Ephesians: The Remarkable Letter That Just Happens to Mention Husbands and Wives, by Dr. Jeff Mirus

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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Feb 06, 2020

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

When we think of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, we tend to recall only the part which addresses one of our most practical preoccupations, the relationship between husbands and wives. In this twenty-first century after Christ, our culture regards marriage as in RUINS (Restrictive, Unnatural, Incomprehensible, Nugatory, and Senseless). We cannot avoid endless wrangling over the thirteen verses in Ephesians that deal with it. We ignore the 118 verses which precede Paul’s comments on it (1:1—5:21), along with most of the small number of verses in the conclusion which follows (cf. 6:10-20). This is a huge mistake.

The whole point of the letter is to explain to the new Christians in Ephesus what it means that they, as Gentiles, have been incorporated into God’s eternal plan and made heirs of His kingdom in Christ. The immeasurable, staggering greatness of this plan is announced in the first chapter. Paul is in prison (cf. 3:1), and he wants the Ephesians to be aware of this “mystery of [God’s] will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things to him, things in heaven and things on earth” (1:9-10).

One problem in grasping the purpose of the letter is that its subject matter is so exalted. Another more practical problem is that St. Paul typically begins his letters with long sentences in which his greeting is encompassed in sweeping acknowledgements of the purposes and glory of God. Unfortunately, this breeds a slovenly habit in those who read. Accustomed to what we regard as incidental “high” language in the first few verses, we fail to notice that in Ephesians this exaltation seems to continue through the first two-thirds of the letter, at least until we get into chapter 5 and even, though increasingly in moral terms, right up until verse 21. …

Read more here  https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/ephesians-remarkable-letter-that-just-happens-to-mention-husbands-and-wives/