Why is there no verb in Ephesians 3:1?
This series features “real questions” from students and emails, lightly edited to protect the innocent. In this case double spaces between sentences were removed from the original question because you only need one space between sentences people! (Seriously though, this was a great question).
Dr. Keene, I’m confused by Ephesians 3:1… it seems to be an introductory clause to verse 2, but it has no verb. Is there a verbal word that I am missing, or is the action of the clause implied? Also, ὁ is post-articular to Παῦλος, which seems odd. Does ὁ modify Παῦλος? Or is it some kind of stand-alone article?
As it stands now, my literal translation is: “For this reason, I, Paul, for the bonds of Christ Jesus on behalf of your nations”.
(Note: my practice is not to consult an English translation until I am satisfied with my best effort at a translation.)
Ah yes! Welcome to Paul! Paul (and I personally love him for this as it justifies my own proclivities) likes to interrupt himself. That little ει γε introduces a relative clause, which normally would be “relative” to a main verb, but you have no main verb! Maybe the main verb will show up after the relative clause? Nope. Paul continues on in 3:2ff to address the concerns of the relative clause (what if you haven’t heard of me?) and does not return to the thought of the introductory clause, leaving the phrase grammatically unresolved. The verb is not implied, it’s simply missing. Paul interrupts himself. To paraphrase: “Because of this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles–but wait! Perhaps you’ve never heard of me! I should introduce myself first!”
Will Paul ever finish his original thought? We’ve got to keep reading. Where does he finish the opening and give us the result of the “reason?” In my reading it isn’t until 3:7, which incidentally begins a new sentence. He interrupted himself, and now he starts over in a way that is slightly transformed by the material of his interruption.
Paul does this often. It’s a rhetorical strategy here, but a didactic one in other places, like Rom. 5:12 (he interrupts himself at 5:13 and does not return to his original thought until 5:18!)
I like your translation strategy! Be in dialog with translations and try to understand the logic of the decisions they make, but doing it yourself first can help you better understand the translation strategy.
Some technical notes: the ὁ doesn’t go with Paul but with δεσμιος; it’s an apposition construction, which will be in the same case/gender/number as the main noun. That’s actually what’s going on with ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν τῶν ἐθνῶν as well: “for you, which is to say, the Gentiles” instead of “your nations.”