Category Archives: Teaching

A Translation of Ephesians 5


“Submit voluntarily to each other out of sincere respect for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

I love how the apostle Paul approaches the topic of Christian relationships. He doesn’t make it about the other person, he makes it personal, focused, pointed at the one you see in the mirror. Often, when we see the word “submission,” there is something in us that objects. When we hear that wives are to submit to their husbands, employees to employers, or citizens to governments, there is something in the human psyche that protests, “You can’t make me!”

But that is what I love about Paul’s approach. He doesn’t imply, at least on the non-governmental level, that the other person is doing anything to make us submit. It is all about our choices, our understanding, our willingness to submit. In other words, it is about our frank understanding of what makes relationships work.

In any relationship, there is need for some level of submission. Two people can’t get through a one-person-wide door at the same time. One must give way. That works best when one politely allows another to go first. It doesn’t work as well when one beats the other senseless so that he or she might enter first. Submission works best when it is volitional, when it is agreed upon. Paul refers to it as voluntary submission (see note on 5:21 below for why the Greek verb must be translated in this fashon).

For Christians, this type of voluntary submission works best when it is done out of respect for Christ. It works best because, as a human being, I may have a major issue submitting voluntarily to someone for whom I have little regard or respect. However, I am inclined to do it anyway “out of respect for Christ.” I can overcome that not-so-submissive part of me by reminding myself that I am doing it for a higher purpose, and not because the person deserves it. The truth is that sometimes the person will deserve it, and sometimes the person will not. But when we do it out of respect for Christ, we do not need to make that determination. We only need to look in the mirror and realize that is is about the person staring back at us, and his or her relationship to the Lord. That truth makes voluntary submission much easier.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 5.

Ephesians 5:1-33
A Translation by Randal Cutter

5:1  Therefore be imitators of God as dearly loved children;

5:2  and walk in love, just as also the Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a pleasing aroma.

5:3  Accordingly, let sexual immorality, impurity of every kind, and sexual exploitation not be named among you, as is fitting for those who are holy;

5:4  instead of shameful talk, foolish words, and vulgar speech that is not becoming, practice giving thanks.

5:5  For you can be certain of this, that no immoral, impure, or greedy person—especially since greed is a form of idolatry—you can be certain that those who practice these things do not have an inheritance in the Kingdom of the Christ and God.

5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for on account of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience;

5:7  therefore do not be in league with them.

5:8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

5:9  —for the fruit of the light is found in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—

5:10  learning what is pleasing to the Lord.

5:11  Do not have fellowship with the fruitless works of darkness, but rather bring them into the light.

5:12  For it is embarrassing to mention the things done in secret by the children of darkness.

5:13  But everything brought into the light will be made visible by the light;

5:14  for anything that makes things visible is light.* Therefore it says, “Get up, you who are sleeping, and rise from the dead, and the Christ will shine on you.”

5:15  Therefore, watch carefully how you walk, not as fools, but as wise;

5:16  redeeming the time, since the days are harmful.*

5:17  On account of this, do not be unwise, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

5:18  Also, do not be intoxicated with wine, which destroys self-control;* instead be filled with the Spirit.

5:19  Speak to each other with psalms, songs of praise, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord.

5:20  Give thanks at all times to our God and Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:21  Submit voluntarily* to each other out of sincere respect for Christ;

5:22  wives, submit voluntarily* to your husbands as to the Lord,

5:23  because the husband is head of the wife as also the Christ is head of the church, himself Savior of the body.

5:24  As the Church voluntarily submits to Christ, so also wives should submit voluntarily to their husbands in everything.

5:25  Husbands, sacrificially love* your wives, just as also Christ sacrificially loved the church and gave himself on her behalf,

5:26   in order that he might purify her, having cleansed her with the washing of water by the word,

5:27  so that he might present her to himself a magnificent church, having no stain or wrinkle, or any other such thing, but that she be holy and blameless.

5:28  Thus husbands also ought to sacrificially love their wives as their own bodies. The one sacrificially loving his own wife loves himself.

5:29  For no one ever hates his own physical body,* but feeds it and takes care of it, just as also Christ the Church,

5:30  because we are members of his Body.

