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The family of God in Ephesians

Posted by on Sep 20, 2012 in community, scripture | 3 comments

The family of God in Ephesians

In my previous post on Ephesians 1:3-14 (“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…“), I examined the structure of that long sentence and concluded that the spiritual blessings that Paul discusses are based on the fact that God has chosen us for adoption as his children. Because we are adopted by God in Jesus Christ, 1) we have redemption through his blood, 2) we have received an inheritance, and 3) we were sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Within that long sentence (Ephesians 1:3-14), Paul uses several terms to refer to our relationship as children of God: “adoption as sons,” “inheritance” (twice), and perhaps “guarantee.” But, these are not the only references in the Book of Ephesians as our status as children in God’s family.

For example, consider these passages:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… (Ephesians 2:19 ESV)

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6 ESV)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family [the whole family] in heaven and on earth is named… (Ephesians 3:14-15 ESV)

…one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6 ESV)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1 ESV)

There are other passages in Ephesians that I could point out, such as other places where Paul refers to God as Father or when he refers to others as “brothers” or “sisters.” But, even from the passages above, it is clear that our relationship with God with him as father and with us as his children is very important to Paul and important to the point(s) that he wants to make in this letter.

I think it’s important for us to realize how fundamental this is to Paul (and, I would suggest, for the other authors of the New Testament as well). Of course, this idea didn’t originate with Paul or with Peter or with James or with any of the the other early followers of Jesus.

No, the importance of recognizing one another as God’s family originated with Jesus himself. Here is just one passage in which Jesus explains this to his followers:

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50 ESV)

Perhaps one of the most amazing (to me) passages related to our relationship with God as his children is found in the book of Hebrews:

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he [Jesus] is not ashamed to call them brothers… (Hebrews 2:11 ESV)

God deals with us as his children, and he expects us to interact with one another as brothers and sisters. This relationship was foundational for Paul, and if we live with one another recognizing God as our common Father and recognizing all in his family as our brothers and sisters, it would change the way we interact with one another.


3 Comments

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  1. 9-20-2012

    Great point, Alan.

    We tend to give more grace and forgiveness to “blood” family members than to others, but on the other hand, feel free to argue with them more (and love them anyway). Family is an odd mix of relationships, but we stick with each other anyway. It would be great if the family of God could function similarly.

  2. 9-20-2012

    Unfortunately, we treat each other as acquaintances rather than as brothers and sisters.

  3. 9-21-2012

    Jeremy,

    Yeah, that’s very true. Interestingly, even when we have a “dysfunctional family,” we recognize that we are not living as families are designed to live. But, we don’t mind dysfunctional relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ as much. It almost seems natural.

    Fred,

    Yes, yes we do. I’ve learned that it takes time to help people (including myself) work through that tendency. Some are so uncomfortable opening their lives to others that they never do.

    -Alan