Summary: In this extraordinary introduction, Paul introduces us to his letter to the Ephesians with a blessing of grace and peace - two words which neatly describe what Christ has done for us and which Paul develops in his letter to the Ephesians.
As many of you know, for the last few years we lived in the former Soviet Union. I remember one morning a young man came up to me, wanting me to translate a letter from Russian to English for him. He had some acquaintance in an English speaking country and he wanted me to translate this letter for him. Now it was a year or two ago, so I dont remember exactly what the letter said, and I dont remember the names, but I have reconstructed below something like what his letter was like.
Дорогой друг Джон в нашем любимом Иисусе Христе, который за нас умерил на кресте,
Поздравляю тебя с глубокой радостью в сердце и хочу выразит глубокое уважение,
Бог благослови тебя!!!
С уважением твой брат а друг в нашем спасителе Христе Иисусе,
So I set to the task of translating it for him. And literally translated, it came out as something like:
Dear friend John in our beloved Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for us,
Greetings to you with deep joy in the heart and I wish to express my deep respect,
God bless you!!!
With respect, your brother and friend in our Saviour Christ Jesus,
Hmmm how does that sound to our English speaking ears? A bit flowery? Somewhat over the top? We just dont greet each other like that do we? I told this fellow Vladimir that his greeting didnt really translate well into English. John would be quite confused if he got a letter like this. So Vladimir asked me to translate the general meaning, how we would say it in English. So I did that for him and this is how it came out, when I reduced the flowery Russian language to how we say it in English.
POWERPOINT TYPED LETTER
God bless you!
His whole page letter had become 6 words in English.
In the English speaking world, we are not into flowery greetings, at least when we write to each other. But the Russians are. And so was the Greek speaking ancient world. We can see this in the greetings in Pauls letters in the New Testament. When we see Pauls greetings in the New Testament we tend to see them as flowery. As superfluous. Our natural instinct is to compress them.