Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Comment on Ephesians

An assignment to comment briefly on the Epistle to the Ephesians:

The letter started with a very strong emphasis on God’s glory (1.11-14). Paul perceived the people of God as those who are chosen to be ‘holy and blameless’ (1.4) for the praise of God’s glory (1.12). This state of chosen-ness is the very project that the creation is being developed for. Therefore it is not an arbitrary vision of God or a historical accident. The creation is engineered for this chosen-ness to take place, serving as the blueprint for it.

Individual’s conformity, as well as the community as a whole, to this state of chosen-ness is therefore necessary for holiness and blamelessness. Christ is the reference to which how such process is carried out (1.5). Despite the fragmentation and brokenness in life, the security of the readers’ position in the entire cosmic plan of God is established and affirmed. Therefore their lives are to be oriented according to this state of chosen-ness with the persistent consciousness that our fragmentation and brokenness have already been brought under this one united state through Christ (1.10). Hence the starting point of theological ethic in this letter is this theology of chosen-ness. Chapter one grounds the entire subsequent chapters on piety, individual well-being, ecclesiology and social order within this awareness of being chosen. Paul was seemingly answering the question, “what does it mean to be chosen?” in chapters 2-6 of the letter. These latter parts elaborate further on how such state of chosen-ness is like and what do holiness and blamelessness mean.

This state of chosen-ness is an inheritance passing on from generation to generation (1.11). However, this grand project was previously a mystery. It is until the time of the apostles and post-Christ prophets that such project remained concealed (3.5-6). This state of chosen-ness meant to include all God’s people through Christ regardless of race or ethnic group. That is to say that it has been all this while the blueprint for the state of chosen-ness to be ethnically inclusive. All are chosen to be ‘holy and blameless’. Yet being holy and blameless is for a higher purpose. The state of chosen-ness is meant to serves as the dwelling place of God (2.21-22). That means before the foundation of the creation, this state of chosen-ness was conceived as a project to inaugurate God’s presence into the creation. The letter to the Ephesians plays out this process from stages to stages.

What is remarkable is that the state of chosen-ness pervades through each level of civic life. At the level of the believing community, each individual is expected to regard one another as belonging to the same sovereign, and so treating one another with due manner (4.1-5.21). At the level of a nuclear family, members with their roles are placed into perceptive order. Each role is to relate to another in certain way and vice versa (5.22-6.4). There is certain order also at the level of socio-economic (6.5-9). All these levels have their place in the state of chosen-ness. Paul had a macro-level view over the divine project. He recognizes that the presence of God if to be available at all in the creation, it has to be available at these strata of human constitution.

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