Concerning Eph 5:22-33, we have considered external factors, such as ancient household codes and the Greco-Roman empire, and canonical issues, such as interpretations from Gen 2:23-24 as well as from Acts, 1 Corinthians, and Philippians. Thus far, we have seen that Eph 5:22-33 is a mixed bag containing elements of both equality and hierarchy. Now we must consider internal factors, which, I believe, take precedence over the external. Internally, we will examine the composition of the letter based on ancient rhetorical practices.
The Letter to the Ephesians is repetitive, which reflects the style of ancient Asiatic rhetoric. The letter is also, at the very least, a eulogy, a berakah, or a blessing. The letter has hortatory material, but it is not the main focus of the letter. It is focused on praising God for what he has done, and his work leads to a moral goal for all Christians. Therefore, the letter falls into the class of epideictic rhetoric as it is a letter of praise that considers in many details God’s work and why he is to be praised while also explaining the moral end of God’s work for Christians.
We will look at the Letter to the Ephesians in several segments, allowing each part in the composition and argument of the letter to inform our interpretation of Eph 5:22-33. We will especially focus on how Eph 5:22-33 functions in the letter.
We will examine the exordium (Eph 1:3-23), narratio (Eph 2:1-3:21), exhortatio (4:1-6:9), and peroratio (Eph 4:1-6:20).