Ephesians 1:1 (KJV);

  1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Could you give me theological approaches to:

What Paul means by "by the will of God", not saying: "by the will of God the Father", nor "by the will of The father", nor "by the will of His Father"?

  • 1
    @NigelJ I am asking definitely about theology from the Bible, i.e: theology according to hermeneutic approaches, i.e: not affected by opinions or what we learned from Childhood.
    – salah
    Mar 22, 2020 at 6:40
  • 1
    @NigelJ why you omitted your previous comment?. I am talking about theological approaches depending on hermeneutic approaches only, i.e: not affected by any preceding judgements.
    – salah
    Mar 22, 2020 at 11:49

2 Answers 2


The anarthrous θεός at Ephesians 1.1 is a classic case of anaphoric identification by the articular “God the Father” in verse 3.

It is quite well documented by Greek grammarians since 2 AD, like Apollonius Dyscolus, and reported by advanced grammars like Blass-Debrunner-Funk Greek grammar:

2 Introduction. ὁ, ἡ, τό as article with appellatives has double meaning as in classical usage, individual and generic: ὁ ἄνθρωπος (1) ‘the known, particular, previously mentioned man’ ... (1) is also known as the ‘anaphoric’ use (since Apollonius Dyscolus ii AD) because there is reference back (ἀναφορά) to what is known or assumed to be known: (BDF §252)

As Wallace states:

5 "The anaphoric article is the article denoting previous reference. (It derives its name from the Greek verb άμαφερειν, “to bring back, to bring up.”) The first mention of the substantive is usually anarthrous because it is merely being introduced. But subsequent mentions of it use the article, for the article is now pointing back to the substantive previously mentioned. It is the most common use of the article and the easiest usage to identify." .... “Practically speaking, labeling an article as anaphoric requires that it have been introduced at most in the same book, preferably in a context not too far removed. (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, p. 217)

There is absolutely no doubt that ο Θεός at Ephesians 1:3 is anaphoric to θεός at 1:1.


The question contains an unstated assumption: In Eph 1:1, "God" is God the Father. This assumption may not be correct.

Note that in the Greek, "theos" (= God) lacks the article. If it had the article, then there would be a reasonable case (but far from conclusive) that "God" here would refer to God the Father (eg John 1:1, etc).

However, the fact that in Eph 1:1 "God" lacks the article, suggests the probability that the Godhead more generally, is in Paul's mind.

For more examples of this see such verses as 2 Cor 2:17 where both forms are used. David Bentley Hart, in his appendix to his translation of the New Testament has some very helpful comments about the distinction between the articular and inarticular (or arthrous and anarthrous) forms of theos.

  • @ThomasPearne - I think you have this back to front but this is not the place to debate.
    – Dottard
    Mar 24, 2020 at 20:20

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