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One In Christ April 18, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Ephesians 2:11-22.

Summary: Paul begins by exhorting the Ephesians – as God has done great things for them – to recall their former condition, when they:

  • were uncircumcised heathen
  • were abhorred by the Jews – who believed that circumcision secured God’s favor to them
  • lacked a Redeemer
  • were separated from the theocracy of Israel
  • were excluded from the many promises of redemption that God made to His people
  • were hopeless and forsaken by God.

Yet by being united with Christ, they – who were separated from God’s people and alienated from Him – have been introduced into His church and reconciled with Him by Christ’s sacrifice.

Paul then states that Christ has removed the enmity that existed between Jews and Gentiles – which divided them – by 1) satisfying the demands of God’s moral law and 2) His sacrifice; thus, they are freed from the obligations of God’s moral law. Thus, He created one holy church out of two hostile bodies – the Jews and the Gentiles – and renewed them. Also, He made peace between man and God by His atoning death, which removed God’s wrath toward sinners. Christ has announced this reconciliation between man and God, which applies to both Jews and Gentiles, 1) directly after His resurrection and 2) indirectly via His apostles and the Holy Spirit. All believers are introduced into God’s presence and His favor by Christ’s sacrifice and intercession.

Thus, the Gentiles are no longer excluded from the theocracy of Israel and separated from God’s family; they are children of God and full members of the kingdom of heaven. Moreover, God’s family rests on the apostles and prophets, and the entire church rests on Christ. Unity with Christ sustains the church, which grows via this unity into a building that is consecrated to God. Paul concludes by asserting that the Ephesians join other believers in being built – by the Holy Spirit – into a building in which God dwells.

Thoughts: In verses 14 and 15, we see that Christ has removed the enmity that existed between Jews and Gentiles by abolishing the obligations of God’s moral law – via His death. Hodge drives home this point as follows:

What that hedge was is expressed by the word hostility – having broken down the middle wall – i.e. the hostility or their mutual hatred. Hostility, therefore, does not mean the law, as the cause of alienation, but the alienation itself, because in what follows, the removal of the enmity and the abolition of the law are distinguished from each other, the latter being the means of accomplishing the former.

It is apparent that Jews and Gentiles genuinely despised each other in Biblical times, which stemmed from the Jews’ superiority complex – based on their Old Testament covenants with God. Now I wonder if the Jew-Gentile relations in Biblical times mirrored the enmity that festered between:

Given the “dividing wall of hostility” that separated the Jews and the Gentiles, only God could perform the apparently impossible feat of removing their mutual hatred – by the sacrifice of His Son.

Verse 19 shows that the Gentiles are now fellow citizens with the Jews in God’s kingdom. Hodge offers some insightful thoughts on this point:

In this spiritual kingdom the Gentiles now have the right of citizenship. They are on terms of perfect equality with all other members of that kingdom. And that kingdom is the kingdom of heaven.

This caused me to ponder the notion of believers as citizens in God’s kingdom, as this concept is discussed relatively infrequently in Christian circles – especially compared to the notion of believers as members of God’s family. Clearly citizens – at least in the United States – have privileges such as the right to vote and the right to remain in this country after committing a crime on American soil. Now citizens – at least in the United States – also have responsibilities, such as serving on a jury when called upon and – at least for males – registering with the Selective Service. As Christians we have rights in God’s kingdom, such as the right to reign with Christ and the right to enjoy eternal life. Now Christians also have responsibilities in God’s kingdom, such as honoring Christ as Lord and loving each other as ourselves. These fundamental truths should both fill us with joy and keep us from becoming arrogant.

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1. Freedom From Human Regulations Through Life With Christ « Ringing In - October 16, 2012

[…] This passage is analogous to Ephesians 2, which I’ve blogged about. Now in this passage, we are reminded of the supremacy of Christ, especially in verse 15; Lightfoot […]


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