aggregate,” foments multi-layered perceptions of Paul’s meaning here.  Was he speaking of the creation of the universe, or the casting-down of humanity (from the Garden of Eden, or, “paradise” in the LXX), or – more recently – the casting down of the ordered system of the cultic arrangements with Israel (including the Law and the old covenant)?  Here we must listen to the Breath-effect (Spirit) speaking within us, as It/He leads us into “all truth and reality” (Jn 16:13).  To be dogmatic as to the interpretation leads to a dead end.  Another look at this phrase, and which ties in with the “hiddenness” of 1 Cor. 2:7 is found in Mt. 13:35, where Jesus quoted Ps. 78:2,

            “I will repeatedly open My mouth in parables (illustrations); I will constantly disgorge and spew out things having been hidden from [the; a] casting-down.” (LXX, JM)

Cf Mt. 25:34; Lu. 11:50; Jn. 17:24; Heb. 4:3; 9:26; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8; 17:8.

 

The terms "set-apart/dedicated" and "flawless (or: without blemish)" is language that calls up the image of the qualifications for animals brought to the priest for temple sacrifices (e.g., Lev. 1:3, 10; cf Heb. 9:14 where the second term is applied to Christ).  This allusion speaks to Paul’s metaphor of the called-out communities being God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16), which is specifically expressed in 2:21, below.  It also calls to mind John’s description in Rev. 1:6a,

and made (formed; created; produced) us [to be] a kingdom (or: sovereign reign; [other MSS: constructed of us a kingdom which brings sovereign influence]): priests in (or: by; for; with) His God and Father,”

These two terms are used again in the last phrase of 5:27, below, where the discussion concerns the called-out communities being loved by Christ in the same way as a husband should love a wife.  The implication there is that the communities have been set-apart as belonging to Christ and participating in His flawlessness.

 

The descriptive phrase that modifies the corporate term "flawless folks" is worth noting: in His sight and presence (or: in the midst of the sphere of His gaze).  Consider the proximity and the relational connotations expressed here.  As an apocalyptic description, it speaks to people that stand before His throne -- in His immediate presence.  We see the "realm," or location, expressed in 2:6, below, in the picture of our being "seated with Christ" on His throne.  Putting the next prepositional phrase with what has gone immediately before it adds another layer to the description of first applying it to the location of the "flawless folks," and then, showing that "His sight and presence" are "in union with, and centered in, Love."  This figuratively states that His gaze and His presence are both, in fact, Love.  It also signifies that Love is the communities' sphere of existence.  These joined phrases echo and color-in all the good thoughts that are ascribed to God in vs. 3, above.

 

5.  In love [He was] marking us out beforehand (or: definitively appointing us in advance; before-setting our boundaries and defining us, with a designation) [and directing us] into a placing in the condition of a son (or: a deposit of the Son; a setting in place which is the Son; the constituting as a son; a placing in the Son) – through and by means of Jesus Christ – [moving us] into the midst of Himself, according to (or: down from; in correspondence with; following the pattern of) the good thought, the intention of well-being, and the well-imagined delight of His will (determined purpose).

 

The phrase in love can be a part of the last part of vs. 4, or as modifying the first participle of vs. 5.  I have, therefore, put it with both verses.  Schnackenburg (ibid p 54) opts for its connection with vs. 5, and I concur with this most probably being Paul's meaning.  But as you will note, in many other translations, it has been traditionally tied to vs. 4.

 

As we saw, above, Paul uses the verb cognate of the participle, marking us out beforehand, in Rom. 8:29.  Verses 29-30, there, are echoed in vss. 4-5, here.  We also read this same verb in 1 Cor. 2:7, quoted above, and in this letter we find Paul speaking of the secret/mystery in 1:9, below, as well as in 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32 and 6:19. (cf Col. 1:26, 27; 4:3).

 

In 1:11, below, we again read that we were folks “being previously marked out (or: being before designated),” but there more detail is given: “we were (or: are) also chosen (or: randomly assigned or appointed) by casting a lot (or: were made an allotted portion; or: received an inheritance; or: had our lot cast).”  And further, it was “in keeping with (or: down from; corresponding to; in accord with) a before-placed (or: predetermined-by-setting-forth) aim and design.”  It quickly becomes clearly evident that we are a part of something that God planned from the beginning.  His providence and His “determined purpose” strike a loud note in this passage, and here in verse 5 Paul tells us that our “pre-appointed designation” is huiothesia:

 

The term huiothesia (a placing in the condition of a son; etc.) connects us to Paul’s thoughts in Rom.8:14 (being led by the Spirit = being a son of God) and in the next verse, there, we read,

“…you received a spirit of being placed as a son (or: a Breath-effect which set you in    the position of a son; or: you receive an attitude of one having been adopted [in accord with Greek or Roman law]), within which (or: in union with Whom) we are habitually crying out, Abba (Dad), O Father!

and then in Rom. 8:23b,

“…we ourselves also continually sigh and groan within (in the center of) ourselves, continuously accepting and with our hands taking away from out of a placing in the condition of a son (or: [the] deposit of the Son; a setting in place which is the Son; a constituting as a son; a placing in the Son): the process of the release of our body from slavery

                        (or: [and] the loosing from destruction pertaining to the [corporate] body, which is us; or: = the unbinding and release of the body [of Adam; of humanity], which belongs to us).”

Another picture of this situation is described in the context of Gal. 4, where vss. 5b-7 instructs us,

“…so that we could and would receive and take away into possession the placing in the condition of a son (or: the deposit of the Son; the setting in place which is the Son; the constituting as a son; the placing in the Son).

6.  Now, because we exist being (are presently and continuously) sons, God at once sends forth (or: at one point sent off from out of [His] midst) His Son's Spirit (or: the Breath-effect, which is His Son) as an emissary into the midst of our hearts, repeatedly crying out (habitually calling out or exclaiming in an inarticulate cry; even: screaming, shrieking [verb also means: croak, as a bird]), "Abba (Aramaic: = Dad, or, Daddy!), O Father!"

            7.  So that, you are (you exist being) no longer a slave, but rather, a son, and since a son, also an heir (a possessor and an enjoyer of the distributed allotment) through God [other MSS: God's heir through Christ].”

Putting all this together we can better appreciate Paul’s summation in Rom. 8:30,

Now [in fact, consider this]: those whom He at one point before-marked-out (or: designates beforehand; [A reads: knew from prior intimate experience]), these He also at once called (or: calls; invited), and whom He called (or: calls; invites), these He also in one stroke rightwised by an eschatological deliverance (or: makes and sets right, frees from guilt and liberates from bondage, while making them fair and placing them in [covenant] relationships in the Way pointed out).  Now further, those whom He rightwised (or: liberates and turns in the right direction; or: = included in covenant), these He also instantly glorified

(or: makes of reputation which calls forth praise; gives a splendid appearance; gives honorable thoughts and imaginations; clothes with splendor).”

 

We observe another metaphor of this “placement” in vs. 13, below:

            “…stamped (or: were sealed; marked for acceptance, or with a signet ring; = personally   authorized) by the set-apart Breath-effect of The Promise (or: with the holy attitude of assurance; in the sacred essence from the promise; or: for the Holy Spirit which is the Promise).”

Here, again, this new reality came, and comes, through God’s Spirit.  Another description is found in 5:1, below, “… as beloved (or: like loveable) children.”  We find an echo of this in 1 Jn 3:1a,

You people at once consider (or: look and perceive) what kind of (what sort of; what unusual, foreign or exotic) love (or: acceptance) the Father has given to (or: in; for) us [other MSS: you], which we now have as a gift, to the end that we can (may; should; would) be called (or: named) God's children (born-ones; bairns)!  And we are!

 

This entire package is also the destiny of Israel, for we read in Rom. 9:4,

the very ones who are Israelites, whose [is/was] the placing in the condition of a son (or: the deposit of the Son; the setting in place which is the Son; the constituting as a son) and the glory (the things which call forth praise and bring a splendid reputation) and the arrangements (or: covenants; [other MSS: the Covenant)…”

 

Consistent in all these expressions is the language of Family, which finds its ultimate grounding in such expressions as, “Our Father…”

 

Following the phrase, through and by means of Jesus Christ, we have the phrase, into the midst of Himself.  Schnackenburg (ibid p 55) notes that there is controversy over the antecedent of the latter phrase: does it refer to Jesus Christ, or to God?  He lists four reasons for preferring “in Him/in Himself” as a reference to God:

a) “The entire eulogy has an unmistakable theocentric character.  God is praised because every blessing proceeds from him, because everything happens according to his will and purpose and is directed to his glorification.”

            b) “The theocentric view is prominent in the immediate context, namely in the kata-phrase in 5.b: ‘according to the pleasure of his will.’”

            c) “eis auton stands in a quite close connection with eis epainon [and the following] in 6a.”

            d) “In vs. 6 Christ’s distinctive function is emphasized: God has bestowed his grace on us ‘in the Beloved’…” (ibid; brackets added)

This may be the reason (i.e., for interpretive clarification) for the reading of F and G (“for or in Himself”) in 4a, above.  Notwithstanding, the immediate proximity of “into the midst of Himself” to through Jesus Christ can be interpreted as into the midst of Himself being a modifier of Jesus Christ.  Thus it is the action of God placing us “into Christ” that is the means of our “son-placement” unto which He before marked us out.  This would echo our being included in the Second Humanity, or the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45-49), or Paul’s frequent term, “in Christ.”  Other scholars follow this latter interpretation.

 

Central to the main theme of this writing is the last phrase of this verse:

            “according to (or: down from; in correspondence with; following the pattern of) the good thought, the intention of well-being, and the well-imagined delight of His will (determined purpose).”

The preposition kata serves the following functional meanings which all make sense to this context:

           a) according to tells us that the thought, intention and delight (eudokia), which determine 

           His will, are the defining and controlling factors that created the pattern when marking us

           out beforehand.  We also see that these factors are “good,” intend “well-being,” and are

           “well-imagined.”  Schnackenburg sees here a “connection with election,” and cites these

           Qumran texts, “1QS 8:6, ‘the elect of his purpose’; 1 QH 432f; 11:9, ‘sons of his 

           purpose’” (ibid p 55).

           b) “down from” indicate the source of what was just stated, above.

           c) “in correspondence with” shows correlation and relation.

           d) “following the pattern of” emphasized the pre-determined, defined plan of His intention for

           us.

All of this was done “In love.”  Chrysostom observes, “Everywhere the purpose or good pleasure means God’s antecedent will” (Homily on Ephesians, ACCoS, ibid p 112; emphasis original). 

