Tuesday 17 June 2014

Bible Book:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." (v. 3)

Ephesians 1:3-14 Tuesday 17 June 2014


Despite the assertions of verse1 it is unlikely that this text was ever a letter, that it waswritten by Paul or that it was addressed to the church in Ephesus.It is more likely to have been a sermon for general use in thechurches in Asia Minor written by a disciple of Paul's who wasconcerned to summarise and apply his teaching, perhaps whilst Paulwas in prison in Rome, or after his death.

The issues addressed in this 'sermon' are outlined towards theend - the need for Gentile (non Jewish) and Jewish Christians tofind a way to live together within one church, and the need todistinguish genuine Christianity from other teachings which wereelitist and other-worldly in their focus. In some ways, then, it isodd that the main text (from verse 3) starts with a hymn of praiseto the God 'who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritualblessing in the heavenly places'. Using an adversary's language andturning it to one's own purposes, however, is an effective form ofargument (as anyone involved in a domestic will testify), and thehymn of praise to Father, Son and Holy Spirit which runs fromverses 3-14 echoes both the forms of praise given to God insynagogue worship (the 'berukah') and the reciting of the mightacts of God which forms the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving in ourservices of Holy Communion (see the Methodist Worship Book for aseries of examples).

As there, so here, the purpose is to evoke praise and to writeus (the hearers) into the story. The story is that God the creatoris also the one who wants the redemption of all things; that Godhas made known this mystery in Jesus Christ; that at the end oftime, all things will make sense in Christ, and that in themeantime we have the Holy Spirit with us as a pledge of all thesethings. By believing in God and by receiving the Holy Spirit, a new'we' has been created out of the chosen people of Israel and everyother known ethnicity.

To Ponder

  • How would you sum up the Christian story?
  • The Jew/Gentile question no longer divides the Church. What arekey divisions about today?
  • Might praising God together help us find our common placewithin God's story?

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