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Ephesians 5:21-22

5:21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 1 

Exhortations to Households

5:22 2 Wives, submit 3  to your husbands as to the Lord,

1 sn Eph 5:19-21. In Eph 5:18 the author gives the command to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit. In 5:19-21 there follows five participles: (1) speaking; (2) singing; (3) making music; (4) giving thanks; (5) submitting. These participles have been variously interpreted, but perhaps the two most likely interpretations are (1) the participles indicate the means by which one is filled by the Spirit; (2) the participles indicate the result of being filled by the Spirit. The fact that the participles are present tense and follow the command (i.e., “be filled”) would tend to support both of these options. But it seems out of Paul’s character to reduce the filling of the Spirit to a formula of some kind. To the extent that this is true, it is unlikely then that the author is here stating the means for being filled by the Spirit. Because it is in keeping with Pauline theology and has good grammatical support, it is better to take the participles as indicating certain results of being filled by the Spirit. See ExSyn 639.

2 tn Many scholars regard Eph 5:21 as the verse which introduces this section, rather than 5:22. This is due in part to the lack of a main verb in this verse (see tc note which follows). This connection is not likely, however, because it requires the participle ὑποτασσόμενοι (Jupotassomenoi, “submitting”) in 5:21 to act as the main verb of the section, and this participle more likely is linked to the command “be filled by the Spirit” in 5:18 as a participle of result (see sn above). In any case, 5:21 does form a strong link between 5:18-21 and what follows, so the paragraph division which has been placed between 5:21 and 22 should not be viewed as a complete break in the author’s thought.

3 tc The witnesses for the shorter reading (in which the verb “submit” is only implied) are minimal (Ì46 B Cl Hiermss), but significant and early. The rest of the witnesses add one of two verb forms as required by the sense of the passage (picking up the verb from v. 21). Several of these witnesses have ὑποτασσέσθωσαν (Jupotassesqwsan), the third person imperative (so א A I P Ψ 0278 33 81 1175 1739 1881 al lat co), while other witnesses, especially the later Byzantine cursives, read ὑποτάσσεσθε (Jupotassesqe), the second person imperative (D F G Ï sy). The text virtually begs for one of these two verb forms, but the often cryptic style of Paul’s letters argues for the shorter reading. The chronology of development seems to have been no verb – third person imperative – second person imperative. It is not insignificant that early lectionaries began a new day’s reading with v. 22; these most likely caused copyists to add the verb at this juncture.

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