Resurrection and New Creation in Ephesians

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 November 2024 | Viewed by 95

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
F. Furman Kearley Graduate School of Theology, Faulkner University, Montgomery, AL, USA
Interests: pauline literature; biblical theology; new testament studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ephesians’s engagement with the themes of resurrection and new creation is well known. However, more work remains to be done to describe how these themes run and develop throughout the letter, as well as how they interact with each other.

Consequently, the scope and purpose of this Special Issue is to explore how Ephesians interacts with and develops the themes of resurrection and new creation, as well as the interrelationships that Ephesians creates between these themes and the roles that these themes and their interrelationships play in the letter’s argument. This Special Issue aims to illustrate the variety, regularity, and centrality of Ephesians’s engagement with these core themes as the letter develops them in relation to both Jesus and his followers in various ways (e.g., temporality, ethnicity).

Contributions related to the following topics are welcomed:

  • Texts that explicitly reference resurrection, new creation, or both;
  • Places where the letter might reference either or both of these themes more allusively;
  • How Ephesians connects resurrection and new creation to each other or to other motifs (e.g., inheritance, predestination, promise);
  • Ways in which Ephesians’s development of the themes of resurrection, new creation, or both might relate to another text(s) from the Pauline corpus.

This said, contributions are welcome whether they accept or reject the Pauline authorship of Ephesians, and the list above of possible approaches is intended to be representative rather than exhaustive. Authors are also invited to consider the ways that Ephesians develops the themes of resurrection, new creation, or both beyond those that appear in the examples listed above.

NOTE: Before submitting a manuscript, potential contributors should submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution to the Guest Editor ([email protected]) and the Religions editorial office ([email protected]). The Guest Editor will review abstracts for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of this Special Issue. Full manuscripts developed from accepted proposals will undergo double-blind peer review.

Prof. Dr. J. David Stark
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • resurrection
  • new creation
  • Ephesians
  • Paul
  • eschatology

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Title: Echoes in Ephesians about the Grand Mission To Produce the Place of God
Author: David Larsen
Abstract: This article investigates the numerous and varied ways in which Paul, the stated author of the canonical book of Ephesians, reveals his assumption that there is a grand mission in the canon (of Paul’s day)—the mission to produce the place of God here on earth (Gen 1:26–28). Further, since Paul seems to view this grand mission as providing the context for reading the entire canon, this mission applies equally to the Ephesian faithful.
According to Paul’s understanding of this plan, the saints of Ephesus, like all believers, will receive an inheritance, a part of which includes the inheritance of land (on the new earth after their resurrection). Meanwhile, saints are to work, here and now, toward producing the placiality of God’s world today despite the opposition. Paul prays that the faithful will understand this concept thoroughly. Furthermore, Paul discusses key aspects of ecclesial governance,  designed to equip the faithful for their respective parts which God prepared beforehand, further echoing the concept of this grand mission. Complicating matters, however, their good efforts (to produce a locale with a sense of place that pleases God) take place amidst spiritual opposition.
The article will employ canonical interpretation to explore this thesis. When reading Ephesians through this lens, echoes of a grand mission surface in the form of specific words selected, of key concepts discussed, and even in the ordering of selected materials presented.  Whilst the thesis is open to the accusation of circular reasoning, its strength comes out of the fact that these echoes are numerous enough, significant enough, and sustained enough, so that a simple explanation is that Paul has this grand mission in view. The article aims to document this.
The echoes begin immediately in the book of Ephesians. Paul starts (and then continues) with echoes of an “original singular plan”—echoing Genesis One’s message about God’s groundbreaking initial production of a future home in the world. According to the canon’s portrayal of this grand mission, a narrative unfolds, and Paul echoes that, according to that narrative, now all peoples (from Jews and from Gentiles) can participate in the worldwide placialization of the world. To be more effective in execution of this mission, Paul then informs the Ephesian readers that the faithful will need a system of ecclesial governance for training the faithful as placemakers. His instructions continue with echoes about the important role of relationships that underpin the mission statement in Gen 1:26–28—the relationships of husbands/wives, children/parents, and marketplace relationships. Then lastly Paul concludes with a call to spiritual arms, countering the destructive placialization of spiritual opponents who aim to destabilize the plan of God.
In the concluding section the article discusses the connection between future resurrection and eschatological new creation with the current grand mission. By repeatedly drawing attention to future inheritance, Paul assumes physical resurrection and new creation, which thereby allows Paul to assure his readers that their current work as placemakers in the here and now, as family who are made in the image of new creation, is well worth the effort. In fact, Paul is so confident in this assumption that he records that God guarantees this inheritance by means of the gift of the Spirit who is the guarantee. Paul prays that they will be enlightened enough to know this concept.

