Ezra 4: We see initial opposition to the reconstruction of the temple. The opposition stems from people who initially wanted to help rebuild the temple but were told they couldn’t help by those who returned from exile. They responded by getting the people on their side, bribing people, and writing to the Persian kings telling them that those who returned from exile will not pay tribute to the kings once they are able to rebuild the city.
Ezra 5: Reconstruction of the temple resumes under the Persian King Darius. This chapter focuses on the governors who seemed against the idea of rebuilding, but weren’t really able to stop it.
Ezra 6: King Darius issues a decree allowing the construction of the temple to continue after he finds the original memo from King Cyrus allowing the construction to occur in the first place. Darius’ support makes it possible for the people to complete construction of the temple. The temple is finally dedicated and according to the notes from the NRSV study bible, “This concludes Stage One of the return and reconstruction” (p. 676).
Ephesians 5: The first part is a continuation of the second half of chapter 4. Paul continues to talk about the importance of not living the way they used and instead making sure they follow the ways of Jesus. He specifically tells the people to not use vulgar language (oops) or to be greedy. I wonder if our current leadership knew this. Doubtful. He reminds them to not let others deceive them, to live in the light. Finally, he ends this chapter with discussion of marriage. The language here is a little interesting:
22 For example, wives should submit to their husbands as if to the Lord. 23 A husband is the head of his wife like Christ is head of the church, that is, the savior of the body. 24 So wives submit to their husbands in everything like the church submits to Christ. 25 As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. 26 He did this to make her holy by washing her in a bath of water with the word. 27 He did this to present himself with a splendid church, one without any sort of stain or wrinkle on her clothes, but rather one that is holy and blameless. 28 That’s how husbands ought to love their wives—in the same way as they do their own bodies. Anyone who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church 30 because we are parts of his body. 31 This is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two of them will be one body. 32 Marriage is a significant allegory, and I’m applying it to Christ and the church. 33 In any case, as for you individually, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and wives should respect their husbands. (CEB Bible, Eph. 5.22-33)
Paul seems to be all over the place with marriage. If I remember correctly a discussion on marriage in a different letter took a different tone. I can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure that he made it sound like husbands and wives are equal. This text implies that husbands are in charge. I know this isn’t the first time he did this, but I really want to find his discussions of marriage from other letters.