The Start Of Instruction To Wives And Husbands—Ephesians 5:21 Or 5:22? -- By: Benjamin L. Merkle

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:694 (Apr 2017)
Article: The Start Of Instruction To Wives And Husbands—Ephesians 5:21 Or 5:22?
Author: Benjamin L. Merkle


The Start Of Instruction To Wives And Husbands—Ephesians 5:21 Or 5:22?

Benjamin L. Merkle

Benjamin L. Merkle is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Abstract

In Ephesians 5:21 Paul exhorts his readers, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (NIV). It is well known, however, that the Greek word translated “submit” is a dependent adverbial participle (ὑποτασσόμενοι) that is better translated “submitting.” Consequently, verse 21 is closely associated with the preceding context. Even so, NA28, UBS5, and many major English versions add a sentence and even a paragraph break before verse 21. This article examines the strengths of dividing the text before verse 21 and after verse 21 and argues that the grammar and the syntax of the text support breaking after verse 21.

In Ephesians 5:21 Paul exhorts his readers, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (NIV). It is well known, however, that the Greek word translated “submit” is a dependent adverbial participle (ὑποτασσόμενοι) that is better translated “submitting.” Consequently, verse 21 is closely associated with the preceding context. Barth rightly notes, “For grammatical reasons 5:21 belongs to the preceding verses.”1 Similarly, Roberts comments, “In the Greek text, [ὑποτασσόμενοι] is a participle, (‘submitting’) that depends grammatically on the imperative (‘be filled’). Thus, verse 21 completes the exhortation that began in verse 18.”2

Despite the grammatical and syntactical evidence,3 NA28,

UBS5, and many major English versions add a sentence and even a paragraph break before verse 21. Understanding of the structure of this passage can influence interpretation of the...

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