Beginning with the right treatment of slaves by Christians, St Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with the well-known description of the ‘armour of God’. In a few paragraphs he sets out the necessary dispositions for our spiritual warfare – the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandles of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. An unforgettable passage, ably expounded by Fr Robbie, for our encouragement.
Beginning with an outline of the practical behaviour expected from Christians, Fr Robbie moves on to look at St Paul’s teaching on marriage. His words are familiar: ‘Give way to one another in obedience to Christ… husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her… wives submit to your husbands…children, obey your parents…’ However, beyond the marriage bond between husband and wife is the imagery of St John in the Book of the Apocalypse of the Church as the Bride of Christ prepared for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.
In a well-known passage, St Paul exhorts all Christians to unity: ‘Do all you can to preserve the unity of Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same Hope… There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all, and within all.’ Eph 4: 3-6. Fr Robbie further expounds this key doctrine in the theology of St Paul, who had such care for the new churches he had founded and who longed and prayed that they may remain united in Christ, come what may.
And you were dead, through the crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world…..but God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy…. he brought us to life in Christ – it is through grace you have been saved. St Paul, acutely conscious of his own terrible misunderstanding of Jesus before his conversion, speaks with passion of the change wrought by Christ in those who come to believe in Him. You who were once so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ, for he is the peace between us…
God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and unblemished before him…. St Paul’s great hymn of praise is the subject of the first part of this talk in which Fr Robbie explores what it means to be chosen by God. The wonder of this undeserved grace leads St Paul to a great prayer of intercession that his children in Christ may receive divine wisdom, deeper revelation, fuller knowledge of God. This magnificent chapter sets the tone of the Letter to the Ephesians and displays the loving heart of the great Apostle.
The letters to the Ephesians, the Galatians and the Colossians are love letters to the Church, written as they were by St Paul who cared so passionately for the embryo churches he had founded across Asia Minor. The Letter to the Ephesians has been called the Queen of Epistles for its beauty, its range and depth of subject matter and its elegance. Written whilst in prison in Rome, near the end of his life, St Paul concentrates on the themes of unity, marriage, personal spirituality, the purposes of God and the all-sufficiency of Christ. 10 talks, beginning on this St Valentines Day, for lovers of Christ.