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Remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
This is the Epistle reading for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 11], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow one of two optional tracks that pair Old Testament readings with Psalms. The first tells of David telling Nathan his plan to build a house for the Ark, only to have Yahweh tell Nathan He wants no house of cedar. The second tells of Jeremiah being told by Yahweh that bad shepherds who destroy and scatter His flock will be punished. All will precede the Gospel reading from Mark, when Jesus told his disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”
I posted about this reading in 2018. I went into great detail about each verse, based on the written Greek text. I welcome everyone to read that commentary here. I wrote that because Paul’s writings can be very difficult to follow; and, this is one that can be seen as confusing. For that reason, with a deep explanation of everything written already done [looking each word up becomes painstaking work that must be done], I will leave what I wrote before to speak for the whole meaning. Now, I will only address a few things in a different light.
On the broad view, verse eleven must be seen as Paul reminding the true Christians of Ephesus that before they married their souls to Yahweh they had been different in a physical sense. They were considered natural people of the world, as “races” and “nations” of people, or “ethnos,” where the males were uncircumcised. That differed from those who had been marked as Yahweh’s children, soon after birth, by “a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands.” This ritualistic act, which would be known through nakedness, but otherwise concealed by clothing, physically marked one as believing in Yahweh, while all others were free to follow the gods of the world. That remembrance must be seen stating the importance of physical change being required in order to serve Yahweh.
Verse twelve then transitions from the physical changes that mark one as a bride of Yahweh and places focus on the spiritual changes. The translation that says, “remember that you were at that time without Christ” must be seen as containing one capitalized word “Christ.” That word means “Anointed One,” but in the form written – “Christou” – that is the genitive case, which states possession, as “of the Anointed.” The word “Christ” is not a statement about Jesus, as if his last name was “Christ.” Jesus was the “Anointed One” of Yahweh. This must be grasped firmly, as Paul writing “you were at that time without Christ” says “you were at that time without an Anointment from Yahweh.”
In that statement in Greek is the little word “ēte,” which is a past tense form of “I am, I exist,” translated as “were.” That is a statement of being that is elevated from the physical body of flesh, as the soul. When that is seen as the intent, the past state of one’s soul [“you were”] was like the past state of the flesh when it was identified as “ethne,” or “of the world” – “Gentile.” In this way being “without Christ” is now compared to being “uncircumcised,” but on a soul level of being, beyond the physical.
When the NRSV translation then shows Paul writing, “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” this gives the impression that being “without Christ” was because the Greeks of Ephesus did not live in the land of Jesus. That is not what Paul meant by this; and, this needs to be fully understood. First of all, the word “being” is transferred to this segment of words, as directly referencing the state of being that was – “ēte” – “you were.” That state of “being” is now said to be “alienated from” [“apēllotriōmenoi”] “of this” [“tēs” is the genitive form of “the”], where “commonwealth” is actually meant as “citizen body” [from “politeias”] that relates to a spiritual level, not being a “race” or nation” of people, as is the physical body of flesh.
A better way of translating “apēllotriōmenoi” would be as “estranged,” which is less inducive of making one think being “foreign” to “Christ,” as if living in another country made one such an “alien.” When “estranged” is read, the meaning implies “having lost former closeness and affection,” such that the realization that the “Christ” is a Spiritual Anointment from Yahweh, it says a soul in a body of flesh [symbolically “uncircumcised”] was once close to Yahweh, but after birth into a body of flesh lost that closeness. As “estranged,” there is a psychic sense of longing to return to that relationship, which is then viewed in the sense of “citizenship” of heaven, as having rights, through “franchise,” to be a “Christ” once more.
That sense of disenfranchisement is then relative to “tou Israēl” or “of Israel,” where the genitive case is once again stated. Those two Greek words become reflective of “Christou,” “of Israel” is a synonym of “of Christ.” This is where Paul’s writing “Israēl” is not a statement about a place, because the Northern Kingdom that was named “Israel” had been lost around eight hundred years before. When Jesus walked the face of the earth, he traveled in lands known as Galilee, Judea, Perea, Gaulanitis, Decapolis, and Phoenicia. Jesus traveled and ministered to Jews – the circumcised – and even though he said he came for Israelites; he was never about being in a land named “Israel.”
This is where one’s mind needs to see the truth of the use by Paul. The meaning behind the name, which was given divinely to Jacob, in his spiritual conversion to being a wife of Yahweh, says: “He Retains God” or “God Is Upright.” That name was never given to be applied to anything physical, as it can only be applied to souls. Therefore, the “alienation” or “disenfranchisement” or “estrangement” felt was by souls that have not returned to a “Christ” state of being, because they have not married Yahweh and in turn had their souls named “Israel.”
