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The Center for the Study of Biblical Demonology.

Archive for April, 2010

Living Free #2

Posted by owner on April 27, 2010

FREEDOM WORKSHOPS provide instruction on Satan’s schemes and teach biblical truths about identity, faith, peace, righteousness and truth that free those who have fallen into the devil’s traps. Living Free Support Groups help believers apply these truths and experience freedom in Christ. A new activity for Living Free Support groups is published every two weeks on www.demondope.com.

Living Free #2
Applying biblical principals of Freedom in Living Free support groups.

IDENTITY

Activity

Picture yourself as a house, with the rooms containing good things you inherited from your parents. Take the group on a tour sharing the positive traits and characteristics you inherited.

When everyone has shared, look through the rooms again. Identify one or more important things that are absent from those rooms, traits and characteristics you deeply wish you had inherited but did not. Share this with the group also.

Recognize Satan’s Lie

Few parents are ideal. Most do the best they can, but Satan uses the their flaws and sins to corrupt our lives and make us feel inadequate.

Hear God’s Truth

“He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:4) Male and female, we have been adopted “as his sons.” In Roman law a child who was adopted was severed from old family, and no longer responsible to his birth father. His only family link was to his adopted father. His actions won credit for his new father. And he was considered to possess all that his new father possessed. This is the significance of Paul’s statement that God the Father has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing. Adopted into God’s family we have a totally new identity, and resources provided by God more than make up for the failures of our old family to provide us with all we need to lead productive and meaningful lives.

Respond to God’s Truth

Place one chair in the center and arrange the other chairs around it.

Take turns sitting in the center chair. The let each person in the circle pray for the individual in the center, thanking God for the gift of that blessing which will fill the gap(s) within himself the individual in the center has just shared.

Each prayer should conclude: “In the name of God your Father, I bless you with (the needed trait).

Unison Affirmation

We confess that we have failed
We have failed to understand our identity as adopted sons,
We have failed to claim all of our inheritance in Christ,
We have failed to live in the victory Christ has won for us.
We affirm the Bible’s truth:
We believe that we have been adopted as sons,
We believe that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing,
We believe that in Christ all the riches of God are now ours.
We hereby acknowledge and claim:
We claim our true identity as adopted sons of the living God,
We claim all those gifts and abilities which God alone can supply,
We claim the victory over our old weaknesses,
With God’s help we will live as the new creations in Christ
which we truly are.

Memory Verse

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Principalities and Powers, #12

Posted by owner on April 27, 2010

The twelth in a series of studies on demons in Paul’s epistles.

“For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him?” (Col. 1:16)

Background

Colossians is often described as a Christological [Christ focused] epistle. Most commentators also believe that it was written to combat incipient Gnosticism. In later centuries Gnosticism emerged as a fully developed philosophy which featured a well defined view of God and the universe. Paul’s teaching in Colossians seems to directly confront the central beliefs of the Gnostic system.

Gnostics held that God is pure spirit, and that only spirit is good. On the other hand, the material universe is evil. Surely the Good God could not have created the Evil Material Universe. It followed that Christ could not be God come in the flesh. Either the man Christ Jesus was not God, or the God revealed in Christ was an apparition rather than a true human.

The Apostle Paul confronts these characteristic Gnostic beliefs directly, and in the paragraph in which this verse is embedded Paul presents Jesus as the “image of the invisible God,” a phrase that first century readers understood to assert that Jesus is the visible expression of God and is himself God. Paul goes on to claim that Jesus not only is God expressed in flesh (cf 1:19-22) but that he is also the creator of the visible and invisible universe. The Christian has a dramatically different view of reality from that espoused by the Gnostic.

Observations

“By him were all things created.” In the Gnostic system God, who is pure spirit, could have nothing to do with the material creation. How then was the material universe to be explained? The Gnostic postulated a series of “emanations” [spirit beings] standing between God and the material universe. Those closest to God were the purest, the most “spiritual” and thus the most “good.” But each rank in the series of angels was less spiritual, until finally, in the lowest rank of angels, stood one who was the creator of the evil material universe.

