Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Now Children...

As we continue the family thread in Ephesians, we bridge chapters five and six.  The first four verses of chapter six are addressed with respect to children.  If the man and the woman, the husband and wife, understand their roles for each other, a healthy relational environment exists for the children.  The husband/wife, father/mother relationship is not enough in and of itself, so Paul pens a word of exhortation to the children.

Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  NAS

τα τεκνα υπακουετε τοις γονευσιν υμων [εν κυριω] τουτο γαρ εστιν δικαιον τιμα τον πατερα σου και την μητερα ητις εστιν εντολη πρωτη εν επαγγελια ινα ευ σοι γενηται και εση μακροχρονιος επι της γης

και οι πατερες μη παροργιζετε τα τεκνα υμων αλλα εκτρεφετε αυτα εν παιδεια και νουθεσια κυριου  WHNU

Simple, isn't it?  If they children will obey their parents, it will be well for them all their lives.  Not a theory, not a suggestion, mind you, but a promise from God Himself.  Why?  The word used for "obey" is not the same word used earlier for "be subject to/under the command of" which we discussed earlier.  The Greek word used here is υπακουετε from the verb υπακουω, which means "to listen to/harken to/heed".  This verb is not about rank or order, but rather about listening and obeying, heeding to what has been said.  We, as parents, do not want to see our children make the same mistakes we did.  We share our experience and wisdom.  Sure, our children will make mistakes, but at least we can forewarn them of the consequences of certain choices.  In learning to obey their parents, in absorbing their wisdom, as the child grows, he learns to obey God and heed His wisdom.  God promises to bless their hearkening to their parents, and eventually, to Him.

Also included here is an admonishment to fathers:  "do not provoke your children to anger"  Again, if this were not a special problem area for men, I doubt it would be mentioned -- it is not mentioned for mothers, for example.  Why to fathers?  Men are task-driven.  God created Man and gave him a job.  He created Adam to do the job of tending the Garden.  God created Eve to give companionship to Adam.  Adam was created for a job.  Eve was created for relationship.  Men sometimes confuse relationships and tasks, and for this reason, we can come across very harsh toward our children, compelling them to react in anger rather than hearken to our instruction.  What are fathers to do?  Going back to loving the wife as Christ loved the Church, Paul writes that fathers should "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" -- nurture our children in their faith.  Our chief job as husbands and fathers is to nourish and nurture our family in their faith.

This concludes the study of family from the book of Ephesians, but it is not the end of the study on relationships.  That will continue in the next post.

Grace and peace, and mercy in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Husbands and Wives, Part IV

This post concludes the study of Husbands and Wives from Ephesians chapter five.  It is a short study, as verse 33 represents a summary statement from Paul.  Though a summary statement, it gives opportunity to strongly peer at ourselves in our respective roles.

Ephesians 5:33
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. NASB

33 πλην και υμεις οι καθ ενα εκαστος την εαυτου γυναικα ουτως αγαπατω ως εαυτον η δε γυνη ινα φοβηται τον ανδρα WHNU

To love one's own wife as himself is not a statement of narcissism.  It is treating her and caring for her as if she were his very own flesh (which mystically and in reality, she is).  Christ loves the Church -- the community of those to whom He has given eternal life -- and the Church is His Body.  He loves His Body as Himself, as we are members of that Body.  In the same mystical way, the wife is a member of the body of the husband, and he should love her as though she were his own physical flesh and blood -- not in a narcissistic nor abusive manner (for such is rooted in hate and fear, not in Christ), but in the most nurturing, caring, tender manner.

Paul remands the wives "the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."  In the Greek the phrase is "η δε γυνη ινα φοβηται τον ανδρα", which is literally translated, "and that the woman might fear the man".  Before we get caught up in the literal, let's expand our understanding.  First of all, the word translated 'that' is ινα, which has an imperative sense most often translated as 'in order that', 'with the result that', 'toward the end that'.  The man's loving of his woman as Christ loves the Church has intent, just as Christ's love for the Church has intent, that she might fear her man.  OK, now that word 'fear' which has been mentioned, what about that?  The verb here is from the Greek verb φοβεω from which we get 'phobia' -- fears.  In the context of Christ and the Church, of husbands and wives, this understanding or simply literal translation of the word does not make sense here .  The English language borrows from so many languages that 'foreign words' are adapted for specific meanings for clarity, and are often only a secondary or tertiary meaning of the word in its original language.  With that in mind, we have to dig a little deeper to see how the Greeks used the verb φοβεω in various contexts.

