A Retake On Ephesians 2:1-10
Looking at this coming Sunday's epistle I think I see more support for my idea that there is a liturgical and sacramental foundation in all of Paul's epistles. That they are not simply letters. Prose. Even prose with a purpose. But that they were read on Sundays in the assembly of the baptized, and at certain points he either accesses liturgy with which the given church was familiar, or supplies it for them. (I think the former.)
A further wrinkle in Ephesians is that, to me, it reads more as a baptismal address and liturgy, than an epistle addressing certain problems, as others do (e.g. Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians). It reads much like 1 Peter, which I also think was a baptismal liturgy and address. One that held sway over a huge area (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia) perhaps for the first 100 years or so of Christian history. I think the same of Ephesians. Try reading it as a baptismal address and liturgy, and see if it doesn't make perfect sense. And when you're done, try the same with Colossians, of which I also suspect the same.
In keeping with such experimental thoughts I have divided Ephesians 2:1-10 into versicles and responses, as was done for centuries before hand (see the Psalms), and ever since, up to our present day. Such a format is a tried, true and trustworthy method by which God's people can interact with the Divine Word.
I point out as of special note that "the gift of God" in verse 9 is baptism; (even as it is in Romans 6:23). I don't have the references at my fingertips, but in early church argot, baptism was called (among other names) "the gift of God". (I can find the references if anyone wants them.)
Thus, faith is not a mental exercise (as so many LCMS members think), but it is to receive Christian instruction, be baptized, and live the baptismal and Eucharistic life.
My proposed arrangement is arbitrary, you may come up with a better one. But I think we need to learn how to hear and understand St. Paul. His epistles are not the encyclopedia of dogmatic proof texts that we have been led to believe. But liturgical Scripture to be used in the church, by the church and for the church.
V: As for you, you were dead in the trespasses and the sins in which you once walked,
R: In full accord with the course of this world,
V: In full accord with the Prince of the Power of the Air,
R: The spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
V: In which manner we all, at one time, conducted ourselves:
R: In the lusts of our flesh; carrying out the desires of the flesh, and the thoughts of our minds,
ALL: And we were children of wrath by nature, even as the rest of mankind.
V: But God, being rich in mercy,
R: through his great love with which he loved us,
V: Even when we were dead in transgressions,
R: made us alive with Christ
ALL: By grace are you saved.
V: And resurrected us, and seated us in the heavens, in Christ Jesus.
R: So that he might show, in the coming ages, the surpassing riches of his grace, in kindness to us, in Christ Jesus.
ALL: For by grace are you saved, through faith;
V: And this is the gift of God, not of yourselves,
R: not as the result of works, so that no one might boast.
ALL: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
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