Peroratio: Eph 6:10-20

After having completed the exhortatio, Ephesians closes the epideictic speech with the formal peroratio. While the exordium begins and opens the speech, the peroratio closes it. Where the former discusses briefly what will be discussed, the latter briefly summarizes what has been discussed. Ephesians is coming to a close.

Ephesians 6:10-20, the peroratio, serves four functions. First, it disposes the audience favorably towards God and unfavorably towards the devil (Eph 6:11). Second, it amplifies by use of metaphor and ornate imagery (Eph 6:14-18). Third, it excites the emotions, appealing to terrifying imagery (Eph 6:16). Finally, it recapitulates both the narratio and exhortatio. The counsel to put on the armor of God in order to be able to stand in the wicked day (Eph 6:13) echoes the whole of Eph 4:1-6:9 (cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, III.xix.1-6). Indeed, for there are many connections between the narratio and the exhortatio with the peroratio, as seen here:

  • 6:11 (“wiles”) – 4:14;
  • 6:12 (enemy is rulers, authorities, world powers, spiritual forces) – 2:2; 3:10;
  • 6:13 (evil day) – 5:16;
  • 6:14 (truth) – 4:15, 21, 25; 5:9;
  • 6:14 (righteousness) – 4:24; 5:9;
  • 6:15 (peace) – 2:14-15, 17; 4:3;
  • 6:16 (faith) – 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5;
  • 6:17 (Spirit) – 5:18;
  • 6:18 (pray in the Spirit) – 5:19-21;
  • 6:19-20 (pray also for me to speak boldly) – 1:15-23; 3:14-21.

Furthermore, the whole letter is concerned with praising God for what he has done in and through Christ on our behalf. The peroratio follows in that path, for it instructs the audience to put on the armor of God. Not only has God done all the things previously described in the letter, but he also provides the equipment necessary for withstanding the wiles of the devil.

The peroratio is to be free from restraint, unlike the exordium, and so while it is a summary conclusion, it was to open the flood gates to one’s emotions through the use of amplification (cf. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, IV.i.28; VI.i.1-11, 51-52). Since amplification was done in part through the use of figures (cf. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, VIII.iii.12), it is noteworthy that the Ephesian peroratio warns the audience to be on their guard and the author asks for prayer in order to speak boldly, thus also speaking on intimate terms; these features are all notable figures (cf. Cicero, Orator, 137-138).

The Ephesian peroratio does not fall short. It is a summary of the narratio and exhortatio in the most eloquent of metaphors. It exhorts the audience to be strong in the Lord, by utilizing the armor that God provides to withstand the wiles of the devil while struggling against the rules, powers, authorities, and world-rulers, and by watching in all perseverance and petition. The author seeks for the audience to pray on his behalf, in order that he might boldly speak the mystery of the gospel.

And what is the armor of God except truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, word, and prayer? In metaphorical fashion, this armor summarily depicts the exhortatio. This armor equips the audience for withstanding the wiles of the devil and for petitioning on the author’s behalf to be able to speak the mystery of the gospel boldly, which summarizes the moral end of the narratio’s statement of facts, which provided the basis for the eulogy found in the exordium. Therefore, the peroratio ties everything together in one eloquent package–the exordium, narratio, and exhortatio–and brings the speech to a close.


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