Sunday Morning Greek Blog

May 16, 2011

It Comes in Threes, Part β

Okay, so maybe there is something more to this pattern of threes. I am sure I only hit “Publish” once to submit my “It Comes in Threes” blog post this morning, yet somehow it wound up posting three times. Hard to believe that is any kind of coincidence.

Here is what I am thinking on all this. As Jesus kicks off his ministry here, the disciples must have thought they had it pretty good. After all, this man was going to be king of the Jews (or so they thought) and would overthrow Rome and Herod and anyone else who stood in the way of reestablishing a theocracy in Israel. Now I know I am spiritualizing here, but it seems rather obvious that whatever good things the world has to offer, Jesus offers more, and that more is so much better than anything we could ask or imagine. The water-turned-wine is better than the first stuff the steward brought out. God’s creation is great, but heaven is that much greater.

In keeping with the theme of water, I happened to look up the word for “draw” (ἀντλέω antleō), as in “draw the water out of the jar.” It occurs four times total, all in John—twice here in chapter 2 and twice (you shouldn’t be surprised) in chapter 4 with the woman at the well, where he speaks of drawing “living water.”

One more thing about threes: Paul and John both spent a considerable amount of time in Ephesus. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has numerous patterns of three in it, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that John has patterns of three as well. Did Paul learn that from John, or John from Paul? What is it about Ephesus and the number three?

  • “Grace” (χάρις charis) appears three times Ephesians 1, three times in Ephesians 2, and three times in Ephesians 3.
  • “To the praise of his glory” (εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης eis epainon doxēs) appears three times in Ephesians 1:1–14.
  • Paul prays for three things for the Ephesians in 1:18–19, and the letter is divided into three sections around those themes.
    • “that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
    • the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
    • and his incomparably great power for us who believe”
  • God has done three things for us in Christ in 2:5–6:
    • Made us alive with Christ;
    • Raised us up with Christ;
    • Seated us with him in the heavenly realms.
  • There is another pattern of three threes in 2:12, 19, and 3:6.
  • There are two sets of three pairs in Ephesians 5:15–6:9.

I have Ephesians memorized, so I’ve spent a lot of time there (figuratively speaking) myself. So what is the number three going to mean for me? Well, I just got approved for a third floor apartment that I’ll be moving into on the third Saturday of this month. Does that mean I made the right choice? I have three kids. I hope and pray they are safe. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be tossing and turning tonight wondering about the significance of all this.

Peace! Εὶρήνη! Shalom!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] chapters). As I will show in this post, this letter has a very nice overall chiastic structure, numerous patterns of three, and definite subtheme of spiritual warfare. Ephesians is so eminently practical that I used to […]

    Pingback by Spiritual Warfare in Ephesians « Sunday Morning Greek Blog — October 12, 2011 @ 7:11 pm | Reply


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