Sunday, February 28, 2010

Live-Blogging Ephesians? Paul's point

Thank you all for your patience while I went through Ephesians. I think the only way to get a fair summary is first to take a close look at what's being summarized. Also, if we look back to a word cloud of Ephesians, it reminds us of a few key points: of all the substantive words in the book, the single most common is "Christ". After the God words (Christ, God, Lord, Jesus), the next most common word in Ephesians is "love". We can use that kind of information to double-check whether we took our focus from Paul or whether we imported it from somewhere else.

I started by considering two very short summaries of Ephesians that had been linked by Dr. Pursiful. I don't intend to fault those for being summaries. It's the nature of a summary to make short work out of a long thing. Still, I think it is possible for a summary to stick closer to Paul's point and keep more of Paul's emphasis. As we have seen above, Paul's focus is largely on Christ and on God's love, and it is the goal of the summary to match that focus.

The linked summaries both start by answering the question, What is salvation? That is a fair place to start because Paul starts in roughly the same place. I'll take a shot at it, imperfect as my summary may be:
  • Salvation is the blessing of God through Christ Jesus because of his love for us, that we may be heirs of his promise of hope in Christ, knowing God through Christ, becoming a temple in which God himself lives through his Spirit.
  • We are called, then, to know God, to grasp the vast extent of his love, that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
  • We are called to imitate God by living a life of love just as Christ did. We are called to put off our corrupt, divisive, impure, greedy, angry, bitter selves, the selves which did not know Christ. We are called to put ourselves into all things with love, especially so for those relationships which form our daily lives: as husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, always bearing in mind Christ's love for us.
Paul's argument is reasonably straightforward: God's love reaches out through Christ to us, transforming us; it then continues to reach out through us to the world. Paul has more layers to where it's more of a ripple-in-a-pond effect, but the basic movement is the same. Each person that we reach in love again reflects what Paul said about God's purpose: to bring together all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

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