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

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

a) Christ is our peace


Because of Jesus' work on the cross, Gentiles, as well as Jews, now have a complete and perfect standing before God. Both are reconciled to God, at "peace" with God, equally reconciled to God and now part of one family. The barriers that once stood between Jew and Gentile are now no more. So, the passage before us 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.


i] Context: See 2:1-10.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2


iii] Structure: The unifying of Jew and Gentile in Christ:

Paul "describes the position of Gentile Christians before and after they became Christians", Best, v11-13;

He then explains the means by which Gentile Christians are reconciled to Jewish Christians, v14-18.

Consequently, Gentile Christians are full members of God's holy family, v19-22.


iv] Interpretation:

With regard the Jew-Gentile divide, the barrier that once stood between Jew and Gentile was that of religious privilege. The Jews possessed the Mosaic law which they wrongly assumed gave them a religious status over and above Gentile "swine", so creating a massive dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. Of course, their problem was that they had a flawed interpretation of the law. The Law did indeed define them as a distinct people, but a people whose door was open to the "stranger". Both Rahab and Ruth, Gentiles through and through, shared in the messianic line, so illustrating that the promise to Abraham was a promise to the whole world. So, yes indeed, the law made them a distinct people, but an open, not a closed people. But above all, the law did not give them privilege in the sight of God. God confers privilege as an act of mercy to the repentant sinner. The privilege of righteousness is not earned, but conferred as a gift of grace through faith. Such was the case for Abraham and all his descendants. The Mosaic law, with its curse of death, served only to confirm that salvation is by grace through faith apart from the law.

It was only natural that Jewish believers brought their flawed pharisaic / nomistic understanding of the Law into the New Testament church, thus perpetuating the Jew-Gentile divide. For this reason, Paul sets out to show that, under the covenant, no such divide exists. A barrier of religious privilege cannot stand between believing Jews and Gentiles, because both together rest on the sacrificial death of Jesus. Status before God is conferred on those who through faith in Jesus become full members of the "household" of God. Full "citizenship in Israel", full membership of the "one new man", is conferred on those who place themselves "in Christ Jesus" through the the faithfulness of Christ appropriated by faith. Thus, "through him we both have access to the Father by the one Spirit."


In what sense is the Law, consisting of ordinances and their interpretation, made of no effect / nullified"? Paul raises this issue in v15 when he refers to the setting aside of the law in Christ's "flesh". This question has long been debated with numerous answers proposed, eg.:

*Only cultic law is made inoperative, not moral law, in that cultic law is fulfilled in Christ's sacrifice, and thus distinctive food laws and the like no longer separate Jewish and Gentile believers, so Hendriksen, Schnackenburg, Mitton;

*The improper conception of the law as a means of salvation is discarded by the cross of Christ (salvation has always depended on grace through faith, cf. Abraham), so Best, Morris;

*It is not the law itself which is abolished, but its power to curse / condemn and enslave, so Lincoln, Bruce;

*It is the old covenant which is terminated and replaced by the new covenant as an appropriate approach to God, so Hoehner, O'Brien (it may be more appropriate to describe the new covenant as covenant renewal, rather than a replacement of the old. God's covenant with mankind finds its fulfillment in Christ).

In what sense then has the law been "nullified"? All of the four options above apply to some degree, but at the heart of the issue lies Paul's confrontation with the Judaizers, pharisaic members of the circumcision party, who promoted law obedience as a means to restrain sin and thus progress holiness. So, the function of the law that is "nullified" by Christ's death is the flawed interpretation that it shapes holiness - the function we might call sanctification. Although the Mosaic Law reveals the nature of holiness, it was never capable of making holy. For Paul, justification, in the sense of being "set right before God", Bruce, "rectified", Martyn, involves Jesus, God's representative son / Israel / man, being made / accounted (what God declares so is so!!) "holy, righteous" through his obedience to the cross. It is in union with Christ, through the instrument of faith, that a believer stands holy / perfect before God, and this apart from the Law, and also, it is in union with the indwelling Spirit of Christ, through the instrument of faith, that a believer begins to live out the standing they already possess in Christ. Thus, the claim that the law is an instrument for holiness, is nullified, and this because holiness is found in Christ, not in the Law. The Law, claimed as a barrier between Jew and Gentile, is no barrier at all.

