Is Chapter 3 interrupting the main message of Ephesians? Lynn Cohick calls it “a digression from his argument in 2:22 which he then picks up again in 3:14” (Ephesians, NCCS, Cascade, 2010, 81). Markus Barth calls it “an excursus on the commission given to Paul by God” (Ephesians 1–3, AYB, Yale, 2008, 350).
As indicated by the dash at the end, verse 1 is an incomplete sentence:
Ephesians 3 1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you. (NIV)
It sounds like Paul starts a thought, and breaks off. But there may be a better way to understand these verses than to treat them as a mere tangent where the writer got distracted from his gospel message.
Continue reading “In honour and shame (Ephesians 3:13)”
How does King Jesus respond when publicly dishonoured?
Open Matthew 11:7-11.
I never knew what a fink was, but the Wizard of Id cartoons were clear enough: call the king a fink and you’re strung up in shackles.
Last year, I visited a kingdom, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. I asked the guide what would happen if someone spoke against one of the Hashemite family. Apparently it would not be a good move if you valued your freedom.
You can understand why Jesus avoided direct criticism of Herod. John the Baptist had proclaimed the arrival of an alternative kingdom. John publicly critiqued Herod’s morals, implying he was unfit to rule God’s people. Predictably, Herod arrested John.
Jesus also preached the restoration of God’s kingdom, but he carefully avoided Herod. When Jesus said anything about Herod, his message was coded. In Matthew 11, he expressed the same cryptic message in three ways, adding the hint that they’d need to listen well to get it: “If you have ears, hear” (11:15):
Continue reading “When the king is dishonoured (Matthew 11:7-11)”
Feel like your worth comes from how people see you? This will help you break free.
Open Matthew 6:25-34.
Our heavenly Father values us more than the birds and flowers, and he will provide for us. These are some of our favourite verses, especially when we face hard times. Without taking anything away from those sentiments, what Jesus said meant so much more. Continue reading “Stressed about your social standing? (Matthew 6:25-34)”
There’s an amazing logic to the Sermon on the Mount when you hear how Jesus addressed his honour/shame culture.
Open Matthew 5–6.
In leading people towards the kingdom of God, Jesus turned our entire social structure on its head. You need to appreciate the depth of that subversion to see how Matthew 6 flows out of Matthew 5. Continue reading “Whose honour? (Matthew 5–6)”