With that in mind, I am copying and pasting the study notes here, for anyone who wants them. We are just starting Ephesians and a new study will come out every 2 weeks approximately. In the coming months, we are covering GoEatPopCorn series.
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Eph. 2:11-22 Reconciliation
Last time we were together we spoke about the power of God, saving us. As we were dead in our trespasses and sin, and God raised us up from death, by grace through faith, we were saved. It has nothing to do with us, or by us. God loved us while we were still sinners and once we are saved, He will keep us always. With the Holy Spirit within we are eternally saved.
The rest of the chapter, deals with the relationships between Jews and Gentiles in Christ. The death and resurrection of Jesus, brings a unity between Jews and Gentiles and Paul presents this to us, as it is now one unified body, one unified people of God. This shows us how only God can unify believers to Himself, as He breaks down walls of prejudice. You see the Jews actually saw the Gentiles as beyond saving, a people without hope. The Gentiles resented the fact that the Jews claimed this salvation was only for them. Now Paul is presenting the view that they are both wrong, as the salvation offered through Jesus, was for both. So, as we approach this next concept, keep in mind how Paul is approaching this… all those saved in Jesus Christ, are one.
Let’s begin by reading verses 11-13….
2:11 Therefore remember that at one-time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
These verses are giving us a contrast between their past and present in Christ. What was and what is now. The first thing Paul says, ‘therefore remember’, bringing us back to the time before being saved (like he did at the beginning of the chapter). It is good for us to remember where we came from, as I said the last time we were together, but not to stay there. And here again Paul looks back. But with a different perspective. In verse 11, when Paul talks about ‘the uncircumcision’ it was understood to mean the Gentiles – those who are not Jews. And when Paul said, ‘the circumcision’ this was understood to mean the Jews.
But notice what else Paul says here, ‘which is made in the flesh by hands’. This is Paul’s way of saying that this issue is not what is important here. Just because one is circumcised does not make that person saved. So, in a discreet way Paul makes this know here, before he goes on.
Back in Genesis, we see Abraham being told by God to be circumcised. This set the Jews apart. They were the circumcised, and all others, were the uncircumcised, the Gentiles. Israel had this unique position, and it actually caused them to get proud. So, the Israelites grew to hate the Gentiles, and vice-versa. Paul is writing this section so that the churches in the area can see it is not the outside that God is concerned with, the uncircumcised, or the circumcised. He will go on to show that we are all one in Christ.
Paul does want to show though, why the Jews may feel this way. Sometimes, it is good for us to see the issue from the other side. It helps us to understand and appreciate why the situation is as it is. Paul has spoken with the Jews regarding the Gentiles, and now it seems he is speaking to the Gentiles about the Jews. Paul makes no excuses. He just wants everyone to see both sides and to come to the conclusion that we are all one in Christ.
Paul will now state how they were to remember, that at one time they were:
- Separated from Christ (or as some bibles say, ‘without Christ’) – without Christ is one of the best definitions of an unsaved person
- Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel – this is a fancy way of saying, that they were alienated from the citizenship of Israel; having no right to God, as an unsaved person
- Strangers to the covenants of promise – we don’t know of these covenants when unsaved
- Having no hope – do any religions of the world offer hope?
- Without God in the world – this is because the unsaved person has removed himself from God.
Interesting how this actually describes any person, who is lost, not in Christ, just not Gentiles. So, the Jews, are actually saying we have the covenants, and you are not a citizen of Israel, so you have no hope and are in the world, without God. But as I said this describes anyone who is unsaved. But before we discredited the Jews, I think we need to remember a few things.
When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well, He shared these words with her…. [John 4:22-24 ESV] 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Now you can see that salvation is from the Jews, as Jesus was a Jew. And this is something we need to remember. Also, though Jesus, does share with her that soon (which was shortly after His resurrection), that it will be those who worship the Father in spirit and truth who are the true worshipers.
Also, the covenants are from the Jews…. [Rom 9:4-5 ESV] 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. They are a base point by which all comes from them, as Jesus, Himself is a Jew. So, we should have a bad attitude to towards them. There is so much to say here, but I will leave it for another time.
