Pursuing Partnership: New Light on Timeless Texts – Week 21

Ephesians 5: Paul and His Subversive Passage on the Family 

Wall Fragment with Two Women; Unknown; A.D. 1–75; Fresco

By Wendy Wilson, Missio Nexus, Mission Advisor for Development of Women

This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.

Ephesians 5: Paul and His Subversive Passage on the Family 

A note from Wendy Wilson, MissioNexus, Mission Advisor for Development of Women:

As we have begun to better understand the Greek and Roman cultures of the first century into which they wrote, the letters Paul and Peter become even more astoundingly counter-culture in forming the new community of Christ-followers. It causes us to pause and ask whether later cultures like ours have actually been reading fallen power structures back into the epistles, rather than seeing how the Kingdom of God was actually turning them upside-down?!

The link to the blog article is below . . .but here is an excerpt from “Ephesians 5: Paul and His Subversive Passage on the Family ”:

“In the first half of the Book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul lays out the Christian’s new identity in Christ. In the second half, he provides the “so what,” or the ramifications. As he outlines what Spirit-filled living looks like (Eph. 5:18ff), he envisions a community in which people show Christ’s love by serving one another. And one of the places where such service happens is in the household—where he, in his era, would have found spouses, kids, and slaves under one roof.

People living in the first century under Roman rule would have been familiar with instructions for respectable families known as “household codes.” . . . In the common understanding, a free man reigned unilaterally as king in his home, served by his wife, children, and slaves. But in Paul’s subtly subversive remix, the male householder served to the point of laying down his life . . .

In borrowing but repurposing, Paul creates a Christian innovation. He appears to be upholding society’s structures, yet his major adaptations infuse the codes with absolutely upside-down gospel values that actually contradict the codes.  When we try to inject power back into the structure, we exchange Paul’s emphasis for that of Aristotle’s. Why would we want to do that?”

Read the whole article:  Ephesians 5: Paul and His Subversive Passage on the Family 

Be sure to enjoy the recording of Dr Glahn’s recent Missio Nexus webinar on new understandings about 1st century biblical culture that assist us in interpreting confusing texts:

The Cost of Missing Half the Church: Let’s not Fear a Re-look

Dr. Sandra Glahn is Professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary. She is an author, co-author, or general editor of more than twenty books including Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible. Learn more about her at her website: aspire2.com.

This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track.  Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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