What then is the function of the Law? The Sinai covenant regulations served, and continues to serve:

*to expose sin and its attendant curse, and thus the need for faith in God's mercy, ie., the law serves to force dependence on the faith of Abraham as the key to covenant inclusion;

*to guide the life of faith.

Christ's sacrifice does not "nullify" these functions of the Law, it only nullifies the claim of Second Temple religious Jews (the Pharisees, and by extension, the Judaizers) that the Law is an instrument for sanctification. In passing, it is interesting to note how the old English Prayer Book service of Holy Communion, has the congregation reciting the Ten Commandments, with the response, "Lord have mercy on us" [the first function of the Law], concluding with "and write your law in our hearts by your Holy Spirit" [reflecting the second function of the Law].


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

Text - 2:11

Being all one in Christ, v11-18: i] By contrasting the relationship of his Gentile readers with Israel before and after they became believers, Paul is able to remind them "of the privilege of having come near [to God] through Christ's death", Lincoln, v11-13. Paul begins by asking 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, v11-12.

dio "therefore" - Inferential / drawing a logical conclusion. On the basis of the blessing of salvation given to the Gentiles, they should "remember".

mnhmoneuete (mnhmoneuw) imp. "remember" - They (the Gentiles) should "reflect" on the privilege of salvation given to them.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they should remember.

pote "formerly" - once, formerly, at one time. Temporal particle / adverb.

en + dat. "[Gentiles] by [birth]" - [you gentiles] in [the flesh]. Adverbial, expressing reference / respect, "with respect to their flesh (ie., their state of uncircumcision)" - Physically Gentiles in the sense of uncircumcised. Merkle suggests that the prepositional phrase is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Gentiles"; "in-the-flesh Gentiles." "Paul is stating that the Jews considered the Gentiles inferior just by what can be observed in the flesh", Hoehner.

oiJ legomenoi (legw) pres. pas. part. "called" - the one's being called. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "you"; "you who are Gentiles in the flesh, the one's being called .."

akrobustia (a) "uncircumcised" - possessing a foreskin = uncircumcised. Nominative complement of the nominative subject "the one's being called." The term "uncircumcised" was used by the Jews in a derogatory way. In fact, they daily thanked God that they were not born a Gentile. Circumcision was the sign of membership in God's special family (Israel, the covenant community). Circumcision, along with submission to the law of Moses, entitled membership of the family. Of course, the gospel overturned this thinking such that circumcision was properly a circumcised (cleansed?) heart, Deut.10:16, 30:6, Jer.4:4, and this through faith in Christ for both Jew and Gentile, Col.2:11.

uJpo + gen. "by" - Expressing agency.

thV legomenhV (legw) gen. pres. pas. part. "those who call themselves" - the ones called [circumcised (having cut off the foreskin)]. The participle again serves as a substantive.

en + dat. "that done in [the body]" - in [the flesh]. Again the prepositional phrase is adverbial, respect, as above; "with respect to the body."

ceiropoihtou gen. adj. "by the hands of men" - of handmade. The genitive assumes uJpo, expressing agency; "performed by hand." The term "the uncircumcised" is a put down, and with this qualification Paul puts down "the circumcised" - a mere human knife job.


oJti "remember that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they should "remember".

tw/ kairw (oV) dat. "at [that] time" - [you were in that] time. Dative of time.