To this view Paul says, No. “By him were all things created.” Jesus Christ, God himself, is the creator, not some imagined low ranking spirit being. And though he did not, Paul might have quoted Genesis here, and repeated the verdict of the creator who viewed his work and announced, “it was good.”

“things in heaven and things on earth.” With this phrase Paul further clarifies the issue. The Gnostic could accept the idea that God created the things in heaven, for in that view heaven is spiritual and therefore good by definition. But no Gnostic could imagine that God created both “things in heaven and things on earth.” Since the material to the Gnostic was intrinsically evil, God could not be the creator of things on earth.

“both visible and invisible” The Gnostic system featured a thoroughgoing dualism. On one side of an chasm stood the invisible; heaven, spirit, and good. On the opposite side stood the visible; earth, flesh, and evil. God stood on the one side only. As the ultimate good and pure spirit, he is by necessity limited to the spirit side of the chasm. But Paul insists that the Gnostic is wrong. God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, is the creator of all things.

“whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities” With this phrase Paul shocks his readers. Among the invisible things God created are thrones, powers, rulers and authorities!
On the one hand one might argue that the spirit beings in view here are God’s own angels. But we’ve seen that the “powers” vocabulary was used in the first century to identify those spirit beings the Gospels, and we today, call demons. Is Paul ascribing the creation of the demonic forces ranged against God’s own people to God’s creative act?

“all things were created by him and for him” Again Paul asserts that “all things” were created by Christ. But here he adds they were created “for him.” The creation in all its complexity is not only the work of God, it has been designed to serve his purposes. “By him, and for him” reminds us that all that has been, all that is, and all that will be will ultimately bring glory to God.

The problem of Evil

The Gnostics developed their system in large part to resolve the problem of evil. Surely a Good God could not be the originator of Evil. Where then did Evil come from? Perhaps even more challenging, How can a good God permit Evil to exist in His universe? The Gnostic answer is a strict dualism. God is Good. But God is pure Spirit. He has nothing to do with the material universe, and it is in this universe that Evil has its home. God did not create it. He does not govern its operations. And he surely did not enter it as a human being.
Paul confronts the Gnostic solution boldly and directly. There is no chasm isolating God from the material universe. God takes responsibility for the creation of all things—even those spirits who are now evil and are dedicated to thwarting his purposes, who torment the human beings whom he loves.

There is a solution to the problem of evil. But that solution is not found in futile attempts to protect God’s reputation by robbing him of the credit for Creation.

“For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him?” (Col. 1:16)

Principalities and Powers, #11

Posted by owner on April 21, 2010

The eleventh in a series of studies of demons in Paul’s epistles.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:12.13).

Context

The Book of Ephesians is best understood as a handbook on spiritual warfare against the “powers of this dark world.” In chapter six of Ephesians the Apostle sums up his teaching, with the armor worn by a fully armed Roman legionnaire symbolizing each theme he has treated in this powerful letter. The verses we are looking at in this study, verses 12 and 13 of chapter six, put the nature of spiritual warfare in clear perspective.

Observations

“our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” When we experience difficulties with other Christians, or find fellow believers disrupting our churches, our tendency is to see them as the problem. When nonbelievers attempt to marshal public opinion or political power against Christians, we tend to respond in the same way. But Paul reminds us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We make no headway focusing on our tormentors, for the simple reason that the source of their hostility is supernatural, not natural. As Paul remind us, we are to struggle against the true source of opposition, the powers, rulers and authorities who dominate the dark world in which we live.

“powers, rulers, authorities.” In the first century world these terms referred not to abstractions but to discrete spirit beings, living evil entities. The angels who followed Satan and who as demons serve him now, are the sources of the evils against which we are called to struggle. Rather than marshal our energies to battle those humans who, often unwittingly, are the instruments of evil, we are to focus our energies to combat the demonic powers that energize them.

