That moment when…

Paul had one of those moments. He had a social post too. The letter to the Ephesian was circulated to the house churches in the second largest city in the Roman Empire.

The Ephesian Moment is where Paul shares the great discovery of his time, that the Gentiles would share in the Messianic community. Everybody knew that the Gentiles were to be gathered in for the Messianic age. Everyone knew that in the Messiah the Gentile peoples were going to be blessed. However, nobody knew just how important this understanding would be.

This was the mystery! The great secret that is now open for all to see, that the Gentiles would be more than Jewish converts, that two radically different peoples would coexist in the same church. The first bi-cultural church, the Church at Antioch, was the first missionary Church.

The Church at Jerusalem, that of the Apostles and Elders, lasted only a few generations. The new believers did not have to become Jews. They did not have to take up the Jewish culture. What was Christianity to look like? There was no precedent. Jesus lived a perfect model of a Jewish life. 

Andrew Walls provides biblical precedence to what we are experiencing in the Global Church today. The stark shift in the Church then comes in Acts 15 when the new move of the Spirit opens the way for Greeks to live as Christians.

Questions that arose during that time related to foods offered to idols, for example. This new sort of Christian accepts invitations from pagans to have conversations at the dinner table. Christ is translated into a new social condition. As Paul says in Corinthians, “I am in pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Why? Because the Corinthians were trying to follow the Jewish law by being circumcised. Paul declared that they must find their own cultural expression of being a Christ-follower, “til we all reach the full stature of Christ.” The whole of humanity, every cultural expression, is summed up in Christ. He is not limited to our own cultural expressions.

That Ephesian Moment gets lost for a long time, because of the breach with Judaism, not many Jews became Christians. The Church became mono-cultural again, only this time it becomes overwhelmingly Hellenistic Gentiles. Unfortunately, many Jews who have become Christians in this pattern, were forced to become Hellenistic Gentile Christians. This was precisely what Paul preached against.