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God the Namer: A Note on Ephesians 1.21b

  • Thomas G. Allen


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[1] Bauer, W., Arndt, W. F., Gingrich, F. W., and Danker, F., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. (Chicago/London: U. of Chicago Press, 1979) 571.

[2] Cf. Meyer, H. A. W., Meyer's Commentary on the New Testament, Bible Student's Library (New York/London: Funk and Wagnalls, 1884) 344.

[3] In both Judaism (especially the Apocalyptic literature) and Hellenism the belief in such angelic and spiritual beings was widespread and an accepted aspect of sophisticated as well as popular religious thought. For discussion see the bibliography in Barth, M., Ephesians 1–3, Anchor Bible 34 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974) 413 f. The list here may be compared to other NT lists: e.g. Rom 8. 38; 1 Cor 2. 6–8; Ga14. 3,9; Col 1. 16, 2. 8; Eph 6. 12. There seems little point, however, in trying to categorize these powers into a rigid hierarchical system. This does not mean that such a classification did not exist, or that it was insignificant; it means simply that we do not have sufficient data upon which to make a decision. Άρχή and έξουσια sometimes refer to earthly powers (e.g. Tit 3. 1; cf. Rom 10. 3). Abbott, T. K. (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, ICC [T. & T. Clark, 1897] 33) thinks that our passage has earthly and spiritual powers in view. But the context does not concern Christ's role in creation (contrast Col 1. 16), but his exaltation in the heavenly places. Here Christ's rule is defined vertically, making reference to earthly powers unnecessary, since authority over the highest powersincludesauthority over subordinate ones. Also other references in Eph 2. 2, 3. 10, and 6. 12 focus on spiritual powers.

[4] For literature and discussion see Bietenhard, H., õνομα, όνομάζω κ.τ.κ, TDNT 5: 242–83 and also ‘Name’, NIDNTT 2: 648–56.

[5] Ephesians, , New Century Bible (London: Oliphants, 1976) 72–3.

[6] Paul's, Letters from Prison, New Clarendon Bible (Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1976) 47.

[7] Cf. Bietenhard, , TDNT 5: 253–4 and NIDNTT 2: 649.

[8] ibid. Cf. also Anderson, A. A., Psalms (73–150), New Century Bible Commentary (London: Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1972) 945. It is likely that the stars were considered here as celestial beings.

[9] See, e.g. Westermann, C., Isaiah 40–66, Old Testament Ubrary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969) 158 f.

[10] The translation is from Pritchard, J. B., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Princeton: University Press, 1955) 315. See also Muilenburg, J., ‘Isaiah, 40–66’, Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 5 (Nashville, Abingdon, 1956) 523.

[11] Westermann, , Isaiah 40–66, 158; Muilenburg, , Interpreter's Bible, 5: 523.

[12] The translation is from Charles, R. H., The Book of Enoch (London: SPCK, 1917) 66. See also, Bietenhard, , TDNT 5: 267.

God the Namer: A Note on Ephesians 1.21b

  • Thomas G. Allen


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