When this is understood, Paul then emphasized by his writing the word “kai” and followed that with: “strangers to the covenants of promise.” Here, again, is a reference to the “alienation” factor, where “strangers” [from “xenoi”] is relative to souls who are “foreign” to Yahweh. The “covenants” are those personal agreements made between two – in this case a soul and Yahweh – which are the Commandment Moses brought down from Mount Sinai as the marriage agreement that was demanded of the Israelites, which made their souls become His wives. Thus, the agreements become those “of promise” [the genitive “tēs” applied to “epangelias”], where both soul and Spirit are sworn to uphold their ends of the agreement. This becomes an important statement [led by “kai”] of marriage vows. This says all who are “estranged” souls [symbolically “uncircumcised”] are so because they have not agreed to submit to Yahweh and serve Him as His wives in marriage.
It is the failure to come to the altar of spiritual marriage that then led Paul to write, “having no hope and without God in the world.” The Greek word translated as saying “without God” [“atheoi”] is better stated as “godless.” This means one’s soul is “pagan,” in the sense that those people of the world that have not been brought to know Yahweh will invariably worship multiple “gods” of nature, which makes all those “gods” [the truth of the word “elohim,” which can be laws, angels, or those who have become Saints, like Paul and the Ephesians] the same as Yahweh – external to their state of being. To set Yahweh up as an idol of worship means to reduce Him to a “god,” such that the truth of the word “atheoi” is it says a soul stands separate from Yahweh, thereby being “without Yahweh” married to it.
Because Paul was writing to souls who had been brought to the altar of marriage and all had come to now Yahweh as their Husband, he wrote: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” In that he wrote “Jesus” for the first time in this series of verses, while repeating the word “Christ” twice. All there words are capitalized, which means they are all raised to a divine level of meaning, higher than simply stating a name or catchphrase.
The first segment of this verse states, “But now in Christ Jesus,” which states a transformation has taken place, due to souls having married Yahweh. By “now in Christ,” the spiritual state of being “uncircumcised” has changed. Being “in Christ” [“en Christō”] states a singular state of being for each soul married to Yahweh. For as many Ephesians as Paul led to divine marriage, each individual soul reached a state where “in” means “with, among, at, and by,” where this is stating there is no longer an externalization that made a soul “godless” or “without God.” It says each has become an “Anointed One, individually, so each has become a “Christ.” This changed state of being is then the spiritual act of circumcision, where instead of paring away the foreskin of a male penis, all souls [in both bodies of males and females] are joined with the soul of Jesus, so his name is resurrected within all souls married to Yahweh. In this sense, the meaning of the name “Jesus” must be realized as a statement like “Israel,” which says “Yah[weh] Will Save” or “Yah[weh] Saves.” Being a soul reborn in the name of “Jesus” says that soul has been saved, through marriage to Yahweh.
By seeing this change as the spiritual reality that is opposite to the pretense of physical difference, the issue of “alienation, estrangement, and exclusion” has been removed. Paul writing “you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” says the externalization of Yahweh has been removed. In this case, “near” [“engys”] means “at hand.” [NAS Exhaustive Concordance] It is so “near” that Yahweh’s Spirit flows within one’s body of flesh, like does one’s physical “blood.” Here, again, the Greek word “en” is written, but the NRSV has chosen to translate it as “by,” giving the false impression that one’s physical “blood” has been changed, as if a transfusion took place. That is as impossible as would be a spiritual hand come out of the sky and snip off a foreskin. The “blood” musts be seen as a statement of sacrifice.
Christians go to great lengths to distance themselves [a “self” equals a “soul”] from Yahweh. They see that name as the God of the Jews, and Christians like to be different from Jews [they caused Jesus to be crucified, after all]. In that desire to “estrange” themselves [self again] from the Jews, they do nothing that has them recognize the rituals handed down from Moses to the Israelites, the foremost of which was the Passover. The Passover is a remembrance of the sacrifice of special lambs, whose blood was spread over the doorposts, which notified Yahweh [coming as the angel of death] He should pass over all houses painted in the “blood” of the sacrificial lamb. Christians love to pretend the coming of Jesus made belief in him as the Son of God [they do not dare say “Yahweh”], so they pretend the “blood of Jesus” is his spilled in crucifixion, changing everything the Jews ritually maintained so new rituals could be invented. The problem is the Jews who crucified Jesus then were as corrupt a dogmatic religion as has Christianity become today.
