Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Ephesians 1-3
- These first three chapters of Ephesians give instructions on who YHWH is and how we are to relate to Him. Much like the first four of the ten commandments. Recall that the first four commandments are how we are to behave towards YHWH and the remaining six are how we are to behave towards our neighbor.
- Paul wrote Ephesians and it is the first letter we come to that he wrote while in prison.
- While the previous letters from Paul were dealing with specific problems within specific congregations – the advice in Ephesians is more broad stroke advice, able to be more universally applied to the body of believers and thus highly applicable to our own lives.
- I usually begin my readings in the ESV translation and then move on to my other translations. I was surprised to find that Ephesians in ESV doesn’t even feel like the same book when reading it in some of my other translations so I do encourage you to branch out beyond mainstream protestant translations whenever possible. One that I always find extremely helpful is The Complete Jewish Study Bible for Jews and Christians. There are contextual insights and cultural understanding in the interpretations that are simply lacking in some of our mainstream protestant versions which, long ago, removed the Jewish context from many of the passages either through lack of understanding, lack of reverence for it, doctrine, or a little of all three. The difference can be compared to reading a history of Italy told by an Italian vs that same history of Italy told by an American. Two entirely different perspectives and one is going to get you far closer to reality. If y’all have a CJB chime in on the group comment thread so folks know I’m not the only one. Update: Due to requests, I’ve placed links to purchase this Bible at the bottom of this post.
Ephesians 1:5 is a precious reminder that we were predestined to be adopted by the Father. It is His hope that all will take Him up on this offer to join the family but that is a choice each of us must make. We should also note that this adoption is in accordance with His will, not our own. All too often we behave like a kid who is adopted into a wealthy family and suddenly wants to be gifted expensive cars, trips around the world, etc, rather than focusing on being a part of a loving family who now has the benefit of a wise and loving Father. We are adopted according to His will, not our own, and the love we will experience if we but focus on Him is worth far more than the most valuable riches in this world.
Ephesians 1:7-8 reminds us that we have been redeemed by having our sins forgiven. Why is this? It is “in accordance with the riches of His Grace, which He lavished upon us…” Y’all, He lavishes grace upon us but often, like spoiled children, we accuse Him of being unloving, unkind, mean, unfair, etc. Have you ever seen a spoiled child who is given the world? Sometimes these kids work hard and are appreciative of the advantages they have. But all too often, rather than respect and recognize the love and sacrifice of their parents, they constantly feel their parents are not doing enough for them. I’m afraid, more often than not, the Father sees the latter when observing Believers today. He has LAVISHED Grace and Love on us but we must remind ourselves of this daily. We must live in this knowledge, weave it into our thoughts and conversation and cultivate a grateful heart, mind, and spirit.
Moving onto chapter 2
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
To read the whole Bible from start to finish is to actively live out an ever deepening relationship with the Father with each turning of the page. He gives us understanding in layers, each one building upon the next, as He draws us closer to Him.
With Deut 30:19 in mind, in which He urged us to choose life, now we are given an example of what choosing death looks like and how that causes us to walk in the ways of the adversary. To be spiritually dead is to follow the course of the world, following Satan’s will, living in the passions of our flesh rather than the Holy Spirit, and carrying out the desires of what is surely a depraved mind, having become people of wrath rather than people of YHWH’s love. That was hard enough to consider so I won’t bother elaborating on it because I know you see it in our world today as well.
Ephesians 2:8-10 is a pivotal verse so I want to discuss it a bit.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
How have we been saved, by YHWH’s Grace through our Faith in Messiah. He paid the penalty for our sins. It is a gift, not something we have or even could have earned. Now let’s check out the last sentence: We are the workmanship of our Father, created for what? Good works. Our Father prepared these works we are to do before He saved us so that we should walk in them. The original word used here for “walk” means to conduct ones life in accordance to. What are these? His commandments. MAN! That’s powerful stuff!
Ephesians 2:11-12 states:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Note that at ONE time we WERE separated from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (His chosen people), and strangers to the covenants of promise (that were made with Israel). However, we have seen from the very beginning that the Father made exception for the stranger or sojourner who would join themselves to Him. But now, that door has been flung open wide!
