We are in the Church Stream reading from the New Living Translation.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord Jesus, We are in awe of what you have called us to do, be, and to live. We are you ambassadors, your soldiers, and your servants. Amen.
4 – As Paul is preparing to close his letter to the Ephesian Church, it does give us perspective to remember that Ephesus was a very pagan/idolatrous/lecherous/ungodly city. Within this city resided the most mature first century church body in the New Testament world. Those who had been called out of that and into the Kingdom needed to remember that they were called also to bolster and nurture each other like an extended family. Believers needed to hang onto each other and cherish each other. The Ephesians, as are all church bodies, were a complex mixture, with many parts, each called, each assigned, each employed, they were to function harmoniously. Gentleness and humility required! God has given so much to the church and its members, the Spirit simply wished for the church to grow to full maturity, and to operate like a healthy body. And it was crucial to have the Ephesians resolved to never go back to the pagan ways they had been redeemed out of. Life in Christ was not a temporary experiment to dabble with and then to go back to revelry so to “mix it up” and feast on some macabre behavior. All the old life, and it’s dark allure, is over-with permanently. Anger, theft, coarse talk/smack talk, slander et al. -none of this is the mark of a Christian. They were to treat all and each other as Christ treats all of us.
5 – starts with further reiteration that they were to live in and follow Christ. The lust and ludeness all around them was to be avoided. The consequences of trying to mix in with that crowd (that most all of them came out of) would be fatal to their faith. They were to be ecstatic with the Holy Spirit not inebriated with “spirits”/beverages. Paul was concerned that they lift eachother up and not lord over others. That requires “coming under” [ let your agenda be a sub- mission] To over come in faith as a Body of believers they must ‘come under’ / not ‘climb over’ one another. The assertion for immediate families becomes epic instruction to be pondering and exercising. For wives to feel protected, valued, and valued was ground-breaking no matter what culture in the world was reading Paul’s letter to Ephesus. For husbands to be honored, respected, revered, v.s. jousted with and questioned was what turned Christian men into stalwarts who also were gentle and kind. The world had never seen this before. This is part of made the Church a culture that fascinated those who were yet to believe. Christ’s love for his children was being modeled by husbands’ love for wives and it was quite a picture.
6 – The Christian home had more obligations as a testimony to the world and to model Christ the Savior. Children were to obey and fathers were to be compassionate instructors. Slaves and masters had some straight talk to follow too. No threatening or harming or shirking. All were to be reverenced under God. Paul borrowed from the Roman culture he was immersed in and equated the faith to being suited for battle. The Truth was the belt – heavy exertion required a belt (battle for the faith was not light duty). Righteousness was our Armor – the enemy aimed at the torso first and most. Righteousness was our protection that kept us strong. The Peace of Christ was the shoes – if we were not sharing His peace, we had no rHOlyeason for going anywhere. Faith is our shield – in battle soldiers would huddle together and lock shields. They were virtually impossible to hit in this position. Likewise, our faith should bring us together for support and encouragement. Salvation = helmet – No helmet and you are not getting off this battlefield alive…no salvation and you’re not getting off this earth alive. The World of God in our lives is our sword. The Holy Spirit is how we advance the cause of Christ; no other way. This all in mind we are to keep praying for one another and keep sharing our faith in Christ Jesus. Paul then says his goodbyes to the Church he was most endeared to.
The issue that seemed to surface day after day this week was God whispering (however loudly) that He has a better way.
In Leviticus a sabbath for people and the land is laid forth as a permanent plan. It is better. Letting 1/7th of the time and the crop go/rest/recuperate will end up bringing you more. This is the original “less is more” maxim. The obedience and blessing passages in Leviticus are also a better way and will preserve them.
II Kings shows over and over about how God had a better way – a way that they would not follow. Assassination one after another, child sacrifice (yeesh, what madness!), eventually Israel is over run. One can almost see the Israelites cursing God as their villages are being closed in on. God may have crooned to them “I had a better way and you knew but plugged your ears.” Hezekiah’s arrival is a breath of relief. He knew God had a better way and he called on Him.
Psalm 106-107 shows that praising God is a better way. In contrast Psalms lists a few who did not follow this better way and paid for it.
Jeremiah warned them to sit tight and comply; stay in Judah. Trying to put up a dog-fight against people who have little regard for life was fool-hardy. They were yet disobedient, failed to listen (imagine disobedient people not listening! hmmmmmmm) spirited away to Egypt and would be suffering for it.
Jonah did not listen to God’s better plans that were much better than his, did he? We’ve all known this since we first heard this story when we were very young
Jesus instructed Mary who had chosen a better way than busying one’s self, like Martha, who was scurrying to feed Jesus – who wasn’t hungry, eh?! Jesus taught them a better way to pray
Paul urged Ephesians in church living and unity and honoring and instructing – it was a much better way than the break-neck-crazy-sin-life they were once living. In terms of those who were pondering ‘going back’ to their pre-Christian life, it is appropriate to apply the biblical warning from Luke 17:31ff, “Remember Lot’s Wife!” The Ephesians were on a much better path now. Odd that Paul had to bring this up. He just wanted them all to stayyyyyy on this better path.