A Theology of Church in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
A Biblical Theology Paper Submitted to Clinton Arnold, Ph.D.
In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements of the Course Exegesis in Ephesians TTNT 644
by Laura K. Springer, November 16, 2005
“Unity in itself will not suffice; nor will any or all of the ideas and ideals which we may link with that concept. Unity in itself, even Church unity in itself is, as surely as the independent multiplicities are, merely fallen and unreconciled human nature.”
Barth’s comments are as valid today as they were in 1936 when he first spoke them. In this work, Barth comments on the problem of unity in a global church divided by various beliefs. The church today is divided into camps of traditional, seeker-sensitive, emerging, evangelical, and a host of others. In each camp, the understanding of church is different. In each camp, human understandings taint notion of ‘church.’ Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (background; text) provides what may be the New Testament’s clearest and deepest picture of the church. Written in a context of struggle with spiritual powers, this letter describes the church and her connection with Christ in order to equip the church to live for Christ in a culture much like our own. The church’s understanding of herself cannot come from mere human sources, because she is not a human institution. The church’s understanding of herself must come from the Word. The images of the body, the building, and the bride employed in this letter provide a foundational understanding needed to live in and respond to a cultural context permeated with concern for evil powers.
This series gives an overview of the cultural, epistolary, and immediate context of these three images; describes the images in their immediate and epistolary context; draws theological conclusions about the church from the three images; and discusses some of the practical implications of a theology of church in Ephesians.
The Context of Ephesians
Description of the Images: Body
Description of the Images: Building
Description of the Images: Bride
Summary and Theological Conclusions
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