Triple TogethernessDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
When you hear the word "togetherness," what comes to mind? I think of family vacations when I was young—my parents and three siblings driving in a car along a mountain road, on our way to camping at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California. The togetherness I felt during those family vacations was one of the highlights of my life.
According to Ephesians 3, God has revealed a mystery that includes three different kinds of togetherness. You can see this in our translation of verse 6: "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." I've italicized the word "together" to emphasize the triple togetherness in this verse. In fact, the original language employs curious parallelism with three adjectives that all begin with a form of the Greek word for "with."
- Synkleronoma, "with-heirs"
- Syssoma, "with-bodies"
- Symmetocha, "with-partakers"
It's possible that Paul made up the word syssoma to mean "members together of one body," since it appears nowhere else in Greek literature prior to Ephesians.
The triple togetherness in Ephesians 3:6 reiterates what we have already seen in Ephesians 2. As you recall, God produced this togetherness and unity through the cross of Christ. Ephesians 3:6 reminds us of what God has done through Christ's death and resurrection by mentioning that our togetherness comes "through the gospel." Moreover, Paul says our togetherness is "in Christ Jesus." It is a result of Christ's work, something we experience when our lives are governed and energized by Christ.
The triple togetherness of Ephesians 3:6 underscores, once again, the fact that the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. Though we have a personal, intimate relationship with God through Christ (see Eph. 2:4-6), we are not to live apart from a personal, intimate relationship with God's people in Christ. At the center of the story of the gospel is God's salvation through Christ, which brings us into community with God and with our fellow Christians in the church.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are some of your best memories of togetherness? How do you experience togetherness with God? How do you experience togetherness with the people of God?
PRAYER: Thank you, Gracious God, for the togetherness you have forged through the death and resurrection of Christ. Thank you that we are not alone, but that we have the opportunity to live together with you and your people. Help me, dear Lord, to experience this togetherness on a regular basis. Help me to contribute to the Christ-centered togetherness of my Christian community. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.