Ephesians 2:11 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;
Remember the past, the time when you were without Christ and were aliens from the life of God? The Gentiles, in their uncircumcised state were separated, and outside covenant with God;
Ephesians 2:12 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:
The word Christ is the Greek language's version of the concept of "The Anointed One," and Messiah is the Hebrew version of the same thought, The Anointed One.
Who is The Anointed One? He is the one who was foretold and prophesied of from the times of old. He's the one who would crush the serpent's head in the garden. He's the seed promised through the ages of God. He's the lion of the tribe of Judah to whom the scepter of Shiloh belongs. He's the blood painted on the doorpost that fateful night in Egypt. He's the red or scarlet thread blowing in the wind as it hangs from Rahab's window signaling that there is one in this wicked town that believes the God of Israel will deliver. He's the one who was pierced in Psalm 22. He's the one who bore our transgressions and iniquities in Isaiah 53. And He's so much more than my little mind could ever conceive. He's Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one, and He's come to bring us the life of God.
But let's stay close to the text. We're dealing with the circumcision (Jewish people and their covenant with God) versus the uncircumcision (Gentiles who were without God or a covenant).
The Gentiles had no way of knowing the life of God. They were under the bondage of pagan idolatry, being driven through human history by fallen angels and demon spirits. Living according to the course of the world, spending their little vapor of life indulging their fleshly appetites, and thinking they were really living.
The Gentiles had no way of knowing that there was another way of life because they were under the control of taskmasters. The book of Daniel teaches us that there are spiritual entities that control regions of this physical world. In Daniel (Daniel 10:13,20), we're informed of the fact that there was a prince of Persia hindering Daniel's prayers. The archangel Michael had to come to the assistance of, who was probably, the angel Gabriel to combat Persia's prince. At the time of this Daniel passage, Israel was in captivity to the Medo-Persia Empire. Babylon had already been toppled by this current Empire just mentioned. The reference to the Prince of Persia shows us that there is more than meets the eye; there is conflict in the spiritual realm that is physically manifested in the spiritual realm. The prince of Persia is a fallen angel that is hindering the work of God, and Michael the archangel of Israel is dispatched to help; furthermore, we are told that there will soon be conflict with the prince of Greece. This is in reference to the fact that Greece would eventually conquer Medo-Persia, and Israel would then be under Greece’s captivity until the Roman Empire. Essentially, the point I wanted to make is that there are spiritual strongholds that have power over the spiritual realm, and they specifically rule over the Gentile nations, and are constantly trying to cause confusion to the kingdom of God.
In addition, these princes represent those principalities, powers, mights, and dominions that Paul mentioned in the early part of Ephesians chapter two, when he was explaining that "In Christ," those who believe, the ones in "the faith," have been given power over these principalities and powers.
At least the Jewish people understood these concepts. Now, you have to understand that at the time Paul writes this letter, the Jewish people as a nation aren't in covenant with God; instead, they've rejected Messiah. That doesn't mean that God is done with national Israel. Replacement theology is a lie that says the church has taken the place of national Israel. No! God isn't done with them as a nation, but in the meantime, only those that are saved through the blood of the Lamb are in covenant with Him.
But continuing the thought, it's important to note that it was to Israel that the promises were made. God called Abraham and promised him a place and a people through which Messiah would come. Isaac shall his name be called, who was father of Jacob, whose name change to Israel was given to his twelve sons, who were the twelve tribes, who became the nation known by the same name as they exited or made the Exodus on that fateful Passover night, and it was to this people group that all those prophesies and promises were made in reference to the manifestation of the anointed one, and then He came.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Just reflect on all that for a moment: the promise was manifest, the promise was Jesus, and now, we, like John, have beheld His glory-- at least spiritually for us.
But once again all this forewarning, foreknowledge, and promises were given to Israel. The Word of the living God was given to Israel.
Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
Not only was Israel entrusted with the oracles of God, but they were given the covenant promises:
Abrahamic Covenant: a seed will bless all nations (Genesis 12:3): that seed is Christ (Galatians 3:16).
Davidic Covenant: an eternal king will be given (2 Samuel 7:13).
Mosaic Covenant: Old Testament with all its sacrifices, the tabernacle, and so many other rich expressions foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.
New Covenant: promises were given to Israel, and we are simply beneficiaries of their promises through faith: (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31).
Israel as a nation was created by God with great purposes. She would serve as the womb from which Messiah would be birthed if permission to speak this way is granted; furthermore, she was entrusted with the very words of God. While all other nations may have flood stories containing some truth, only Israel has a flood story containing the truth. And to this people that He birthed through the loins of Abraham, He ultimately gave Messiah, but He also gave His eternal truth, to Israel, to them, He entrusted the oracles of life, and as much as Satan has tried to destroy the Word of God in an attempt to make the minds of humanity forget His existence, the Bible still stands. It stands strong and says, "Contained within the covers of this book there is power."