 

6.  [This was] with a view unto praise of His grace's glory (or: This [led] into [the] praise of [the] reputation and honorable consideration of His favor; or: [leading] into the midst of glory which is, and is from, His joy-producing act of favor) in and with which He graced us (or: favors and gifts us with joyous grace) within the One having been, and continuing being, loved

            (or: in the midst of the Beloved One; or: in union with the One having been given and now expressing the essence and qualities of love; [some MSS: within His beloved Son]),

 

This verse is actually a continuation of vs. 5, but for modern English readers I inserted “[This was]” as a way of unpacking Paul’s Asiatic rhetoric so as to more easily understand what he has put into this continued string of prepositional phrases.  The phrase “unto praise of His grace's glory” echoes Yahweh’s purpose in overthrowing the Egyptian army during the Exodus that emancipated Israel, as was expressed in Ex. 9:16,

“but this is why I have kept you [Pharaoh] alive, to let you see my power and to publish my fame all over the world.” (Moffatt; brackets added)

God’s eschatological deliverance of humanity was the glory of His grace; it “[led] into [the] praise of [the] reputation and honorable consideration of His favor.”  It also had in view the leading of humanity “into the midst of glory which is, and is from, His joy-producing act of favor.”  We read of this glory in Col. 1:27,

“… the glory of this Secret (or: the wealth which has its source in this sacred mystery's manifestation which calls forth praise) within the multitudes (among the nations; in the Gentiles; IN UNION WITH the swarms of ethnic groups), which is (or: exists being) Christ within you folks, the expectation of and from the glory

(or: which is [the] Anointed in union with you people: the [realized] hope of the manifestation which called forth praise; or: which is [the] Anointing within the midst of you folks – the expectation which is the glory).”

 

Next is the dependent clause, “in and with which He graced us (or: favors and gifts us with joyous grace).”  The verb tense is aorist, so I gave both a simple past tense rendering, and then (in the parentheses) a simple present reading.  The first gives us a timeless expression of the historical Christ-event – the cross, the resurrection, the giving of the Holy Spirit.  The second expresses the present, existential giving of His Son to us. He graciously confers Himself to us via His Spirit.  All of this happens IN the Beloved One.

 

The participle of the last phrase is in the perfect tense, showing a completed action that has lasting results.  It is a reference to Jesus Christ which echoes what His Father said to Him, at His baptism, in Mk. 1:11,

            “You Yourself are (or: continue being; habitually exist being) My Son – the Beloved One!

The preposition (en) expresses position (within), location (in the midst of) and union, and we again see this same preposition beginning the next verse (7) – with these same meanings and the same object of the preposition (here: the One loved; there: Whom).  Paul began stressing these thoughts concerning our relationship with Jesus Christ, using en in the last phrase of vs. 3, then in the first clause of vs. 4, and again in the first clause of vs. 5 (In love).  If we listen, we may hear an echo of Paul in Acts 17:28, where we again see this preposition

For you see, within the midst of and in union with [en] Him [i.e., God] we continuously live (or, as a subjunctive: could be constantly living), and are constantly moved about and put into motion, and continue existing (experiencing Being).”

This verse in Acts is quite obviously an existential statement, not just a metaphor.  The question must then be asked: How is Paul using the en phrases here in Eph.?  Perhaps the answer is: Both metaphorically (in the literary style of apocalyptic expression) AND existentially, as a description of the new reality of His new creation.  Jesus used the metaphor of a Vine/branches in John 15, but it was to present to His students a spiritual view of both the relationships within the corporate Christ and the character of His reign (sovereign activities; kingdom).  Pondering, or contemplating, the layered, “mystical,” meanings of these phrases will produce inner edification and have a fruitful effect upon our outward living.

 

7.  within and in union with Whom we continuously have (constantly hold; progressively possess) the release into freedom from slavery or imprisonment (the liberation from our predicament) through His blood – the sending away (causing to flow off; removal; forgiveness; dismissal; divorce) of the effects of, and results from, the fallings-aside (the stumblings by the side; wrong steps; offences; transgressions), in accordance with (or: down from; corresponding to; in keeping with; to the level of; commensurate with) the wealth of, and which is, His grace and the riches of the joy-producing act of His favor (or: of the favor/grace which is Him),

 

Here, the beginning preposition (en) can indicate the sense of location/sphere (within) as well as a relational sense (in union with), both of which can speak metaphorically with a sense of participation and even causation.  The “release into freedom from slavery or imprisonment (the liberation from our predicament)” was accomplished IN the eschatological act of deliverance (Christ’s death and resurrection): the Christ-event was the IN-strument of our release, and He mediated this liberation to us.  Grassi states that this word, “implies setting free a person or group that is under someone else’s power or in slavery” (ibid p343).  Paul uses this word in Rom. 3:24b,

“… through means of the process of a release-from-an-enslaved-condition and a liberating-away-from-imprisonment, which is resident within Christ Jesus (or: by the setting-free which is centered in [the] Anointed Jesus; or: through the redemption that is union with Jesus [the] Messiah).”

Paul also included this term in 1 Cor. 1:30,

Now you folks are, and continuously exist being, forth from out of the midst of Him – within and in union with Christ Jesus, Who came to be (or: is birthed) wisdom in and among us (or: to us; for us), from God: both a rightwising, eschatological deliverance into righted, covenantal existence in fair relationships of equity in the Way pointed out (or: likewise a just Act from God) and a being set-apart to be different, even a redemptive liberation.”

Origen observes, “First then we need to be redeemed, to be no longer subject to our captor and oppressor…” (Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 114).

 

But this was also accomplished by our being joined to the Vine, or grafted into the Olive Tree (the Tree of Life).  Viewing the Act of Christ and the resultant Condition for humans gives us at least a three-dimensional perspective of the “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) and a “new humanity” (2:15, below).

 

Note the present tense of the verb have/hold/possess: Paul is describing a present and continuing situation.  The “new age” had come with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The phrase through His blood is a reference to His death on the cross, but is also an allusion to the sacrificial metaphors of the OT cultus (especially Passover and the Day of Atonement).  This is portrayed symbolically in Rev. 5:6, “a little Lamb standing, as one having been slaughtered.”  That picture looks back to the proclamation by John the baptizer concerning Jesus as being,

            “Look! (Pay attention, see and perceive)!  God’s Lamb (or: the Lamb from God; the

            Lamb having the character and qualities of God; or, in apposition: the Lamb which is

            God), the One continuously lifting up and progressively carrying away the Sin of

            the world, and removing the sin which belongs to and is a part of the System

                        (or: habitually picking up and taking away the failure and error brought on by the

                        organized system; progressively removing the falling short and the missing of the

                        goal from the world of culture, religion, economy and government [= from

                        humanity and secular society])!” (Jn 1:29)

The noun phrase that follows (the sending awayof effects...) is in apposition to His blood, explaining the effects and results of the cross.  The noun (aphesis), which is commonly rendered “forgiveness,” is better seen in its more literal meaning which corresponds with the concept of release from a situation by the sending away of something that has resulted in bondage and loss of freedom.  It is “the causing to flow off,” “the removal” of the effects of and results from (the –ma ending of the following noun) the fallings-aside, or the stumblings by the side; the wrong steps, the offences.  This fits with the idea of “atonement,” which was a covering over which resulted in a cleaning.  Christ divorced us from the effects of our transgressions.  In regard to our part, in response to our new liberation and our passing this on to others, Richard Rohr put it this way, “Forgiveness is simply the religious word for letting go” (Richard Rohr's Daily [email] Meditation: Sabbath -- Letting Go; 7/26/2014, www.cac.org).

 

Christ’s act of accepting death over our situation in order to liberate us and to give us His Life, came to us in a way that was in accordance with, corresponding to, TO the LEVEL of, commensurate with, and descended upon us from, His grace and favor.  But Paul does not say it so simply; he puts the work of the Messiah in the category of wealth and riches.  It corresponds to the wealth of, and which is, His grace, and to the joy-producing act of favor – which is Him (genitive of apposition).  He has just described Christ’s character as that of magnificent, over-the-top and abundant grace.  He gives freely, gratuitously.

 

8.  which He caused to superabound around [and] unto us (or: which He makes to be more than enough unto us; which He excessively supplied and then lavishes into the midst of us) within the midst of, in union with and centered in all wisdom (or: in every wise thing) and thoughtful prudence (gut-intelligence; mindful purpose; considered understanding).

 

So now we see what He does with His wealth, which is His grace: He caused [it] to super-abound around us and makes His favor “to be more than enough” for us and for our situation.  He further “excessively supplied” it to us and then “lavishes” it into us.  The core concept of the preposition eis can be pictured as an arrow coming unto, piercing and entering “into the midst.”  This describes what God did, and continues to do, with His grace.  This calls to mind what Paul wrote in Rom. 5:15b,

MUCH MORE (= infinitely greater) [is] the Grace of God (God’s Grace; favor which is God), and the gift (or: gratuitous benefit) within Grace – a joy-producing act of Favor – by that of the One Man, Jesus Christ, surrounded (or: encircles) into encompassing superabundance (extraordinary surplus and excess) into THE MANY (= the mass of humanity).”

And then in Rom. 5:17,

“…much more, rather, will the peoples (= the masses of humanity) – in continuously receiving and seizing upon (taking in hand) the surrounding superabundance (encircling, extraordinary surplus and excess) of the Grace and of, from and which is the gratuitous gift of the liberated Rightwisedness (of the solidarity in fair and equitable treatment; from the placement in right [covenant]-relationship in the Way; of the justification and freedom from guilt while being turned in the right direction and made right)…”

Also there, in vs. 19:b,

            “But where the Sin (the failure; the divergence and missing of the target) increases (or: abounded to be more than enough; becomes more intense) THE GRACE ("the act producing happiness, which is granted as a favor" – Jim Coram) at once super-exceeds (or: hyper-exceeded) over and above, surrounding to excessive abundance and overflow.”

 

In the second half of vs. 8, above, we once again encounter the preposition en (withinin unioncentered in) showing that all this superabundance is located and grounded in all wisdom and thoughtful prudence – these gifts being our sphere of existence and our  environment in this new creation (the "added atmospheres" -- vs. 3, above) that exists “in Him.”  These terms describe the qualities and characteristics of His Breath-effect that was imparted “into the midst of us” and into which/Whom we were immersed.  Both terms also describe “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).  

 

9.  [This occurred] while making known to us (acquainting us by intimate, experiential knowledge; suddenly making us to realize) the secret (mystery; hidden knowledge) of His will (determined purpose; resolve) – in accord with (or: down from and following the pattern of; corresponding to; in line with) His good thought which He before placed within Himself

(or: – corresponding to the measure of His pleasing imagination and intent of well-being which He designed beforehand and determined by setting it forth in union with Himself),

 

The verb phrase, making known, is an aorist participle of the verb gnorizo, a cognate of the noun gnosis (knowledge).  We will see this verb again in 3:3, 5, 10, and 6:19.  In 3:3 Paul says that from “an unveiling (or: down from a revelation; in keeping with a disclosure), the secret (or: mystery) was made known” to him, “with a view to [them]” (3:2), and in 3:4 he identifies this as “the secret (or: mystery) of the Christ (or: which is the Anointed One [= the Messiah]).”  Then in 6:19 we read the clause, “to make known the secret (or: mystery) of the good news (or: which is the message of goodness, ease and well-being).”  Here, in vs. 9, it is designated as “the secret of His will and His determined purpose.”  In 3:5 Paul tells us that,

it is now (at the present time) uncovered (unveiled; revealed) in spirit (or: within a Breath-ffect; or: in union with [the] Spirit) by (or: to; among) His set-apart emissaries (or: consecrated folks that are sent forth from Him as spokesmen) and prophets (folks having light ahead of time).”

