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Ephesians 1:15-23

Context
Prayer for Wisdom and Revelation

1:15 For this reason, 1  because I 2  have heard 3  of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love 4  for all the saints, 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you 5  in my prayers. 1:17 I pray that 6  the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, 7  may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation 8  in your growing knowledge of him, 9  1:18 – since the eyes of your 10  heart have been enlightened 11  – so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, 12  what is the wealth of his glorious 13  inheritance in the saints, 1:19 and what is the incomparable 14  greatness of his power toward 15  us who believe, as displayed in 16  the exercise of his immense strength. 17  1:20 This power 18  he exercised 19  in Christ when he raised him 20  from the dead and seated him 21  at his right hand in the heavenly realms 22  1:21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 1:22 And God 23  put 24  all things under Christ’s 25  feet, 26  and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 27  1:23 Now the church is 28  his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. 29 

1 sn The conjunctive phrase For this reason points back to the preceding section, vv. 3-14, which is also summed up in this verse in the expression because I have heard of your faith. In other words, the author’s prayer can be made for his audience because he knows that they are true believers.

2 tn Grk “even I.”

3 tn Grk “having also heard.”

4 tc Ì46 א* A B P 33 1739 1881 2464 Hier lack “your love” (τὴν ἀγάπην, thn agaphn), while various other groups of mss have different arrangements of the phrase “your love toward all the saints” (τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, thn agaphn thn ei" panta" tou" Jagiou"). Most witnesses, especially the later ones (א2 D1 Ψ Ï latt sa), read τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους. Externally, the shorter reading is superior. Internally, the omission of τὴν ἀγάπην is a significantly harder reading, for the saints become an object of faith on par with the Lord Jesus. If this reading is authentic, however, the force of πίστις (pisti") is probably closer to “faithfulness,” a meaning that could perhaps be suitable toward both the Lord and the saints. Nevertheless, if the shorter reading is authentic, later scribes would no doubt have been tempted to alter it. With the parallel in Col 1:4 at hand, τὴν ἀγάπην would have been the most obvious phrase to add. (TCGNT 533 suggests that ἣν ἔχετε would have been added instead of the second τήν if the shorter reading were original, in conformity with Col 1:4, but this is not necessarily so: Scribes often altered the text as minimally as possible, and since the second τήν was already present, replacing it with ἣν ἔχετε, when the meaning was not significantly different from the second τήν, seems unlikely.) Further, ἀγάπην comes after “saints” (thus, τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους ἀγάπην) in some witnesses (81 104 326 365 1175), and the second τήν is lacking (thus, τὴν ἀγάπην εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους) in others (D* F G). Such a floating text normally indicates inauthenticity. On the other hand, τὴν ἀγάπην could easily have dropped out of the text by way of haplography, the Alexandrian scribes’ eyes skipping from τήν to τήν. The weak first declension feminine article-noun-article construction is common enough in the NT, occurring over 40 times, yet in four of these texts there is some ms evidence for an omission similar to Eph 1:15 (Rom 11:17; 2 Tim 3:10; Rev 11:2; 21:9). But in none of these places is the Alexandrian testimony united in the omission as it is here. Further, a wholesale Alexandrian omission of τὴν ἀγάπην presupposes a much stronger genealogical relation among the Alexandrian mss than many scholars would embrace. What seems to tip the scales in favor of the longer reading, however, is the intrinsic evidence: The question of whether πίστις could be used to mean faithfulness in the general sense toward both the Lord and the saints is quite problematic. All in all, a decision is difficult, but the longer reading is, with hesitation, preferred.

5 tn Grk “making mention [of you].”

6 tn The words “I pray” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied to clarify the meaning; v. 17 is a subordinate clause to v. 16 (“I pray” in v. 17 is implied from v. 16). Eph 1:15-23 constitutes one sentence in Greek, but a new sentence was started here in the translation in light of contemporary English usage.

7 tn Or “glorious Father.” The genitive phrase “of glory” is most likely an attributive genitive. The literal translation “Father of glory” has been retained because of the parallelism with the first line of the verse: “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory.”

8 tn Or “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” or “a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” Verse 17 involves a complex exegetical problem revolving around the Greek term πνεῦμα (pneuma). Some take it to mean “the Spirit,” others “a spirit,” and still others “spiritual.” (1) If “the Spirit” is meant, the idea must be a metonymy of cause for effect, because the author had just indicated in vv. 13-14 that the Spirit was already given (hence, there is no need for him to pray that he be given again). But the effect of the Spirit is wisdom and revelation. (2) If “a spirit” is meant, the idea may be that the readers will have the ability to gain wisdom and insight as they read Paul’s letters, but the exact meaning of “a spirit” remains ambiguous. (3) To take the genitives following πνεῦμα as attributed genitives (see ExSyn 89-91), in which the head noun (“S/spirit”) functions semantically like an adjective (“spiritual”) is both grammatically probable and exegetically consistent.