The verb φοβεω carries the ideas of fleeing/taking flight, fearing/being terrified, and in its tertiary use, revering/venerating/giving deference/reverentially obeying (Thayer's lexicon).  Of the three, only the tertiary meaning makes sense as it relates to Christ and the Church, husbands and wives.  This is not natural for a woman, any more than a man loving his woman as Christ loved the Church is a natural tendency for him (men are more task-driven).  In fact, women have recoiled against this notion since the Garden, for it was Eve who craved ascendancy and first ate from the Tree.  Yet, here the Spirit, through Paul's hand, reminds the woman to resist her natural tendencies to usurp and at the same time of her intended role as companion, advisor, and confidant.

Both admonitions, the one to the husband the and one to the wife in verse 33, challenge our human nature to arise to the highest Christ in God has for us as husbands and wives.  Men, God holds us accountable as leaders in all phases of the home -- not as dictators, but more as shepherds.  Women, God holds you accountable to understand the role for which you were created, to support the man and help him in his role -- yet joint-heir in all things with him.  

Easy? No, not in the least.  Humility and surrender is required by both the husband and the wife.  The accountability for each the husband and the wife is Christ alone, and in Him each must abide for the relationship to be as it was intended by God before the Fall.  Pray for one another, always.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Husbands and Wives, Part III

Here is the third part of the "Husband and Wives" section of Ephesians chapter 5.  Previously I presented that the woman is second-in-command in the home, and the confidant and advisor to her husband.  In this portion of the passage we will explore what Paul wrote concerning the man's role with respect to his wife.  To be sure, this portion contains abstract ideas.  I hope to help us move from the abstract to the concrete, or at least to the practical.

Ephesians 5: 24-32
24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.  31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  NASB

24 αλλα ως η εκκλησια υποτασσεται τω χριστω ουτως και αι γυναικες τοις ανδρασιν εν παντι

25 οι ανδρες αγαπατε τας γυναικας καθως και ο χριστος ηγαπησεν την εκκλησιαν και εαυτον παρεδωκεν υπερ αυτης 26 ινα αυτην αγιαση καθαρισας τω λουτρω του υδατος εν ρηματι 27 ινα παραστηση αυτος εαυτω ενδοξον την εκκλησιαν μη εχουσαν σπιλον η ρυτιδα η τι των τοιουτων αλλ ινα η αγια και αμωμος 28 ουτως οφειλουσιν [και] οι ανδρες αγαπαν τας εαυτων γυναικας ως τα εαυτων σωματα ο αγαπων την εαυτου γυναικα εαυτον αγαπα 29 ουδεις γαρ ποτε την εαυτου σαρκα εμισησεν αλλα εκτρεφει και θαλπει αυτην καθως και ο χριστος την εκκλησιαν 30 οτι μελη εσμεν του σωματος αυτου 31 αντι τουτου καταλειψει ανθρωπος [τον] πατερα και [την] μητερα και προσκολληθησεται προς την γυναικα αυτου και εσονται οι δυο εις σαρκα μιαν 32 το μυστηριον τουτο μεγα εστιν εγω δε λεγω εις χριστον και [εις] την εκκλησιαν WHNU

I begin with verse 24 as a way of both reminder and warning:  it is God's plan that wives be subject to their husbands -- but ONLY in the same way the church is subject to Christ (we are joint-heirs with Him, not second-class citizens to Him).  So men, you are the head of the home and the wife, but she is not a second-class citizen in the home.  Just as we will reign with Christ, the wife has a similar status in the home.  Women, your position is not conditional, it is God's order for the home.

