Although I have several more Release Time lessons I want to format for this blog, here’s some stuff I thought up for a discussion of Ephesians 4:1-6 two or three years ago. In the course of retrieving these notes and related, I'm imagining all the blog-fodder I'd have if in the past I'd prepared handouts for most of the Bible studies I led the way I almost always do these days!Ephesians 4
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
- According to this epistle, all things have their unity in Christ, with the church as both symbol and agent of oneness. Just as in Colossians, here in Ephesians we find the "Cosmic Christ!" but unlike Colossians, in Ephesians the Church - the Body of the Risen Christ - is a sign of that cosmic unity.
- At that particular time the church was highly concerned with unity, holiness and apostolicity. Needing to maintain the apostolic tradition and keep pure doctrine were among the reasons for the large number of pseudonymous letters we have from that era. In general, the convention of attributing authorship to a well-known person helped give the writing authority.
The author of this epistle claims, "There is one body and one Spirit...one hope...one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." In other words, the Church is an unbounded community, with the same Holy Spirit, same faith and baptism drawing in and uniting everyone from everywhere, despite seeming outward differences and distinctions. I'd add on to that a single eucharistic community, too—at least in intent and anticipation!
"People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in th kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."
"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
How do we transcend cultural, national and denominational boundaries:
- In worship?
- In evangelism?
- In teaching?
- In service?
- Is it important or possible for a local church to be truly inclusive?
- Is their a limit to inclusiveness?
- Calling, called
- Humble, lowly
- Patient, patience
- Gentle, love
- Unity of the Spirit
- Bond, bound, peace
- One: Body, Spirit, Lord, Faith, Baptism, God, Father of all
- What gifts does each of us in this group have?
- What ministries has God called us to?
- When? What about the future?
- How about newer, historically less conventional and predictable forms of both volunteer and professional (denominationally authorized) ministry?
- What do you think of the many current and evolving non-traditional models for ministry and for churches?