Ephesians, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. From: Sha’ul, by God’s will an emissary of the Messiah Yeshua
To: God’s people living in Ephesus, that is, those who are trusting in the Messiah Yeshua:
Rabbi Sha'ul from Tarsus is Paul (Ac 13:9&N). Emissary, Greek apostolos, '"someone sent," usually rendered "apostle" (Mt 10:2N). To God's people, literally, "to the holy ones," sometimes rendered, "to the saints." Some manuscripts lack "in Ephesus."
2. Grace to you and shalom from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Shalom. See Mt 10:12N.
3. Praised be Adonai, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who in the Messiah has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven.
Adonai. The Greek word "theos," which means "God," is used here for God's personal name, Hebrew yud-heh-vav-heh, written "YHVH" "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" in English and spoken aloud as "Adonai" (see Mt 1:20N). In the Septuagint "YHVH" is rendered by "theos" more than 250 times.
4. In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence.
He chose us... before the creation of the universe. On predestination versus free will see Ro 9:19-21&N,Pp 2:12-13&N
5. He determined in advance that through Yeshua the Messiah we would be his sons — in keeping with his pleasure and purpose —
We would be his sons. Compare Ro 8:15, 29; Ga 4:5.
6. so that we would bring him praise commensurate with the glory of the grace he gave us through the Beloved One.
Grace, Greek charis (which gives us the English words "charity" and "charismatic"), corresponds usually to the Tanakh's Hebrew word "chen" ("favor, grace") and occasionally to "chesed" ("loving-kindness").
7. In union with him, through the shedding of his blood, we are set free — our sins are forgiven; this accords with the wealth of the grace
Through the shedding of his blood, we are set free. One of the Hebrew word! corresponding to Greek lutrdsis ("redemption, ransom") is "padut," of which anothei form is "pidyon" (as in "pidyon-haben" redemption of the [firstborn | son, referred to a Lk 2:22-24&N). Moshe Ben-Maeir (1904-1978), a pioneer Israeli Messianic Jew explained the connection between ransom and blood in a short commentary on Ephesians
"Pidyon has in it the idea of exchange, of substitution. In the Torah the Law of Ransom is stated at Exodus 13:13,34:20. Every firstborn male and donkey must be ransomed. In Numbers 3, 22,000 Levites became substitutes for 22,000 of Israel's firstborn males, and ihe remaining 273, for whom there were no Levites, were ransomed by 1,365 shekels. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan came under sentence of death for transgressing a public oath his father made in his absence. Yet although King Saul condemned him to die, the sentence was not carried out, because the people objected. But law is law, not to be ignored. So they ransomed him, and thus legally prevented his being put to death.
"We too, like Jonathan, have come under the sentence of death. Jonathan was condemned to death even though he had been unaware of King Saul's oath and order. We are condemned to death, even though we have not sinned after the manner of the first Adam (see Romans 5:12-14). Like Jonathan, we must either die or be ransomed. Jonathan and the Israel firstborn were ransomed with money. Money equals blood. One of Ihe names for money in Hebrew is damim, plural of dam, blood, because it represents man's labor and risks. It is a Mishnaic term.
"But money cannot redeem from eternal death. Man has nothing with which to ransom himself or others (Psalm 49:8-9(7-8)); God himself must redeem him from the power of the grave (Psalm 49:16( 15)). But of God it is written, '1 have found a ransom' (Job 33:24): and that ransom is the blood of the Messiah." (Adapted from Moshe Ben-Maeir, How A Jew Explains Ephesians, Netivyah. P.O. Box 8043, Jerusalem 91080,1978, pp. 23-25)
8. he has lavished on us. In all his wisdom and insight
9. he has made known to us his secret plan, which by his own will he designed beforehand in connection with the Messiah
He has made known to us his secret plan (see 3:3-9). Greek mustirion gives us the English word "mystery" but means "something previously concealed but now revealed." Hence the emphasis on God's foreordained purpose (vv. 4-5, this verse, v. 11, and 3:9,11). Also see Ro 11:25N.
10. and will put into effect when the time is ripe — his plan to place everything in heaven and on earth under the Messiah’s headship.
11. Also in union with him we were given an inheritance, we who were picked in advance according to the purpose of the One who effects everything in keeping with the decision of his will,
12. so that we who earlier had put our hope in the Messiah would bring him praise commensurate with his glory.
13. Furthermore, you who heard the message of the truth, the Good News offering you deliverance, and put your trust in the Messiah were sealed by him with the promised Ruach HaKodesh,
14. who guarantees our inheritance until we come into possession of it and thus bring him praise commensurate with his glory.
These four paragraphs form a single sentence in the Greek text and are so rendered in KJV. Their form is that of a Jewish b'rakhah (benediction; for more see 2C 1:3-7&N, 1 Ke 1:3-4&N). This is signalled by the first words, Praised be Adonai, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, which echoes the initial phrases of the 'Amidah, the central prayer of the synagogue liturgy, recited three times daily — Barukh attah, Adonai, Eloheynu v'Elohey-avoteynu, Elohey-Avraham, Elohey-Yitzchak, v'Elohey-Ya'akov... ("Praised be you, Adonai, our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob..."). Other expressions are also reminiscent of the synagogue prayers. Two examples: he chose us in love (v. 4), which resembles the close of the Ahavah benediction immediately preceding the recital of the Sh 'nut, "Praised be you, Adonai, who has chosen your people Israel in love"; and, In all his wisdom and insight he has made known to us (vv. 8-9), which recalls the fourth blessing of the 'Amidah:
"You favor humanity with knowledge and teach people understanding. Favor us with knowledge, understanding and insight from yourself. Praised be you. Adonai, gracious Giver of knowledge."
