2. The gospel and the church, 2:1-22

ii] The results - one in Christ, 2:11-22

b) Members of God's house


Having explained how the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ makes for a new humanity, Paul "now defines the consequences of that union", Hoehner. The Gentiles are now full members in the House of God, full members of God's family; "No one is a stranger or sojourner any more in Christ Jesus, rather, all are 'fellow citizens of the saints and the household of God'", Caudill.


i] Context See 2:1-10.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2.


iii] Structure: Members of God's house:

The consequences (ara, "therefore") for Gentiles in their union with God's historic people, Israel:

A new relationship with Jews in God's household, v19;

A privileged position in God's household, v20-22.


iv] Interpretation:

Most commentators align the references to God's "household", his "holy temple", and "the dwelling place for God", with the church universal, so Meyer. Although the universal / catholic church is often viewed as an organizational structure here on earth, it is very unlikely that Paul views it in organizational terms. For Paul, the ekklhsia, "assembly / church", is primarily a heavenly gathering, usually in the sense of the last-days assembly before the Ancient of Days, a gathering of believers past, present, and future. Some suggest that pasa oikodomh means "every dwelling", rather than "whole building", implying that every local church joined together produces the "whole church", the universal church, so Mitton. O'Brien argues that Paul is referring here, not to the universal church, but to the local church, the local gathering of believers. In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 the "temple of God" is the local gathering of believers, cf., 2Cor.6:16.

So, what building is Paul speaking about? Is it the local Christian assembly, or the heavenly assembly? It is quite possible that when Paul speaks about the church (God's new community in Christ, the household of God, his dwelling place, the holy temple, ....) he has both realities in mind, given that membership in one entails membership in the other. When we gather, Christ is in our midst, and at that moment we are also seated with him in the heavenlies. If we are to lean toward one over the other, then the local church seems the best choice, given that the building is in the process of being "joined together", and rising "to become a holy temple", that "you are being built together"; the heavenly assembly is already complete (outside of the confines of time, of course).

So then, believing Gentiles are privileged to join together with believing Jews as part of God's new community, his "holy temple", assembling in this town or that town, and each of these assemblies serves as an earthly expression of the heavenly assembly gathered before the Ancient of Days.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.


Text - 2:19

The consequences for Gentiles of their union with God's historic people Israel, v19-22; i] A new relationship with Jews in God's household, v19. Gentiles are "no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people (believing Jews) and members of God's household (God's eternal family, his new community)."

ara oun "consequently" - so then. Both conjunctions are inferential and together draw a strong logical conclusion from the statement made in v13 and developed over v14-18; "as a result / consequently."

xenoi adj. "foreigners" - [you are no longer] foreigners, strangers. The adjective serves as a substantive, predicate nominative.

paroikoi adj. "aliens" - [and] aliens (who lives in a place that is not their home). The adjective serves as a substantive, predicate nominative. Used in the LXX of a "sojourner." "You are no longer outsiders or aliens", Phillips.

alla "but" - The adversative serves is a counterpoint construction; "no longer aliens, but fellow citizens". .

sumpolitai (hV) "fellow citizens" - [you are] fellow citizens (members of a sociopolitical unit*). Predicate nominative. Gentiles could rightly be called "saints". Paul often had to argue, against his Jewish brothers and sisters, that the Gentiles were "fellow citizens" of the Jews.

twn aJgiwn gen. adj. "with God's people" - of the saints. The adjective serves as a substantive, while the genitive is probably adverbial, of association / relationship. "The saints" more than likely refers to Jewish believers, although Paul sometimes uses the term to refer to the apostles.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "his" - of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "members of God's household."

oikeioi (oV) "household" - family members. The word is used of a household, with a stress on the relationships within the household.


ii] A privileged position in God's new community in Christ, v20-22. God's eternal family, his "household", his "holy temple", is founded on apostolic truth, v20, is formed in Christ, v21, and serves as a dwelling place for God, v22.

epoikodomhqenteV (epoikodomew) aor. pas. part. "built" - having been built. Although anarthrous, the participle may be adjectival, "fellow citizens / household" who / which have / has been built upon ...", Larkin, although more likely adverbial, causal, "because you have been built upon ...", or even temporal. Possibly a divine passive.

epi + dat. "on" - on, upon. Spacial. A stylistic repetition of the prefix of the verb epoikodomew, "to build upon."

tw/ qemiliw/ (oV) "foundation" - the foundation. That on which a structure is built*.

twn apostolwn (hV ou) "of the apostles" - These two genitive nouns are probably appositional / epexegetical in that they further define / explain the noun "foundation"; "the foundation that consists of ....." It is also possible that the genitives are a genitive of source, "the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets", NEB, ie., the foundation of the gospel laid by the apostles and prophets. None-the-less, we are safer with, "the foundation consisting of the apostles and prophets", O'Brien, although it would be their possession of divine truth which gives them this foundational status.

profhtwn (hV ou) "prophets" - [and] the prophets. The missing article has prompted the suggestion that Paul intends "apostles who prophecy", Grudem, but it seems more likely that Paul has in mind those members of the church with the gift of prophecy. Possibly Paul has in mind the foundational teaching / revelation of the Old Testament prophets. If New Testament prophets are in mind, they would not be the Agabus sort, predictive, nor the more general prophets referred to in I Corinthians, ie., expositors of God's Word, as opposed to unintelligible tongue speakers. These prophets stand with the apostles as "the first authoritative recipients and proclaimers of God's revelation in Christ", O'Brien.