5:31  For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will be united to his wife, and the two will be one physical body.*

5:32  This is a great mystery; but I am speaking to Christ and to the Church.

5:33  However, I am also speaking to you as individuals. Let each husband sacrificially love his own wife, just as he loves himself, and his wife should respect her husband.


5:14  Anything that makes things visible is light: Bible versions differ on how to translate this difficult phrase because it could go in several directions. I have translated in a way that makes the most sense (to me) grammatically and contextually.

5:16  Since the days are harmful: Following the tradition of the KJV, most versions translate this phrase, “the days are evil.” However, the Greek word I have translated “harmful” is a moral/ethical word when applied to people, but simply describes harmful, rotten, or useless things when not applied to humans. A day does not have the capacity to have moral or ethical thought, but the laws of entropy demonstrate that the simple passage of a day can be extremely harmful. The days are not neutral. You cannot get through them unchanged. You can’t get through a day without losing ground, unless you are redeeming the time.

5:18  Which destroys self-control: While most versions translate the Greek word as “debauchery” or “dissipation,” the word itself also refers to the loss of self-control, a meaning that fits this context extremely well. Loss of self-control can certainly lead to debauchery and dissipation, however, they are not the only results of a loss of self-control, and I have translated in a way that leaves the other awful results open.

5:21  Submit voluntarily: The verb form is reflexive in nature and is more woodenly translated, “submit yourselves.” This, of course, means to do so by one’s own will and volition rather than through outside coercion. This is something Christians do voluntarily out of sincere respect for Christ.

5:22  Wives, submit voluntarily: There is no Greek verb in verse 22. The topic is still voluntarily submission, and Paul writes, “Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord.” In order for it to read better in English, versions (including mine) bring the verb down from verse 21, as Paul intended his readers to do.

5:25  Sacrifically love: The Greek verb translated “love” is agapaō. Most English readers will more readily recognize the noun form, agapē. This word for love is about the self-sacrificial nature of love. It is the John 3:16 love (God so loved that he gave . . .). When the apostle uses agapē, he most often is focused upon the self-sacrificial nature of love. It is important to bring this aspect out in this context because the English word “love” does not carry the same connotations as agapē. As the translation of 5:20-21 demonstrates, Christian wives submit voluntarily to other Christians “out of respect for Christ” by also submitting voluntarily to their husbands. And rather than the enforcer of submission, Christian husbands submit voluntarily to other Christians “out of respect for Christ” by sacrificing in love for their wives.

5:29  His own physical body: The Greek word here is the word often translated “flesh.” However, in this context it obviously means “body.”I have kept the emphasis of “flesh” by translating it “physical body.” Paul is quoting Genesis 2:24 which describes the institution of marriage. Then, in verse 30, he applies it to Christ and the Church. The great mystery is that Christ and the Church join together through their spiritual union to form a “body” in the same way that a man and woman join together through marriage to form a body.

5:31  One physical body: The Greek word, once again, is the word often translated “flesh.” However, in this context, it means “body.” I have kept the emphasis of “flesh” by translating it “physical body.”


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A Translation of Ephesians 4


“In him the entire body is fitted and joined together as each ligament provides support, and each part contributes to make the body grow according to its measure of energy, so that the body builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

In the passage above, Paul paints an incredible picture of how the Christian Church is to work. Each part of the church, in all of its myriad expressions, has been fitted and joined together like a functioning body. Like a physical body, each part of the Christian body is supported by the other parts. In addition, each part of the body is given a measure of divine energy to release to the rest of the body so that the whole body continues to grow. That divine energy is what sets the Christian Church apart from every other club or organization. God’s supernatural power, his divine energy, flows freely from one part of the body to another to stimulate growth, and provide power.

This is an incredible picture of power and life. But unfortunately, that picture is not often realized today. Perhaps it is because we have lost our vision; we have let our sense of expectation fade away; or perhaps we refuse to believe that God would release divine energy from other parts of the body.

