John T. Willis

Monday, May 10, 2010

One New Humanity--Ephesians 2:11-22

Ephesians 2 is a major focal center of biblical thought. Ephesians 2:1-10 emphasizes the vertical relationship between God and human beings--God saved us by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:11-22 emphasizes the horizontal relationship between human beings. God's purpose and mission on earth is to save all humanity, and bring all humanity into unity under God through Jesus Christ by his blood on the cross. This paragraph falls into three parts: I. The way all human beings used to be: 2:11-12. II. What God has done for all human beings through Christ--2:13-18. III. The ongoing journey of all human beings through life--2:19-22.

I. The Way All Human Beings Used To Be. Ephesians 2:11-12. Paul begins by addressing Gentiles directly, because Paul is an apostle to the Gentiles. [But in reality, all human beings are in this same status before God saves human beings through Christ]. Compared with Jews, Gentiles were "in the flesh," and "uncircumcised." "Remember" is not mere intellectual activity, but pertains to repentance, decision, and gratitude. Paul specifically mentions five conditions of lost human beings.
a. Without Christ--thus, without the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, thus, without salvation from sin.
b. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel--Excluded from citizenship--see 2:19; Philippians 3:20.
c. Strangers to the covenant of the promise--God's promise--see Romans 4:13; 9:4; Galatians 3:16-29.
d. Having no hope--Totally destitute from any future at all.See Colossians 1:5;
1 Thessalonians 4:13.
e. Without God in the world--thus, without any encouragement or support. See Psalm 121.

II. What God Has Done for All Human Beings through Christ--Ephesians 2:13-19.
a. "BUT NOW" in 2:13 is a powerful transitional term. "ONCE," all human beings were "FAR OFF" from God, but NOW God has brought them "NEAR" by the blood of Christ. This language comes from Isaiah 57:19. 2:13, repeated in 2:17.
b. Christ is "OUR PEACE." "Peace" in this context does not mean "inner peace" of individuals, but "peace" between previously hostile divided people. God's one purpose and mission on earth is to unite man with fellow-man, Jew and Gentile. Note the recurring emphasis on "peace" in verses 14, 15, 17 [twice]. This "peace" is not something which human being work out as in "The League of Nations" or "The United Nations." On the contrary, God "MAKES BOTH GROUPS [Jews and Gentiles] INTO ONE" by the miraculous power of the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. God has broken down the dividing wall between human beings, the hostility between them. 2:14.
c. God has abolished all human laws which human beings strive to being about unity between divided human beings. This will never happen. Rather, God "CREATES" in Christ "ONE NEW HUMANITY." This is a heart issue. God changes the heart, and causes people to love other people whom they normally hate and oppose. 2:15.
d. God has "reconciled" all human beings to God "IN ONE BODY," the spiritual family of God "THROUGH THE CROSS," thus putting to death the previous hostility between human beings. See Colossians 1:20, 22. 2:16.
e. Through Christ, all human beings have access "IN ONE SPIRIT" to God the Father. Note that this one verse mentions God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 2:18.

III. The Ongoing Journey of All Human Beings through Life--Ephesians 2:19-22.
a. Those who come to God the Father through Jesus Christ his Son are no longer strangers and aliens (see 2:12), but citizens with the saints (see 2:12) and members of the household or family or community of God. Every day, the whole family functions in unity through Christ. 2:19.
b. The spiritual foundation of this household is the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 2:20. See 1 Corinthians 3:9-11.
c. In Christ, the entire family of God is "JOINED TOGETHER" in unity and grows into a "HOLY TEMPLE" in the Lord. See the same figure in Ephesians 4:16. This family continues to grow spiritually--maturity. See Hebrews 5:11-6:6. 2:21.
d. Collectively, not individually, the people of God are "BUILT TOGETHER" by God's miraculous work in the heart [see 2:10; Philippians 2:12-14] spiritually into a "DWELLING PLACE" for God. The church herself is not reconciliation, but lives from it and manifests it. She serves the glory of God as her members mutually help, support, and strengthen one another. No individual can independently claim after Christ's coming to offer an appropriate home for God, but all human beings together are now ordained by God to become his temple. The Holy Spirit supplies the building material and forges it into a unit. Only human beings driven and guided by the Holy Spirit are appropriate stones for the temple walls. This temple is not made of stone, but of human beings and inhabited by God--see 1 Peter 2:5.

This marvelous paragraph captivates the hearts of the people of God. May God bless YOU richly, and may God's people grow spiritually daily to carry out God's purpose and mission.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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