“the powers of this dark world” Theologically “world” (kosmos} portrays human society as a tangled web of drives and passions that reflect fallen human nature. It truly this is a dark world, for sinful man’s passions are warped and twisted. This world is described powerfully by the Apostle John in his first epistle: “everything that is in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does” (2:16). As John succinctly says, these things are “not of the Father.” Rather human societies and cultures are shaped by Satan and his “powers/” Not only the lost but all too often God’s own lose their way in the world’s tangled web of corrupting beliefs and values.

“the spiritual forces of evil.” The powers that operate in this dark world and against which we struggle are called “spiritual forces of evil.” The real enemies are not the human puppets but rather the evil spirits who influence them.

“in the heavenly realms” It’s best to take this phrase as a reference to the realm inhabited by God, by holy and by fallen angels. In the first century this realm was “up.” Moderns might think of it as “beside,” as a parallel dimension. We don’t know “where” the heavenly realms are. But we do know that both angels and demons are able to affect events on earth from that realm.
We also know that God has blessed us “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). The enemy is not beyond our reach! We have not only been equipped by God for spiritual warfare, but we have been provided with every spiritual blessing so that we can triumph over the demonic powers whose base is in the “heavenly realms”!

Conclusion

Satan and his demons are powerful enemies, committed to making our lives both miserable and meaningless, preventing us from walking in those good works which God has ordained beforehand for us to do. But God has provided us with the resources we need thwart Satan’s schemes. We are put on the “full armor” that God has made available, and thus equipped we are to engage in the struggle against our real enemies . . . the powers and rulers and authorities who operate in and through humans to thwart God’s intent for individual believers and for our faith communities alike.

How important then to understand and to apply the truths taught in this great New Testament book.

Start your own “Live Free” Group

Posted by owner on April 21, 2010

A Leader’s Guide

Once every two weeks you’ll lead a gathering of friends meeting at your or another member’s home. Your purpose is to provide mutual encouragement for group members to live free from a sense of personal inadequacy, free from anxiety, free from bitterness, free from loneliness, and free from addictive sins. The basis of these freedoms is laid out in the New Testament book of Ephesians, which is the source of the practical steps your group members will encourage each other to take.

Your role is to provide a warm, informal setting for sharing each person’s story, and to guide the group through a process of study and application of God’s Word to each person’s personal story.

Group size

You can follow the Live Free process with just you and a friend. Three or four person groups are generally better. There is no maximum size, but when your group grows to more than five persons, it’s a usually a good idea to divide equally to do the process and prayer time, coming together again to read the affirmations together.

Launching

It doesn’t require anything special. Just you and one or two friends who want to explore the freedom Christ provides along with protection form the Devil’s schemes. Get together for coffee during the day, or some evening. And let the group grow naturally as you invite others.

Another way to launch Live Free groups is to arrange for a church or group of churches to sponsor one of my FREEDOM WORKSHOPS, which are held on Friday evenings/Saturdays. These workshops are available at no cost, other than travel and lodging expenses. You can contact me for further information and promotional materials at ancient1@nc.rr.com

The process

After a time to catch up with each others, you’ll launch a simple process.

Each session the process begins with an activity that will help group members identify and share an aspect of their personal story. This is followed by exposing a strategy Satan uses to make our lives unhappy and unproductive. You then briefly explore together one of God’s Truths, which contradicts Satan’s lie and leads to a satisfying, productive life. God’s Truth is then applied to each person’s story through further sharing.

Follow this with a time when you lift each other up in prayer.

The session concludes with a unison reading affirming God’s truth and the group’s commitment to it. Finally, each group member is encouraged to memorize a relevant Bible verse.

Commitments

It helps if each person in the group understands certain commitments implicit in membership in a Living Free group. You may or may not wish to ask members to sign commitment cards. But each should understand the following expectations.

