THE LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS Fr Harry Vas 2nd Dec 2007
Introduction : Ephesus is modern day turkey, it is a large city famous for the temple of Aethemis. The Christian community there is composed of people converted from Judaism, & converted Hellenistic Jews.
Authorship : Perhaps written by a disciple of Paul. The style, wordings, & letter writing comes from around 7- - 90 AD, Historical background seems to have come from the Paulinistic school
1 : 1 – 2 Greetings
I 1 : 3 – 3 : 21 Praise & Revelation of New life of Xt, God is praised for all his blessing
II 4 : 1 – 6 : 20 Exhortation to worthy conduct
Ch :1 :3 – 14 What we are is due to Gods blessing , when God blesses he gives power, an enabling blessing of praise is the full expression of thanksgiving ever more when it is present in difficult circumstances
( captivity letter ) , God as an individual to me as father of JC.---------- when one is blessed one does not glorify self but glorifies God, Our blessing is our closeness to God, I’m selected to be blessed ( selected does not mean preferred ). Selection is Gods gracious act, not because of my merit. Holiness & blamelessness is connected with love, if I love God I become holy.. God has chosen us from the very beginning, we belong exclusively to God. Chosen to be holy & blameless in love.
1 : 3 – 3 : 21
1 : 3 – 14 Blessing & praise.
15 – 23 Thanksgiving prayer & intercession.
2 : 1 – 10 Once dead now alive
11 – 22 Once far now near
3 : 1 – 13 Paul reveals the mystery.
14 – 21 Continuing of the intercessory prayer
Vs 4,5: Because he chose us / He destined us for adoption as his children through JC, according to the good pleasure of his will .--referring the end of vs 4 this destined seems like predestined / predetermined gk proousas = preordained; set for a better task chosen for some thing. God has destined, & determined the fate of all through his unalterable plan ( Ref Rom 8 : 29; 1 Cor 2 : 7 )
The word proousas refers to Gods saving action, He has destined us to be his sons, we are called to his son ship. The Goal of this action is to make us the children of God. Blessing is by the mediation of the HSp. ( Gal 4 : 4 – 5.) God chooses us guides us; we worship God not as a slave worshipping his master , but as a son worshiping his father.
Vs 6 : to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved , grace is force of God in our lives. God goes beyond his generosity enabling abundant love, Gods abundant enabling power. Grace comes in the Beloved, Beloved is the son JC.
Vs 7 : In him we have redemption through his blood , the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Redemption = gk apolutrosis , paying the price of freedom, deliverance with his grace, freeing, delivering for a better life. This is the out come of love not slavery. Jesus has already paid the price with his blood, he has redeemed us, His self sacrificing love which ended on the cross, he paid with his life. ( redemption vs 14, 18 ) From freedom from slavery to son
ship, we are freed from all are our transgressions, my sins are already remitted. ( Vs 6, 7 The identification of Xt as God’s Beloved recalls the baptism scenes of the Gs, in which the voice from heaven identifies Jesus; there fore this is also called the Baptismal liturgy in Pauline form.)
Vs 8-10: With all wisdom & understanding he made known to us. Emphasis the abundance of wisdom. Wisdom is not Knowledge , Knowledge is the amount you know. Wisdom is the insight to make wise choices, to distinguish , judge. A baptized person is blessed in the wisdom of faith, not knowledge.
Vs 9 : the mystery of his will. Understanding mysterion Gk, raz Hb In Judaism every thing is regulated according to Gods mysteries. In the semitic background mystery in the NT ‘ The God of knowledge is in control of all things, because the unalterable course of events has been decreed by him before all eternity. The human, angelic & cosmic realms have been determined by him, this mystery has been revealed to a chosen few.
NJBC Mystery ( gk mysterion ) = to something I cannot understand , this plan is known to God also perceived by those who are close to God. It is Gods plan . Wisdom is to know when to persist & when to give in .Redemption of sins is part of Gods action when I become one with God., we become one with God when our will & action are one with Xt. Xt is the head we are the body.
Vs 10: as a plan. Gk oikonomia Pauls appointment to preach the word, Gods plan to sum up all in Xt. All heavenly & terrestrial realities finds its meaning & completeness in Xt.
Vs 11 : In baptism we are immersed in Xt.
Vs 11 – 12 we heirs addressing the Jews
Vs 13 – 14 you good tidings Hellenistic ( Gentile Xtians )
Accept them as fellow inheritors of the KOG , Paul is putting everyone on the same footing, God has made everyone in Xt. Everyone is included in Gods work of salvation
Vs 14 : this is the pledge of our redemption of Gods own people. Setting free ( enslaved ) / property.
Gk Apolytrosis ‘ buying back ‘ that which was enslaved property/ freedom achieved by the death of Xt
Vs 15 – 17: God is praised
Vs 15 : I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus & your love. Fullness of faith, wisdom & revelation making known the mind of God.
