Reflecting on Ephesians for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From Ephesians by Peter S. Williamson, reflecting on Ephesians 4:30-5:2:

It is striking how much of Paul’s practical instruction about our conduct is based on what God has done for us in Christ rather than on divine commands or ethical reasoning (as in ancient or modern moral philosophy). How we are to live derives from the fact that through faith and baptism we have acquired a “new self ” that has been “created” (v. 24) to be like God, which unites us to Christ and to the other members of Christ’s body.

More than that, this “new self ” exists in a personal relationship with the three persons of the Trinity in a manner that profoundly shapes our actions. We try not to grieve the indwelling Holy Spirit by our words or deeds, not wanting to sadden the Spirit, whose nature is joy. Rather than lose ourselves in destructive anger, as beloved children we aim to imitate the Father’s love and forgiveness toward those who wrong us. That is what the one whom Christians can call “Abba” does (Matt 5:43–48; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). Finally, we seek to follow our Messiah Jesus in a way of life marked by self-sacrificing love: “The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).

© 2009 Peter S. Williamson and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


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