Some Resources for Ephesians #1

July 16: Ephesians 1:1-14

I generally like to begin with a quick look at the Greek for anything that catches my eye. I usually start here and then move to other resources for deeper study of any interesting linguistic points.

Working Preacher (of course): “The letter begins with a blessing for God rather than a thanksgiving for the Ephesians themselves. The theological and Christological emphases will continue throughout, yet it does not take much imagination to see the implications of God’s work for those to whom the letter is addressed. They have been adopted as children of God.”

Textweek: A variety of resources, here are a couple that caught my eye in particular —

“Visualizing Peace,” Alan Brehm, The Waking Dreamer. “You cannot overcome hatred with hatred. It’s an ancient concept: you can only overcome hatred with love. You cannot overcome violence with violence. You can only overcome violence with peace. And so it is that St. Paul viewed Jesus’ death as an act of peace overcoming the hatreds and divisions of the human family.”
Join the Feast, Ephesians 1:3-14, Elizabeth Smith, Union PSCE, 2009. “In a world full of injustice, pain and division, these words of adoption, grace and gathering all things up are sometimes hard to hear. Indeed, there is tension between what God has already done in Christ and what is left to be done in the world.”

Sermonwriter: “‘Blessed (Greek: eulogetos) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v. 3a). The form of this verse is called a benediction (good saying) or a berakah (the Hebrew word for blessing). It is a joyful response to the blessings that God has given (see v. 3b), and ascribes blessings or praise to God for his grace.”

Sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14 by Paul G. Fleischer: “In our text from Ephesians 1, with its soaring gospel truths proclaimed to us, the Lord would have us consider again the astounding truth that our eternal salvation was begun by God already before the foundation of the world. May the Spirit of God bless our consideration of verses 3-14.”

Dr. Ronald D. Worden: “In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul does not address a series of specific local problems as he does in 1 Corinthians, nor a single specific problem such as the “Colossian Heresy” (Col. 2:8-23)…Ephesus was large enough to have many problems. Paul “did extraordinary miracles” there (Acts 19:11), exorcizing evil spirits (v. 12), making “some itinerant Jewish exorcists” jealous (vv. 13-16), and supervising a public burning of magic books valued at “fifty thousand silver coins” (v. 19). But these problems were within the surrounding culture, not within the Christian community. So in Ephesians, more than in most of his other epistles, Paul waxes eloquently about spiritual blessings.”

Church in God’s Eternal Plan (EBSCO): “In the first three chapters we sense a vertical thrust: our eyes are directed chiefly upward to God and His Christ; in the last three chapters the thrust is horizontal: our eyes are directed chiefly to our fellow Christians and fellowmen. A few simple outlines may be suggested. All say about the same thing: The Nature and the Function of the Church, or, more popularly stated: The “Is”-ness and the Business of the Church.”

Proclaiming Ephesians (EBSCO): ” In this book, we have what has been described as “the quintessence of Paulinism,” one of the most mature and eloquent statements on the purpose of God, and the place of the church in the accomplishment of that divine purpose in history.”

July 23: Ephesians 2:11-22

Start with a quick look at the Greek on biblehub.

Working Preacher (of course): “Think of the perennial hot spots around the globe, or the places of enduring tribal violence, or the generation-to-generation legacy of racial tension in the United States. Then read Ephesians 2:14, “He is our peace.” We often speak of Christ creating peace between humanity and God, but in this reading, the peace that Christ brings is between one group of human beings and another as much as it is related to humanity’s standing before God. Hostility between us is overcome (v. 14) and reconciliation with God is also made real (v. 16).”

Textweek: A few resources in particular —

Breaking Down the Dividing Wall,” Janet Hunt, Dancing with the Word, 2012. “When you consider what it is ‘to be brought near by the blood of Christ,’ what does this mean to you? How have you experienced this?”

First Thoughts on Year B Epistle Passages in the Lectionary,” Pentecost 8, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia. “It is not the mission to recruit strength and build power. It all depends so much on whether you see the goal as withdrawal to another source of power beyond all things or coming home to the source of love within all things which is seeking to bring and hold them together.”

