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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on Ephesians

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1, 1–2 :

For the epistolary form used at the beginning of letters, see the note on Rom 1, 1–7 . Twenty‐two of the thirty Greek words in vv 1–2 also occur in Col 1, 1–2 .

1, 1 :

[In Ephesus]: the phrase is lacking in important early witnesses such as P46 (3rd cent.), and Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (4th cent.), appearing in the latter two as a fifth‐century addition. Basil and Origen mention its absence from manuscripts. See Introduction. Without the phrase, the Greek can be rendered, as in Col 1, 2 , “to the holy ones and faithful brothers in Christ.”

1, 3–14 :

While a Pauline letter usually continues after the greeting with a prayer of thanksgiving, as in 15–23 below, Ephesians first inserts a blessing of God for the blessings Christians have experienced, as in 2 Cor 1, 3–4 and 1 Pt 1, 3–12 . The blessing here, akin to a Jewish berakah, is rich in images almost certainly drawn from hymns and liturgy. Many ideas here are also found in Col 1, 3–23 . Certain phrases are frequently repeated, such as in Christ ( 3.10.12 ) or in him ( 4.7.9.11.13 ) or in the beloved ( 6 ) and (for) the praise of (his) glory ( 6.12.14 ). Some terms like chose (4) and destined (5) reflect Old Testament theology (Dt 7, 7; 9, 4–6; 23, 5 ) or Pauline themes ( redemption, 7.14; grace, 6.7 ) or specific emphases in Col (forgiveness, Col 1, 14 ).

A triadic structure is discernible in vv 3–14 : God the Father ( 3–6.8.11 ), Christ ( 3.5.7–10.12 ), and the Spirit ( 13–14 ). The spiritual blessings Christians have received through Christ ( 3 ) are gratefully enumerated: the call to holiness ( 4; cf Col 1, 22 ); the gift of divine adoption establishing a unique spiritual relationship with God the Father through Christ ( 5; cf Gal 4, 5 ); liberation from sin through Christ's sacrificial death ( 7 ); revelation of God's plan of salvation in Christ ( 9; cf 3, 3–4; Rom 16, 25 ); the gift of election and faith in Christ bestowed upon Jewish Christians (see the note on 12 , we who first hoped in Christ); and finally, the same gift granted to Gentiles ( 13 , you also). In the Christ‐centered faith and existence of the Christian communities the apostle sees the predetermined plan of God to bring all creation under the final rule of Christ ( 4–5.9–10 ) being made known ( 9 ) and carried through, to God's glory ( 6.12.14 ).

1, 3 :

In the heavens: literally, “in the heavenlies” or “in the heavenly places,” a term in Eph for the divine realm.

1, 9 :

Mystery: as in Rom 16, 25; Col 1, 26.27 and elsewhere, a secret of God now revealed in the plan to save and sum up all things in Christ ( 10); cf 3, 3–6 .

1, 12 :

We who first hoped: probably Jewish Christians (contrast 13 , you, the Gentiles); possibly the people of Israel, “we who already enjoyed the hope of Christ,” or perhaps present hope in contrast to future redemption (cf 14 ).

1, 13 :

Sealed: by God, in baptism; cf 4, 30; 2 Cor 1, 22 .

1, 14 :

First installment: down payment by God on full salvation, as at 2 Cor 1, 22 .

1, 15–23 :

See the note on Rom 1, 8 for the thanksgiving form in a letter. Much of the content parallels thoughts in Col 1, 3–20 . The prayer moves from God and Christ ( 17.20–21 ) to the Ephesians (17–19) and the church ( 22–23 ). Paul asks that the blessing imparted by God the Father ( 3 ) to the Ephesians will be strengthened in them through the message of the gospel ( 13.17–19 ). Those blessings are seen in the context of God's might in establishing the sovereignty of Christ over all other creatures ( 19–21 ) and in appointing him head of the church ( 22–23 ). For the allusion to angelic spirits in v 21 , see Rom 8, 38 and Col 1, 16. Here, as in 1 Cor 15, 24–25 and Col 2, 15 , every such principality and power is made subject to Christ.

1, 15 :

Your faith…your love: some manuscripts omit the latter phrase, but cf Col 1, 4 .

1, 23 :

His body: the church ( 22 ); cf the note on Col 1, 18 . Only in Eph and Col is Christ the head of the body, in contrast to the view in 1 Cor 12 and Rom 12, 4–8 where Christ is equated with the entire body or community. Fullness: see the note on Col 1, 19 . Some take the one who fills as God, others as Christ (cf 4, 10 ). If in Christ “dwells the fullness of the deity bodily” (Col 2, 9 ), then, as God “fills” Christ, Christ in turn fills the church and the believer ( 3, 19; 5, 18 ). But the difficult phrases here may also allow the church to be viewed as the “complement” of Christ who is “being filled” as God's plan for the universe is carried out through the church (cf 3, 9–10 ).

2, 5 :

Our relation through baptism with Christ, the risen Lord, is depicted in terms of realized eschatology, as already exaltation, though v 7 brings in the future aspect too.

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