Ist Period III
- IV to conclusion
2nd Period 2nd
|Acts St Paul Arrest Trial 21 - 28||
||102 Paul arrested in the Temple|
|124 Introduction: God’s plan in Christ||125 The Church as the Body of Christ|
|'Sicari' (Assassins)||Roman Provinces Jesus time||The procurator, Antonius Felix,
(see Chronology Of The Acts)
and the shipwreck 276 persons on board
|Paul Cures on Malta Publius
Saint_Paul Letter to Colossians
From St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
The position of Ephesus.
Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia which covered the western part of Asia Minor or Anatolia. A very ancient city of some commercial importance because of its situation on the Aegean Sea, it became the centre of St Paul’s apostolic activity during the third journey and was to be the first of the seven churches of Asia mentioned by St John in the Apocalypse (see No. 167).
St Paul’s letter, called ‘To the Ephesians’ was not addressed to a single Christian community at Ephesus but is a sort of circular letter sent to all the communities in the Ephesian district. This explains its impersonal character, lacking references to actual situations and to people whom St Paul had known during his three years’ stay at Ephesus. It may perhaps be that very letter to the Laodiceans (see No. 123) which the Colossians were told to receive from the nearby community of Laodicea. In fact this letter too was carried by the same Tychicus who took the letter to the Colossians to Colossae. St Paul wrote them both at about the same time, towards the end of his Roman captivity (62-63 A.D.).
The letter to the Ephesians is not of a directly controversial character but treats the same subjects as the letter to the Colossians with a particular emphasis on praising God, praying and encouraging the faithful.
This letter too is divided into two parts, one mainly doctrinal, in which we note specially the theology of the Church in relation to God’s plan of salvation, and the other devoted to moral exhortations. At the very beginning of the letter, we find these truly fundamental statements, in the form of a thanksgiving to Go4:
1) God the Father has determined from all eternity to ‘restore’ all things in Christ, that is to gather together all material and spiritual entities and put them under one Head, Christ.
2) In this scheme of his we also have a place: each of us has been individually chosen by God ‘before the foundation of the world’ and destined to become ‘holy’, that is consecrated to God, ‘blameless’, that is free from sin, and, adopted ‘sons of God’, ‘heirs’ of God’s blessings which we shall finally enjoy ‘in the heavenly places’.
3) All these blessings come to us from our being united with Christ. This has come about as a result of the redemption wrought by the Son of God, by means of which the Father ‘has bestowed on us’ every grace, that is every free gift. We have received the ‘forgiveness of our trespasses’ and every blessing, not for our merits, but through ‘his blood’, that is through his death offered as a propitiatory sacrifice.
4) At the moment of our adherence to Christ through faith in the glad tidings (the ‘Gospel’) of the divine plan, we were given the Holy Spirit: He is the ‘seal’, that is the pledge, the manifestation of the blessings we have received and the ‘guarantee’ of those which belong to us by ‘inheritance’ but which we are not yet able to enjoy. In this way he refers to the inner light and charismatic phenomena (see Nos. 78, 90 and 98) which are due to the action of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
Ephesus was a seaport and a commercial city of the first importance,
being the junction of two great Roman roads and a port of access to the western part of Asia Minor.
The Christian community at Ephesus was founded by St Paul (see Acts No. 63).
Letter to the Ephesians
124 Introduction: God’s plan in Christ
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 5He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 which he lavished upon us. 9For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Letter to the Ephesians125 The Church as the Body of Christ
(1, 16-23; 4, 15-16)
1, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, ‘3which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.
4, Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 86 whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.
to the Ephesians
The risen Christ, ‘at the rig/it hand’ of God, that is equal with the Father, not only because of his divine nature but also in the exercise of universal suzerainty, is Lord of angelic spirits (‘all rule and authority and power and dominion’), and is Head of the Church. This is a Body, that is an entity of various parts, each with its own distinct functions, in continual progress towards an ever more perfect assimilation to Christ’s perfection.