Now men, it gets more difficult for us.  "Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (verse 25).  What does that mean?  Most men will say they are willing to die to protect their wife and children.  I wish it were true of all men, I but I know it is not.  And it is not enough for a husband to say it, declare it, engrave it in stone and give it to his wife, then sit down and think he has fulfilled what Scriptures require of him.  It is so much more than that.  When Christ "gave Himself up" for the church, He certainly gave up His physical life, subjecting Himself to the cruelty of the Romans and the blood-lust of the Jews.  He gave Himself up with respect to His being -- He became sin for us, so much so that the Father abandoned Him as He took sin upon Himself (My God, My God, why you you forsaken me? Mark 15:34).  While He lived on earth, He poured Himself into others -- The Church -- through teaching, encouraging, healing, ministering in many ways.  When we look the whole of how Jesus gave Himself up for the church, how do we translate it into how husbands should love their wives?

Before answering that question, let's look at a couple of more verses, verses 26-27: so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

The end game, the desired outcome, what Jesus wanted for the Church is summarized in these two verses: sanctification and holiness, by means of the washing of water and the word.  The Church, every one who believes upon Jesus for salvation, in obedience to Him is baptized (as a symbol of belonging to Christ) "εν ρηματι", "in word", the Greek referring to the articulated word (that which is actually written or spoken) as opposed to the conceptual or broader "word", which is reserved for λογος (logos).  Baptism is not enough without the word: "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit".  These things do not cleanse, sanctify or make holy, but rather, together they are symbolic of these works of Christ in the Church -- and His works are perfect.

That is the abstract.  What does it mean for the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, in the practical sense?  Paul gives the answer, easily missed as it is surrounded by such high abstractions, in verses 28-29: So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.  Note especially "but nourishes it and cherishes it" , which in the Greek is "εκτρεφει και θαλπει αυτην".  The word εκτρεφει comes from εκτρεφω meaning "I nourish to maturity/nurture", and θαλπει is from θαλπω meaning "I warm/cherish/foster with tender care".  These things Christ has done and is doing for the Church, and it is these things we men are to be doing for our wives.  Husbands are to nurture our wives toward their maturity in Christ, not the other way around.  Help her to grow in her faith, just as Christ helps us to grow in our faith.  Husbands are to warm their wives, by providing for them, making them feel secure in the relationship, just as Christ does for the Church.  Husbands are to cherish their wives, letting them know how important and valued they are in the husbands' lives, just as Christ, in His word, constantly reminds us as believers with what high esteem He holds us.  And husbands need to foster their wives with tender care, recognizing that wives need their husbands' tenderness.  The idea of husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the Church are wrapped up in the seamless garment of nourishing, nurturing, warming, cherishing, fostering -- all with tenderness and in love.

Paul wrote in verse 28 "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies", and in verse 30 offers the rationale in comparing the nuptial relationship to the relationship between Christ and the Church: "because we are members of His body".  The Church is the Body of Christ, and as Christ loves the Church, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies.  Just as the union of Christ and the Church is a mystery but also a reality, so also is the union of the man and woman becoming husband and wife, the two becoming one flesh, both a mystery and reality.

Husbands, this is a challenge for all of us.  If it were easy for we as men to do, Paul probably would not have been led by the Spirit to write about the matter.  We need to read it, hear it, embrace it, act upon it.

I will conclude with "Husbands and WIves, Part IV" in my next post.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Husbands and Wives, Part II

As we begin to go deeper into this passage -- and I say "we" because I am on this journey of discovery, and since you are reading this, you have joined me -- in addition to the Scriptures cited as the basis of understanding from Part I, we must be mindful that Paul is speaking to the relationship of husbands and wives in the verses which follow, and not making a blanket statement of society.  This is about the home, and more specifically, the home of believers in Christ -- those who have been born-again.

Ephesians 5:21-23
21 submitting yourselves to each other in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. 23 Because a husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and himself the savior of the body. ACV

21 υποτασσομενοι αλληλοις εν φοβω χριστου 22 αι γυναικες τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν ως τω κυριω 23 οτι ανηρ εστιν κεφαλη της γυναικος ως και ο χριστος κεφαλη της εκκλησιας αυτος σωτηρ του σωματος WHNU

The word that gets to any of us is the word "submit", in this passage a translation of the Greek word υποτασσω.  This word is a compound word using a preposition to add emphasis (remember early in the study I talked about the rise of expressiveness in the Greek language with the increased use of prepositions in sentences and compounding words).  The word υποτασσω comes from υπο, the preposition meaning "under, below", and τασσω, meaning "to put in place, to place in a certain order, to arrange, to assign a place, to appoint".  Combined into υποτασσω, the word means, "to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject; to submit (in the middle voice, as used in the passage being examined), to yield oneself to".

