Ephesians 3

Part 1  |  Part 2

The first cycle of Ephesians expressed the call and adoption of God’s sons as a new Creation (Sabbath). At its very centre was the phrase, “the forgiveness of our trespasses.” At the centre of the second, which concerned the removal of the Veil of Moses, was “the sons of disobedience,” a Division between the sons of the promise and the sons of the flesh (Passover). This division was obviously no longer founded on genealogy but began with voluntary allegiance to Jesus. Circumcision or uncircumcision became irrelevant.

So, if we are on the right track, the theme of cycle three should be “Levitical,” the Ascension offering, the Firstfruits, the establishment of a new priesthood to replace that of the thieving and whoring sons of Aaron, and their Herodian government — a harlot and a tax collector. This replacement would be unthinkable for first century Jews (and modern dispensationalists!), yet the patterns Paul uses exactly replicate those of Moses, putting the letter of the bloody Law to death and resurrecting it as a living, internal, fragrant, governing ethic. This use of Covenantal literary structure communicates to us (at least those of us with eyes to see), that the entirety of Israel’s history was being inherited by a new Israel. Modern Jews have no claim on the Old Testament. Moreover, the structure enables us to identify “author intent” to a much greater degree. I doubt you will find all of the comments below in Bible commentaries because they are deductions from the literary structure.

The central phrase in this cycle does have do with the sacrificial head, the foundation of a new Tabernacle for God to dwell in: “in whom the whole structure, being joined together…”


Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, (Genesis – No Abraham)
called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, (Exodus – No Passover)
which is made in the flesh by hands— (Leviticus – No Sacrifice)
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, (Numbers – No True King)
alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (Deuteronomy – No Promise)
and strangers to the covenants of promise, (Joshua – No Land)
having no hope and without God in the world. (Judges – No Rest)

The first stanza is incredible, once the structure is identified. Besides temporarily stripping Israel’s history away from these new believers, this stanza is the first of a “week.” Thus, he says that Israel was in the light, and they were in the darkness. Once again, this structure is so clear that it should stop the mouth of every scoffer. I know it’s a new idea (at least to this degree), but it works. Conclusions drawn from secular literary works based on scanty evidence often remain undisputed. It pays to be careful, but not to be obtuse.

Division – Exodus

But now in Christ Jesus (Passover Lamb)
you who once were far off (Circumcision Veil)
have been brought near (Nearbringing)
by the blood of Christ. (Covenant Head)
For he himself is our peace, (Covenant Ethics)
who has made us both one (Covenant Body)
and has broken down in his flesh (Atonement Veil)
the dividing wall of hostility (Passover decommissioned)

This one is beautiful, and self-explanatory. Notice that Christ fulfills the place of the Covenant Ethics, the Levitical Law, at the centre. He fulfilled Passover for both those inside and those outside the house. Ironically, Judah had turned herself into a new Egypt and rejected this blood covering.

Ascension – Leviticus

by abolishing the law (Ark)
of commandments expressed in ordinances, (Veil)
that he might create in himself (Altar)
one new man in place of the two, (Table)
so making peace, (Lampstand)
and might reconcile us both to God in one body (Incense)
through the cross, (High Priest)
thereby killing the hostility. (Shekinah – Booths: Jew and Gentile together)

This stanza is similar to the previous one, but as Leviticus expands on the priesthood established in Exodus, this focusses on the High Priesthood of Christ. Notice that the particular “matrix thread” which shines here is the Tent of Meeting. Aaron’s sons were anointed only on their right sides: ear lobe, thumb, big toe, with blood and oil. They were an illustration of an Adam cut in half down the middle through circumcision. Jesus ends that division, bloodied and oiled on both ears, both hands, both feet. He becomes circumcision to end circumcision.

Ascension here ends the “Head” process, the raising of a new Land-Altar. This little cycle which follows is like the preliminary filling on Day 3, the grain and fruit plants, promises of bread and wine to come—a priestly betrothal. Aptly, the cord which stands out here is the festal one.

And he came and preached (Sabbath)
peace to you who were far off (Passover)
and peace to those who were near. (Firstfruits)
For through him (Pentecost – Law)
we have access (Trumpets)
[both by] one Spirit (Atonement)
to the Father. (Booths – Ingathering)

How cool is the “access by Trumpets.” The Herods never saw it coming. The Jewish apostles marched around the city; the Gentile scavengers tore it down. But it also applies to the heavenly court. The sacrificial head was received by God (as Abel’s offering), and this meant that God could now accept the “harvest” body, the offering of a faithful Cain who wound not usurp his brother’s priesthood. You may not see it, but there is so much of the Revelation hidden in Ephesians.

