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by Rhoderick D. Ice
INTRODUCTION TO THE LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS
Paul the apostle fulfilled his mission from God by planting the church of Christ in the population centers of the world. The Good News which told of God’s act in Jesus Christ to set men free rapidly took root in the hearts and minds of the teeming masses who populated the great cities such as Ephesus. Here was, at one and the same time, the greatest opportunity to take Christ to the world, but also the greatest challenge from the world!!!
Two special challenges for the church of Christ (messianic community) were (1) The ostentatious and pompous worship of Judaism, especially as it centered in the Temple at Jerusalem. (2) The pagan mystery religions which claimed to hold the secrets of God. Both pagentry and the idea of knowing secrets which are withheld from the common man fascinate we human beings. Therefore these things can be dangerous to your Christian life!
Ephesians is purposely designed to restrain the enchantment which the mystery religions still held for the Gentile converts, and also to counteract the false arguments of the circumcision party by which they tried to seduce the Gentile Christians into submitting to the Law of Moses. Paul did not want two churches, one Jewish and one Gentile! In this Letter he stresses the unity of The Church, and the fact that Jews and Gentiles become ONE in Christ!!! Some of the problem which the early church faced may be seen in this fragment of prayer in the Jewish synagogue: “Blessed be thou O Lord our God . . . who has not made me a Gentile . . . who has not made me a slave . . . who has not made me a woman!”
Paul wrote this while in prison at Rome, about 62 A.D.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18