Tag Archives: teaching

What to Do with Your Pipe Dreams?

PipeWe’ve all had dreams of the future, and the exciting possibilities that can unfold in our future. These dreams fill us with enthusiasm for future feats and potential advances in our lives, or in the lives of those around us. Dreams are the stuff of hope and vision.

But what happens when life intervenes in ways that tend to dampen the vision? Or worse yet, what happens when the storms of life drench the dreams with such soggy reality that our past dreams slide inexorably toward that awful basket of derelict visions labeled “Pipe Dreams.” When enough past dreams collect in that basket, it is easy to let vision die. It is just too painful to see our dreams shattered by life’s realities. As a result, we tend to limit our vision, and dream only safe dreams, mundane dreams, dreams that will not change the world.

I can imagine Abram’s dreams sliding toward that dreaded basket of broken vision. He was convinced he had heard from God about a son. Yet night after night, as he glanced toward the stars, he knew he was no closer to fulfilling the vision. His vision for this dream was so dead that when the Lord showed up to tell him the vision was about to be fulfilled, he tried to argue him out of it (see Genesis 17:15-20). That is a dead vision.

I can imagine Joseph’s dreams turning to ashes as he saw his brothers’ camp fading in the distance while being transported to Egypt for an unknown fate. His dreams had been so real. The whispers of the night had made him believe he was destined to lead, to rule.

Perhaps Joseph’s stay at Potiphar’s house had sparked hope. His gifts were being recognized as he served an official of Pharaoh’s court. But if hope had been kindled, the torrential rains of reality quickly extinguished them in a prison cell. Prison reality so limited Joseph’s dreams that his primary hope was simply to get free from prison (see Genesis 40:14-15). As a prisoner in Egypt, he was among the least of the least in that nation. Any dreams of leading or ruling had become embarrassing memories of childish ambition.

I can imagine Moses’ dreams being flattened by his reality. He had dreamed of being Israel’s deliverer, raised up in amazing special privilege to become the hero of the hour. At the point when it seemed that his dreams were on the cusp of being fulfilled, when his true people would turn to him in hope, and his influence with his adopted people would pave the way, he was rejected by his fellow Israelites and hunted as a criminal by his peers. Forty years of reflection on his colossal blunders, and the stark reality of life on the backside of the desert, had so smashed his early dreams of being Israel’s deliverer, that he told God to send someone else to do the job (see Exodus 4:13).

Dreams can turn to disappointment. Disappointment stokes the fire of disillusion. Eventually the original vision has been relegated to the bin of embarrassing pipe dreams.

What do you do with that bin? Do you ignore it, and shudder with shame every time a memory shard works its way to the surface? Do you dust the pipe dreams off on occasion to use as a cautionary tale aimed at correcting youthful idealism? Or do you bitterly reflect on what might have been?

I have a suggestion. Take that collection of old and broken dreams and offer them up to God. Give him an opportunity to breathe on them. In the Bible stories I have mentioned above, the characters involved were confined in roles that had diminished their original dreams. As a result, they lost vision. But then God breathed. He stirred up the currents of his Holy Wind, and vision became reality. Those who had lost vision could dream again.

Perhaps it’s time to let God breathe on your dreams. Give him permission to resurrect the dead husk of visions long past. You never know what wonderful notes the Lord may release through your pipe dreams as his Wind blows through them.

What do you do with Pipe Dreams? Every once in a while, you set them apart, and wait for the Wind to blow on them.

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A Translation of Ephesians 6

RomansText1

“For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but it is against the rulers, the authorities, the spiritual world rulers of this darkness, and against the evil spiritual beings in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The truth contained in this passage divides the world. There are those who say that there is no spirit realm, and there are those who accept that realm as obvious. For those who believe there is nothing beyond what our five senses can perceive, this passage appears inscrutable. But to those who have grown in spiritual discernment, and understand more fully how the unseen world impacts that which can be seen, this passage states simple truth.

