Lectionary Year B
July 27, 2003
Ephesians 3:14-21

Step II: Disposition


Perhaps one might speak about this pericope as a "Prayer-Blessing-Doxology" because it seems to incorporate elements of all three. Thus, one might also raise the question whether this passage was put together as a part of the regular liturgy of the church that was addressed (just consider the well-know acclamation "Amen"). The writer begins with thanksgiving (For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, ...), traditionally a typical part in Jewish/Christian prayer. S/he continues with intercessions and supplications (may he grant ... that you may be strengthened ... may dwell in your hearts ... that you may have power ... that you may be filled).

The pericope ends with a doxology that seems typical of the Pauline tradition. It starts with a reference to God in the dative case (to him who is able), ascribes to this one eternal glory (to him be glory ... forever and ever), and concludes with "Amen."

Perhaps, this pericope was used as a benediction that concluded a section of thought, or as emphasis in order to "attest to the power of Christology in the life of the early church." [one might consider that, here, traditional Jewish forms of blessing seem to have been altered in order to confess one's faith in Jesus Christ] Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that "letters were expected to be read aloud in the churches ... perhaps as part of a worship experience."

[Bailey/Vander Broek. Literary Forms in the New Testament. Westminster/John Knox, 1992. pp. 72-76.]


- what is the reason that makes the writer bow his/her knees? (step III)
- if there is an "inner being" (v. 16) that is strengthened, what happens to the "outer being"?
- is there an "outer being?"
- are inner and outer being binary opposites, or do they belong to one and the same "being?"
- does Christ only dwell in the heart when faith is present? does Christ leave the heart when faith is absent? (v. 17)
- how can a human being have the power to comprehend "the breadth and length and height and depth," and of what?
- is this "comprehending" a task of the church? (... with all the saints ... v. 18)
- how can one know that which surpasses all knowledge? (v. 19)
- what is all the fullness of God?
- is this fullness not a little big for a human being to be filled with?

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