Speaking the Truth in Love (Eph 4:15): Life in the New Covenant Community -- By: Peter J. Gentry

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:2 (Summer 2006)
Article: Speaking the Truth in Love (Eph 4:15): Life in the New Covenant Community
Author: Peter J. Gentry

Speaking the Truth in Love (Eph 4:15):
Life in the New Covenant Community1

Peter J. Gentry

Peter J. Gentry is Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Director of the Hexapla Institute at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served on the faculty of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College and also taught at the University of Toronto, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Tyndale Seminary. Dr. Gentry is the author of many articles and book reviews and is currently preparing a critical text of Proverbs and Ecclesiates for the Göttingen Septuagint.

Introduction and Overview

In the first half of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, all of his readers, the ancient Ephesians as well as us today, are called by the Triune God to a destiny beyond our imagination. This destiny is revealed in the Father’s love for us before he made the world, the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ to free us from the destructive broken relationship between Creator and creation caused by human rebellion, and the gift of the Spirit as his guarantee that he has not only started but will finish his work in us. He has begun a new creation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus burst from the tomb on that first Easter, he was the first man in the new creation. By believing in Jesus we are joined to him. We be come part of the new creation. We form the new humanity (2:15) that God is creating. Unlike the first creation where God began by making the world and afterwards made creatures to live in his world, in the new creation he has begun by creating the new humanity and later will renew the world in which they are to live. The cross has brought not only peace in our relationship to God, but also reconciliation in ruptured human relations (2:11–18). Thus both Jew and Gentile are forged together into the new humanity, which is called the church. The doxology which begins the letter shows that Paul under stands all of this to be the blessing of God to the nations through Abraham.

Paul then explains in the second half of his letter (chapters 4–6) how we who are called by God are to fulfill his plan and purpose in practical terms of day to day living while we are still in the old world that has not yet been given final judgment. How do we live up to this destiny? First, he focuses on the unity intrinsic to the covenant community of the new humanity (4:1–6), and second, he shows how the diversity within the community is in fact the gift of the risen Christ to enable us to grow up and mature (...

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