In the verse just before this, Paul has called on his readers to put on the full armor of God. The armor of God is not intended to be wielded against human adversaries. There are certainly human adversaries that may oppose God’s plans on earth, but they are not the focus. We respond to human adversaries with the tools of truth and love. But the armor of which Paul speaks is for spiritual warfare; it is about responding to the ones who dwell in the unseen realm, the realm of the spirit.

In the framework of Paul’s understanding, there was a first heaven, where humans dwell; a second heaven, where fallen angels had their abode; and the third heaven, where the Lord and his angels reside. The armor of God is to defend against, and oppose the plans of the miscreants who inhabit the second heaven.

There are people on this earth who accept the reality of the first heaven, and that is all they accept. There are those who accept the first and third heavens, but try not to think about wicked forces that oppose us from another realm. And there are those who, as Paul, accept the reality of all three realms.

Accepting the reality of the three realms doesn’t mean one blames the devil for everything; it merely receives Paul’s advice and remembers that those who follow Christ will have active opposition to their walk from outside of the first heaven. The solution isn’t to focus on the dark side. On the contrary, the full armor of God is about being even more determined to walk in God’s things, and his purposes. The armor, as we see in verses 14-18 includes moral choices, ethical responses, the stability found in seeking God’s peace at all times, and the basic responses of faith and prayer in all situations. So while Christians recognize the spirit realm, and the forces arrayed there, they most often oppose those forces by basic Christian living and focus on the Lord. Another way of saying this, is that they love the Lord their God with all their heart, and they love their neighbor as themselves.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 6.

Ephesians 6:1-24
A Translation by Randal Cutter

6:1  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is righteous.*

6:2  Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise,

6:3  that is may be well with you, you will live a long time on the earth.

6:4  And fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and understanding of the Lord.

6:5  Slaves, obey your human masters with respect approaching fear, with sincerity of your heart as to Christ.

6:6  Don’t just look the part, as those who try to gain favor with men, but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.

6:7  Serve with goodwill as serving the Lord and not men,

6:8   knowing that whatever good anyone might do, he will receive this back from the Lord, whether he is slave or free.*

6:9  And masters, do the same things with them, abandoning threats, knowing that your Master and theirs is in heaven, and he does not show favoritism.

6:10  Finally, be empowered by the Lord and by the might of his strength.

6:11  Put on the full armor of God, with which you are able to stand against the crafty scheming of the adversary.

6:12  For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but it is against the rulers, the authorities, the spiritual world rulers of this darkness, and against the evil spiritual beings in the heavenly realms.

6:13  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you are able to put up a fight on the day of trouble;* and when you have done everything to thoroughly prepare yourself,* make your stand.

6:14  Therefore, take your stand, having wrapped* your sexual life in truth,* and putting on the body armor of righteousness.

6:15  Fasten the readiness of the gospel of peace to your feet;

6:16  and in addition to everything else, take up the shield of faith, with which you are able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

6:17  Take also the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.*

6:18  Pray at all times in the Spirit with every type of prayer and petition. To this end, keep watch with all diligence, and pray on behalf of all the saints.

6:19  Pray on my behalf that a message might be given to me when I open my mouth, to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel,

6:20  for which I am an ambassador in chains.* Pray in order that I might speak clearly; that is essential when I speak.

6:21  Now Tychicus will tell you everything, so that you might know how things are with me, and what I am doing. He is my beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord.

6:22  I am sending him to you for this very reason, that you might know about us, and that he might encourage your hearts.

6:23  Peace to the brothers, and love with faith, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

6:24  Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an eternal love.

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6:1  For this is righteous: Although we are most familiar with the translation, “this is right” (NIV, KJV), the Greek word used (dikaios) is a word which also means “just” or “righteous.” I believe, especially since Paul quotes God’s command in just a moment, he is not just speaking about what is proper or right, but rather he is clearly stating that it is a manifestation of a relationship with God, which is what righteous implies.

6:8  Whether he is slave or free: With these words, Paul shows us that those who are free, meaning employees instead of slaves, should observe these same words of direction in reference to their relationship with their employers.

