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Ephesians 5:22

Exhortations to Households

5:22 1 Wives, submit 2  to your husbands as to the Lord,

Ephesians 6:5


6:5 Slaves, 3  obey your human masters 4  with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ,

1 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.

2 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.

3 tn Traditionally, “Servants” (KJV). Though δοῦλος (doulos) is often translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.

4 tn Grk “the masters according to the flesh.” In the translation above, the article τοῖς (tois) governing κυρίοις (kuriois) is rendered in English as a possessive pronoun (i.e., “your”) and the prepositional phrase κατὰ σάρκα (kata sarka) is taken as modifying κυρίοις (indicating that the author is referring to human masters) and not modifying the imperative ὑπακούετε (Jupakouete, which would indicate that obedience was according to a human standard or limitation).

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