Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#40daybible Day 18 (Ephesians-Philemon)

Wednesday's readings are Ephesians and Philemon, an interesting combination.

Some thoughts on Ephesians:
  • I agree with the introduction they give, that it is not likely that Ephesians was written specifically to Ephesus. I know that messes with our traditions but Truth is bigger than traditions. The biggest reason to me is that Paul could never have written Ephesians 3:2 to a place he had just spent three years. So it is no surprise that the earliest copies we have of Ephesians don't have the words "at Ephesus" in them. 
  • The main proposals for destination include: 1) that Ephesians is the lost letter to the Laodiceans, 2) that Ephesians was a circular letter, sent to the whole region of, say, Asia, or 3) that Ephesians was written some time after Paul's death as a literary device to summarize his teaching, perhaps even as a cover letter for the collection of his writings (Edgar Goodspeed).
  • Ephesians is very similar to Colossians in structure and content, which might be taken as support for #1 above. Ephesians seems to be a generalized, broadened version of Colossians.
  • The main theme of Ephesians is the unity of the church, primarily meaning the unity of Gentile and Jewish believers. As the introduction says, the audience is Gentile.
  • There is a lot of imagery of the church in Ephesians. Paul usually talks about the church in reference to local congregations but Ephesians talks about the big Church, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (meaning New Testament prophets, I think).
  • Ephesians 4 begins the second half, the "how to live" section. It is Ephesians' version of the turn at Colossians 3. More here about the unity of the church: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all...
  • Ephesians 5-6 have an expanded version of the household codes in Colossians. Colossians understandably emphasizes the slavery part, since Onesimus had been alienated from his master, Philemon. Ephesians emphasizes the husband part to celebrate how Christ loved the church.
  • Finally, Ephesians 6 gives us the armor of God passage many of us learned as children.
Some thoughts on Philemon:
  • Closely associated with Colossians. We don't know exactly what Onesimus did. Did he run away? Did he mess up a business deal, since slaves in that day sometimes were very educated and did their master's work. Slavery was not racial in the manner of American slavery.
  • Paul doesn't specifically tell Philemon to set Onesimus free. He asks him to receive him back and presumably not punish him. Paul promises to pay for any money Philemon might be out.
  • It is fun that Paul turns the screws on Philemon by sending this seemingly very personal and sensitive matter to the whole church. Talk about peer pressure! Everyone looking at Philemon to see what he'll do.
  • Like the introduction says, we'd like to think that Philemon gave him his freedom and that he eventually became bishop of Ephesus, as tradition suggests.
Personal take-away:
  • So many nuggets in here: "In your anger, do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger" (Eph. 4:26). "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you" (4:32). Things to teach your children and remind yourself of often. 
  • Things to sing in here--the church's one foundation, is Jesus Christ the Lord... I understand worship styles are cultural, but I can't think of any modern ditty that comes close to the depth of the words of this hymn. 


Pastor Bob said...
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Pastor Bob said...

In my Christian journey, I have found that kindness, tenderhearted and a forgiving spirit is the personality the Savior, and I desire that to be mine also,my desire is to be like Jesus. This letter,like Paul's other letters, is to the saints at Ephesus and is to be shared as a general letter to all Christians, "To the faithful in Christ Jesus"