It is an “apocalyptic” gospel, a “disclosed” secret.  Ralph P. Martin suggests that with the first clause of this verse Paul may have been countering “the false teachers in Asia Minor, whom Paul addressed in the letter to the Colossians [who] were claiming a secret teaching, open only to initiates, which gave them a clue to the understanding of the universe” (The New Bible Commentary, Revised, WM. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1970 p 1108; brackets added).  He cites J. Amitage Robinson (St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, 1904) as saying that the content of this secret “is ‘the inclusion of the Gentiles as well as the Jews in a common human hope in Christ’ and even more ‘the unification of humanity in Christ’” (ibid).  This knowledge comes from God invading the human mind and spirit through the eschatological deliverance that is in Jesus Christ.  Then, in 3:9, we learn that the purpose of this was,

to illuminate all people (give light to everyone) [as to] what [are] the house-rules (or: [is] the administration and management of the household) of the secret (or: mystery) pertaining to that having been hidden (concealed) away, apart from the ages (or: disassociated from the [past] periods of time), within the midst of God.”

 

Grassi compares Paul’s use of the word secret (mysterion) in Col. with the way he uses it here:

“In Col mysterion refers to the hidden presence and working of Christ (1:25-27), but in Eph it means the hidden plan of God, to create a universal community of men in Christ” (ibid p 344).

What Grassi refers to as God’s “plan” I have more literally rendered “His will, determined purpose and resolve.”  These words give greater expression to His sovereignty.  His will is not just a wish or a desire, or even a “plan.”  The sense of “resolve” instructs us that the purpose which He has “determined” will in fact take place.  Col. 1:26 tells us that it is,

the Secret (or: sacred mystery) having been hidden away and remaining concealed away from the ages (or: from [past] eons), as well as away from the [past] generations, yet now (at the present time) is set in clear light in His set-apart folks (or: was manifested to His holy ones; is caused to be seen by His saints; is shown for what it is, for His sacred people),”

which answers to it being made “known to us,” in our verse, here.  In Col. 1:27 he identifies the secret which there he associates with,

the riches of the glory of this Secret (or: the wealth which has its source in this sacred mystery's manifestation which calls forth praise) within the multitudes, which is (or: exists being) Christ within you folks, the expectation of and from the glory.”

 

Making this secret (or: hidden knowledge) known to us was part of His good thought (eudokia) which He placed within Himself, beforehand.  Making [this] known to us came down to us from “following the pattern” of what He had both “designed” and “determined.”  Origen offers an interesting thought, here (ibid p 115),

“We must examine the possibility that predestination and purpose differ so that purpose is presupposed in predestination.  Thus… the predestination is the thought of God and the purpose unfolds in accordance with things predestined, so that then they become     realities and actualize the predestination.”

Marius Victorinus observes, “Not only has God a will, but the intention of his will is expressed in Christ” (ibid p 115).

 

Knowledge of this “secret” (or: mystery) empowers us, gives us direction and imparts purpose into our lives.  I like the idea of the whole purpose of existence being that which came from "His pleasing imagination (eudokia)."  It involves an “intent of well-being,” so we can trust in the goodness of this God!  What has happened in Christ is “in line with” what He “[set] forth in union with Himself.”  It is all about God and His secret plan.  The next verse begins to unpack this plan:

 

10.  [leading] into an administration, implementation and realization from a detailed plan for household management of the effects of that which fills up the appointed seasons and fertile moments

(or: unto a dispensing of the entire contents of the opportune situations; [leading] into a house-law of the result from the full measure of the fitting situations and a management of the household of the complement of the seasons; into an administration of the full effect from the eras), [designed]

to itself bring back again all things up under one Head (or: to gather everything around the main point and sum it all up in unity; to unite and return all things to the Source) within and in union with the Christ: those things upon [other MSS: within] the heavens (or: the atmospheres) and the things upon the land (earth) – centered in, within the midst of, and in union with, Him!

 

The noun (oikonomian) in the first prepositional phrase speaks of “His good thought which He before placed within Himself” (vs. 9, above).  It literally means “implementation of a house-law (or: custom of the house), thus: the management of a household, or a plan for the administration thereof.”  Dr. Ann Nyland found a later use of this word from a 2nd century papyrus where this word was used, “to describe surveyor’s plans for a village” (The Source New Testament, Smith and Stirling Publishers, 2007 p 141).  Its extended sense involves the implementation and realization of detailed plans that are involved in its administration.  This involved “dispensing” and “management,” and therefore implies that not only did God have a plan for the effects of that which fills up the appointed seasons and fertile moments, but that He was also involved in the realization of those plans (which were “good thoughts” – He had nothing bad in mind).

 

The parenthetical alternatives on offer for the first half of this verse should also be considered.  What God has done in the Christ-event involves a “dispensing of the entire contents of the opportune situations” which have come into being in the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  This all developed “into a house-law” and the “management of [God’s] household” that “resulted from the full measure of [these] fitting situations” which have ushered in the “full effect from the eras” that have now come to be.  These two phrases that open vs. 10 call to mind Paul’s description of the Christ-event, in Gal. 4:4-5,

Yet when the effect of the filling of the time came (or: that which was filled up by time reached full term), forth from out of a mission (or: from out of the midst of [Himself]), God sent-off His Son, being Himself come to be born from out of a woman, being Himself come to be born under [the rules, authority and influence of] Law, [cf Ex. 19:17, LXX: “under {Sinai}”] to the end that He could (or: would) buy out (ransom; redeem; reclaim [from slavery]) those under [the] Law – so that we could and would receive and take away into possession the placing in the condition of a son (or: the deposit of the Son; the setting in place which is the Son; the constituting as a son; the placing in the Son).” 

 

Schnackenburg rightly sees “… ‘a plan for the fullness of time’… presented in the infinitive clause ‘to unite all things in Christ,’ and ‘all things’ is then explained in the appositional ‘things in heaven and things on earth’” (ibid p 48).  Witherington cites P. Perkins (“The Letter to the Ephesians,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible XI, 2000), “… in the world of first century CE Asia Minor, Christians found themselves the center of God’s cosmic design because they belonged to the risen Lord…” (Ibid p 237).  The “fullness of the appointed seasons” corresponds to the types in the OT agricultural-cultic calendar.  The last of the three main feasts of Israel was the Feast of Tabernacle (also called Ingatherings and Booths; cf Deut. 16:15; Lev. 23:4ff), which, incidentally, included the Day of Atonement.  The yearly calendar was a picture of the age of the Law.

 

The terms used in this verse, along with the concepts presented, are apocalyptic in nature and should be understood in conjunction with the “types and shadows” presented in the OT (cf Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1).  Israel’s religious/agricultural calendar presented pictures of the appointed seasons and fertile moments (kairoi) – and each, in its own way, pointed to the age of the Messiah.  Taken together, they “summed up” God’s "secret" of God’s "purpose of the ages" (3:11, below).  This is why the coming of the Messiah (Jesus) was presented in both cultic and apocalyptic pictures, as we see in Heb. 9:25-29,

Nor yet [is it] that many times He would be repeatedly offering Himself, even as the chief priest is repeatedly entering into the set-apart (or: holy) places yearly in blood belonging to another, otherwise (or: in that case) it was continually binding Him to experience [it] (or: to suffer; to have sense-experiences and to feel) many times from the founding of the organized System of [their] religion and culture (or: the casting down of the world or universe).  Yet now (at this time), once, upon a conjunction (a joined destiny; a bringing of [two] ends together ["denoting the joining of two age-times" – E.W. Bullinger]) of the ages, He has been and remains manifested (has been brought to light and continues visible) into a displacement of failure (of error; of sin; of failure to hit the target) through the sacrifice of Himself (or: through His sacrifice; or: by means of the sacrificial altar-offering which was Himself).

And now, according to as much as it continues lying-away (or: laid away; reserved-off; stored) in (or: with; for; to) mankind (or: people) to die-away once, but after this a process of evaluating (a separating and making a distinction to be a judging and determining; a deciding), so also, the Christ – being once borne (or: carried) close into the many (or: being offered once unto and for the many) to carry failures (errors;       sins mistakes; deviations; misses of the target) back up again – will continue being made visible (or: will be progressively seen) forth from out of the midst of the second [place (cf 9:3, 7 & 10:9; {comment: = the holy of holies})] – apart from failure (apart from sin; apart from a sin offering; apart from error in attempting to hit the target) – in those (or: by those; to those; for those) habitually receiving (or: progressively taking)   from out of the midst of Him, [progressing] into a deliverance (or: [leading] into a rescue; with a view to health and wholeness; into the midst of salvation).”

 

The final clause of this verse begins with an infinitive of purpose.  I have inserted an interpretive suggestion, [designed], before the infinitive phrase, “to itself bring back again all things up under one Head.”  As the parenthetical expansions show, this verb has a greater semantic range than the literal picture given in the bold rendering:

“to gather everything around the main point and sum it all up in unity, or, to unite and return all things to the Source.”

In this context, all of these applications of the infinitive present an apocalyptic, eschatological picture of the arrival of the age of the Messiah and the conclusive work of Jesus which inaugurated the new age, the new creation and the new arrangement (or: covenant).

 

The main point is that humanity will bear the image and likeness of God.  The work of the cross and the resurrection “sums-up” the secret, discussed above.  The coming of the Breath-effect creates “one new humanity”: unity (2:15, below).  Through Jesus Christ “all things” return into God, the original Source (Rom. 11:36).  This all happened/happens “within and in union with the Christ.”

 

The next phrases, “those things upon [other MSS: within] the heavens (or: the atmospheres) and the things upon the land (earth),” are an apocalyptic (or, “ancient science”) phrasing for the whole universe (the “world cosmology” of the day), the entire creation.  But there were other layers of symbolic meaning:

            a) “the heavens” were a figure for the realm of spirit, or for the realm of God and His

            kingdom-reign-sovereign influence-creative activities

            b) “earth” was a figure for humanity (cf 1 Cor. 15:47-49)

            c) the tabernacle/temple was a figurative representation of the heavens, with the cherubim,

            etc. (God’s throne was the ark, within the holy of holies); the land was a figure of the people;

            thus, a change in the heavens spoke of a change in leadership and rule for the people; a

            change in the earth spoke to a transformation of people.

We see all this in Paul’s designation for the followers of the Messiah being “God’s temple (or, home).”  We can observe the concept of “resurrection” being a shift from dwelling in/on the earth to dwelling in the atmospheres/heavens (a move from the “fleshly/soulish” to the “spiritual’).  This transformation happens because it is all “centered in, within the midst of, and in union with, Him!

