Return to main page
Wickedness in the Epistle to the Ephesians by Joseph G. McCulley
The subject of evil forces at work in this present world has generated much discussion over the years. Some scholars do not believe that the Bible actually teaches that demonic spirits exist. Some, like Wesley Carr, have even gone to great lengths trying to prove their point. He states that "the pagan world to which Paul went lacked any sense of mighty, hostile forces that stood over against man as he struggled for survival." Carr does some interesting things trying to prove his theory. Clinton Arnold writes while critiquing Carr's writing, that Carr believes that the idea of evil powers was only beginning to be developed by the Jew in the first century. Mr. Arnold thoroughly refuses to believe this and cites several clear references to evil power from several pre-Christian Jewish sources. Carr also argues that the pagan world did not think that much about evil forces in the first century either. Again, Arnold refutes this idea as well. He says that this cannot be true because "Ephesus was widely reputed as a centre for magic [and] the practice of magic presupposes a belief, indeed a fear, of hostile evil forces...." When Carr argues against evil powers in early Christianity, Arnold refutes this by citing various synoptic evidence. Finally, Carr comes to discuss Ephesians 6:12. He can not get around its teaching by translating it some different way as he did with some other passages which seemed to disagree with his theory. He admits of Ephesians 6:12 that this verse indisputably describes evil powers. However, he avoids this passage by stating "this verse was incorporated into Ephesians in the first half of the second century so it was fully accepted by the end." Mr. Arnold clearly refutes this idea by pointing out that the facts just do not support Mr. Carr's conclusions. There are "absolutely no textual traditions which omit v.12." Mr. Carr is completely aware of the lack of textual proof for his theory. He is also aware that one must be careful of claiming that something was added to a text unless there is strong evidence that it had occurred. In spite of the these statements made by him, he goes on to say "the letter to the Ephesians presents a particular problem. It was the thought contained in especially Eph. 6:12 that became prominent in the church and affected all other interpretations. We have attempted to show, however, that this verse is unlikely to have been part of the original text...."
from Wickedness in the Epistle to the Ephesians by Joseph G. McCulley http://members.tripod.com/pioneerbaptist/id27.htm
Return to main page