Abingdon New Testament Commentaries: Ephesians
Description In this volume, Pheme Perkins mines the writings from Nag Hammadi and Qumran for illuminating parallels to Ephesians, showing how a first-century audience would have heard and responded to the various parts of the letter. Under her sure guidance, contemporary readers are led to see the rhetorical power and the theological depth of this pseudonymous letter. Other books in this series. Add to basket. Acts Beverley R. Matthew Donald Senior. John D. Hebrews Victor C. Antc Black. Corinthians Richard A.
Colossians David Hay. Revelation Leonard L.
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Philippians, Philemon Carolyn A. Second Corinthians John T. James C. Back cover copy In this volume, Pheme Perkins mines the writings from Nag Hammadi and Qumran for illuminating parallels to Ephesians, showing how a first-century audience would have heard and responded to the various parts of the letter. Rating details. Thus Ephesians telegraphs its intention to the audience. In the secular sphere, speech in praise of a benefactor might elicit future benefactions by cementing the relationship between a powerful individual and those who participate in his praise.
Ephesians takes up this tradition by repeatedly underlining the fact that the blessings that its audience has received come from a beneficent God who consistently intended to confer salvation. The passage is punctuated by references to election and divine will vv. Another set of phrases refer to the praise that the recipients of salvation owe their divine benefactor vv. The conclusion treats the present experience of salvation as the guarantee of a future inheritance and ongoing praise of God's glory.
Ephesians weaves the function of Christ as heavenly mediator into the praise of God as benefactor.
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A series of clauses beginning with "in whom" spell out the Christian promise of salvation vv. Verses have a central place in the theological understanding of Ephesians. The exaltation of Christ in the heavens provides the foundation for bringing the entire creation into unity under Christ as head. The biblical tradition insists that praise is the appropriate human response to God's acts of salvation Pss ; Without the appearance of Jesus, God's full plan for salvation would have remained hidden vv.
The expression "every spiritual blessing" highlights the completeness of divine salvation. Unlike human benefactors, God has not conferred a partial blessing. Jewish roots for this expression lie in the blessing of Joseph by Jacob Gen and in the liturgical language of the Essenes, "May [my Lord] bless you [from his holy residence] May he bestow upon you all the blessings [ The reference to "the holy ones" assimilates the Essene congregation to the angels who are in the heavens with God.
Ephesians has modified this Jewish form by substituting the exalted Christ for the angelic hosts and using a peculiar plural form, "the heavenlies" NRSV: "the heavenly places" , to refer to heaven. That expression only appears in Ephesians where it is used both for God's dwelling , 20; and for a sphere in which hostile powers are active ; Descriptions of the universe in the first century CE assumed that the earth was in the center of a cosmos that stretched out to the sphere of the stars. The moon, sun, and planets through Saturn circled the earth. The region from the earth to the moon was one in which decay and death occurred.
Earthy, heavy, watery, and dark substances tended toward the earth.
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Fire and air tended toward the heavens. In order to reach the realm of the divine, the soul would have had to ascend through all of these heavenly regions. Spiritual beings, sometimes depicted as demonic, could be associated with the planetary spheres and their power to dictate the fate of humans and nations. This picture of the cosmos was replicated in Jewish apocalypses that described the ascent of a seer to a vision of the divine throne. By the first century CE most apocalypses assumed that the journey would require passing through multiple heavens Himmelfarb , 32; see T.
Levi 2—3; 8; 2 Enoch 3—21; Apoc. Ordinarily the fear or awe felt by the visionary is mitigated by the protection of his angelic guide. Ephesians does not develop the details of multiple heavenly regions.
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The explanation in verse 4 picks up the agency of Christ as the mediator of salvation and expands the description of God's plan of salvation in a temporal direction. God's plan to redeem humanity preexists the foundation of the world. The image of God's election of the righteous and condemnation of the wicked prior to creation appears in Essene texts CD ; 1QS Ephesians agrees with the Essene view that the elect follow the paths of holiness that God established for his creatures.
The formulation in verse 4 does not imply the preexistence of the individual souls of the righteous. Nor does Ephesians spell out the connection between the Christ in whom the righteous are elect and God's creative activity. Its emphasis is on the experience of salvation. Christine Hayes. Robert W. Letters to the Church. Karen H.
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