cwriV + gen. "separate from [Christ]" - without, apart from, separate from [christ]. Paul describes the state of the Gentiles as one of loss. They were not members of God's family and therefore could not share in God's promised blessings nor enter into a relationship with him. The covenant promise to Abraham extended ultimately to the Gentiles, but up till the coming of Christ, this necessitated a Gentile becoming a Jew. In this verse, Paul lists five disadvantages experienced by the Gentiles. Hoehner argues that "separate from Christ" serves as a general statement, the sense of which is drawn out by the following four statements - they "expand the idea of Gentiles without Christ", Hoehner. "You did not know about Christ", CEV.

aphllotriwmenoi (apallotriow) perf. part. "excluded" - having been estranged, alienated, separated from. The participle is probably substantival, the predicate of an implied imperfect verb to-be h\te, "you were", with the participial construction standing in apposition to cwriV Cristou, "apart from Christ", cf., Larkin. When was Israel separated from the Gentiles and who did the parting? Paul simply states the fact, with the implication that the Gentiles are therefore alienated from the covenant promises possessed by Israel. "You were foreigners not belonging to the people of Israel."

thV politeiaV (a) gen. "from citizenship" - the state, citizenship. Genitive of direct object after the apo prefix participle "estranged from"; "Aliens to the commonwealth of Israel", Moffatt.

tou Israhl gen. "in Israel" - of israel. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic; "the commonwealth which consists of Israel", or possessive, "Israel's citizenship", Hoehner.

kai "and" - Possibly epexegetic, explaining what "excluded from citizenship" entails, so Merkle.

xenoi adj. "foreigners" - strangers, foreigners. The adjective serves as a substantive; anarthrous = foreigners in a qualitative sense.

twn diaqhkwn (h) gen. "to the covenants" - of the covenants, agreements [of the promise]. The genitive is ablative, of separation; "foreigners separated from the covenants." The plural "covenants" is interesting, given that primarily there is one covenant which is regularly renewed and finally renewed in Christ, which renewal is often translated "new", although "refreshed / fresh" would be better. The plural "covenants" is explained by the qualifying / limiting adjectival genitive thV epaggeliaV, "of promise", the promise type covenants, ie., the reaffirmations of the Abrahamic covenant with its promises (a land, a people and a blessing to the world) - Jeremiah's prophetic ideal with its promises, Jer.31:31-34, and the new/fresh covenant in Christ with its promises, eternal life, etc. The Gentiles were excluded from the promised covenants and all the promises that they contained.

mh econteV (ecw) pres. part. "without [hope]" - not having [hope]. In the sense of eternal hope. Again the participle forms a substantive participial construction, predicate of the implied imperfect verb to-be h\te, "you were not having hope."

aqeoi (oV) "without God" - and godless, atheist. The Gentiles had no relationship with God.

en + dat. "in" - in [the world]. Local, expressing space.


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, but by grace through faith in Christ's faithfulness - "through the blood of Christ." The sacrificial death of Christ realizes the redemption of mankind for both Jew and Gentile.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here contrastive, as NIV.

nuni adv. "now" - Temporal adverb. Note how "now" is contrasted in this verse with pote, "then". "Then" the Gentiles were makran, "far away (from God)", but now they are (uJmeiV, "you") are egguV, "near (to God)" by means of Christ's sacrifice.

en + dat. "in" - in [christ jesus]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical, relational / incorporative union; "in union with Christ Jesus."

uJmeiV pro. "you" - Emphatic by position.

o{i ... onteV (eimi) pres. part. "who [once] were [far away]" - the ones [then] being [far off]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting uJmeiV, "you (Gentiles)", but can also be classified as a substantive standing in apposition to "you". Paul describes the Gentiles as "far away". He probably means "far away" from God - without free access into the presence of God. It was common for Jews to see Gentiles in this condition. A Gentile came near to God by becoming a proselyte, but Paul declares that now Gentiles come near to God through the sacrifice of Christ. "But now, through the blood of Christ (the sacrifice of Christ), you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God's love in Christ Jesus", Phillips.

egguV adv. "near" - [have been brought] near. Brought near to God and the promises of the covenant.