One thing we need to remember also, is that the new covenant fulfills all the divine covenants/promises [2Co 1:20 ESV] 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus). That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. [Heb. 9:15 ESV] 15 Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Jesus, fulfills them for us, how wonderful is that! But remember the covenants and promises were first given to the Jews.
We need to see that Jews, were special in their role with our Christ, their Messiah. But Jews, became proud, and alienated the Gentiles, anyone who wasn’t a Jew. This caused animosity to exist between the Jews and the Gentiles, for years and years. But the death and resurrection of Jesus, changed all that. It still took many years. But this helps us to see why this issue was so difficult for these cultures to deal with, and why Paul spoke often about it. The Gentiles were made to feel like objects of reproach, scorn, mockery, ridicule and contempt for thousands of years. So, they were alienated socially by the Jews (this hopefully will give you a better perspective when reading your bible; especially when you see things like Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman, they were a people despised by the Jews, for they saw them as half Jews, and half Gentiles).
But even more importantly the Gentiles were alienated spiritually by the Jews. Here again they were seen as outcasts. J. Vernon McGee says they were cut off from God in 5 different ways: 1) they were ‘without Christ,’ the Messiah, having no Savour and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny. 2) they were ‘aliens from the commonwealth of Israel’. God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefitted. 3) Gentiles were ‘strangers from the covenants of promise,’ not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which He promised to give His people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom, and a King – and to those who believe in ‘Him, eternal life and heaven. 4) they had ‘no hope’ because they had been given no divine promise. 5) the were’ without God in the world’. While Gentiles had many gods, they did not recognize the true God because they did not want him (see Rom. 1:18-26). These are the ones listed by Paul in verse 12 (which I mentioned already). So, you can see from a Jewish perspective why they thought the Gentiles were a lost people with no hope. But they also, saw it as they had something special, which they did, but because of this the Jews got proud. God has made a way for us all to be one. So, through this section, Paul, is letting the Gentiles know why they were called this (as they didn’t call themselves the ‘uncircumcised’); and what they were outside of Christ as to what it means now that they are in Christ.
Then we come to verse 13, which is the transition verse, going from what was to what is now…. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…. We were once far off, given the appearance of no hope. You know in the Jewish temple, there was a ‘court of the Gentiles’, far off to the side. So, the Gentiles were allowed to come, but still far off… and now, ‘they are brought near’. This was only done by the ‘blood of Christ’. Due to Jesus, all has been changed. The barriers are removed.
You know when Jesus died, we read that the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. This was another barrier being removed. You see, this was the holy of holies, and the priests entered here once a year, to offer the yearly sacrifice for forgiveness. This was done on the Day of Atonement, with such caution, the priests, even had bells on the bottom of their garments, in case something happened while they were in there, then the other priests who waited on the outside would know. If any priest entered outside of this time, they died. This place, the holy of holies or some called the Most Holy Place, was a representation of the throne of God. And one cannot stay before a holy God, as we are sinful. [Hab. 1:12-13 ESV] 12 Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. 13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong… God could not look with His purity at evil. Now the veil, or curtain was to separate the place to protect man, as there was no mediator between man and God. But Jesus became that mediator, through His sacrifice. [Heb. 9:11-12 ESV] 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Jesus was the finished, last holy sacrifice. As Jesus, was on the cross and said the words ‘it is finished’, the veil/curtain was torn from top to bottom. Well of course that would be done from above, because did you know that special curtain, was 60ft high, 30 ft. wide and 4 in. thick… only God could have torn it the way it was done. God’s presence was now accessible to all. Jesus death made atonement for our sins and made us right before God. We can now come boldly to His throne…
[Heb. 10:19-22 ESV] 19 Therefore, brothers (and sisters), since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, 21 and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
[Heb. 4:16 ESV] 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The division that Paul is presenting for both the Gentile and the Jew is torn down, as God has made a way. You know that after this the Jews continued to do their sacrifices because they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Saviour, the Redeemer; therefore, God had the temple destroyed (in 70 A.D.). It had to be removed. The sacrifices were no longer needed, as Jesus was the final sacrifice.