This word, υποτασσω, in the middle voice, first describes our relationship to Christ -- the relationship all believers equally share, and to one another, as equal members of the body of Christ.  There is a sense of humility conveyed for all.

The focus now shifts to the home, "Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord."  It can rightfully be said, though out of context, that αι γυναικες is translated in its most common use as "women".  That is indeed the primary use of the noun, but its immediate secondary use, as will be seen in a moment, is "wives". It is "wives" specifically here because the indirect object to which it is immediately linked: τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν, literally, "to your own men", which is a reference to wives and husbands, of course.  Now, I have heard this second use of the word "submit" (in verse 22) addressed in many ways, including that it means something different than the first use (in verse 21). Nothing could be further from the truth.  The verb is "present" in the sense that it is borrowed from verse 21.  Literally, it the context of its composition (remember, there are no verse numbers in the original texts), verse 22 reads "the wives to their own men in the same manner as to the Lord", the idea of submission being carried forward from verse 21, validated by the phrase "in the same manner as to the Lord".

Now, this is not to say that women are "second class" -- such thinking is a violation of Galatians 3:28.  Paul is writing about the home -- the Christian home.  The idea that God's order for the home as conveyed here is 1) the man is the head, 2) the woman is his second-in-command, is perfectly consistent with Genesis 2:18.  Verse 23 reinforces this idea, "Because a husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and himself the savior of the body" Just as we, as believers work together with Christ to carry out His work, and sometimes we pray for something or try to work on our own plans (good plans though they may be, but perhaps not His plans).  The things for which we pray or perhaps the plans on which we work do not work out as we expect.  We do not complain to Christ that He was wrong; rather, we accept what has happened and seek to deepen our understanding and try to move forward in bettering our knowledge of His will.  

The husband and wife work together, but the responsibility of the home ultimately falls to the man, and the woman was created to help him in his responsibilities, as his confidant, trusted adviser, key supporter -- he needs her wisdom and insights (Genesis 2:18).  I am fond of the expression "Decisions are judgments made among dissenting opinions".  This implies that decisions involve disagreements, different viewpoints.  The husband and wife will disagree many times, but a decision is required, and must be made.  Sometimes the man goes with his opinion, sometimes he is persuaded to the wife's viewpoint.  No matter which decision is taken, the wife supports the husband's decision, because God holds the man accountable for all decisions concerning the home. Even if the husband goes along with his wife's idea against his better judgment, God does not let him shift the blame (remember Adam tried, "...the woman YOU gave me...").  God holds the woman responsible to support her husband -- both during the decision-making process and after the decision is made -- this is the role He intends for her in the home, and the role Paul is reiterating.

So yes, the wife is to submit to her husband in the full meaning of the word, because God holds her husband ultimately responsible, and the husband needs the wife to fulfill that role of confidant and trusted adviser, so that he can make the best decisions possible, and live out the outcomes, together, regardless.

Next, in Part III, the man's role is more clearly articulated...

Grace and peace,

Mark

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Husbands and Wives, Part 1

THIS IS A WARNING!  What follows is an exposition of God's Word from the original languages.  It is not sensitive to your culture, your personal views or feelings, your sense of modernity, nor your own views on "how things should be".

Sometimes, I think we need to be reminded of the immutability of God's Word.  We cannot change it, neither literally nor through fanciful rhetoric and appeasing interpretations.  One should never attempt to bend the Word of God to accommodate one's feelings or beliefs; rather, one should allow the Word of God to change them and their beliefs.

This passage in Ephesians, which I will address over the coming weeks, is one that has been soft-pedaled in many circles.  Too often in American society, this passage is used to hammer the men, and the women are accommodated.  In other cultures, the passage is used to exalt men, and hammer the women.  The reality is this:  this passage hammers men, women, Christians.  Whatever I share about women, men should not get too excited, because we are next.  Whatever I share from this Word about men, women, do not celebrate and neglect your admonitions.  There is not a condition attached to the roles, "If he/she does...., then she/he..."

