Reflecting on Ephesians 1 1-14

The first thing we want to ask about Ephesians 1:1-14, our text for this week, may be this: what effect does this text have on us? When we hear it for the first time, do we think of ourselves as members of the “us” being addressed? And how does it feel to belong to that “us”? What feels good about that, and what doesn’t – if anything? Why, do we suppose?

If we pay some attention to our responses to these verses, it will most likely lead us deeply in to our understanding of some of the repeated words and ideas: the will of God, blessing, “the praise of His glory,” chosenness, adoption, … because they are all packed in there.

That is, if we can hear the text at all, because it is also a barrage of words. So we may want to notice what really stands out for us. And think about why that, in particular.

Some notes on the text are here. Here are a couple more questions we might want to think about or discuss in class:

[Just to cover a few bases] What do we ourselves think of when we hear …

  • “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” – what are the spiritual blessings, for instance?
  • “the praise of his glory”?
  • “the mystery of his will”?
  • what else?

Why do we think that, do we suppose? What does that seem to mean for us?

Suppose the author is saying that Israel was chosen to be the people of God, and now we Gentiles have been added to Israel by adoption through Jesus Christ. Are there some real world implications of that idea? What are they?

In particular, how responsible are [Gentile] Christians for learning from Jews about what it means to be incorporated into the people of Israel? Why do we think/say that?

[Maybe more theoretical] What’s the model of “inclusion” or “incorporation” we’re using here? Can we think of any other, different, models of inclusion? Advantages, disadvantages of those different models?

[Also maybe more theoretical, but also practical and with a lot of emotional baggage for some people] Considering v10 in particular, which seems to be referencing the model of an ancient household “administered” by a “kyrios” or lord: do we suppose changing/changed ideas about households, household patterns, etc. will have changed the way we relate to this idea? How?

What do we suppose are the implications of those changes? Why? Do we see any advantages, or disadvantages, of those changes? Why?

Image: “Christ and the Samaritan woman at the Well,” [crop] John Linnell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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