I. Address and Greeting (1:1-2)


The opening two verses form a greeting or salutation in typical ancient style: the letter begins with an identification of the (1) sender and (2) recipient and then offers (3) a greeting. Paul normally expands each of these components so that his introductory greetings are lengthier than was typical. In this case he identifies the divine source of his authority, further describes his readers, and offers a prayer of blessing filled with theological content. Paul will often emphasize elements in his prescript that are later significant or reoccurring themes. In this case the name of Christ is referenced in each section of the introduction.

Verse 1

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ

The anar\. proper name Παῦλος is a nom\. abs\. since it is not grammatically the subj. of a verb. Ἀπόστολος is also in the nom\. case because it is in appos\. to Παῦλος, further describing or identifying the author and is anar\. because Paul is only one apostle among many. This term has three different uses: (1) technical; (2) semitechnical; and (3) nontechnical. The technical use refers specifically to the Twelve (Matt 10:2; Acts 1:13; 1 Cor 15:5, 7) and Paul (1 Cor 9:1; 15:9) who were chosen and commissioned by Jesus to have a unique position in the founding of the Church. The semitechnical use refers to leaders who were commissioned by Jesus or the church (James [1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19]; Barnabas [1 Cor 15:5-6; cf. Acts 14:4, 14], and possibly Apollos [1 Cor 4:6, 9] and Andronicus and Junia [Rom 16:7]). The nontechnical use refers to a messenger, representative, or emissary who is on a temporary assignment (Epaphroditus [Phil 2:25] and Titus’s two companions [2 Cor 8:23]). In Ephesians the term ἀπόστολος is later coupled with προφῆται (“prophets”), the latter term always occurring second (2:20; 3:5; 4:11; cf. 1 Cor 12:28-29).

This epistle, like Romans and the Pastoral Epistles, includes only Paul as the author. Elsewhere Paul includes Sosthenes (1 Cor 1:1), Timothy (2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1), and Silas and Timothy (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; cf. Gal 1:2, “all the brothers who are with me”).

The gen. phrase Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ conveys relationship or poss\. (Paul is an apostle belonging to Christ Jesus) or could be taken as a subj. gen. (Paul is an apostle sent out by Christ; Wallace 82). As in this text NT epistles typically omit the art\. with Χριστοῦ when (with Ἰησοῦ) it is a proper name (BDF §260[1]). In Ephesians the term Χριστός occurs forty-six times and Ἰησοῦς twenty times. The coupling of these terms as Χριστός Ἰησοῦς is found eleven times (1:2 [2x], 7, 10, 13, 20; 3:1, 6, 11, 21), whereas the reverse order Ἰησοῦς Χριστός occurs seven times (1:2-3, 5, 17; 5:20; 6:23-24).

The prep\. phrase διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ qualifies ἀπόστολος and communicates the means by which Paul was chosen and commissioned as an apostle (BDAG 224d, “efficient cause”; R 582; Wallace 433-34, “intermediate agent”). Θεοῦ is a poss\. gen. (“God’s will”) or, better, a subj. gen. since θέλημα can convey a verbal idea (“God wills [something]”). Θελήματος is anar\. because the art\. is often omitted in a prep\. phrase (BDF §255). The same opening phrase (Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ) is found in 2 Cor 1:1; Col 1:1; and 2 Tim 1:1.

τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν [ἐν Ἐφέσῳ]

The addressees or recipients of the letter are indicated by the dat\. case (τοῖς ἁγίοις, “to the saints”). Paul also addresses οἱ ἅγιοι in Philippians (1:1) and Colossians (1:2; cf. Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1). More often he directly identifies ἡ ἐκκλησία (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1) or αἱ ἐκκλησίαι (Gal 1:2). He also addresses οἱ ἀγαπητοί (Rom 1:7) and various individuals (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; Phlm 1:1-2). Paul later refers to believers as “the saints” in 1:15, 18; 2:19; 3:8, 18; 4:12; 5:3; 6:18.

