Lesson 6: "Ye...were...made nigh by the blood of Christ" (2:13),

Ephesians 2:11-22

Paul's Prison Epistles. This is lesson # 6. This lesson begins in v.11 of Eph. ch. 2. Please prepare to read with me v.11-22. However, before we read; notice how the material in this section is introduced. At the beginning of v.11, this section starts off: "Wherefore remember." Now what does "where- fore" means? It means: "on account of which thing", i.e. on account of that which Paul had just said, or (in other words) on account of that which we just covered (vs.1-10). That section, we just covered, (keep in mind) might be summarized something like this (Paul's point was): you Ephesians, God hath quickened.. .i.e. God made you alive: spiritually alive, or born again as the apostle John said "to them gave he power to become the sons of God... [they] were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13). Verse 8 (here in Eph. ch. 2) said it like this: "For by grace are ye saved through faith." So, when Paul continues here in v.11 with "wherefore remember", Paul is saying, now — on account of that— (which we just discussed) you, Ephesians, need to REMEMBER this! Alright, we are saved by grace through faith. Grace on God's part, faith on our part. Now, Paul, what is it you want us to remember? Thus, the verses that follow (i.e. v. 12- 13-14, etc) contain the information that Paul wanted these Ephesian brethren to remember. O.K. Are you ready! Let's read it! Here we go! Let's read v. 11-22, Eph. ch. 2. This is what Paul said to remember. Let's read!
     "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit."
     Alright, let's go back to v.11 and pick-up with "Wherefore remember." The Ephesians were once dead! i.e. dead people walking around, we said. Paul said they were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Also, you need to keep in mind, there was a synagogue (at least one) at Ephesus. We established this in Acts 19:8. When Paul first arrived at Ephesus (6 or 7 years before this writing), he disputed and persuaded boldly for a space of three months in that synagogue. Luke summarized Paul's sermons in that synagogue as "things concerning the kingdom of God", i.e. Paul taught concerning the church (Acts 19:8). Actually, Paul was in the process of establishing this church we know as the church of Christ at Ephesus. However, Paul (here) addressed these comments (in v.11-22) primarily to the Gentile Christians in the Ephesian congregation. There were probably far more Gentiles (i.e. non-Jews) in that congregation than Jews. The Jewish folks understood Paul's point. The word "Uncircumcision" in v.ll (of course) is a reference to the Gentiles; i.e. as the Jews naturally described the Gentiles. The "Circumcision" (in this verse, of course) was the way the Jews referred to themselves. This connects backs to their Old Testament relationship, I trust you understand. In v.13 and again in v.17, Paul used the phrase: "you which were afar off" in reference to the Gentiles. Then, in contrast to that phrase, Paul said the Jews "were nigh," i.e. in the past the Jews were-"closer to God than the Gentiles. Now, tune in v.12! "at that time [Paul said this to the Gentiles; with reference to the Mosaic law, etc., he said, {listen now}] ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world..." Be careful NOT to read TOO MUCH into this. Paul was simply contrasting their present state in Christ, i.e. since they were baptized, i.e. they had been reborn OR quickened to life (as he said up in v.1)... Paul is here contrasting this new spiritual state with their former lost state. Paul did not want them to forget this new relationship for one minute: "at that time ye were without Christ..." (v.12). The word "aliens" means foreigners. "Strangers" in this verse means: non- citizens, i.e. those not included. Both words describe the same people and the same relationship. The "commonwealth of Israel," is a reference to the Jewish nation and the ten commandment law, which served as the constitution for that theocratic nation. The Gentiles (in relation to those things), "were far off" as Paul said it (in v.13). "But now" (v.13), do you see that? The contrast is: that is no longer true. "But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who some- time were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Thus, the Gentiles are definitely included in the covenant we call the Christian age. Not only were (and are) Gentiles included in this present dispensation; the very ones (Paul was here writing to) had obeyed the gospel and were Christians at that very moment. They were "made nigh by the blood of Christ" (end of v.13), i.e. they had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus (going back up to v.7 of ch. one). That's another way of saying these believers were baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27). The ten commandment law and the Jewish national system, that God instituted at Mt. Sinai, had (in former years) been somewhat of a wall or a partition (that's what Paul called it in v.14); i.e. that system really had been somewhat of a fence or a divider between these two peoples (or national systems) in the past. But, don't miss the point; Paul said, that wall has now been removed. If you read between the lines; you can almost hear Paul saying: Praise God the wall has now been "broken down" (v.14). God has made both one. In other words, any former distinctions that separated Jews and Gentiles, with reference to national systems, covenants, access to God, acceptable worship, etc. has now been removed. The very animosity itself (that feeling that enemies have for each other); has now been taken away. Such distinctions simply do not exist in the Christian system. Now, read v.16 real slow! Connect this back to v.13, the Gentiles "who sometime were FAR OFF are made NIGH by the blood of Christ." How? Well, this came through Jesus' death on the cross. V.16 says he did this "that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross." By the cross, of course, calls attention to Jesus' atoning death. Now, what does "in one body" mean? This is a reference to the church! Christ's church! Christ is "head over all things to the church, which is his body..." Where did we learn that? That's the last two verses, just up the page, at the end of Eph. ch. 1, right? In that body, the church, Jews and Gentiles are one, i.e. there is absolutely no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in Christ's church. In order to accomplish this Jewish-Gentile relationship (v.15), Christ "abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances." The "law of commandments contained in ordinances" is a very
