Ephesians 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

It’s been a while since I blogged due to some pesky Russian hackers.

Well, it looks possible at this point that Ephesians actually has eight cycles, just as many of its “sevenfold” stanzas have eight lines. This is because step three reflects the Altar and the Table, the Land and the fruits of Day 3 (the first half of the cycle has a preliminary “filling”).

This means that the previous cycle, which spoke of the gifts to the Church, concerned the initial outpouring of the Spirit by Christ at His ascension. If that was the “three-and-a-half,” this next cycle must then be the Day 4, the governing lights, which seems to be the case as it begins with a reference to enlightenment, and proceeds to comment on what this looks like in the saints. If this is indeed the structure here, what follows below is the “Ethics opened” section of the epistle. The new Israel will not be given to harlotry in the wilderness, as the old one was.

Creation – Light (Genesis – The Fall)

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, (Creation)
that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, (Division)
in the futility of their minds. (Ascension)
They are darkened in their understanding, (Testing)
alienated from the life of God (Maturity)
[on account of] the ignorance that is in them (Conquest)
[on account of] their hardness of heart. (Glorification)

This sounds a lot like Romans 1:18-23, doesn’t it? which subtly refers to Adam and Eve. Besides that, the architecture here is fascinating. The Ark of Testimony here is Paul’s testimony. The “circumcision/exodus,” the man leaving so he might cleave to God, is not a physical Exodus into a physical wilderness (which Doug Wilson doesn’t really get) but a way of living. The futile mind comes at Ascension, which is where the Law is given, where the blameless one opens the mystery (Joseph, Daniel, and also Haman, but ironically). The darkness at the centre is the darkness of a sky without stars, a Temple without the Lampstand. Line 5 concerns resurrection, and this connection of old Israel to the life of God was why she kept coming back from the dead while all the other nations passed away. The last two lines are a veil that remains closed (un-Atonement) and a blindness that is a failure of righteous judgment.

Division – Veil (Exodus – City of Destruction)

Who (Initiation – sacrifice chosen)
have become callous (Delegation – sacrifice cut)
and have given themselves up (Elevation – placed on altar)
to sensuality, (Presentation – sacrifice awaits)
[for the working of uncleanness (Purification - holy fire)
with lust for more. (Transformation - holy "bridal" smoke)
But you, however (Vindication - God's acceptance)
have not thus learned Christ!] (Representation – God’s people)

As the first stanza begins with the source of morality, the second deals with its “hierarchical” outflow: cultus becomes culture (atheists take note). The callousness, or numbness, of line two, must have to do with the flesh. These people will not be cut, they will not repent, they will not mourn for either their sin before God or its consequences in society.

As the first stanza was architectural, so this one is sacrificial. At the Bronze Altar we have them “giving themselves up,” but not to God. Men were not permitted to “walk up” onto God’s Altar. The priests of Baal cut themselves and threw themselves onto their god’s altar on Carmel. Interestingly, those who could not feel in line two actually give themselves to a perverse kind of feeling, to sensuality, which appears where the “blameless” one is presented, the Table. The word means “violent spite which rejects restraint and indulges in lawless insolence.” So it is a parody of the receiving of the Law in Exodus, and the opening of the Covenant scroll in Revelation. Hearts of stone lead to life lived according to the flesh.

The ESV swaps lines 4 and 5. In the Greek, 4 is a reversal of the Covenant Ethics, and 5 literally means “lust for numerically more” which is the multiplication that comes once the law is obeyed (plunder) or disobeyed (plagues). The word “learned” in line 6/7 has to do with discipleship, which again refers to “delegation.”

I hope you appreciate the literary skill demonstrated here! Perhaps I am mad, but it is becoming clear to me that attempting to understand the Bible without reference to Covenant-literary structure is willful ignorance!

Ascension – Altar & Table (Leviticus – Priestly Sons)

assuming that you have heard about him
and were taught in him,
as the truth is in Jesus,
to put off your old self, (Bronze Altar)
which belongs (Creation)
to your former manner of life (Division)
and is corrupt (Ascension – Death)
through deceitful desires, (Testing)
and to be renewed (Maturity – Resurrection)
in the spirit [of the mind (Conquest)
of you], (Glorification)
and to put on the new self, (Golden Altar)
created after the likeness of God
in true righteousness and holiness.

This stanza is truly beautiful. It works through the Covenant structure, but the “Ethics opened” line at the centre is truly opened into its own sevenfold cycle, each line of which refers to the pattern in an ethical way. The central pattern is thus a microcosm of the entire stanza: “put off your old self” aligns with the “corrupt” life put on the Bronze Altar outside the tent, and the “renewed” body aligns with the “put on the new self” at the Golden Altar inside the tent.

Then we have “created in the likeness of God” in the Day 6 spot, and “true righteousness and holiness” as God’s rest on Day 7, the “tent” into which Adam and Eve failed to enter.