2. Title: Ephesians Attachment Consequences for Newly Created en Christόs
Author: Shelley Ashdown
Abstract: From the first verse of the first chapter, the book of Ephesians presents en Christόs as the seminal construct in which the genesis of a new spiritistic creation enables Christian believers to be inhabited by divine presence. This spiritual rebirth establishes a permanent intimacy between Christian worshippers and the Worshipped. Attention to attachment dimensions offers insight into Paul’s theological efforts to establish foundational elements of Christian faith and initiate a universal fellowship of Christian churches. The first century world of Ephesus had both political and religious uncertainty. The early Christians were challenged to grow in Christian faith while navigating their changing social position. Within the en Christόs concept, Paul depicts the new spiritual nature, new identity, and new relationship for humanity with God. In this paper, Attachment Theory is the research methodology to explore the consequences Paul teaches in Ephesians of being a newly created worshipper en Christόs and the evolving identity the Ephesus church now finds itself in the broader Christian community.

Our discussion centers on answering research questions concerning the four criteria of divine/human attachment relationships in religiosity. The first query is for proximity maintenance and examines how en Christόs closeness to God is confirmed and managed. Chapter two of Ephesians uses rare vocabulary correlating with the LXX text of Ezekiel 37 as a means to communicate separation from God has been overcome by the close proximity of abiding together with Christ (sunarmologéō). The second question concerns safe haven and explores how Paul conceptualizes divine protection through Christ for worshippers. En Christόs has given each believer confidence of a refuge in God as the result of a peaceful life (eirḗnḗ) in harmony with the Author of peace. Here Paul references Isaiah 57 to support his position. The notions of divine household (oikeîos), divine adoption (huiothesía), divine inheritance (klēronomía), and divine possession (peripoíēsis) are key descriptors for safe haven. The third interrogative relates to the psychological need for a secure base and asks how the new creation en Christόs is provided ensuring divine presence and comfort. The experience of divine security en Christόs is sealed by virtue of the Spirit (esphragísthēte tō Pneûmati) and the access (prosagōgḗ) to God through his Spirit. And finally, the inquiry for separation distress considers metaphorical images in the text to express and alleviate separation distress from God. The resurrected Christ has returned to heaven. Paul must minimize any separation anxiety by new believers, and he does so in the imagery of the body of Christ (sṓmatos toû Christoû) as the corporate community of God. Paul very keenly communicated to the Ephesians a psychology of divine attachment en Christόs.

3. Title: “Sleeper Awake, Rise from the Dead”: Future Resurrection and Present Ethics in Ephesians
Author: Eric Covington
Abstract: Within Ephesians, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the defining element of God’s divine power. Divine power is pre-eminently illustrated when God raises Christ up from among the dead ones and seats him in the position of authority at his right hand in the heavenlies (Eph 1:20). A few verses later, Ephesians maintains that “we who were dead in our trespasses” have been “made alive with Christ” (Eph 2:5). Not only that but we have been “raised with” and “seated with” Christ in the heavenlies as well (Eph 2:6).

These verses—and the aorist verbs (συνεζωοποίησεν, συνήγειρεν, and συνεκάθισεν) used within them—have informed a strong scholarly consensus that Ephesians is a book characterized by a realized eschatology. Andreas Lindemann’s Die Aufhebung der Zeit is indicative of a scholarly tradition of reading a completely realized eschatology within Ephesians when it suggests that
that time itself has been suspended in the letter’s eschatological perspective. Interpreters’ emphasis on the realized nature of Ephesians’ eschatology impacts their interpretation of the other reference to believers’ resurrection in Eph 5:14: “For everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” So, for example, Hoehner interprets this reference to resurrection as a spiritualized metaphor in which the readers are encouraged to overcome their spiritual indifference and to demonstrate renewed spiritual life in the present (p. 688).

