UPDATE 8/23/07: Further study and group discussion has led me to question the chiasmus mentioned below. While there is something to the "prayer bookends," it seems likely that this is an inclusio rather than a chiasmus.

Next Tuesday, July 24, Sanctify! begins Ephesians in earnest. In my preparation this morning, I noticed a paragraph that stood out amongst the rest. In the first half of the letter (chapters 1-3), 2:11-22 is the only paragraph that is neither prayer nor digression. This section explicates the mystery. The genre (explication) and content (mystery) make 2:11-22 a key paragraph in this portion of the letter.

The "mystery" (Jew and Gentile becoming one people of God) is one of the key themes (others include power and love). The nature of this mystery is both scandal and good news. The mystery is scandalous because it calls into question centuries of Jewish self understanding as the only people of God, separate from all other nations. The mystery is good news because Gentiles, who were once relegated to the outer court of the temple on earth are now invited by God himself into the holiest place in heaven, where even the Aaronic high priest could not go.

Another feature may make this paragraph stand out: there appears to be a chiasmus:

A--1:15-23 Prayer
.....B--2:1-10 Digression
..........C--2:11-22 Explication
.....B'--3:1-13 Digression
A'--3:14-21 Prayer

Does Paul highlight this paragraph?

Related post: Trinity and the New Humanity


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