Home > Uncategorized > The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 10 of 155)

The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 10 of 155)

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ephesians 1.12: …so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

Yesterday’s verse was about our inheritance in Christ, how we have been destined for the kingdom of God. I interpreted this as a future claim, though some comments have caused me to begin to doubt this. Perhaps our inheritance is also to be considered as something already received. In any case, this verse tells us one of the purposes of this inheritance: that those who were the first to set their hope on Christ might live for the praise of his glory.

Looking ahead to the next verse, there is a shift in subject (Paul says “you also…”), which seems to indicate that the “we” in this verse is referring to some special subset of people. I think that Paul is distinguishing between the first disciples of Christ (apostles and others), who preached the good news and established churches, and those who have come to believe through them–the “we” is “the first to set our hope on Christ.”  I do not see, however, this distinguishing as creating any sort lack in the blessings that have been promised to the latter. Perhaps only that there is a special joy for those who first came to know the mystery of God’s plan, as we have talked about before.

For such people, then, the initial joy of discovering God’s wonderful plan in Christ–the forgiveness of sins, the new life, and the redemption of the world–grows into the desire to live in order to proclaim, in word and deed, the wonderful glory of God in this plan, and so participate in the plan.

But is this something that was only meant for the first believers? I don’t think so. Rather, I think we see here what is a repeating, blossoming process in Christianity, where people hear the good news of God’s Son from others, and then come to believe themselves, then begin to be restored, and eventually become those who bring the good news to others, through the praise of God’s glory that comes from the hope they have that grew out of their faith. And so the mustard seed of the gospel grows in the world.

How do we live to praise the glory of God? Obviously this is a big question. Ideally, we do so in every aspect of our lives. But I think it is important not to make this artificial, as I have done so many times in my attempts to be holy. I heard a preacher say once something to the effect of “even when I drink orange juice, I should do so to the glory of God.” I feel like, while it is possible to drink orange juice to the glory of God, if one tries to drink orange juice to the glory of God, he is inevitably going to fail. Rather, I tend to think that this should be spontaneous, and flow from a genuine awareness and appreciation of God in all things, including simple pleasures like orange juice.

Though I am conflicted now, because there is something to be said of doing something that seems artificial until it becomes natural. I may pray a prayer of thanks for my food each meal, which I don’t really believe in my heart comes from the Almighty, but if I keep doing this, and have real faith in general as I do it, eventually God will help me to pray that prayer sincerely. I have come to think, recently, that I can sometimes turn sincerity itself into an idol, obsessing over only doing something if I mean it; really this should not be the criterion for what I do or don’t do.

Tomorrow’s verse:

1.13: In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. September 26, 2010 at 12:51 pm

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