Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Year B, Proper 13
New Testament Reading
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
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.
To Reflections on other Readings for this
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
Gibbs or any MEESC
member, or mail them to:
Holy Trinity Church
Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA
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