JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…members of the family of God…”
November 20, 2010, 4:38 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

Finishing chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul brings up the practical realization of his thoughts about how Christ Jesus “is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.” Paul told the churches in Galatia that “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” To the church in Corinth Paul told them that “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” And just earlier he had written to the church in Colosse that “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” How we divide over so many things in the flesh! But in Christ they have all been “destroyed,” “though the cross” Jesus “put to death (the enmity in himself.” In Christ there is only “one new man”! Christ wants a place to dwell! That’s how Christ sees the church, that’s Christ’s focus, and so should it be in His body and so it is meant to be experienced by His life together.

So Paul confidently informs those who are in Christ that “no more are you strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow-citizens of the saints and members of the family of God…”(1) How difficult it is for those who are without a family, those who are homeless or orphans or widows living “in…distress” but when they are brought into Christ they are brought into His family. What joy it is for these who have lived in such distress to now learn true love in the family of God! But how many who live in a natural family, being “dead in your transgressions and sins,” following “the ways of this world,” also live in distress emotionally or physically because of the hurt, abuse, and deceit that can destroy any human life. We who are in Christ are no longer strangers and sojourners, estranged in our relationships with others, journeying but never finding love, find in Christ a family built on Christ, His life, His love. We are members of one body, fellow citizens, heaven is our home, and we are His people, all because of Christ and what He has done for us! No wonder Paul says that “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom all the building being fitted together grows into a holy shrine in the Lord, in whom also you are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” (2). Christ is to be the central Person that the body of Christ follows and it is spiritual life! He is the One appointed as “head over everything for the church, which is his body” and we are His “fullness” and it is His life through His family, expressing Him together “fills everything in every way” with Christ.

It was “the apostles and prophets” who were and have been called to go and to proclaim “the unsearchable riches of Christ” helping to form His church in every place for all those who would call upon the name of the Lord. And it is through “the apostles and prophets” that the family of God learns to live by His life together, committing them “to God and to the word of his grace.” A lifestyle of “sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” doing “everything in love.” This is not based on “observing the law,” by “human effort,” “human tradition and the basic principles of this world,” etc. but “on Christ.” Christ Jesus is the cornerstone. There is only one foundation that can be laid and that “is Jesus Christ.” This seems to be the same thought that Paul shared with the church in Corinth many years earlier. Here Paul uses a couple visual descriptions of the family of God, “a holy temple in the Lord” and “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” This seems to relate to the children of Israel while in the wilderness, where they put together the pieces of the tabernacle, each family of the Levites doing his work in helping construct it. The tabernacle was the place God would dwell within the midst of the Israelites. But now, in Christ, it is Christ who does the work, it is the Spirit of Christ in us who is fitting each member together, and as as He does so we together will grow “into a holy shrine in the Lord,” and it is also in Christ who is building us together “into a dwelling place of God” and it is “in spirit.” No wonder Paul’s prayer in the very beginning is that we “may know him better!” This knowing Christ is through “the eyes of (our) hearts,” it is spiritual sight, seeing Christ together in an inward way, that we know Christ better, as T. Austin-Sparks would say. How we need a proper foundation! Christ is that foundation, not any thing or someone else! (3)

How often, like a teenager, we are either impatient to grow up or reluctant to grow up. Almost a kind of schizophrenia. Both breed selfishness and are of the flesh. How the body of Christ needs “apostles and prophets” to help the body move forward to maturity to live organically by the life of Christ. Sadly from my perspective too few abound who have lived by the organic life of Christ in a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Those who perhaps have this kind of calling have only lived in the institutional form of religion and so, like any of us, they do only what they know, institutionalism, which is nothing more than “observing the law,” by “human effort,” “human tradition and the basic principles of this world,” etc. but not “on Christ.” How the body of Christ needs to reclaim the thought of God that we are His family, built on Christ, a foundation of a sacrificial loving relationship with Christ and one another. This takes time, being fitted together, being built together “in him” (3). We are too impatient or reluctant to move forward in our relationships with one another. We make too many excuses, we are too selfish. God remove our heart of stone towards You and one another and give us a soft heart, spiritual sight, to step out on faith and love one another unconditionally, without the trappings of religion, as Christ loved the church.

(1) Literal translation from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 567.
(2) Ibid.
(3) I like Andrew T. Lincoln’s thoughts about this passage. He points out a couple interesting features of this idea of Christ being the cornerstone and how it relates to Christ’s headship and His exalted position of centrality and supremacy over all things. He brings up the idea how other commentators have found evidence that the word “cornerstone” actually has dual meanings, not just that of a cornerstone to a foundation. One being a “top stone” such as “head of the wall” and in another instance mention is made from an ancient quote how “there was a great corner stone which I wished to set as head of the corner by way of completing the temple of God…and he went up the ladder carrying the stone and set it on the summit of the entrance to the temple.” He quotes S. Hanson that “He is not one of the stones of the foundation in common with the Apostles, even if He is a cornerstone, but He is the top stone of the pinnacle of the building.” Of course Lincoln makes a point how Paul “views the Church as already Christ’s fullness and yet at the same time as having to attain that fullness…a body growing up into Christ as the head. So here, on the one hand, the Church is pictured as a finished structure with Christ as the top stone, and yet, on the other hand, it must grow into a temple in him…the apostles and prophets…are foundational, but he is the keystone which crowns the whole building.” Andrew T. Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Volume 42, Word Books, 1990, 154-155.


2 Comments so far
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Отлично написано! Буду много думать…

Comment by Немецкие авто на Урале

Thank you so much! As I was writing it it seems I was reflecting on the Chapter 3 of Ephesians as well, funny, I guess that’s why Paul added Chapter 3!

Comment by John Wilson

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