“One thing is clear from 1.10: the unification of the universe in Christ, the restoration of the divine rule of the universe, has already taken place.  If this were not so, talk of the ‘fulfillment of the fullness of the times’ would be meaningless” (Schnackenburg, ibid p 61).

Grassi comments,

“In biblical thought, man is closely related to the universe; Adam is commissioned to ‘rule over the earth’ (Gen. 1:28).  Christ, the new Adam and the head of a new complete people of God, has been entrusted with the mission of bringing the universe into a state of unity and harmony” (ibid p 344).

Theodoret referred to what Paul describes in vs. 10b, here, by a word that has been translated recapitulation: “By recapitulation he means the complete transformation of things” (Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 116; emphasis original).

 

11.  Within and in union with Whom we were (or: are) also chosen (or: randomly assigned or appointed) by casting a lot (or: were made an allotted portion; or: received an inheritance; or: had our lot cast), being previously marked out (or: being before designated) in keeping with (or: down from; corresponding to; in accord with) a before-placed (or: predetermined-by-setting-forth; destined) aim, design and purpose of the One continuously operating (effecting; energizing) all things (or: the whole) in accord with (or: down from; in line with; in correspondence to; following the pattern of) the deliberated purpose (intent; design; plan; determined counsel) of His will (or: resultant decision of His resolve; effect of His desire),

 

This is an example of the rhetorical device of “restatement” (here of the theme in vss. 4-5a) which is designed to emphasize the point that he has been making.  This verse begins with the emphatic placement of the preposition en, which continues to be a central theme and concept of the new reality “in Christ.”  We should not miss the continuation of thought between the last phrase of vs. 10 (centered in, within the midst of, and in union with, Him) with the restatement of this idea in the first phrase of vs. 11 (Within and in union with Whom).  The emphasis virtually shouts, but also adds the fact of our place of inclusion within “those things upon the heavens (or: the atmospheres) and the things upon the land (earth)” – phrases which apocalyptically describe, and add another layer of perception to, the phrase “all things” that we see in both vss. 10 and 11.

 

Note the “divine passive” form of the verb “chosen by lot”: this was an act of God, not a result of human choice.  The parenthetical expansions give other potential meanings from the semantic range of the verb, enlarging our perspectives of the effect of His purpose.  This is the only occurrence of this verb in the NT, but corresponds to the use of the cognate noun in Col. 1:12-13,

[We are folks who are] constantly giving thanks to the Father: the One calling you [other MSS: us] – as well as making [you; us] competent (sufficient; qualified; fit; suitable) into the divided share of the lot of the inheritance (or: into the part and portion of the allotted possession) of the set-apart folks (or: pertaining to the holy ones; belonging to the saints; from the sacred people; which is the different-from-the-ordinary folks) within the Light; He who drags us out of danger (or: rescued us) forth from out of the midst of the authority of the Darkness (from Darkness's jurisdiction and right; from existing out of gloomy shadows and obscure dimness; = the privilege of ignorance), and changes [our] position (or: transported [us], thus, giving [us] a change of standing, and transferred [us]) into the midst of the kingdom and reign of the Son of His love.”

This same cognate noun is used in vs. 14, below, and Schnackenburg points out that this concept is taken “from the division of the land among the tribes of Israel…” (ibid p 62).  See also Acts 26:18 as well as 5:8, below, and a similar statement in 1 Thes. 5:5.  These same thoughts are joined and expanded in 1 Pet.2:9-10 which echo pictures from Israel’s history,

Yet you folks [are] ‘a picked-out (selected; chosen) offspring (family; kin; lineage; race; species; breed) [Isa. 43:20; Deut. 7:6], a royal (kingly; palace) priesthood [Ex. 19:6; Isa. 61:6], a set-apart (holy; different) multitude (company; nation; body of people living together; swarm; association; ethnic group; caste; [Ex. 19:6; note: implies a sacred life]), a people constructed into an encirclement (made into a surrounding structure; set as a perimeter; made into a performance about [Him]; formed around as an acquisition; gathered into a surrounding [flock]) [Isa. 43:21; Ex. 19:5] so that you may tell forth the message of (or: out-message; publish; declare abroad) the excellencies and qualities of nobleness (virtues of braveness, courage, good character, quality, self-restraint, magnificence, benevolence, reliability) of and from the One calling you out of darkness (gloomy dimness; the realm of shadows and obscurity) into the midst of His wonderful (marvelous; amazing) light [p72 reads: into the wonderful Light], [you] who [were] once (or: formerly) ‘not a people,’ but now [are] ‘God's people;’ [formerly] being the ones having ‘not been given mercy,’ yet now [are] ‘folks being mercied (being given mercy) [Hos. 2:23].”

 

The final clause proclaims God’s sovereignty over His creation – and the all-inclusive extent of His power and authority.  Nothing is outside of His continuous operations and purposeful effecting that which is in accord with His sovereign will.  We were, and are – the aorist tense, chosen and appointed to be a part of His grand design and purpose.  The Christ (a corporate reality, since the resurrection of Jesus) was the “predetermined-by-setting-forth and destined aim” of God’s “good thoughts” – and we are graced to be a part of it.  The effects of the Christ-event were, "in accord with (or: down from; in line with; in correspondence to) the deliberated purpose (intent; design; plan; determined counsel)" – or was, "following the pattern of the resultant decision of His resolve and the effect of His desire."  Here Paul has expanded his thoughts about God’s “detailed plan” that he mentioned in the previous verse.  How more comprehensively could he have said it?

 

12.  [leading] into the [situation for] us to continuously be (or: exist) [immersed] into the midst of praise and approval from (or: which is) His glory (or: from His manifestation which calls forth admiration and which yields a good opinion; which pertains to His imagination; of a reputation which is Him) – [we] being the folks having before (or: fully) placed expectation within the Christ and who have left our expectation there (or: who have continued expectantly hoping in advance [of others]).

 

This verse begins with the preposition, into, followed by the definite article, the, before the infinitive, to continuously be (or: exist).  Since this directly follows “the deliberated purpose of His will” in vs. 11, I inserted the interpretive participle [leading].  To keep the infinitive form of the verb, I inserted [situation for] before the personal pronoun us, in order to help the flow of the sense in English.  Next we come to another prepositional phrase that informs us to where His will is leading us: into the midst of praise and approval.  Since the preposition (into…) directly follows the infinitive (to continuously be) I have inserted a suggestion ([immersed]) to better describe the picture that Paul is painting by using this particular preposition which indicates movement from one place into the midst of another, as in Col.1:13, cited above.

 

Next we encounter another prepositional phrase which I first render as an ablative (from), indicating that the praise and approval, into which we have been [immersed], comes from His glory.  Rendered as apposition, this can also read, “praise and approval which is His glory.”  Another ablative reading, and another rendering of doxa (glory, etc.) yields, “praise from His manifestation which calls forth admiration and which yields a good opinion.”  Doxa also means “imagination,” so a genitive reading can be, “which pertains to His imagination.”  The word “glory” also means one’s reputation, so by rendering the personal pronoun “Him” as apposition, we can also render this, “praise and approval of a reputation which is Him.”  All of these options present a beautiful picture of Christ, and of our position in Him.  Below, Paul uses this same phrase in vs. 14, speaks of Father of the Glory in vs. 17, and the riches of the Glory in vs. 18 and then in 3:21 makes a summation regarding the glory, in this essay,

by Him (to Him; for Him; in Him; with Him) [is] the glory (the manifestation which calls forth praise) within the called-out community (the summoned-forth congregation) as well as within Christ Jesus: unto (or: [proceeding] into) all the generations (births; progenies) of the Age of the ages (= the most significant, or crowning, Age of all the ages)!  Make it so (or: Amen)!

This present-and-future oriented proclamation reminds us of Heb. 13:8,

            “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and on into the ages.”

 

The next clause has the action expressed by a perfect participle, and this is the reason for the reading, “having before placed expectationand who have left our expectation there,” which describes a completed past action with the results continuing into the present.  Opinions vary regarding how to render the prefix (pro-) of the participle.  I have given three options: before and “in advance” (inserting “[of others]” to help the reader see the meaning).  Before aligns with the sense inherent in the perfect tense and stresses the idea of a past action.  Paul, the Jewish Christians and others (e.g. Cornelius and his household) had been given the life of Christ prior to the outreach into Asia Minor.  The traditional interpretation of this phrase was that the “we” of vs. 11-12 referred “to those believers in Christ who were from a Jewish background…. those who had previously hoped… in Christ” (Abrosiaster, Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 118), but especially in view of Acts 2:8-11 (the largest list of Gentile nations in the NT), this view does not seem to follow.

 

Another possibility is taking the prefix pro- as an intensifier, “fully,” which would point to a finished or completed action – which aligns with the perfect tense – and suggests that they had placed expectation in none other than the Anointed One.  The final parenthetical rendering presents the continued state of both expectation and expectant hope that is brought to us when we are placed “in Christ.”  Here the “us” can also be read as including the Christians in Asia Minor, as well; all believers have placed their expectations upon Jesus Christ, and not on themselves.  This clause calls to mind Rom. 8:24a,

            “For in the expectation and with hope we are suddenly made whole and healthy

            (or: You see, by the expectation we are delivered and saved; or: For we were at one point rescued to expectation; or: To be sure, we were kept safe for this expectation)!

Cf 1 Cor. 15:19.  2 Cor. 1:10 gives us a picture of an ongoing expectation of receiving His care here in this life,

He Who snatched (dragged so as to rescue) us from out of the midst of the very prime (or: peak) of Death (or: out of a death of such proportions) will also repeatedly rescue and drag us to Himself – into Whom we have placed our hope and expectation so as to yet rely that He also will Himself continue still dragging us further toward Himself

1 Tim. 4:10b presents a picture that attests to the “before” rendering, above:

because we have placed our expectation (or: set our hope) and thus rely upon a living God (or: upon [the] living God), Who is (exists being) [the] Savior (Deliverer; Rescuer; Restorer to health and wholeness) of all human beings (all mankind) – especially of believers (of folks full of faith and trust; of faithful ones)!

Cf 1 Tim. 5:5 and 6:17 for practical situations.

 

13.  Within and in union with Whom you folks also, upon hearing the Word of the Truth (or: the thought and idea of Reality; the message from the Truth; the Logos which is Reality) – the good news (the message of goodness, ease and well-being) of your [other MSS: of our] deliverance (rescue; return to health and wholeness; salvation) – within and in union with Whom also, upon trusting and believing, you people are stamped (or: were sealed; marked for acceptance, or with a signet ring; = personally authorized) by the set-apart Breath-effect of The Promise (or: with the holy attitude of assurance; in the sacred essence from the promise; or: for the Holy Spirit which is the Promise)

 

In the previous verses Paul has been using the pronouns we/us, and now in this verse he changes to you/your, and except for the our in the next verse, he continues speaking about "them."  Although commentators debate Paul's motivation for this, I suggest that it may simply be a rhetorical strategy of first taking an inclusive stance that shows his solidarity with his audiences, and thereafter assuming a form of discourse that displays the fact that his message is primarily about them, and their important place and significance within the us.  He makes it personal to them.

