Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Year B, Proper 14 New Testament Reading

Ephesians 4: (25-29) 30 - 5:2

[Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Reflection on Ephesians 4: (25-29) 30 - 5:2 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

The “new self, created according to the likeness of God” (4:24) is described more fully in this section of the letter. The new self does and speaks “only what is useful for building up” the community. “New” people “live in love” and thereby “imitate God.” The new self has “neighbors” to whom it “speaks the truth.” The words of people who have been renewed in the spirit of their minds (4:23) “give grace to those who hear” (4:29).

Clearly the substance or essence of the new self is not turned inward, for everything that is said about the new self refers to the relationships that bespeak who that person is. The new self is one person among others, a self in and for community. Those who imitate God are self-giving (5:2). They forgive one another “as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

People who are shaped in the likeness of God the Creator pose no threat and bring no danger to the creation as a whole. People who have learned to live in solidarity with fellow humans have learned also to live in solidarity with the creation. People who have experienced the solidarity of “sinners and saved together” are thereby equipped to live responsibly within God’s creation. [See the vigorous portrayal of “The Church in the World,” which is Part Four of Marcus Barth’s early study of the Epistle to the Ephesians titled The Broken Wall (Philadelphia: Judson, 1959).]

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament Deuteronomy 8:1-10
Psalm 34 or 34:1-8
not available
New Testament Ephesians 4:(25-29) 30 -5:2
this page
Gospel John 6:37-51

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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