And you, dead in your [continual] stumbling and in your careering this way and that without [consistent] direction in your failure to keep to the path in which you once walked according to [ways dominant in this chapter of] the [story of this] world, according to the prince whose authority is from the air, the spirit that currently is [busily] at work in the [angry] sons of rebellion, and it was among such that we all lived out our lives, forging a framework for ourselves in the competitive covetousness of our flesh, intent upon enacting the flesh's demands and its counsels, calculations and strategic plans for what we just had to do [we could not help ourselves], since by nature [we were] children of an angry violence, just like the rest [of humankind]. - Ephesians 2:1-3/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Hands

There is no distinction between Christians before Christ no matter their background. PICTURE: Clay Banks/Unsplash.

 

"By considering the inter-ethnic situation in Ephesus we can sense Paul's effort to ensure that he directs his readers to take note that now, in Christ Jesus, Jewish and Gentile believers both find themselves addressed by this message of Divine amnesty."

The phrase “the angry sons of rebellion” contrasts with Jesus' promise that peacemakers shall be blessed and be given God's surname, they shall be known as “children [sons and daughters] of God” (Matthew 5:9). 

Here Paul's use of “we” is inclusive, embracing all who believe. whether Jew or Gentile, and in that sense he undercuts any attempt to differentiate membership in Christ by reference to “background”. Jews and Gentiles who follow Israel’s Messiah, says Paul, are actually indistinguishable if we start comparing them in terms of their background - both are the inheritors of an angry, violent way of life, and the implication is that without divine intervention they will bequeath such an “angry, violent way of life” to their descendents. Paul makes the profound confession: it was in such a spirit that we all – Jew and Gentile – lived our lives.

Again we “overhear” Paul's references to Deuteronomy and elsewhere of the Old Testament Scriptures. “You are a stubborn people” (Deuteronomy 9:6) so don't go careering on in the mythological deception that God chose you because you were “it and a bit”, ahead of all other people. Not in the slightest. In fact, because God's revelation of His Fatherly goodness, especially directed to us Jews, did not grip our hearts – we were certainly wanting to put ourselves at the top of the tree - this simply confirms in a definitive way that we are just like the rest of humankind, intent upon going our own way...to destruction.

Paul's exposé of the faithlessness of God's own people indicates that he is painfully aware of how much he has been caught up in this spirit of rampant, uncontrollable, apostasy. The second person “you” has continued to move “inclusively” to the third person “we”. By considering the inter-ethnic situation in Ephesus we can sense Paul's effort to ensure that he directs his readers to take note that now, in Christ Jesus, Jewish and Gentile believers both find themselves addressed by this message of Divine amnesty.