 

Take note of the sequence that Paul describes.  First: hearing the Word of the Truth – or, as the parenthetical expansion points out, "the thought and idea of Reality" (as opposed to the "unreal existence" of the Edenic lie or the resultant "false existence" of the old creation).  Or it could mean, "the message from the Truth," which could refer to what Jesus taught (He IS the Truth – John 14:6), or to the unveiling given to Paul from the risen Christ concerning the inclusion of the Gentiles in the new covenant.  Or, through the proclamation of the good news, they could have heard "the Logos (Christ) which IS Reality."  All of this is included in the good news, or literally, "the message of goodness, ease and well-being."  Col. 1:5 connects the idea of “expectation” (in 12b, above) with “the Word of the Truth,” here, thusly:

the expectation (or: expectant hope) the one continuously lying stored away as a     reserve – resident within the atmospheres (or: heavens), which you folks already heard (or: heard before) within the word (message; discourse; or: Logos) concerning the Truth (or: the word of truth; the idea belonging to and having its source in Reality; the message which is truth and reality) which originates in and pertains to the message of ease, goodness and well-being (or: which belongs to the good news).”

 

Next Paul specifies that this good news was, or created, their deliverance – their rescue from the human predicament, which included being estranged (which he discusses, below), and metaphorically dead (2:1ff, below).

 

Then he restates their corporate inclusion within and in union with Whom (referring to Christ, in vs. 12, above) – and so now twice he is affirming that they are "in Christ."  Because of this, they became able (through the power of the Spirit within them) to be trusting and believing (cf 2:8, below); but we should note the parenthetical quality in this prepositional phrase.  It is the next phase of what organically grows from hearing the Word of the Truth.  Because of BEING within Him, when the trusting and believing was birthed within them, they were simultaneously "sealed," and are stamped by the set-apart Breath-effect.  This picture is an echo of Ezk.9:4ff, and is seen again in Rev. 7:2-8.

 

Here I want to emphasize the –ma ending of pneuma (Breath-effect; Spirit; attitude; essence).  This noun ending signifies "the effect" or "the result" of the meaning of the particular stem to which it is suffixed in order to form this kind of noun.  Some grammarians render this particular noun as "Blow-effect" (Greek-English Keyword Concordance, in the Concordant Literal NT, Concordant Publishing Concern, 1983, p 282) or "blow-effect; breeze" (A Comprehensive Lexicon and Concordance, Concordant Pub. Concern).  The stamping and sealing was the effect of God's Breath blowing upon and into these folks.  This rendering calls to mind Gen. 1:2b – the action of the Creator upon first the face of the waters – and then Gen. 2:7b where He "blew into" the human (that He had formed of moist soil) "the breath of life."  Here, this transfer of the spoken Word into the human hearers by the Breath-effect (with a view to "stamping" them with the image of God) is another act of creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15) – a resurrection into the last (eschatos) Adam, the Second Humanity.

 

Paul gives us another picture of this action in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians:

21.  Now God [is] the One repeatedly placing us on good, firm footing (constantly stabilizing and establishing us; or: confirming, guaranteeing and validating us as possessed by a purchase) and completely (or: instantly, in one point in time) anointing us, together with you folks, into Christ.

22.  He [is] also the One completely (or: instantly, in one point in time) sealing us (stamping us with an identity-mark; imprinting us for ownership; or: validating/guaranteeing our genuineness), even (or: and) completely (instantly, in one point in time) giving the advance transaction of the agreement (or: the pledge and down payment guaranteeing full payment for purchase; or: a dowry) of the Spirit (or: which is the spirit; or: having its source and origin in the Breath-effect; or: which belongs and pertains to the spirit; from the Attitude) within the midst of our hearts.

 

The action was (and is) by the set-apart Breath-effect of the Promise, or with the holy attitude of assurance, or in the sacred essence from the promise, or for the Holy Spirit which is the Promise.  We see reference to God’s Spirit, below, in 2:18, 22; 3:5, 16; 4:3-4, 39; 5:18; and 6:17-18.  The first prepositional phrase in this sequence is in the dative case, whose functions give us the potentials of choosing the English "by, with, in or for."  These can be used in other combinations with the renderings on offer for the second prepositional phrase which is in the genitive case.  This "mix and match" potential must be guided by the context and what "makes sense."  May His Breath-effect guide us as we contemplate the full extent of Paul's meaning and all the facets of this beautiful gem.

 

I also give the extended meanings of the nouns: attitude of assurance; sacred essence from the promise; Holy Spirit which is the Promise.  This last option is the most profound and most inclusive in describing the purpose of God in creating what He has.

 

Both "location" (within) and "relationship" (in union with) are key concepts for understanding what Paul is describing in the twice-stated within and in union with.  And of course in the perceiving of the majestic object of this little preposition (en): "Whom," is the perceiving of the Good News.

 

The qualifying noun "the Promise" would signal to the folks in Asia Minor that Paul is flagging Abraham and their connection to the Promise that was made to him, which was central to the history of the Good News (cf Gal. 4).

 

14.  – Which is continuously a pledge and guarantee of our inheritance (or: Who remains being an earnest deposit, a security and the first installment of our portion which was acquired by lot) – [leading] unto a release into freedom (liberation from slavery or imprisonment) from that which was made to surround [us/you] (or: of the encircling acquisition; or: which is that which has been constructed as a perimeter around [us]), [being immersed] into the praise and approval from (or: which is) His glory (or: from His manifestation which calls forth admiration and which yields a good opinion; which pertains to His imagination; of a reputation which is Him)!

 

The term pledge (etc.) can be correlated to the planting of the Seed of Christ into the soil of humanity (cf the organic metaphor in 1 Jn. 3:9, “because His Seed {sperm} is continuously remaining {dwelling; abiding} within him {or: within, and in union with, Him}”; also the agricultural metaphor in, Jn. 12:24, and then the figure of growth and increase in Mk. 4:28, “Spontaneously the ground progressively bears fruit and produces a crop: first a sprout, then a stalk head and finally a full grain within the stalk head”).  This is a statement of promise and expectant anticipation.  The term guarantee renders this Semitic borrow-word, arrabon, in “the language of commerce” (Schnackenburg, ibid p 66) and yields an even stronger promise of receiving the full amount of our inheritance. Cf 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5 – the only other places in the NT where this term pledge/guarantee (etc.) are used.

 

The parenthetical expansion of this clause renders the particle as ho (without an accent) or hos (with other MSS), personalizing it to read, “Who [referring either to the Promise, or the Holy Spirit, in the previous verse] remains being an earnest deposit, a security and the first installment of our portion which was acquired by lot.”  This “deposit” into us is Personal – it is God, Himself.

 

Next we come to another prepositional phrase.  I inserted the participle [leading], again, to express the directional movement inherent in the preposition eis.  The work of Christ brought us “into Him” so that we now reside “within and in union with Him.”  The giving of God’s Spirit (His Breath-effect) brought us “unto a release into freedom (or, into liberation from slavery or imprisonment).”  This calls to mind Gal. 5:1a,

For the [aforementioned] freedom, Christ immediately set us free (or: [The] Anointed One at once frees us in, to, for and with freedom)!

 

Now we encounter another phrase which I have rendered first as an ablative, “from that which was made to surround [us/you],” then as a genitive, “of the encircling acquisition,” and lastly in apposition, “which is that which has been constructed as a perimeter around [us].”  The substantive to which I have given three renderings is from the cognate verb, poieo (to make, do, produce, construct, create) with the prefix peri- (around, as a circle).  It can have either a positive or a negative connotation.  The first rendering speaks of our being released into freedom from: a confining environment, an encumbrance of possessions or cares, a restricting perimeter of rules that hamper our freedom, etc.

 

The next -- positive -- rendering speaks of a release into freedom OF the encircling acquisition (e.g., the super-abounding riches of His grace and mercy that surround us).  The last rendering on offer, the appositional one, can be seen as the freedom that comes with having defensive measures constructed around us (e.g., walls of a house or a city, or the placement of troops as protection).  We see another use of this substantive, giving us another picture of what Christ has done for us, in 1 Pet. 2:9a,

Yet you folks [are] "a picked-out (selected; chosen) offspring (family; kin; lineage; race; species; breed) [Isa. 43:20; Deut. 7:6], a royal (kingly; palace) priesthood [Ex. 19:6; Isa. 61:6], a set-apart (holy; different) multitude (company; nation; body of people living together; swarm; association; ethnic group; caste; [Ex. 19:6; note: implies a sacred life]), a people constructed into an encirclement (made into a surrounding structure; set as a perimeter; made into a performance about [Him]; formed around as an acquisition; gathered into a surrounding [flock])" [Isa. 43:21; Ex. 19:5]

Paul uses this picture in 2 Thes.2:13b-14,

in a setting-apart of spirit and faith which has the character of truth (or: a making sacred from Breath-effect and trust from reality; or: in union with Spirit's differencing and Truth's faith), on into which, through our message of goodness, ease and well-being, He also called you folks [other MSS: us] into an encompassing (or: forming an encirclement; establishing a perimeter; creating a surrounding, and thus a procuring) of the glory (or: which is the glory; from the manifestation which calls forth praise) of our Lord, Jesus Christ (or: [the] Anointed).”

 

For a discussion of the final two prepositional phrases (into the praise… which is Him) see the identical phrases in vs. 12, above.

 

15.  On account of this, I also, on listening to (or: after hearing) – along with and in accord with you folks (or: in the same sphere as you; down from you; on the same level with you people) – the faith resident within the midst of the Lord Jesus (or: the trust centered in the Owner, Jesus; the loyalty based on union with the Master, Jesus), as well as the love and unrestricted acceptance [being dispersed] unto all the folks set apart (holy ones; saints),

 

The opening phrase, On account of this, alerts the listener to understand that what he is about to say is based upon what he has just said.  Paul includes himself (I also) with his listeners (along with and in accord with you folks; in the same sphere as you; on the same level with you) in the listening to and after hearing (an aorist participle) “the faith resident within the midst of the Lord Jesus, as well as the love and unrestricted acceptance...”  This reading of the text opens with a statement of Paul’s solidarity with his listeners and focuses their attention on their Master, Jesus, and on the faith, trust and loyalty that resides within Him – not upon themselves.  It keeps Christ as the reason for Paul giving thanks and speaking goodness toward them, in the next verse, with a view to what he would have God do for them (and himself, the us in vs. 19) in vss. 17-19.  Note the corporate implications in the plural pronouns.  What he says is meant for the groups, as bodies of Christ.

 

Some early MSS do not have the phrase, “as well as the love and unrestricted acceptance (agape),” but there is good MS witness for it, and its inclusion corresponds with Col. 1:4.  Schnackenburg suggest that it “might be an oversight” (i.e., a scribal error) in the MSS where it is missing (ibid p 73 n 8).  Notice the ellipsis (no expressed verb) where I supplied [being dispersed] to complete the thought of Christ’s love [coming] unto all the folks set apart (holy ones; saints).  This recalls Rom. 5:5,

because God’s love (the urge toward reunion and the unambiguous, uniting acceptance from God) has been poured out in a gush and shed forth so that it now floods within our hearts, permeating the core of our being, through the Set-apart Breath-effect (or: Holy Spirit; Sacred Attitude) being given to us (in us; for us).”

