Hello! Welcome to the final day in our study of Ephesians. These final words of Paul's to the Ephesians model similar notes we will read about in Colossians and is one of the first examples we've seen so far of Paul (or 'the author') calling Christians to be the moral examples of the people around them. The language he uses is "children of the light" which is quite a powerful metaphor in conjunction with the gospel of John. When you think of the purpose of the church what comes to mind for you? Is it more a place to worship and be in the reverence and mystery of God or is a space to learn values, morals, and ethics? (of course it is both but what is more important in your opinion.) Depending on how you answer that question you might find yourself rejecting what you read today or being inspired by it. Always curious for your thoughts!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about Paul and what was happening at the time? In other words, what was the church in Ephesus struggling with?
How do you "imitate" God? What does that mean to you?
How do you react to Paul's writing about household etiquette?
- Commentary -
I feel the part that I should address is the household etiquette as I imagine many of you will feel anger towards Paul for telling wives to submit to their husbands while husbands must only live up to the standard of "love your wife." WHAT? Of course, the easy (and correct) answer is that this was written at a different time period with different expectations but I thought I would go a little deeper on that for ya.
Mostly scholars agree that this is in response to hellenistic (greek influenced) Jews who were having issues and debates around what happens when an "inferior" member of a household (woman, child, slave) were to convert to a different sect of Judaism (or Christianity.) In many cases this was viewed as insubordination and would be cause for punishment. Paul's writing is to say that if Christ is the ultimate head of the table and household than husbands cannot react if their wives convert to Christianity, they must love their wives. Wives should submit to their husbands *if* the husband is also a Christian but Jesus trumps all.
However, in fairness to the text order is needed in society and there are certain cases socially where its very acceptable to command respect and authority. For example, in general, when a police officer pulls you over you do what they say or else things go badly. When a parent gives a command to a child it is expected the child will listen because we do not view children as equal to parents. Every household needs an authority figure, and while some conservatives will try to argue that having a man as the "leader" of the house would result in less conflict and strife, that is NOT the intention of this text. It is arguing that every household should have Jesus as the authority of the house. That in every fight between couples, disagreement between children and decision we make we should ask if our reply or action can be stand up to our test of "will Jesus say amen to this?" If not, then change the course of action.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by the written prayer found on page 320 of our hymnals - Easter Vigil of Day. I invite you to pray this prayer aloud before closing out this study.
Almighty God, through Jesus Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate the day of our Lord's resurrection, may, by the renewing of your Spirit arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.