One man's view of theology, sports, politics, and whatever else in life that happens to interest me. A little bit about me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TOMS: Ephesians 5

For an introduction to this series, click here.

September 21, 2007

The extended riffs begin to die down now, as Paul gets down to business. He has a lot he wants to say, and so he crams a lot into these sections:
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (5:1-5)

I think the fact that Paul says these sins must not be named among believers implies that we are to be watchful for these things in the lives of others. That is antithetical to the Western mindset. I know when I hear about something somebody is doing, I usually think, "Well that's their business, that's between them and God." But Paul says that when it comes to the church, we need to take the offensive against evil.

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret." (5:6-12)

Here Paul expands upon his warning. The last two sentences seem to be a contradiction: we are to expose the works of darkness, and it is shameful to speak of them. But we have to conclude Paul is not contradicting himself in the same paragraph, so what does it mean? I think Paul is saying that the sinful things people do bring such shame on the church that it is necessary to expose them. Don't lose the context here. This whole section is about how we are to act in the church.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." (5:15-21)

I think we are often too guilty of chopping sections like this up into verses and ignoring the entire context. I have heard lots of sermons on verse 18, which talks about not being drunk but being filled with the Spirit, but I have heard very few preachers go on and read the rest of the sentence, which gives the results of being filled with the Spirit. Some will read the next verse about music, but I don't know if I have ever heard one that mentions thanksgiving and mutual submission. Most sermons I have heard about this passage preach being filled with the Spirit as this almost unattainable ideal. Paul puts that to rest, showing us that the normal Christian life is what he has in mind.

The rest of this passage is about the husband and wife relationship. I'm going to post it, but I don't really think I am the right person to comment much on it: 
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (5:22-33, ESV)

One thing I do want you to notice is Paul's (and by extension God's) definition of love found here. Paul says that no one ever hated his own flesh, but provides for it. That's what love always does: it meets needs. God so loved the world that He gave Jesus. Jesus provides for the church's needs. We show love for one another when we provide for each other. Husbands and wives show love when they provide for each others' needs. 

No comments:

Post a Comment