Archive | November, 2012

Ephesians 2 Part 1

7 Nov

To understand the verses in question we have to, like any other passage of scripture, understand its context.  So I will not share on just the verses in question but I will talk about the verses before and after, so that we can understand this very important concept of the “One New Man”.  This passage of scripture has been very influential in my walk in the discovery of the truth of the Good News, of the truth of how the Old Testament is supposed to be a part of our lives. This study is obviously not exhaustive with regards to returning to the Torah (Law, Prophets and Writings).  For it to be exhaustive we really have to go through the whole New Testament, which I want to do at some point.  But this study has been foundational for me, so this is where I have decided to start.

For the purpose of clarity, I will no longer use the Terms Old Testament / Covenant or New Testament / Covenant.  I will use the word Tanak or Torah for the “Old Testament / Covenant” and Brit Chadasha for the “New Testament / Covenant”.  The reason for this is because, I believe, these terms ‘OT’ and ‘NT’ perpetuate an incorrect and unbiblical view of the two parts of the Bible.  I believe they should in fact be considered one part.  The term ‘Old Testament’ gives the idea that the Tanak has passed away and is no longer for us as that is Jewish and not part of the “New Testament’.  I believe we will clearly see by the end of this study, that the Tanak is as relevant to us today as it was over 2000 years ago before Yeshua died and rose again.  I would like to add that the Hebrew word Torah has been translated as law, but it means far more than that.  It has a very basic meaning of instruction, the direction we are to go in life.  This is the essence of the Law, the Torah.  They are the Father’s instructions on how we are to live in relation to Him and to each other.  The Instructions of God (Torah) are there to give us boundaries to protect us and to allow us to live in the blessing of His provision.  When we live outside of His boundaries, His instructions, we live outside of His blessing and His protection.  In Hebrew the word Torah is a good word, full of life and blessing and protection, The Father loves us and wants the best for us so He has given us instructions on how to live.

Before I start this study, it is important to lay some understanding of how responsible bible study should be conducted and how teachings should be responsibly taught.  The main method of Christianity (a method I used and was taught by my pastors) is to take a verse or a few verses, for example Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Yeshua who strengthens me”. We do a whole study on this verse and we come to the conclusion that, no matter what I need to do, or want to do in life, Yeshua is there to give me strength.  If that is the way you have understood this verse and how you have confessed this verse, then I am sorry to say, but your conclusion is incorrect.  Why?  Very simply, because, the context has not been taken into consideration.  The context gives us the real meaning of the verse.  As soon as we take one or two or even a few verses out of its context, that is out of its historical, cultural and most importantly textual context, then we are doomed to come to the wrong understanding of those verses.  Taking verses out of its textual context and coming to a personal interpretation of that verse or verses is called “proof texting” and is not a responsible or even a logical way of bible study as you will never come to the truth.  The point of all bible study is to find the truth.

So to see what Paul is really saying in Phillipians 4:13 we have to back up a few verses to see the context of what he is saying.  If you do this then you will see, that what Paul is really saying is this: that whether I have a lot, or whether I have little, whether I have an abundance or whether I am a pauper I am content because “…I can do all things through Yeshua who strengthens me…”  so Yeshua enables me to be content with what I have and in whatever ‘monetary’ state I find myself in.  Reading more into the text and saying He enables me to do anything that comes my way, would be wrong because that is not what this text is specifically saying.

That being said let us now begin our study.  It is always important to find out the context of the books that Paul was writing.  The reason for the letters and to whom was he writing.  In the case of the epistle to the Ephesians, there is no specific error that Paul is trying to correct.  He is writing about Yehovah’s glorious plan to bring all under the headship of Yeshua.  The Ephesian “church” were made up primarily of Gentile believers, though there probably were Jewish believers too.  It seems that Paul wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in Rome in about AD 60.  Now that we have some important contextual information, specifically that he was writing to primarily Gentile believers we can begin looking at the scriptures.  We are going to start this study at the beginning of Paul’s thought, so we can understand the verses in question.  By doing this we are going to find out whether or not the law has been abolished.  Paul’s thought on this subject begins at Ephesians 2:1.  So that is where we are going to start.

Eph 2:1  And you were dead in trespasses and sins,  2  in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, 3  among whom also we all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest.

Right from the beginning of this chapter we need to take note of 3 very important words that need to be followed very carefully in this chapter.  They are “you, we and us”.  The reason these words are so important is because they show us who Paul is talking about when he makes certain statements.  You will see the reason why it is important to follow these words shortly.

Paul starts with a statement “And YOU were dead in trespasses and sins,….”.  I would like to suggest to you that Paul is specifically talking to the Gentiles here, when he says ‘you’.  He begins by showing us the starting point of “you”, that is the Gentiles.  “You” gentiles were dead in trespasses and sins, you (us Gentiles) walked according to this world and according to the demonic spirits of this world.  That was our starting point.  In verse 3 he changes who he is talking about.  Paul says, “among whom also WE all once lived….”  I would like to suggest to you that  when he says ‘we’ in this verse, he is talking about the Jewish people.  I say this because in using ‘you’ he made a distinction between himself and the Gentiles, but when he used the word ‘we’ he included himself into the next statement.  Who was Paul?  Paul was a Hebrew, of the people of Yisra’el, from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was a Jew.  So Paul says, YOU Gentiles were dead in trespasses and sins and walked according to the demonic forces in the world.  He then does something very important, he says but WE, the Jews, ALSO walked among the demonic forces of this world living EXACTLY like you Gentiles, in the lusts of the flesh.  Paul quite clearly puts both Jew and Gentile on equal ground, equal starting points.  Dead in sin.  Children of wrath.  Living in the lusts of our flesh.  On this point both Jew and Gentile are the same, there is no difference.  We are both dead spiritually, doomed to experience the wrath of Almighty Elohim.

I am going to end this study here before Paul starts his next sentence.  That is when it begins to get really interesting.  We will pick up from here next time.

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