1. I will faithfully attend meetings.
2. I will freely share my story.
3. I will respect other’s stories, and keep what they say confidential.
4. I will pray for and support the other members of my group.
5. I will welcome the prayers and support of my group.
6. I will seek God’s help to live the truths we study.

Themes

Each week’s process will be organized around one of the following themes.

Identity The Helmet of Salvation Eph 1
Faith The Shield of Faith Eph 2:1-10
Fellowship The Sandals…peace Eph 2:11-4:16
Righteousness Breastplate of Righteousness Eph 4:17-5:7
Truth The belt of Truth Eph 5:8-6:9

These elements comprise the “full armor of God” which Scripture says equips us to “stand against the devil’s schemes” and to struggle against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11,12).

Source

A new process guide is published bi-weekly on www.demondope.com, and is available at no cost to those who wish to start or participate in a Live Free support group.

Mid-April News

Posted by owner on April 21, 2010

Published items illustrating the growing impact of neopagan and occult religion on Western culture.

No Tongue in Cheek

When a local paper published the “Best of Utah in 2010” it identified the “Free Spirit Pagan” as the “best place for Gods and Goddesses to shop.” According to the paper, Free Spirit Pagan is the best source for “everything pagan, Wiccan, Druid, Goddess, Goth, Metaphysical, New Age, Fae, Occult, Fantasy, and everything else under the stars.”

Meanwhile

Every few years the Utah Pagan Community comes up with a new divination tool, a Maninni Tarot deck. “Maninni” is Italian for “many little hands,” and a Maninni Tarot deck is one in which different individuals design one or two of the cards to be included in the deck. This year’s deck is dedicated to “The Goddess Utah.”

Ah Utah!

It seems that Free Spirit Pagan has competition in the form of Spellbound, a similar shop in Salt Lake City. The hot news: from Tuesday, April 13 through Tuesday, April 14, all Pagan idols and wall plaques were on sale! And as the newspaper article proclaimed, “every good Pagan also knows how important it is to have an idol or two on their altar.”

PSU Hosts Pagan Speaker

The University Libraries Diversity Committee’s Religion and Culture Speaker Series at Penn State University invited the co-presidents of The Silver Circle pagan’s group to discuss Paganism in a public forum on Tuesday, April 1st. Audience members indicated the presentation was helpful in clearing up what Paganism entails. Meanwhile, at Cal State [Fullerton] Gaia’s Titans, the on campus Wiccan/Pagan club, is credited by the school paper with “bringing diversity to campus.” .

Pagan Music?

Seems that pagan music is popular these days. It streams on the Pagan Radio Network as well as PaganWorldRadio, both of which are available on line. And if you want to amazed at how much of it there is, go to “pagan music” on UTubes home page. There’s also a podcast of Pagan music, called A Darker Shade of Pagan, which one can subscribe to through i-Tunes or download directly as an MP3 file.

Pagan Students De-recognized

It was failure to take “necessary steps” that led to the de-recognition of the Pagan Students Community at the University of Rochester. The Student Senate, which voted to de-recognize the group, stated that it views its action as providing the pagans with an “opportunity to reorganize and thrive in future years.”

World of Witches Museum Opens

Where else but Salem, Mass. What’s special about this Museum is that it is operated by practicing witches, eager to tell the story of witchcraft from the witch’s point of view. The museum will also be a teaching institution, according to the Rev. Don Lewis, First Priest of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. The museum will be housed in Draculla’s Castle, a former haunted house attraction. And Oh yes, it’s on Facebook. And anyone can take classes at its Witch School.

Psychic Frauds?

An article in the New York Magazine broke the shocking news. I quote:
“Last year, psychic to the stars Azrs Shah-Scagliar was convicted of grand larceny. Then a couple of moths ago, Sylvia Mitchell of Zena Psychic was accused of tricking her customers into giving her large sums of money by telling them that they needed to cleanse their spirits. The “psychic investment adviser” Sean Morton was charged by the SEC with fraud. And now, “intuitive” psychic Laura Day is being sued by her ex-boyfriend, Princeton Review founder Adam Robinson, who claims that she manipulated him into writing her best-selling book for her out of “wholly unusable” notes and then used her powers of intuition against him.”
Nuff said?