Whatever the reason, we must get this expectation back into the Body of Christ. When Paul wrote about that energy, he wrote with a sense of wonder and possibility. It isn’t necessarily that the Body of Christ then had more agreement than we do now. Just read some of the arguments and disagreements that the early church experienced. But what they did have was expectation. They expected divine energy to flow through them and to them no matter how imperfect the church itself was. And it did flow. As we read the reports of the extraordinary miracles that God worked through Paul and his companions, and as we see the clear direction they received from the Lord as they shared his life, we see the wonder and possibility of the divine energy played out in gritty supernatural detail in that less-than-perfect church setting.

We desperately need that same expectation that God’s divine energy will flow through imperfect vessels to a world in need. One reason that I have translated Ephesians 4:16 as I have, is to begin to help recover Paul’s focus on the divine energy available to us. The Greek word I have translated “energy” refers to the divine energy that is released through God’s people when we are functioning as we should. It is a word that doesn’t just speak of the “working” of the Body of Christ, but points to the divine energy that is released in the body so that it grows. It is a word that speaks to wonder and possibility, and leads to expectation.

What our your expectations for today? Are they filled with wonder and possiblity? If they are not, remind yourself that divine energy is at work around you and through you in the Body of Christ. This energy is the stuff of creation and resurrection. It is the stuff of life and hope. Knowing this, we can never let our sense of wonder fade; the next amazing thing may be just around the corner.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4:1-32
A Translation by Randal Cutter

4:1  Therefore, I encourage you, as a prisoner for the Lord, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been given.

4:2  Walk with all humility, gentleness, and patience, putting up* with each other in love;

4:3  being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit within the constraints of peace.*

4:4  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope to your calling;*

4:5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

4:6  one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

4:7  Now to each one of us grace has been given corresponding to the measure of the gift of Christ.

4:8  Therefore, it says, “When he ascended to the heights, he took many captives with him, and gave gifts to men.”

4:9  For what does, “He ascended” mean, if not that he also descended unto lowest parts of the earth?

4:10  The one who himself descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, in order that he might fill all things.

4:11  At that time, he himself gave some for apostles, others for prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers,

4:12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry so that the Body of Christ is built up.

4:13  This will continue until we all achieve the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming a fully mature adult, attaining the measure of maturity that comes with the fullness of Christ.

4:14  We must become fully mature adults so that we are no longer tossed back and forth in the waves like infants, carried about like babies by every wind of teaching that comes from the games of men,* which they play with cunning and crafty deceptions.

4:15  Then, proclaiming the truth in love, we will grow in all things into him who is our head, Christ.

4:16  In him the entire body is fitted and joined together as each ligament provides support, and each part contributes to make the body grow according to its measure of energy,* so that the body builds itself up in love.

4:17  Therefore, I say—and I affirm this in the Lord—that you must no longer walk in the way that the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thinking.

4:18  They are darkened in their understanding, and excluded from the life of God, because of their inner ignorance caused by their hardness of heart.

4:19  Because they have lost the ability to feel shame, they have given themselves over to sensual excess, to the practice of every sordid activity as they sexually exploit* each other.

4:20  But you did not become acquainted with the Christ in that way,

4:21  For surely you have truly come to know him, and have been taught by him, because truth is in Jesus.

4:22  You were taught, with respect to your former way of life, to put away the old man, which was being morally corrupted through enticing lusts,

4:23  and to be renewed in your mind by the Spirit,

4:24  and to put on the new man, created for God in righteousness and true holiness.

4:25  Therefore, because you have put away the lying nature, each of you must speak truth to his neighbor, for we are members of each other.

4:26   When you are angry, do not sin. Do not let the sun set while you are incensed;

4:27  do not give the accuser space to operate.

4:28  Anyone who is stealing, must steal no longer, rather he must do good, toiling at a job with his hands, in order that he might share with those in need.

4:29  Let no harmful speech come out of your mouth, but only what is good for building up according to the need at hand, in order that it might release grace to those who are listening.

4:30  Also, do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption;

4:31  let all bitterness, violent emotion, anger, uproar, and slander be taken from you, along with every hateful feeling.

4:32  Instead, be kind and compassionate to each other, being gracious with each other, just as also God was gracious to you in Christ.