The next statement begins with an important word
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph 2:13
Now we are no longer alienated from the commonwealth of Israel because we are grafted into Israel spiritually. We are no longer strangers to the covenants of promise made with Israel because we are now part of those covenants through adoption.
Remember, today’s shorthand of “the Jews” would be more accurately stated as “Israel” (The Jews were just one of twelve tribes of Israel). When you hear someone say “oh, but that is for the Jews”, replace “Jews” with Israel and then you can answer with “Yes, and that is me.”
Sidenote: The Jews, of course, are part of Israel as well. They were born into it, we were adopted. And y’all know that I’m not saying we have to become Jewish nor am I saying they have to give up being Jewish and become Christian. They shouldn’t Judaize and we shouldn’t Christianize. The Father has made a way for the both of us. If you missed what is happening regarding our beloved Jewish brethren and our precious Messiah, according to Scripture, go review our Romans 11 notes or just review Romans 11 in your bible.
Ephesians 2:14 The word used for “wall” here is m’chitzah. According to Josephus this was a dividing wall in the temple with a very unique inscription on it: “No man of another nation to enter within the fence and enclosure round the temple. And whoever is caught will have himself to blame that his death ensues!”
The m’chitzah kept the Gentiles separated from the Jews and prevented equal access to the temple and therefore sacrificial system through which they received forgiveness. Messiah broke down this wall to allow us full access as rightful co-heirs to our Father’s kingdom! HALLELU-YAH!
Ephesians 2:15 in the ESV states:
by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Now, we can read this as many do and say that the commandments have been abolished but there are more than a few issues with that. Let me run down just a couple.
- Paul is a servant of Messiah and highly advanced scholar of Scriptures and therefore would not contradict YHWH or Messiah. In Matthew 5:17-20 Messiah very clearly stated that He did not come to abolish the law and YHWH clearly stated that they were forever.
Some argue that the commandments are just for the Jews. See my previous statement about the shorthand of using that phrase and the resulting conclusion.
- If the commandments are abolished that means it is now okay to steal, murder, commit adultery, etc.
- In this same letter, Paul says the following: “Honor your mother and father”- which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you. 6:2-3
So do we actually have Paul claiming the commandments are abolished while in the same letter speaking of being Holy and Righteous according to the standard of YHWH, enforcing the commandments, and admonishing us to imitate Messiah, who He Himself (Messiah) expressly told us that we are to keep the commandments?
First of all, Paul does not have the power (unless we grant it to him in our own lives) to overrule YHWH. However, I see Paul as a man of YHWH who would not attempt that, a true representative and believer in Messiah who did all within His power to follow the Law of YHWH so it is with that mindset that I move forward and try to unwrap yet another word pretzel that has been brought about by centuries of scribes, translators, and no small amount of doctrine.
Let’s see what that same verse says in the CJB
by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom Ephesians 2:15
What peace was needed? Back to that dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles that is no more. Back to that veil between us and the Father that has now been torn. Back to the fact that YHWH is a just God but we are sinners and therefore must somehow be made clean in order to enter into His presence. We had a debt for our sin according to YHWH’s just law, Messiah paid our bill. Messiah accomplished all of this and more.
To me, that makes more sense and seems more in line with what Paul would be trying to convey here. It also lines up with Scripture rather than contradicts it.
Test it, kick the tires, pray on it, and see what you think.
I love the reiteration of the foundational knowledge here in Eph 2:19-20. We are no longer strangers and sojourners, we’re FAMILY! He has given us a name BETTER than sons and daughters! (Isaiah 56:5). Our household is built on the foundation of those who came before us, with Messiah Yeshua as the cornerstone!
In Him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for YHWH by the Spirit ~ Ephesians 2:22
Build us up Father!
Here is our prayer for one another today:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:14-19
I thank the Father for the opportunity to read His Word with you. I am overwhelmed by His love for us!
Links to CJB Bible (BibleGateway has this translation so you don’t have to own one but just in case):
- Flexisoft (Imitation leather)
- This one says it is leather but I think that is an error. It is, however, a really beautiful and ornate cover that could possibly be flexisoft and the price is good.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!