Exegetical Exercise – Gifts in Ephesians

Image - statue of Wisdom ancient Ephesus
Wisdom personified – as in “wisdom and revelation”

The “book of the month” program has given me Ephesians this December. At first this seemed unseasonable, what with no nativity stories, or direct references to Advent. But digging deeper – it turns out there is a lot of “giving” and there are a lot of “gifts” in Ephesians, which certainly resonates with the popular Christmas theme.

Here’s the catalog:

1:17 Paul prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give the Ephesians a spirit of wisdom and revelation as they come to know him;

1:22 God has given Christ to be head over all things for the church, which is his body;

2:8  the grace by which the “you” have been saved through faith is the gift of God

3:2 the commission of God’s grace was given to Paul – for the Ephesians

3:7-8 “Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ …”

3:16 Paul prays that God may grant (give) the Ephesians to be strengthened in power through his spirit …

4:7 Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

4:8 “… he [Christ] gave gifts to his people”

4:11-12 “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ …”

4:27 … do not give place for the devil

4:28 former thieves should have something to share (a modified formation with the verb “to give”)

4:29 only talk in ways that are useful for building up the community “so that your words may give grace to those who hear”

6:19 Paul asks the Ephesians to pray that he will be given a message “to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…”

This is just instances of forms of the Greek verb didōmi (to give), or forms of the noun gift; it leaves aside variations on giving, like “bestowing” (see 1:6) or “lavishing” (see 1.8), which surely nevertheless qualify as “giving” despite the use of different verbs.

Most of this giving is God’s, and it includes grace, God’s spirit, and various forms of special speech – presumably associated with God’s spirit. But the church is called upon to give back to one another, as a response to God’s gifts, in word and in deed (4:28-29).

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