en + dat. "through" - in [the blood]. Here instrumental / means, "by the blood", as NIV. "The blood" refers to the sacrifice of Christ which achieves the redemption and thus reconciliation of Gentile believers.

tou Cristou (ov) "of Christ" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.


ii] Paul now provides a "further explanation of how this coming near [of Jew to Gentile] was made possible through Christ's work", Lincoln, v14-18. What Christ did was establish peace between the two; "he is our peace." a) To make the one new man it was essential to break down the cultural separation between Jew and Gentile.

gar "for" - More reason than causal, explanatory. Having identified the union of both Jew and Gentile believers in "the blood of Christ", Paul now goes on "to explain how this union was accomplished", Hoehner.

autoV pers. pro. "he himself" - he [is]. Emphatic by position, so as NIV.

h eirhnh (h) "peace" - the peace [of us]. For he himself, that is Christ, is our peace. Christ achieves reconciliation between both Jew and Gentile believers through the cross.

oJ poihsaV "who made [the two one]" - the one having made [both one]. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to autoV, "he himself." The true Israel, the true family of God, the true covenant community, was always a remnant people. In the end, this faithful remnant was Christ himself. He is the true Israel. From the visible people of Israel and from the Gentile world, those who believe in Christ become part of the true Israel and thus, the inheritors of the promised blessings. The church, the "body of Christ", the "new Israel", is not some new organism, but is actually the realization of the promised new covenant community of Israel. "Made both Jew and Gentile into one", Barclay.

lusaV (luw) aor. part. "has destroyed" - [and] the one having destroyed, broken down. The participle serves as a substantive, coordinate with poihsaV (coordinate kai, "and") and standing in apposition to autoV, "he ... the one having destroyed" = "he is our peace .... who destroyed ...."

tou fragmou (oV) gen. "the barrier" - [the middle wall, dividing wall] of the partition, fence. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic; "the dividing wall which consists of a fence", ie., "which separates [Jew from Gentile]. The phrase is probably metaphorical, possibly referring to the barrier between humanity and God, namely sin, although better, the barrier between Jew and Gentile - the social and religious barriers between the two groups. This cultural barrier is primarily religious in nature, reinforced by an improper understanding of the Mosaic law; See above. "He has destroyed the fence that separates Jew from Gentile."

thn ecqran (a) "the dividing wall of hostility" - the hostility. In the context, the word is referring to the hostility that exists between Jew and Gentile. Punctuation is a major problem here, with numerous possibilities presenting themselves. The NIV opts for "hostility" = "the dividing wall of hostility" standing in apposition to "the dividing wall which separates = the barrier", with the prepositional phrase en th/ sarki autou governed by the participle katarghsaV, "having annulled, abolished", v15, rather than the participle lusaV, "having destroyed", cf., Hoehner, 371-374.

en + dat. "by setting aside in [his flesh]" - in [the flesh of him]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical, but possibly instrumental, expressing means; "by his flesh = by his sacrifice." The sense being "in Christ's sacrificial death." As noted above, the NIV links this phrase with the participle katarghsaV, "having abolished", v15. Indeed, the Law is made of no effect in Christ's sacrifice, but also "the fence which separates, that is, the hostility that exists between Jew and Gentile" is similarly demolished by Christ's sacrifice. So, Best argues that "in his flesh" is parenthetical, indicating where and how the action of the participles "having made" and "having destroyed", v14a is achieved; "he destroyed the middle wall of the fence which separates, that is, the hostility (in his flesh)."


b) Peace between Jews and Gentiles, in the Christian fellowship, was accomplished by removing the Law as a means of progressing holiness in the life of a believer, v15-16, by the preaching of the gospel, v17 and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, v18. One of the major barriers to Jewish and Gentile inclusion was the Pharisaic interpretation of Mosaic law, a barrier nullified in the cross of Christ; See above.

