In reflection on the many lectures and articles I have read and listened to in which N.T. Wright speaks about Paul talking about Jesus being the uniting factor between Gentile and Jew, and bringing them into unity with each other… Meaning that much of Paul’s writings revolve around Israel and that God has never gave up on Israel but has and is adding gentiles to the Chosen People and uniting them as one people in Christ.
I have read much and even taught that many of the passages I will refer to here soon, as being about a inner spiritual experience that unites us to God… which is true, yet even more it is about a much bigger picture in which Jesus is bringing into the family of Israel, adopted sons. In fact through Jesus, God is building a new temple and you as a believer are part of it.
In Eph 2: 17 - 22 we read:
"He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who
were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with
God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the
apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In
him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in
the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in
which God lives by his Spirit. "(NIV)
Now I cannot in a short post break down the whole thing that is going on in Ephesians, and I recognize this is but a mere brush over what is being taught here…
The “He” of course is Jesus, and the “you who were far away” is both those who were in sin, yet also I believe it is a reference to gentile believers. Paul is recognizing both the gentile who were far away, and the Jew who was near. Paul states also that it is through Jesus both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Paul uses the analogy that the gentiles are no longer foreigner and aliens… which is direct reference to the OT in which gentiles are referred to as just that. Paul states not only are the gentile and Jews now citizens together, but are as those who live in the same house! This is a great and wonderful house, as has Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone… that stone that holds all the rest in place and together, and then has a foundation that was the apostles and prophets… for with out Jesus the apostles and prophets would not have any meaning. This house again is not just about us, for this house has a purpose, and that is of God will live in by His Spirit.
Now we must take care of the context as that being the uniting of Gentile and Jew under one household and not go too far as Paul uses similar analogies in other places… in fact 1 Cor 3:11 tells us that instead of the apostles and prophets being the foundation, Jesus Himself is the foundation. Yet in that context Paul is making another point altogether.
Here the context is about unity within a local church in Corinth. Paul is confronting those who are lifting up certain men to show that they are more spiritual than the others… It is not too much unlike today with differing denominations as we tend to think ours is “the best” in town… and maybe it is, but the issue is more about pride. In saying, “I follow Apollos” or “I follow Paul” these people lost sight of who was really their salvation. Paul states, almost as it seems in frustration over this in one point by saying, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:13) It is from this we go to chapter 3:4 -17 and see that to stop the arguing Paul tells the people in Corinth:
“For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you
not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants,
through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task.
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he
who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things
The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each
will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers;
you are God's field, God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a
foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each
one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other
than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
If any man builds on this
foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will
be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be
revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If
what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he
will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the
flames. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's
Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for
God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple."
It seems that though the apostles and prophets are the foundation in one book, Jesus is in the book… in a way if read in the traditional manner, there is a contradiction of sorts. Yet, I do not believe so. I think Paul wrote here with the purpose to let others know that even though the Apostles have a work to do in the end they are only servants of God and in fact we are all, as Christians fellow workers who are building a building on which the foundation must be Jesus… and on that if we use material that is precious and costly… or wood, hay and stubble, that the work that will bring rewards after it is tested. If your works are burned away, you will suffer the loss, but if it survives under fire… you will have your reward. In that we must be careful of what we use to build on the foundation that is Jesus. I view the mortar that holds the precious and costly in place is Love. I also view that the works themselves are not of our own doing, but are in fact the works that Jesus does in and through us. If it is of us, it is then not of Heaven, but of the flesh. Yet if it is of Heaven it is of the Father, and done by the Spirit through Jesus in us.
One must be careful about this Chief Cornerstone as if it becomes a stumbling block, as Jesus teaches in Matt 21: 42 - 44:
“Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "`The stone the
builders rejected has become the capstone (cornerstone); the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?”Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God
will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He
who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will
Jesus gives the warning that one may stumble on this cornerstone and be broken to pieces… that to me would be the blessings of salvation. To be broken to the point of repentance… to bend the knee to Jesus and confess one’s need for Him in your life… to acknowledge Him and Lord and Savior. The other of whom the cornerstone falls on, seems to be reference to the serpent in Genesis in which God stated that he would strike the Seed’s heal, and the Seed would crush the serpents head. So also this cornerstone will crush those who attempt to take it down. The thing that I see many in ministry need beware is that if we do not see this cornerstone as a marvelous thing that He is, then we will not bear fruit. The worse of it will be that the Kingdom of God itself will not be given to those who do not marvel at Jesus… it will be taken away and given to someone who will bear fruit.
I see that this may be happening in many churches that have engrossed themselves in modernity… They are losing people in that they are not reaching out to the people of this generation with the Gospel, but with human logic and persuasive arguments. They replaced Love with reasoning… and have rationalized why some are not worthy of salvation while others are deemed elect.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
(I am not talking of the wicked desires of this world, “the cravings of sinful man, and the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does” as 1 John 2:16 describes. I am talking of the love of those who need to know Jesus so that they too can partake in salvation.)
This post is long enough and I am sure there is enough for someone to chew on for a bit.
"Carlos Shelton", Articles, be a blessing, Belief, Beloved, Beyond emerging church, Beyond emerging thought, Beyond propositional truth, Bible, Billings Mt, Billings Vineyard, Blessings, Brotherly Love, Christian, Christianity, Commentary, Conversation, Doctrine, Ekklesia, Emerging church, Emerging conversation, Emerging thought, Exchanged life, Follower of Christ, Generous Orthodoxy , Grace, Holy Spirit, iggy, iggynation, Imperial , In Christ, Incarnational living, Jesus, Life, Living , Living sacrifice, Love, Missional, On earth as it is in heaven, One, Redeemed, Rejoice, Salvation, Sound Doctrine, The Message, The Speaker, The Word, Theology, Truth, Truth Abides, Values, Word of Mouth Ministries