Interpreting a text from the Bible properly is much more than simply reading the text and applying the first thing that comes to mind. The author has a specific meaning for each part of the text, and although many may think that the application of text is specific to the individual, this is not the case. Scripture has lost many different literary tools that the author used in order for the readers to better understand, in translations throughout the years. Because of this divide, it is crucial to dig deeper into the text than ever before to completely understand the meaning that the author had originally wanted to portray. In the following text, I will examine Ephesians 3:14-21, and begin to break the verses down into sections. These sections will be broken down further, as I will exegete each verse. By using examining tools such as looking for repetition, observing the surrounding context, multiple words studies, and looking into the history, I will begin to further discover the original meaning that the author had intended. Historical-cultural context
When looking into a specific Bible passage, or set of Bible passages, it is important to evaluate different literary aspects that have a great effect on how the passage is meant to be understood. The historical-cultural context of the passage along with the literary context of the passage is essential to dig into as they will alter the way the passage is translated. In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul is writing to believers in Ephesus along with some of the surrounding communities, as it was probably a circular letter. Paul’s authorship, though, has recently been questioned as out of the total of 530 words, forty-one are hapaxlegomena, or words that only appear once in the New Testament. There are also thirty-seven words that are not found in any of Paul’s other letters. These facts recently have put questions in scholars’ minds as to the authorship of Ephesians (Letter to the Ephesians, 2012). Paul, though, states that he is the author in multiple places throughout his letter to the Ephesians (1:1; 3:1; 3:7; 3:13; 4:1; 6:19-20). Although this book was written nearly two thousand years ago, it is no less important to us today. As we begin to look into the historical background of this book, we see that Paul may have written this letter at the same time that he wrote Colossians, at about AD 60, while he was in prison at Rome. Paul’s relationship with the Ephesians was close, as he had made Ephesus his base of operations for over two years as seen in Acts 19:10. Paul also asks the church in Ephesus to pray for him. Although signs like these are given out to indicate that Paul’s relationship with these people is close, it is interesting that there is no specific reference to his relationship with the people within the book. Nonetheless, Paul does not address a specific issue in this letter as he has before with other letters, but rather writes to expand the horizons of his readers, so that they might understand God’s purpose for their lives and the grace that he has for them (Barker, 2011, pg. 1981-2).
Literary context, as well as historical-cultural context, is significant in dissecting a passage and understanding it in a way that the author had intended for us to understand it. When we look at the surrounding context of Ephesians 3:14-21, it is possible to more clearly interpret the meaning of the passage. First, we will look at the immediate surrounding context surrounding the passage. Prior to chapter 3:14-21, are verses 8-13, in which Paul is speaking of God’s grace towards himself. He tells the Ephesians that although he is the least of God’s people, that God’s grace was given to him, and because of God’s grace, he is now able to preach to the Gentiles. He continues to state that God’s wisdom and purpose of Jesus Christ should be made known to the rulers and authorities...