Have you experienced having a heated conversation with someone about something and in the process of giving some arguments you found yourself lost in the details and forgot that you’re making a point? It’s just like that in the bible. The author’s arguments may span a couple of verses or even few chapters and an argument can have several supporting arguments, and because of that, sometimes it’s hard to ascertain which clauses and conjunctions are logically connected. You’re lost as it were in the forest.
And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins – Ephesians 2:1
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one good example. For example; Ephesians 1:3-14 is just one sentence in the greek with a bunch of conjunctive and relative clauses and phrases. Or better yet in chapter 2, the sentence starts with an “and”, a coordinating conjunction. Determining what’s being joined by this conjunction matters a lot in interpretation. Is verse 1 connected logically with “Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all”, the last clauses of chapter 1? Or with “And God put all things under Christʼs feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things” or perhaps we should construe the conjunction as “Now”, signifying a transition to a different topic?
One tool I’m using when determining which phrases and clauses are subordinate and what are joined together by a conjunction is Phrasing or Block diagramming. It is very important to disregard translation headings, verse and chapter divisions for now. All subordinate clauses are indented to right, and main clauses to the left.
In Ephesians 1:20, Paul says that God the Father exercised his power in Christ, and he goes on to say when. So the main clause in Ephesians 1:20-2:5 is “This power he exercised in Christ.” Verses 20b, 20c and 2:1-5 answers the question when and verses 21-23 is a description of the scope or sphere of Christ’s authority. So what’s being said really is that God demonstrated his power in Christ when 1) He raised him from the dead, 2) He gave him authority, 3) He raised us with him while we’re still dead in our trespasses and sins, under a different authority. God is able to raise us because it’s the same power He used to raise our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
Now it’s clear how the conjunction “and” in Ephesians 2:1 works. We’re no longer lost in the details of Paul’s flow of thought. Try it out! The next time you meet hanging conjunctions like that, ask the question: “Where were we?”