PITA vs Santeria

In Tracy, California, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the police to interrupt a gathering at the home of Betty Marquez. It seems they suspected that Marquez, a practitioner of Santeria, an African-cuban religion in which worshippers of deities called “orishas’ and occasionally sacrifice goats or other animals. This time when police knocked at the door the group was simply drum-beating, singing and dancing. Marquez says that animal sacrifice is an important part of her religion, and is studying the city code to make sure animal sacrifice is actually prohibited.

Connecticut Store Promotes Pagan Culture

Melissa Kepley’s new store, The Magical Attic, has a mission. She intends to offer a one-stop shopping experience for local Pagans and to “clear up common misconceptions about Pagan culture, and witches in particular.” The 42-year-old., who is “proud to be a witch,” performs rituals and spells in front of an altar in her home, inviting the “elements of the Earth” to join her sacred circle, created with the use of a wand. Fortunately for her new business, her “success with animal communication and paranormal studies has gained attention from several TV production crews.” Apparently, reaction to the store has been positive. Speaking of local pagans who shop with her, she states that, “I can’t give you hard numbers/ But there a lot more of us than you’d think.”

NPR Witch at Colorado Conference

One guest at the University of Colorado’s Conference on World Affairs was Margaret Adler, a journalist with National Public Radio for over 30 years. Adler, a practicing Wiccan, discussed spirituality and the state of youth culture in the United States. Asked how she balanced journalism with her strong beliefs, Adler stated that “I don’t believe in objectivity, but I do believe in fairness. Because I’m very aware of what I believe, I bend absolutely backwards when I talk to someone I don’t agree with.”

Pagan Couple Sign Contract

Alex and Jenni, 19 and 16, have signed a contract with Australia’s Channel 9 “current affairs” program giving the station exclusive rights to cover their pagan marriage ceremony. Sue Birch, a pagan high-priestess, will perform the ceremony in Brisbane.

Merlin’s Rest

It’s a great name for a pub Minnesota pub. Especially as it’s the site of Volva Stav sessions. What’s that? Well, it’s a circle of (usually) women who pound on the floor with crooked sticks, while clicking spoons and chanting, ululating and yipping. It boils down to medieval worship, Nordic style, with its roots in nature-based rituals and traditions. You can also catch the ritual at the upcoming national gathering of Heathens in Hinckly, Minn, in June. And if you want to learn how to pound the ground the leader, Kari Tauring is also booked to teach some Lutheran church-basement ladies.

New iphone App

Speaking of Norwegian religion, David De Young has created an iphone app on Runes, Norse symbols for objects and qualities. Reading the runes is supposed to be a way people seeking answers gain knowledge supernaturally. While the answers aren’t guaranteed, they do “access nature, as a guide to how to behave in the world.”

The iphone app store must be proud to have this resource added to their voodoo curse app, which lets a person take the picture of an enemy, add his or her fact to a virtual voodoo doll, and stick it with virtual pins.

Stabbing Victim Labeled “Sacrifice”

There’s a new note on the Albuquerque murder of a man stabbed 13 times with a Wiccan dagger. It seems the accused Wiccan, Angela Sanford, had the victim’s number programmed into her cell phone under the word “sacrifice.” According to the District Attorney’s spokesman, Patrick Davis, “It make us absolutely confident there was something more here than her claim of self-defense.”

FULLERTON, CALIFORNIA

Posted by owner on April 15, 2010

Just finished teaching a week long 3-credit course at California State Christian University on The Spirit World. We spent six hours each day exploring what Scripture says about angel and demons, Satan’s schemes directed against believers, and the resources God provides that enables us to stand against the devil and his demons. The highlight of the week was a visit from Dr Charles Kraft, who answered questions on his book Deep Wounds, Deep Healing, and then ministered to one of the students, freeing her from the pain of many deep wounds and from demons who had attached themselves to those wounds.

