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Ephesians– overview of 2:19-22; God’s Temple in Humanity, part 10 (building up).

length: 63:51 - taught on Jul, 25 2019
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Class Outline:

Thursday July 25, 2019


Pliny the Younger: writes a letter to the Emperor (Trajan) concerning the question of what to do with the Christians. The letter is written around 100 AD, right around the time of the last letters of John that would close the canon.


Pliny (Gov. of Bithynia ~ 100 AD) - Christians are a pain.

Vast in number (temples are empty).

Meet for worship of Christ -as if He’s God.

Bind themselves to an oath of holiness.

Share a common meal.


Pliny is the governor of Bithynia and notices Christianity to be spreading rapidly despite persecution. Christians in his jurisdiction were brought before a tribunal and asked if they were Christians on threats of death. If they said no, they were asked to offer heathen worship and revile the name of Christ. Far more Christians than he expected choose to suffer rather than to recant their faith. He appeals to Trajan for how to proceed.  


What Pliny’s letter tells us: 


There are vast number of believers, in all ranks and of all ages, in the province of Bithynia. According to his account, ‘the temples had been almost forsaken.’ 


Pliny describes their faith as a ‘debased and excessive superstition. 


They are described as meeting for worship on a stated day (Sunday likely) and that on that day was observed the memorial of Christ’s resurrection. (There was no doubt about the resurrection of Christ in 100 AD)


They are said on these occasions to have offered Divine worship to Christ, as to a God. (There was no doubt about the deity of Christ in 100 AD).


They are said on these occasions to have bound themselves ‘by an oath’, against the commission of all crime or sin, and to all truthfulness and uprightness. (The teachings of the NT, most of which they possessed, clearly were interpreted as to a life of holiness and resistance of all sin.)


They are said to have common meals, not in the worship, but after it (love feasts; 1Co 11 and Jud 12).


Was this only in Bithynia? Unlikely. We know false doctrine had invaded the churches, and some of them likely succumbed and fell into apostasy, but the unity and common faith and love and purpose and mind that Paul longed for did in fact ground itself in the various churches, over thirty or forty years after his death.


It is around this time, the apostle John, the last living, is close to death if not already home, that the second generation of Christians will take roles of leadership and have their own chance to build the church.


The letter of Pliny is a historic testimony the presents the resurrection as the great central truth of Christian faith, the Person of Christ as the grand central Object of Christian worship, and the Holy Eucharist as the main part of Christian ritual, which is the exact counterpart of the NT account.


If this letter were written in 35 AD instead 100 AD (as it was) we would have not blinked. Christian worship had not changed in 70 years, only the number of Christians had changed. Pliny said that just in Bithynia they were vast in number. We see much in it.  There is the Sunday worship, with its look back on the Resurrection, and therefore upon the Crucifixion, the Incarnation, and the Messianic activity of Jesus; the Divine Worship of Christ, with its upward look to the Savior at the right hand of the Father, having all power; the earnest, conscious striving against all sin and after all holiness, amidst the corrupt, festering mass of heathenism around - a new creation in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, whose living temples Christians are, and this as an integral part of their worship, the outcome of their faith; then, the simple common meetings for prayer and the Holy Sacrament, and, when possible, love-feasts of brotherly fellowship; finally, the enduring perseverance of the Church, even to the loss of all things and to death itself.


Why in one generation would so many people give their lives over to this religion? And that, not in conquering lands or treasuries, but for no other reason than that a particular man is God in their eyes. Why would so many Jews do so as well as Gentiles? The primitive church clearly saw Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of the OT promises, and the reality of that kingdom which had been the hope of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


The church is God’s household. The members of the household are called to build up [oikodome] the other members.


All of the following passages use oikodome: “building up or edifying.”


2CO 10:8 For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame,


Building [Greek: oikodome] - proper authority, and use of it, in the churches.


Paul is going to attempt to use his authority to teach and exhort them in such a way that will change their stubborn adherence to sin.


2CO 12:19 All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved.


“speaking in Christ” - teaching His mind.


2CO 12:20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;


2CO 12:21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.


2CO 13:10 For this reason [that they do what is right, vs. 7] I am writing these things while absent, in order that when present I may not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me, for building up and not for tearing down.


Building - teaching truth and exhorting obedience with gentleness.


EPH 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,


EPH 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;


EPH 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.


Building - using God’s gifts in the service of one another.


EPH 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;


EPH 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,


EPH 4:16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


Building - dealing with one another in love alone.


EPH 4:29 Let no unwholesome [rotten or corrupt] word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.


EPH 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


Building - using only good words that grace the current needs of the hearer with Divine favor.  


ROM 14:19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up [oikodome] of one another.


ROM 14:20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food.


Building - pursue only the things that make for peace. Many things make strife; do not pursue them at all.


ROM 15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.


ROM 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification [oikodome].


ROM 15:3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me."


Building - please your neighbor for his good.


This same word is used for us being pleasing to God, ROM 8:8; 2CO 7:32; 2TI 2:4.


This certainly doesn’t mean pleasing others for the sake of some personal gain, as so many people will certainly do. It is done for his good and therefore is godly.


*Summarize building - go back over each slide.  


We are to be examples of virtue rather than ritual (“holy temple”). Anyone can follow a ritual, spiritual or not.


And in virtue we grow into a holy temple.


EPH 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,


EPH 2:20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [of the church age], Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,


EPH 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;


EPH 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


When the church is full of holiness, we forget the individual features of this or that aspect of administration, building material, or organizational structure.


The faith, hope, and love overwhelm everything else, melting them away into non-issues.


Such a church is an irrefutable force or force multiplier in this world.  They will assail the kingdom of darkness.


Jesus prayed for this at His last hour.


JOH 17:22 “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one;


JOH 17:23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.”


Was He praying for the twelve, or was He looking forward, far into the age of the church and the many who would believe through the ministries of the apostles? It is definitely the later.


JOH 17:20 “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;”


EPH 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,


EPH 2:20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [of the church age], Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,


EPH 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;


EPH 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


These men have laid the foundation - Peter, Paul, John, James, Barnabas, Silas, Luke, and the rest. They are our spiritual progenitors, the fathers of our faith. They blazed the trail when it was only brand-new and hardly seen.


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