Ephesians

Ephesians 2:11-22 The New Creation (we are all one in Christ)

Ephesians 2 describes the NEW CREATION - the difference Christ makes. 

In v1-10, He transformed us from being dead in sin to being made alive with Him (the New Creation from the individual standpoint). 

Now in v11-22, He transforms our relationships (the New Creation from the corporate standpoint). First He overcame DEATH, second DISTANCE. Man’s condition is not just seperation and alienation from God, but also from others. In Christ and only in Christ has every barrier been removed. 

This Section (v11-22) has a parallel structure to v1-10: 
I. THE PROBLEM: Our State before Salvation - the Old Man (v11,12). 
II. THE SOLUTION: What God did for us in Christ (v13-17). 
III. THE RESULT: Our State after Salvation - the New Man (v18-22).

There are so many divisions in humanity (based on age/sex/race/colour). The deepest division was between Jew and Gentile (because it’s origin was of God) so Paul focuses on that but what he says applies to all divisions of man. A father can distribute sweets to his children in two ways. He can give to all equally or give all to one child to distribute to the others. This is what God did in choosing Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). But Israel did not want to pass on the sweets! However Jesus (the Jew) put this right! God put a difference between Jew and Gentile and through sin it led to a long history of two-way hostility (both of anti-gentile superiority and anti-semitic jealousy and resentment). The Law of Moses fortified the difference and separation between Jew and Gentile. 

In describing the state of things before salvation, when Paul says ‘you’, he means ‘you, Gentiles’, in contrast to ‘we, Jews’ (Ephesians 1:12,13). But after salvation we are all one in Christ. Paul’s background was as a Pharisee of Pharisees who despised the ‘souless’ Gentile ‘dogs’ as hell-fodder. Writing a letter of love like this to Gentiles was a miracle testifying to transformation Christ brings. Christ has bridged the deepest gulf and smashed the highest barrier existed among men. If He brought Jews and Gentiles into unity, He can do the same for all divisions of man, thus all men are brought into unity in Christ. 

I. THE PROBLEM: Our State before Salvation - the Old Man (v11,12).
This is a picture of Gentiles outside Christ, separated from God and His Covenant people: Christless, Stateless, Friendless, Hopeless, and Godless! Paul tells us we were on the ‘wrong side’ of the gulf. We have come to see Jews as the outcasts, aliens and strangers everywhere but the opposite was the truth. 

“Therefore remember (it’s good to remember the mess we were in before Christ) 
that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - called ‘Uncircumcision’ 
by what is ‘called the Circumcision’ (made in the flesh by hands)” (v11).
This is a taste of Jewish superiority, answered cleverly by Paul (see Phil 3:2,3). 

v12: “- that at that time you (Gentiles) were: 

PROBLEM (1): "without  (separated from and outside) Christ (and therefore far from God)." The Messiah was primarily a Jewish possession and hope.

PROBLEM (2): "being aliens (separated) from the commonwealth (citizenship) of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise (separated from and outside the people of God and the covenants of God)", consequently:

PROBLEM (3): "having no hope (for future eternity) and without God in the (present) world." ‘a-theist’ = 'without God' and so also without any hope or future. Philips: “You had nothing to look forward to and no God to whom you could turn”. 'In the world' - Our position by birth was: ‘Gentiles in the flesh’ (v11), and our address: ‘in the world’(v12).

Through Christ this sorry state of affairs is reversed: 
Problem (1): We were without Christ and therefore far from God (v12a).
Solution (1): Jesus shed His blood to make 
peace (through propitiation) between man and God, so that we could be put into Christ and be brought near to God (v13). 
Result (1): We are now in Christ and have full and free access to God and fellowship with God through Him (v18).

Problem (2): We were separated and excluded from the people of God(Israel) v12b
Solution (2):
 Through His death on the Cross Jesus broke down every barrier separating Jew and Gentile, so that we can all be one New Man in Him (v14,15).
Result (2): 
We are equal fellow-citizens with the saints (believing Israel), members together in one Body of Christ, sons of God together in the Household of God and inheritors together in the New Covenant (v19). 

Problem (3): We were without God and without hope of eternal life/glory (v12c).
Solution (3):
 Christ's death provided a full reconciliation for man, so that man can be fully reunited to God. Then through the preaching of the Gospel, man is given the opportunity to receive this reconcilation (peace with God) (v16-17). 
Result (3): W
e are no longer without God, but now God is with us and in us forever. We have become the Temple of the Spirit of God, Who now indwells us, giving us a sure and wonderful hope of a glorious future with God! (v20-22). 