As a culminating experience the students served as counselors at the Friday evening/Saturday FREEDOM WORKSHOP which followed. Several had a chance to pray with and minister freedom to others who attended the workshop.

CSCU provides practical training in ministry for pastors and other adults who have a heart for ministry. Their courses lead to an accredited ministry degree that blends classroom work with real-life experience, as the Spirit World class did for the dozen or so students who audited or who took my class for credit.
The class was audio and video-taped, and now that I’m home I’ll be working on a proctor’s guide. CSCU partners with other educational institutions, and with churches or groups of churches that want to provide training within the context of their own congregations. This is exciting, because it means the video-taped courses are be available world-wide. And those who wish to can work toward an accredited graduate degree while remaining in their own localities. I’m really excited about the potential for this model, bringing university level classes to the local church, for training working or retired men and women for ministry. This model, which has students learning in local groups, seems to me to have far greater potential than the distance learning models that rely on computer contact and individual learning.

The Friday evening/Saturday FREEDOM WORKSHOP was also audio and video taped. My workshop was not a part of the course, but provided a setting in which the students could see what I’d been teaching applied in a ministry setting. It also gave the students an opportunity to minister one-on-one to those who wanted inner healing or prayer for deliverance. As readers of Demondope know, I’m making this workshop available at no cost for sponsorship by churches or groups of churchs. The FREEDOM WORKSHOP not only ministers to Christians, but is a powerful attraction for those in the community who are looking for freedom from their own pains and compulsions. In the near future I’ll make a video of at least one one hour session of the Workshop available on line or on CD.

New Demondope Feature!

Posted by owner on April 15, 2010

“Living Free” Support Group Activities

FREEDOM WORKSHOPS provide instruction on how to recognize Satan’s schemes to make believers unproductive and unhappy. They also teach biblical principles that protect us against those schemes, and that free those who have fallen into the devil’s traps. As A follow up to FREEDOM WORKSHOPS many who attend join Living Free Support Groups, to help each other continue to apply God’s truths and experience their freedom in Christ. A new activity for Living Free Support groups is published every two weeks on www.demondope.com.

Living Free #1
Applying biblical principals of Freedom in Living Free support groups.

IDENTITY

Activity

Identify one negative thing that you’ve thought or said about yourself, such as, “I’m not worthy of love,” or “I’ll never amount to anything,” etc. Recall one incident from your childhood when you received this message from a parent, a teacher, or someone else who was significant in your life.

Use crayons to draw a picture of that situation, choosing colors that reflect how you felt when the incident happened.

Show and explain your picture. Tell how this and similar incidents have affected your life.

Recognize Satan’s Lie

Satan uses the sins of others to distort our understanding of who we are as human beings and our understanding of our identity in Christ. Messages like “I’m not worthy of love,” or “I’ll never amount to anything” are lies, intended to blind us to who we are in Christ.

Hear God’s Truth

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4)
God loved you before you were born. He chose you, even before he created the universe.

Respond to God’s Truth

Close your eyes and imagine that as God created the world he was thinking of you, filled with love for you. You know you don’t deserve that kind of love, but let it flow over you anyway, washing away the lie and healing your hurts.

Then draw a picture of the same incident, but show yourself insulated by God’s love.

Show your picture and share how knowledge of God’s overwhelming love for you changes your feelings and your view of yourself.

Unison Affirmation

This night we reject Satan’s lies.
We refuse to believe that we are worthless,
That we are unlovable
Or that we are doomed to be failures.
We accept the truth that God loves us.
We believe that we have been chosen by God,
That we are loved,
That with God’s help we will succeed in glorifying him.
This night we reject Satan’s lies.
This night we choose to believe God’s Truth.

Copy this Bible verse, post it in your house and memorize it:

“I am convinced that . . . .nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).

