Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ephesians: Colossians Expanded and Universalized

It is also fascinating to compare Ephesians to Colossians.  For example, at one point Ephesians is exactly the same as Colossians for over twenty-five words straight, namely, at the end when commending Tychicus to the audiences (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-8).  For this reason, some have suggested that Ephesians might be the lost letter to the Laodiceans mentioned in Colossians 4:16.  Indeed, at no less than thirteen points, Ephesians and Colossians say either exactly or almost exactly the same thing, in the same order.[i]  Because in each case Colossians’ version seems more concretely related to its audience’s situation and because Ephesians seems to expand many of the points, it seems that Ephesians used Colossians as its starting point.  Ephesians in some respects is an expanded and universalized version of Colossians.

[i] E.g., Col. 1:14 and Eph. 1:7 (in whom we have redemption, through his blood); Col. 1:16-17 and Eph. 1:21 (above all spiritual powers); Col. 1:18 and Eph. 1:22-23 (head of the body, the church); Col. 1:21-22 and Eph. 2:16-17 (reconciling those far away through Christ’s blood); Col. 1:26-27 and Eph. 3:4-6 (mystery of the Gentiles’ inclusion); Col. 2:1 and Eph. 3:2 (audience has only heard, not seen Paul’s ministry); Col. 2:3 and Eph. 3:4 (mystery of Christ); Col. 2:15 and Eph. 3:10 (rulers and authorities) ; Col. 2:19 and Eph. 4:16 (body grows out of the head); Col. 3:9 and Eph. 4:22 (put off old self); Col. 3:9 and Eph. 4:25 (do not lie to each other); Col. 3:18-4:1 and Eph. 5:22-6:9 (household codes); Col. 4:7-8 and Eph. 6:21-22 (word for word closing).

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