katarghsaV (katargew) aor. part. "by abolishing / setting aside" - having nullified, abolished, annulled, made of no affect, made ineffective and powerless. The participle is adverbial. The NIV opts for instrumental, expressing the means by which the cultural dividing wall between Jew and Gentile is destroyed, namely by rendering Pharisaic law inoperative. Barclay suggests a causal sense, "for he abolished the law." "He (Christ) nullified it (the law), so that it is no longer binding", O'Brien. "By having rendered inoperative the law", Hoehner.

ton nomon (oV) "the law" - "The whole law is at issue here", Best, "the whole Mosaic law", Hoehner. But see above, In what sense is the Law, consisting of ordinances and their interpretation, made of no effect / nullified"? The issue here is a particular understanding as to the function of the Mosaic Law, not the Mosaic Law itself.

twn entolwn en dogmasin "with its commandments and regulations" - of commandments in dogma, doctrine = interpretation. The genitive "of commandments", is adjectival, epexegetic; "the law which consists of commandments." The prepositional phrase en dogmasin, "in regulations", the "in" untranslated in the NIV, is possibly expressing space / sphere; "in the sphere of regulations", or better its defining / interpretation, "consisting in (of) ordinances and their interpretation." The problem does not lie with the Law itself, but its interpretation.

iJna + subj. "his purpose was [to create]" - that [he might create]. The conjunction is used to introduce two purpose clauses; Christ broke down the diving wall by nullifying the flawed interpretation of the law "in order to create one new man ....... and (v16) reconcile the two in one body to God ..."

en + dat. "in" - in [him = himself]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical / incorporative union. The pronoun autw/, "him", is obviously reflective, "himself", and Christ is surely the intended referent. Some have suggested that "body", or even "flesh" (ie., Christ's sacrifice), is the intended referent, but this is unlikely.

eJna kainon anqrwpon "one new man" - [into] one new man. Paul calls the family of believers "one new man." Christ creates this entity en autw/, "in himself". Faith in Christ produces identification with Christ and thus in Christ a believer becomes a child of God, a member of the covenant community, a true Israelite, a member of the church of Christ.

poiwn (poiew) pres. part. "thus making" - making. The participle is adverbial, expressing result - the one new person made up of believing Jews and Gentiles results in peace, ie., the cessation of hostility between Jews and Gentiles (obviously both groups being believers, although Barth argues for all Jews with believing Gentiles).

eirhnhn (h) "peace" The theological "peace" which Christ gains, is primarily a peace with God - reconciliation with God through the cross of Christ. Here the focus is on the peace between Jewish believers and Gentile believers, such that in Christ both find "peace" with each other, for the two are now one in Christ.


apokatallaxh/ (apokatalassw) aor. subj. "to reconcile" - he may reconcile, may turn hostility into friendship. With iJna, v15, expressing the second purpose for nullifying the Law; "in order to reconcile both in one body to God." The prefixed preposition serves to intensify the word rather than change its root meaning. Up till this point, Paul's focus has been on the enmity between Jew and Gentile believers, caused primarily by a pharisaic understanding of the Law of Moses. Now he notes that the removal of the law has as its ultimate purpose, the reconciliation of the one new body (the inclusive fellowship of Jews and Gentiles) with God. As Paul often noted, law-obedience to progress holiness (pharisaic nomism) undermines the basis of salvation, namely, grace through faith. "He also made peace between us and God", CEV.

touV amqoterouV adj. "both of them" - the two. The adjective is used as a substantive, direct object of the subjunctive "may reconcile."

en "-" - in [one body]. Here expressing object / goal, or state toward which the action is directed.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "to God" - Dative of indirect object.

dia "through" - through [the cross]. Here expressing means; "by means of the cross."

apokteinaV (apokteinw) aor. part. "by which he put to death" - having finished off, killed. The participle is adverbial, possibly expressing result, but more likely instrumental, expressing the means by which reconciliation is achieved, as NIV.

thn ecqran (a) "their hostility" - the enmity, hatred, hostility. Possibly the enmity of the one body with God, but better the enmity that existed between Jew and Gentile; "by this act made utterly irrelevant the antagonism between them", Phillips.

en autw/ "-" - in him, it. Possibly in the body, or in him / himself, but better "in the cross", or better still, instrumental, expressing mans, so "by it = by the cross."


