The theme of Ephesisans

the eternal purpose of God in Christ is that through the church God’s glorious grace might be known in all the earth; that all things would be gathered up into Christ.

I like this summation of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians!  I got it from David Flowers’ blog where he has a post talking about the eternal purpose of God.  It’s good stuff.  Go check out the rest of the post!   The sad thing is, and this is my biggest concern right now, is that with all the bantering currently going on among Evangelicals about what constitutes “the gospel” and in that regard, who is “in” and who is “out” is directly impeding the larger, and more important, ability of the Church universal (but especially the USAmerican Church) from fulfilling or allowing God to fulfill in and though us, his Church, his eternal purposes, which is that grace might be known in all the earth!

Well, anyways I found it an interesting read.  Flower concludes:

Out of Adam… God brought forth Eve.  Out of Jesus… he called out a Bride.  The Trinitarian God, who is heavenly community, looks for a dwelling in his children upon the earth.  By the power of his Spirit and the fullness of his grace we are included in his plan.  Are you participating in the eternal purpose of God in Christ?

That’s the key question isn’t it?  What say you?


14 responses to “The theme of Ephesisans

  1. I always like Eph. 2:18, “For through Him we both (Jew & Gentle) have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (HCSB) The Triune God is always manifest thru the eternal Son. Every thing goes and comes back to the Father, the Son is that eternal generation, and the Spirit “proceeds” by/from the Father alone, but “thru” the Son in time and incarnation. And the Spirit is that bond & person of love, between the Father and the Son. Indeed trinitarian life & love! The Trinity is a NT and Pauline & Johannine revelation fully.

  2. I think that is a good summation, but I think it leaves out a key motif of the book, as Timothy Gombis has recently exposed me to Divine Warfare as the drama being unpacked in the book. He is coming out with a new book this year that summarizes and condenses his dissertation, and it is called, “The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God”. IVP will be putting it, so I would be sure to check it out. However, I did a brief summary of it on my blog: Easter Implications: The Church as the Embodiment of Triumph.

  3. I think often we miss the gist of what Paul is writing and why from the book of Ephesians. I believe he is actually rebuking the Gentile church for being uppity against the Jewish Christians who are coming back from the dispora and saying hey guys… God chose the Jews first and you also were included / grafted into the vine…

    • Craig,

      I think we should see the so-called “prison episles” as (four with Philemon) as from the same time period, perhaps during Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Rome, 60-61 AD? The classic and most conservative position. Certainly Ephesians is a more general letter (and a circular letter?), but very theological and measures some of St. Paul’s most profound thoughts! Central is Paul’s message of the re-creation for all the covenant People of God – Jew & Gentile, but only those called by God by the grace & glory of God therein.

  4. Much of the thrust of Ephesians is generally missed if you miss what is going on in the first chapter.
    I wrote something here about Ephesians some time ago…

    Its an old blog which I don’t have access to any more, so don’t comment there….

    I don’t believe it was Paul’s intentional purpose to write it as a circular letter, rather he was addressing a real problem in Ephesus in the same manner he did to the Corinthians, Galations and even to the Romans.

    • Craig, I really appreciate your comments and am glad to see you affirm what I have believed too but almost NEVER see stated anywhere – that maybe Paul actually did write to the Ephesians – practically all his other letters are situational and specific why wouldn’t this one be too? I agree the issues you note are the ones addressed and were specific to Ephesus – could the theme I posted on function in an overall sense?

    • Indeed the first chapter, Eph.1:3 thru 1:14 is of one grand whole and piece. It is the covenant of Grace in the action of God for the elect or chosen. “Predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ to Him[self] according to the good pleasure of the will of HIM..” (verse 5), etc.

      Personally, I see St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, as one of the most subline and theological treatises in the Pauline Corpus! See J. Armitage Robinson’s fine commentary on Ephesians. He was a student of that eminent Victorian theolog himself, F.J.A. Hort. Who wrote himself profoundly on the Pauline authorship of the Epistle. And I, like these two good men, see the Letter as a whole of precious theological and perhaps the high water mark of NT revelation! And I don’t see the Epistle in the cicumstances of the negative of the Jew & Gentile, but of the revelation of fulness! (Eph. 2:15-16).. “That the two He might create in Himself into One New Man, making peace. And He might reconcile the two in One Body to God thru The Cross, having killed the hostility by it.” Etc. verses 17 and 18..into the very Trinitarian heart of God, thru Christ! Here we ascend really problems and people, to the very doctrine of God Himself!

      • One area I have concern with Robert is when Calvinists use the passage about predestination to shore up their theology when that is not what Paul is saying about predestination.

        His rebuke to the Gentile church is that God predestined the Hebrews to son ship and the mystery is that the Gentiles are included…

        When ever you read predestined within the NT its always in regards to the Jewish people and not towards the Gentiles…

  5. I love the theme of gathering. Paul often uses the terms “Growing / Grow” and gathering denotes a time of harvest. One of the questions I ask though is to what is Christ gathering his bride for?

    Is it a eventual gathering for all heavenward? Or is it a collective gathering of all Christian community who have lived, live and yet to live who continually make Christ known within its sphere of influence through the outworking of community. I tend to think its the latter.

    Particularly if Paul is addressing divisions within the Ephesus church between Jewish and Gentile believers, perhaps a modern application could be towards the reformed /arminian push as to who is in and out.

  6. more excellent insights from Craig! I completely see what you are saying about predestination and inclusion of Jews and Gentiles – through the cross he has brought us together as one new body!

    • Craig,

      Your not reading what I am writing, but looking at “labels”. “Predestined us to sonship” is both collective & individual in Ephesians, (Eph. 1:4, etc.) God only calls “a remnant chosen by grace” (Rom.11:6)..from both Jews & Gentiles (Nations). The doctrine of Election is covenantal, to the writers of the OT Israel is the chosen people of God, to the writers of the NT the Church is the heir of the divine election. And whether we like it or not, the doctrine of election is a Biblical doctrine! And then there is “election” without covenant, as to the mystery of the Divine use of Pharaoh, God’s “hardening the heart” of Pharaoh, etc. But this is another subject apart really from Ephesians, but nonetheless Paul & Pauline.

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