This reading also expresses a more extensive understanding of Paul’s use of the word “all,” rather than applying it just to the communities of Asia Minor.  It would be unlikely that all of those groups would have generated such a glowing reputation, as that which Paul (with this reading) applies here to Christ.  Consider the letters to the called-out groups of this same area as given in Rev. 2-3.  Reading this verse christologically seems the best course.

 

16.  [I] do not pause (or: cease; stop myself) in continuously giving thanks over you folks (or: speaking good favor on your behalf; or: expressing the well-being of grace because of your [situation or condition]), constantly making mention (constructing a recollection; producing for myself a mental image) upon the [occasions] of my speaking and thinking toward having wellness and goodness (or: imparted desires; prayers),

 

Because of the effect of the work of Christ (vs. 15, above), Paul did not pause continuously giving thanks over [them].  He was thankful because of the Christ-caused situation and condition.  He continued to speak “good favor on [their] behalf, expressing the well-being of grace” because of Christ in them.  The root of the participle that Paul uses is charis (grace; favor), and this term is prefixed with the particle eu- (goodness; well-being); thus my parenthetical renderings.  So Paul may have been “speaking good favor and well-being” toward them.  In fact, the object of the final preposition in this verse is pros-eu-chōn (thinking or speaking toward [their] having wellness and goodness).  He was imparting these desires to them, or, praying for them.

 

Note that this was a continuous aspect of his life.  He was constantly involved with them, in spirit if not in physical presence.

 

17.  to the end that the God of (or: pertaining to; or, reading the genitive as in apposition: Who is) our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of the Glory (or: the founder and archetype of, and which is, this manifestation which calls forth praise), might give (suddenly impart) to you folks a spirit (or: breath-effect; attitude) of wisdom and revelation (unveiling; uncovering; disclosure) within the midst of a full and accurate experiential and intimate knowledge of Himself

(or: in a full realization of Him; or: within and in union with His full, personal knowledge; or: centered and resident within an added insight from Him, and which is Him),

 

From this we can observe that wisdom, revelation and knowledge all come to us as a gift/impartation from God.  There is therefore no condemnation for those who lack any of these.  There is no “fault” imposed if the eyes of [our] heart (vs. 18, below) is not yet enlightened.  Paul is writing this to believers that are a part of the called-out, covenant communities who have already been placed “into Christ,” and have Christ “in [them].”  As Witherington pointed out, above, Paul is writing this to aid their growth and development.  All of the NT letters to the congregations in the various cities boil down to this (even if they address specific issues or problems); they are not evangelical in nature.  All of our Bible was written to, for or about folks that were already “God’s people.”  Throughout its history it was primarily an instrument of “course-correction” for those who were called to follow the path as it was revealed in their time and situation.

 

The rest of this chapter points to the purpose of Paul’s imparting prayers for them.  These three components which Paul desires for them to have are in the realm of spirit, [God’s] breath-effect and an enlightened attitude (all of which are meanings of the Greek pneuma).  The final compound phrase has as its object knowledge (gnosis with the intensifying preposition epi- prefixed to it, qualifying it as full and accurate, or “added,” experiential and intimate knowledge and insight).  This “knowledge” is specified and made particular by the modifying phrase, of Himself.  Both the wisdom and the uncovering exist within the midst of this knowledge.  So an accurate knowledge of God is imperative.  At the same time, the wisdom and revelation are replete with this “insight” that comes “from Him, and which is Him.”  All of this is found “in Christ.”  We need not look elsewhere, for Paul has, above, repeatedly emphasized, that it is all “in Him.”

 

The phrase, the Father of the Glory, is another way to say “the Father of Jesus Christ,” for this new Adam, the Christ, is “God’s image and glory” (1 Cor. 11:7).  Christ within and among us is the expectation of this glory which the Father has produced.  As the parenthetical expansion of this phrase reads, God is “the founder and archetype of, and which is, this manifestation [i.e., Christ] which calls forth praise.”  Chrysostom comments that, “The Father of glory means ‘the one who has given you these most extraordinary gifts’…. Everywhere in Scripture this name is applied to God: glory” (Homily on Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 120).  “Where Jesus Christ is, there is God, and where there is glory, there is the Father” (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, ACCoS, ibid p 120).

 

Revelation, unveiling, uncovering and disclosure all function to make the fullness of the secret (here, knowledge concerning God) known – and especially “to know – and gain insight by intimate experience – the love of, from, and which is, Christ (3:19, below).  The parenthetical renderings of the last compound phrase are worth noting:

            a) in a full realization of Him

            b) within and in union with HIS full, personal knowledge

            c) centered and resident within an ADDED insight from Him, and which IS Him.

 

So this “full or added” insight and knowledge is something beyond the beginning “milk” of the Word and of our experience of Him: it is the “solid food” (1 Cor. 3:2; cf 1 Cor. 2:6-16).  We are called to partake of His “flesh,” which is “solid food,” in Jn. 6:27-58.  This happens in intimate, experiential union with Him (Jn. 15:1ff).

 

18.  the eyes of the heart of you folks (= the insights and perceptions of the core of your [corporate] being) having been and now continuing enlightened (or: now being illuminated into a state of enlightenment) into the [situation for] you folks to have seen and thus perceive and know what is the expectation (or: expectant hope) of His calling (or: from HIS calling; belonging to His summons; from the invitation which is Him) and what [is] the wealth and riches from the glory (or: of the imagination and opinion; pertaining to the reputation) of and from the enjoyment of His lot-acquired inheritance within, in union with, and among the set-apart, sacred people (the holy ones).

 

Note the corporate singular: literally, “the heart of you folks.”  The enlightenment comes corporately, and each member needs all the rest of the members (1 Cor. 12:12-20).  In 1 Cor. 14:29-31 Paul gives us a picture of how this can happen,

Now let two or three prophets be speaking, one after another, and let the other folks continue thoroughly sifting and sorting so as to fully evaluate and reach a decision.  Yet if it may (or: should) be unveiled (revealed; disclosed) to another being seated, let the first hush, and keep silent, for you all continue able (constantly have power) to be repeatedly prophesying, one by one, to the end that everyone (all) can be learning, and everyone (all) can be called alongside to receive relief, aid, comfort and encouragement (may receive the benefits of the Paraclete).”

Ephraim the Syrian (4th cent.) observed, “The signs manifest to the external eyes of the Jews did them little good.  But faith opened the eyes of the hearts of the Gentiles” (Homily on Our Lord, ACCoS, ibid p 121).  Schnackenburg points out that this first clause reflects “a Jewish way of thinking” (ibid p 74).

 

Next is the perfect passive (note: the “divine passive” – the action of God upon us) participle, having been and now continuing enlightened.  The “illumination” came with the advent of the Messiah,

Within It (i.e., the Light; or: Him), life was continuing and progressively existing (or: In It was life [as a source]; [Aleph, D and others witnesses read present tense: In union with it there continues being life; Life progressively exists within the midst of It]).  And the life was continuing being, and began progressively existing as, the Light of mankind (or: Furthermore, the Light progressively came to be the life known as "humanity," and was for human beings; or: Then the life was existing being the light from the humans).  And the Light is constantly shining in the dim and shadowed places, and keeps on progressively giving light within the gloomy darkness where there is no light (or: within the midst of the obscurity of The Darkness where there is no light of The Day; or: = in the ignorant condition or system)…. It was (or: He was, and continued being) the True and Genuine Light which (or: Who) is continuously (repeatedly; progressively) enlightening (giving light to) every person (or: human) continuously (repeatedly; progressively; constantly; one after another) coming into the world (or: the ordered system of culture, religion, economics and government; or: the universe)

                        (or: It was the real Light, progressively coming into the world {organized system}, which is progressively enlightening {or: shedding light on} every human).” (Jn. 1:4-5, 9)

The illumination came to the folks in Asia Minor when the Logos was proclaimed to them, but it is a Light that continues shining and illuminating.  We read in Prov.4:18,

“Now the paths (roads; ways) of the just folks [those having been rightwised into the Way pointed out] keep on shining and radiating like Light; they continue journeying on and progressively give Light (or: continue enlightening) until the Day can set [things] straight (or: may aright [itself]; can set [everything] up” (LXX, JM)

Paul sees the past event (perfect tense) as having a continuing effect, via His Spirit (vs. 17, above).

 

We now come to a dependent clause employing a perfect infinitive that describes their (and our) present condition: “into the [situation for] you folks to have seen and thus perceive and know what is the expectation (or: expectant hope) of His calling (or: from HIS calling; belonging to His summons; from the invitation which is Him).”  Paul wants them (and us) to be perceiving the expectation (cf the discussion on this word in vs. 12, above) that came with His calling them/us to Himself.  This is put in contrast to their previous situation that he describes in 2:12, below, “continually having no expectation,” and he sets it within their new environment of oneness and unity in 4:4, below, “[being] one body and one spirit (attitude and effect of the Breath), according as you folks were (or: are) also called within the midst of one expectation.”

 

In the parenthetical rendering of the last phrase, first rendered “of His calling,” we move from the idea of His having called us, to a rendering of the genitive to an ablative (from) with the personal pronoun as a possessive: “from HIS calling.”  HIS calling to be the deliverer of the world and to carry away the sin of the world gave US and expectation of life, and of participation in Him. It gave us the expectation of being able to function as His temple, to bring Him to other folks, and to perform as paracletes, as Judah (Jude) describes,

22.  And so, on the one hand, you folks be repeatedly extending compassionate kindness on some folks in order to relieve their misery and affliction [other MSS read: put to the proof; expose; convict; reprove] while continuously discerning, sifting and thoroughly separating so as to accurately decide [about their situation]

(or: be continually showing mercy on some who are constantly undecided and continue wavering and doubting because of making divided judgment in or for themselves);

23.  yet on the other hand, be continuously delivering (or: repeatedly rescuing and saving, restoring to health and wholeness) others, snatching them from out of the midst of the Fire; be repeatedly extending compassionate mercy in reverent fear, while hating and radically detaching from even the garment having been stained (or: spotted) from the flesh (= the alienated human nature; = the self that was formed and controlled by the System).

This elaborates a part of our life of following Him which comes with “belonging to His summons.”  It is “expected” of us to be His apprentices, and as Jesus said,

the person habitually trusting and progressively believing into Me, the works (actions; deeds) which I Myself am constantly doing (habitually performing; progressively making, constructing, creating, forming) that one also will proceed doing (performing; making; creating), and he will progressively be doing greater than these…” (Jn. 14:12)

Jesus also said to His followers,

No one continues holding (or: having) greater love than this: that someone should place (set; lay; lay down) his soul (or: soul-life; inner being; self; person) over [the situation or circumstances of] (or: on behalf of) his friends.” (John 15:13)

These continue being “expectation of and from His calling.”  But I think that my favorite rendering is the combination of the rendering of the ablative with the personal pronoun in apposition: “from the invitation which is Him.”  He comes to us in the word and message of the invitation (or, the imperative, as in Mat. 9:9, “Be continuously following Me!”).  That invitation is Him presenting Himself to us.

