Making Christ known, not the Christ I think I know – Saturday, 29th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 4:7-16

Chapter 4 signalled the half way mark of the book but also the cause for the effect that was brought about in the life of Jews but especially in the life of the Gentiles (as seen in Chapters 1-3.) God drew all to unity in Jesus Christ. That unity finds its highest expression in the fact that we are children of one God, the Father of all who is above all, through all and in all. (4:6)

In verses 4:4-6, Paul emphasizes our unity. Now he acknowledges our diversity, the grace given to each of us. This grace is distinctive, tailor made, bespoke and a perfect fit. Christian unity is not to be confused with uniformity, for the members of Christ’s body have been endowed with a variety of gifts. Don’t confuse the gifts of the Spirt in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 with this text. Ephesians is speaking of the gifts of Christ (see verse7)

Before we go ahead, we need to understand what grace is. It is true that we have been given a share in God’s grace. The problem is that we tend to ‘thingify’ (no such word but created for you get the meaning) grace or ‘charis’. Grace is not something but somebody; Jesus. Christ offers himself to us in the measure that we are open to him. Christ does not make a ‘deal with us’ in return for his grace. He is the free and unmerited gift that the father gives to each of us.

Ephesians says that this gift giving, this grace giving happened (as described prophetically in Psalm 68:18) when Jesus ascended to heaven. By the giving of himself he bound all that which binds us. Verse 7-9 is an allusion to Psalm 68:18 which the author to the Ephesians draws from. These words were also used in Rabbinical Judaism to Moses who ‘ascended’ Mt Sinai, received the law from God and then gave it as a gift to Israel. The author to the Ephesians did not quote the passage exactly as it appears in Psalm 68. Either he altered it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or under similar inspiration he quoted from an ancient translation (called a Targum) that quotes the Psalm in this manner.

In its original context, this psalm celebrated victory over God’s enemies and a triumphal procession bringing the spoils of victory, including prisoners, up Mount Zion to the temple, the dwelling place of God. Paul relates this verse to Christ, who “ascended on high, who then led “captivity captive”, and gave gifts to men.” Influenced by this rabbinical interpretation, the author of Ephesians changes the original verb from ‘receive’ to ‘give’ and then applies the Psalm to Christ who is sent from the father and who returned to him

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