Ephesians 1-3

Good morning! The apostle Paul connects much more positively with the church in Ephesus than he does with the Galatians, as we hear right from the start of this next letter: “To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus”. There’s some speculation that this may not have been written by Paul, but by someone else in his name. Later books are more obviously written by another author, but I’m not sure what to think in this case. Even if it’s not directly Paul’s writings, these chapters seem to align with Paul’s theology and perspective as we have it in more verifiable texts. Paul’s key focus in this book is the church—its theological unity in today’s passage, and how that is put into practice tomorrow.

Adoption and predestination—two thorny issues—form the key concepts with which Paul works in Ephesians 1. Predestination especially evokes controversy, but here Paul uses the idea that God chose beforehand who would be saved as a source of confidence and reassurance for his readers. Since they have been chosen by God for salvation (whether Jew or Gentile), they can see themselves as saved and favored by God. The author’s claim of Christ as the “head” of the church is later morphed at the end of chapter 2 into a house metaphor. Christ is the cornerstone, Paul and other apostles are the foundation, and other Christians as members in the house, built spiritually into a great temple to God. This visual metaphor takes on greater resonance when we learn that Ephesus was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the grand temple of Artemis.

The other key emphasis in theology here is the emphasis on God’s loving determination to save (certain) humans based only on grace, beyond any good works. Since everyone—Jew and Gentile—is saved by such grace, all are unified whether they started out near or far from the Judaism that Christ practiced. God in Jesus has broken down the dividing wall between the two categories. While there’s much I question (and will question) about the metaphors that Paul and Pauline writers use, this visual of walls being broken down and unity achieved continues to powerfully impact my imagination. Happy reading!

Read Ephesians 1-3.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Ephesians 4-6. Thanks for reading!

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