6:13  The day of trouble: As in 5:16, most versions follow the lead of the KJV and translate that the days are evil. However, the Greek word I have translated “trouble” is a moral/ethical word when applied to people, but simply describes harmful, rotten, or useless things when not applied to humans. A day does not have the capacity to have moral or ethical thought, but it can certainly be a day of trouble or harm.

6:13  And when you have done everything to thoroughly prepare yourself: The Greek verb refers to equipping oneself, or preparing oneself. I have made that very clear, since preparation is what is in focus.

6:14  Having wrapped: This is what Paul most literally says. It is what the Greek phrase means. While the NIV and newer translations often assume Paul is speaking about the outer belt of the Roman soldier, he is actually referring to the Roman soldier’s clothing under the armor. That clothing needed to be wrapped tightly under and around the bottom of the torso in order that a Roman soldier had no loose clothing that an enemy could get a grip on.

6:14  Your sexual life: The Greek noun often refers to the sexual organs, or more even more specifically, the genitalia or reproductive organs. I have translated to capture the specific sense, without being overly specific or vulgar in the translation.

6:17  The word of God: The normal Greek word translated “word” is logos. However, rhema is used here. Rhema is the word that Jesus used when he told Satan, “Man does not live on bread alone, but every word . . . .” He was quoting Deutronomy 8:3, where Moses reminds the Israelites about the “word of God,” by which he meant the supernatural provision of God. The rhema is the “Let there be . . .” of God.

6:20  An ambassador in chains: The Greek expression is more literally, “an ambassador in chain.” The noun is singular, but while the Greek mind saw the whole chain, and thus used the singular, our English speaking minds see the individual links and must translate “chains.”

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A Translation of Ephesians 5

RomansText1

“Submit voluntarily to each other out of sincere respect for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

I love how the apostle Paul approaches the topic of Christian relationships. He doesn’t make it about the other person, he makes it personal, focused, pointed at the one you see in the mirror. Often, when we see the word “submission,” there is something in us that objects. When we hear that wives are to submit to their husbands, employees to employers, or citizens to governments, there is something in the human psyche that protests, “You can’t make me!”

But that is what I love about Paul’s approach. He doesn’t imply, at least on the non-governmental level, that the other person is doing anything to make us submit. It is all about our choices, our understanding, our willingness to submit. In other words, it is about our frank understanding of what makes relationships work.

In any relationship, there is need for some level of submission. Two people can’t get through a one-person-wide door at the same time. One must give way. That works best when one politely allows another to go first. It doesn’t work as well when one beats the other senseless so that he or she might enter first. Submission works best when it is volitional, when it is agreed upon. Paul refers to it as voluntary submission (see note on 5:21 below for why the Greek verb must be translated in this fashon).

For Christians, this type of voluntary submission works best when it is done out of respect for Christ. It works best because, as a human being, I may have a major issue submitting voluntarily to someone for whom I have little regard or respect. However, I am inclined to do it anyway “out of respect for Christ.” I can overcome that not-so-submissive part of me by reminding myself that I am doing it for a higher purpose, and not because the person deserves it. The truth is that sometimes the person will deserve it, and sometimes the person will not. But when we do it out of respect for Christ, we do not need to make that determination. We only need to look in the mirror and realize that is is about the person staring back at us, and his or her relationship to the Lord. That truth makes voluntary submission much easier.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 5.

Ephesians 5:1-33
A Translation by Randal Cutter

5:1  Therefore be imitators of God as dearly loved children;

5:2  and walk in love, just as also the Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a pleasing aroma.

5:3  Accordingly, let sexual immorality, impurity of every kind, and sexual exploitation not be named among you, as is fitting for those who are holy;

5:4  instead of shameful talk, foolish words, and vulgar speech that is not becoming, practice giving thanks.

5:5  For you can be certain of this, that no immoral, impure, or greedy person—especially since greed is a form of idolatry—you can be certain that those who practice these things do not have an inheritance in the Kingdom of the Christ and God.