Every member of the Church is united to the vital power which
derives from Christ, the Head, so long as he remains attached to the ‘joints’ or members through which the grace of Christ works. But as he receives from other members, so also must he give, in order to grow with the rest and to make the whole Body grow in Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ becciuse it belongs to him and because it is his ‘fulness’, that is to say the space, so to speak, which he fills with his grace (For the Church as the Body of Christ see also Nos. 78, 99 and 120).
126 In the Church Jews people
and pagans become one single
God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus, 7that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. ‘°For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—’2 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. ‘ For he is our peace, who has made
to the Ephesians
us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near;
through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. ‘ So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the iornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
One of the effects of Christ’s redemption has been the super- session of the Law of Moses and the annulment of the arrangements which were intended to make Israel a people separated from all others. St Paul makes use of the illustration of a party wall which has been demolished by the death of Christ on the Cross. Salvation comes by faith,
by God’s gift, with no difference between ‘Jews and pagans; united with Christ the two peoples become one people, ‘one new man’, ‘one body, that is the Church.
This is described under the image of a building under construction in which new converts are incorporated as living stones to form the one Temple of God.
1 ‘ 7 The sacred character of marriage
i. .L I (5, 21-33)
• 2! Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord, 23 For the
husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. 24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. 29 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved
to the Ephesians
the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, ‘7that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 26 so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church,
we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and1 mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; 33however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The union of a man and woman, hallowed by an unbreakable pact, is a ‘mystery’, which means a sacred reality in the order of salvation. Marriage is the image of the union of Christ with the Church and so of the common life (i.e. grace) which flows between Christ and the Church. Therefore, the Church teaches, marriage according to Christ’s will is an effective means of grace, i.e. a ‘sacrament’. From this doctrine- a very practical conclusion follows: the image must be like its sublime model;
the love of husband and wife must draw its inspiration from Christ, who loved the Church and sacrificed himself for it. Note that this description of the Church as the Bride, and also as the, Body of Christ, makes it clear that the Church’s belonging to Christ as his Body, does not in any way remove the distinction between the Person of Christ, divine by nature, and the individuality of the members of the Church, each of whom is ‘son’ of God by incorporation and by grace and not by nature.
1 8 Duties of fathers and sons, of masters and servants
‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first command-
to the Ephesians
Here is another example of the doctrinal formation of Christian morality, Christ is the point of reference for relations among men. One alone is truly Lord; to him must those who call themselves masters on earth render their account, just as those who
perform the duties of servants must serve him. In the letter to Philemon this is brought out very clearly with regard to relations between the master and the Christian slave: ‘In Christ Jesus there is ‘neither slave nor free’ (see No. 89 and No. 129 which follows).
ment with a promise), “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not provoke your children to angers but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, n singleness of heart, as to Christ; 6not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and forbear threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
to the Ephesians
This short Letter, full of warm human feeling, and of lively affection, not without a trace of gentle irony (‘I will repay it — to say nothing of your owing me even your own self’) was written by St Paul as a note to accompany Onesimus the fugitive slave, who was sent back to his master, Philemon at Colossae, together with Tychicus, the bearer of the Letter to the Colossians. It was thus written towards the end of Paul’s captivity (about 62-63 A.D.); in it he expresses the hope of soon being his friend’s guest. Onesimus, the pagan slave of the Christian Philemon, had fled after having done ‘some injury’. When he arrived in Rome he had been converted and baptized by St Paul. The latter did not kcep the fugitive with him, nor does he directly command his friend to free the slave, but he recommends him to receive him ‘no longer as a slave but.., as a beloved
brother’. So he calls Onesimus ‘my child’, ‘my very heart’; he intervenes with the weight of his friendship and of the debts of gratitude which Philemon owes him, in order that the runaway may be pardoned and welcomed with generous kindliness. In this incident may be seen the influence of Christianity on the institutions of the day. It does not take up an external position of hostility to the institution of slavery on which the economy of the GraecoRoman world was based. It does not proclaim an economic and social revolution, but destroys from within the mistaken assumptions of this institution, and replaces them by principles which, once they are understood and welcomed, will cause the collapse of the institution and in the meantime will radically transform relations between freemen and slaves in the bosom of the Christian community.
St Paul’s Letter to Philemon
Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother.
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker ‘and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.