Be Filled With The Spirit And Not With Wine: Echoes Of The Messianic Banquet In The Antithesis Of Ephesians 5:18 -- By: Annang Asumang
Conspectus 6:1 March 2008) p. 21
Be Filled With The Spirit And Not With Wine:
Echoes Of The Messianic Banquet In The Antithesis Of Ephesians 5:181
Ephesians 5:18 contrasts wine drinking with being filled with the Holy Spirit. There are a number of reasons, both in the text and the socio-cultural context, to suggest that Paul is not primarily addressing an ongoing problem of alcohol abuse in the congregation. Instead, this article will suggest that he is using the antithesis as a double-edged theological foil to describe the practical inauguration of the Messianic Banquet in the life of the church. Collaborating evidence for this interpretation, which highlights the celebratory mood of the passage, will also be found in Ephesians 2 & 4. Christian worship and mutual submission that is fuelled by the liberating power of the Holy Spirit is a practical foretaste of the forthcoming Messianic Banquet.
Conspectus 6:1 March 2008) p. 22
1.1. The Problem
It is widely acknowledged that Paul’s3 injunction against the drinking of wine to destructive excess in Ephesians 5:18 was not primarily aimed at addressing a particular problem of alcohol abuse in the Ephesian congregation. There are several reasons for this view. The instruction is abruptly introduced and is stated in a brief and fleeting manner. If Paul was therefore attempting to rebuke a particular problem, he appears not to have expended sufficient effort to do so. This is very much unlike the situation in Corinth, where the apostle devoted extended parts of his first epistle to address a similar issue.
The linguistic and grammatical features of the verse also indicate that Paul is using the reference to wine drinking for his theological purposes. He employs the word alla (instead) to create a contrastive parallelism. This suggests an effort to generate a lesson from the first part of the parallelism to serve the purpose of the second part. In addition, the two datives and imperatives have the same instrumental function of agency suggesting an attempt to relate meanings between the two parts.
Despite the possible allusion to Proverbs 23:31 (Bruce 1984:379), the juxtaposition of drinking alcohol with being filling with God’s Holy Spirit leaves one with a “sour” aftertaste. Although in
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