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The Book of Ephesians: Literary Analysis of Passage

The book of Ephesians consists of two major parts, one of which is Doctrine, which explains who the people in Christ are (1:1 – 3:21), and the second one is about Duty, or how people live in Christ (4:1 – 6:24). These are two blocks of thoughts, the ideas of which intertwine with each other, but at the same time, they seem completely different. The outline of these parts can be showcased similarly to the following:

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  • 1:1-3:21–Doctrine: Who We Are in Christ:
    • 1:1-2–Greetings to the Saints in Christ;
    • 1:3-14–Praise for God’s Grace in Salvation;
    • 1:15-23–Prayer for Understanding God’s Power;
    • 2:1-10–Testimony of a New Creation;
    • 2:11-22–Transformation of a New Community;
    • 3:1-13 –Plan to Present God’s Mysterious Wisdom;
    • 3:14-21 –Prayer for Understanding God’s Love;
  • 4:1-6:24–Duty: How We Live in Christ:
    • 4:1-16–Walk in Unity;
    • 4:17-32 –Walk-in Holiness;
    • 5:1-6 –Walk in Love;
    • 5:7-14 –Walk in Light;
    • 5:15-6:9 –Walk in Wisdom;
    • 6:10-20 –Warfare Against Satan;
    • 6:21-22 –Final Greetings of Grace (Goodspeed 2020, 13).

The first part of the book showcases that God has addressed the people and enforced the secret plan for the population to atone for their sins and bring them in glory to His gentle grace. Moreover, this part has the longest sentence in all of the Bible, which includes more than 200 words and involves the distinct descriptions of all the ways that God has blessed society in Christ (Goodspeed 2020, 34). The first part portrays a community looking for answers everywhere except in the grace of God.

Ephesians 2 is merely a continuation of the first part, outlining the blessings given by God and how they work in a world full of sins. In the third part of the book, Paul explains the revelation that was presented to him by his Teacher. The chosen passage fits perfectly into the idea of the third party since it reveals that God strengthened the Church because He wanted people to feel Christ’s love and experience all God’s blessings.

Furthermore, Ephesians 4 is a reflection of the third part of the book, and a call for all Christians to become worthy of God’s grace. The fifth part of the book continues the idea, explaining how to live in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Johnson 2020, 85). Here, St. Paul reveals that people should be imitators of God, and follow the light similar to the actions of Jesus. The last part of the book clarifies how the teachings of God should be applied to the families, their life, and work. Moreover, it explains the Gospel in the context of society, and separates household groups, as a unit of civilization.

The genre of the given passage is an Epistle, which are letters aimed to teach particular churches or groups of people. Moreover, the given passage is specifically a Pauline Epistle, allegedly written by Paul and inspired by God (Cunningham and Miles 2017, 140). The main principles of the presented genre are in the unity of the idea. For example, one must read the whole book to fully understand the main thought of the passage and read the history and learn the culture of the passage’s setting.

The general context of passage 3:14-21 is that the presented prayer concludes the first part of Paul’s letter to the churches. Paul’s language appears confusing, which is why it is sometimes translated in different ways. Moreover, the Saint occur assured that God would save the people to who the letter is addressed, and their sins would be atoned for. In general, Paul described the relationship between the person and God in the person’s salvation. Primarily, Paul aimed to save Ephesians’ people spiritually and reveal to them the great secret of worshiping.

However, by analyzing the author’s flow of thought, one can trace how passage 3:14-21 fits into the passage’s general idea. The letter is mainly aimed to inform the recipients of the message about the ultimate goal of Christ in presenting each of the believers with at least one of five gifts upon each true believer. He is moving from the ultimate purpose to the destination and measures the church as unity. For example, he explains that Christ’s body must be built to perfection by equipping each person with a holy gift of God. St. Paul moves from the purpose to the revelation, to the goal, and then to salvation’s benefits. The passage 3:14-21 reveals that God is in everything and loves each person, and the church is a mere reflection of His true grace.

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The Pauline letter to Ephesians seems to follow a rhetorical structure, which reveals itself by ornate and repetitious literature style, quite familiar to the region it was created. Similar to Aristotle’s creations, Ephesians appear with a specific pattern with an exordium, a narration, proofs, and a potato. However, there are certain complications with the presented theory. Most of Pauline’s writings follow a particular pattern and tend to deal with the three main issues: doctrine, applications, and logistics. Paul’s letter appears to be rather general yet essential to the true believer. Dissimilar to the other Apostles, Pauline epistles have almost no narrative. They are correspondence since Paul first sends greetings, then gives instructions to the reader, encourages them to follow God’s will and grace, and gives preliminary background information.