 

The next phrase leads us into another area of Paul’s thoughts: “and what [is] the wealth and riches from the glory (or: of the imagination and opinion; pertaining to the reputation).”  We discussed the term wealth/riches in vs. 7, above, where he spoke of “the wealth of, and which is, His grace.”  Here Paul speaks of this wealth coming from the glory, then he further qualifies this as,

of and from the enjoyment of His lot-acquired inheritance within, in union with, and among the set-apart, sacred people (the holy ones).”

Because of our being “in Him,” there are riches “of the imagination and opinion” of/from HIS inheritance that is “among the set-apart, sacred people.”  His lot was cast among us, and in union with us.  This calls to mind Ps. 2:8, “I will give the nations (ethnic multitudes) as Your allotment.”  This union with Him and with all the set-apart folks brings a wealth of imagination as He shares His opinions about things with us – and we with other people.  Thus there comes for Him and for us “the riches” that are inherent in and that emanate from things “pertaining to the reputation of and from the enjoyment of His allotment within us.  We belong to Him (He is our owner), but He has given Himself to us.

 

Schnackenburg instructs us that the final phrase of this verse “refer[s] to the divine-heavenly sphere” and that, “The Qumran Community believed that it was united with the ‘holy ones’ in heaven [cf n 16: 1 QS 11.7f; 1 QSa 2.8f; 1 QH 3.22f; 1 QM 12.1, 4]” (ibid p 75).  I suggest that this “spiritual” sphere is our present environment (Acts 17:28; Heb. 12:22ff).  If we understand and place the Qumran viewpoint alongside what Paul says in 2:5-6, below, about our now being, in apocalyptic terms, “caused to sit among the folks [residing] upon the atmospheres,” we might gain an insight into their spiritual perceptions.

 

19.  And further, [I pray that you may know] what [is] the continually surpassing greatness (or: the constantly transcendent, repeatedly overshooting and thrown-beyond huge extent) of His ability and power [being given] unto, and into, us – the people continuously believing, progressively trusting and constantly loyal – in accord with (or: down from; corresponding to) the operation (or: energizing; internal working) of force (or: might) of His strength,

 

This verse is actually a continuation of vs. 18, but for the ease of reading I have simplified Paul’s Asiatic rhetoric and rendered it as a separate sentence, while inserting a short paraphrase of his intercession for them which began above.  Here, he wants them to know “the continually surpassing greatness (or: the constantly transcendent, repeatedly overshooting and thrown-beyond huge extent)” of what God has given “unto us and INTO us (eis).”  He explains that it is the gift “of His ability and power” – the two primary meanings of dunamis.  This is a staggering concept.  It is so staggering that Paul describes God’s act unto us as the “continuously surpassing greatness” (a present participle) or as the “constantly transcendent” and “repeatedly overshooting” huge extent.  Talk about hyperbole!  It was the ability to liberate us from slavery to sin (Rom. 6:20).  It was the power to resurrect us from the existence of “being dead ones by (or: to; with; in) the results and effects of your stumblings aside (offences; wrong steps) and failures to hit the mark (or: mistakes; errors; times of falling short; sins; deviations)” – 2:1, below, and the power/ability to “jointly rouse and raise [us] up, and caused [us] to sit (= enthrone [us]) together within the things situated upon [thus, above] the heavens” (2:6, below).  It was the power to make all things new (Rev. 21:5) and form a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).  It was the ability to infuse us with the eonian life (the life of the age of the Messiah).  It was the power to place us into the risen, “cosmic,” Christ – and the ability to indwell us by His Spirit, transforming “jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7 – He is the Treasure within us) into temples of God.  It is the power of a new arrangement (or: covenant; Heb. 8:6).  All this, by His power and ability, He has given “unto us,” and has placed “into the midst of us.”

 

Because He indwells us, His faithfulness indwells us.  His presence has changed us into people who are “continuously believing, progressively trusting and constantly loyal.”  And this condition is:

            a) in accord with

            b) down from

            c) corresponding to

the operation (or: energizing; internal working) of force (or: might) of HIS strength.”  In other words, it is all Him.  Like the creation of the first Adam, He has blown the breath of His life into us, and we have become LIVING beings.

 

20.  which is operative (or: which He exerted and inwardly worked) within the Christ (the Anointed One; = the Messiah), awakening and raising Him forth from out of the midst of dead folks and then seating Him within (or: = at) His right [hand] (or: in union with the place of honor, strength and receiving – which is Him), within the things (or: among the folks, places or realms) situated upon the heavens

            (or: in the super-heavenlies; within the full, perfected heavenlies; in union with the celestials; among the folks [residing] upon the atmospheres),

 

The verb in the first clause is in the aorist tense.  Seen as a simple past (the parenthetical rendering), we see this verse as historical: the resurrection of Jesus, the Anointed One, and His enthronement.  The apocalyptic picture of the second part of this verse is an allusion to Ps. 110:1.  Seen as a simple present tense (is operative), we see the work of the “power of the might of His strength” awakening and raising Him forth from out of the midst of dead folks to whom Paul refers in 2:1, below.  In this second layer of interpretation, we see in the apocalyptic second half of this verse a parallel to what he states in 2:5-6, below.  We were the dead folks out of whom (subsequent to His falling into our ground and dying – Jn. 12:24) God’s power raised Him forth, so that we can now bear God’s image and show forth God’s glory (which is Christ within us).

 

Jerome rightly observes,

“He demonstrates the power of God through a human image…. the very word sits denotes the power of kingship…” (Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 123),

and Marius Victorinus concludes,

“Authority is expressed in action.  Power is expressed in the capacity to act… But since Christ is himself the origin of all and is in all that is possible, he is above all power. Since he is the source of all acts and authority is expressed in actions, he is therefore said to be above all authority” (Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 123; emphasis original).

 

21.  up over (or: back above) every primacy (or: ruler; principality; government; controlling effect; or: beginning; origin) and authority (or: right and privilege from out of being) and power (or: ability) and lordship (or: ownership), as well as every name being continually named – not only within this age, but also within the impending one (the one being presently about to come)

 

Now apply both interpretations of vs. 20 to this verse: both are the new reality of the new age.  Take a moment to consider the semantic range of primacy – they all apply – but keep in mind that this is an apocalyptic image of this new age, but which also transcends all the ages yet to come.  Our word, here, is the genitive form of arche – primary meaning: beginning; origin.  The secondary meanings refer to rulers, principalities (kingdoms run by princes), or simply, governments.  A more extended meaning: controlling effect.

 

Indeed Jesus was raised up to be above all these, for with His enthronement He is King of kings and Lord of lords (cf Rev. 17:14; 19:16).

In the sight and presence of God – the One continuously bringing forth all things as living creatures (the One habitually or repeatedly generating all things alive, keeping The Whole alive)…. keep watch on, so as to guard and preserve, the spotless, not-to-be-laid-hold-of-for-blame implanted goal until the shining upon from (or: the display in clear light of) our Lord, Jesus Christ which, in its own fitting situations (appropriate seasons; appointed occasions; fertile moments), will proceed to exhibit and point out The Happy and Only Able One (only Powerful One; alone Potent One): The King of those reigning as kings, and Lord (Master; Owner) of those ruling as lords” (1Tim. 6:13-15).

In this letter to Timothy, Paul saw the “fertile moment” as being in the future, when the exhibition and pointing out would occur (perhaps, historically now, the events of AD 70).  But the actuality of Christ’s enthronement was in the historical past when Paul penned these words.  It was only “the shining forth – the display in clear light” that was yet to take place in Paul’s and Timothy’s future.  But here in Eph. Paul is speaking of history, regarding Jesus, but also about the existential realities of His being raised up within us, over:

            a) our being “number 1”

            b) our rights and privileges

            c) our power and abilities

            d) our ownerships and performing “as lords” over other folks

            e) our “name” and reputation

This all began with Christ’s resurrection, and it continues on into the ages (Heb. 13:8).  The resurrected Jesus said in Mat. 28:18,

All authority (or: Every right and privilege from out of Being) is (or: was at once) given to Me within heaven and upon the earth (or: in sky and atmosphere, as well as on land)!

In Phil. 2:9-11, Paul informs us,

For this reason, God also lifts Him up above (or: highly exalted Him; elevates Him over) and by grace gives to Him (or: joyously favors on Him) the Name – the one over and above every name! – to the end that within The Name: Jesus! (or: in union with the name of Yahshua; in the midst of the Name belonging to [Yahweh-the-Savior]), every knee (= person) – of the folks upon the heaven (of those belonging to the super-heaven, or [situated] upon the atmosphere) and of the people existing upon the earth and of the folks dwelling down under the ground (or: on the level of or pertaining to subterranean ones; [comment: note the ancient science of the day – a three-tiered universe]) – may bend (or: would bow) in worship, prayer or allegiance, and every tongue (= person) may speak out the same thing (should and would openly agree, confess, avow and acclaim) that Jesus Christ [is] Lord (Master; Owner) – [leading] into [the] glory of Father God (or: unto Father God's good reputation; [progressing] into a manifestation which calls forth praise unto God [the] Father)!

 

Schnackenburg points out that there are only four terms listed here, above which the risen Christ has been enthroned: primacy, authority, power and lordship.  Jerome has also observed this, “Now we must ask where the apostle found these four names…” (Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 124).  Many other terms could have been employed (note the absence of such specific terms as satan, demon, agent/messenger, kingdom – all of which are traditionally considered to be represented by the four terms used here).  Paul mentions two of these four in the discourse of Rom. 8:35-39.  Schnackenburg informs us that,

“The number four may in general express completeness, but is also frequently used for the expanse of the earth or of heaven (‘four corners of the earth,’ four points of the compass) and is consequently a kind of ‘cosmic’ symbolic number for the extent as well as for the limitedness of the created world” (ibid p 78).

We see this number in apocalyptic literature: 4 living beings each having 4 wings and 4 faces, in Ezk. 1:5-8 (seen again in Rev. 4; the number 4 is seen numerous times in Ezk.); 4 chariots with horses of 4 different colors in Zech. 6:1ff (which corresponds to the 4 horses in Rev. 6); the 4 agents at the 4 corners of the land, holding the 4 winds, in Rev. 7:1; 4 horns of the altar and 4 agents, in 9:13-14; then the 4 quarters of the land, in 20:8, and the foursquare design of the New Jerusalem, in 21:16.  In the book of Daniel we encounter a period of history described by 4 kinds of material of which a “great statue” (2:31) is composed.  These different metals were interpreted as representing 4 historical kingdoms, the first of which was the one in Daniel's day.  Then in Dan. 7 we read of 4 great beasts of prey (figurative wild animals; vss. 3-7) and in vs. 17 it is explained that these “great beasts” are “four kings which shall arise out of the earth.”  The evidence points to the number four being associated with things of the land, or earth (depending upon the context), and its atmosphere.  We might well conclude that the “spiritual” significance of these figures may be applying to human governments and the flesh-oriented humans that rule and compose them.  The apocalyptic use of these four terms derive from human, earthly systems or arrangements that were used to control or enslave people, or – as in Rev. – employed in association with judging these systems, or as simply signifying the “worldwide extensiveness” of the context.

