Greeting.* 1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the holy ones who are [in Ephesus]* faithful in Christ Jesus:a 2grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.b
The Father’s Plan of Salvation. 3* Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,c who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,* 4as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.d In love 5he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will,e 6for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.f
Fulfillment through Christ. 7In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his graceg 8that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight,h 9he has made known to us the mystery* of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in himi 10as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.j
Inheritance through the Spirit. 11In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,k 12so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped* in Christ. 13In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed* with the promised holy Spirit,l 14which is the first installment* of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.m
II. Unity of the Church in Christ
The Church as Christ’s Body.* 15Therefore, I, too, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love* for all the holy ones,n 16do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,o 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.p 18May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones,q 19and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might,r 20which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,s 21far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.t 22And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,u 23which is his body,* the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.v
* [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 Eph 1:15–23 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 (Eph 1:3, 10, 12) or in him (Eph 1:4, 7, 9, 11, 13) or in the beloved (Eph 1:6) and (for) the praise of (his) glory (Eph 1:6, 12, 14). Some terms like chose (Eph 1:4) and destined (Eph 1:5) reflect Old Testament theology (Dt 7:7; 9:4–6; 23:5) or Pauline themes (redemption, Eph 1:7, 14; grace, Eph 1:6, 7) or specific emphases in Colossians (forgiveness, Col 1:14). A triadic structure is discernible in Eph 1:3–14: God the Father (Eph 1:3–6, 8, 11), Christ (Eph 1:3, 5, 7–10, 12), and the Spirit (Eph 1:13–14). The spiritual blessings Christians have received through Christ (Eph 1:3) are gratefully enumerated: the call to holiness (Eph 1:4; cf. Col 1:22); the gift of divine adoption establishing a unique spiritual relationship with God the Father through Christ (Eph 1:5; cf. Gal 4:5); liberation from sin through Christ’s sacrificial death (Eph 1:7); revelation of God’s plan of salvation in Christ (Eph 1:9; cf. Eph 3:3–4; Rom 16:25); the gift of election and faith in Christ bestowed upon Jewish Christians (see note on Eph 1:12, we who first hoped in Christ); and finally, the same gift granted to Gentiles (Eph 1:13, 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 (Eph 1:4–5, 9–10) being made known (Eph 1:9) and carried through, to God’s glory (Eph 1:6, 12, 14).
* [1:3] In the heavens: literally, “in the heavenlies” or “in the heavenly places,” a term in Ephesians for the divine realm.
* [1:12] We who first hoped: probably Jewish Christians (contrast Eph 1:13, 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. Eph 1:14).
* [1:15–23] See 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 (Eph 1:17, 20–21) to the Ephesians (Eph 1:17–19) and the church (Eph 1:22–23). Paul asks that the blessing imparted by God the Father (Eph 1:3) to the Ephesians will be strengthened in them through the message of the gospel (Eph 1:13, 17–19). Those blessings are seen in the context of God’s might in establishing the sovereignty of Christ over all other creatures (Eph 1:19–21) and in appointing him head of the church (Eph 1:22–23). For the allusion to angelic spirits in Eph 1:21, 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.
* [1:23] His body: the church (Eph 1:22); cf. note on Col 1:18. Only in Ephesians and Colossians 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 note on Col 1:19. Some take the one who fills as God, others as Christ (cf. Eph 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 (Eph 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. Eph 3:9–10).