Lectionary Year B
April 2, 2000
Ephesians 2:1-10

Step II: Disposition


(MW) This text uses poetic language of theological reflection. It is not "Gospel" per se but Gospel considered and interpreted.

(JH)The genre of this pericope appears to be a homily -- a sermon -- which speaks of the power of the saving grace of Christ in a darkness (nekros) world filled with sinful activity. With an eloquent description of God's grace, and a description of how we (the community) are with God this homily points the direction for the kind of journey through life that one takes when shaped by God.


(MW) In vv. 1,3,4 It is extremely difficult to deal with Paul's mind/body (flesh/spirit) separations. In today's time and place we understand this type of thinking and some of its resulting practical applications can be an indication of sickness. Therefore, if this text is to be used, it must be placed firmly in its own place and time in history before any further steps are taken.

(MW) In vv. 1,3,4,5 What does Paul mean by faith? by grace? by good works?

(JH) v.3 a. There is a nagging question that wonders if this darkness -- this power of the air -- the cause of our actions is something that happens to us (NIV - objects of wrath) or by our choice because of inherent tendencies by the sons/daughters of disobedience (NRSV - children of wrath). (see v.1 again.)
b. Does wrath mean anger, havoc, destruction -- look it up!

(JH) v.4 a. Comment: Rich in Mercy describes God -- not just a love but a great love.
b. This is "superlative" level language.
c. This is a transition passage with the "BUT, God" ...

(MW) v. 4(?) Was this a key text for Martin Luther and other reformers?

(MW) vv. 1,3,4 What does it mean to be "dead through our trespasses"?

(JH) v.1 a. Sons of disobedience in RSV implies some kind of inheritance -- is there a natural flaw in humans associated with sins and trespasses. Or, did we follow the prince of the power of the air by choice?
b. This verse speaks of a way of life --when you followed the ways of this world. Does Paul think the readers of this letter are no longer following in these sin-filled ways?
c. What are the differences between trespasses and sins? How do they work together in this passages. Look these words up. What words can class suggest for today words?
d. Power of the air? What is the Gr. understanding -- or early Christian?

(MW) vv. 5,6 One struggles here to "confront the text," and hold it "accountable." What are some of the problems in our culture which may have arisen out of a literal reading of this text? Suggested concerns: triumphalism, domination, shame, failure to reach out to the world.

(MW) vv. 5,6 What does a reading of these verses in the proper historical perspective have to say to these and other issues? Are good works our way of life? What are those good works?

(JH) v.6 a. Here are two issues laid side-by-side. Wonder what others think about the verb tense of raised up (past tense) -- think about this phrase being in the present tense -- raises us up. How does the Gr. read? This is a theological concept about God's sovereignty --God choosing us and revealing what God has done through Christ Jesus. But for Paul in his communication with a body of Christ -- a believers community -- is this a relational statement of the relationship between Christ's resurrection and (leading into v.7) the community [and us]. Or, is this a relational statement of God and us because of our acceptance of what Jesus did (an obedience statement to match the disobedience statement in v.2). The wording of this question clarifies my theological fuzziness. This is more about God, I think, and what God created us to be. The driver statement for me here is and made us sit with him in the heavenly places. Is places plural? What is this with him phrasing? Sounds like post-resurrection -- power of Holy Spirit alive.

(JH) v.7 a. What do immeasurable (incomparable) riches look like? Would like to hear others describe them in words that paint pictures.
b. Can we picture when this eschatological time is -- near or far? How does this language effect me today?

(JH) v.8 a. Notice that a grace phrase from v.5 is repeated here. Is grace a common theme repeated in Ephesians. It is for Paul in general.

(JH) v.9 a. What strikes me about this verse is the double negative, in parenthetical phrases, just before v.10.
b. I bet boast means more than just "brag".

(JH) v.10 a. The phrasing created in ... for good works not to "do" good works. Interesting nuances. The essence must be centered on created in (NIV - For we are God's workmanship). This is creation theology. Think about relationship between workmanship and walk. Uses JOURNEY-LANGUAGE. Look walk up. Does this pericope start at v.1 and lead up to v.10.? Where is the center? V.10? Or beyond as v.11 starts "So then...". Or, is it the combination of v.4 But God with v.8 For by grace?
b. Notice verb walk used in v.2 to talk about relationship with spirit of ruler of the air. This is a parallel.
c. Does created for good works mean response or fulfillment?

(JH) General: a. Note the number of superlatives used -- thereby heightening the text. i.e. trespasses and sins; great love and rich in mercy;
b. Note the use of parallel words used between forces of darkness and forces of lightness-- to accentuate v. 10. i.e. works, walks, dead in transgressions and alive in Christ, kingdom of the air and seated us in the heavenly realms

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