Within the Ephesians context, the prayer is written as a conclusion of the chapter, and it is signifying how to come to God’s mercy. There are several essential words within the passage, such as ‘Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, means that the Christ would pierce the hearts of the true believers. Moreover, there is a metaphor that God is in ‘the breadth and length and height and depth’, which can be understood that God is everywhere, He is around at every corner, and can be felt at each turn. The passage is written as prose, and to be more precise, as the prose of a couple of sentences.

The author of the passage uses repetitions to amplify and strengthen the message. The phrase ‘to Him’ and ‘remember’ can be seen almost in every sentence, which showcases Paul’s letter’s importance. ‘You can be filled up to all the fullness of God’ is a metaphor, which means that God would present all the answers in the greater belief.

Considering the historical background analysis, according to the context, the letter of Ephesians was written by Paul while he was in the Roman prison. He wrote this revelation to the specific churches, hoping to receive aid from them and help from God. The city of Ephesus was an essential point that could be an aid in spreading the Word. The message’s significant meaning is to help those who drowned in disbelief to come to the atonement and heaven. The passage means salvation for those who desperately need it.

As with nearly all Biblical passages, the chosen one differentiates from each other depending on the translation. For example, while in the New International Version, the verse begins with ‘for this reason, I kneel before the Father’, New Living Translation starts with ‘When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray for the Father’. The chosen translation has another beginning, which changes its meaning of it ‘For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father’ (Bible Study Tools, n.d.).

Various translations have different versions of the same verse, which is why the meaning of the passage can slightly change. For example, within the three translations, there is a verse that changes the purpose of the passage, and it is… ‘may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…’. In the New Living Translation, the given verse sounds like people should understand God’s love for all creatures; New International Version showcases that only together can people partially comprehend the concept of God’s love (Bible Study Tools, n.d.). At the same time, the chosen translation means that only with saints can people partly understand the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love.

The keyword within the given passage is ‘remember’, which indicates the importance of the message and why it should be remembered as well. Moreover, another keyword that could be displayed in the passage is the word ‘love’, amplifying that God’s love is endless, it is everywhere, and it should be shared among believers. In this context, they mean not only love as the general feeling humans may experience at some point in their lives, but also the purity, the endless joy God partakes when His children come to Him willingly and bow their knees before Him. In the given passage, love means more than any person could comprehend. Furthermore, the word ‘glory’ can be counted as a critical word of the passage since it showcases the real importance of the Gospel.

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Ephesian’s book’s literary form is a letter, the vocabulary of which differs from the standard Pauline writings. There are metaphors and allegories to ease the passage’s understanding and make it better for the people who read the prayer. It impacts the meaning of the passage in the way that humans are able to comprehend. The grammatical structure is somewhat broken, but it does a better job of showcasing a person’s excitement about who wrote the verses. Paul’s poor grammar can tell the reader what he was feeling at the moment, and it looks like euphoria from God’s revelation, which he willingly shares. Most English translations break Paul’s flow of thought into more sentences since, originally, he wrote a few of them. The whole letter originally was one breathless sentence, which indicates the author’s emotional state.

The issues of salvation are reviewed in many religious periodicals, which signifies its importance to the people. The concept is rather old, yet its significance cannot be overlooked. The idea is the same in every periodical: one must come to God for atonement and ascension. The newer concept of salvation through love, which means any kind of love, including romantic, is a path to understanding God’s love and His plans for humanity (Mullen, 2017, 25). However, these sources also mention the pagan traditions, which were at the roots of the Gospel concept. informal


Bible Study Tools, n.d. “Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT – NIV Parallel Bible.” Web.

Cunningham, Lawrence, and Jack Miles. 2017. Christianity. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Goodspeed, Edgar J. 2020. The Key to Ephesians. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Johnson, Andy. “Gospel Themes as ‘Glue’ for Pauline Ecclesiological Images.” In Listening Again to the Text: New Testament Studies in Honor of George Lyons, edited by Richard P. Thompson, vol. 4, pp. 73–94. Claremont: Claremont Press, 2020. Web.

Mullen, Lincoln A. 2017. The Chance of Salvation: A History of Conversion in America. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

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