Biblical Interpretation and the Epistle to the Ephesians -- By: Lisa Baumert
PP 25:2 (Spring 2011) p. 22
Biblical Interpretation and the Epistle to the Ephesians
Lisa Baumert is is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Lisa worked as an intern for CBE during the summer of 2010.
Where and how we start in our interpretation of Scripture determines where we will end up. When seeking to understand the relevance of the Bible’s teaching for our lives, interpretive starting points are particularly significant. The method by which we read and derive meaning from Scripture is the fundamental determinant of the nature of the meaning we will derive.
Nevertheless, we can make several affirmations about the Bible and its meaning. First, we can affirm that Scripture holds relevance and truth for our lives and our Christian faith, because we believe that Scripture is the word of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God speaks through Scripture in ways that transcend our best academic and scientific analysis of the Bible. Secondly, we can affirm that we possess clear and helpful methods and resources for understanding and applying Scripture to our lives. As we gain deeper insight into the historical, literary, and social settings of the Bible, we encounter fresh and deeper understandings of its meaning for our lives.
These two affirmations—that the Bible is the word of God and that we have tools to interpret Scripture—enable us to assert that Scripture contains accessible and applicable truth.
In light of Ephesians 5:21-33 and its teachings regarding the Christian community, women, and marriage, let us examine the methods and resources for interpretation. This passage says:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a prof...
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