Friday, December 27, 2019

Tool of subjugation, or tool of freedom?

Here the present experience of the [Ephesian] community is in view and explicitly identified as one in which a former state of hostility has now been replaced by a state of peace and unity through the reconciling work of Christ. As we saw in the examination of Colossians, this peacemaking and reconciling was an accomplishment for which the Roman emperor was praised. Interestingly, here the Roman tool for subjugation of its enemies and the enforcement of peace among its conquered peoples, the cross, is the same tool through which Christ accomplishes his peacemaking work. As with the explicit mention of the cross in the Philippian and Colossian hymns, there may be a reference to Rome’s power here as well. The extent to which the Ephesians were presently experiencing the peace and unity that Christ’s death had made possible, or whether this was part of the author’s case for pursuing such unity, is an open question. But it is clear that the hymnic passage with its emphasis on unity has immediate application for the community (see Eph 4:3-16).—Matthew Gordley, New Testament Christological Hymns, pp. 182–83

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