Vs 18 : glorious inheritance among the saints. ( among the holy ones ) The reference here is to the angels with whom the earthly congregation has been joined in Christ.
Vs 19, 20 – 23. His mighty power. Gods might is revealed in the resurrection & ascension of Xt & in his exaltation over all the angelic forces, the author uses the early Xtian creedal statement formulated the Xt event to impress upon the readers the glorious position to which they have been called in Xt. ….above All rulers.
Vs 22 : He appointed him head. Xt is the head of ‘all things’ everything & of the church, which is his body. The church is the mystical body of Xt. The Church is described as the fullness of Xt, Xt fills all in all. He fills the grace of God in everything, body includes everyone. Fullness / totality Gk pleorma, fullness of grace & fullness of Gods Love. Xt is the concrete & active expression of Gods grace.
Col 1 : 19, 2 : 9 – pleorma stands for this cosmic / full significance of Xt in the world. Gods dwelling in the person of Xt.
NJBC The author announces an imp. Metaphor: Xt is the head of the body, the church.
(Pauline concept) of many diverse members together form the body of Xt. The church is the beneficiary of Gods all embracing plan & as a beneficiary of his Lordship over all things, over all angelic powers the church – Christ’s body shares in the dominion of the head.
Ch 2 : 1 – 10 Once dead now alive with Xt. Those who live in sin are dead, there needs to be a
radical change – metanosia Gk.
Vs 4 – 6 : This change will only come by the power of God.
Vs 2, 8, 9 :This work of redemption is by Gods power
Vs 9, 10 : This change is to be shown by external action.
NJBC Vs 1 Even though we were dead because of our transgression, Vs 2 under the influence of the evil power, Vs 3 with the desire of the flesh, Vs 5 – 6 He made us alive all XtiansV are raised & enthroned with him in heavenly heights. Vs 8 – 10 Salvation comes as a result of Gods gift alone,. It is no longer faith vs works, but Gods grace vs human good deeds.
Vs 11 – 22 : We were once far now we are near. Gentiles & Jews now form one new humanity, created in Xt & reconciled to each other & to God ( common wealth not heir )
Vs 11: circumcision a recognized feature of Judaism in the Hellenistic world symbolizes the distinction between the Jews & the Gentiles.
Vs 12 : alienated from the common wealth of Israel : The author uses political imagery of citizenship to describe the Gentiles exclusion from the people of God. Estranged from the God of Israel, the Gentiles had no access to the covenant.
Vs 13 : far off…..near. Describes the former condition of the Gentiles & the new situation resulting from the death of Xt. The reconciliation accomplished through the death of Xt , brought peace & union with God. This understanding of reconciliation is expanded to include peace & unity between Gentiles & Jews.
Messianic prophesy ( far off---near) Is 57 : 19; Zec 2 : 11; 6 : 15
Vs 14: He is our peace. Peace does not denote absence of conflict.
Vs 14: He has torn down the barrier wall. We need to break down the walls of hostility. Although this may be figurative reference to the wall separating the Gentiles from the inner court of the Jerusalem temple. The image is intended to depict the end of ethnic hostility between the 2 groups.
Vs 15 : That he might create in himself. The old humanity was flawed & alienated from God because of the sin of Adam ( Rom 5 : 12 – 17 ) , but the new humanity created in Xt has been reconciled with God through the Cross. Xt is the new Adam ( Pauline Theology ) to describe the new situation of Gentiles & Jews together forming the one new humanity , the church.
No one is an alien, exile, all are fellow citizens with the saints & members of Gods household, all are equal.
2 Cor 3 : 6 new covenant; 2 Cor 5 : 17 new creature; 1 Cor 15 : 45 – 47 New Adam. Adam rebelled against God, Jesus obeyed.
Vs 16 : in one body. This body is the crucified body of Xt. Body = soma gk = as one new humanity, the church.
Vs 19 : fellow citizens. Citizenship of Gods polis, this transcends political boundaries of the city thro fellowship with the angels. One household of God. ( Household usually included parents children & slaves ) Christians, as a member of Gods household are called Gods beloved children, entitled to the rich inheritance that their father lavishes on them .
Vs 20 : built on the foundation with JC as the cornerstone.( church of Peter Jewish; The Gentile church- Paul ) The household is concretized as a building, the prophets & apostles provided the foundation stones & Xt is the corner stone.
3:Vs 1 therefore I , Paul. The authority of Paul the prisoner of JC, & the hardships he suffered is an assurance to the Gentiles of their place in Gods eternal plan.
Vs 2 : for you must have heard. The author assumes that what he is going to tell them about pauls role in the announcement of Gods plan is something they should already have known
Vs 3 : Paul is the revealer of the mystery, mystery of Xt is deeper & complete. mystery = mysterion Gk, raz Hb
Deeper understanding of Gods plan will be known to God And those who are close to him
Vs 4: my insight . Pauls insight is stated in Vs 6 the full & equal participation of the Gentiles in the church.