Commentary, Ephesians 2:14-22, Hyveth B. Williams, The African American Lectionary, 2009. “This passage is cause for the people of God to rejoice that God is reconciling, healing and bridging communities in both the spiritual and natural world.”

Sermonwriter: “People construct walls in their minds and hearts—walls that do not necessarily express themselves in physical form. We say, “Good fences make good neighbors.” But we must learn to ask, “Why do they make good neighbors?” We must learn that “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down” (from “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost). That something is God. God wants to bring down the walls that divide us.”

Jesuswalk: Paul continues the construction analogy. “Built together” (NIV) is the Greek compound verb sunoikodomeo, “to build up or construct of various parts, build up (together).”[18] You and I are not built for individual devotion and churchless lives as Lone Ranger Christians. We are to be built together with others.

Political Theology Today: “Peace. Justice. Citizenship. These are the catch phrases that the author employs. Laudable goals, to be sure, but the way in which the text moves from this ethnic (and potentially racial) conflict to the resolution are not only unorthodox but, for the gentile audience addressed, is jarring and potentially wounding.”

Theological Meditations on Ephesians 2:11-22 (EBSCO): This passage from Ephesians embodies the Pauline preoccupation with commenting on Gentile problems. The first two verses pile up harsh characterizations of Gentile outsiders from the perspective of God’s people Israel: They are the uncircumcized, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Following what Nils Dahl has termed the “soteriological contrast pattern,” Ephesians calls Gentiles to remember their godless heritage in order to cast into bolder relief the “immeasurable riches of God’s grace in Christ Jesus” (2:7) that are now theirs as “members of the household of God” along with their Jewish brothers and sisters (2:19).”

Ephesians 2:11-22 (EBSCO): “This twofold gift of peace and the divine rescue are inseparable. For it is in a single act, the creation of a new humanity in Christ, that the rescue is accomplished and peace achieved. Christ “create [s] in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace” (v. 15).”


NL Sermon Resources: June 12, 2016

I am leading our pastor’s text study this week, so I thought I’d share with you all the commentary snippets I have collected to share with that group:

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10:

(Proclamation Commentaries: Paul and His Letters, Leander E. Keck): “What does ‘Spirit’ mean in Paul’s thought? To begin with, Paul shares the early Christian understanding of Spirit as eschatological gift of power; the divine presence is a gift received, not an essence released (Rom. 8:15; 1 Cor. 2:12; Gal. 3:2).
Also he regarded the Spirit as a sign that the New Age is already dawning, and receiving it is a mark of one’s participation in the future. The two metaphors that express this understanding appear to be uniquely Paul’s: down-payment (arrabón; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5) and first fruits…The arrabón is not so much a guarantee (as the RSV renders it) as a pledge (as the EB has); the word used to be rendered ‘earnest’ as in ‘earnest money’ in real estate. Earnest money is paid to indicate that the buyer will complete the transaction without delay…In Pauls’ mouth, both metaphors express the conviction that that Spirit means inauguration, not consummation. Both celebrate the present gift as something that points ahead, as a reality that characterizes Christian life between ‘already’ and ‘not yet.’” p. 98

“The ethical significance of Paul’s theology of body manifests itself throughout his letters…the basic theological position, ‘The body is not meant for immortality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.’ (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). Paul provides several warrants for this. (1) ‘God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?’ Paul’s rationale seems to be the following: (a) Christ’s resurrection transformed him (as sóma/self). (b) His resurrection is the prototype of the resurrection to come, of Christian somatic selves. (c) Christ’s present Lordship lays a claim on the body/self, destined for resurrection. (2) Because body equals self, Paul can express this claim by saying that the sóma of the Christian is an organ (‘member’) in the body of Christ. (3) ‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.’ The mortal body/self is not a prison for the Spirit but its shrine. The body/self does not inhibit the Spirit; the Spirit, being stronger, sanctifies the body/self. Sanctification is not an intense religious experience but a moral process which hallows the self. (4) ‘You are not your own; you were bought with a price’ – a metaphor derived from the slave market. Redemption means belonging to Christ, whose death was the (implied) price paid. So the moral meaning of having the Spirit is the imperative: ‘Glorify God in your body’ – the actual selves you are. Paul’s ethics is body-ethics.” pp. 105-106

(Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: II Corinthians, Frederick W. Danker): “In short, Paul is not concerned about winning cheap laurels from human beings in the present time. As he will state in 5:9, his constant aim is to ‘please’ God. And it is God who will reward him amply for his labors. Everything connected with the present is transitory. Paul wants to possess the things that will abide forever…There is no suggestion in 2 Cor. 4:17 that one can improve a relationship with God through virtuous performance. Such a perception would have nullified Paul’s strong protest against attempts to make bargains with God (cf Rom. 3:20), for reconciliation is God’s gift to the world (2 Cor. 5:19)” p. 69

“Facing the fact that death may take place before the return of Jesus Christ, [Paul] states that God will remedy the problem of present dissolution with a dwelling that is not subject to the vicissitudes of time…The life of resurrected body is in continuity with the Spirit-life in the mortal body. Therefore, when the body dies, the person is not found ‘naked,’ for the Spirit-life is not doffed in the process. Rather, there is more to put on; that is, God guarantees that we will be further clothed.” pp.70-71

“Confident that God will not be remiss in generosity, Paul goes on to explain that God “equips” (has prepared) us for the very goal of realizing the glorious expectation of fullness of life in the Spirit…To that end God gives us the Spirit as a guarantee or down payment for the future.” p. 74

“A few sentences earlier [Paul] wrote about groaning. Now he writes about courage, as he ponders the significance of one of the most important words in his vocabulary – faith. In Paul’s thought faith or commitment is intimately linked with uprightness… [through faith] the way is cleared for the Holy Spirit to create the new life of uprightness…Paul’s pneumatology is intimately connected with his Christology. His thoughts about the Spirit-filled and Spirit-permeated life are dictated by his understanding of the role of Jesus Christ in salvation.” p. 74

“The Greek word that underlies the phrase ‘what they have done’ connotes policy. The term good (agathon) refers to quality performance that in some way benefits others. The term evil (phaulon) denotes that which is substandard. Paul in effect says that Christ will judge whether one’s conduct was first or second class, of value to the public or self-centered. And the body is the instrument for production…In view of their familiarity with the Greco-Roman custom of recognition of public-spirited citizens, Paul’s Corinthians addressees would feel the persuasive force of the apostle’s line of argument, and they would agree, ‘We certainly do not want to appear before Christ as second-class performers.’” p.76

(The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul Barnett): “Paul began to develop his teaching on the believers’ hope of glory at 3:12, as amplified in the ‘we all…are being transformed’ in 3:18. This universal transformation of the messianic people is picked up in their general resurrection (4:14) at which ‘we all’ must be made manifest at the tribunal of Christ (5:10). In a word, 4:16-5:10 engages in theological reflection on his
and their present and future.
Paul sets this out as an overarching eschatological contrast between this age, which is temporary and whose elements are visible, and that age which is to come, which is eternal and whose elements are as yet invisible (4:17-18). The present age ends and the coming age begins at that point when God ‘raises us…and presents us’ to Jesus (4:14), when we will be ‘made manifest’ at his seat of judgment (5:10). The general resurrection/judgment is the point at which the present age ends and the coming age begins. That moment is the hinge around which those eschatological ages turn.
Corresponding to and contingent upon this eschatological dualism is an anthropological dualism. The outer person (exo anthropos), who belongs to the present age, is wasting away, while the inner person (eso anthropos), who belongs to the coming age, is being renewed (4:16). The contrast between the two ages, present and coming, and between the outer and the inner person, is the source of powerful antitheses that characterize the majority of the verses in this passage. Whereas the eschatological dualism hinges on the general
resurrection, the anthropological dualism is created by the eschatological Spirit, whom God gives now as a ‘deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (5:5). It is the Spirit who creates the sense that the ‘outer person’ is ‘wasting away’ and the ‘inner person’ is ‘being renewed.’” p. 246

