Thursday, June 29, 2017

EMA Day 2: Andy Gemmill on Ephesians 2

Your actual church as it really is is what the victorious rule of Jesus looks like in this age, though that might seem unbelievable!

Surely God intends something more special looking than this?

Cf. The viral sore throat – antibiotics will not help – rest, be patient, take ibuprofen - Where are the special magic pills and why am I not being given then and why isn’t it all sorted out?

There are no special magic church pills. God wisdom and power in this age look like your ordinary church as it is. This church is the climax of God’s purposes in this age though it looks unpromising. Our churches is what God is doing.

Nearly all the imperatives are in second half of the letter (ch 4-)

2v11, remember, v12

3v13, I ask you not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you


Vv1-10 – what you were to what we are

You were dead (v1)

2:10 – we are recreated that we might walk in good works

From death to life

The following section has the same movement from the past to the present and from you to we.

2 v similar sections:

You once were; we now are

You once didn’t have; we now have

So remember

V11 an alien voice – called the uncircumcision – a voice from those concerned with human activity

2 totally different assessments of the gentile Xians

You gentiles lack something and are inferior – this chapter is written to counter this voice

A voice from outside the church or from within the church (Acts 20) – Christian Judaizers – gentile believers are not quite the full shilling

The whole chapter is intended to undo the impact of this voice

The attitude of v11 is the typical shape of all the challenges the church faces in every age: there is something vital you still lack – you need this missing secret ingredient / magic pill – a very easy line to follow – tell them you can give them what they need

4v14 – crafty, cunning, human scheming

Notice the you and we language

You mainly you gentile believers in contrast to we Jewish believers 1:12 for all of us who believe, Jew and Gentile

2v1 – their lives as unbelieving gentiles – you & we all, like the rest

A huge surprise: the logic of the argument does not appear to demand the change in personal pronouns

V5 – it is by grace you have been saved – v8 – personal pronoun shift emphasises:

We all once belonged to this world of death and enslavement

The Jewish world is lumped in with the Gentile world theologically

Cf. Jn 8 – “The Jews” who oppose Jesus children of Satan

Access to salvation is all you language – Gentile salvation is in focus here – by grace, through faith, not works, no boasting

The Jewish and Gentile plight are the same

Gentile salvation is a grace and faith thing, not a works and boasting thing – you don’t want to go for Judaizing!

Eph 1 – all God has done for us in Christ, both Jew and Gentile – Gentile believers already have these wonderful blessings and are the genuine article

Pl does not want this confidence of Gentile believers undermined

V11 – Remember v12 what they were, but also the whole of vv12-22

V12ff – movement from vertical focus in previous section to horizontal dimension of what God has done

Fellow citizens, the very temple of God

Spatial language v17 – far, Gentile, and near – Is 52 & 57 – peace based on the work of the servant brings restoration and joint access for Jew and Gentile in the temple, the house of prayer for all nations

Law was removed v14f to make peace between Jew and gentile

The undoing of the dividing wall of hostility and the annulment of law. The law, Torah, was a dividing wall of hostility making those under law proudly hostile towards the nations

In the work of Christ, something entirely new has come, a recreated humanity, one man, a new household, foundation not of Moses and the prophets but JX

They need to be reassured that the church they now belong to is the big thing God is doing in this age

The talk of v11 is a manifestation of the old-world order, not new freedom in X

God’s handiwork and human handiwork: We are God’s handiwork; the circumcision is human handiwork – a man made, self made system

God’s handiwork is us, us in Christ, the church, the faith in J community. Though it may look weak it is the real thing and where the action is.

This chapter determines the shape of distinctive Christian life:

Walk no longer as the Gentile do, not by Judaizing 4:17 but because of joint membership of a new creation body – 4:24-5, 28

A new creation ethic

They are what Israel never was – 5:8 – they are light for the world


1:20 – Ps 110 – conquest total victory of the forever priest king smashing his enemies for the church (v22)

Timothy Gombass (sp?) – God fights in the OT, rescues his people, proclaims his victory, builds his new temple – vv21-22

Jew and Gentile loving one another is a sign of the recreating, uniting power of God

The variety of people in church shows new creation raised to new life power

Cf. School children meeting a friend’s husband at church incomprehensible to her peers

Some implications / applications:

(1) Something to watch out for: when someone makes you feel inferior or lacking, your alarm bells should sound – you have every spiritual blessing and are one with the ascended X – you are God’s handiwork, no human supplementation is needed

(2) Something to be thankful for: praise God for all the small signs of new creation power – you are not the creator! Not building your empire but grateful for the new life, new community Jesus has given

(3) We need to do church by faith not by sight – 2v6f – for ever God’s brilliance will be demonstrated by the new thing, the church, which God has created

Only God could do this brilliant think of the church – such power, kindness, merciful etc. Fantastically wonderful

Your church is central to God’s plan for ever. This is what God is doing and will do.

No comments: