Ephesians 2:14-15

From: Richard Lindeman (richlind@ix.netcom.com)
Date: Fri Feb 20 1998 - 13:18:55 EST


Thank you for sharing your research. I did not find your transliteration
problematic at all and this information may be of interest to others in
so I am forwarding it to the conference.

Rich Lindeman

-----Original Message-----
From: J. Ed Komoszewski <supergete@juno.com>
To: richlind@ix.netcom.com <richlind@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Wednesday, February 18, 1998 9:18 PM
Subject: Re: Ephesians 2:14-15

>I read your post in B-Greek with interest, since I have recently wrestled
>with the questions you are asking about Ephesians 2:14-15. Though my
>thoughts to follow are only preliminary, I do believe that I've
>summarized the various options that one must think through. I apologize
>for the formality of the short article which follows, but time
>constraints prohibit me from any editing. I did not post this in the
>B-Greek forum since I did not have time to change the original Greek font
>to the forum's required transliteration scheme.
>Best Regards,
>Ed Komoszewski
>Th.M. student, Dallas Theological Seminary
>I. Presentation of Problem
>The Greek syntax of Ephesians 2:14-15 has surfaced at least three
>interpretive questions raised by commentators. First, is e;cqran
>("hostility") to be associated with meso,toicon ("wall"), no,mon ("law"),
>or both? Second, is e;cqran connected to lu,saj ("destroyed") at the end
>of verse 14, or to katargh,saj ("rendered inoperative") at the beginning
>of verse 15? Third, is the phrase evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his
>flesh") modifying lu,saj or katargh,saj?
>In an attempt to answer these three primary questions, interpreters have
>proposed at least three different views. The significance of these views
>can be seen in various implications regarding the nature of the Law. At
>least one view sees the Law itself as the hatred experienced between Jews
>and Gentiles, but opposing views leave room for a neutral or even
>positive interpretation of the Law (cf. Deut. 10:13). It goes without
>saying that oneās understanding of the nature of the Law impacts the
>understanding of what Paul means by the nullification of the Law. A
>secondary point of significance may be seen in whether evn th/| sarki.
>auvtou ("in his flesh") is modifying lu,saj ("destroyed") or katargh,saj
>("rendered inoperative"), as it may have an impact on whether one views
>the phrase as referring to Christās incarnation [Barclay], humankind
>[Chrysostom], Israel (cf. Rom. 11:14) or Christās death (cf. Col. 1:22).
>II. Presentation of Views
>The first view to be examined equates meso,toicon ("wall") with e;cqran
>("hostility"), and connects both with the participle lu,saj
>("destroyed"). The phrase evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his flesh") is
>connected to katargh,saj ("rendered inoperative"), producing the
>following sense:
>". . .having destroyed the middle wall of partition, namely, the
>hostility; in his flesh having rendered inoperative the law of
>commandments in decrees. . ."
>Arguments for equating e;cqran ("hostility") with meso,toicon ("wall")
>appeal largely to word order. Word order makes e;cqran the probable
>object of meso,toicon, and the further object of the participle lu,saj
>("destroyed") [Robertson]. The fact that e;cqran immediately follows the
>participial phrase argues strongly that it is in apposition to it
>[Bratcher, Nida]. Grammatical proximity also seems to suggest that
>e;cqran is dependent upon lu,saj rather than katargh,saj ("rendered
>inoperative") [Vincent]. Finally, e;cqran follows the abstract noun
>eivrh,nh ("peace") and may be an antithetical play on words [Salmond],
>making unlikely any equation with the concrete noun no,mon ("law").
>Arguments for connecting evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his flesh") with
>katargh,saj will be considered in arguments against the second view.
>Arguments against this first view appeal to the awkwardness of proposed
>relationships. e;cqran ("hostility") would seem to stand in awkward
>isolation [Abbott], and evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his flesh") would
>uncharacteristically precede the object and its verb [Abbott]. This
>latter objection will also be addressed in conjunction with the following
>The second interpretive option equates meso,toicon ("wall") with e;cqran
>("hostility"), and connects both with the participle lu,saj
>("destroyed"). However, this view also chooses to link lu,saj
>("destroyed") with the phrase evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his flesh"),
>yielding a slightly different sense than that seen above:
>". . .having in his flesh destroyed the middle wall of partition, namely,
>the hostility; having rendered inoperative the law of commandments in
>decrees. . ."
>The primary argument for this view focuses upon grammatical proximity.
>Since evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his flesh") stands closer to lu,saj
>("destroyed") than to katargh,saj ("rendered inoperative"), it would seem
>likely that lu,saj carries the stronger attraction.
>Nevertheless, this view can be argued against on the basis of emphatic
>intention, as it is reasonable to assume that Paul wished to emphasize
>Christās death (cf. Col. 1:22) as being the only event which could render
>the Law inoperative. Therefore it is not unreasonable to accept the
>interpretation of the first view in identifying evn th/| sarki. auvtou
>("in his flesh") with katargh,saj ("rendered inoperative").
>The third view parts with the previous two by equating e;cqran
>("hostility") with no,mon ("law"), and linking both to the participle
>katargh,saj ("rendered inoperative"). This view agrees with the first
>view in connecting evn th/| sarki. auvtou ("in his flesh") with
>katargh,saj, and gives the following sense:
>". . . having destroyed the middle wall of partition, having in his flesh
>rendered inoperative the hostility, namely the law of commandments in
>decrees. . ."
>Arguments for this view appeal to the natural sense of progression in the
>passage. e;cqran ("hostility") and no,mon ("law") are both accusatives
>following meso,toicon ("wall"), and could thus both be interpreted to be
>in apposition to the latter. Phrases in apposition naturally follow one
