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Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the Epistle reading selection for the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 15], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow one of two possible Old Testament and Psalm pairings, where the Track 1 option places focus on Solomon’s rise to power after David’s death, asking for the gift of wisdom. The Track 2 option is a Proverb of Solomon, which sings about the love of wisdom gained. The Psalms are songs of praise, with warnings for the necessity of repentance. All will accompany the Gospel reading from John, where Jesus said, “I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”
I wrote deeply about this reading selection when it last came up in the lectionary cycle, in 2018. I published it on my website then, which can be accessed today at this link. While I today use the same techniques for analyzing the words of Paul, new insights have come to me over the past three years, which I now add to another deep commentary of the meaning of Paul’s words. I stand behind my analysis of 2018, as those opinions are still valid today; and, I welcome all readers to read that and this and see where my new insights are stated. I welcome feedback on everything I write and post, as everything is for the benefit of other souls.
The first word of verse fifteen is capitalized, meaning “Blepete” takes on a divine level of meaning. The lower case spelling means the word ordinarily would be the second person plural form of “blepó,” meaning “you look, see, perceive, discern” (Strong’s Usage), while also being an important statement to “beware of.” The capitalization takes this to a heavenly [spiritual] meaning, such that HELPS Word-studies explains, “blepó suggests ‘to see something physical, with spiritual results (perception).’ That is, it carries what is seen into the non-physical (immaterial) realm so a person can take the needed action (respond, beware, be alert).” Thus, the meaning Paul intended is to remind the Ephesians [true Christians] to rely on their divine insight, more than what the accepted ways of the world allow, as far as how to live righteous lives.
Rather than being “careful” for their own safety and wellbeing, Paul meant for them to live according to conducting their loves so others are cared for. Such care cannot be based on foolishness, which is either fear-related reluctance to act or fear-driven rushes of action. When Paul wrote the word “sophoi,” the intent was to be one governed by piety and integrity. This cannot be determined through intellectual decision making, as that is too slow. It becomes a statement about one’s soul being married to Yahweh’s Spirit, so one’s actions are immediately taken through divine guidance.
Where the translation says, “making the most of the time, because the days are evil,” the operative word mistranslated is “exagorazomenoi,” which better translates as “ransoming” or “redeeming.” This says a life led before a soul is led to marry Yahweh is filled with plenty of sins that were brought on by both intellect and stupidity. Being led by a big brain leaves one with a life of past sins to repay. Marriage to Yahweh’s Spirit makes up for wasted time, where the continued presence of evil needs good shepherds placed into ministry to protect the flocks and lead more to also marry their souls to Yahweh. The element of “days” reflects how one must represent the light of truth, which lights the path that others must take, to cleanse their souls of past sins.
When Paul then wrote, “So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” this series of words [in three segments, not two] says being “foolish” is not having married one’s soul to Yahweh, because it is impossible to fully have “understanding” [“syniete”] when one’s “will” [“thelēma”] is self-motivated. A self-motivated will makes one’s soul be the “lord” of one’s flesh [or worse, if demonically possessed by an evil spirit], where “kyriou” would need to be written in the lower case. Because of the capitalization taking this word to a divine level of meaning, where it is the “Lord” that controls one’s body of flesh, because “of the Lord” [“Kyriou”] means the resurrection of Jesus’ soul within one’s own soul [divinely possessed]. The only way to have that “perception” is to know Jesus personally and think what he is thinking [both using the same fleshy brain], which comes from the Father.
When Paul is then shown to write, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery,” it must be understood that the ritual of the Passover Seder meal is to finish the evening getting drunk on wine, staying up as long as one cane, before passing out drunk. Paul was not saying that; and, to imply that in a letter means he wrote to both Jews and Gentiles.
The meaning must be seen as metaphor for using physical aids for artificially accessing what seems to be a higher realm of thought. Artists and musical talents in modern time [since Christianity became mainstream] have seen drugs and alcohol as a way to get in touch with the ‘gods of creativity.’ On the famous Pentecost, when the Spirit of Yahweh poured out upon the Apostles, their divine insight [things they said that impressed, as new and fresh takes on Scripture] was seen as the effects of drunkenness. While wine was a common drink that could lead to this seemingly elevated state of being, it was known to be temporary and leave a trail of forgotten sins in one’s wake. Thus, the advice given by Paul was to stay away from artificial means for attaining creative goals.
