Weds 12th July - Ephesians 2:11-22
Meditation on Ephesians 2:11-22
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Paul now turns from the personal aspects of becoming a Christian and looks at the bigger picture of Gentiles and Jews all belonging to the same family of believers.
He writes about God’s amazing work in reconciling the Gentiles and Jews, bringing them together under Jesus as the Head of this new family.
God has brought them to Himself and to each other.
Paul reminds them of their starting point. For the Gentiles, they were classed as ‘uncircumcised’ while the Jews were classed as ‘circumcised’.
There was at least one interesting church meeting when Pater was asked to give account for what had happened. The outcome of that church meeting, in the words of James, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19)
As in the opening verses of this chapter, we can use the same sub-headings for the Gentiles and Jews as for the individual.
i.e. ‘You were’ and ‘You are’.
Or, ‘You had a past’ and ‘You have a future’.
What a contrast to how they used to behave and Paul reminds them of those not so good old days.
- WHAT A POSITION YOU WERE IN Verses 11-12
Paul often uses ‘but…’ or ‘therefore…’ to make a contrast between what he has said and what he is about to say.
So here – ‘therefore, remember…’ - and he is writing to the Gentiles. You were…
- separated from Christ
- excluded from citizenship
- foreigners to the covenant of promise
- without hope
- without God in the world
William Hendriksen summarises these verses – ‘Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless.’
Could it be any worse?
Just as we have the ‘But God…’ at the beginning of the chapter (verse 4) so we have ‘But now…’ (verse 13).
- WHAT A POSITION YOU ARE NOW IN Verse 13
You were ‘far away’
Now, you ‘have been brought near’.
I am reminded of a hymn that we used to sing. Just drink in the truths in these words.
It was written by Catesby Paget in the 19th Century (not that I sang it in the 19th Century!)
A mind at perfect peace with God: Oh, what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood: This, this indeed is peace.
By nature and by practice far, how very far from God!
Yet now by grace brought nigh to Him, through faith in Jesus’ blood.
So nigh, so very nigh to God, I cannot nearer be;
For in the person of His Son, I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God, more dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son, such is His love to me.
Why should I ever anxious be since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day, and tells me, “Thou art Mine”.
Now, we are ‘in Christ’. We have been brought into that relationship with Him.
Therefore, we can sing, ‘My Jesus, My Saviour…’
How can we be so close when we were so far away?
It is by the blood of Jesus that we have been brought into this new relationship.
- WHAT A SAVIOUR WHO HAS BROUGHT THIS ABOUT Verses 14-18
Jesus, the Son of God, is the Saviour of the world and He has brought peace. But not only has He brought peace. Paul tells us that ‘He is our peace.’
We live in a troubled world where there are wars and rumours of wars. Are there any places around the world which are at peace within themselves and peace with other nations?
Jesus has brought this peace which affects my relationship with God and my relationships with others.
Paul tells us that ‘He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one.’
Gentiles and Jews can now be at peace with each other. They can be reconciled with each other.
Notice the word of destruction – ‘He has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’.
Notice the words of construction – ‘to create one new humanity out of the two’; ‘making peace’; ‘reconciling both of them to God’; ‘He came and preached peace’.
If those weren’t enough – ‘We both (Gentiles and Jews) have access to the Father by one Spirit’.
Think about that – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are each and all involved in the great work of redeeming all people and bringing them into the household of faith.
Here is another ‘wow!’ moment as we reflect on who we were, where we were and now who we are and where we are.
All because of the mercy and love of God.
- WHAT A PRIVILEGE WE NOW ENJOY Verses 19-22
Another contrast from Paul – ‘consequently…’
We are no longer what we were or who we were.
We now belong to the Royal Household of the saints. We are ‘fellow citizens with God’s people’. Pause again for a moment. Around the world there are millions of people who, down through the generations, have come to faith in the Lord Jesus and we belong to them because we belong to Jesus. We are ‘members of God’s household’.
What a day it will be when the King comes again to gather His bride, His church, to meet Him in the air and to be for ever with the Lord.
As one commentator put it; ‘we no longer live on a passport but we really have our own birth certificates…we really do belong’.
And we are safe and secure because our lives are now being built on a solid foundation of which Christ is the cornerstone. This gives strength to the whole building of which we are now a part.
Another hymn comes to mind – this one written by S.J Stone, also in the 19th Century.
The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is His new creation, by water and the Word;
from heav'n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;
with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.
Elect from ev'ry nation, yet one o'er all the earth,
her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy Name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses, with ev'ry grace endued.
Tho' with a scornful wonder, men see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.
And this building becomes a ‘dwelling place for God by His Spirit’.
The Almighty God – Father, Son and Spirit – live is us – individually as a believer and collectively as His Church.
No wonder we say “God is good all the time.”