We and You? by Mark D. Roberts

Posted: September 27, 2012 in The High Calling
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth…

As we have seen, God‘s plan for the cosmos is to “bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). In the opening verses of Ephesians, this unity can be seen in the language of the text. It is profoundly corporate and inclusive: “us…us…us…us…we…us…us…we” (excerpts from 1:3-11).

But verses 12 and 13 add a new wrinkle, a distinction between “we” and “you.” The text says, “[In him we were also chosen] in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth” (1:12-13, emphasis added). Who are the “we” and “you” in this passage? Does this rhetorical division run the risk of dividing the people of God in Christ?

The text identifies “we” as the ones who “were the first to put our hope in Christ.” This suggests a temporal distinction between the early believers and those who believed later. This raises the question about the religious character of those identified as “we.” Given that Paul and the first Christians were Jewish, does “we” imply “we Jews” in contrast to “you Gentiles“? If we peek ahead to chapter 2, we see that the distinction between Jews and Gentiles is a crucial one because it sets the stage for the unifying work of Christ. So, it is possible that “we” in verse 12 means “we Jews.” But this is not stated. The literal sense is “we who put our faith in Christ early on.”

“You,” then, would be those who might be thought of as the second generation of Christians. Many of these would, in fact, be Gentile believers. But this does not appear to be the main point of the we/you distinction. Temporal difference is suggested here.

Yet, as we’ll see shortly, this difference is inconsequential. The point of verses 12-13 is that both “we” and “you” are included among those whom God has chosen and who have responded to the gospel through faith. There is no hierarchy that puts earlier believers above or separate from later believers. Yes, it may be that those who have been in Christ longer are more mature than those who are young in the faith. But, in all the things that matter, both “we” and “you” are united.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are some of the distinctions we make in the church between “we” and “you”? Are these distinctions helpful? Harmful? Inconsequential? Are there we/you distinctions that might keep you from embracing fully your sisters and brothers in Christ?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for those who have known you for a long time. I think of my older brothers and sisters whose faith has made such a difference in my life. Thank you for…[Let me encourage you to mention with gratitude older and more mature believers who have touched your life somehow].

Lord, some of the distinctions between “we” and “you” in the church don’t really matter. But others divide and separate. They keep your children from living together in love and serving together in the power of your Spirit. Forgive us, Lord, when we divide that which you have joined together. Help us to live in love and truth as your family. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/we-and-you

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