“Consistent with his insistence that, as yet, ‘we are at home in the body’ and therefore ‘are away from the Lord’ Paul canvasses the possibility that death, with its nakedness and bodily divestiture (5:1, 3, 4), could precede the arrival of the new age, though this is not his preference (5:8). It would be ‘far better’ to be ‘clothed upon’ with a heavenly dwelling at the onset of the end time than to be found naked — bodiless — at death, ‘far better’ to be ‘away from the body’ and present ‘with the Lord.’ If the dead will be ‘changed’ by resurrection (cf, I Cor. 15:52), the living — Paul’s concern in this passage — will also be changed at the resurrection by transfiguration, by the superimposition of a dwelling/garment from heaven. Thus while ‘we have a building from God,’ as God’s sure promise to be fulfilled at the general resurrection, we do ‘not yet’ have it in our present experience within this age.
How do we live in the time between ‘now’ and ‘not yet’? Against possible romantic or ethically minimal attitudes from a superspiritual worldview Paul’s attitude toward this ‘in-between’ time is carefully balanced. On
the one hand, there is to be confidence, based on the certainty of God’s purposes for those who are ‘in Christ’ (5:1, 6, 8), Of particular interest are the resumptives in this passage — ‘therefore we do not lose heart’ (4:16), ‘for we know . . .’ (5:1), ‘therefore we are always confident’ (5:6), ‘therefore we make it our goal”— which maintain the trajectory of hope. On the other hand, there is the sober recognition that we ‘groan’ with hope mingled with pain, like a woman in the pain of childbirth (5:2, 4); at the same time, however, God has given the Spirit as a ‘deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (5:5), Moreover, Paul sounds the strong ethical note that believers must seek to please the Lord, in light of his judgment tribunal at which all that they have done — whether good or evil — will be brought to light (5:9-10).” p. 248 has some more resources as well:

NL Sermon Resources: Feb. 28, 2016 is one of my go-to’s for commentaries and other resources, but occasionally there aren’t a lot of resources there; so I go scrounging on my own. Here’s what I found, may it help you too!

Here’s the textweek site for Feb 28, 2016 –

Here are other commentaries on Mark 12:1-12 that I found with a brief blurb on each:

  • Working Preacher commentary (2012). “In a time of social chaos, including conflict with other Jewish people and conflict within their own households, Mark uses the parable of the wicked servants to assure members of the congregation they have a place in the vineyard by following Jesus and being committed to the community of the Realm.”
  • Commentary by David Lose (2012). “Read this way, this parable is not about justice or judgment only, but also and primarily about love, God’s love for each and all of us.”
  • RevGalBlogPals commentary on both Mark 12:1-12 and Mark 12:13-17. “The gospel is always dangerous with its challenge, its radical statements and its unflinching truth. But these two passages are often (mis)appropriated to make them even more so.”
  • Devotions on Mark 12:1-12 by Kevin Ruffcorn.
  • Lectio Divina resource on the text from the Order of The Carmelites. “What does this parable teach us concerning the way of exercising authority? And you, how do you exercise your authority in the family, in the community and in your work?”
  • Commentary by Geoff Thomas (2004). “Theologically what do we find here at the heart of Mark’s gospel? The doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ. Before his birth in the stable at Bethlehem he was God the Son. “He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all,” wrote Cecil Francis Alexander in one of her hymns for children.”
  • Article by Wim J. C. Weren (1998). “This article attempts to prove the following theses. The parable of the tenants in Mark 12,1-12 has been constructed on the basis of the vineyard song in Isa 5,1-7. There are connections with the Hebrew text as well as with the LXX version.”

I may add more to this during the week.