Vs 5 : to his holy apostle. The author wishes to recall the solid foundation on which the church is built ( 2 : 20 )
& underscores the role played by the apostles & prophets.
Vs 6 : coheirs, co members, copartners. 3 nouns with the prefix ‘together’ depicts full & equal participation of Gentiles with Jew in the one body. People of all kinds & backgrounds.
Vs 7 – 9 The practical application of Pauls insight made him the apostle of Gentiles.
Vs 8 : very least. 1 Cor 15 : 9
Vs 9: in Gods creation. At creation God established his providential control of the cosmos & only in the present age he has revealed the mystery to a chosen interpreters
Vs 10: through the church. The church signals the end of the alienation of humans from God, & Gentiles from the Jews
Vs 12 : in him we have confidence. Xtians freed from the domination of heavenly powers , now are able to approach God with boldness.
Vs 14 – 19. Prayer
Vs 20 – 21 This section resumes the intercessory prayer, which began in 1 : 15 – 20, the in 3 : 1, interrupted between 3 : 2 – 13.
Vs 15 : from whom every family. God the creator of all families of beings establishes his power & control over all creations in the act of naming them.
Vs 16 : as your inner self. As your heart.
Vs 18 : width & length. This could refer to the dimensions of the temple of Jerusalem; or of Jerusalem; Gods plan of salvation; love of Xt mentioned in the previous & the following verse.
Vs 19 : fullness of God. Fullness of divinity, The author has come a full circle from his identification of God at the beginning of the prayer in vs 14 as a source of life to God as the goal of humanity.
Vs 21: in the church & in Christ Jesus. The mention of both the church & JC preserves the distincytion between the body & the head yet identifies both as the sources of Gods power.
What is the mystery: is to bring together every one back to Xt.
Jonah : God will forgive whom he wants The church is the sign & the sacrament . preaching of the apostles is the bringing the abundance of Gods grace the Gs & the unfathomable riches in them.
4 : 1 – 6 : 20; Exhortation to live out the kind of new life that Xt has Xt blessed us with.
4 Vs 1: Live a life ‘worthy’ ‘fitting’ to the call. Paul is the revealer who reveals on behalf of the one who has sent.
Vs 2: with humility, gentleness (meekness, sensitivity ), patience & forbearance ( ability to withstand all trials with one another in love.
Vs 3: making every effort to zealously preserve the unity of the HSp in the temple of peace. Put in to practice & understand more deeply, & living out more faithfully.
Vs 14 – 19: Renewal of the intercessory prayer, doxology, & praise.
Vs 4 – 6: We are one body Col 3 : 15.one spirit, one hope, One Lord 1 Cor 8 : 6 , one faith ( unity of faith is the unity of belief ) , one baptism; One God & father. who is above all , in all, through all.. Oneness is essential to the new life.
Vs 6 : One God & Father of all, who is above all & through all & in all The greatness of God is is described by the fourfold repetition of the penta ( all )
Vs 7 – 16: The unity of the body vs 3 – 6 provides the setting for the discussion of the diversity of the church. God is the giver of gifts, gifts are many, member is called to make an active contribution. Gifts are given for the greater good of all, they are given for service, not as a privilege. To build the body of Xt. They are given for faith & knowledge, we grow to adult man hood.
Vs 17 – 19: The passage reiterates the common Jewish views of pagan moral conduct
Vs 22 – 24: put of the old humanity. Paul exhorts the readers to have a conduct befitting the new humanity.
Vs 25 – 5:2: These vs present a series of moral exhortations that illustrate the type of conduct proper to Xtians who in baptism have put on a new nature.
Vs 24: The motivation is common membership in the one body.
Vs 30:Any offence against the fellow member is an offence against the HSp. for all the Xtians together form a living temple in which the HSp dwells Do not offend the HSp, offending the HSp is working against love & unity.
Vs 31:Stop all animosity. Stop all hatred, put on a good behavior rather then the wicked & destructive behavior.
Vs 32: forgive one another. Unlike the petition in the Lords prayer: God forgive those who forgive others, Forgive one another as God in Xt has forgiven you. Mt 18.
5 Vs 1: be imitators of God, as beloved children. Children of God are exhorted to love of neighbor, modeled on love that the son manifested in his sacrificial death.
Vs 6 – 20: The author contrasts the children of disobedience / darkness to the children of light.
Vs 5 : 21- 6 : 9 Code of Conduct for the Household of God The household codes treated relations between husband & wife, children & parents, slaves & masters,& subordinates & superiors NJBC pg 890.
Vs 21: be accommodative be submissive to one another Gk hypotassomoi be adjustive to one another, give way to one another.
Vs 26: there is no dominion, sacramental & the spirit of marriage
6 Vs 1: Children are asked to honor their parents, parents are asked not to aggravate them.
Vs 10 – 20: Xtian life as warfare with evil.