ontoV (eimi) gen. pres. part. "as" - [christ] being [him = himself]. Attendant circumstance participle, genitive in a predicate genitive absolute construction which makes an assertion about the genitive phrase "the apostles and prophets", ie., it gives "further information about the foundation's construction, namely, that Christ Jesus is the cornerstone", Hoehner. "Jesus Christ" is also genitive, standing as the subject of the genitive absolute construction.

akrogwniaiou (oV) gen. "the chief cornerstone" - the cornerstone or capstone (essential to its construction*). Predicate genitive. The "chief cornerstone" of the building is "Jesus himself". When it was finally clear that God's purposes for humanity would no longer be worked out through the nation of Israel, the prophets began to speak of the creation of a new building, a new Israel. This new community would evolve out of the faithful remnant of the old through the intervention of God's messiah, his anointed one. The messiah was described in different ways. One description used in the Old Testament was that of a "stone" - a building stone within a new building. It was a "precious" stone, but a "stone of stumbling". Sometimes it was described as a "foundation" stone - the new building would be built on it. It was a "cornerstone" - defining and holding the building together. It was also described as a "cap-stone" (key or top stone) - the final top stone which held the top arch of the building together. Here in Ephesians, the stone is probably the cornerstone - Christ defines and ties the building together.


Jesus, as the cornerstone, defines and ties the whole building together and becomes the architectural defining point from which the building takes shape. So, the heavenly assembly, as with the church, evolves from Jesus into a complete entity, a complete whole.

en + dat. "in [him]" - in [whom]. Local, sphere; taken to express incorporative union, or base / foundation, "on", whom the structure rests. "In Jesus."

oikodomh (h) "[the whole] building" - [all, every] building. The noun, being anarthrous (without an article), would imply "every building", ie., "every gathered congregation", but the whole edifice built on Christ is the obvious intention. Some variant manuscripts have an article, but this was probably added to better convey the likely intended meaning of an entire construction being presently built upon Christ. Some are tempted to see this image as depicting the structure of the universal catholic church, but Paul's universal church is the heavenly assembly within which every believer is now taking their seat with Christ and within which the dividing wall of hostility is no more. Although the heavenly assembly is always in Paul's mind, his focus, as here, is often on the local congregation as an earthly representation of the heavenly assembly. "The whole building", Barclay, etc., better than "every structure", NJB, etc.

sunarmologoumenh (sunarmologew) aor. pas. part. "is joined together" - being fitly joined together. The participle is adjectival, attributive, "in whom the whole building, which is fitly joined together, grows ....", although possibly adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the building's growth, so Hoehner. Again, a divine passive, God is doing the building work. The present tense indicating the ongoing building action, and the prefix sun making the point that the building work is a joining "together."

eiV + acc. "[rises to] become" - [grows] into. Expressing direction; the direction of growth is into a holy temple.

aJgion adj. "a holy" - a holy [temple]. "Holy" in the sense of "set apart for a special use." The building is holy because God is present. Not "a temple holy in the Lord", but modifying temple, "a holy temple in the Lord."

en + dat. "in" - in [lord]. Local, sphere. The Lord is the sphere in which the temple is realized, "the Lord", given the context, is Christ.


This building, this house, this community of believers, consists of remnant of Israel - Christ himself, and those in Christ, initially the the apostles and Jewish believers. The community is now extended to include "you too", ie. Gentile believers. Believing Gentiles are included in the new building; they are incorporated into this "holy temple", this "dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit". God has always "tabernacled" with his people, and now "through" the Spirit of Christ, he dwells with his gathered people, a people made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

en w|/ "in him" - in whom. Possibly "in which", referring to the "temple", but referring back to en w|/, "in whom", v21, which refers back to "Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone", v20.

uJmeiV pro. "you" - Emphatic by use.

kai "too" - and = also. Adjunctive; "you also."

sunoikodomeisqe (sunoikodomew) pres. pas. "are being built together" - are being joined together. Again the present tense indicating ongoing building work and the prefix sun underlining togetherness. Passive is probably divine, ie., God is the implied agent. Not in the sense of built up spiritually, ie. "encouraged", rather of the building together of believers in the heavenly assembly. "You are being built in as a part with all his other people", Barclay.

eiV + acc. "to become [a dwelling]" - into [a dwelling]. Possibly here expressing purpose, as NIV - "believers are built together for the purpose of being a place where God dwells", Best. Possibly better taken as expressing the direction of the growth, namely, into a dwelling place of God.

tou qeou (oV) "in which God lives" - of god. The genitive is probably adjectival, possessive, it is God's abode - "denoting that this place of settled dwelling is God's", Hoehner.

en + dat. "by [the Spirit]" - in [spirit]. The prepositional phrase en pneumati, "in/by the Spirit", modifies sunoikodomeisqe, "built together", while the preposition itself is probably instrumental, expressing means. It is through the active agency of the Spirit that God's people are built together, and serve as an appropriate dwelling for the divine. This dwelling is both the eternal gathering (the temple of the Lord) and the local assembly of worshipping believers, the church. Not a "spiritual dwelling for God", REB, but "a dwelling for God through the Spirit", Williams.


Ephesians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]