Word Study: “Offering”

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.   Ephesians 5:2

Ephesians is a letter full of deep doctrine and practice for the local church. Paul begins the letter by delving into the plan of God in eternity past, and he then moves on to how God has made Jews and Gentiles one people in the church of Christ. He then proceeds to move to the application part of his letter, in which he instructs the body of the Lord to put away certain practices and to put on the new man. That brings us to our text today. Paul tells the Ephesians and other readers of this letter to “walk in love” and gives Christ as an example of what that means. In so doing, he says that Christ gave himself for us as an “offering.” What is this word “offering,” and how does it affect how we should walk in love towards our brothers in the Lord?

The Greek word translated as “offering,” prosphoran, is used in two senses. It can be used to express an action and an object. When it is used to express an action, it is talking about a voluntary action done by someone. Similarly, when this word is used to describe an object, it means an object that was brought as a voluntary expression by someone. This second definition is what is meant in this context. Paul says that Christ has voluntarily given Himself as an offering to God, and that this was done in love towards us, the church. This was the standard of love to which Paul said we as Christians should look towards.

How do we measure up to this? Do we love our brothers and sisters to the point that we are willing to voluntarily give our life for them? We may try to say that a view like that is extreme or radical; Paul says it is biblical. We are to conduct ourselves in such a way that we would be willing to follow the example of Christ and lay down our lives for the family of God. This includes all family members: the ones we talk to on a regular basis on Sunday and the ones who sit in the back of the church that everyone ignores. May God grant us this love today.

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