4:2  Putting up with each other in love: While “bearing with each other” is a good translation of this Greek verb, “putting up with each other” captures our way of saying it a bit more fully.

4:3  Constraints of peace: The Greek word translated “constraints,” is a word which refers to bindings or things that tie things together. Many translations use the word “bonds,” which is certainly appropriate when one thinks of a bond as that which restrains. However, the word “bond” has come to mean “relationship” in the English language, and thus has lost the key focus of this verse. I have translated as “constraints” to bring out the original intent of the word as a constraint or limitation.

4:4  Called in one hope to your calling: Translations handle this phrase in different ways (NIV: just as you were called to one hope when you were called”/NASB: “just as also you were called in one hope of your calling”). I have translated that bring out the idea that the hope comes with our callings to ministry in Christ, not just our calling to faith.

4:14  The games of men: The Greek noun literally refers to a dice game. As those who throw dice attempt to influence the outcome by manipulating the throw, so manipulation is often used as a form of deceitful control.

4:16  Measure of energy: Most other translations ignore the main meaning of the word I have translated “energy” (energeia). This word most often refers to supernatural energy, and reminds us that as each part of the body uses its spiritual gifts, supernatural energy is provided to the whole body so that its work might be accomplished.

4:19  Sexually exploit: Paul’s word choice is graphic. The greed of which he speaks is sexual greed and exploitation. I have translated in a more graphic way than normal to accurately capture his very pointed thoughts.


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A Translation of Ephesians 3


“For surely you have heard of the provision of God’s grace that was given to me for you . . .” (Ephesians 3:2)

When I think of God’s provision, I often think of all that is necessary to keep body and soul together, as well as those items that are necessary to function in a given society. When I pray for provision, it is usually about that which is needed to keep the lights on, the bills paid, and food on the table. I believe that is where most of us live.

Obviously, there are other provisions of grace that God gives to his people. When Paul spoke of God’s provision, he spoke about his calling in such a way that highlights that he was God’s provision to the Ephesians. God called and equipped Paul as a form of spiritual provision to the people to whom Paul wrote. That, of course, includes every person who has ever read Paul’s letters. He is a part of God’s provision for us so that we better understand God’s mysteries in Christ.

I am rather in awe of the fact that the Lord made provision for me almost two thousand years ago when he called a man named Saul from a vindictive path to one of grace. In reality, the provision of grace far exceeds that which I am able to comprehend. Can we even imagine the amount of provision that God has poured out through the millennia on our behalf? Because of how far the gospel has travelled, many of us have had righteous ancestors whose sacrificial lives and effective prayers may have been used by God to establish our callings. We will not truly understand such things until we are with them before the Lord.

Verse two reminds me of something else. Every Christian teacher I have been privileged to have has received a provision of God’s grace so that he or she could touch my life with the calling God granted him or her. I don’t even remember the names of all these teachers, and yet God’s provision to them in their calling has also been God’s provision to me. I am thankful that they were faithful with their callings. I have been blessed and received spiritual provision through them. Like them, I also wish to use God’s provision of grace in my calling in the best possible way for those to whom I am a part of God’s provision. I believe we honor God when we do that, and express our thanks to all those who have been our provision.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 3.

Ephesians 3:1-21
A Translation by Randal Cutter

3:1  For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles—*

3:2  For surely you have heard of the provision of God’s grace that was given to me for you,

3:3  that according to revelation the mystery was made known to me, just as I have written about previously in a brief fashion.

3:4  By reading about this, you can understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ,

3:5  which was not made known in other generations to the sons of men* as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets.

3:6  That mystery is that through the good news the Gentiles are joint heirs, fellow members of one body, and share in the promises in Christ Jesus,*

3:7  of which I became a servant through the gift of the grace of God which was given to me, in accord with the working of his power.

3:8  This grace was given to me, the least of all the saints, to preach the good news of the incomprehensible riches of Christ to the Gentiles;

3:9  and to bring to light for everyone the details of this mystery which was hidden for ages in the God who created all things.

3:10  He did this in order that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places through the Church,

3:11  in accord with the eternal purpose which he performed in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12  in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in him.

3:13  On account of this, I ask you not to be discouraged over my tribulations on your behalf, which are your glory.