This is why Paul then followed that warning with the alternative, which said “be filled with the Spirit,” where the word “Pneumati” is capitalized. That capitalization elevates the meaning [which Christians readily recognize] to a divine state of meaning, which is beyond the lower case meanings of “life, breath, or wind.” Because the alcohol of fermented wine enters the bloodstream and yields the effects of drunkenness [such that hard liquors are called ‘spirits’], the capitalized “Spirit” is divinely entered into the soul, which thereby affects the body of flesh in ways that were how Peter and the eleven spoke divinely. In the same way that wine can allow one’s brain to access knowledge from a relaxed brain when under the influence of alcohol, the Spirit of Yahweh makes such access automatic and not temporary. The result of the “Spirit” is righteousness, never “debauchery.”
When Paul then wrote [NRSV], “as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,” this is a further example of the excessive wine drinking after a Seder meal. The fourth ritual cup of wine is poured at the table, but then taken into a family gathering room, when the singing of songs and the reciting of psalms goes along with the drinking until one passes out drunk. For many people, especially those who do not have beautiful voices and singing is not a strong suit for them, drinking alcoholic beverages [beer or wine] will have the effect of loosening them up to singing, without worry. When attending a Seder meal, most attendees are usually family, with some close friends invited; so, the “among yourselves” element says those singing are all Jewish. All Gentiles would have then been taught what the Jews memorized, with all being elevated by the Spirit to understanding what the words of the songs meant.
To then be “singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts” [which literally states, “singing kai making melody in the inner self of you to the Lord”] says “singing” is a way of praising Yahweh. More than reciting memorized words or reading lyrics from a hymnal, the “making melody” becomes a statement of a vibratory elevation within one’s soul, which singing enhances. Singing becomes the ‘wine’ of music, which opens one’s soul to being led willingly [and happily] by the divine possession that is the presence of Jesus’ soul with one’s own soul [submissive to that of Jesus], so the vibrations of music open one up to speaking without forethought. One then channels the Will of Yahweh, coming through the Son’s presence.
It is then in this way of celebration of marriage – the true symbolism of the Passover Seder, as a wedding feast – that Paul wrote, “giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this verse, the capitalized words “Kyriou,” “Iēsou,” “Christou,” “Theō,” and “Patri” are written [in that order of presentation], such that all have divinely elevated meanings that must be fully grasped.
The literal translation of the Greek says: “giving thanks always on behalf of all with name of this our Lord ourselves of Jesus of the Christ to God kai Father .” In this, the genitive case states possession, which is found in “our Lord” [not simply “Lord”], “of Jesus” [not simply “Jesus”], and “of the Christ” or “of the Anointed one” [not using “Christ” like a last name]. The presence of the word “kai” between “God” and “Father” makes a profound statement that one’s soul has married Yahweh, thereby “to God” betrothed, with the “kai” making an important additional statement that the Holy Husband is also the “Father,” which means holy matrimony has brought the Son of God into one’s soul-flesh being. The marriage is what makes one “in the name of Yahweh,” with His name [“Jesus” means “Yahweh Saves”] being one’s “Lord,” so one is possessed by the same Lord,” as “our Lord” commonly. Each is then the Son reborn, such that with that possession comes each the identification of being “of the Christ,” which means the presence of Jesus’ soul is what makes one “Anointed” by Yahweh. Jesus’ soul is the pouring out of Yahweh’s name into one’s soul.
As an Epistle reading for the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry to Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson here is to run away from physical and material means to artificially ‘get high.’ So many times I have heard Episcopalians pretend to be moved by eating a wafer and sipping wine at a church rail. That is pretense and a temporary elevation of spirit, no different than drinking a shot of whisky. Paul is saying one must get the permanent “Spirit” and become Jesus reborn, so Yahweh is not only one’s God, he is also the Father of one’s ministry in His Son’s name.