The Flow of Ephesians

I recently finished preaching through the book of Ephesians. I’ll share some more of my observations from this incredible book in the future; for now, I thought I would just share a short synopsis of the overall flow and message of the book.

In chapters 1–3, Paul explains that God plans to reconcile and consummate all things in and through Jesus Christ, who is Lord over all (1:10). He expounds that part of how God is accomplishing that consummation is through the church walking in good works that bring honor to Christ (2:10) and demonstrate the character of Christ, thus putting the wisdom of God on display to both heaven and earth (3:10).

Then, in chapters 4–6, Paul begins to articulate what some of those good works are which we were created for, and how our lives are to reflect—to image—the character of God. So his overarching exhortation for chapters 4–6 is that we walk (live) in a manner worthy of the calling to which we’ve been called—a calling out of the old, lost humanity in Adam into a new, redeemed humanity whose head is Christ. As we walk in the imitation of Christ, Paul says that we are to walk in unity (4:1–16), walk in holiness (4:17–32), walk in love (5:1–6), walk in light (5:7–14), walk in wisdom and in the Spirit (5:15–6:9), and stand in the strength of Lord (6:10–20).

Paul then closes with a farewell expression of love and prayer (6:21–24). In the context of the grand message of Ephesians, this love for one another, demonstrated so often by our prayers for one another, is a key component in our properly displaying the character of Christ, thus fulfilling our calling to walk in a manner that glorifies God, which, as Paul has framed it in Ephesians, is the role we are to play in God’s great plan for history to reconcile all things in and through Jesus Christ, who, by his death and resurrection, has won the victory over Satan, sin, and death, and has been declared Lord of all!

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Federal Husbands and Masculine Responsibility

I’ve been reading Federal Husband, by Doug Wilson. It has been, far and away, one of the best books on being a husband and father I’ve ever read. It’s challenging, insightful, and convicting. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

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This short book is unlike any other you’ve ever read on godly manhood and marriage. I highly recommend every man, married or single, purchase a copy and take Wilson’s instruction to heart. Get Federal Husband here. Wilson’s wife also has an excellent companion book on being a wife and mother called The Fruit of Her Hands.

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Jesus’ Preparations for the Last Supper

Idea for the week: Jesus may have made arrangements ahead of time for His Last Supper with the disciples in the upper room.

When Jesus instructs Peter and John to go prepare the upper room for the Last Supper, the way it’s written in Mark 14 really seems like Jesus had planned this out and arranged it ahead of time with the owner of the house they’re using. Jesus told Peter and John,

“Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you [by the way, the reason that’s the sign is because men didn’t fetch water from the well—women did that]; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘the teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare it there for us.”

We often tend to attribute this knowledge of what would happen to the fact that Jesus was God—he’s just exercising His omniscience. He’s all-knowing; of course he could tell them what they would find. But, that’s not how Jesus lived; he didn’t walk around constantly exercising his omniscience. That also doesn’t account for the oddities in this particular scenario. A man would be carrying a water pail; the man would meet them—it doesn’t say they’ll happen to see him, but that he would meet them; they would follow him into the house he goes into, then when they deliver the message to the master of the house, he would take them to the guest room which was already furnished and ready for them to set the table and bring the food for the Passover.

It seems that Jesus had gone and made these arrangements beforehand. Remember that He, on the one hand, had a difficult time avoiding the crowds, and would’ve liked to keep the location of His supper with the twelve disciples a secret. But, additionally, He still had a price on His head, and the Sanhedrin and scribes were even more furious and determined to arrest and kill Jesus after he spent Monday and Tuesday publicly embarrassing them in the Temple complex. So, Jesus carefully arranged for Himself and His disciples to be able to use someone’s upper room (which was a large guest room on the top level of most houses) without revealing the location.

This prearranged preparation of Jesus also makes more sense of what we typically call the silent day. Wednesday of the Passion week doesn’t have any recorded events in any of the gospels. People have tried to fill this day in in various ways, but there just simply is no record for anything on Wednesday. Based on everything else we know was going on though, we can assume that on Wednesday, the Sanhedrin was probably making preparations for Jesus’ arrest, and Jesus was most likely making arrangements for the Last Supper with the disciples, carefully making secret preparations, not only to avoid the crowds, but also to not let Judas know where the Supper would be, so that He could celebrate the meal with His disciples in peace, and Judas would not betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin until Jesus was ready for that to happen. These minor details in the narrative record should cause us to marvel at the care and wisdom with which Jesus entered into his last days before His sacrifice to bring salvation to a sinful world.

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1 John’s Purpose Statement

Many have assumed that the purpose statement of First John is to be found near the end of John’s epistle. The pertinent verse reads, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, ESV). This is certainly a purpose statement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the purpose statement for the entire book. For a couple of reasons, I would argue this is not John’s overarching purpose statement.

Become a patron here to read the rest of the post, and keep an eye out for the next one on what I think John’s purpose statement actually is!

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Proximity and Sprawl: redux

In his book Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, Jonathan Leeman describes eight ways Christians ought to submit to their local churches. The second of those is completely in line with the articles I discussed in my post on proximity, sprawl, and the importance of living close to your community. Leeman says,

If you can, ‘consider others better than yourselves’ and ‘look to the interests of others’ by living geographically close to the church. When a person lives within walking distance of a church or clumps of members, it’s easier to invite people to one’s house for dinner, to watch one another’s children while running errands, to pick up bread or milk at the store for one another. In other words, it’s just plain easier to integrate daily life when there is relative—even walkable—geographic proximity.

When considering what home to buy or apartment to rent, Christians do well to ask some of the same questions that non-Christians ask (How much does it cost? Are there good schools nearby?). But Christians also do well to ask additional questions like these:

  • Will the mortgage or rent payment allow for generosity to others?
  • Will it give other church members quick access to me for discipleship and hospitality?

Must a Christian move close to other members of his or her church? No, the Bible doesn’t command this. But it’s one concrete way to love your church.

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