In this verse Paul borrows from Isaiah 57:19. The Lord God proclaims his message of peace through his prophets. This message is to those "far away" (the lost, the Israelites of the dispersion), but also to those who are near. The day of salvation, the day of the coming kingdom and of the peace of God, was eagerly awaited by the true Israelites. This day has now arrived and Paul rightly sees it as a day which includes the Gentiles; a day promised long ago to Abraham.

kai "-" - and. Coordinate with "he is our peace", v14, "and having come he preached peace."

elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "he came" - having come. The NIV treats the participle as attendant circumstance, but it is more likely adverbial, temporal, "when he came", "as he came", Berkeley, or better consecutive, expressing result, "[and] so he came and brought the good news", Barclay

euhggelisato (euggelizomai) aor. "preached" - he related an important message, preached. Having come, Jesus preached peace to those far off and to those near. The obvious question is when did Jesus do this preaching? Some argue during his ministry, but when did he preach to Gentiles during his ministry? Was it during some post resurrection appearance? There are those who argue that this preaching is still future. Of course, those who are far off, from a Jewish perspective, are the Jews of the dispersion. Yet again, when did Jesus preach to them? It is more than likely that the preaching is the Spirit-empowered gospel proclaimed by the apostles and all those who follow in their footsteps.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - [peace] to you. Dative of indirect object.

toiV makran "who were far away" - the ones far away, far off [and peace to the ones near]. As with toiV egguV, "those who are near", the articular adverbial phrase functions as an attributive adjective limiting uJmin, "you", as NIV.


This access to the Father for both Jew and Gentile is made possible through the presence of the Spirit of Christ who indwells all believers in community.

oJti "for / consequently" - that. The NIV takes this conjunction as introducing a causal clause, "because ..." = "the ground of the previous declaration", O'Brien, so also Schnackenburg, Lincoln, but "he preached peace .... because ....", makes no sense. It may serve to introduce an object clause / dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing the content of the preaching, or epexegetic, explaining its content, so Best, but the preaching is summarized as "peace". Hoehner suggests that here it introduces a consecutive clause expressing the result of the preaching; "as a result, through him, we both have access ....", so NIV11; this seems to be the likely sense.

di (dia) + gen. "through [him]" - through, by means of [him]. Emphatic by position. Expressing agency. The union of Jew and Gentile believers and their access to the Father "in" the Spirit rests on the agency of Christ.

oi amfoteroi adj. "[we] both" - the both together. The adjective serves as a substantive, subject of the verb ecomen, "have", and technically stands in apposition to an assumed hJmeiV, "we"; "we, the ones both together, have ...", so Larkin, Fee.

thn prosagwghn (h) "access" - [we have] access. The NIV opts for an intransitive sense, "access, freedom to enter", so Schnackenburg, Hoehner, Best, ... ie. "Christ is the one who acts to create access." On the other hand, it may be taken as transitive, "introduction (ie., being brought to God)", so Barth, ie., Christ is the one who introduces believers to God. Intransitive seems best; "because of the peace accomplished, we have continual access [to God the Father]. It is something we possess", Hoehner.

en + dat. "by" - in. The NIV has taken the preposition as instrumental, expressing means, but it is also often translated as expressing space / sphere, incorporative union; "in [union with the] one Spirit to the Father", NRSV. Paul's point is that access to the Father for both Jews and Gentiles is found as one body in Christ in union with / through the one Spirit.

eni pneumati "one Spirit" - one spirit [to the father]. The "Spirit" is most likely the Holy Spirit, but the human spirit is possible. The mention of "one" Spirit parallels the one body made up of Jew and Gentile, drawing out the idea that "the one Spirit lives and works in the one body", O'Brien.


Ephesians Introduction.



[Pumpkin Cottage]