This Summary (above) reveals the structure of Paul's thought in v12-22. 
He first outlines the PROBLEM in 3 parts (v12). Then He reveals what Christ did on the Cross to SOLVE the problem, dealing with each of the 3 parts in turn (v13-17).
Finally He describes the 3-fold RESULT of Christ's work in our lives 
(v18-22)
The 3 parts of this RESULT 
correspond in exact order to the 3 parts of the PROBLEM and the 3 parts of the SOLUTION. Thus the 3-fold problem of man due to sin is solved by the 3-fold work of the Cross, resulting in a 3-fold salvation-blessing for us.
The movement of thought is from our unsaved state (v11,12), to the work of the Cross (v13-17) and then to the result it has in a believer's life (v18-22).

The PROBLEM (v11,12): "Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time: 

(1) you were without Christ, 

(2) being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, 

(3) having no hope and without God in the world." 

THE SOLUTION - the Work of Christ (v13-17): "But now": 
(1) "in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the Blood of Christ."
 (v13) 

(2) "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one New Man from the two, thus making peace" (v14,15) 

(3) "and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the Cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.   And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off (Gentiles) and to those who were near(Jews)(v16,17). 

THE RESULT for us now (v18-22)"For (now, as a result of the Cross):
(1) "through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father"
 (v18).

(2) "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (v19).

(3) "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (v20-22).

 The Result can be summarised by: We are no longer OUT, but we are IN. 
We are (1) in Christ, (2) in the Kingdom and in the Covenant, (3) we are with God (for He is with and in us) in this world, and so we have a certain hope for the next! 

II. THE SOLUTION: What God did for us in Christ (v13-17). 
The Work (Blood) of Jesus Christ on the Cross changed everything:
 

SOLUTION (1): On the Cross, Jesus shed His blood to make peace (through propitiation) between man and God, so that we could be put into Christ and be brought near to God (v13).  

Once we were without Christ, separated from God (v12a): “BUT now IN Christ Jesus (before our position was ‘in the flesh’ and ‘in the world’, but now we are ‘in Christ’) you (Gentiles) who once were far off have been brought near(to God) by the BLOOD of Christ, for He Himself is our PEACE” (v13). Having died to destroy the barrier between us and God, He offers Himself as our living union (peace) with God, through Whom we have continual fellowship with the Father. 

Before Christ, Gentiles were described as far off from God: "Listen, O coastlands, to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar!” (Isaiah 49:1). 
Because of God’s covenants Israel was near:"What great nation has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us?”(Deuteronomy 4:7). “The praise of all His saints - of the children of Israel, a people near to Him” (Psalm 148:14).However, neither people was IN. But God prophesied of salvation coming to both equally: "I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him far off (Gentile) and to him who is near (Jew) says the LORD and I will heal (save)him”(Isaiah57:19)

“In Christ Jesus
” (v13). If all the covenants were for the seed of Abraham how can they come to us? It is by being relocated IN CHRIST. In the world we were OUT (v12), but in CHRIST we come INTO every blessing. We have now crossed over the divide (gulf) so that our position is no longer IN the flesh and IN the world, but IN CHRIST. Jesus Christ (a Jew) was THE SEED of Abraham, who through His perfect righteousness inherited all the covenant promises. Now in (union with) Him, we become the seed of Abraham, and joint heirs with Him of the promises: 

“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29). This union with Christ, peace with God, and possession of the promises was all achieved (and purchased) through: ‘the Blood of Christ’ (His sacrificial death on the Cross for us). 

 ‘Blood’ was most important to a Jew like Paul, who was proud of his Jewish blood (despising those of mixed blood like the Samaritans). But now to Paul it is the Blood of Jesus that is important. The identity of God’s people is no more in our natural blood, but in the Blood of Christ (v13). We are now all of one Blood. We are all one Family with one Salvation through one Blood. So now Blood unites us rather than divides us. The only division left is between believers and unbelievers.

SOLUTION (2): Through His death on the Cross Jesus broke down every barrier separating Jew and Gentile, so that we (Gentiles) can be reconciled and united with believing Israel into one BODY, thus becoming one New Man in Him (v14,15). 

