Christ is our peace. 2:11-18
Paul began this letter to the Ephesians with praise to God, 1:3-14, and then went on to give thanks for his readers and pray on their behalf, 1:15-23. Paul then sets out to explain the saving grace of God, 2:1-10, and now in the passage before us, he explains how, under the grace of God, Gentiles are incorporated into the house of Israel - the house of God, 2:11-22. So, in our passage for study Paul speaks of the former state of loss of the Gentiles and of their incorporation into the family of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
v11-12. Paul asks his Gentile readers to remember that they were once the "uncircumcised", that they were once a people outside God's family and thus apart from his blessings. Paul calls on his readers to recall five disadvantages from their pre-Christian days.
v13. Yet, now the Gentiles have a place in God's family, but this is not by incorporation into the nation of Israel by means of obedience to the Mosaic law. Membership in God's eternal family is a matter of grace through faith in Christ. The means of reconciliation and access into the presence of God is "through the blood of Christ", it is through the sacrificial death of Christ for the redemption of mankind, both Jew and Gentile.
v14 -16. Christ has brought the Gentiles, along with believing Jews, into the family of God, and this apart from the regulations of the law. He has done this through his sacrificial death. Therefore, he has created "one new man", a new united people of God. Along with reconciling Jew with Gentile, Christ has reconciled this family of believers with the living God. Christ's death on the cross serves to reconcile us with God and with each other.
v17. In the proclamation of the gospel, peace with God is proclaimed and all humanity has the opportunity of access into the presence of God.
v18. This access is made possible through the presence of the Spirit of Christ who indwells all believers in community, Jew and Gentile. "Christ in us" gives us access to the throne of the living God.
All one in Christ
The principle of a common equal access and standing before the throne of God, through faith in Christ, is a mighty ones indeed. It is a principle that affects the way we function as a fellowship. There are two particular applications:
1. "His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two", v15.
The first application has to do with the integral unity of the fellowship of believers. Out of diversity and division, God's ultimate intention is to gather to himself a community of friends - "one new man".
There are many factors which divide a church and so work against the "one in Christ" principle. Today we have to live with the inheritance of schism, reform movements, national churches and the like. Denominationalism certainly does not reflect the image of "one new man". Yet, little can be done to overturn such ingrained products of history. We are bound to live with denominationalism and the ever-emerging new "community churches", "revival centers" and the like.
Yet, within our own Christian fellowship we are free to develop the "one new man" principle. We commonly call this "body life". Body life develops when we prayerfully encourage the expectation of oneness. Realistic expectations (in this case according to the will of God) produce the right results.
2. "In this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross", v16.
The second application has to do with the common right of access of all believers into the presence of the living God. Believers stand equally before God the Father on the basis of Christ's sacrifice. There is no privileged class.
The idea of a privileged class of believers is with us today as much as it was with Paul in his day. There is the clergy class, Wardens, Parish councilors, Bible study leaders etc. Sometimes those who simply attend the Sunday services feel as if they are second-class citizens.
We need to affirm the truth that all believers possess equal standing before God, all are equal members of the "one body", and this because of a personal reliance on Jesus Christ. In Jesus there are no second-grade believers.
1. In what sense has Jesus created "one new man out of the two"?
2. Discuss how your church structure works against the image of the church as "one new man".
3. Identify any areas of privilege in your church which may develop a "them and us" attitude.
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