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Sunday, November 16, 2014 pm                    Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPEHSIANS (10)
Christ our Peace
Ephesians 2:11-18

 The past few lessons dealing with Ephesians have addressed the grace of God.  We have established that grace is His part in our salvation.  And it is the PRIME factor in our salvation – were it not for His grace we would have no hope.  Following this discourse, Paul begins to make application noting that salvation is for all.  In our lesson today we will begin to address this.  The entire context is vs. 11-22, which we will address in 2 lessons.  Today is part 1.

 I.                    Gentiles brought near (11-13)

a.        Therefore, another transitional word tying our text to what he previously discussed.

b.       You once Gentiles in the flesh – the description is one of being despised by the Jews.  Here they are described as “uncircumcision” by what is called “the circumcision” made in the flesh.  A study of history shows that as a rule Jews and Gentiles did not get along.  They despised each other.  Jews thought Gentiles were unclean, “dogs”, heathen, etc.  Samaritans were equally despised as “half-breeds”.    Gentiles views Jews as arrogant and elitists. 
NOTE: Paul is not saying that is a proper way to view others.  We see these types of attitudes in people today and they are unhealthy.  Spiritually, while we realize others are in error and even in a deplorable spiritual condition - that is no excuse for name calling and hateful treatment.  Similarly, the ungodly are not justified in God’s eyes for looking down on us.  But WE better be careful to maintain attitudes of humility and kindness toward them, so as not to give them just cause to despise us.  Peter tells us not to suffer as evil doers and thereby think, “poor, pitiful me.” (1 Pet. 4:12-16)

c.        The former state of the Gentiles (as opposed to the Jews)

                                                   i.      They were without Christ - the word Christ to the Jews was reference to the Messiah or Anointed One.   Spiritually, they did not have one to look forward to who would bring them to God and deliver them from their sinful condition.

                                                  ii.      Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel – throughout their history, Israel experienced real blessings and protection.  This is revealed in the prophets.  While from time to time God spoke to other nations, it was always in light of His chosen nation – Israel. 

                                                iii.      Strangers from the covenants of promise – similar to the previous statement, they were not partakers of the promises and protection that God afforded His people (especially when they were faithful and concerning the righteous remnant).

                                                iv.      Having no hope – whether they realized it or not, they did not have a message from God revealing to them a hope beyond this life.  They did not have a way to obtain forgiveness of their sins as Israel did.  Even the eternal covenant and promises made to Abraham BEFORE the law (cf. Gen. 12:1-3) was foreign to them and most were ignorant of it.

                                                  v.      And without God in the world – the word here is θεος (atheos) from which we get our word “atheist.”  The world had many gods, but they were idols that could not deliver them, or even stand up for them.  They did not give them clear direction as Jehovah God had done.     AND like many today, some refused to consider God at all (cf. Rom. 1:20-25, 28 – they did not like to retain God in their knowledge…)

d.       NOTE: These descriptions were real in referencing many Gentiles, but they might have also been reasoned by Jews to declare their supposed superiority to the “heathen” and it was a catalyst for the wedge that existed between the two.

e.       But NOW, in Christ Jesus you (Gentiles who were “far off” from the promises) have been brought near by the blood of Christ
We ALL need the blood of Jesus  – 1 Pet. 1:18-19 we are redeemed not with corruptible things, but with “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot.”
1 Joh 1:7, even as believers, we need His blood to cleanse us from all sins.
Acts 20:28 – the church, the body of the saved was purchased with His blood.   It is this church over which Christ is head (Eph. 1:22-23) for all nations. 
Revelation 5:9-10 finds the 24 elders and four living creatures bowing before Jesus the Lamb.b “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,…

 

 II.                  The Wall of Separation Removed (14-18)

a.        Paul proceeds to explain what is the result of Jesus shedding His blood.

b.       Christ is our peace – He is the source of true peace.   The death of Jesus on the cross was for all mankind.  In His death He brings about peace (the absence of strife) by joining us together, giving us tranquility and unity.
John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33, NKJV)
Colossians 3:15 tells us, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Philippians 4:7, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

c.        How did Jesus bring this peace? What has He done?

                                                   i.      He has made both one – Jesus brought about TRUE unity.  Galatians 3:27-28, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

                                                  ii.      He has broken down the middle wall of separation  as we study the times of the New Testament and much of Judah’s later history we find antagonism between Israel and the rest of the world.  Even in the prophets, that distinction is clear.   
As God was preparing the world for its Savior, He made a people that were to be separate – to maintain their distinction and purity so that to bring Christ into the world. 
Whether God intended his people to have the attitudes they had or not, the wall was there.  And it which separated Jews and Gentiles.  Jesus broke that wall down!

                                                iii.      He abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments – it was the commandments that brought about this enmity.  Jews kept the commandments (at least they were supposed to) but Gentiles did not.  They followed their own commandments and gods.  The law was one sided and alienated those who followed other gods.
But beyond that we know that the Law was NOT intended to be permanent.
Galatians 3:19-20, 24.  Heb. 10:1-4 tells us that the Law could not even permanently remove sins.  IT required the sacrifice of Jesus (5-10)
Colossians 2:13-14 says, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Jesus took care of a law that was EXCLUSIVE to a particular family of people.  He died for all.

                                                iv.      So as to create in Himself one new man from the two -

1.       We have noted already that in Christ all have hope and can be saved.  It is worthy of observation here that from the two (Jew and Gentile) Jesus created a NEW man – one of a kind not seen before.  Christians are NEITHER Jews or Gentiles – we are to be a united body!

2.       Thereby making peace – Jesus is OUR peace. 

3.       And reconciling both (Jews and Gentiles) to God in one body through the cross putting to death the enmity.
The word reconciliation is a word that means to reestablish friendly relationship with someone.
This reconciliation that Jesus provides not only brings us together, it also brings us together with God.   Sin causes enmity between man and God and thus our “friendship” is broken.  Jesus through His death provided the repair. 
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)
2 Corinthians 5:17-22 tells us that we are a new creation because God has reconciled us to HIM through Jesus Christ.

4.       IT is our reconciliation with God that brings us together as brethren!

                                                  v.      Finally, we read that He came and preached peace “to you who were afar off and to those who are near.”  This simply tells us that Jesus came with a message for all mankind – both Jews and Gentiles. When He gave the great commission it was to go into ALL the world (Mark 16:15).  In Acts 1:8 describes the apostles being witnesses “to the end of the earth.”
The gospel is for all – Romans 1:16, John 3:16, etc.

d.       For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  Everyone has access to God if they become His children.  Some question whether the Spirit here is the Holy Spirit or our spirit of unity.  BOTH certainly apply!

 

Paul’s conclusion to this is found in vs. 19-22 where he notes that we are fellow citizens and members of the household of God.  In our next lesson we will develop this in more detail.   In closing, we are here together because we have a united hope.  God through His grace saves us when we in faith obey Him.  That makes us a family.  Let us resolve to live like the family we are supposed to be.  By this all will know we are His disciples (John 13:34-35)