The fundamental premises are two-fold, coming from Genesis 2:18 ("I will make for him a helper who is like him"), and Galatians 3:28 ("There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no bondman nor freeman; there is no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus")

Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit to address the issues of husbands and wives in the context of the Christian faith because there were clear problems which needed addressing.  The issues have not changed.  We have not evolved.  We will never evolve, because even as Christians, we must deal with our sin nature on a daily basis in every relationship we have.  Now, with these things in mind, I will introduce the Scripture so you and I can absorb it, reflect on it, and prepare for the expositions to follow in the coming weeks.

Ephesians 5:21-30

 21 submitting yourselves to each other in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. 23 Because a husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and himself the savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to the Christ, so also the wives to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your own wives even as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it, 26 so that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the washing of water by the word, 27 so that he might present it to himself, the glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and unblemished. 28 So ought the husbands to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as also Christ the church, 30 because we are parts of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. 31 Separate from this a man will leave his father and mother behind, and will be bonded with his wife, and the two will be in one flesh. 32 This mystery is great, but I speak for Christ and for the church. 33 Nevertheless ye also, each one in particular, shall so love his own wife as himself, and the wife that she fear her husband.

21 υποτασσομενοι αλληλοις εν φοβω χριστου 22 αι γυναικες τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν ως τω κυριω 23 οτι ανηρ εστιν κεφαλη της γυναικος ως και ο χριστος κεφαλη της εκκλησιας αυτος σωτηρ του σωματος 24 αλλα ως η εκκλησια υποτασσεται τω χριστω ουτως και αι γυναικες τοις ανδρασιν εν παντι 25 οι ανδρες αγαπατε τας γυναικας καθως και ο χριστος ηγαπησεν την εκκλησιαν και εαυτον παρεδωκεν υπερ αυτης 26 ινα αυτην αγιαση καθαρισας τω λουτρω του υδατος εν ρηματι 27 ινα παραστηση αυτος εαυτω ενδοξον την εκκλησιαν μη εχουσαν σπιλον η ρυτιδα η τι των τοιουτων αλλ ινα η αγια και αμωμος 28 ουτως οφειλουσιν [και] οι ανδρες αγαπαν τας εαυτων γυναικας ως τα εαυτων σωματα ο αγαπων την εαυτου γυναικα εαυτον αγαπα 29 ουδεις γαρ ποτε την εαυτου σαρκα εμισησεν αλλα εκτρεφει και θαλπει αυτην καθως και ο χριστος την εκκλησιαν 30 οτι μελη εσμεν του σωματος αυτου 31 αντι τουτου καταλειψει ανθρωπος [τον] πατερα και [την] μητερα και προσκολληθησεται προς την γυναικα αυτου και εσονται οι δυο εις σαρκα μιαν 32 το μυστηριον τουτο μεγα εστιν εγω δε λεγω εις χριστον και [εις] εις την εκκλησιαν 33 πλην και υμεις οι καθ ενα εκαστος την εαυτου γυναικα ουτως αγαπατω ως εαυτον η δε γυνη ινα φοβηται τον ανδρα

Grace, mercy, and peace of our Lord be unto you,

Mark

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Be Wise, and Figure It Out!

Paul continues his exhortation, moving from who the Ephesians are (children of Light) to practical elements and expectations of their behavior, both positive and negative.  As one reads this passage, one cannot help but note that the "negative behaviors" were already being expressed by many of the Ephesians, and that Paul is trying to expose, rebuke, and replace those behaviors with outward expressions more suitable of those who have been, by grace, redeemed in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 Then watch how carefully you walk, not as unwise, but as wise ones, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason, do not be foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is . 18 And "do not be drunk with wine," in which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, even to God the Father,  Green's Literal Version, 1993

 15 βλεπετε ουν ακριβως πως περιπατειτε μη ως ασοφοι αλλ ως σοφοι 16 εξαγοραζομενοι τον καιρον οτι αι ημεραι πονηραι εισιν 17 δια τουτο μη γινεσθε αφρονες αλλα συνιετε τι το θελημα του κυριου 18 και μη μεθυσκεσθε οινω εν ω εστιν ασωτια αλλα πληρουσθε εν πνευματι 19 λαλουντες εαυτοις ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις αδοντες και ψαλλοντες τη καρδια υμων τω κυριω 20 ευχαριστουντες παντοτε υπερ παντων εν ονοματι του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου τω θεω και πατρι WHNU