>another and are rarely interrupted by a participle, thus making it
>awkward for the accusative objects meso,toicon and e;cqran to appear on
>either side of the participle lu,saj ("destroyed") [Lincoln]. Since no
>participle appears between e;cqran and no,mon, a more natural attraction
>is argued for.
>In response to this view it has been suggested that two nouns which
>define one another are rarely separated by a prepositional phrase
>[Abbott, Eadie]. Even if such a construction were not hindered by
>prepositional intrusion, apposition of e;cqran ("hostility") and no,mon
>("law") may not necessarily require a synonymous understanding of the two
>nouns. It is not unreasonable that their relationship merely suggests
>that the second object is the cause of the first [Lenski]. Furthermore,
>it has been noted that katargh,saj ("rendered inoperative") may not be a
>natural fit with e;cqran [Abbott]. It seems unlikely that the
>"hostility" was merely "rendered inoperative" (as opposed to
>"destroyed"), thus katargh,saj corresponds better to no,mon [Robertson].
>Finally, it has been suggested that "hostility" is not a term that can be
>applied to the Law [Abbott], and thus the alternative interpretation has
>been adopted by some.
>III. Present Writerās View
>First, irrespective of the certainty we may have regarding one of the
>aforementioned views, the following facts can be confidently asserted:
>1. Christ has destroyed a wall which previously separated Jews from
>2. Christ has removed the hostility which was previously experienced
>between Jews and
> Gentiles.
>3. Christ has rendered inoperative the Law of commandments in decrees.
>Second, no matter what position we take, we may also be certain that
>e;cqran ("hostility") is appositional. Answering whether it is
>appositional to meso,toicon ("wall"), no,mon ("law"), or both is not as
>clear. Although it is possible that the centrality of e;cqran creates an
>optical illusion intended to be viewed from both angles [Liefeld], and
>although it has been suggested that all three nouns may be in apposition
>to one another [Abbott], the present writer prefers to understand the
>nouns as interpreting one another [Barth].
>The interpretive view is preferred due to the close proximity of the
>previous accusative (meso,toicon), separated only by a related genitive
>and a participle. On the other hand, the intrusion of the phrase evn
>th/| sarki. auvtou between e;cqran and the following participle
>(katargh,saj) seems to suggest a more natural link with the preceding
>accusative÷not no,mon. For this reason, no,mon is not viewed as an exact
>match with e;cqran. Rather, no,mon is viewed as being synonymous with
>As was noted previously, even if one does understand all three nouns
>(meso,toicon, e;cqran and no,mon) to be appositional to one another, this
>does not require an exact identity among the three. Especially in the
>case of the latter (no,mon), it is altogether possible that it is merely
>to be understood as the cause of the previous two nouns (meso,toicon and
>e;cqran) [Lenski]. Regardless of how one interprets the relationship
>between the three accusative nouns, it is certain that there is a close
>association intended [Bruce].
>One more point regarding e;cqran may be made, and it involves its
>recurrence in verse 16. There Paul states that "the hostility" has been
>"put to death" (avpoktei,naj), a statement which carries much more force
>than "the Law" being "rendered inoperative" in verse 15. Though this
>argues against equating e;cqran with no,mon, it does not preclude the
>latterās causative relationship to the former.
>Third, we may also be certain of the relationship between the two
>participles poih,saj and lu,saj, since both are governed by the
>nominative singular article o`. The question, however, remains whether
>katargh,saj is also governed by the same article, or if it is somehow
>related to lu,saj. The significance here is determining whether there
>are three distinct ideas at stake, or whether the third participle
>(katargh,saj) merely explains the second (lu,saj). While the first two
>are connected by the conjunction kai., its absence between the second and
>third participles lead this writer to believe that katargh,saj functions
>more epexegetically than appositionally. Therefore, the nullification of
>the Law should not be equated with the destruction of the dividing wall.
>This, however, is not to suggest that a close relationship does not
>Fourth, the placement of evn th/| sarki. auvtou must be kept in its
>proper perspective. It seems clear that Paul is alluding to Christās
>death on the cross (cf. Col. 1:22), and a case can be made for His death
>both destroying the wall of hostility and rendering the Law inoperative.
>However, since we have argued for the causative effect of katargh,saj, it
>seems most natural to connect evn th/| sarki. auvtou with it. In
>addition, it has been previously noted that Paul may have moved the
>prepositional phrase forward for emphasis, asserting the priority of
>Christās death in bringing and end to the Law.
>In summary, there seems to be an escalation of specificity inherent in
>Paulās thought [Barth], and this is clearly seen as one works backwards
>through the passage. The Law has been rendered inoperative, making
>Jewish particularism and Gentile exclusion a thing of the past. The
>result of the Law being rendered inoperative was a dissolution of the
>hostility experienced between Jews and Gentiles. As a result of the
>hostility being removed, unity has replaced the need for separation, and
>peace is the new order of the day. Looking forward through the passage
>once again, we see that Paul begins verse 14 with the Person of Christ
>and ends verse 15 with His work. This seems to suggest that the passage
>is best understood when one idea explains another.
>For the above reasons, the present writer prefers the first view examined
>and offers the following interpretive gloss:
>"For he himself is our peace, who made us Jews and Gentiles one people by
>destroying the dividing wall, which was the hostility that once separated
>us. By means of his death on the cross he has brought an end to the
>Jewish law that once excluded Gentiles, so that peace would result by
>giving both Jews and Gentiles one new identity in Him."
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