[Heb. 7:26-28 ESV] 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since He (Jesus) did this once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. This is so wonderful. His sacrifice, shows us it is done, paid in full, and therefore we can approach our Lord Jesus… we are all one in the eyes of our Lord, for He looks at the heart. By the blood of Christ, we were all brought near. [John 10:16 ESV] 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So, there will be one flock, one Shepherd. [Act 2:39 ESV] 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself." God has made a way, when there seem to be no way (I heard this in a song).
It is good to see where we came from, to appreciate where God has taken us. We are all unclean before God, and only God can cleanse us. So, sometimes to realize what a great salvation we have in Christ, we need to remember our former selves. Not to deal on how evil we were, but to see how God took us who were dead, and made us alive in Christ. You know the Jews may have been proud due their traditions, and the covenants, and promises they were given; but us Gentiles can be equally proudful, due to our works, trusting in our achievements. Never religion or works are the way to God, they only lead to becoming proud in ourselves. So, sometimes looking back and seeing how God has saved us, is good for us also, so we don’t become proud of our salvation. It should cause us to be humbly thankful to God, for what He has done.
We will see in these verses that Paul is sharing more on this thought, of these barriers and how God has destroyed them… so let’s continue with verses 14 to 18….
2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
These barriers, these walls, have been broken, taken down by our Lord. This is another wonderful benefit of the cross, that it should cause us to look beyond barriers, to the unity we can enjoy in Christ.
When we discussed peace before, we seen how only God can give the peace that is beyond understanding. To have ‘peace’ in this troubled world can come only from Him. So, it is fitting that this section starts with telling us that He, Himself, who is Jesus, is our peace. In this little piece of scripture, we read the word peace is mentioned four times. Paul is stressing that instead of hostility we should have peace, which can only come from Christ. Around this time of year, we here the verse, [Isa 9:6 ESV] 6 For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – how does it end? Prince of Peace… we are told Jesus is the Prince of Peace. In [Mic 5:5 ESV] we read…. 5 And He shall be their peace… God is our peace. Only He can give peace which is beyond understanding because He is peace itself. [Phil. 4:7 ESV] 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. It is wonderful to know that this peace, which the world searches for, can only be gotten by having the Person of peace with in us, because He is peace itself.
We have seen that through the cross we have been reconciled to God; now Paul is presenting the thought that due to the cross the wall of hostility has been abolished, and reconciliation between the Jews and the Gentiles is now available as they come to Christ. When both are made right in Christ, reconciled to Christ, they have the same hope by the same atonement, looking forward to the same heaven, belonging to the same redeemed family. With Jesus, there is no separation for those who belong to Him. God sees the heart, not the colour of our skin, not our economic status, not if we are men, or women, not if we are bond or free, nothing should separate us from God or from each other, once we have been saved. [Rom 8:35 ESV] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Nothing will separate us!
Paul wants those in Christ, especially Jew and Gentile to see this. Jesus our peace, makes us one. We have peace in Christ, because He is our peace, not that He is bringing peace (although He does that too) … but Jesus is our peace. Peace with God is the foundation for being able to be at peace with others. Just think, when Adam and Eve sinned they were not only alienated from God but from each other as they passed the blame to others.
Paul is letting us know, that God has provided a way to deal with the issues of strife, and hostility, of the sin that is separating us, the cross of Jesus, is the only way.
We discussed the curtain in the temple being torn from top to bottom, here we see Paul saying Jesus, has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. Some use the example of the wall of partition in the temple being used here as an example. There was a court for the Gentiles which was separate from the Jews. The Jews prided themselves on being separated, because they were given the commandments. But they could not keep the commandments, that is why we hear Jesus say, [John 13:34 ESV] 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Love, God’s new commandment, which can only be done through Him. The temple will have still been up at the time Paul wrote this, but he knew that when that temple curtain was torn, at the time of Jesus’ death, it was due to us being able to come to God, through Jesus. Paul knew this, and the fact that the dividing wall within the temple was a hinderance to all that God had accomplished. God had made them both one, and had broken down the dividing wall of hostility in His flesh…. At the cross. The picture here, is the temple wall is torn down, now both Jew and Gentile are together… but just because the wall is torn, and Jew and Gentile are standing next to each other, this doesn’t make them one. The becoming of one, is when they come to Jesus, and are in Christ! Due to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we who are in Christ are transformed into something new – ‘a new person’ – this person is created ‘in Him’. Reconciliation happens in the creation of a new person in, through, and by Christ.
