The Similar Patterns In Genesis 2 3 And Ephesians 5 6


Had you noticed? Paul adapted the bell-curve pattern of Genesis 2:4-3:24 for use in his outline of Ephesians 5:15-6:9.

In the large and complex chiasm that makes up Genesis 2:4-3:24, the high point of it all is placed in the middle. Paul patterned Ephesians 5:22-6:9 in much the same way. His high point, the Great Mystery, is placed in verse 32.

On one side of high point verse 32, Paul linked three subsections, in verses 22 to 31, using a linchpin and chiasms. Then, he used three paired member sets of the household of his day and age in verses 5:33-6:9.

This literary pattern used by Paul shows the central importance of the Great Mystery – that believers are united with Christ in a joint-body much as the first couple was united in a one-flesh unity!

The concept of “mystery” in the New Testament did not mean it was mysterious in a hidden sort of way. This kind of “mystery” was something that previously was hidden but now was revealed or made clear.

In Ephesians 5:32, Paul revealed the great central truth about unity in Christ: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

This, and other parts of the patterns Paul used in the fabulous tapestry he laid out in Ephesians 5-6, help us understand the meaning of what have been, to many, obscure and almost incomprehensible images.

The passage at the end of chapter 5 is not primarily about marriage. It is about being filled with the Spirit (5:18b). It is about reciprocal submission among believers (5:21). It is about joint-body unity with Christ!

(cc) 2020 Bruce C. E. Fleming

For more on the bell-curve chiasm in Genesis 2-3, see Man and Woman in Biblical Unity by Joy Fleming.

For more on all the patterns in Ephesians 5-6, see Think Again Workshop on Ephesians 5:22-6:9 available from March 2, 2020 on

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