9 tn Grk “in the knowledge of him.”

sn The point of the knowledge of him has nothing to do with what God knows, but with what believers are to know (hence, “your…knowledge”). Further, the author’s prayer is that this knowledge of God would increase, not simply be initiated, since he is writing to believers who already know God (hence, “your growing knowledge of him”).

10 tc ‡ Most witnesses, especially of the Byzantine and Western texttypes, though with a few important Alexandrian witnesses (א A D F G Ψ 0278 Ï latt sy), add ὑμῶν (Jumwn, “your”) after καρδίας (kardias, “heart”), though it is clearly implied in the shorter (Alexandrian) reading (found in Ì46 B 6 33 1175 1739 1881 pc). The longer reading thus looks to be a clarifying gloss, as is frequently found in the Byzantine and Western traditions. The translation above also uses “your” because of English requirements, not because of textual basis.

tn Grk “the.”

11 tn The perfect participle πεφωτισμένους (pefwtismenou") may either be part of the prayer (“that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”) or part of the basis of the prayer (“since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened”). Although the participle follows the ἵνα (Jina) of v. 17, it is awkward grammatically in the clause. Further, perfect adverbial participles are usually causal in NT Greek. Finally, the context both here and throughout Ephesians seems to emphasize the motif of light as a property belonging to believers. Thus, it seems that the author is saying, “I know that you are saved, that you have had the blinders of the devil removed; because of this, I can now pray that you will fully understand and see the light of God’s glorious revelation.” Hence, the translation takes the participle to form a part of the basis for the prayer.

12 tn Or “the hope to which he has called you.”

sn The hope of his calling. The translation is more formally equivalent for this and the following two phrases, because of the apparently intentional literary force of the original. There is a natural cadence to the three genitive expressions (hope of his calling, wealth of his glorious inheritance, and extraordinary greatness of his power). The essence of the prayer is seen here. Paraphrased it reads as follows: “Since you are enlightened by God’s Spirit, I pray that you may comprehend the hope to which he has called you, the spiritual riches that await the saints in glory, and the spiritual power that is available to the saints now.” Thus, the prayer focuses on all three temporal aspects of our salvation as these are embedded in the genitives – the past (calling), the future (inheritance), and the present (power toward us who believe).

13 tn Grk “of the glory of his inheritance.” Here “inheritance” is taken as an attributed genitive and the head noun, “glory,” is thus translated as an adjective, “glorious inheritance.”

14 tn Or “immeasurable, surpassing”

15 tn Or “for, to”

16 tn Grk “according to.”

17 tn Grk “according to the exercise of the might of his strength.”

sn What has been translated as exercise is a term used only of supernatural power in the NT, ἐνέργεια (energeia).

18 tn Grk “which” (v. 20 is a subordinate clause to v. 19).

19 tn The verb “exercised” (the aorist of ἐνεργέω, energew) has its nominal cognate in “exercise” in v. 19 (ἐνέργεια, energeia).

20 tn Or “This power he exercised in Christ by raising him”; Grk “raising him.” The adverbial participle ἐγείρας (egeiras) could be understood as temporal (“when he raised [him]”), which would be contemporaneous to the action of the finite verb “he exercised” earlier in the verse, or as means (“by raising [him]”). The participle has been translated here with the temporal nuance to allow for means to also be a possible interpretation. If the translation focused instead upon means, the temporal nuance would be lost as the time frame for the action of the participle would become indistinct.

21 tc The majority of mss, especially the Western and Byzantine mss (D F G Ψ Ï b r Ambst), have the indicative ἐκάθισεν (ekaqisen, “he seated”) for καθίσας (kaqisa", “when he seated, by seating”). The indicative is thus coordinate with ἐνήργησεν (enhrghsen, “he exercised”) and provides an additional statement to “he exercised his power.” The participle (found in Ì92vid א A B 0278 33 81 1175 1505 1739 1881 2464 al), on the other hand, is coordinate with ἐγείρας (egeiras) and as such provides evidence of God’s power: He exercised his power by raising Christ from the dead and by seating him at his right hand. As intriguing as the indicative reading is, it is most likely an intentional alteration of the original wording, accomplished by an early “Western” scribe, which made its way in the Byzantine text.

22 sn Eph 1:19-20. The point made in these verses is that the power required to live a life pleasing to God is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. For a similar thought, cf. John 15:1-11.

23 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn Grk “subjected.”

25 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 sn An allusion to Ps 8:6.

27 tn Grk “and he gave him as head over all things to the church.”

28 tn Grk “which is.” The antecedent of “which” is easily lost in English, though in Greek it is quite clear. In the translation “church” is repeated to clarify the referent.

29 tn Or perhaps, “who is filled entirely.”

sn The idea of all in all is either related to the universe (hence, he fills the whole universe entirely) or the church universal (hence, Christ fills the church entirely with his presence and power).



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