5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for on account of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience;

5:7  therefore do not be in league with them.

5:8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

5:9  —for the fruit of the light is found in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—

5:10  learning what is pleasing to the Lord.

5:11  Do not have fellowship with the fruitless works of darkness, but rather bring them into the light.

5:12  For it is embarrassing to mention the things done in secret by the children of darkness.

5:13  But everything brought into the light will be made visible by the light;

5:14  for anything that makes things visible is light.* Therefore it says, “Get up, you who are sleeping, and rise from the dead, and the Christ will shine on you.”

5:15  Therefore, watch carefully how you walk, not as fools, but as wise;

5:16  redeeming the time, since the days are harmful.*

5:17  On account of this, do not be unwise, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

5:18  Also, do not be intoxicated with wine, which destroys self-control;* instead be filled with the Spirit.

5:19  Speak to each other with psalms, songs of praise, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord.

5:20  Give thanks at all times to our God and Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:21  Submit voluntarily* to each other out of sincere respect for Christ;

5:22  wives, submit voluntarily* to your husbands as to the Lord,

5:23  because the husband is head of the wife as also the Christ is head of the church, himself Savior of the body.

5:24  As the Church voluntarily submits to Christ, so also wives should submit voluntarily to their husbands in everything.

5:25  Husbands, sacrificially love* your wives, just as also Christ sacrificially loved the church and gave himself on her behalf,

5:26   in order that he might purify her, having cleansed her with the washing of water by the word,

5:27  so that he might present her to himself a magnificent church, having no stain or wrinkle, or any other such thing, but that she be holy and blameless.

5:28  Thus husbands also ought to sacrificially love their wives as their own bodies. The one sacrificially loving his own wife loves himself.

5:29  For no one ever hates his own physical body,* but feeds it and takes care of it, just as also Christ the Church,

5:30  because we are members of his Body.

5:31  For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will be united to his wife, and the two will be one physical body.*

5:32  This is a great mystery; but I am speaking to Christ and to the Church.

5:33  However, I am also speaking to you as individuals. Let each husband sacrificially love his own wife, just as he loves himself, and his wife should respect her husband.

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5:14  Anything that makes things visible is light: Bible versions differ on how to translate this difficult phrase because it could go in several directions. I have translated in a way that makes the most sense (to me) grammatically and contextually.

5:16  Since the days are harmful: Following the tradition of the KJV, most versions translate this phrase, “the days are evil.” However, the Greek word I have translated “harmful” is a moral/ethical word when applied to people, but simply describes harmful, rotten, or useless things when not applied to humans. A day does not have the capacity to have moral or ethical thought, but the laws of entropy demonstrate that the simple passage of a day can be extremely harmful. The days are not neutral. You cannot get through them unchanged. You can’t get through a day without losing ground, unless you are redeeming the time.

5:18  Which destroys self-control: While most versions translate the Greek word as “debauchery” or “dissipation,” the word itself also refers to the loss of self-control, a meaning that fits this context extremely well. Loss of self-control can certainly lead to debauchery and dissipation, however, they are not the only results of a loss of self-control, and I have translated in a way that leaves the other awful results open.

5:21  Submit voluntarily: The verb form is reflexive in nature and is more woodenly translated, “submit yourselves.” This, of course, means to do so by one’s own will and volition rather than through outside coercion. This is something Christians do voluntarily out of sincere respect for Christ.

5:22  Wives, submit voluntarily: There is no Greek verb in verse 22. The topic is still voluntarily submission, and Paul writes, “Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord.” In order for it to read better in English, versions (including mine) bring the verb down from verse 21, as Paul intended his readers to do.

5:25  Sacrifically love: The Greek verb translated “love” is agapaō. Most English readers will more readily recognize the noun form, agapē. This word for love is about the self-sacrificial nature of love. It is the John 3:16 love (God so loved that he gave . . .). When the apostle uses agapē, he most often is focused upon the self-sacrificial nature of love. It is important to bring this aspect out in this context because the English word “love” does not carry the same connotations as agapē. As the translation of 5:20-21 demonstrates, Christian wives submit voluntarily to other Christians “out of respect for Christ” by also submitting voluntarily to their husbands. And rather than the enforcer of submission, Christian husbands submit voluntarily to other Christians “out of respect for Christ” by sacrificing in love for their wives.

