A STEP AT A TIME Week 26
If we were to write a simple outline of Ephesians chapter 1, it might go something like this:
I. Blessed be God and Father
A. In Him we have redemption
B. We have obtained an inheritance
II. You were sealed
III. I pray for you
A. Eyes of your heart may be enlightened
B. Know the hope of your calling
C. The greatness of His power toward us
IV. He is head over all
I think you can see a pattern of beginning with profound theology, applying it to the Ephesians personally and then to himself, and finishing with the praise of Christ--when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, Eph. 1.20.
Now that wouldn't be such a bad outline, as they say in Texas, 'Not too shabby.' So how does St. Paul continue this in chapter 2 of Ephesians?
He doesn't try to continue the last thought of chapter 1, as it completes the beginning of the chapter. He looks into what he has already written, to bring out a particular aspect of it. Having drawn a circle around what he will say, he now touches the center of the circle.
He returns to 1.13 which says--you also, having listeneing to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. Now he will make the thought clearer. He goes back to the time before that thought when he says in 2.1--And you were dead in your trespasses and sins. He says we all walked according to the flesh, according to the desires of the flesh and the mind: we were children of wrath when we listened to the message of truth.
When we listened to the message of the truth, God made us alive together with Christ, 2.4,5. That explains what St. Paul meant in 1.5 when he said we were predestined. As a clearer version of 1.5, He says in 2.8 that--by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
The rest of the chapter will show in much detail what he meant.
Now my point here is that Paul does not write in a linear fashion as if it were first this which then goes away to make room for that. He writes with an introduction which draws a circle around the entire subject, then he points to a specific part of that subject, which he will elaborate to fill out the entire subject.
The linear style of western philosophy might be pictured as a string of pearls, one after another. Paul's way of writing and speaking is more like a pebble dropped into a pond, creating an expanding circle of ripple.
Chapter 2 is simply the development and closer view of chapter 1, opening it up before us.
To give us an example, look at the end of chapter 1 compared to the fuller ending of chapter 2:
1.22--And He put allthings in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
2.19-22--So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints and are of God's household, having been build upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
This style is different than our western thinking. It has the repetition of Hebrew poetry with a development which is not a journey. The development, rather, is the opening up of what was hidden. It is entering in.
This is what we do when we read the Bible.