The Commandments and ordinances were given to Israel, and they separated Israel from other nations. This law brought condemnation…
[Mat 5:17-18 ESV] 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. – Only Jesus could fulfill all of the law! We need to remember that Paul is not saying that God rejected the righteous standards of the law He set. But as I said, these righteous standards, the law, we could never reach or accomplish. Jesus fulfilled the law.
[Rom 3:21-22, 31 NIV] 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, ... 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
We can come to God, through faith in Jesus, and then His righteousness is given to us, which is like us fulfilling the law through Jesus. So, this separation of the OT ceremonial laws, and their feasts, and sacrifices which were uniquely Jewish, separating them from the Gentiles, have all been abolished by the death of Jesus – by His sacrifice.
Verse 15 is interesting in saying that by Jesus abolishing the law of Commandments by fulfilling them all, He (God) might create in Himself ONE new man in place of the two… Just a note here, that the word to ‘abolish’ is better translated ‘nullify or void’. Paul as we can tell from all his other writings, would not say the law is destroyed or abolished, as it had a purpose. We discussed this in Galatians, when we seen that the law actually points us to Jesus, because we see how we could not fulfill it all. Only the Son of God, Jesus, in human form could do this. Others say that Paul is speaking about abolishing the ceremonial laws, but not the moral laws, and Paul is making a distinction here. The ceremonial laws, are things like circumcision, washing rules, and the rules which regulated their sacrifices. These ceremonial laws are particular to Israel, and don’t need to be in existence now with Jesus, being the final sacrifice. The moral laws I read represent “manifestations of the divine law that orders the universe and is designed to help all humans achieve ever deeper friendship with God.” Whether or not this was the issue, Paul was dealing with doesn’t matter here. The basic issue, that needs to be seen is that there was a great distinction between Jew and Gentile and due to this Paul needed the churches to know, that with God nodistinction was known. He sees us all as one.
So, the making of us one, into one new man, in place of two, happens due to the unity we have in Christ.
[1Co 15:45, 49 NIV] 45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. ... 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
This I read is ‘denoting a new human race under the second Adam (Christ)… in whose image the Christian is recreated’.
The church which is composed of both Jews and Gentiles, is being described here as ‘one new man’. We are united in Christ. Spiritually any person who comes to Jesus is no longer a Jew or a Gentile…God makes no distinctions that way, they are Christ’s… or as we say, a Christian.
[Rom 10:12-13 NIV] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
[Gal 3:28 NIV] 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are all one in Christ… Paul, here is presenting the unity of being in Christ, despite one’s background. Remember, God forgets the past of a forgiven sinner, and builds on us from the time we are saved, as we are thus a new creation in Christ. Due to this unity, we have in Christ, God makes peace. These two groups (and really so many ‘groups’ today) are made one – ‘one new man’- as God makes us one in Christ.
Paul says in verse 16, that God has reconciled us due to the cross. The result is that God killed the hostility. We see from this verse, that it is the hostility, which is destroyed, abolished, not the law. There should be no reason for hostility and Paul is presenting this concept, so the Jews and the Gentiles could see this.
[Rom 5:10-11 NIV] 10 For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
[Col 1:19-20 NIV] 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Jesus), 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
We have been reconciled to God, through Jesus’ death, and also reconciled to one another.
We see a lot of the word ‘one’ in this section. God is making us one, unified body, the Church. We will see more of this as Paul goes on. Paul is contrasting here the Jew and Gentile, only so they see when one comes to Jesus, we are all equal. No one can come saying, ‘oh I am rich’, so I will be better than you; or ‘oh, I am poor’, so I will have more sympathy than you; we all stand before God as either saved or unsaved. He looks at our souls, not our wealth, looks, status, or any of those things which we as people look at…. [1Sa 16:7 NASB] 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." Beautiful to know this!
