Original Research

The attributes of God in Ephesians and Colossians – A comparison

Elizabeth M. Cornelius
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2812 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2812 | © 2022 Elizabeth M. Cornelius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 October 2021 | Published: 14 March 2022

About the author(s)

Elizabeth M. Cornelius, Department of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The so-called ‘disputed’ Pauline letters – Ephesians and Colossians – are significantly different from the ‘undisputed’ Pauline letters. Since the beginning of the historical critical movement, it has been recognised that Ephesians and Colossians are more similar to each other than any other Pauline letter. Scholars debated about these letters’ dependency upon each other, and many focussed on the similarities between Ephesians and Colossians. This article is an approach to contribute to the debate by comparing Ephesians and Colossians with regard to their characterisations of God. The attributes of God in these letters were interpreted within the letter structures as part of persuasion strategies, keeping in mind the socio-historical background and purpose of the letters. Where necessary, word studies were done. Finally, the attributes of God in Ephesians and Colossians were compared. It was concluded that these two letters were written each with a specific purpose in mind and that the attributes of God (as Father or Son or Holy Spirit) featured in these letters as shaped by the purpose. This article indicates that the similarities in the attributes of God do not speak louder than the differences and that these letters are unique in similarities as well as differences.

Contribution: As New Testament Studies fit perfectly in the scope of In die Skriflig, this article on the attributes of God in Ephesians and Colossians is relevant. The research results reported in this manuscript, fill a theoretical research gap, as it offers a comparison between the attributes of God in Ephesians and Colossians and serves as a contribution to the debate on the similarities and differences between the two letters.


Ephesians; Colossians; attributes; characterisation; God; disputed Pauline letters


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