 

The inclusiveness in the phrase “every name” expands upon the symbolism of the number four.

“The ‘name’ signifies for the Bible and all the ancient world (cf the Magic Papyri) the power to dispose; in it are gathered being and power, and from it proceed effect and influence” (Schnackenburg, ibid).

 

Some observations from Ray Prinzing seem appropriate to this verse, from his book of daily devotionals, Daily Overcoming – for August 9, “God Rules and Overrules,” he writes:

‘If this counsel or this work be of man, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.’ (Acts 5:38-39)
“If in the heart of man there is some evil device and plan which God does not purpose to ultimately use and work into good, then He restrains it from happening, and man becomes frustrated because his plans have failed again.  Why spend a lifetime fighting against God, when in the end it will be man, and not God, that is defeated?  But, if we align ourselves willingly and joyfully with His will, then we are one with the power that never faileth.

‘The Lord breaks the plans of the pagans,
And frustrates mere human designs; -
But the plans of the Lord last for ever,
The designs of His heart for all times’
(Psalm 33:10-11, Ferrar Fenton).

‘For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all His goings.’ (Prov. 5:21).  And that in the mouth of two witnesses a thing might be confirmed, we add Hebrews 4:13, ‘all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’
“There are no ‘cover-ups’ that He cannot see through.  No masquerades that He cannot discern the real state underneath. It is all naked before Him.  Darkness and light are both alike unto Him.  ‘A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure’ (Prov. 16:9).  How many times have we planned it all out in our mind, only to discover when it is time to carry out those plans, the whole course of direction has been changed.  God rules and overrules, and thus ‘the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord.’ (Ps. 37:23).  ‘The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord – even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him’ (Prov. 16:33).” [end quote]

As we see from these OT and NT quotes, God’s sovereignty and His rule over the affairs of humans was an accepted concept within the ancient Jewish culture.  In his Homily on Eph., Chrysostom concluded, “Where the head is, there is the body also” (ACCoS, ibid p 126).

 

22.  and then placed and aligned all people in humbleness under His feet [Ps. 8:6b; LXX]

(or: and arranges everyone in a supportive position by His feet; or: then by the feet – which are Him – He subjects all things), and yet gives (or: gave) Him, [as] a Head (or: Source; origin and beginning of a series; or: extreme and top part) over all humanity and all things, for the called-out community (or: and as a Head over all humanity, gave Him to the summoned and gathered assembly; or: and then by the called-forth congregation He gives Him [to be the] Source over [the situation] of, and for, all humanity),

 

Again Paul uses the aorist tense in the first clause: a historical fact; an existential reality in the lives of people, each in their own class (1 Cor. 15:23a).  This is also the case for the next verb, gives/gave.  The anthropomorphisms of “feet” and “head” are typical of apocalyptic metaphors.

 

The word “all” in both the first and last clauses can refer to both humans and things (as the expanded parenthetical rendering demonstrates).  The first verb is a compound of the verb “to place aligned or arranged” with the preposition hupo- (under; below) prefixed to it.  The combination yields two senses:

            a) a humbled placement or alignment/arrangement; subjection

            b) an arrangement in order to give support.

God’s plan of unification involves both.

 

Pondering the semantic range of the substantive “Head,” we can observe layers of interpretation of Paul’s words here.  When enthroned He became the governmental Head; when resurrected He became the Head of the called-out (5:18, below) and of the body (4:15-16, below; Col. 1:18).  As with the head of a river, He is the Source, the origin and the beginning of all things (Jn. 1:3).  He is also “the Beginning of a series,” or as Rom. 8:29 instructs us, “He is the Firstborn among many brothers.”  In the parenthetical expansion, where the term “all” is also a masculine form, renderings can have these options:

            a) gave Him [as] a Head over all things, for the called-out community

            b) and as a Head over all humanity, gave Him to the summoned and gathered assembly

            c) and then, by the called-forth congregation He gives Him [to be the] Source over [the situation] of, and for, all humanity.

Also consider in these options the potential renderings of ekklesia in the dative: “for, to or by the summoned, called-forth congregation.”  He is a Head for us; He is “the” Head to us; and God gives Him through and “by” us as we present Him to the world as the “Source over [the situation] of, and for, all humanity.”

 

Paul elsewhere instructs us further in regard to Christ (giving us further foundation for what Paul will say in vs. 23, below):

because within Him all the effect of the fullness of the Deity (the result of the filling from the Godship and feminine aspect of the Divine Nature) is repeatedly corporeally (or: bodily, as a whole; embodied; as a body) settling down and progressively taking up permanent residence (or: is continuously dwelling in person)” (Col. 2:9).

 

In Col. 2:19 we are informed concerning,

getting strength from (or: apprehending and becoming strong by) the Head (or: the Source), from out of Whom all the body (or: the entire body) being constantly fully furnished and supplied to excess with funds and nourishment, and progressively joined cohesively (welded together; knitted and compacted together; united and made to go together as in mounting for copulation) through the instrumentality of the joints (connections; junctures; fastenings) and links (things bound together, as by ligaments) goes on growing and increasing God's growth

                        (or: the growth of God; the growth having its source in God; the growth pertaining to God; the growth and increase which is God; or: the growth from God).”

 

Verses 20-22 have just described a whole new unified, ordered arrangement -- a whole new world; a new creation.  This exists right now, in the realm of His Spirit (the atmospheres).

 

23.  which [community] is His body, the result of the filling from, and which is, the One Who is constantly filling all things within all humanity (or: humans)

(or: which continues existing being His body: the resultant fullness, entire content and full measure of Him [Who is] progressively making full and completing all things in union with all things, as well as constantly filling the whole, in – and in union with – all people).

 

The called-out community, the summoned and gathered assembly, is (existentially exists being) His body, and it became His body because of “the result of the filling” with Deity (Col. 2:9, above) – the filling from Christ’s Godship, including the feminine aspects (the term Deity/Godship is in the feminine form) “of the Divine Nature.”  This apocalyptic statement calls us to deep contemplation of this Truth.  As an organic metaphor (Grassi concurs, stating that Paul “considers them as an organic unity” – ibid p 344), which is clearly correlated to the pictures given in the previous verse: “His feet” and Him as the “Head,” we can ponder the fact of our being members of a living Organism (pictured to John as 4 “living beings” of multiple facets within the midst of and round about the throne/ark in the tabernacle/Israel-encampment – 4 being the 4-directional groupings of the 12 tribes – scene of Rev. 4:6).  The entire organism is the corporate Christ (Anointed One), with Jesus as the Head.  Hold in mind the apocalyptic statement concerning US being seated within the midst of the throne (2:5-6, below).  The “heavens” or as commonly rendered, “heavenly places,” refers to the dwelling place of God (first a Tent, set in the midst of the 4 groups of Israel’s encampment design [cf Nu. 1:53-2:32]; next a Temple within Jerusalem) within the midst of His people, located here on earth, affecting our “atmosphere.”

 

But what does the second clause signify?  We are “the result of the filling from, and which is, the One Who is constantly filling all things within all humanity.”  He has filled us with Himself, and so now we are His BODY.  He lives in us – we are now His home – and so we are called His Temple (2:21, below, where it speaks of us “GROWING [an organic term] into a set-apart temple”; cf 1 Cor. 316; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16) – a term that signifies the “home” of a deity.

 

The latter part of this clause informs us that He remains active in the project of filling folks: He is “constantly filling all things within all humanity.”  This is as inclusive a clause as any Greek statement can be.  The KJV, NASB and NRSV (for examples) normally render the last phrase, “all in all” – which is correct, but it obscures the fact of the word “all” being in the plural, in both cases, as well as the fact that the second “all” is also a masculine (as well as neuter) form and thus can be rendered “all humanity (or, humans).”  But He is also filling “all things” (or: “the whole”) with Himself.  As He continues creating containers (people; animals; the expanding universe) He simultaneously fills them with Himself, and so wherever we may investigate or explore (the heavens, the earth, the grave – Ps. 139:7-13), we find Him.

 

Let us consider the parenthetical alternate and expanded rendering:

“which continues existing being His body: the resultant fullness, entire content and full measure of Him [Who is] progressively making full and completing all things in union with all things, as well as constantly filling the whole, in – and in union with – all people.”

Here we get a more complete picture from the additional semantic aspects of the terms which he used.  The participle is in the present tense, so we can see either continuous or progressive action being indicated, and the semantic range of meaning includes the idea of “completing” as well as “filling in order to make something full.”  Another rendering of ta panta is “the whole” – i.e., all of the created universe.  We again see the preposition en in the last phrase, which indicates either location, or union – both of which were common themes of this chapter.  Schnackenburg gives a good discussion of this verse (ibid p 80-84), also presenting the Gnostic, the Hellenistic Jewish and the Stoic perceptions of plērōma (here rendered: the result of the filling; resultant fullness; entire content; full measure).  He concludes regarding this term, “… in its thinking, the conception arises that Christ as ruler penetrates every part of the universe… and at the same time finds in the Church his ‘fullness’, the beneficent sphere of his rule” (ibid p 83), and on this same page cites H. Schlier as liking to “understand en pasin as masculine and interpret it as meaning the individual members of the Church…” (ibid n 52).  Although I regard Schlier’s interpretation as being too limited, I applaud his understanding this phrase as referring to people.

 

Witherington suggests here that, “it is just possible that Paul means that the church fills out or completes Christ as his body” (ibid p 246).  I concur, but I suggest that this, also, is too limited, and does not represent the universe-wide extent (ta panta) of the final phrase, nor its universal application: within all humanity (or: in union with all humans).

 

On this final clause, Origen quoted Wisdom of Solomon 1:7a, “For the Spirit (Breath-effect) of the Lord has filled the inhabited earth – the world of humanity – and it continued full” (LXX, JM; quoted from Commentary on Rom., ACCoS, ibid p 124).  On this same passage, Chrysostom comments,

“The fullness of the head is the body and that of the body is the head…. The fullness of the head, he says, is fulfilled through the body.  The body consists of all its members…” (Homily on Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 126; emphasis original).

In regard to the body, Theodoret quotes from Lev. 26:11-12 here, “He lives in it and goes about in it, as the voice of prophecy says” (Epistle to the Eph., ACCoS, ibid p 126).  H. Schlier comments on vs. 23b, here, “In His body, which represents the pleroma, the heavenly sphere of His presence, Christ draws all things into the pleroma” (TDNT, III, WM B. Eerdmans, 1978, p 681).

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