5:29  His own physical body: The Greek word here is the word often translated “flesh.” However, in this context it obviously means “body.”I have kept the emphasis of “flesh” by translating it “physical body.” Paul is quoting Genesis 2:24 which describes the institution of marriage. Then, in verse 30, he applies it to Christ and the Church. The great mystery is that Christ and the Church join together through their spiritual union to form a “body” in the same way that a man and woman join together through marriage to form a body.

5:31  One physical body: The Greek word, once again, is the word often translated “flesh.” However, in this context, it means “body.” I have kept the emphasis of “flesh” by translating it “physical body.”

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A Translation of Ephesians 4

RomansText1

“In him the entire body is fitted and joined together as each ligament provides support, and each part contributes to make the body grow according to its measure of energy, so that the body builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

In the passage above, Paul paints an incredible picture of how the Christian Church is to work. Each part of the church, in all of its myriad expressions, has been fitted and joined together like a functioning body. Like a physical body, each part of the Christian body is supported by the other parts. In addition, each part of the body is given a measure of divine energy to release to the rest of the body so that the whole body continues to grow. That divine energy is what sets the Christian Church apart from every other club or organization. God’s supernatural power, his divine energy, flows freely from one part of the body to another to stimulate growth, and provide power.

This is an incredible picture of power and life. But unfortunately, that picture is not often realized today. Perhaps it is because we have lost our vision; we have let our sense of expectation fade away; or perhaps we refuse to believe that God would release divine energy from other parts of the body.

Whatever the reason, we must get this expectation back into the Body of Christ. When Paul wrote about that energy, he wrote with a sense of wonder and possibility. It isn’t necessarily that the Body of Christ then had more agreement than we do now. Just read some of the arguments and disagreements that the early church experienced. But what they did have was expectation. They expected divine energy to flow through them and to them no matter how imperfect the church itself was. And it did flow. As we read the reports of the extraordinary miracles that God worked through Paul and his companions, and as we see the clear direction they received from the Lord as they shared his life, we see the wonder and possibility of the divine energy played out in gritty supernatural detail in that less-than-perfect church setting.

We desperately need that same expectation that God’s divine energy will flow through imperfect vessels to a world in need. One reason that I have translated Ephesians 4:16 as I have, is to begin to help recover Paul’s focus on the divine energy available to us. The Greek word I have translated “energy” refers to the divine energy that is released through God’s people when we are functioning as we should. It is a word that doesn’t just speak of the “working” of the Body of Christ, but points to the divine energy that is released in the body so that it grows. It is a word that speaks to wonder and possibility, and leads to expectation.

What our your expectations for today? Are they filled with wonder and possiblity? If they are not, remind yourself that divine energy is at work around you and through you in the Body of Christ. This energy is the stuff of creation and resurrection. It is the stuff of life and hope. Knowing this, we can never let our sense of wonder fade; the next amazing thing may be just around the corner.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4:1-32
A Translation by Randal Cutter

4:1  Therefore, I encourage you, as a prisoner for the Lord, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been given.

4:2  Walk with all humility, gentleness, and patience, putting up* with each other in love;

4:3  being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit within the constraints of peace.*

4:4  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope to your calling;*

4:5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

4:6  one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

4:7  Now to each one of us grace has been given corresponding to the measure of the gift of Christ.

4:8  Therefore, it says, “When he ascended to the heights, he took many captives with him, and gave gifts to men.”

4:9  For what does, “He ascended” mean, if not that he also descended unto lowest parts of the earth?

4:10  The one who himself descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, in order that he might fill all things.

4:11  At that time, he himself gave some for apostles, others for prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers,

4:12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry so that the Body of Christ is built up.