By Paul saying “in the blood of Christ,” this must be seen as the act of self-sacrifice that slaughters oneself on the altar, releasing one’s soul to Yahweh. That sacrifice means one has become an equal sacrificial lamb of purity, so the figurative “blood” that flows in one’s body of flesh has been spread over the doorposts of one’s soul, so that soul is spared death, through the receipt of eternal life. This makes the “blood of the Anointed One” make one a saved soul in a body of flesh, as a model of Jesus reborn.
Seeing the truth in what Paul wrote, the following four verses relate to this change. For the specifics of what Paul wrote in those verses, I return you to my offer of reading what I wrote in 2018. As a quick summary, those verses place a focus on two, as “both groups into one” [actually “both one,” from “amphotera hen”] and “one new humanity in place of the two” [actually “two he might create in his own towards one new man”] and “both groups to God in one body” [actually “both in one body”]. From that, I will jump forward in the text to verse eighteen, which the NRSV translates as saying, “for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.” In that, the literal Greek states: “because on account of his we possess this admission these both in one Spirit with this Father.” This translation requires closer inspection.
In that series of Greek words, the word “autou” has been translated by the NRSV as “him.” The word can actually be used as an adverb, as “here” or “there,” but “him” denies the genitive case and the possessive of “autós,” which would be more appropriately translated as “his.” The root word [“autós”] emphatically means “self.” While it would ordinarily refer to the third person singular as “he,” that would be in the physical sense; and, Paul has been writing in the spiritual since, beginning with verse thirteen. Thus, knowing a “self” means a “soul,” the duality that has become the focus is now stated as “because on account of his,” which means the marriage of a “self” [“soul”] to Yahweh, where one’s soul has submitted unto “him.”
This brings about a state of possession, where the Greek word “echomen” is the plural number of “echo,” which states “we” as a couple who each agree “to have and to hold,” where one becomes the possession of the other. As a collective of true Christian souls making the same commitment of a couple in wedlock, all are then “his” as a shared relationship that “we have.” It is that bond between two – a oul and Yahweh’s Spirit – that then allows a soul “access,” where the better word is “admission,” such that two are “brought together” in an intimate face-to-face relationship. [HELPS Word-studies] This is then strongly suggestive of marriage, on a spiritual level.
This then states “both in one Spirit,” where “both in one” [“amphoteroi en heni”] is a statement of union, as two together as one entity. This is where the past reference to Jesus becomes two souls merged as one being, which is a divine possession, It is this divine possession that occurs through the sacrifice of self-will and self-ego that the “Spirit” of Yahweh allows His wife to be reborn as His Son. The emergence of the Jesus soul as the dominant soul in one’s life allows the “Spirit” to be expressed through one’s flesh, as being reborn in the name of Jesus. It is this change – like going from uncircumcised to circumcised – that makes oneself [self equals soul] not only a wife of Yahweh, but also His Son reborn in one’s flesh; and, that becomes a dual relationship with Yahweh as the “Father.”
The remaining verse further state this marriage and rebirth, which I again refer one to my assessment written and published in 2018. The point I want to make here, which was not so much the focus in 2018, is the clear verbiage that says one must change spiritually in order to be saved and given eternal life. One’s soul must relinquish self-control and let Yahweh lead one through His Spirit. That Spirit will make one’s flesh become Sacred, as His new Saints in ministry, all being sent out anew as Jesus walking the earth in a body of flesh.
As the Epistle selection for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry to Yahweh should be well underway, the difficult to see, but vividly clear when the time is taken to look deeply as what Paul wrote, says a spiritual marriage to Yahweh is mandatory. The world is full of two types of souls – those unsaved and those saved. This cannot be determined by the shape of one’s penis, as there is nothing physical that marks one for salvation. The only marker is the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit within one’s soul. That makes one become Jesus reborn; and, the only reason Yahweh will return the soul of His Son to the worldly plane is for it to take a body of flesh out to the world, in order to save more lost souls.
When the them for this Sunday places focus on shepherding, especially the warnings given to false shepherds, marriage of one’s soul to Yahweh is how one knows oneself is truly a good shepherd. Anything less is false; and, being a false shepherd places one’s soul in greater danger of punishment, more than simply being one of the sea of lost souls, commonly called Gentiles. Rather than physical mutilation of the flesh being the determining factor of a servant to Yahweh, it is the mutation of the soul from self-absorbed to self-sacrificing for a higher goal.