Testing – Lampstand (Numbers – Harlotry – False Kingdom)

Therefore, having put away falsehood,
let each one of you
speak the truth with his neighbor,
for we are members one of another.
Be angry and do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and give no [place, seat] to the devil.

We are into the “wilderness,” and since this is actually the Day 4 cycle, this is the stanza that must be at the centre of the epistle. This also explains the reference to the sun, and also the “throne” of Satan at God’s table, the seat of judgment usurped from Adam. Again, there is the reference to unity by the Spirit at the centre. The anger here seems to be a reference to legal witness (because this is where the law is repeated by the people, which aligns it to the structure of the Ten Words). It seems that lines 2 and 3 together are a fivefold pattern, and lines 6 and 7 are another fivefold pattern. If this is so, what is at the very centre of Ephesians is a reworking of the Law of Moses. At the centre of the Ten Words is murder and adultery, or “strange knife and strange fire,” which together are the sacrificial replication of the angelic sword of Eden. This would explain the mention of “members” here. The Church is the sacrificed (murdered) Body reunited by fire that is holy — Christ’s desire for His bride. (This is what “cross-eyed exegesis” reveals, comparing similar structures to each other.)

Maturity – Incense Altar (Deuteronomy – Legal Witness)

Let the thief no longer steal, (Ark – Command)
but rather let him labor, (Veil – Delegation)
doing honest work with his own hands, (Altar – Law-keeping)
so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Table)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, (Lamps – Light)
but only such as is good for building up, (Incense – Bridal Body)
as fits the occasion, (Mediators – Communion)
that it may give grace to those who hear. (Shekinah – Commission)

Here, in stanza 5, we have references to “do not steal” and “do not bear false witness,” the plunder and plagues of Israel as a holy cloud, the teeming, swarming, united body gathered at the Feast of Trumpets.

Conquest – Mediators (Joshua – Sin Removed)
Based upon what comes up down the track, Conquest seems to have three stanzas, which usually refers to the three levels of the Tabernacle, or the original world. This step concerns the Day of Atonement, so, architecturally speaking, Paul is cleansing the Sanctuary, the Holy Place, and the Gentile Courts.

G A R D E N

And do not grieve
the Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed
for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness
and wrath
and anger
and clamor
and slander
be put away from you,
along with all malice.

Once again, the focus is on the words of the mouth, and line 5 is expanded into a fivefold pattern, presumably a reference to the Covenant, which is unsealed at line 3 that the saints might be sealed (a structural reference to the Revelation once again). The saints are sealed as miniature scrolls that they might be unsealed once they reach their destinations, and the words that come out must be the words of Jesus. In Revelation, this secondary scroll is the “little book” given to John, who speaks, trumpets, seven thunders against Herodian whoreship, er, worship.

I love how “be put away from you” appears at line 6, referring to the goat expelled into the wilderness. As some readers would know, the Last Supper follows this pattern, and it is Judas who is expelled at this point.

If this first of three stanzas alludes to the Garden, it begins with grieving God and ends with hatred, which takes us to the Land.

Glorification – Shekinah (Judges – The Marriage Feast)

L A N D

Be moreover
to one another
kind,
tenderhearted,
forgiving
[each other],
as God in Christ forgave you.

This stanza is the Cain and Abel sin. In the Greek, the “circumcision” line 2 is “one another,” and line 6 is “each other,” which alludes to the difference between the Old Covenant sign and New Covenant baptism. Circumcision was about Israel as one flesh. Baptism requires a profession from every individual member, united not by flesh but by one Spirit.

W O R L D

Therefore | be imitators | of God, | as children | beloved. (Genesis)
And walk in love, as Christ loved us (Exodus)
and gave himself up for us, (Leviticus)
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Numbers)
But sexual immorality (T)
and all impurity (H)
or covetousness (E)
must not even be named (O)
among you, (S)
as is proper among saints. (Deuteronomy)
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking,
which are out of place, (Joshua)
but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Judges)

Here, the Ethics is expanded into a “negative” witness. The sin condemned is the combination of harlotry and covetousness by the sons of Seth in Genesis 6, a compromise of the Covenant which was condemned by Jesus as the sin of the Herods (marrying and giving in marriage).

Notice the use of “named” at Sanctions, which ties the Covenant oath to the naming by Adam. Then we see this same Oath at the “Joshua” step, which is the Sanctions of the complete stanza. Jesus has only words of blessing for us now, so we must only have words of blessing for each other.

Glorification – Shekinah (Covenant Succession)

For [this indeed you know,
and ascertain
that any fornicator
or unclean person,
or covetous
who is an idolater]
has no inheritance
in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Following the Covenant pattern, the final stanza deals with inheritance. It amazes me how those bright scholars can insist that the Bible’s Covenant pattern was copied from other Ancient Near Eastern civilizations, when this structure is what holds the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation.

Finally, you might notice that “covetousness” is right bang smack in the ethical middle of both of these final cycles, which indicates to me that Paul indeed had the Ten Words in mind here: coveting the house itself (Adam) and coveting the contents (Eve and her children) which is always a satanic attempt to hijack the future.

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