3:14  For this reason I bend my knees to the Father,

3:15  for whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,

3:16  asking, in accord with the riches of his glory, that he might grant that you be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner man,

3:17  so that Christ dwell in your hearts through faith; and having been rooted and established in love,

3:18  I also pray that you might be able to fully comprehend, along with all the saints, what is the breadth, length, height, and depth of it,

3:19  and that you know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge; and I also pray that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.*

3:20  Now to the one who is able to do abundantly above all things that we could ask or think, through his power at work in us,

3:21  to him be the glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, unto all the generations, forever and ever. Amen.


3:1  The dash indicates a break in Paul’s thought process. He picks up his thought in verse 14. Verses 2-13 are an excursus about Paul’s calling.

3:5  sons of men: Many modern translations render this phrase as “men,” dropping the “sons of.” I have kept the entire phrase because it is a phrase that emphasizes the passage of multiple generations, rather than the more contemporary idea implied when just translated as “men.”

3:6  joint heirs/fellow members/share in the promises: Some add “with Israel” to flesh out Paul’s thought in this verse. While that is certainly Paul’s meaning, and an incredible truth, the original text doesn’t include “with Israel.” Paul left it up to his readers to figure out this obvious point. So I left it as Paul did.

3:19  all the fullness of God: Some translations insert the word “measure” here (filled to the measure of all the fullness of God). The word for “measure” does not appear in the Greek text, and in my opinion, confuses the thought. Paul’s prayer is that we be filled with all the fullness of God. Adding the word “measure,” a word that the Greek language does not supply, may limit the fullness of God to some unspecified unit of measure.


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A Translation of Ephesians 2


“Like everyone else we were, by nature, angry people.” (Eph. 2:3)

Road rage. We’ve all seen or heard examples of it. We’ve all seen or heard about its tragic results. Violent reactions to somtimes trivial events seem to be surging.

My daugher told me about an incident from a trip to visit someone in a neighboring city. As she and her husband drove through a neighborhood, they came to a stop sign and pulled up behind a car that had already been stopped at it. The person in the car was obviously distracted by something in the car, and did not move. So my daughter’s husband, after waiting an appropriate amount of time, tapped lightly on his horn to alert the driver that someone had pulled up behind him. The reaction of the person in the car demonstrated a fair amount of anger over this attempt to get his attention. As the two cars proceeded from the stop sign, the person in front began to weave between lanes so that my daughter and her husband could not safely pass. Since they recognized that the person had become erratic, they slowed their vehicle to avoid confrontation. Then the person who was driving erratically stopped his car, and quickly jumped out, apparently to confront them. The angry individual, however, had forgotten one thing. My daughter and her husband were in a two thousand pound vehicle with locked doors. He was now on foot. Only someone who is very foolish would have stopped to exchange words with the individual. So they simply pulled their car into the deserted lane of oncoming traffic, and powered around the individual, leaving him to work his anger out all by himself.

Anger can make us irrational. It is irrational to jump out of a car to confront someone in another car. People have died over such antics. But anger can move us towards stupid behaviors.

Unfortunately, we all know the taste of anger, even irrational anger. It is a part of our humanness. When the apostle Paul writes about it, he tells us that type of anger is bound up in the human heart. As a result, we need help. That is his point in Ephesians 2. God looked at angry humanity, and made a plan to deliver us from our own angry nature. God, in his great love, sent his Son to deliver us from the futility of our own anger. He not only forgave us for that anger, he put his Spirit in us to make it possible for us to overcome it. With the Spirit’s help we can not only overcome our propensity to irrational anger, we can be freed from its control in our lives. That is the incredible promise of the gospel, the good news found in the message of Jesus Christ. He can change us.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:1-22
A Translation by Randal Cutter

2:1  Your history is that you also were dead in your offenses and your sins,

2:2  by which you once walked in accord with the supernatural forces of this world, in step with the ruler of the spiritual authorities in the second heaven,* the spiritual being who is now working in those distinguished by disobedience.