Verse 15: Then watch how carefully you walk, not as unwise, but as wise ones  βλεπετε ουν ακριβως πως περιπατειτε μη ως ασοφοι αλλ ως σοφοι "Therefore see exactly how you walk, not as unwise (men, people), but as wise (men, people)".  The word ακριβως, an adverb, comes from a family of associated words which convey the meaning of exactness, accuracy, diligence.  This phrase is not "be careful because it is dangerous out there (it is dangerous out there, we know that)", but rather the onus is put upon the believer; it is the believer's responsibility to walk wisely, as a wise person, and not as one possessing no wisdom at all.

Verse 16: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. εξαγοραζομενοι τον καιρον οτι αι ημεραι πονηραι εισιν "redeeming the time, because the days are evil".  The verb εξαγοραζω, from which get the participle εξαγοραζομενοι used here, comes from the verb αγοραζω, which means "to buy or purchase".  Adding the preposition εκ, which is formed as εξ due to the presence of a vowel at the beginning of the verb, means "to egress, separate, remove".  Further, I find no reason to separate σοφοι from the participle εξαγοραζομενοι, as they are both in agreement with respect to gender and number.  Translated, "...'wise (men, people) who are separating out for themselves' the time, for the days are evil".  It is a quality of those who are wise, seizing the moment right now, in the evil days, and using it in a manner pleasing to the Lord (see verse 10 of this chapter).

Verse 17: For this reason, do not be foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is . δια τουτο μη γινεσθε αφρονες αλλα συνιετε τι το θελημα του κυριου  "on account of this, do not become thoughtless, but put together what is the will of the Lord"  "on account of this" -- that the days are evil, Paul exhorts the Ephesians "do not become αφρονες "unthinking, thoughtless, void of reason".  We are not to leave behind the minds we are given when we become believers, rather we are to use our minds in manner befitting those redeemed by the King of Kings.  Floating on feelings, or soaring by Spirit are not substitutes for a reasonable faith.  The verb συνιετε means "place together, figure out" -- use your brain, certainly guided by the Spirit to determine what is the will of the Lord.

Verse 18: And "do not be drunk with wine," in which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit  και μη μεθυσκεσθε οινω εν ω εστιν ασωτια αλλα πληρουσθε εν πνευματι "and do not be drunk with wine which is wantonness, but be filled in (the) Spirit".  Too many believers focus on the first half of this verse, and neglect the second half.  It is easier to judge the prohibition, than to validate the exhortation.  It is easier to see whether the letter of the Law was broken, than to ascertain that which is of the Spirit.  Which do you think concerned Paul the most: the being drunk with wine, or the lack of being filled with the Spirit?  The latter resolves the former, but the former does not insure the latter.  The use of the conjunction αλλα, meaning 'but', is one indicating strong contrast between the conjoined statements, and is liberally used by Paul throughout this and preceding verses.

Verse 19-20: speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, even to God the Father  λαλουντες εαυτοις ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις αδοντες και ψαλλοντες τη καρδια υμων τω κυριω ευχαριστουντες παντοτε υπερ παντων εν ονοματι του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου τω θεω και πατρι  "speaking among yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual odes, singing and playing (instruments) in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always on behalf of all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, also to Father God"  I put these verses together since they read so continuously, and such a positive exhortation for the believer.  "Psalms (of the OT), hymns (perhaps new songs of the church), odes (prose, poetry, other types of songs)" -- these are instruments of communication among ourselves and to the Lord.  We teach one another through the words of songs today, we praise the Lord and worship Him through hymns of praise, all from our new hearts, given to us by Him.  Giving thanks always -- ALWAYS -- on behalf of all things -- ALL THINGS -- how many of us can say we do just that? Yet, Paul, who knew about suffering for Christ than the vast majority of us will ever know, knew these two keys were essential for the believer to grow and thrive.

Be wise, figure it out, give thanks always for everything...

Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Now Live the Light, Part II

Paul continues his exhortation to the believers in Ephesus (and us) to be deeply mindful of who they are now.  Paul understands the draw of the flesh towards darkness, which fuels his exhortation to walk in the Spirit in a life of light.

Ephesians 5:11-14

 11 and have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, expose them for what they are. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by people * in secret. 13 But everything that is exposed to the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that is visible is light. That is why it says,
“Wake up, O sleeper!
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.’’ International Standard Version 1996


11 και μη συγκοινωνειτε τοις εργοις τοις ακαρποις του σκοτους μαλλον δε και ελεγχετε 12 τα γαρ κρυφη γινομενα υπ αυτων αισχρον εστιν και λεγειν 13 τα δε παντα ελεγχομενα υπο του φωτος φανερουται παν γαρ το φανερουμενον φως εστιν 14 διο λεγει εγειρε ο καθευδων και αναστα εκ των νεκρων και επιφαυσει σοι ο χριστος WHNU

Verse 11: and have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, expose them for what they are...και μη συγκοινωνειτε τοις εργοις τοις ακαρποις του σκοτους μαλλον δε και ελεγχετε "do not be joined together to the fruitless works of darkness, rather, (adversarially) expose (them)"  Paul continues his use of the imperative in his exhortations, which should be expected as he is not offering suggestions to be taken any way the reader likes.  He not only gives a "do not", but also gives a "do" in this phrase: 'do not be joined together to...do expose'.  There is both omission and commission in this verse.  Both verbs are in the durative (present) tense, indicating action continuing without interruption.  Believers are seldom called to be passive.  The verb ελεγχω (used here in the 2nd person imperative ελεγχετε) means to "show, expose, convince of a reality, fault or error".  The idea of "show, expose, convince" in an adversarial sense is amplified by the dual conjunction of δε και, which preserves the idea that the compound statement is two sides of the same coin, so to speak, and that the conjoined statements carry a sense of being adversarial (being joined together to "fruitless works of darkness", versus exposing their reality in a negative way).

Verse 12: For it is shameful even to mention what is done by people in secret...τα γαρ κρυφη γινομενα υπ αυτων αισχρον εστιν και λεγειν  "for the secret things coming to pass by them are shameful even to speak"  Remember, Paul just said not to be joined together with their works, but to expose them, yet, he very clearly states here these things are "are shameful even to speak (about)".  How do we reconcile our actions to take?  Paul did not say to not be joined together with such works but ignore their existence.  He said to expose them for what they really are.  Yet, he also says these things are shameful to even talk about. Do not underestimate the depravity of man, nor any man.  "Shameful" acts have been around as long as man as been on earth.  We should never become jaded or so hardened that they no longer shock us, that we just roll with their presence -- that is ignoring them.  Expose them for what they are, but not in such a way as to glorify them, but that the consequences might be made known, and a call to repentance and light might be made.

Verses 13 and 14a (these are not separated in the Greek text): But everything that is exposed to the light becomes visible, for everything that is visible is light...τα δε παντα ελεγχομενα υπο του φωτος φανερουται παν γαρ το φανερουμενον φως εστιν  "but all things being exposed by the light are made apparent, for everything being made apparent is light"  This is an expression of wisdom.  Exposing "the secret things" is painful, to be sure; none of us wants are secret sins exposed by anyone.  Yet, as Paul explains here, even such things become light for us (and the yet to be redeemed), because the light is also redemptive in its nature -- taking these shameful things, exposing them for what they are, and leading us away from them.  The light in no way validates nor justifies these acts, rather, it is capable of nullifying the effects of such dark things, and replacing them with light.

Verse 14b: "Wake up, O sleeper!
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you." ...διο λεγει εγειρε ο καθευδων και αναστα εκ των νεκρων και επιφαυσει σοι ο χριστος   "because it says "Rise, the one who sleeps, and stand up from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you"  Paul opened Ephesians 2 with " we were dead in our trespasses and sins..."  We are made alive by Him, and He gives us His light, that we might walk in His Light, and be continually transformed as we submit ourselves to the examination by His Light, and for the sake of others, without judgement, expose the darkness wherein they walk, as we once did.

Grace and peace unto you.