common way of referring to-the Old Testament law, or in other words: the ten commandment law, sometimes called the old covenant, in contrast to the Christian age, we live in, of course. The ten commandments given through Moses on two tables of stone at Mt. Sinai; were merely a brief constitutional statement actually. God gave the Jews many other supplementary "ordinances" to keep also. For example, the passover feast was given as an "ordinance" (that is in Ex. 12:17). Please take a moment to turn to Ex. 12:17 and think about that. Do you remember Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist? Luke said (1:6), that Zechariah and Elizabeth (listen now!) "were both righteous before God, walking in ALL the commandments AND ORDINANCES of the Lord blameless." The point is: that God did not only remove the ten commandment law (Paul used the word "abolished" in v.15), Jesus' death on the cross removed those "ordinances" ALSO, according to this verse. Thus, the church of Christ AND all Christian doctrine, for that matter; that Jesus DIED FOR was not (and is not) just a revamping of the old Jewish system or an amending of the ten commandment law, as the Judiasing teachers were claiming then, and as many denominational doctrines perpetuate even in our day.
     Alright, please notice THAT v.17 follows a colon at the end of v.16 in the KJV. In other words, v.17 follows and explains how Jesus, our Lord, through the cross "reconciled both [i.e. Jews and Gentiles] unto God in one body [or one church] by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:" Now, how did Jesus do that? He "came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh." In other words, this is what Jesus taught. It was the same message to both Jews and Gentiles. The "nigh" in this verse were the Jews (we have already said), and them that "were afar off" were likewise the Gentiles. We mentioned this before. But, don't forget: "ye who sometime were far off are made nigh [i.e. made equal with the Jews] by the blood of Christ." (v.13). Then in v.18, Paul further explains: "For through him [i.e. Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Thus, it is through the cross, i.e. through the good news of the gospel, and through the church that Jesus purchased with His blood; that we have access by one Spirit unto God. Paul said it to Timothy like this: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." (I Tim. 2:5). Notice that the word "Spirit" (here in v.18) is capitalized meaning Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is the author of this scripture which we are now studying (according to II Tim. 3:16). Thus, these things, being scripture, apply to you and me, i.e. right here...and right now. Or, to put it another way: we have access to God the same way the Ephesians did, i.e. by faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son and through the grace of God as was discussed in our last lesson which covered the first ten verses in this chapter (and as was specifically said up in v.8). When we follow the word of God, we are led by God's Holy Spirit. Not in some miraculous way; but, [How?] by following the word of God, or in other words: scripture.
     O.K. let's close out this lesson with v.19-22. In these four verses, Paul re-states the forgoing; i.e. what he has already said or discussed in v.11-18, or to say it another way, v.19-22 is a summary. However, this is more than a mere summary, for in these four verses Paul also illustrates his thought. In earlier lessons, we discussed (somewhere along the way) a little about Paul's writing style. Sometimes he is repetitive; Paul states his cases or his point, then Paul restates the matter again just to sharpen up the focus and to get a little more penetration of thought, I suppose. Then in a few cases (like we're now dealing with in v.20-22), Paul reiterates the point over again in the form of an illustration. V.19 (here) is Paul's restatement (please read with me): "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God..." The phrase: "household of God" in v.19 is a reference to the church. A very rich and a very vivid metaphor. It depicts the church as a living and loving institution, God's household or God's family in other words. Paul used the word "family" to substitute for this thought, further down (in 3:15). The Ephesian Gentiles that Paul is addressing here must think of themselves as church members or children of God. They "are no more strangers and foreigners...", i.e. they are NOT alien sinners. They are fellow citizens with the saints. They are not second class or second rate in any respect. The word "saints" is a little more inclusive term than even the word Christian. The word: "saint(s)" is used about two or three dozen time in the Old Testament and even more often in the New Testament. "Fellow citizens with the saints" (v.19) describes all the godly people who are or who have ever been in covenant relationship with God throughout all the ages.
     Then in v.20, (all part of that same sentence in the KJV); Paul began his metaphorical illustration. The church of Jesus Christ (God's household) in which the Ephesian Christians were then members, both Jews and Gentiles, fellow citizens with the saints (all of equal rank); Paul envisioned them in some way like a building, i.e. the saints of God (in some way) constitute a building (as Paul visualized it), i.e. where God lives (look at the end of v.22). Paul called it God's "habitation" in that verse. That's another way of saying: God's dwelling place. In v.21, Paul used the phrase "a holy temple" to express this thought. Thus, Paul depicts the church in his illustration as the dwelling place of God through the Spirit, i.e. through the Holy Spirit. Now, to think of a literal church building here is to miss the point by miles and miles and miles. Remember this is metaphorical. So, back off just a few steps! Let me ask you: What is the church? The church is God's family, or Christians in other words. Spoken of by John the Baptist and Jesus as the kingdom. Do you remember that? A kingdom has subjects or citizens. You see, all these descriptive terms (in-aggregate) constitutes the total spiritual analogy. However, in Paul's illustration (here), the dwelling place of God (i.e. God's household) exists in the minds and hearts of Christians? Saints or Christians are depicted as living stones in which God dwells through the Spirit. The apostle Peter used a similar illustration once! Peter said, "Ye ...as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (I Pet. 2:5). In the O.T. the tabernacle (and later, of course, the temple at Jerusalem) was looked upon by the Jews as the dwelling place of Jehovah God. The Lord told Moses with reference to the tabernacle (Ex. 25:8), "let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." Here in our text, Paul visual- ized God's NEW dwelling place as "fitly framed together," i.e. to say, God's church is appropriately organized. Not materialistically! "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone," (v.20). The apostle's work was in the foundation. "Prophets" (v.20), probably refer to inspired teachers, who in the days of Paul, helped perpetuate God's word as revealed to the apostles. Some of these prophets even wrote books included in the N. T. today that now provides and perpetuates God's word into the present superstructure of the church (so to speak). As we teach today and sow the seed in Christian hearts, God's house still grows. Do you get the illustration? Have a good day!

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