Before you begin reading Ephesians, I offer these words of reminder and instructions that should guide all our scripture reading.
First, we need to remember: The Bible is never just read. It must always be interpreted. Even those who claim to “take the Bible literally,” seldom do so with respect to its original languages or in consideration of its historical and cultural context. While they may believe they are taking the (English) words seriously and at face value, a more careful inspection often betrays their selectivity of elevating some passages of scripture above other passages of scripture. Much harm has been done with the Bible. Especially when it has been used to validate the imposed prejudice of one group, normally in the status quo, to condemn and oppress others less powerful than they are. Such abuse has caused many to give up on scriptural reading or to see little value in it at all.
Another way of scriptural reading is to acknowledge its original social context and notice the way it transcends its own time with a message of hope, challenge and new life. Once freed from the grip of literalism and selective interpretation, the Bible can become a dynamic and transforming text.
Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and directed by the priorities taught by Jesus in the Gospels, the reader of scripture is invited toward a faithful journey of growing in grace. An appropriate interpretation of scripture should lead us into a deeper experience of love for God, neighbor and self.
When the Bible confronts us, it does so for our benefit, so that we can become better, healthier and more fulfilled. But when the Biblical challenge of confrontation is used to judge our neighbors, the command to "love others just as God has loved us," gets twisted and confused.
When properly used, the Bible opens up our lives to God, to others and to our world. During this month, we are encouraging your reading of Ephesians. You may find it best to read each chapter separately with pauses between each chapter. Please read at a prayerful and patient pace. As you do you may want to keep these questions before you for further reflection, study and discussion.
1.) What one image or impression captured my imagination in this reading?
2.) Does this passage appear to me to be timely or timeless (in other words, does it seem more bound to its own day of the 1st Century or is there a message for today’s times as well)?
3.) What are the key points this passage is trying to make?
4.) How does this passage honor the life and teachings of Jesus?
5.) Is there something in my life I should change or consider changing to grow deeper in faith?
6.) Are there certain words, concepts or ideas in this passage that require further study and understanding?
7.) How can this passage inspire me toward a deeper love for God? - for others? - and for myself?
As a Baptist church affirming the liberty of conscience, we recognize each individual's right to his or her own opinion and welcome your comments, positive or negative. We strive for communication that invites a respectful and personal exchange of opinions and thoughts. This is often not possible through running dialogues in our comment section. To respect the dignity of all persons, we may delete comments that contain profanity, hate speech, or threatening language.
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