We had been separated from Israel and the Abrahamic Covenant (v12b), but now: “He Himself is our PEACE, who has made both (Jew and Gentile) ONE and has broken down the middle wall of separation, the enmity (the barrier of hostility) having abolished in His flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, so as to create in Himself one NEW MAN from the two, thus MAKING PEACE”(v14,15)

The dividing wall between Jew and Gentile was enforced by the Ceremonial Law of Commandments centred in the Temple worship. Jew and Gentile differed in their observance of it. The Jewish Temple was a picture of the New-Creation Temple in Christ (v20-22). But there were key differences. The Veil (signifying the barrier between man and God) was torn in two when Jesus died. There was also: ‘the middle wall of separation’ in the Temple Courts, a dividing wall that stopped Gentiles going into the inner courts. It had a warning on it: “If you enter here you will be be responsible for your own death” (Trespassers will be executed, not just prosecuted!). Thus the Gentiles were far off, and the Jews were near, yet they were still unable to have direct access to God under the Old Covenant. 

In order to create a NEW MAN (humanity) the body of Christ, God has united Jew and Gentile by the removal of all differences in how they approach God (Jewish Temple worship excluded Gentiles), and by providing the same way ofpeace with God and of access to God (through the Blood of Jesus) for both Jew and Gentile. 

The focus is now on peace between man and man. Jesus Himself is our Peace. True unity is only found in Christ. We have one Lord and Saviour. In His flesh (through His physical death on the Cross) all barriers of race and status are demolished. In and through Him, all (Jew and Gentile) are united to each other.

By His death He fulfilled the Jewish Ceremonial Law, rendering it inoperative, so that now it is no longer in force. Gentile traditions are also ‘out’ so that we can all be one in Christ. Luther, when asked with what he would replace all the Catholic Ceremonies, replied: ‘with Christ.’ Jesus replaced the law with Himself. Now He is our law so that we submit to what is repeated in the New Testament from the Old (the unchangeable Moral Law). His Law is a law of liberty, based on a personal relationship with God, empowered by the Spirit. The Cross of Christ removed all divisions to create a New United Humanity in Himself - THE BODY OF CHRIST! 

SOLUTION (3):  Christ's death provided a full reconciliation for man, so that man can be fully reunited to God. Then through the preaching of the Gospel, man is given the opportunity to receive this reconcilation (peace with God) (v16-17).
 
Once we were without hope and without God (v12c), but now through the Cross He has provided a reconciliation for us, so that we can have peace with God and hope for eternal life: “and that He might reconcile them both (Jew and Gentile) to God in one body (see 3:6) through the Cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (the hostility between man and God)" (v16).

Firstly, a reconciliation (peace) was made between God and man at the Cross (see also 2Corinthians 5:18-21), the sin-barrier being removed from God’s side through the God-man Jesus Christ. But for this reconciliation to be made effective, each man must accept it for himself, hence this peace with God must be offered to man through the Gospel which says: "Christ has borne our sins and paid the price for peace. He has reconciled man to God on the Cross. He now offers you this peace (reconciliation) as a free-gift. So now be reconciled to God (receive the reconciliation He has provided for you on the Cross)."

So, secondly Jesus brought PEACE through the GOSPEL: “And He came and preached PEACE to you who were afar off (Gentiles) and to those who were near (Jews)” (v17). It is Jesus preaching through us when we witness!  When the Gospel of peace is received in faith, full fellowship (peace) with God is established.

III. THE RESULT: Our State after Salvation - the Corporate New Man (v18-22).
First Paul described what we once were (v11,12), then what Jesus has done for us (v13-17), and now he paints a portrait of what we have become as a result, namely God’s new Man, His new society, His new covenant breed of humanity (v18-22). 

RESULT (1): We are now in Christ and have full and free access to God and fellowship (peace) with God through Him (v18).

Once we were without Christ, separated from God (v12a), but Christ’s death (blood) has removed every barrier so that we can be brought near to God (v13), so that now:  “through HIM (through the SON and His death) we both(believing Jew and Gentile) have ACCESS by one SPIRIT to the FATHER” (v18). 

As a result of Christ's perfect work accomplished in His death believers are now forever with God and He with us both now and for all eternity! See how Paul changes now from ‘you (Gentiles)’ to ‘we (believers)’ to show the new unity and fellowship between believing Jews and Gentiles for we all share the same ACCESS to the same FATHER through the same SON (and His Blood) by the power of the same SPIRIT. 
Note this is a Trinitarian verse in a book that is Trinitarian throughout.

RESULT (2): We are equal fellow-citizens with the saints (believing Israel), members together in one Body of Christ, sons of God together in the Household of God and inheritors together in the New Covenant (v19).

Once we were separated from the people of God (Israel) (v12b), but through His death on the Cross Jesus broke down every barrier separating Jew and Gentile, so that we (Gentiles) can be united with Israel into one body, one NEW MAN (v14,15), so that: "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (v19).

We are fellow citizens of God's Kingdom, fellow sons and heirs in the House of God (v19), and members together of the same Body (of Christ), the New Man (v15,16).

