Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
1 Kings 8:1-21 – Solomon assembles the elders and heads of tribes for the bringing up of the ark from the city of David (Zion). Countless sheep and oxen were sacrificed to mark the occasion. The ark was brought into the inner sanctuary under the wings of the cherubim. In the ark were only the two tablets of stone Moses had placed there at Horeb. When the priests came out of the holy place, “a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (8:11). He recounts the establishment of David’s “house.” The Lord’s response to David’s desire to build this Temple is couched here in more positive terms than in Samuel. Solomon prays that the Lord may keep the promise to bless the house of David through the generations.
Ephesians 5 - Paul continues his encouragement to his readers to actually be imitators of God (5:1). Thomas a Kempis likely took his title, My Imitation of Christ, from this admonition. Obscene, silly and vulgar talk is out of place, fornication, impurity, idolatry—all of these things have no place in the lives of believers. “Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.” (5: 9) In everything we do it is our Christian duty to “try to understand what is the will of the Lord” (5:10).
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). Paul’s advice to wives, husbands, children and slaves. All of these people owe service to others in the world, according to the world’s dictates. Paul’s advice goes to the way one’s worldly service (when it exists) should be lived out for believers. Every relationship we have in the world is to be seen in the light of the deep paradigm that is now at the core of our being—Christ’s relationship with God and His Church—the reality to which we are now joined through our faith. Paul urges husbands and wives both to “be subject” to each other in marriage. For the wife that means respecting her husband and submitting to the authority that people in those days believed was proper for him to have over her. Husbands are to love their wives with the same self-sacrificing love that Christ showed the Church. Such mutual submission should be a source of peace and unity, not a source of contention, pride and rebellion.
This is a difficult passage to lend commentary to for a modern American woman – and a woman like me who has never been very compliant with any gender “rules” or expectations, conservative OR liberal. I know some women who feel that these verses undermine all respect they have for Paul, but somehow I don’t feel this way. I think he is using social “inequalities” as a figure for the deep inequality that exists between “man” and God in Christ and how these inequalities are transformed – even erased – when we enter into Christ.