When analysing the book of Ephesians, it is normally imperative for one to consider learning the case usage on its various lexical semantics of verbs rather than using cases and functions. Based on this notion, approaching the exegetical perspective of Ephesians using semantic roles rather than the use of case categories helps the scholar to be able to focus further on the idea of the clauses more than on the individual ones. The book of Ephesians is one of Paul’s works that clearly demonstrates his motives towards how the relationship between Christians, God and the church out to be. Therefore, most of the phrases that he uses in this letter have hidden meanings while some might show partial agreement among the readers of this book but reveals vividly the difficulty in finding a particular exegetically suitable style to approach the text. This paper is aimed at analysing the book of Ephesians from the semantics point of analysis where most of the major phrases that Paul uses in this book will be further expounded on with the help of commentaries from different authors.
Precisely, when one thinks of the Ephesians, it is easy for one to consider that the book demonstrates the motives behind the letter’s author’s idea of modifying or combating various aspects of apostles Paul’s teaching. When interpreting the semantics in the book of Ephesians, there are various phrases which Paul really gave major emphasis. For instance, a commentary authored by David Dockery claims that, the use of the word administration, which is a transliteration from the Greek word “oikonomia”, is an example of a single word that has appeared in this poor too many times. He claims that, Paul uses this word interchangeably with the word “stewardship”, Ephesians 1:10 is one of the many verses that the words have been used. Additionally, this author further explains that in verse 3:9, the word administration is also used to mean a “plan”, which was done in reference to Pauls teachings on God’s secret plan. Therefore, the definitions put forth for the semantic range are thus used to imply something like a “job” or even implying for the need of a form of administration. In addition, this may be used to imply to manage a household, Dockery calls it the administration of a household. To further expound on this major aspect of semantics that Paul capitalizes on, it is evident that Ephesians 1:10 appears to explain how Paul is using the word administration in different forms in the context for the definition of “putting to task”, and in 3:2, he further references on the definition of a task.
In Ephesians 5:21:33, an in-depth attention to this passage that explain egalitarianism and complementarianism. According to the article The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to The Romans, the semantics in this verse in Ephesians explains that, women are of equal ability, worth, dignity and calling, and, therefore, they should never be discriminated against especially on the basis of sex. Essentially, this phrase explains to both the Ephesians that men should not automatically assumed authority especially in the church or even in any field just because of their gender. Understanding the semantics of a certain chapter of the Bible is crucial to effective interpretation of the Bible. Interpretation of the Bible is also essential in the sense that, without appropriate interpretation, Christians are facing the danger of not being able to clearly define what they have been called to earth to do. Apostle Paul in the Ephesians 4:11-14 warns about Christians being lured into false doctrines especially due to poor interpretation of the scriptures.
The semantics of Ephesians 5:21-33, Ruth Rendell, explains what the reader is expected to observe in the text, therefore, it is generally important or preferable for the reader of a certain verse of the bible to try and find numerous observations that can be critically evaluated so as to have the most relevant comprehension of the chapter or verse of the bible.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. .. 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-23)
In this passage, the word “submit” is used in the place of “subject” or “represent” , this is used to explain the action that the individuals who were being addressed by Paul to understand what they ought to do in regard to their personal relationships, and also with that of God. In fact, in the whole passage, one major semantics characteristics is the evident repetition of the verb “submit”. It has been used in 5:21 to denote the relationships between believers and one another. In 5:22 and 24, Paul uses the same verb to refer to the expected responsibilities that a wife should take towards her husband and the church of God and to Christ. Therefore, since the verb used by Paul entails a relationship between two or more parties, this prompts the question on whether the opening text in 5:21 can be used to explain about a mutual submission, not only the women are expected to submit to their husbands, but to some extent, the husbands also should become submissive to their wives in equal measure. Additionally, in this passage, there is a comparison that is made about Christ and the husband, wife and the church at large. It is clear that Apostle Paul felt the need for an explanation about how Christ related to church, and also how wives should relate to their husbands. In 5:25-27, the purpose for Christ to give up himself to the world and to the people of Ephesus was because He would “sanctify her” where the quoted text is used by Paul to mean how Jesus sanctified the church.
Conclusively, Paul is commanding the Ephesians through his authority to reach the entire world. He preaches of love amongst ourselves, the love of God towards us and the various relationships that exist between the Christians, their families, church and the divine connection with Christ. This paper finds it necessary for the reader of the Ephesians to give an interpretive approach to this letter of Paul so as to avoid them interpreting his message wrongly, since it is common for every reader to try and weigh different biblical explanations differently. In general, through semantics, a better understanding of various phrases in the bible and their intended meaning is made possible.
Dockery, David S. Biblical interpretation then and now: Contemporary hermeneutics in the
Light of the early church. Baker Academic, 2000.
Harold Hoehner. Ephesians: an exegetical commentary. Baker Academic, 2002.
Rendell, Ruth. The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to The Romans. Canongate Books, 1999.
Snodgrass, Klyne. "The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians." Grand Rapids:
Wang, Joseph S. "NT 660 Exegesis of Ephesians." (2000).