Exordium: Eph 1:3-23

As indicated before, Ephesians is an epideictic piece of rhetoric. We will here discuss the exordium in Ephesians.

In the letter, Eph 1:3-23 functions as the exordium. It is the prelude for the entire letter; it sets the tone. The author wrote it in such a way that the audience shares in the author’s activity of praising God for the work he has done in the church through Christ. Christ, who is prominent in the Ephesian eulogy, is prominent throughout the rest of the letter, and is the link that binds the exordium to all else that follows (cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, III.xiv.1-11). Both the eulogy and the prayer function together to refresh the audience’s minds about God’s deeds, which prepares the way for the narratio (cf. Ad Herennium, III.vi.12; Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, III.vii.24). And what deeds are these?

  • God has blessed them with every spiritual blessing (v 3)
  • God called them to be holy and blameless (v 4)
  • God predestined them to be children (v 5)
  • God freely gave them grace (v 6)
  • God provided a ransom, his Son, for them (v 7)
  • God revealed the mystery of his will to them (v 9)
  • God appointed them in Christ to praise him (v 11)
  • God sealed them with the Holy Spirit (v 13)
  • God raised Christ from the dead (v 20)
  • God placed Christ at his right hand in heaven (v 20)
  • God placed all things under Christ’s feet (v 22)
  • God appointed Christ over all things in the church (v 22)

Indeed, the author of Ephesians was praising God for the noble deeds he did to benefit the church (cf. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, III.vii.6-8).

And so, like a good exordium should do, this one is a prelude with a key note, it gets the audience to feel like they are sharing in the praise, and recalls to their minds what God has done for them. Now, the narratio can come and describe in more detail God’s deeds on their behalf.