Ephesians 6 – The Whole Armor of God & The Cult of Dionysus

Finger Pointing Up

1 Legend says that
Legend says that while Dionysus was walking one day on the shore on an island in the Greek seas, he was abducted by pirates, who mistook him for the son of a rich king and expected a heavy ransom.

They carried him aboard their ship and attempted to bind him with ropes; but the knots untied themselves and the ropes fell to the deck. The sea around the ship turned to wine, and a vine began to grow up the mast.

The god assumed the form of a lion, and the pirates, in terror, leapt overboard and were transformed into dolphins.

This is the last chapter of Ephesians so tomorrow we’ll look at…

Ephesians 6
The Whole Armor of God

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

2 Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

2 Dionysus was
Dionysus was symbolically associated, with the rebirth after death as in vine culturing; where the vines must be pruned after the vintage is over (death) and remain dormant during the winter , until (rebirth) spring comes to start growing again.

Greeks were influenced by the wine’s dual nature; the joy and ecstasy, and the brutal, unthinking rage. They celebrated with wine the liberation from the bondage of reason, and the social custom.

The wine helped them soften the hardship, and troubles of the everyday life. Under the influence of wine, one could feel possessed by a greater power and do works one otherwise could not.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

“Not against flesh and blood” – a caution against lashing out against human opponents as though they were the real enemy and also against assuming that the battle can be fought using merely human resources.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

“Shield of faith…quench…fiery darts: – describes the large Roman shield covered with leather, which could be soaked in water and used to put out flame-tipped arrows.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The battle is spiritual and against the devil, not against each other, and we cannot beat the devil alone, we need God’s strength.

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

3 1019 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:

22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

(Written from Rome to the Ephesians by Tychicus.)

The Cult of Dionysus

4 Although the ancient
Although the ancient Greeks did not discover wine, they believed that Dionysus (a god with the mind of man and the instincts of a beast) invented wine.

Greeks worshiped Dionysus as god of wine.

Oeneus the king of Calydon, whose name in Greek means “wine”, was the first to be taught by Dionysus how to grow the vine and use it.

The cult of Dionysus, the god of wine, also called Bacchus, appears to have emigrated from Asia to ancient Greece, Dionysus worship was notorious for its unrestrained, orgiastic character, involving wine, music, dance and sex (although festivals officially sanctioned by Greek cities tended to downplay some of the wilder elements).

Euripides, the ancient Greek playwright, included a memorable account of Dionysus worship in his play “Baccae. This play highlights the efforts of Pentheus, king of Thebes, to stifle Dionysus worship in his city.

At the end of the play, frenzied female devotees of Dionysus  (a group that included Pentheus’s mother) tore the unfortunate king limb from limb.

The cult remained popular throughout the Hellenistic age. Although suppressed in Rome during the 2nd century B.C., Dionysus worship experienced resurgence, becoming an authorized religion of the Roman Empire.

Outsiders sometimes confused Jewish worship with that of Dionysus, possibly for the following reasons:

* Prior to the Jewish Maccabean revolt, which began in 167 B.C., Greek overlords forced their Jewish slaves to participate in Dionysus worship.  Observers may have believed that these Jews had become involved in Dionysus cult voluntarily.

* Jewish society used symbols also associated with Dionysus worship (such as vine leaf, grape cluster and cup).

* Ecstatic worshipers of Dionysus often shouted out a meaningless exclamation, Euoe Saboenhis! This could have been confused with the Jewish term for God, Yahweh Sabaoth, which was sometimes pronounced lao Sabaoth.

Dionysian drunkenness was more than mere self-indulgence; it was a counterfeit spirituality. In the frenzied and ecstatic Dionysiac rituals, intoxication with wine was equated with being filled with the spirit of Dionysus.

Some of the new believers in Asia Minor were probably carrying this form of worship with them into the church by associating wine with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

5 Dionysus
Dionysus was usually depicted as a youth, wearing a crown of vines with grapes while holding the thyrsus, a wand which was a fertility symbol, and a cup of wine.

He was always accompanied by female followers, the Maenads, who expressed the physical abandonment.

Paul did not want anyone to confuse a drunken frenzy with the power of the Spirit. He repudiated this notion by denouncing drunkenness and associating Spirit filling with other activities.

…the Book of Philippians.


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