Testing – Numbers

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,
but you | are fellow citizens | with the saints | and members | of the household of God,
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
in whom the whole structure, being joined together,
grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
In him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Testing is the “wilderness” stanza. Notice that the second line (Delegation) is a fivefold Covenant. Line three makes the apostles and prophets an altar, but a bridal one of “dressed stones”, not one of unhewn rocks. And Christ is the chief corner of this Altar-House. The work of the Spirit, the Great Matchmaker, is at the centre, knitting things together, like linen and wool, flesh and blood, Jew and Gentile, into a new tent, no, a Temple. The final line refers to the completion of the house, and its filling with the glory cloud. But, we must take a step out and remember that this stanza is ethical. Their glory would be holiness and witness, a reverse of Israel’s deception and harlotry under the ministry of Balak and Balaam, the beast and the false prophet. Of course, in this case, those roles would be filled by Nero and the Herods. Structural allusions are important. They convey much information without saying a word. And I’m really sick of woossy interpretations of the Epistles, where they are stripped from the Covenantal context. When would a college lecturer point out that this establishment of a new Temple was an act of treason against the old one, as disturbing as the anointing of David was to the house of Saul?

Maturity – Deuteronomy

For this reason I, Paul, (Initiation)
a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— (Delegation)
assuming that you have heard (Presentation)
of the stewardship of God’s grace (Purification)
that was given to me for you, (Transformation)
show the mystery was made known to me by revelation, (Vindication)
as I have written briefly. (Representation)

This stanza serves simply as bridal version of Ascension. It is the gathering of the troops ready for the Day of Coverings. Notice that, as in the Revelation, and, in fact, all through the structures in the book of Acts (the apostles travel somewhere, preach, and the snakes go wild), the New Covenant document is opened at Ascension.

Conquest – Joshua

When you read this, (Word – Abraham)
you can perceive my insight (Wisdom – Jacob)
into the mystery of Christ, (Scroll/dream opened – Joseph)
(T) which was not made known
(H) to the sons of men in other generations
(E) as it has now been revealed
(S/O) to his holy apostles and prophets
(S) by the Spirit. (New Covenant – Moses)
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, (New priestly Israel)
members of the same body, and partakers of the promise (New heavenly country)
in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

In this stanza, the Veil is opened. The central point is a fivefold revealing, the Veil of Moses torn in two, leading to the Temple being torn down, uniting Jew and Gentile. The promises to Abraham were finally fulfilled.

The final cycle is itself expanded “fractally.” Glorification, as Day 7, as Shekinah, is the fullness of God dwelling with, or in this case in, men, giving them wisdom to judge between light and darkness (matching the first cycle) as God’s judicial representatives, those who are mature and able to discern between good and evil. Consequently, the centre of this pattern, bang smack in the middle of the Ethics/Spirit, is “the manifold wisdom of God.”

Glorification – Judges

Of this gospel
I was made a minister
according to the gift
of God’s grace,
which was given me
by the working
of his power.
HIERARCHY – Delegation
To me,
though I am the very least
of all the saints,
this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches
of Christ,
ETHICS – Purification
and to bring to light for everyone (Day 1)
what is the plan of the mystery (Day 2)
hidden for ages in God who created all things, (Day 3 – Land)
so that through the church (Day 3 – Firstfruits)
the manifold wisdom of God (Day 4 – Lights)
might now be made known (Day 5 – Swarms/Gentiles)
to the rulers and authorities (Day 6 – Mediators)
in the heavenly places. (Day 7 – God’s Rest)
SANCTIONS – Vindication
This was according
to the eternal purpose
that he has realized
in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness (Witness)
and access with confidence
through our faith in him.
SUCCESSION – Representation
[Therefore] I ask you
not to [faint
at the tribulations
[of me] for you,
which is your glory.

This cycle ends with Paul as a living sacrifice on the Altar. But, as we see in many stanzas, the third step (Altar), leads to a preliminary filling (Table). This explains Paul’s intercessory prayer at this point in the epistle. He is an image of the ascended Christ in heaven, the standing Lamb, advocating for the people of God before the Father. (Notice that we see this same construct in the Lord’s Prayer). But Paul does exactly what Christ does, what He did when He prayed His high priestly prayer, and when He commissioned Peter to feed His sheep. This prayer puts the people of God on the same Altar. It seals the saints that the Bride might follow the Bridegroom through death to the place He had prepared for her. As Christ to the Church, Paul’s sufferings purchased a bridal glory for the Ephesians.

Day 1 – Light – Genesis

For this reason
I bow my knees
before the Father,
{of our Lord Jesus Christ}
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth
is named,

The central line here is left out in many translations, but the structure requires it. So there.

Day 2 – Waters Divided – Exodus

that according to the riches of his glory
he may grant you
to be strengthened with power
through his Spirit
in your inner being,
so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith —

Day 3 – Land Raised, Preliminary Filling (proto-Communion)

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (Ark/Transcendence)
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints (Veil/Hierarchy)
what is the breadth and length and height and depth, (Altar)
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, (Table)
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Lampstand)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, (Incense)
according to the power at work within us, (Mediators)
to him be glory
in the church
and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen. (Succession)

Did you notice the “four corners of the cross” on the Altar? Amazing.

Now, if all of this is true, we should expect the next cycle to concern the New Covenant ethics, Testing, or what the work of the Spirit actually looks like in the Church.

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