4:13  This will continue until we all achieve the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming a fully mature adult, attaining the measure of maturity that comes with the fullness of Christ.

4:14  We must become fully mature adults so that we are no longer tossed back and forth in the waves like infants, carried about like babies by every wind of teaching that comes from the games of men,* which they play with cunning and crafty deceptions.

4:15  Then, proclaiming the truth in love, we will grow in all things into him who is our head, Christ.

4:16  In him the entire body is fitted and joined together as each ligament provides support, and each part contributes to make the body grow according to its measure of energy,* so that the body builds itself up in love.

4:17  Therefore, I say—and I affirm this in the Lord—that you must no longer walk in the way that the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thinking.

4:18  They are darkened in their understanding, and excluded from the life of God, because of their inner ignorance caused by their hardness of heart.

4:19  Because they have lost the ability to feel shame, they have given themselves over to sensual excess, to the practice of every sordid activity as they sexually exploit* each other.

4:20  But you did not become acquainted with the Christ in that way,

4:21  For surely you have truly come to know him, and have been taught by him, because truth is in Jesus.

4:22  You were taught, with respect to your former way of life, to put away the old man, which was being morally corrupted through enticing lusts,

4:23  and to be renewed in your mind by the Spirit,

4:24  and to put on the new man, created for God in righteousness and true holiness.

4:25  Therefore, because you have put away the lying nature, each of you must speak truth to his neighbor, for we are members of each other.

4:26   When you are angry, do not sin. Do not let the sun set while you are incensed;

4:27  do not give the accuser space to operate.

4:28  Anyone who is stealing, must steal no longer, rather he must do good, toiling at a job with his hands, in order that he might share with those in need.

4:29  Let no harmful speech come out of your mouth, but only what is good for building up according to the need at hand, in order that it might release grace to those who are listening.

4:30  Also, do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption;

4:31  let all bitterness, violent emotion, anger, uproar, and slander be taken from you, along with every hateful feeling.

4:32  Instead, be kind and compassionate to each other, being gracious with each other, just as also God was gracious to you in Christ.

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4:2  Putting up with each other in love: While “bearing with each other” is a good translation of this Greek verb, “putting up with each other” captures our way of saying it a bit more fully.

4:3  Constraints of peace: The Greek word translated “constraints,” is a word which refers to bindings or things that tie things together. Many translations use the word “bonds,” which is certainly appropriate when one thinks of a bond as that which restrains. However, the word “bond” has come to mean “relationship” in the English language, and thus has lost the key focus of this verse. I have translated as “constraints” to bring out the original intent of the word as a constraint or limitation.

4:4  Called in one hope to your calling: Translations handle this phrase in different ways (NIV: just as you were called to one hope when you were called”/NASB: “just as also you were called in one hope of your calling”). I have translated that bring out the idea that the hope comes with our callings to ministry in Christ, not just our calling to faith.

4:14  The games of men: The Greek noun literally refers to a dice game. As those who throw dice attempt to influence the outcome by manipulating the throw, so manipulation is often used as a form of deceitful control.

4:16  Measure of energy: Most other translations ignore the main meaning of the word I have translated “energy” (energeia). This word most often refers to supernatural energy, and reminds us that as each part of the body uses its spiritual gifts, supernatural energy is provided to the whole body so that its work might be accomplished.

4:19  Sexually exploit: Paul’s word choice is graphic. The greed of which he speaks is sexual greed and exploitation. I have translated in a more graphic way than normal to accurately capture his very pointed thoughts.

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A Translation of Ephesians 3

RomansText1

“For surely you have heard of the provision of God’s grace that was given to me for you . . .” (Ephesians 3:2)

When I think of God’s provision, I often think of all that is necessary to keep body and soul together, as well as those items that are necessary to function in a given society. When I pray for provision, it is usually about that which is needed to keep the lights on, the bills paid, and food on the table. I believe that is where most of us live.

