Saturday 16 October 2010

Bible Book:

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints." (v.17-18)

Ephesians 1:15-23 Saturday 16 October 2010


The first chapter of the letter to the people of Ephesus ends ona personal note, in typical 'Pauline' style. But, as we have seenin previous days, there are hints of some distinctly 'un-Pauline'ideas here...

It is worth noting that the Greek New Testament was writtenentirely in capital letters, so the decision about whether to put abig S or a small s in front of spirit is one that translators mustmake. And in verse 18 the s is certainly small. Faith here is aboutreceiving a "spirit of wisdom and revelation" and being"enlightened" and 'knowing'. This has a lot to do with the Greekidea of religion as offering an understanding of the 'mysteries'.And this privileged understanding opens up "the riches of hisglorious inheritance among the saints" through the divine powerthat has elevated Christ to "the heavenly places", where we willone day be too, and where Christ reigns supreme over all otherdivine beings - "above every name that is named" - both now and inthe "age to come".

Christians are uniquely privileged, because, as members of the bodyof Christ (another familiar Pauline image), they will inherit "allthings". But this is not the body of Christ as the physicalpresence of Christ in the world, his life lived out in the dailylives of his people and made real in Eucharistic fellowship, but'the body of Christ' as the ultimate cosmic reality which dominatesand embraces "all things" for all eternity. This is Christianityre-branded and re-packaged for a sophisticated Greek world, farremoved from its origins in Galilee and Jerusalem; a Christianitymore at home in the world of Plato and Aristotle than Abraham andMoses. And it went on to conquer an empire.

To Ponder

Christianity had to adapt to survive in the widerand dominant world of Greek ideas, and the letter to the Ephesiansis a good example of how that began to happen. So you could read itwith little or no knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures - which is howmany of us read the New Testament today. Does that matter? Why?

How does all this relate to what Jesus said anddid, according to the Gospels? Is faith, for you, about followingJesus or understanding cosmic mysteries?

In what ways might Christianity need to bere-branded and re-packaged for a world that knows even less aboutPlato and Aristotle than about Abraham and Moses?

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