Preach the power of God preacher! Why do you trifle and meddle with strange fire? Why do you teach as commandments the doctrines of men? Why do you allow the gospel to be diluted in an attempt to make the masses happy?
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
But God changed all that for humanity; whereas, we were previously far away, we've been brought near through the blood of Jesus. The sin of Adam and our own "ante into the game" had left us in the most uncomfortable place of separation. As the Gentiles in the text, we too were without the life of God, but now we aren't. Hallelujah! And our children don't have to be. They will have to make their own choices to serve Him, but if we will, at least they will have been given that choice and chance, at least they won't be like the wandering Gentile without any knowledge of God in the midst of this godless society that keeps traveling in the wrong direction.
Ephesians 2:14,15 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;
As previously noted, there were two types of people on the earth before Messiah's manifestation. The first of the people groups are the Jews, the nation God created for Himself, and the second of the people groups are the Gentiles, those who were unaware of the one true God. Verse 14 explains that Jesus is the peace between the parties because He has removed the barrier that separated the two groups when He made one man in Christ.
The wall acting as a barrier has been postulated as many things such as the wall separating the Gentile court from the rest of the temple. While it is true that this wall existed, the context here doesn't mention the actual temple. However, circumcision has been mentioned, which was a separating and distinguishing factor between the two people groups. And the circumcision really represents the Law, which certainly was a dividing wall.
The Law as righteousness was annulled when Messiah was manifest in the flesh, because Jesus was the physical manifestation of God's righteousness, He was the fulfillment of the plan!
Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God [Jesus] without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference
And to be truthful, the Law wasn't on Israel's side either because they didn't keep it; therefore, it called them guilty, but according to Colossians 2:15, the enmity (againstness) that was between us because of the Law was removed when Jesus nailed it to His cross, so quit living in the past Christian. You're not guilty if you're in Christ.
The word peace describes harmony and, and through the cross, the plan of God was completed for righteousness; therefore, there is no longer Jew and Gentile in the mind of God. The Jew may still look down upon what he calls the uncircumcised, but he is an unredeemed Pharisee full of hypocrisy and relative righteousness if he does.
Those who are redeemed in Christ are the people of God:
1 Peter 2:6-12 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Ephesians 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
The word slain literally means to outright put to death, and the word enmity describes hatred, opposition, or let me make up a word "againstness." There was "againstness" between Jew and Gentile because the Law stood between the two.
Ephesians 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
So Jesus' righteousness offered as payment for sin removed the dividing wall of Law for righteousness that separated Jew from Gentile, resulting in a whole new race of man being created, and that new man has a name. Today, we call him Christian, and he lives in a certain place, which we call "in Christ."
Now, a new concept is considered because the "againstness" here doesn't just refer to an enmity between Jew and Gentile; rather, the enmity in this verse refers to the "againstness" existing between God and man, whether that man is Jew or Gentile.
Jesus' cross fulfilled righteousness:
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Romans 10:4
And because the manifestation of Messiah has come, the vessel was changed from water to wine, the sacrificial system was fulfilled, Jesus sat down, and the Jew can't live for God according to the old way anymore; instead, he must come the way of the cross, or he won't come at all.
And this is the meaning to this thought...preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Preached is Euaggelion, which is where we get our word, evangelize. There are other words that are translated as preach, but have different meanings in the Greek; for instance, the word kerusso means proclamation, and while it can be used to describe a proclamation of the gospel, it usually describes a legal pronouncement.
The preacher in this verse...he preached...is referring to Jesus. He proclaimed the New Covenant message that would bring peace between God and man, and it's the same message for both those that were far away (Gentiles) and those that were near (Jews), but don't be confused by the modern gospel. The peace was made through the blood of His cross:
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
The Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest explains this word access by describing a liaison providing availability to a national leader. He also states that the French word entree' is a perfect word to describe the thought-- permission is granted, you may now see the king.
Jesus opened the door for access through the cross, and the Holy Spirit brings us into God's presence, which is the presence of the Father, so we are painted a picture of the trinity in this verse.
Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens 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 an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Through faith in God's redemptive plan, the former foreigner, a Gentile has been grafted into the family of God (Romans 11:17-19), and has become part of the family of God.
Faith in God's eternal plan, causes the "old man" who was wandering aimlessly without hope, separated from the life of God to die, and the "new man" is resurrected into a new place called "In Christ," and "In Christ," the "new man" has become partaker of God's nature (2 Peter 1:4), which has changed his "pedigree"-- he's now been born again as a child of God, a new citizen of God's kingdom, a new child in God's family, a new resident member in the household of God.
