Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
THE BEAUTY OF ONENESSEphesians 2: 11-22
Postures of Faith
“you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone”- Ephesians 2:19,20.
It is believed that the letter to Ephesians is written by Paul. But most scholars agree that this letter is pseudonymous. This is because this letter lacks the common style (like personal greetings, the relationship between paul and to whom he writes) which is seen in all other Pauline letters. In chapter 2 Paul shifts from the Gentile past of his audience “you”, to the experience of salvation shared by all Christians, “we”. The central foci of today’s portion are unity in Christ. The “you” are now identified as gentiles, while the “we” belong to the commonwealth of Israel. The ‘once but now’ pattern applies to the prior division of two groups which are now brought together as one. The word ‘remember’ (v11) draws the people's attention to their past, they were once called ‘the uncircumcision’ by ‘circumcision’. Jews were very particular in doing circumcision if any gentiles join the church. But Paul critically criticized this act and stood for the gentiles (Acts 15- Jerusalem Council). V11 speaks of believers receiving a circumcision ‘not of human hands. Within 1st century Judaism references to spiritual circumcision or circumcision of the heart distinguished members of sects that claim true devotion to god from other Jews (Deu 10:16). But the writer criticized the Jews for using the derogatory term “uncircumcised”. Verse 12 talks about the deficiencies seen in the people without being in Christ, hope, and God. The Greek term used for alienated is “appellotriomenoi” which means separation from someone or something which was formerly attached. This meaning hardly fits the case of Gentiles and Israel since gentiles were excluded from the prior covenant. The term “politeia” is used for the commonwealth, which refers to those who possess citizenship. The writer may be referring to the old testament depiction of Israel as God’s people rather than the citizenship of Jews and Gentiles. But now they are united in Christ Jesus because all are one before God. He came for universal salvation, not for a particular group or sect of people. In v14 we see the shift from ‘you’ to ‘we’. Jews often faced the accusation that their law made them ‘haters of humanity. Death of Christ on the cross has abolished all the existing commandments and laws which caused a ‘dividing wall’ among people. From v19 the writer gives an affirmation to the people. Since all are united in christ from they are no longer aliens and strangers, but are the citizens of god’s household built upon Christ as the cornerstone.
As we are followers of Christ let us be particular in seeing all as one. There should not be any discrimination based on caste, color, creed, religion. Ephesians points out that cultural and religious divisions are contrary to God’s salvific act of the world. God is a loving benefactor offering all people a place in the salvation which he offered by giving his only begotten son as ransom. By dying on the cross christ broke down all walls that separated humanity from god. So as his followers let us the god’s ambassadors on the world to spread his unity and love to entire humankind.
Almighty lord make us to love all without keeping any barriers in our life. Strengthen us to be your ambassadors on the world to spread your gospel of unity to all nations- Amen.
Thought for the Day
Only humility will lead us to unity and unity will lead us to peace – Mother Teresa.
Mathew Abraham Varghese
Mar Thoma Theological Seminary Kottayam