But we also see, as I said, a lot of the word, ‘peace’. Verse 17 has the word ‘peace’ twice… 2:17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. There was much enmity between the Jews and Gentiles… years and years of separation between the two… only God could bring them together. The focus here is Jesus, and what He has done for us at the cross. Jesus brings unity, reconciliation, and peace by providing a new way, and only through Him. When one comes to Jesus, they have peace by being Justified in Christ, through His work on the cross. But Paul is also saying, there should be peace with one another, as we are made into one new man – which is the church. J. Vernon McGee says it like this “He not only made peace by the Cross, but those who trust Him are placed in Him and become new men. God had made a difference originally by separating the Jew from the nations. The Jew eventually developed a spiritual pride, and this led to the ultimate hatred between Jew and Gentile. When a Jew and a Gentile are placed in Christ, there is peace. There is peace not only because of the new position, but also because something new has come into existence. Paul identifies this as a new man.”
Some think, oh, God has elevated the Gentile to the Jew; others think, oh, God as lowered the Jews to the Gentile… both are wrong! God has made a new way, and therefore, both, are elevated to a higher plane – remember [Eph. 2:6 NASB] 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… we are spiritually with Christ – whether, Jew, Gentile, Black, White, Yellow, Red, Rich or Poor…. Whatever it is that separates you from others, does not separate you when in Christ. Praise God for that! Here is an illustration that J. Vernon McGee uses to demonstrate this concept, of being one, on a higher plane…
Let us imagine that there are two statues, one of silver and the other of lead, and then that both shall be melted down, and the two shall come out gold. So thus, He has made the two one.” This is a marvelous illustration of how we have been brought together in Christ.” I agree, this is a marvelous illustration of the two being brought together in Christ. So, as a people we don’t need to be looking on the outside of a person, we need to only know if one is a child of God, and if so they are your brother/sister in Christ – as we have become a new man. So, those who are near, the Jew and those afar off, the Gentile, are both brought to God. And when one realizes they are a sinner, whether, Jew or Gentile (because all have sinned); and they come to the Cross of Jesus, they are brought together, in one man…. lovely picture, of the unity we have in Christ. I believe we should also note, that when a person comes to Christ, they don’t lose their identity. In fact, we almost seem to understand it more. We understand ourselves as Gentiles, were the Jews understand themselves more in relation to their Judaism in Christ. So, when we do come together, there is a requirement of change from us. But at the same time, God uses our past as we come to understand ourselves in Christ. For example, if you have good speaking skills, God may use you in that area; or you are a good with having people over – you have the gift of hospitality, so, when you come to Christ, God may use that. We become one, but yet we keep our identity. God is so awesome!
Due to this lovely union, we have peace. For God is our peace. He brings two very different groups of people together, into a peaceful relationship with each other, once they have been reconciled to God. The gospel of peace need to be preached – to bring the good news that sinners can be reconciled to God. [Isa 52:7 NASB] 7 How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" The cross being preached, which brings peace to our souls. We were a wayward people, with no peace. This can only be had by coming To God.
[Isa 57:19 NASB] 19 Creating the praise of the lips. Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near," Says the LORD, "and I will heal him." Only God could bring the healing, to make them one, as He does with us.
In verse 18, we see the trinity again, as Paul says, “For through Him (which is Jesus), we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” This verse maybe small, but it contains a lot… as we see it is through Jesus, that we can come to the Father – remember that torn veil – this access is just as much for one believer as it is for another believer. Only through Jesus do we have access…. [1Ti 2:5 NASB] 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… only through Jesus, and due to the Holy Spirit being in us, we become one. This access is not to be taken for granted, as it cost a great price – the death of God Himself, Jesus.