This paper, however, argues that interpreting the reference to believers’ resurrection in overly realized terms breaks the logic by which the chapter, and the letter overall, roots Christian ethical action in future expectation. Beginning with an analysis of Ephesians 1, this paper establishes that Ephesians emphasizes the divine resurrecting power to demonstrate the security of the “hope” and “inheritance” to which the Ephesian believers have been called (Eph 1:19). “Hope” and “inheritance” are future-oriented themes throughout Ephesians that are used to demonstrate the still future consummation of believers’ Christ faith. From this foundation, the paper will examine the reference to resurrection in Eph 5:14 within its epistolary context. It will demonstrate how the already accomplished resurrection of Christ is the surety of believers’ future resurrection and the basis for life in the present. Thus, Christ’s resurrection has reverberations in the past, present, and future.

This analysis challenges the overly realized interpretation of Ephesians’ eschatology and suggests that, rather than a spiritualized metaphor, Eph 5:14 points to the future hope that Christian believers will be resurrected—a hope that is patterned on Christ’s resurrection in history. It is this vision of future hope, then, that acts as the foundation for ethical action within the letter. Christ’s resurrection light—the light that will fully be realized in the eschatological resurrection—becomes the evaluative measure of ethical action in the present.

4. Title: Living in the New Creation: The Household Code in Ephesians as Theological Instruction
Author: Andrew Montanaro
Abstract: The epistle to the Ephesians, like other early Christian and contemporary Jewish texts, presents life in the new creation as a transference of existence in one world to another. However, this epistle uniquely has the predominant description of this transference in terms of entering into the household of God. The theological portion (i.e., Eph 1-4) makes this evident in the specific use of family language, the clustering of certain word groups (such as terms associated with wrath and peace), and the important text describing the devolution of families from the name of God the Father (Eph 3.14-15). This paper proceeds in two parts. First, it analyzes these characteristics to show that life in the new creation, although not yet fully manifest, is already powerfully and sufficiently available to the Church. Second, it is demonstrated that the household codes are deeply rooted in and animated by the theological principles at play in the description of the Church as God’s household in this epistle. Contrary to many commentators, this paper will show that the teachings in the household codes are not mere injunctions to Christians to live in a way inoffensive to outsiders but contain instructions about the necessary way that Christians ought to live in the new creation in with their families in their households.

5. Title: Renewed Minds Anticipating Raised Bodies: Present and Future Resurrections in Eph 4:17–32
Author: Andrew Kingsley
Abstract: New life in Christ, both present and future, is an underlying theme that lies at the heart of Ephesians. In the letter, Christ offers a present resurrection from the corruption (2:1–3; 4:22) and ignorance (4:17–21) associated with the old self (2:1–3; 4:22) to the beauty of a new life with a renewed mind modeled after the image of God (4:24) and guided by the truth in Jesus (4:21). Striving to imitate God as metaphorically raised people in the present (5:1), readers of Ephesians are meant to anticipate the full possession of their inheritance (1:14) at the day of redemption (4:30)—a day in which their rising will be made complete as their physical bodies rise to die no more.

This article will demonstrate and examine the present and future elements of new life and resurrection in Eph 4:17–21 by focusing specifically on the present renewal of the mind (4:23) and the future day of redemption (4:30). The renewal of the mind in 4:23 encapsulates themes of truth and knowledge in Christ that run throughout the letter (e.g., 1:7–8, 13, 17, 19–23; 3:4–6, 9–10, 18–19; 4:13, 15, 17–18, 20–22, 24–25; 5:10, 15, 17; 6:8, 14). Guided by this renewal of the mind “after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24), readers of Ephesians may then acquire the wisdom needed to “discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (5:10) and to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (5:17) in everyday decisions of conduct and character (e.g., 4:25–6:9).

The renewal of the mind, with its accompanying conduct, leads to further and final renewal of the whole person (i.e., body and mind) on the day of redemption (4:30). Though there is not an explanation in the text of what is meant by the phrase “day of redemption,” reading Ephesians alongside the traditional Pauline corpus makes it clear that the day of redemption for the original readers would have brought to mind the final day of judgment—i.e., the day of bodily resurrection (e.g., Rom 2:16; 8:23; 1 Cor 1:8; 3:13; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; Phil 1:6, 10; 2:16; 1 Thess 5:2, 4; 2 Thess 1:10; 2:2¬–3; 2 Tim 1:12, 18; 4:8).

By tying together key themes of renewal that run throughout the letter, this study will add to the ongoing discussion of new life and resurrection in Ephesians. This study will also provide findings relevant to the discussion surrounding realized eschatology in Ephesians. Finally, the study will demonstrate the concepts of renewal and resurrection in Ephesians are comfortably at home with the same concepts in the undisputed Pauline letters.
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