Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Structure of Ephesians 1:15-23

The following is a broad analysis of the structure of Ephesians 1:15-23:

Eph 1:15-23 = A Prayer of thanksgiving, intercession, and praise
Eph 1:15 = Reasons for Paul's prayer
Eph 1:16 = Paul's response
Eph 1:17-23 = Content of Paul's prayer (growth in maturity & understanding of Christ's work)
v. 17-18a = Request for strengthening by the Spirit (growth in practical wisdom & understanding)
v. 18b-19a = Description of the resulting revelatory work of the Spirit
v. 19b-23 = Elaboration of God's power (cf. 1:19a)
v. 21-23 = Elaboration of Christ's supremacy over good and evil
v. 23 = Summary statement describing Christ's supremacy

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Detailed Diagram of Ephesians 1:3-14

Here is a more detailed diagram of Ephesians 1:3-14. In general, my aim is to show how the various statements in this passage are related to one another. The translation I will be using in these diagrams is the ESV. Let me also explain how to "read" these diagrams. Next to each phrase is a semantic category that describes how a given phrase functions in the passage (eg. "grounds," "means" etc.). Following the semantic category is a number and letter that identifies which phrase in the passage the phrase in question is linked to. Following this is another number and letter in brackets that identifies the particular phrase in view.
For example, Eph 1:5 consists of two primary phrases (at least in my analysis). These are:
i) In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, → SUPPORT 1:3b (1:5a); ii)according to the purpose of his will, → REASON 1:5a (1:5b).
The word "SUPPORT" here would indicate that this phrase functions as "supporting evidence" for one of Paul's assertions. The number/letter combination "1:3b" indicates that this phrase is providing "supporting evidence" for the phrase identified in the diagram as 1:3b. The numer/letter combination in brackets identifies this particular phrase as (1:5a). This would indicate that this phrase is found in Eph 1:5 and is the first phrase in this verse.
I do hope that this notation system isn't as difficult to interpret as some of Paul's statements in this passage:-) Finally, blogspot unfortunately prevents me from showing how the phrases are subordinated to one another.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, → INTRO (1:3a)
who has blessed us in Christ → MAIN IDEA/ELABORATION/REASON 1:3a (1:3b)
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places → CONTENT 1:3b (1:3c)
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, → SUPPORT 1:3b (1:4a)
that we should be holy and blameless before him. → PURPOSE 1:4a 1:(4b)
5 In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, → SUPPORT 1:3b (1:5a)
according to the purpose of his will, → REASON 1:5a (1:5b)
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, → PURPOSE 1:5a (1:6a)
with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. → ELABORATION 1:6a (1:6b)
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, → SUPPORT 1:3b (1:7a)
the forgiveness of our trespasses, → ELABORATION 1:7a (1:7b)
according to the riches of his grace, → GROUNDS 1:7ab (1:7c)
8 which he lavished upon us, → ELABORATION 1:7c (1:8a)
in all wisdom and insight → ELABORATION 1:8a (1:8b)
9 making known1 to us the mystery of his will, → MEANS 1:8a (1:9a)
according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ → GROUNDS 1:9a (1:9b)
10as a plan for the fullness of time → PURPOSE 1:9b (1:10a)
to unite all things in him, → EXPLANATION 1:9a/1:10a (1:10b)
things in heaven → CONTENT 1:10b (1:10c)
and things on earth. → CONTENT 1:10b (1:10d)
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, → SUPPORT 1:3b (1:11a)
having been predestined → MEANS 1:11a (1:11b)
according to the purpose of him → REASON 1:11b (1:11c)
who works all things according to the counsel of his will → ELABORATION 1:11c (1:11d)
12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ → ELABORATION 1:11a (1:12a)
might be to the praise of his glory. → PURPOSE 1:11a (1:12b)
13 In him you also, → INTRO CLAUSE (1:13a)
when you heard the word of truth → TEMPORAL CLARIFICATION 1:13e (1:13b)
the gospel of your salvation → CONTENT 1:13b (1:13c)
and believed in him, → TEMPORAL CLARIFICATION 1:13e (113d)
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit → SUPPORT 1:3b (1:13e)
14 who is the guarantee1 of our inheritance → ELABORATION 1:13e (1:14a)
until we acquire possession of it,2 → TEMPORAL CLARIFICATION 1:14a (1:14b)
to the praise of his glory → PURPOSE/RESULT 1:13e/1:14a (1:14c)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The structure of Ephesians 1:3-14

First of all, as anyone who has seriously studied this passage knows, it is very difficult to determine how the various thoughts in this lengthy sentence are connected. The following thus merely represents a tentative analysis of the broad contours of this beautiful passage.

Eph 1:3-14 = The Christian Community's Spiritual Blessings in Christ
Eph 1:3 = Introductory blessing to God
Eph 1:4-14 = An Explanation of how God has blessed us in Christ
v. 4 = Blessing #1 (election in Christ)
v. 5-6 = Blessing #2 (adoption in Christ)
v. 7-10 = Blessing #3 (redemption in Christ)
v. 11-12 = Blessing #4 (our inheritance in Christ)
v. 13-14 = Blessing #5 (our sealing by the Spirit)

Anyone who attempts to delineate the structure of this passage is faced with two particularly pressing problems: 1) the phrase "in love" in v. 4; 2) the significance of the particple gnwrisas ("making known") in v. 9. Regarding the former problem, the issue is whether to connect the clause with the phrase "holy and blameless before him" or withthe verb "he predestined us" in v. 5. At this point, I tend to connect it with the verb "he predestined us." First, Paul seems to begin every major section of this passage with the preposition "in." Second, taking the phrase with Paul's statements in v.5 would create a rather nice parallel with Eph 2:4. Third (and probably most important), the phrase "in love he predestined us" is much more natural than "holy and blameless before him in love" (commentators who adopt this reading seem divided on what Paul might be conveying with this statement).
Regarding the latter problem, the issue is whether to take the participle "making known" in v. 9 with the grace God lavishes in v. 7-8 or to see Paul starting a new section in the passage. At this point, I tend to favor the first option. However, there are (in my opinion), convincing reasons for adopting the latter option. First, Paul also seems to begin a new section with a participle (proorisas) in v. 5. Second, the noun "mystery" plays a major role in the theology of this letter. It then becomes rather natural to see the revelation of this mystery to the believer as one of the spiritual blessings Paul is describing in this passage. That said, every other major section in this passage begins with the phrase "in him." Perhaps most damaging to the view that takes v. 9-10 as a new major section is the fact that Paul is describing heavenly realities (v. 3). It is true that Ephesians establishes a close link between earthly and heavenly realities. However, it is difficult to see how understanding the "mystery of Christ" (Paul probably equates the "mystery" of 1:9 with the "mystery of Christ" in Eph 3:4) could be considered a spiritual blessing for the believer.

Look out for a more detailed analysis of the structure of this passage, hopefully in the coming days:-)

New series on the structure of Ephesians

Okay, I haven't posted in TWO months! Even for me, that is a very extended absence. Most of my time has been spent preparing lessons for a discipleship class on Ephesians at my church (notes, diagramming passages, Powerpoint presentations), putting together my research proposal for PhD applications, and working on a couple of book-reviews. It has been a very busy time and I've simply felt the need to lighten my load a little.

Anyway, having gone through the first four and a half chapters of Ephesians (I do plan on going through the whole book), I'm going to begin posting on the structure of Ephesians. I hope these posts will be profitable for all who read them and helpful for me as I interact with others in the blogosphere.