Ephesians 2

Part 1 here.

Bible commentators will tell you that Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians contains great riches. Unfortunately, without any reference to its Mosaic literary structure, it comes across as a jumble of jewels in a treasure chest. However, analysis of the structure allows us to appreciate the fine networks and chains of thought in the literary architecture — and also the clever allusions contrasting old Israel with the New. It also demonstrates Jesus’ fulfillment of the Mosaic Law.

Creation – Call to Worship (Genesis – Abraham)

For this reason, [I also] (Initiation)
[having] heard of [the faith among you] (Hierarchy)
in the Lord Jesus (Sacrifice)
and your love toward all the saints, (Law Fulfilled)
do not cease to give thanks for you, (Praise)
remembering you (Mediation)
in my prayers, (Representation)

Division – The Veil Removed (Exodus – Moses)

that the God of [the Lord of us], Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, (Ark)
may give you a spirit of wisdom (Veil)
and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (Altar & Table)
having the eyes enlightened (T)
of your hearts, (H)
that you may know (E)
what is the hope (O)
to which he has called you, (S)
what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (Incense)
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power (Mediators)
toward us who believe, (Shekinah – Jews and Gentiles united at Booths)

The prefigurings of the Revelation continue. The first line itself is a five-fold (Covenant) description: God (T), Lord of us (H), Jesus (E), Father (O), glory (S). Being the second stanza, the theme is Passover and the veil. Here, the veil of Abrahamic darkness is removed. It may seem strange that “revelation” corresponds to the altar, but the word is “apocalypse.” It is a revealing, like circumcision. See Steven Opp’s very helpful observations in Circumcision and Apocalypse.) And then Christ Himself is the firstfruits lamb (Revelation 5). The Lampstand gets its own five-fold Covenant shape, just as the Lord did in line 1. How beautiful is that? Incense corresponds to the Bronze Altar, but as resurrection instead of revealing. The word “immeasurable” seems to conceal the typological correspondence at Conquest. Hyperballon literally means to over throw. Revelation speaks a great deal of “overcoming,” and from memory they seem to appear around step 6 in the pattern: Joshua/Atonement.

Ascension – First Holy Fruit from the Land (Leviticus – Aaron)

according (T) to the working (H) of the might (E) of the strength (O) of him, (S) (Day 1 – Initiation)
that he worked in Christ (Day 2 – Delegation)
when he raised him from the dead (Day 3 – Land raised)
and seated him at his right hand (Day 3 – Firstfruits)
in the heavenly places, (Day 4 – Governing stars)
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, (Day 5 – Jew and Gentile swarms)
and above every name that is named, (Day 6 – Animals and Man: naming)
not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Day 7 – Priesthood becomes kingdom)

Again, the first line is the entire stanza in “Covenantal” microcosm. The “mighty men” are at the centre. The allusions to Genesis 1 are beautiful, and similar to those found in Psalm 1 concerning the Blessed Man, who is Jesus. As Firstfruits, He fulfilled the Levitical Law. Now, just as Day 3 gets two lines above (Land and Fruits) for its “preliminary filling,” so Paul adds an extra cycle to express this promise (like the grape haul from the Land).

And he put all things (Sabbath)
under his feet (Passover)
and gave him as head (Firstfruits)
over all things (Pentecost)
to the church, which is his body, (Trumpets)
the fullness of him (Atonement)
who fills all in all. (Booths)

Well, that one leaves me breathless. I challenge anybody who has pooh-poohed this approach to tell me he says this is simply an imposition upon the text. I throw down the gauntlet!

Testing – Kings in the Wilderness (Numbers – Balaam)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
in which you once walked,
following the course of this world,
following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit (T – false god)
that is now at work (H – murder of the innocents)
in the sons of disobedience — (E – oral law)
among whom we all once lived (O – false confession)
in the passions of our flesh, (S – no future)
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath,
like the rest of mankind.

This cycle is the centre of the second cycle. It concerns a false Pentecost, the evil spirit from the Lord that filled the rulers of the Land after they rejected the son of David. It is Israel being deceived by the Balaamites, the mutilation. The prince of the power of the air is the accuser in heaven, who would soon be thrown down, crushed under foot and bound with a chain. So this stanza follows the festal pattern, but at every step, Israel according to the flesh is a feast for the birds and beasts, adulterers under the sword of Greater Phinehas. Their eyes of darkness are a different kind of Lampstand, the Oral Law, “an angel of light.” But it was actually a veil. Israel was blinded until the bridal “fullness” of the Gentiles came in. Then the Lampstand was taken away by Rome, and old Israel was no more.

Maturity – A New Israel from the Bones (Deuteronomy – The Bride)

But God, being rich in mercy, (Initiation)
because of the great love with which he loved us, (Delegation)
even when we were dead in our trespasses, (Elevation/Altar)
made us alive together with Christ— (Presentation/Table)
by grace you have been saved— (Purification)
and raised us up with him (Transformation)
and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Vindication)
so that in the coming ages
he might show
the immeasurable riches
of his grace
in kindness
toward us
in Christ Jesus. (Representation)

This time it is the last line which gets its own cycle. It’s really nice that this, being line 7, gets the future as its first line, the eighth day, at Sabbath. Our being dead in trespasses is sacrificial, yet we are alive in the holy Firstfruits presented in heaven. Grace in this second cycle appears at step 4 rather than step 5. It is in place of the Mosaic Law, the Ethics of the Covenant. Another interesting point is that, if we align this stanza with the entire book of Revelation, the enthronement of the Firstfruits Church appears at the same point as the enthronement in this cycle.

Conquest – Israel Prepared for Ministry (Joshua – The Inheritance)

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God,
not a result of works,
so that no one may boast.

Glorification – Israel Commissioned for Ministry (Judges – The Champions)

For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus
for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them.

These stanzas correspond to the Day of Atonement and Booths. They work separately, but also as a head (Israel purified) and a body (Israel ministering to the nations). Here, the “Israel” is Jesus, by His Spirit, in the multinational Church. So although each has a Covenant shape, there is a symmetry found in the bolded words. The works on the altar of man are rejected (boasting being a form of self-exaltation, in this stanza, appearing at Ascension). The purification at the centre, in the holy of holies, is God’s work. And the good works of Jesus complete the threefold expansion of the Covenant Ethics: Man’s works, God’s Work, Jesus’ works. Beautiful.

This brings us to the end of the second cycle, but not to the end of chapter two, so it would appear that Ephesians has seven major cycles — which should not be a surprise. The literary artistry is amazing. I do keep wondering whether Paul and his scribes were aware of this (as a literary convention) or it was simply the Spirit blowing through them as His instrument. I must remember to ask him.

The picture at top is, I think, intended to contrast Israel the warrior-priest with Paul the peacemaker. But we know that Paul’s sword was more terrifying than anything wielded by old Israel’s priesthood ever. AD70 is testimony to that.

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