Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Year B, Proper 13 New Testament Reading

Ephesians 4:17-25

Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another

NRSV Copyright Statement
Reflection on Ephesians 4:17-25 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Ephesians is the epistle for Propers 10-17. The cosmic context of the Christian life is a main theme of Ephesians, so our reading of 4:17-25 does well to keep in mind the long sentence with which the letter begins (1:1-14, and even longer in Greek), and which we explored in Proper 10.

The “new self” is available to those whom God chose “before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” The “new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” is part of “a plan for the fullness of time.” This new self regains “all sensitivity,” is no longer “alienated from the life of God,” finds enlightened “understanding,” and experiences “hearts” that are softened, as all characteristics of “the old self” are reversed. The unity of the Church (4:1-16) depends on the emergence of this new self within each of us, “for we are members of one another” (4:25). The Church, in turn, “is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:22). The unity of the cosmic totality and the new self are thereby bound together. “No man is an island” not only from other people, but also from other creatures, and from the creation entire.

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Psalm 78:1-25 or 78:14-20, 23-25
New Testament Ephesians 4:17-25
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Gospel John 6:24-35

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologan, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2003. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

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