Τοῖς οὖσιν (dat\. pl\. masc. of pres\. act\. ptc\. of εἰμί) is an attrib\. ptc\. and modifies τοῖς ἁγίοις (“the saints who are [in Ephesus]”). The phrase ἐν Ἐφέσῳ (Ἔφεσος, -ου, , “Ephesus”) identifies the location of the recipients but is textually debated (see comments in Introduction).

καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

The art\. τοῖς in the previous phrase probably governs both ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς (though with the art\. ptc\. [τοῖς οὖσιν] following, this cstr\. is rare), further describing the same group of people (Wallace 282). In this case, the καί is epex\. The adj\. πιστός can mean:

  1. “trustworthy,” “faithful,” or “dependable” (BDAG 820d–21c; ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT; Barth 1:69). The strength of this view is that taking πιστοῖς as “believing” would be tautologous with ἁγίοις (i.e., saints would naturally also be believers, thus the saying is redundant).
  2. * “believing” or “trusting” (BDAG 820d–21c; HCSB; Arnold 69; Best 101; Bruce 250-51; Hoehner 142; Lincoln 6; O’Brien 87; Thielman 34). This view is supported by the fact that the obj\. of faith is “in Christ Jesus” as well as the comp. with Col 1:2.

Because the single art\. governs both adjs. (τοῖς ἁγίοις . . . πιστοῖς), it is best to take ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ as modifying both ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς. The prep\. ἐν could communicate agency (“through Christ Jesus”), but here it more likely expresses union (“in [union with] Christ Jesus”; Hoehner 143; Larkin 3; Lincoln 6; O’Brien 87; Thielman 34).

Verse 2

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη

Χάρις and εἰρήνη are nom\. absolutes with the optative of εἰμί (εἴη) implied. This exact formula (i.e., the entire verse) is also found in Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Phil 1:2; 2 Thess 1:2; and Phlm 3 (cf. 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2). Colossians drops the last phrase (καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ), but there is some support for its inclusion in the textual tradition (incl\. A C F G I Byz Lect). First Thessalonians drops the last two phrases and contains only χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη (but again see the textual vars.; see also Rev 1:4). First and 2 Timothy add ἔλεος (“mercy”) to the formula. First Peter 1:2 and 2 Pet 1:2 have χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη but add the optative πληθυνθείη (“may it be multiplied”; see also Jude 2). The traditional Gk\. greeting includes χαῖρε (“greetings,” see Matt 26:49; 27:29; Mark 15:18; Luke 1:28; John 19:3) or χαίρειν (see Acts 15:23; 23:26; Jas 1:1) whereas the traditional Jewish greeting was šōlôm (“peace”). Paul’s greeting is distinctively Christian and combines both of these elements. Both χάρις and εἰρήνη are major themes in this epistle, occurring twelve times (1:2, 6-7; 2:5, 7-8; 3:2, 7-8; 4:7, 29; 6:24) and eight times (1:2; 2:14-15, 17 [2x]; 4:3; 6:15, 23) respectively. Ὑμῖν is a dat\. of advantage.

ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Θεοῦ is the obj\. of the prep\. ἀπό and indicates that God is the orig. or source of grace and peace in the Christian life. Πατρός is a third decl. gen. noun that is in appos\. to θεοῦ. The second source of grace and peace is “the Lord Jesus Christ.” As opposed to the two occurrences in 1:1, here Ἰησοῦς precedes Χριστός. Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is a gen. in appos\. to κυρίου.

For Further Study

1. Apostleship in the NT (1:1)

Agnew, F. H. “On the Origin of the Term Apostolos.” CBQ 38 (1976): 49–53.

________. “The Origin of the New Testament Apostle-Concept: A Review of Research.” JBL 105 (1986): 75–96.

*Barnett, P. W. DPL 45–51.

Barrett, C. K. The Signs of an Apostle. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972.

Best, E. “Paul’s Apostolic Authority—?” JSNT 27 (1986): 3–25.

