Ephesians 2:11–22comment (0)
September 23, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 2:11–22
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
God’s Power Changes Relationships
When adults join a church, many of them enroll in a Sunday School class and find groups with open arms welcoming them. Others, however, may find tight-knit groups who subtly fence them out. Or they may experience outright rejection. Of course, these new members also may not behave well. They may refuse to join a Sunday School class, may be unkind to others or may complain about some member. None of this behavior is compatible with what Christ did in dying on the cross to establish the church. This and all similar behavior should be rejected in favor of relating to other believers in ways that express the unity of the church. This week’s lesson explains that when we are saved, we become part of God’s new people and are united with them in a new relationship. We need to evaluate how well our lives express this connection.
Brought Together (11–13)
In Ephesians 2:1–10, Paul wrote of the spiritual death that entrapped both Jews and Gentiles. He also wrote of the spiritual life they had experienced by trusting Christ. The work of Christ in salvation had brought believing Jews and Gentiles into existence as a new people of God, the church. Though once separated from God, these Gentiles now existed among His new people. Prior to their conversion, the Gentiles were spiritually bankrupt.
(1) They were without Christ; they had no Messiah. (2) They were without citizenship, excluded from citizenship in Israel, God’s Old Testament people. (3) They were without covenants, shut out of the promises God gave to Israel. (4) They were without hope, shrouded in despair. (5) They were without God; they had no saving knowledge of the one God who really exists. They had no God to forgive, guide, bless or save them. Here was the deepest level of pagan misery. Prior to salvation, the Gentiles were alienated from Him. Now, in Christ, there was reconciliation.The phrase “but now” marks the gracious intervention of God on behalf of lost sinners. Gentiles “who were once far off” had been “brought near” by Christ’s death. Israel, with their covenant relationship with God, enjoyed nearness to Him; Gentiles lived at a distance from Him. Now, in Christ, both believing Jews and Gentiles were brought into God’s new people.
Joined Together (14–18)
By His death, Christ destroyed all the barriers that separated Jews and Gentiles in order to restore them to God and unite them into one people. Christ brought these two formerly antagonistic parties into a new unity, a place with position and privilege before God. How did Jesus bring about the new unity? He did it by fulfilling the demands of the Law in His righteous life and absorbing its curse in His sacrificial death (Gal. 3:10–14). He nullified the legal barrier that separated Jew and Gentile (Eph. 3:15). We are united with all God’s people and demonstrate this truth by living in peace with one another.
Built Together (19–22)
Believing Jews and Gentiles had become citizens of God’s Kingdom and members of His family and were being built into a people for Him. The new relationship and fellowship was pictured by three illustrations: a nation, a family and a temple. The first picture was that of a nation. Redeemed Jews and Gentiles now had become “a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9), fellow citizens with full rights and privileges of citizenship (Phil. 3:20–21). The second picture was a domestic one, “God’s household.” All believers enter into the family with God as our Father. All are brothers and sisters in one family regardless of the racial, national, economic or physical distinctives they possess (Gal. 3:28). The third figure was the picture of a great building, “a holy temple in which God lives.” Believers are the place where God dwells on earth. Christians are being made into God’s earthly dwelling place, and we reveal that by relating to one another in ways that are consistent with the Holy Spirit’s presence. In Christ, all stand adequate before God and equal with each other. The Spirit empowers us with the ability to adjust our attitudes and acts so that we do, indeed, live clearly according to our unity in Christ.