2:3  We all also once walked with them, subject to the desires of our flesh, following its will and impulses. Like everyone else we were, by nature, angry people.*

2:4  But God, because he is rich in mercy, and because of his great love with which he loved us,

2:5  and even though we were dead in our offenses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

2:6  he also raised us with him, and seated us in the heavenly realms with him in Christ Jesus.

2:7  He did this, so that in the ages to come, he might show the extraordinary wealth of his grace revealed in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

2:8  For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and you are not the source of this salvation,* it is a gift of God.

2:9  It is not derived from human effort so that no one can boast.

2:10  For we are his creative work,* crafted in Christ Jesus with a view to the good works which God prepared in advance so that we might walk in them.

2:11  Therefore, remember that you who are Gentiles physically, called “foreskins”* by those who are called “circumcised” (a procedure in the flesh by the human hand),

2:12  remember that once you were separate from Christ, cut off from citizenship in Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise. You did not have hope, and you had no understanding of God in this world.

2:13  But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far away are now near through the blood of Christ.

2:14  For he himself is our peace, the one who made the two one, and destroyed in his flesh the barrier, the separating wall of human hostility.

2:15  He canceled the law of the commandments and regulations, in order that he, in himself, might make the two into one new man, and establish peace;

2:16  and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, having put the hostility to death by it.

2:17  When he came, he preached peace to you who were far, and peace to those who were near;

2:18  for through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

2:19  So then, you are no longer foreigners or resident aliens;* rather, you are fellow citizens with the saints, and belong to God’s household,

2:20  having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ being its most essential cornerstone.

2:21  In him the whole building is being fitted together, and is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.

2:22  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.*


2:2  in the second heaven: the Greek word often translated air refers to “the space above the earth inhabited by and under the control of certain supernatural powers” (Louw and Nida). This was also known as the second heaven, since the first heaven was the abode of humans, and the third heaven was the abode of God (see 2 Corinthians 12:2).

2:3  angry people: The expression which Paul uses is “children of anger.” The word I have translated “anger” is a word which is normally translated “anger” when it refers to our human emotion, and “wrath” when it refers to God’s anger toward sin. The context of the passage is clearly the negative impulses of our flesh. The phrase “children of anger” means those who are characterized by anger (see 1 Peter 1:14 where “children of obedience” means “obedient people”). Paul is letting us know that those without the Holy Spirit are people who have anger issues. The Holy Spirit desires to free us from those issues.

2:8  the source of this salvation: The preposition normally translated “of” or “from,” is a preposition that describes the source of something. I have translated it in a way that makes this more apparent.

2:10  his creative work: This is the Greek word, often translated “workmanship,” from which we get our word “poem.” When I taught this section, I entitled it, “Becoming God’s Poem.” The word describes the creative work of God. While “workmanship” or “craftsmanship” are good translations, I have preserved the creativity bound up in this word.

2:11  called foreskins: While many translations choose to render this word as “uncircumcision” in order to contrast it to “the circumcision,” the word actually refers to the foreskin, or even to the male sex organ. Those who were calling the Gentiles by this word were not being as polite as most modern translations. It was a graphic description of those who did not bear the sign of the Jewish covenant.

2:19  resident aliens: The Greek term referred to the legal status of those who lived somewhere, but were not citizens. I have translated it in a way to capture that legal status.

2:22  in spirit: Translations often render this phrase as “by his Spirit,” or “in the Spirit,” or “in his Spirit.” However, their is no article or pronoun connected to the phrase, which leads me to believe that the word “spirit” is a reference to the human spirit, or the spirit realm. We are being built together in spirit into a dwelling place of God.


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A Translation of Ephesians 1


“When you heard the word of truth, the good news of your rescue, and believed, you were also marked in him with a seal, the Holy Spirit of Promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)

The Holy Spirit of Promise, what a name! When modern translations render this verse, they often translate it “the promised Holy Spirit.” But when they do so, they obscure one of the important names that the apostle gives the Holy Spirit; he is the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Since he is the deposit that guarantees what is to come, this name is most appropriate. God has made many promises to his people. The Holy Spirit is the sign that the promises will be fulfilled. As a result, he is the Holy Spirit of Promise.