Moreover, the refrain in v. 6, and would be worthy of praise commensurate with the glory of the grace he gave us (literally, "unto praise of glory of the grace of him, which he graced us"), and its condensations in vv. 12 and 14, dividing the passage into three periods, function like the words, Barukh attah, Adonai, which close each of the nineteen b'rukhotM of the 'Amidah.
11-14 We Jews (vv. 11-12) are contrasted with you Gentiles (vv. 13-14). See 2:3N.
An inheritance (vv. 11, 14, 18; 5:5). Moshe Ben-Maeir called attention to an uncommon Hebrew word for the important concept of inheritance, "morashah" in the two places where it appears in the Tanakh: Deuteronomy 33:4, "Moshe commanded us a Torah, the inheritance of the congregation of Israel"; and Exodus 6:8, "I will bring you into the Land, which 1 swore to give to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, and I will give it to you as an inheritance; I am Adonai." He wrote,
"We Messianic Jews hold on to the morashah and have cast away neither the Torah nor our rights to Eretz-lsrael [the Land of Israel]. We remain part and parcel of the chosen people." (How A Jew Explains Ephesians, pp. 31-33)
Verse 11 is speaking of Jews, whose inheritance is both spiritual (Torah) and physical (the Land). The Torah leads directly to Yeshua (Ro 10:4&N), through whom Gentiles share in the spiritual inheritance (vv. 13-14). Also through Yeshua the Jewish people receive the Land in perpetuity (2C 1:20&N).
15. For this reason, ever since I heard about your trust in the Lord Yeshua and your love for all God’s people,
16. I have not stopped giving thanks for you. In my prayers I keep asking
17. the God of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you will have full knowledge of him.
The God of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah is the glorious Father, not Yeshua himself. Sha'ul distinguishes God from Yeshua without contradicting his view that in Yeshua, "bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is" (Co 2:9&N).
18. I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people,
19. and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him. It works with the same mighty strength he used
20. when he worked in the Messiah to raise him from the dead and seat him at his right hand in heaven,
21. far above every ruler, authority, power, dominion or any other name that can be named either in the ‘olam hazeh or in the ‘olam haba.
22. Also, he has put all things under his feet (Psalm 8:7(6)) and made him head over everything for the Messianic Community,
23. which is his body, the full expression of him who fills all creation. These verses introduce the theme of spiritual warfare, which returns at 2:2,3:9-10 and 4:26-27 and is developed most fully at 6:10-18. Verse 20 alludes to Psalm 110:1, cited frequently in the New Testament (see Mt 22:44N):
"Adonai said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand. Until I make your enemies your footstool.'"
Verse 22 pivots on the last phrase to quote "put all things under his feet" from Psalm 8 (see MJ 2:6-10&NN for an application of Psalm 8 to Yeshua). The somatic imagery continues, with Yeshua himself the head (v. 22; compare v. 10, 1С 11:3) and the Messianic Community his body (as at 2:16; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:30; Ro 12:5; 1С 10:17; Co 1:24, 2:19; the comparison is detailed at 1С 6:15-17, 12:11-27). In Ephesians the Messianic Community (Greek ekklesia, usually rendered "church"; see Mt 16:18N) is also called a building (2:20-22, 1С 3:16-17) and compared with a wife (5:25-33, Rv 19:7-9).
The full expression of him who fills all creation, literally, "the fullness (Greek plirdma) of him (God) who fills all things with everything." "Pleroma" was a technical term used by Gnostics to refer to the totality of angels or "aeons" that supposedly mediated between God and humanity. Gnosticism itself was a philosophically oriented system of self-perfection through knowledge which offered a cheap substitute for both Judaism and Christianity — cheap in that, like many New Age and other modern variants, it skirted and minimized the issue of sin.
In Ephesians and Colossians Sha'ul counters the Gnostic heresy by co-opting its jargon to express biblical truth. We learn in these letters that Sha'ul prays for the believers in Ephesus to be "filled with all the pleroma of God" (3:19); that "it pleased God to have hispleroma live in his Son" (Co 1:19&N); that "in him [the Messiah], bodily, lives the pleroma of all that God is" (Co 2:9); and that believers, corporately as the Messianic Community, constitute the Messiah's body and thus the pleroma of him who fills all creation (this verse) — but unlike the Gnostics, Sha'ul discusses sin in the very next sentence. Therefore the aim of believers should be to "arrive... at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah's pleroma" (4:13). Sha'ul takes the wind out of Gnosticism's sails by proclaiming that its aim of attaining the pleroma cannot be reached by its means, but only by biblical means, only by joining the Body of the Messiah through trusting in and being faithful to Yeshua.
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- chapter 4
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- chapter 6