Kirk, J. A. “Apostleship Since Rengstorf: Towards a Synthesis.” NTS 21 (1974–75): 249–64.

Kruse, C. G. DLNT 76–82.

Rengstorf, K. H. TDNT 1.407–47.

Schmithals, W. The Office of Apostle in the Early Church. Nashville: Abingdon, 1969.

*Schnabel, E. J. DJG 34–45.

Schnackenburg, R. “Apostles Before and During Paul’s Time.” In Apostolic History and the Gospel. Edited by W. W. Gasque and R. P. Martin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970. See pages 287–303.

Silva, Moisés, ed. NIDNTTE 1.365–76.

2. Christology (1:1)

Bauckham, R. God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Bowman, R. M., Jr., and J. E. Komoszewski. Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007.

Erickson, Millard J. The Word Became Flesh: A Contemporary Incarnational Christology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991.

*Harris, M. J. Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

Hurtado, Larry W. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Longenecker, Richard N., ed. Contours of Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.

Moule, C. F. D. The Origin of Christianity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

3. The Will of God (1:1)

Friesen, G. with J. R. Maxson. Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View. Revised edition. Portland: Multnomah, 2004.

Guinness, Os. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003.

Huffman, Douglas S., ed. How Then Should We Choose? Three Views on God’s Will and Decision Making. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009.

Inrig, Gary. True North: Discerning God’s Way in a Changing World. Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2002.

Petty, James C. Step by Step: Divine Guidance for Ordinary Christians. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1999.

Schrenk, G. TDNT 3.52–62.

*Silva, Moisés, ed. NIDNTTE 2.426–30.

4. The “in Christ” Formula (1:1)

Best, E. One Body in Christ. London: SPCK, 1955. See pages 1–33.

*Campbell, Constantine R. Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Dunn, J. D. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. See pages 390–401.

Longenecker, Richard N. Paul, Apostle of Liberty. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. See pages 160–70.

Schreiner, Thomas R. New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008. See pages 314–17.

*Seifrid, M. A. DPL 433–36.

Wedderburn, A. J. M. “Some Observations on Paul’s Use of the Phrase ‘in Christ’ and ‘with Christ.’” JSNT 25 (1985): 83–97.

5. Ancient Letters (1:1–2)

Doty, W. G. Letters in Primitive Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973.

Hains-Eitzen, Kim. Guardians of Letters: Literacy, Power and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Klauck, Hans-Josef, and Daniel P. Bailey. Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2006.

Morello, Ruth, and A. D. Morrison. Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

O’Brien, P. T. DPL 550–53.

*Richards, E. Randolph. Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.

Stowers. S. K. Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1989.

*Weima, J. A. D. DNTB 640–44.

White, J. L. Light from Ancient Letters. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986.

6. NT Benedictions and Greetings (1:2)

Llewelyn, S. R. “Greeting as a New Testament Form.” JBL 87 (1986): 418–26.

Mullins, T. Y. “Benediction as a NT Form.” AUSS 15 (1977): 59–64.

________. “Greeting as a New Testament Form.” JBL 87 (1968): 418–26.

*O’Brien, P. T. DPL 68–71.

Westermann, C. Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978.

7. Fatherhood of God (1:2)

Guthrie, D., and R. P. Martin. DPL 354–69.

Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. SBT 6. London: SCM, 1967. See pages 11–65.

*Stein, Robert H. The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teaching. Revised edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994. See pages 82–89.

Thompson, Marianne Meye. The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000. See pages 87–115.

Homiletical Suggestions

Introductory Greeting (1:1-2)

  1. The writer: the apostle Paul (v. 1a)
  2. The addressees: the believers in Ephesus (v. 1b)
  3. The greeting: grace and peace (v. 2)

The Sovereign God (1:1-2)

  1. God calls us into his service (v. 1a)
  2. God calls us to holiness and faith in Christ (v. 1b)
  3. God offers his grace and peace through Christ (v. 2)