Understanding Ephesians 1:1

The textual issue aside. Here’s a question for you all.

When the author of Ephesians writes, “τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,” what does he mean?

Are the recipients “Holy ones who are in Ephesus” and “faithful ones in Christ Jesus” where the καὶ coordinates two complete ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς?

Or are the recipients “Holy ones who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus” where the coordinates τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ with πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ both modifying ἁγίοις ?

Feel free to make your case either way in the comments.

14 thoughts on “Understanding Ephesians 1:1

  1. Fantastic question! Is it possible that the writer writes ambiguously (allowing both one interpretation and the other, even if he intended to be otherwise distinct and clearer somehow)?

  2. I would expect another article before pistois if the kai were coordinating two groups or two designations of identity. So, I most naturally understand both ousin and pistois to be governed by the same article, and thus coordinated by the kai.

  3. I noted this on Nick’s blog about who the saints were, special spiritual dead holy people or all believers in his post on praying to the saints.

    As to the post, it is doubtful there were two audiences in mind for Paul, so I go with the recipients “Holy ones who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus” where the coordinates τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ with πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ both modifying ἁγίοις.

    The TNIV has “To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.”

    So, καὶ here is a logical conjuction functioning in an explanatory manner, such as that is, or namely.

    So, if I did the TNIV in this way it might be: To God’s holy people in Ephesus, [that is] the faithful in Christ Jesus, or

    To God’s holy people in Ephesus, [namely] the faithful in Christ Jesus.

    But I don’t really know NT Greek that well, so I can’t say for sure.

  4. Brian: I’m following you now. Thanks for explaining your reasoning too for one view over the other.

    I didn’t indent on suggesting that there were two different groups though. I think it would be possible to coordinate αγιοις and πιστοις without suggesting that. In English that would be something like:

    “To the holy and faithful ones in Christ dwelling in Ephesus.”

    Or something like that…

  5. Yeah, that would be even better – how I modified the TNIV is a bit archaic. Dwelling, we don’t use much these days either so what about “living in Ephesus”?

    We don’t say, Mike is dwelling (or dwells) in Canada now. We say Mike is living (or lives) in Canada. Nor do we say, “those dwelling (or, who dwell) in Seattle. Etc.

    ps. my cheat notes was Wallace’s GGBB.

  6. Mike, I go with the latter because of the one article that governs οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ and καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

    τοῖς ἁγίοις is already defined. That’s my case.😉

  7. Perhaps there is some deliberate word play here in the idea of them being both in Ephesus and in Christ Jesus.

    Of course if we follow the quite well attested variant text (P46 א* B* etc) without ἐν Ἐφέσῳ we get a very different phrase, “to the saints who are also faithful …” (but the P46 also omits the second τοῖς which makes the meaning subtly different again).

  8. Peter: the main challenge of the variant reading is the fact that this participle construction is consistently used to denote locative meaning and it would definitely be expected in the first lines of a letter. So if we reject ἐν Ἐφέσῳ then we must assume 1) some other location should be there instead or 2) that Paul left is blank for the location to be filled in later on.

    I think that the word play might be the best route to go, as you and others have observed.

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