Reflecting on Ephesians for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From Ephesians by Peter S. Williamson, commenting on Ephesians 4:1:

In Greek, the first word of the second half of this letter is parakaleō, meaning “I exhort.” Although chapters 4–6 contain teaching, their primary character is exhortation, an appeal to the will. Paul begins his summons to Christian conduct by reminding his readers that he is a prisoner for the Lord and appeals to them on that basis. The Greek literally says “a prisoner in the Lord” (JB, NJB, NRSV), a slightly different wording than 3:1 that emphasizes Paul’s union with Jesus in his imprisonment. He exhorts his readers to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received. The word translated “to live” (peripateō) means “to walk.” In the Old Testament, the way a person “walks” refers to that person’s path in life, whether good or evil. The fact that Paul uses peripateō four more times in the next chapter and a half (4:17; 5:2, 8, 15) shows his attention to ethical behavior in this section.

In ordinary Greek the word translated “call” means “invitation.” As in the Gospel story of the man who invited his neighbors to a banquet (Luke 14:16–24), so Christians have received an invitation to a celebration of the good things that God has for us. If you were invited to a banquet of the world’s most famous and important people, you would think carefully about what to wear and how to comport yourself. Paul is saying that since his readers have been invited into a relationship with God and his holy people that begins now (2:19–22) and culminates in the age to come (2:7; 3:14–21), they should adopt a pattern of conduct that corresponds to such an exquisite invitation.

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