Obviously, there are other provisions of grace that God gives to his people. When Paul spoke of God’s provision, he spoke about his calling in such a way that highlights that he was God’s provision to the Ephesians. God called and equipped Paul as a form of spiritual provision to the people to whom Paul wrote. That, of course, includes every person who has ever read Paul’s letters. He is a part of God’s provision for us so that we better understand God’s mysteries in Christ.

I am rather in awe of the fact that the Lord made provision for me almost two thousand years ago when he called a man named Saul from a vindictive path to one of grace. In reality, the provision of grace far exceeds that which I am able to comprehend. Can we even imagine the amount of provision that God has poured out through the millennia on our behalf? Because of how far the gospel has travelled, many of us have had righteous ancestors whose sacrificial lives and effective prayers may have been used by God to establish our callings. We will not truly understand such things until we are with them before the Lord.

Verse two reminds me of something else. Every Christian teacher I have been privileged to have has received a provision of God’s grace so that he or she could touch my life with the calling God granted him or her. I don’t even remember the names of all these teachers, and yet God’s provision to them in their calling has also been God’s provision to me. I am thankful that they were faithful with their callings. I have been blessed and received spiritual provision through them. Like them, I also wish to use God’s provision of grace in my calling in the best possible way for those to whom I am a part of God’s provision. I believe we honor God when we do that, and express our thanks to all those who have been our provision.

Now, on to the translation of Ephesians 3.

Ephesians 3:1-21
A Translation by Randal Cutter

3:1  For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles—*

3:2  For surely you have heard of the provision of God’s grace that was given to me for you,

3:3  that according to revelation the mystery was made known to me, just as I have written about previously in a brief fashion.

3:4  By reading about this, you can understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ,

3:5  which was not made known in other generations to the sons of men* as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets.

3:6  That mystery is that through the good news the Gentiles are joint heirs, fellow members of one body, and share in the promises in Christ Jesus,*

3:7  of which I became a servant through the gift of the grace of God which was given to me, in accord with the working of his power.

3:8  This grace was given to me, the least of all the saints, to preach the good news of the incomprehensible riches of Christ to the Gentiles;

3:9  and to bring to light for everyone the details of this mystery which was hidden for ages in the God who created all things.

3:10  He did this in order that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places through the Church,

3:11  in accord with the eternal purpose which he performed in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12  in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in him.

3:13  On account of this, I ask you not to be discouraged over my tribulations on your behalf, which are your glory.

3:14  For this reason I bend my knees to the Father,

3:15  for whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,

3:16  asking, in accord with the riches of his glory, that he might grant that you be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner man,

3:17  so that Christ dwell in your hearts through faith; and having been rooted and established in love,

3:18  I also pray that you might be able to fully comprehend, along with all the saints, what is the breadth, length, height, and depth of it,

3:19  and that you know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge; and I also pray that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.*

3:20  Now to the one who is able to do abundantly above all things that we could ask or think, through his power at work in us,

3:21  to him be the glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, unto all the generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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3:1  The dash indicates a break in Paul’s thought process. He picks up his thought in verse 14. Verses 2-13 are an excursus about Paul’s calling.

3:5  sons of men: Many modern translations render this phrase as “men,” dropping the “sons of.” I have kept the entire phrase because it is a phrase that emphasizes the passage of multiple generations, rather than the more contemporary idea implied when just translated as “men.”

3:6  joint heirs/fellow members/share in the promises: Some add “with Israel” to flesh out Paul’s thought in this verse. While that is certainly Paul’s meaning, and an incredible truth, the original text doesn’t include “with Israel.” Paul left it up to his readers to figure out this obvious point. So I left it as Paul did.

3:19  all the fullness of God: Some translations insert the word “measure” here (filled to the measure of all the fullness of God). The word for “measure” does not appear in the Greek text, and in my opinion, confuses the thought. Paul’s prayer is that we be filled with all the fullness of God. Adding the word “measure,” a word that the Greek language does not supply, may limit the fullness of God to some unspecified unit of measure.

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Image credit: Bible by Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter