Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22 ESV)
Reconciled to (finding peace and hope with) God and men through Christ so we make him the cornerstone of our lives.
Who we once were. Wo hope. Separated from God and People.
Paul has spent time talking about who the Ephesians were without Christ and with Christ. We saw that in 2:1 when he told the Ephesians they were dead in their sins without Christ. He then shows what they have in Christ. V11-22 continue that pattern. Now Paul addresses the Gentile members of the church and who they are with and wo Christ.
Let me explain a gentile. Goyiim which means nations. In the beginning of the Bible the first man Adam sinned and brought judgement into the world. All people after Adam are guilty before God. But God also gave Adam a promise that a descendant who would deliver his people from sin and judgment. Centuries later that promise is fulfilled in Abraham. God calls Abraham out of the idol worship of his forefathers, makes a promise or covenant to him that he will bless all people through Abraham. Abraham follows God and God calls Abraham to be circumcised as a sign of his faith. Abrahams family becomes Israel. Israel are the people of God’s promise, they are the circumcision group. The Gentiles were all the other nations outside of Israel. They were not circumcised, were not the people of God, and were outside the covenant. Paul is addressing those who were not a part of the nation of Israel, non-Jews.
They were separated from Christ and without God or hope in the world. Verse 12 speaks of alienation. It is to be estranged or separated from another person. to turn away in feeling or affection; make unfriendly or hostile; alienate the affections of. He is telling them of their lost condition without Christ.
Sin separates (all people) from God. It created a hostility between you and him. It is just like when someone does what you do not want them to do and they are offended by you. They withdraw from you. You can probably think of someone who has done that to you and now you do not want to be around them. Your experience is probably mixed of legitimate hurt and irrational anger. God is perfect in his separation from sin. He gave us clear commandments, told us what would happen if we disobeyed, and yet we went on ahead and did what we were not supposed to.
The consequence is the nations are alienated from God. We are alienated from God. The Jews also were alienated from God. It means because of sin we no longer have a good relationship.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, (Col 1:21 ESV)
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. 7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face. 8 I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's sons. (Psalm 69:6-8 ESV)
Left to ourselves we are all alienated from God, strangers to the covenants of promise. We are without hope and without God in the world. If you don’t know God you don’t truly know hope. There is an expiration date on everything in this world. At some point it is all going to rot and spoil.
“He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 147:19-20 ESV)
separated from Christ, separated from the people of God, separated from hope. That was their life. Alienation leads to loneliness. People are saying we are in a loneliness epidemic. It is real, but it is also spiritual.
If we die in our sins then we will have an eternal separation from God. We are objects of wrath and judgment for our sin. This should wrench your stomach and make you think how can I get out of this.
This is the problem we all live with, and this passage just like last weeks pass it has a “But God.” We have a problem and God provides a solution. V1 at one time you Gentiles in the flesh,. This is where the goodnews comes in. 13 But now in Christ Jesus
Who we are now. Reconciled to God and People.
They were once alienated. But in Christ they have been brought near. They are brought back. And it is only through Christ. It makes explicit we are brought back into a relationship with God “through the blood of Christ” (v13). He has broken down the hostility. And Reconciled us to God (v16).
To reconcile is to “reestablish proper friendly interpersonal relations after these have been disrupted or broken. (1) disruption of friendly relations because of (2) presumed or real provocation, (3) overt behavior designed to remove hostility, and (4) restoration of original friendly relations) - 'to reconcile, to make things right with one another, reconciliation.'
To be reconciled requires having the offense taken away. If you are to reconcile with your mother or neighbor, whatever you are upset about has to be eliminated. Neighbor broke your window with a baseball then he pays for it, the offense is gone and the dividing wall is taken away.
This is what Jesus did on the cross. All of your sins that separated you from God. That merited you punishment from him. That drew the ire of his anger, were taken upon Christ. He shed his blood. It can be offensive talking about blood. It can be grusome. And yet sin leads to death. And God being rich in love took the punishment that we deserve. We cheapen our sin whenever we think something other than blood can atone for it.
“might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:16 ESV)
Gentiles must find their way through Christ. But it is the same for the Jewish Christiasn.
The Jews have a problem too. Paul belittles their heritage. The sign of being a Jew was circumcision, but he calls this sacred rite simply an act done by the hands of men. It does not by itself restore a person back to a right relationship with God. The Jews tried to rely on such acts and not give God their heart. They were feeble works. Bable. Just like when we think I walked an aisl when I was five so I’m good. I prayed a prayer and locked it in. I went on a mission trip. Those are good things to do, but they are not the things that restore a relationship to God. We have no ability to do it ourselves.
This means we no longer rely on our works to make us right with God. How much. Reconciliation: Be reconciled to God.” You must humble yourself, leave your offense. Trust, believe, follow. Change our allegiance.
REconciliation to God leads to reconciliation with people. If God accepts you and calls you his own how can a person say anything less of you. There were deep divides among Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles could be assimilated in the Jewish nations but they had to go through a process of knowing and identifying with their God and customs. It had to be a clear denunciation of their previous way. Apart from that there was a great separation.
In Galatians Paul corrects Peter because he stopped eating with gentiles. In the time of the writing of this book there was a physical barrier, a wall standing in the temple excluding gentiles from entering, lest they die. At intervals there was written in Greek and Latin, warning that Gentiles must not come closer lest they die. Acts 21: Pauls was beaten and his life is threatened because he allegedly brought a gentile into the temple.
Jews and gentiles all have a problem with sin that unites us, and looking to the same Savior also unites. Reconciliation with God creates unity with people. “create in himself one new man in place of the two (Eph 2:15 ESV)
but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (Eph 2:19 ESV). synced with Christ. Sympolitai fellow citizens, synarmologeo (put together), synoidodomeo (build together). These words ephesize than when you are synced with Christ you are synced with others.
Peoples of all ages have found ways to differ with others and separate from and then become hostile. Over the last couple years we are hearing more about groups targeting other demographics. A mosque bombed in New Zealand. Synagogues have been targeted in the states. White nationalist movements with Nazi agenda’s have grown in support. We live in a divided country in a divided time, and many are searching for how there can be real unity between peoples and nations. Well, we see here that it will happen in Christ. Christ death bring people together. We see all races have a problem with sin and Christ is the one solution. Through Christ we are brought into the presence of God and in his presences are people from all kinds of backgrounds, nations, skin colors. We come into his presence by turning from our dead ways and to him. Some people are turning from dead forms of Christianity. Some are turning from dead forms of other religions.
This passage highlights one of our core values. Unity among differences. We want to be a multiethnic church. It is a church in which we have many nationalities represented. We have currently. We have it to some degree here, and I hope that we continue in this direction.
We live in more and more global society, people from all over interconnected in their cities. Sadly, the church may be the last institution to integrate. And it is so important that you do. You work in offices and live in neighborhoods with people from all over. I have found getting to really know people in church have helped me better reach people in my office and neighborhoods.
#Unity If God accepts another as a son why should we look at him as anything other than a brother, or sister. This is the church.
“There is no doubt an ideal not yet fully realized in experience: but the insistence of this epistle is that the ideal will one day be seen as a worldwide reality, thanks to the completeness of Christ reconciling sacrifice.” FF BRuce, 300.
The bigotry of racism is sinful and wrong, and when we see the effort of certain people to belittle, put down, or kill others because of their skin color or some other character trait we must speak out for the evil that it is.
And we don’t just bring a message of condemnation but a message of reconciliation. In Christ we know the way to experiencing true unity and community. To be forgiven of sins and restored to God. It begins at the foot of the cross where we all acknowledge our sin and emptiness and that we have nothing apart from Christ, but in Christ we are made new and whole, and as we gather with others in serving our LOrd we recognize that we have a greater bond exists with those we ar serving Christ with than those of our own race who are not serving Christ.
The race divide is huge, but let me just connect this in some other ways too. And if that barrier is broken then so should all other barriers. It is human nature to erect dividing walls. Racial. Ethnic. Socio economic. How about the walls we put with people we disagree with. Worship music, ministry outreach, curriculum. All of these and anything in the church can become dividing walls. There is a place to discuss each l of these. Its not an issue of can we differ but an issue of have these divided. Do we keep people out of our lives because of their view or a different strategy or because they have done something to us. If so then we do not really believe Jesus is greater than these.
Its ok to differ with people. For some reason we view differences as divides. Someone differs and we cant talk any more. We need to love others in ways that bridges difference.
The gospel teaches that were hostility once reigned, peace can reign. Dividing walls can break down whether in the community, in the church, in your family, or in your marriage. Few barriers were as great as the Jew gentile divide, and it has been conquered.
- Joined. Incorporation:
These two different people are incorporated in the church. The church is where this gets worked out. They are now fellow citizens. They are one household.
Joined as a people who are reconciled to God, and seeking to see others reconciled.
Framed together in Christ. First there is a fitting together. We are united in Christ. No building if blocks do not fit together. Joiner. Cant combine legos and blocks. It doesn’t work. We have to be united spiritually if we are going to do anything together. Many churches fall apart because there is not a spiritual unity. Once the unity is there then there is an increase.
It is a third race of people. Its not that Gentiles now become Christians. Its that they filter their race through their walk with Christ. The foundation for their life is not their race or background but the apostles and prophets. We are not about protecting our heritage in race but giving away our inheritance in Christ. Going to church is about serving others. Its not about me but others.
Joined in the church, a new temple. Temple’s are impressive because of what they do together. You take anyone stone out of a temple and display it and it is no big deal. But together it is impressive. It is similar with the church. As we come together our message is magnified. Uses a combination of parts of an organism and parts of building. All are intimately connected. Church is not just I take my kid to this place for soccer and this place for vacation bible school and this place for Sunday school. The real church is an intimately integrated organization. A building, a family (household v19). This is what we want to have. God created us to be with people in real, meaningful, substantive relationships. You need this. You need the church. And the church needs you.
It rises and increases to be a temple of the Lord. The temple was the visible place of God’s presence. The church comes together to be this. No other organization is said to be this. Only the church. We gather for the sole purpose of being in the presence of God. As we gather we declare something to the world. As we do that we become the place that others can find Christ. Elevate the place of the church. If we are going to reach others it will take people prizing church, prizing our fellowship, wanting to tell others of the peace, hope, forgiveness, and grace that we have found.
“Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?” Martin Luther
As we put aside differences of race, ethnicity, income to say Christ is more important that speaks a loud message. To even put aside differences in the church and your hurts to say Christ is more important. If you are in the church long enough you will be disappointed and even hurt. You have to work through those. Talk to people, care for people, and remain in the church. When we are hurt or offended and our response is I will never talk to that person and I will never go to church again, what does that say about our knowledge of being reconciled to God. It shows our immaturity.
The Centerpiece. 2.20 cornerstone. Any organization has to know what its centerpiece is. You have to know what is most important. This passages screams it at us. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. The most important stone. All others fit around that.
I just want to point out the obvious here. We have spent two weeks seeing the profound difference the gospel makes.
But it is easy to say Jesus is the cornerstone, but Paul calls them to remember who they are with and without Christ. Having the gospel at the center of our lives and our church means there is a consistent and personal reflection and awe of God in Christ. This is what transformed the Ephesians and it is what transformed Paul.
Paul began this section by calling the Ephesians to remember who they were apart from Christ, remember who they are in Christ. Christ become the centerpiece of our identity. And we have to remember.
What was your life like when you were alienated from Christ? CAn you articulate it? Paul shares his story over and over again in Scripture. He was a different person after trusting in Christ. Being able to share that is a key part of how to share the gospel with others. Can you articulate that difference with others? Can you tell them? Is your life difference? Paul says there should be a night and day difference; if there isn’t maybe we need to ask the question on if we have really turned to Christ.