Christians, Get Along with Each Other!
Epistle to the Ephesians
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
If I had to sum up the message of Ephesians, I would say that it is for Christians to get along with each other. Not just socially, but also in the church and with family. The starting point for why this letter was written is once again; for the newly converted gentile Christians and Jewish Christians in the 1st century to get along. While this theme keeps getting repeated in Paul’s letters, it provides a great example that is more universal than just the dispute between these two groups. In a way, these disputes act as an example of how we should all get along. In other words, we shouldn’t just look at the dispute between the gentile Christians and Jewish Christians as isolated and act amused at their inability to get along. Rather, we should look at our lives and see where we have created barriers with others, just because they are different.
But before we get too far in this discussion of Ephesians, there are two critical items regarding authorship and its date; and who the letter is written to we should discuss.
First, many scholars do not believe that this letter was written by Paul, but by a devoted student of Paul’s. The reason is the letter isn’t written with Paul’s normal literary style. Things like greetings and very personal well wishes are not as prevalent. But we should also know that in the first century, this was very common for a student to write in a teacher’s name. So, while in the 21st century this might be considered a bit shady, in the 1st century this was very acceptable and encouraged. So, if this is true than the letter was probably written around 80AD.
The reason for bringing this up; is that some people might feel that this is an inferior writing because of this issue. But the letter, by itself without this interesting quirk, was highly regarded by the early church leaders and thus its inclusion in the New testament. Because of the completeness of its message, I completely agree it is a very helpful letter for all Christians, regardless of this small quirk.
Another item, while the title is the Ephesians, I view this as an open letter to all churches and Christians. In other words, just take the word Ephesians and substitute your own church name. It will still apply. The reason for this thought is that the letter contains no reference to the church in Ephesus in its content. Thus causing me to think that it’s message is far more universal than just one church in Asia Minor.
So let’s turn to the opening verses in chapter 5, where it says, Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. So, what I see here is the attitude that is expressed, to walk in love as Christ loved us. What a wonderful sentiment! To just imitate Christ in all that we do.
So what does this mean? It doesn’t matter if we are a Yankee Catholic or a Southern Baptist. What matters is our desire to lovingly commune with all people with God through Jesus.
It also doesn’t mean to value each other differently based on our own special gifts. In other words, because one person is a banker and another is an author, that either is better. The most important thing is that we value each other as Christian.
We see this in chapter 4, verse 1-2 it says; As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
In other words, what we do and who we are isn’t as important as we how we treat each other. If you go into a business and meet the CEO and a dock worker, we are asked to treat both with humility, gentleness, patience, and love.
So, this is the primary message of this wonderful book in the Bible. As Christians, we should all get along with each other.
Now another place we need to go, and it’s quite controversial; is Ephesians [5:21]-23, where it says; Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. The interpretation of these verses has led to a lot of harm over the years.
Some men have used the words, Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as a source of domination, while ignoring the words, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is called Versification. Or in other words when we take selected words to support our behavior, instead of putting them together with other verses to understand their global meaning. This is very important. We always have to be careful in using the Bible to justify our behavior. Instead, use the Bible to form our behavior.
So my position on this controversial verse, is that I should treat my family out of reverence for Christ. I know there are some who will want to drag me back into the submission piece, but I feel my primary goal is one of love and not to have others dominated.
Finally, the last message of Ephesians is to stay strong in Christ. In chapter 6-13 it says, Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Another reminder of the purpose of faith. That we will all be tested, but keep to your beliefs and faith. And while things may be rough for a while, not giving in to evil or doubt will keep you safe. So while this statement doesn’t appear to fit with the theme of getting along as Christians, it does fit in with the theme of our Christian conduct. Which is still the overarching message of Ephesians.
This book is personally one of my favorites, as it gets to the point and is clear in its message of Christian conduct.
Read Ephesians with the knowledge, the writer wants us to all get along and put Christ first.
Listen to the Full Podcast – Christians, Get Along with Each Other!
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
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