How does this happen?
At the end of Ephesians 5, Paul wonderfully announces, “So now you understand this!” – or “ABC.”
But most people get to that same point in his writing and say, “Aha! So Paul just said this other thing.” – or “XYZ.”
They totally miss his point and go off teaching and applying something else that he didn’t say!
I used to get it wrong too. Maybe you have?
It is time to Think Again about the Bible, especially in Ephesians 5:15-6:9 where Paul teaches us the revelation about Christ and the church about His. Body. of. Believers.
Here is an excerpt from my book Women and Men in the Light of Eden. It gives you a taste of what this passage is all about. Enjoy!
In Ephesians 5:15-6:9, Paul wrote about a mystery, which was something previously hidden but now revealed. This mystery he called a great mystery. What was it? What made it great?
It was something so new there were no words available to Paul that could fully describe it! To explain this Great Mystery, Paul took old words and gave them new meanings. At the same time, he used word patterns in such a way that they reinforced the new word meanings.
This made the Great Mystery stand out in his letter to the Ephesians. This can be illustrated by the following imaginary scene:
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was unrolled. It was more than two thousand words long. More than three fourths of the way down the scroll, thirty words stood out in red. Everyone noticed them. Everyone focused on them. Obviously, they were of great importance. These words were the ones that would be the most important to learn and to apply!
When Paul wrote “this is a great mystery” it was as if he had turned red the thirty words in Ephesians 5:31-32. In verse 31, Paul quoted the important verse, Genesis 2:24. That verse revealed the special one-flesh relationship the first husband and wife shared from Day 6 of Creation in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:25, the man and woman were not ashamed in the presence of one another nor in the presence of God. They were united in a one-flesh relationship and walked with God in the Garden.
In Ephesians 5:32, Paul explained that believers were joined together in a greater relationship. Believers were joined together a one-flesh kind of unity! And, together, they were joined with Christ in that same one-flesh unity:
‘… the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a Great Mystery; I am speaking about
Christ and believers together.
Did you think Paul was writing about marriage? So did I, early on, until I read his words more closely. He is not teaching primarily about marriage. He is teaching primarily about the body of Christ and how, joined to Jesus, it all functions as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit!
We miss his point because he was using Old Testament word patterns to present his ideas – word patterns that he borrowed from Genesis. We miss his point because in English we miss these word patterns. I began to understand this when my wife did her doctorate on Genesis 2-3 and the patterns she found there began to become clear to me.
Watch the free Think Again Workshop on Ephesians 5-6.
Watch the other free Workshops and Think Again about all the passages that build upon a correct interpretation of Genesis 3:16.
Here’s my book: Women and Men in the Light of Eden by Bruce C. E. Fleming.
Here’s my wife’s book summarizing her discoveries in Genesis 2-3 (and especially Genesis 3:16), Man and Woman in Biblical Unity by Dr. Joy Fleming.
(cc) Bruce C. E. Fleming, 2020