When we read the verses 1 to 3 we are going down the road of destruction, which is a broad road. This road so many think they are going to God, but this is not so, as there is only one way. [Mat 7:13-14 NASB] 13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Men try and make their own way…. We often hear there are many roads to heaven. The evil one wants the world to believe this. But there is only one way, and it is through the narrow gate…. [John 10:9 NASB] 9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. We have been given access through Jesus.
We see that Jesus is peace and He reconciles us to Himself first and then to each other. The wall of hostility has been destroyed, by the cross… how beautiful that we have peace, we have been reconciled, and God is unifying us into one body, into one new man, through the one Spirit.
When we become children of God we have so much in Christ as we have already seen…. Paul will close this chapter, as he talks about the body of Christ, the church, in an unique way…. So, let’s read verses 19 to the end of the chapter….
2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
This section starts with ‘so then’… letting us know, that due to being one we are…. And Paul goes on to explain who we are as Christians. Paul begins by saying they are no longer strangers and aliens. I read that these were common terms used back then, especially in the political realm. Strangers were those who were complete foreigners, and therefore they had no rights or privileges. Aliens, were those who dwelt in the city, but were non-citizens; so, they were allowed to participate in the customary privileges. When one is a citizen they have all the rights and protections of those in the city, they are neither homeless or stateless. But Paul’s main thought here is, when you become a Christian, you become a citizen, of not just any ordinary city, but you become a citizen of the holy temple God is building, as members of His household.
As for being citizens, this is in connection to our relationship with other believers; and as members of God’s household, this is in connection to our relationship with God.
This building is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. I read different views here regarding the apostles and prophets. One view is some say they could be referring to the apostles of the NT and the prophets of the OT. Most say, that these apostles and prophets were referring to those of the NT only. One reason is because of the word ‘the’ prophets, is not used. Another reason is because when Paul mentions prophecy in Ephesus 3:5, he is not speaking of OT prophets. Also, some say the way it is written here, it as if the apostles and prophets are one. It is these ‘foundational’ people, that give us the very words of God in the NT books. Also, just a side note, due to the foundation only being needed to lay once, there are no more apostles and prophets. Either view could be taken here.
Before a building was built, it needed a corner stone. Here we are told the corner stone is Jesus. Two concepts here: One is that corner stone, was to be laid in order for the building to be straight. The corner stone, was like a modern square we use now-a-days to ensure our buildings are straight. Back then it was the corner stone. Once it was in place, then the rest of the building could be built. This was the first large stone placed at the corner of the building, and then the builders would line up the rest of the structure to the chief cornerstone.
Jesus, is our corner stone. The whole rest of the building, the building of the church, rests on Him. The second concept is that Jesus is our Rock on which the church is built. Here is what scripture tells us about this corner stone:
[Psa. 118:22-23 NASB] 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. 23 This is the LORD'S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This tells us the Chief Corner Stone (which is Jesus) the builders (which is the Jews), reject Him, this is when Jesus is put to death, becomes the chief corner stone (this is Jesus’ victory in His resurrection, and in the building of His church)
Now in Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10 and Luke 20:17 – Jesus quotes this OT passage –
[Mat 21:42 NASB] 42 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES'?
This is when Jesus, is speaking to the leaders of the church, after they asked Him by what authority is doing these things? Jesus says, I will answer you if you tell me about John the Baptist, was his authority from heaven or men. Well, they could not answer that, because if they said, ‘from heaven’, then Jesus, would ask them why didn’t you believe him; if they said, ‘from men’ they feared what the crowds would do. So, they said, we don’t know. Jesus, then tells a parable about a vineyard, and how at the end of the parable, the owner of the vineyard is put to death – as we know this is Jesus; and then Jesus shares the words in quoting Psa. 118:22-23.
We also read in [Act 4:11-12 NASB] 11 "He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." This is when Peter and John are giving one of their first sermons. They let the people know that they have put Jesus to death, but due to Him raising again, conquering death… there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
We see in [1Pe 2:6-8 NASB] 6 For this is contained in Scripture: "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." 7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone," 8 and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
Peter is sharing about the Chief Corner Stone, Jesus, and how it is precious to those of us who believe, but a stumbling block to those who don’t. This is why, Paul shares that Jesus is the corner stone. We need to see that this had to be laid, before the building of the church could take place.
