Fulfill by Abidan Shah, PhD

FULFILL by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Gamers and techy people will understand what I am about to say: You cannot run a game or a program on the wrong platform. In fact, I had to get the help of some of our staff to even come up with some examples, since I am so out of touch! You cannot play Mario on Xbox, only Nintendo. In fact, that goes for all Nintendo products. You can’t run windows media player on a Mac, at least not without the proper software. You can’t have a Siri on an Android. For those of you who are still stuck in the 80s, you cannot put your cassette tapes in the CD player. So also, when it comes to accessing the program of the New Testament, you have to run it on the platform of the Old Testament. Sometimes, when people first come to Clearview, they are surprised and even confused as to how much attention we place on the Old Testament in our preaching and teaching. That is intentional. Main point: We used to say, “The New is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed.” I would add: Without the Old, the New is obscure; and without the New, the Old is obsolete. When the New is run on the platform of the Old, that’s when we not only see the glorious image of Jesus Christ, the second person of the godhead, who became man to give his life to save us, but we also see how to align our lives with God’s plan and purpose for us and this world.

Ephesians 5     30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Context: Before Paul got saved, he read his Bible (Old Testament), but it did not have the good news that Jesus the Messiah had already come. He and many other Jewish people of the first century saw the Christian gospel to be in direct opposition to the plan of God. In fact, he called the early Christians like Stephen blasphemers “against Moses and God” and against the “holy place and law” (Acts 6:14). He may have even thought that those who followed Christ were under a curse for rejecting the law and for following someone who was cursed for hanging on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:26; 27:26). But when Christ met him on the road to Damascus, it changed his life completely. All that he thought before now had to be relearned. Don’t misunderstand. This does not mean that he threw away his Bible. To the contrary, he retreated for a while with his Bible to get to know Christ. In other words, he had to turn on the same program, but the application now was Jesus!

Application: How do you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament? Do you look for Jesus? Are you more concerned about just your needs and wants? Are you saved? If not, you’ll be just like the pre-converted Paul. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no application. If the application is there, it is very cold and harsh.

When Paul returned, he saw his message as a fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel in the Old Testament. The reason we can say that is because his letters are filled with Old Testament references. Everywhere Paul turned in the Old Testament he saw Christ. He quoted almost all the Old Testament in his writings. Of course, there are no explicit citations, maybe only allusions, from Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Ciampa, “Old Testament in Paul” in DPL, 2nd edition, 722). Other than that, all the other books are reflected in his letters. Just in the letter to Ephesians, he quoted (not alluded) the Old Testament many times: Ephesians 1:20, 22 (cf. Psalm 110:1 and Psalm 8:6); 2:17 (cf. Isaiah 57:19); 4:8-10 (cf. Psalm 68:18); 4:25-26 (cf. Zechariah 8:16 and Psalm 4:4); 5:18 (cf. Proverb 23:31); 5:31-33 (cf. Genesis 2:23-24); 6:2-3 (cf. Exodus 20:12); and 6:14-17 (cf. Isaiah 11:4-5; 52:7; 59:17). This information is taken from A. T. Lincoln “The use of the OT in Ephesians,” 17-18.

The passage we just read has two such references. Ephesians 5     30 “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Those are references to Genesis 2:23 and 24. When you compare those verses with the Hebrew text, it is not the same words. The words actually line up better with the LXX (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament), albeit there are some differences. In other words, Paul was fine using a translation and not the original language. Not only did Paul use the LXX far more than the Hebrew text, but he also had different methods of using it: citations (marked or unmarked), allusions (unlike citations, there are too many to list), subtle echoes, and even a combination of them. Furthermore, when Paul quoted from the LXX, he did not always follow a set pattern. Sometimes it was word-for-word but sometimes it was not, but this does not mean that some details did not matter (For e.g., the singular “seed” in Galatians 3:16). To complicate things, we don’t know for sure if when he was translating from the LXX, which translation was he using. There was no one LXX but “really a collection of various translations done at different times by different people who had different skills and different approaches” (Moises Silva, “Old Testament in Paul” in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters 1stedition).

Did that diminish the authority of God’s Word? Absolutely not. 2 Timothy 3     16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

Important point: You and I can hold up our Bible regardless of the translation (most have no problem) and boldly proclaim that we hold in our hands the Word of God.

Paul was dealing with a problem in the Ephesian church. It was the disunity between the Jewish people and the Gentiles. He wants to graciously and lovingly bring them in line with the platform of God, the Old Testament, as given to the people of Israel. He tells the Jewish people to make room and for the Gentiles to understand that room has been made for them. This is all in the context of the OT Scriptures.

Ephesians 2        11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3        8   To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

Ephesians 4         1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Ephesians 4        17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

With this in mind, the following makes sense – Ephesians 5        22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

How do you see yourself in light of God’s plan of redemption? How do you see marriage in light of God’s plan at creation? Do you look for it in Genesis as Paul did? How do you see Christ in all of this? Are you saved?

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