February 27, 2010

Ephesians 2:11-12; A Devotional

Therefore, remember that at one point,1 you -- the Gentiles in terms of flesh, the ones called "foreskin"2 by those called "the circumcised", a handmade thing of flesh -- that at that time,1 you were separate from Christ, ostracized3 from the people of Israel, and aliens in terms of the covenants of promise: having no hope and being without God4 in the world.
Sometimes we forget that we were the Gentiles. We were those cut off from the promises of God; aliens from the covenants made with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. It is only in the blood of Jesus Christ that we are brought near to God.

This is part of God's whole project: To redeem all of humanity through Israel. But the first stage of that was redeeming Israel, and the rest of us were set aside until Israel was ready for the Messiah to come.

We must always remember that we do not have a right to salvation and we most certainly do not deserve it. Salvation is a gift granted to us who were outside and separate from the things of God. That God had made a holy people, and then He drew us in by the powerful life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Let us sing praises to our God and Saviour, Christ Jesus!

Translation notes

1 The parenthesis here is marked out by the use of these two synonyms: 'pote' and 'keiros'. 'Pote' derives from 'pou' (meaning 'where') and 'te' (meaning essentially 'and', but usually acts as a kind of modifier), meaning "at one time" or "once upon a time", referring to a past state or a past event. It does not seem to refer to the past in general though. 'Keiros' means 'time', though it is distinct from the word 'chronos'. 'Chronos' refers to time in general but 'keiros' refers to a specific moment in time, which would make it simular to 'moment' or 'period' or 'instant'.

In this case, 'keiros' refers back to 'pote', bringing the reader back to the beginning of the sentence, giving the passage the feel that the parenthesis interrupted Paul thought to the point that he had to start his thought again. I emphasize this synonymia by repeating the subject 'you'.

2 I found it interesting that the term used here 'akrobustia' doesn't mean 'uncircumcised', as it is commonly translated, but 'foreskin'. Quite frankly, I think this makes the term more insulting, and probably represents a mocking name that the Jews used for the Gentiles. I think translating it as 'uncircumcised' makes the whole passage seem clunkier, and is unnecessarily creates a rhetorical parallel between the two terms.

3 'Apellotriomenoi' literally means "to make another/differnent" or simply 'to alienate'. I felt that ostracize as an appropriate term.

4 'Atheoi' is actually one word, meaning "without God".

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