We have previously seen that we are now all members of ‘ONE BODY' (v16). This is the greatest picture of our UNITY. The body of Christ smashed on Cross has created one body of believers.  We are ONE BODY with one HEAD whose BLOOD saved us all. As one BODY we all have one SPIRIT. A body has one spirit in it, filling it, joining every part and giving every part life. So we all live by ONE SPIRIT and worship the one God by ONE SPIRIT (v18). Every part can come NEAR to God and have full, unimpeded fellowship with God; we have total and immediate access, coming nearer than the Jews in Temple days (into the Holy of Holies). 

All differences (young-old, ethnic, colour, class, culture, male-female) do not affect your position, privileges and equality in Christ. There is no room in Christ for barriers, prejudices, or superiority. We are all one in Christ through His BLOOD and our UNION with Him. Churches that deliberately build upon, aim at or favour one age-group, sex or nationality offend this principle and hurt their witness to the world that Christ has created a new humanity where these barriers have been broken down.

1Corinthians 12:12,13: “As the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 

Colossians 3:10,11: “the New Man- where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” 

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 

He shows our new position, privileges and unity through three pictures: 
 A. CITIZENS TOGETHER IN HIS KINGDOM (v19a): 
“Now, therefore, (as a result of Christ’s work MAKING PEACE through the Cross, PREACHING PEACE through the Gospel and BEING our PEACE through the New Creation), you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints (believing Israel).” We are no longer on the outside of Christ and His Kingdom (v12) but we are nowinside the covenant community of God. We are all equal fellow-citizens in the same Kingdom (this puts an end to all hatred between nationalities, classes and sexes). 

B. CHILDREN TOGETHER IN HIS FAMILY
(v19b): 
“and members of the HOUSEHOLD of God.” 

We are all children together of the same Father, in the same family, joint heirs of the New Covenant with our elder brother Jesus (the first-born).


C. STONES TOGETHER IN HIS TEMPLE
 (v20-22): “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, JESUS CHRIST Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy TEMPLE in the LORD, in whom you (Gentiles) also are being built into it together for a dwelling place of GOD in the SPIRIT.” 

Verse 19 showed that parts (1) and (2) of the problem described in v12 have been solved. Now we see part (3) solved.As well as being one Body, one Kingdom, one family we are one BUILDING - the TEMPLE of the Living God. We have a sure hope of a glorious eternal future because even now we are the Temple of God with God dwelling inside us by His Spirit, so that we ‘have God in this world!’ (see v12).   Again we see the Trinity. The Temple is built in (union with) the LORD JESUS who 
holds it all together, and is consecrated for GOD to live in by His SPIRIT (the Shekinah Glory).

The Jewish Temple had a middle dividing wall to keep Gentiles out on penalty of death. In fact Paul was writing from prison having been arrested on the false charge of bringing a Gentile (Trophimus) into the inner-courts (Acts 21:29). Of course, he had brought many Gentiles into the new Temple, even into the Presence of God (the Holy-of-Holies)! 8 years after Paul wrote this, the Jewish Temple was destroyed confirming the old-order was obselete including the Jew-Gentile division. With the Temple gone where would God dwell now? He had already moved into His new Temple, not national but international, not localised but universal, not of stone but of people and with no partitions!  

Its firm FOUNDATION is the revelation given through the original apostles and prophets (3:5) and preserved in their New Testament writings. This teaching must not be changed but received.

The CORNERSTONE is most important stone, being essential to the foundation, to holding the building steady and setting it and keeping it in line. This is Christ Himself (Ps 118:22,23, Is 28:16, Mark 12:10,11, Acts 4;11, 1Peter 4:4-8, 1Cor 3:11) and His teaching in the Gospels into which all other foundational teaching must fit. He holds the Temple together in strength & unity (including joining the Jew-Gentile walls in Himself) as it grows by each individual STONE being built in, as they come and are 
joined to Jesus 
(1Pet2:4,5). Its purpose is to be the DWELLING PLACE of God (the Shekinah Glory) and to be a VISIBLE DEMONSTRATION to the world to the presence of God. Together we are the Temple-God can’t do much with stones lying by themselves (solo Christians). We are to be built together into one building as a demonstration of UNITY in Christ and the POWER of the Spirit. 

Paul felt 2 emotions. He was glad many Gentiles were in, but sad - that many fellow Jews were out on the other side of gulf. If Christ brought unity He also brought a new division. If you are on the wrong side it is because you are unbeliever not because you are a Gentile. If you are on the right side it’s because you are a believer and you are one with all other believers whether Jew or Gentile.

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