When Paul wrote this letter to the congregations in and around Ephesus, he emphasized God’s amazing promises, even praying in chapter three that our eyes would be opened to understand all those promises, especially since they are beyond our natural understanding. How appropriate that as Paul writes to people stuck in the mundane routines of life, he emphasizes the promises, and highlights the person of the Holy Spirit as a special carrier of the promise. Whenever we encounter the Holy Spirit, we encounter the reminder of God’s great promises, and know for certain they will be fulfilled.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 1.

Ephesians 1:1-23
A Translation by Randal Cutter

1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who live in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus.

1:2  Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of praise. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

1:4  since he chose us in him before the beginning of the cosmos* to be holy and without blemish in his sight, while walking in love.*

1:5  Through Jesus Christ he has predestined us to be adopted as his sons;* this was his delight and his desire,

1:6  for the praise of his wondrous grace, which he graciously bestowed on us in the One he loved.

1:7  In him we have been redeemed, we have been forgiven of our misdeeds through his blood, in harmony with the richness of his grace,

1:8  which he lavishly provided for us with all wisdom and understanding.

1:9  He made known to us the mystery of his will, in accord with his good pleasure displayed in Christ,

1:10  for managing the ending of the ages* and bringing all things together in Christ, things in the heavens, and things on the earth.

1:11  In Christ, we were also appointed as his inheritance,* having been predestined according to the purpose of the one working all things according to the focus of his will,

1:12  so that we, who were first to hope in Christ, might be the praise of his glory.

1:13  When you heard the word of truth, the good news of your rescue, and believed, you were also marked in him with a seal, the Holy Spirit of Promise.*

1:14  He is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the full redemption of the people God has acquired, to the praise of his glory.

1:15  On account of this, and because I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,

1:16  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.

1:17  I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, might give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in your knowledge of him,

1:18  that he might enlighten the eyes of your heart so that you know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

1:19  and what is his exceedingly great power in us who have believed.* That power is in accord with the divine energy of his mighty strength

1:20  which he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him on his right hand in the heavenly realms,

1:21   far above all, rule, authority, power, dominion, and every rank that can be named; not only in this age, but also in the age to come.

1:22  He also placed all things under his feet, and appointed him head over all things for the Church,

1:23  which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every respect.


1:4  Cosmos: The Greek word (kosmos) can mean “universe” or “world.” Since Paul appears to have the creation of everything in mind, I kept the universal intent of the word by simply transliterating it to “cosmos.”

1:4  While walking in love: The question for translators is, “Where does the “in love” fit?” Some translators choose, as I did, to keep it with verse four, while others use it to start verse 5. I believe it fits much more naturally with verse four, as a reminder that when we walk in holiness without blemish, that also includes exuding love to those around, rather than the self-righteous, pharisaical attitude with which Paul was all too familiar.

1:5  Adopted as his sons: Paul is using a legal concept from the Roman empire to emphasize our rights as those who are now part of God’s family. Men and woman have been given this legal right. However, in the Roman empire it was known as an adoption to sonship, and thus we must translate in a way that captures that legal concept.

1:10  Managing the end of the ages: Paul uses a management word to speak of God’s plans in Christ. I translated the word a bit more literally to capture that flavor.

1:11  Appointed as his inheritance: The Greek word often translated “chosen,” speaks of being chosen by lot, or appointed as an inheritance. I chose to emphasize the biblical truth in this word that we are Christ’s inheritance since Paul again emphasizes that in verse 18 of this chapter.

1:13  The Holy Spirit of Promise: The Greek here is clear that Paul is giving the Holy Spirit a title. Translations handle this in different ways, but I have chosen to highlight Paul’s name for the Holy Spirit.

1:19  In us who have believed: Is his power “for us” who believe, or “in us” who believe? While most translations follow the lead of the KJV and translate this phrase as “for us who believe,” the Greek is more naturally translated “in us who believe.” The same grammar is used in Ephesians 3:16 where the NIV translates “in your inner being” rather than “for your inner being.” I also chose to break from tradition in this passage because Paul clearly highlights his focus on God’s power in us who believe in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV). We all know God’s power is at work “for us,” but it is important to remember that his power is also at work in us, especially when there are so many ways that everything around us attempts to steal this truth from us.


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