Monday, November 14, 2011

Notes on Ephesians 5

1.       To add to your repertoire of information on Ephesians 5:
vs 21, (members of the church) submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Greek word for “submit”: hupotassomai
vs 22 Wives submit submit yourselves to your husbands. Greek word used for “submit”: hupotassomai
vs 23 Husband is the head of the wife. Greek word used for “head”: kephale
vs 25 Husbands love your wives: Greek word used for “love”: agapeo
vs 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church. Greek word used for “might present”: parasthsh
Hupotassomai doesn’t have a direct English equivalent but means something along the lines of “give allegiance to”, or “tend to the needs of ” or “be supportive of” or “be responsive to”. In military contexts it is used to describe taking a position in a phalanx of soldiers; to be united with the group in effort and support. The German Bible translates it as “to place oneself at the disposition of”. This is what members of the church are asked to do for each other and what wives are asked to do in these verses in Ephesians. Its meaning relates very much to the admonition in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens”. Very importantly, Greek not only has active and passive forms of verbs, but also a middle form, which is used when the subject of the sentence neither acts on another nor is acted upon, but rather volunteers willingly to a state of being or to a course of action that is self-directed, not imposed. Hupotassomai, in these verses is in the middle form. Paul uses it to invite a purely voluntary action, not as a command.
“Kephale” is a word used to denote a person who goes ahead into battle, putting himself the most dangerous and vulnerable position in the phalanx.
“Agapeo” is used here and also in the commandment to love our neighbor and God and our enemies and in Jesus’ description of the Good Samaritan who loved and helped freely another who could not (and probably would not) repay his kindness.
Agapeo and hupotassomai are very similar words, both involve giving up one’s self-interest to serve and care for another’s. Both mean being responsive to the needs of others. Many scholars recognize this passage of Ephesians as a chiasmus with hupotassomai at the beginning of it and agapeo as an equal term at the end.
“Parasthsh” means “to stand beside”.
Knowing the Greek words sheds further light on the passage which the English translation obscures.

Thanks for some of the above to various sources, including 

What Paul Really Said About Women: The Apostle's Liberating Views on Equality in Marriage, Leadership, and Love

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