Principalities and Powers, #10

Posted by owner on April 15, 2010

The tenth in a series of studies of demons in the Epistles of Paul

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10,11).

Background

The theme of “peace” dominates the middle section of Ephesians (2:11-4:16). The peace in view in this passage is illustrated by the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile, the two major groups into which Scripture previously divided humanity. The Jewish people had been selected out from the rest of humankind to be the vehicle of God’s revelation and the people through whom the promised redeemer would come. As such they had a well-established claim to the title of “chosen people.” Theirs were the covenants, theirs was the Law.

In contrast Gentiles, a category into which all non-Jews fell, were “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (2:12).

It’s hardly surprising the line between the two peoples, symbolized by the Law which God had given to Moses, created mutual hurts and hostilities in Jew and Gentile alike. And then Christ died and was raised, providing a new basis for relationship with God which made Law irrelevant. In Paul’s words, “he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (2:14).

It is against this background that Paul shares a surprising divine purpose.

Observations

“Now.” It’s important to remember that revelation is “progressive.” This simply means that God has gradually unveiled truth about himself and his plans over time. For instance, God about 2000 years before Christ the Lord revealed to Abraham that he intended to bless all humankind through his descendants (Gen 12:1-3).
About 1000 years before Christ God revealed through the Davidic covenant that the deliverance would come through David’s line, and the deliverer would inherit David’s throne (2 Samuel 7). Some 400 years later through an additional promise given through the prophet Jeremiah God revealed that the blessing on humankind would involve both forgiveness and an inner transformation, described as writing God’s Law on the human heart (Jeremiah 31).

The point is, of course, that a person living prior to one of the pivotal covenants would have no way of knowing aspects of God’s purpose which had not yet been revealed.

The little word, “now,” alerts us to the fact that yet another aspect of God’s plan has been revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the events which have followed. And this is that God has eliminated the distinction which he himself had previously made between the Jews as his chosen people, and the Gentiles, who previously had no claim to relationship with him.

In fact Paul later identifies this teaching as a mysterion, a mystery. And “mystery,” when used theologically, identifies a truth which has not be revealed before. Thus the “now” in this verse is extremely significant.

“through the church.” The “church” here and throughout the New Testament refers not to organizations or edifices but to the people of God. Shockingly, unexpectedly, that people of God includes both Jew and Gentile, not as two classes of people but as “one body” (4:4).

It was no surprise to the Jews that God intended to save non-Jews. Isaiah had said of the coming Messiah, “in him will the Gentiles trust.” The shock was that Gentiles, strangers and foreigners, would be granted equal standing with the Jews. Yet this had become a stunning reality through the church.

“the manifold wisdom on God.” The melding of Jew and Gentile into one in the church is just another demonstration of the complex, multifaceted wisdom of God. Those who imagine they understand God or his purposes must step back, and realized that there a more levels, more intricacies to God’s plan than they can imagine.

“made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” Again we can’t be certain whether the “rulers and authorities” in view in this phrase are God’s angels or Satan’s demons. Given Paul’s concern with spiritual warfare in Ephesians, however, the later seems more likely.

The picture we gain is that of Satan and his underlings, satisfied that they have figured out what God is doing, and having laid their plans accordingly, suddenly shocked at an unexpected turn of events. The realization that God’s grace is great enough to encompass the entire human race, drawing Gentile as well as Jew to himself and thus sheltering them from the evil, must have set the dark forces back on their heels.

Conclusions

In the context of spiritual warfare “peace,” the creation of unity and harmony between human beings, is essential. Yet simply being human seems to guarantee that divisions will exist between “us” and “them,” if not along the divide of Jew and Gentile then along other divides: black and while, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, sophisticated and simple.

What Jesus did on the cross in making the Jew/Gentile division irrelevant is to be applied to every cause of division between believers. In Christ we are to find and affirm oneness, demonstrating to angels and demons alike the efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice, and another of the many dimensions of God’s purpose which is being worked out in the body of Christ.