The foundation was laid, and the chief corner store was placed, and now God is building His church. This church is not a building. We are often told that the church is the people. The verses I quoted above, from 1 Peter, is from a section of scripture which talks about us, being living stones…. [1Pe 2:4-5 ESV] 4 As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. We are the church – living stones.
Jesus is the Rock, we are the living stones. You know the story of Moses, when he was out in the desert with the Israelites. They complained a lot (an example of all of us). Anyway, one time they complained about there being no water. The first time this happened is in Exodus, and here is what Moses did…. [Exo 17:6 ESV] 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink." And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. Moses does what is asked. The second time this happens is in Numbers… here is what God tells Moses to do…
[Num 20:8 ESV] 8 "Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So, you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle." Moses is told to tell the rock ‘to yield its water’… But here is what happened… [Num 20:10-11 ESV] 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. Did you see that, Moses struck the rock with his staff twice? You see there is a two-fold lesson for us here. (1) Moses disobeyed God, and this is why He could not enter the promised land (2) The Rock represents Jesus, and the Rock, did not need to be struck twice – it had already been struck once in Exodus, thus representing the death of Jesus. Only once He had to die. When God says something, it needs to be followed. But did you notice that even though Moses disobeyed, the water still came from the Rock?
God always provides despite our disobedience. Anyway, Jesus is the Rock – the Chief Corner Stone, the Rock.
[Deut. 32:4 ESV] 4 "The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.
[2Sa 22:47 ESV] 47 "The LORD lives, and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation,
[Psa. 61:2 ESV] 2 from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I,
[Psa. 89:26 ESV] 26 He shall cry to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.'
[Psa. 94:22 ESV] 22 But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the Rock of my refuge.
[Psa. 95:1 ESV] 1 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation!
[Mat 7:24 ESV] 24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the Rock.
[1Co 10:4 ESV] 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
[Mat 16:18 ESV] 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this Rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Peter’s name means, stone, as we seen from the verses read, Jesus is the Rock, and the Church will be build by Jesus)God is our Rock. We are the building of God. This just shows us that, it is not the building, no the Church is the people. We have been built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the Chief Corner Stone (the stone that set the foundation and squared the building).
It is wonderful to see that we are being joined together, into a holy temple in the Lord. It is so wonderful to know that the Lord fashions us, as we discussed, that He is the potter we are the clay. The Lord prepares us for service, and as we are being transformed into the image of Christ, we are being made to fit into the holy temple building where God by the Spirit will dwell. Jesus, is the one who holds the building together, as it is being built. God is the head of the church. He will build it until… [2Pe 3:9 ESV] 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. The building will continue, until the last one is placed with in it… As God desires no one to perish. And this is all done in Christ. We have so much in Christ…
You know when we gather here on Sunday, and we are with the family of God, it is such a glorious time. We experience the presence of Jesus, with the power of the Spirit. We get a little taste of what the church, not the physical building, but the people – what it is like to be together, worshiping our Lord. We are being knitted, formed together into this glorious building, where God will dwell forever with His people.
We are God’s workmanship, being created together in Christ. As we go through more of Ephesians, we will see the work God has planned for His church, as He is the head of the church. Remember this holy temple, that God is building – as we are being sanctified – will one day be complete. The body of Christ, will one day be totally one – whether Jew or Gentile, old or young, rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. God takes His children and is building His temple. Remember when we are God’s children, He dwells within us. And therefore, when we gather together, in a church, it should make such an impression on the world, that they say… surely the Lord is in this place. Some day soon, we will be with our God, when He makes His permanent residence within the people, the dwelling place of God as we will be joined together in the Love of God.
We have seen the church as a body, and the church as a living-temple. We have seen that we each have a part within the body, and are being formed to fit into the living-temple. We are reconciled to God, through the cross of Jesus, and then with the Holy Spirit within us, we are reconciled to one another.
[Col 1:21-22 ESV] 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 He (Jesus) has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him…