It's not typical behavior that we just let anyone come live in our home. While many of us may have opened our doors to strangers for a night or two, sometimes even weeks or months, typically, the home is a place denoting intimate fellowship. You're of the household of God Christian, and God wants to have intimate fellowship with you.
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
There is a progressive thought being built in these last verses of this chapter. The people of God, who consist of both Jew and Gentile created in Christ are now one man in Him. And this "new man" exists in the household of God, but as we will soon see, the "new man" isn't just a partaker in the household of God; rather, he is literally part of the building itself.
The word for foundation in verse 19 can be used to describe the concept of both something’s beginnings, and it can also be used to describe the substructure of an architectural endeavor. In this verse, the word foundation is being used both ways. In somewhat of a metaphorical sense, there is a building being constructed, which will house the presence of God, and the foundation of that building consists of the work of Jesus (the cornerstone) and the disciples (the finishers of the foundation).
As we've already explained over the last couple weeks, Jesus was given by God to lost and dying humanity, who were stumbling separate from God in the dark. Jesus accomplished the work of the Father on the cross opening the door for humanity to gain access to the presence of God. And the disciples continued the work, which was entrusted into their hands. What an amazing thought of how real God is that we're still considering this today. Review Jesus' prayer again in John 17 where He prays to the Father about helping the disciples as they've been chosen to continue the work. Jesus and the disciples have laid a foundation for the work, the house, the dwelling place of God.
We should not move past the truth that Jesus is the Cornerstone, which could also be thought of as the first foundational stone to be laid before the structure can be built.
1 Peter 2:4-8 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Once again, we see a form of that prepositional phrase we have spoken of in the past. In this case, it's worded as "In whom," but the whom is Christ, so in this place the believer (new man) is one aspect or part of an architectural building. The thought in the original language regarding the word "building" is an architectural structure; furthermore, the phrase, "...fitly framed together...," describes a joining, compacting, or union. If you could imagine a welding machine or a rivet gun connecting metal beams as a structure is being joined together for a purpose, you could imagine in your mind a "building" being erected for God's habitation upon this earth.
However, in this analogy, the connection or common union isn't a rivet or weld; instead, the common union is our connection in Christ, which came through our faith in His sacrifice killing the old, creating the new, and making us all part of one body in Christ.
Ephesians 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
So the corporate body of Christ is made up of individual believers, in which God's presence dwells upon this earth. The word habitation literally means dwelling place. In us, through us, the presence of the Holy Spirit dwells upon this earth moving and operating in the hearts of humanity, moving and operating upon the hearts of those who are still strangers and foreigners and without citizenship.
In closing, I would like to consider the progressive concept of God's dwelling. Before the fall, God's presence dwelled with Adam and Eve, but since the fall, a large part of God's eternal plan has been to bring His presence back to His lost wandering creation. In the creation of His own nation Israel, a big step in bringing His presence closer was the building of the sanctuary.
Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
If we take some time to study the Tabernacle, we realize that this tent not only foreshadows the coming of Jesus, but it provided a dwelling place to house the presence of God. As mentioned last week, there were two chambers to the tabernacle. The first was the holy place, which contained the table of shewbread, also known as the bread of presence, which represents Jesus because He is the presence of God manifested to humanity in physical form.
Then in the middle before the veil was the altar of incense. A coal from the bronze altar, which was located in the front of the tabernacle on the outside, was placed on the altar of incense, also known as the golden altar. The bronze altar outside was where the sacrifice was offered to God, and a coal from the sacrifices remains was the only source of ignition allowed by God to burn the incense. The purpose of the incense was to provide intercession or a shrouding protection between the high priest and God when he entered through the veil into the holiest of holies. Jesus is our sacrifice, but He is also our intercession. His presence stands between us and the holiness of God protecting us, providing intercession for us.
To the left was the menorah or the lamp stand. The lamp stand provided light for work. It consisted of six branches connected to one middle branch all containing oil (Holy Spirit) providing light. Interesting to me is the fact that six is the number of man and seven is the number of completeness with God. Until man (the six outer branches) are connected to Christ (the middle and seventh branch) man is incomplete; furthermore, He is the light of the world, but as He taught in Matthew 5, in Him, we become the light of the world as we reflect His glory.
But the main point I wanted to make was the fact that God promised His presence would dwell in the inner sanctuary, also known as the Holy of Holies:
Exodus 25:18-22 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
But all these were types and shadows painting a picture that one day fulfillment was on the way, and that fulfillment came in Christ:
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The word dwelled here literally means to tabernacle or sanctuary. So we see a clear progression in the word of God where He is bringing His presence back to man. And now, in the Ephesians passage, we are told that the body of believers who are connected in communion with Christ through faith in His sacrifice, have become the dwelling place of God.