Ephesians

Paul begins this letter with a greeting he generally uses: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."  Furthermore, we may not be surprised to read: "Before the foundation of the world he [God] chose us in Christ to be his people, to be without blemish in his sight, to be full of love; and he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ." Paul asserts that salvation is through Christ alone. "In Christ our release is secured and our sins forgiven through the shedding of his blood." All power has been given to the risen Christ, because God: "has raised Christ from the dead, and enthroned him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all government and authority, all power and dominion, and any title of sovereignty that commands allegiance, not only in this age but also in the age to come."

The image of sitting at the right hand of God comes from Psalm 110:1, which reads: "This is the LORD's oracle to my lord: 'Sit at my right hand, and I shall make your enemies your footstool.'" For centuries the reference to "my lord" in the psalm was understood to refer to King David, but Paul has taken the text to be a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ. Therefore, in his letter to the Ephesians Paul affirms that God "put all things in subjection beneath his [Christ's] feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church that is his body, the fullness of him who is filling the universe in all its parts." The authority of God is given to Christ, who is in heaven, but this authority will be wielded on earth by his true apostles through the church (the body of Christ).

Moreover, Paul argues, it is the love of God that has brought both Gentiles and Jews "to life with Christ when we were dead because of our sins." We are saved by grace through faith. "It is God's gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of; we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the life of good deeds which God designed for us." Paul teaches that we do not achieve salvation by doing the good deeds required by Jewish law, but we do good deeds because we have faith through the grace of God.

Thus, Paul is convinced that God has "annulled the law with its rules and regulations, so as to create out of the two [Gentiles and Jews] a single new humanity in himself, thereby making peace. This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, by which he killed the enmity." In Christ, and more particularly in the church as the body of Christ, there is to be peace among Jews and Gentiles. In opposition to the Jewish Christian movement centered in Jerusalem, which seeks to create this unity by imposing Jewish law on Gentiles as well as on Jews, Paul asserts that God has already accomplished this reconciliation through Christ. The Gentiles now "are fellow-citizens with God's people, members of God's household. By faith through God's grace, "with Christ as the cornerstone," Gentiles and Jews have been "bonded together into a holy temple in the Lord."

 Bob@rtraer.com © Robert Traer 2016