Timothy Gombis argues ( The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God , 28-31; ch. 4) that Paul follows a “divine warrior” story-line in Ephesians 1-2. Drawing on Longman and Reid’s God Is a Warrior , Gombis says that the divine warrior story moves through these phases: kingship, victory, celebration, victory shout, temple-building, blessing.

Ephesians doesn’t follow the sequence is just this order, but the elements are there: Jesus is exalted in heavenly places, having triumphed over the powers and over death and destroyed the enmity that divides Jew and Gentile, and then builds a living temple from the plunder of Israel and the nations.

One of the payoffs is to recognize the connection between the opening chapters and the final exhortation to “put on the armor of God.” Gombis points out that Paul uses the phrase “the strength of his power” twice (1:19; 6:10), which forms an inclusio around the letter. Paul’s thesis statement about Jesus’ triumph and exaltation is found just after the first use of the phrase (1:20-23), and his exhortation to put on armor after the second use. That places Jesus’ triumph and exaltation into a parallel with the armor that the people of God are to wear. Because Jesus was victorious over the powers and principalities that ruled humanity, His people are to put on His armor to share in His triumph (30-1).

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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