How good is your
forgetter? Do you tend to forget the things you
should remember and remember many things you wish
you could forget?
In Ephesians 2:11 the
apostle Paul begins a new paragraph asking us to
"remember" something very important. What is
it that is so important that he repeats the word
twice in two verses?
There are important
things he wants us to call to mind in verses 1-10
before he proceeds in applying these great truths to
the church. "Therefore remember" takes us back to
the immediate context in the first half of chapter
two. In fact, he may even want to take us back to
the beginning of the letter.
"Remember" that God has
"blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the
heavenly realms in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3 NET).
"Remember" God "chose us in Christ before the
foundation of the world that we be holy and
unblemished on his sight" (v. 4 NET). "Remember" he
predestined "us to adoption as sons through Jesus
Christ, according to the pleasure of his will" (v. 5
NET). "Remember," "we have redemption through his
blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according
to the riches of his grace" (v. 7 NET). "Remember"
God has "revealed to us the secret of his will" (v.
9 NET) that was hidden down through the ages but now
revealed in Christ. "Remember" you heard the gospel
message and have been saved by grace. "Remember" you
have been "marked with the seal of the promised Holy
Spirit who is the down payment of our inheritance
until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the
praise of his glory" (vv. 13-14 NET). "Remember" the
power of the resurrection of Christ is now working
in your life (vv. 19-20). "Remember," "you were dead
in your transgressions and sins" and have been made
"alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!"
(2:1, 5 NET) "Remember" you are now seated
"with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus"
(v. 6 NET). "Remember" "by grace you are saved
through faith" and you are "his workmanship, having
been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God
prepared beforehand so we may do them" (vv. 8, 10
In Ephesians 2:1-10 the
contrast is like night and day. "Remember," "you
were dead in transgressions and sins" (v. 1). This
is the way you formerly lived under the power of
Satan as "sons of disobedience" (v. 2). You were so
evil that you "were by nature the children of
wrath." Yes, that is true, the apostle says.
Yes but God loved us "being rich in mercy" (v. 4),
and saved us by His grace! (v. 5) He has "made us
alive together with Christ" "and raised us up with
him, and seated us with him in the heavenly places
in Christ Jesus" (v. 6). We are his trophies of
grace that will be on display throughout eternity
(v. 7). You are God’s new creation in Christ Jesus
that he has created for good works (v.10). Please
remember where you are coming from, and to whom you
belong. You are a child of God. Always remember
whose family you belong to.
In Ephesians 2:11-22 the
apostle Paul builds on these great truths and
expands the idea he stated in 1:22-23 regarding the
Body of Christ. "And God put all things under
Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head
over all things. Now the church is his body, the
fullness of him who fills all in all" (Ephesians
Paul now returns to this
theme and develops it further.
The apostle emphasizes
the change that has taken place in the relationship
of the Gentiles before and after they came to
YOU WERE OUTSIDERS
This is what your life
was like before you came to Christ. Take a few
moments and reflect upon your life before you put
your trust in Christ as your personal Savior. What
characterized your life style? How did you think,
act and behave?
"Therefore remember that
formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh – who are
called ‘uncircumcision’ by the so-called
‘circumcision’ that is performed on the body by
human hands – that you were at that time without the
Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel
and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no
hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians
Paul uses abstract words
"circumcision" and "uncircumcision" to describe two
groups of people. The Jewish people are the
"circumcision," and the non-Jewish or Gentiles are
the "uncircumcision." He brings out clearly in
Galatians 5:6 that it really makes no difference at
all because what maters is faith working through
love. The physical cutting of the flesh was no true
indication that the individual had a right
relationship with God. It is the circumcision of the
heart that makes a person right with God (Romans
2:25-29). What really maters is a new nature (Gal.
You were "separate
from Christ" (vv. 11-12).
Paul in addressing the
Gentiles or non-Jews says you were "separate from
The non-Jews were outside
the covenant of Israel (vv. 11-12). They were
godless, Christless and hopeless. They had no chance
of being saved. Salvation was a part of the covenant
of God with Israel, and non-Jews were excluded. It
is a heartbreaking picture of man outside of God.
Because of their fallen
state they were not united to Christ by saving
faith. That was just as true of the Jewish people.
But the non-Jewish religions were totally pagan with
no chance of hearing about the promise of the
Messiah. They had no expectation of the coming
Moreover, by the time of
the apostle Paul the Jews had an immense contempt
for all non-Jews. They said the Gentiles were
created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell;
that God loved only Israel of all the nations of the
world. It was not lawful to render help to a Gentile
woman in childbirth, for that would bring another
Gentile into the world. If a Jew married a Gentile,
the funeral of that Jew was carried out. It was a
world of hate. Racial and religious hate.
They were spiritually
dead. They were like a person visiting from a
foreign country who does not understand a word of
the native language. They had no idea of the
promises of God, of His love, grace, mercy or
They were outside
of Christ (vv. 12a-13).
Paul writes, "you were at
that time without the Messiah." The Gentiles had no
hope of a Messiah or of salvation. They had never
heard of the great prophesies in the Old Testament
of the coming of the Messiah. They did not
understand the purpose of the Jewish sacrifices and
the hope of the Lamb of God who would take away the
sins of the world. The Gentiles before the coming of
Jesus Christ were hopeless, "having no hope and
without God in the world" (v. 12 NET). They had no
hope in the promises in Genesis 3:15; Numbers 21:9;
Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah
7:14; 9:1ff; 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, and those great
passages in Zechariah. That is heart breaking. But
it is still the tragic picture of billions of people
in this world who have no hope and are without
Christ. Without Christ there is nothing and all is
lost. The best that can be said is "No Exit." It is
pure pessimisms. There is no hope beyond the grave
apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"You who used to be far
away" (v. 13 NET). Remember you were dead in
trespasses and sins (v. 1). You were objects of
God’s wrath (v. 3).
They were without hope.
What a personal tragedy when there is "no hope and
without God in the world" (v. 12). They were
practical atheists and agnostics.
Are you a Gentile without
Christ and therefore without hope? That is the
spiritual situation of every individual who has
never put their trust in Jesus Christ.
NOW YOU ARE INSIDERS
"But now in Christ Jesus
you who used to be far away have been brought near
by the blood of Christ" (v. 13 NET).
What a change. You were
spiritually dead and now you are alive. You were far
away and now you have been brought near.
Who is it that brings
about this change? It is Christ Jesus. The
historical person, Jesus of Nazareth who died on the
cross and three days later rose from the dad is the
"anointed of the LORD." He is the true legitimate
Messiah, and there can be no other.
Gentiles who were far
away now have a vital union with the anointed of
God. They are now "in Christ Jesus." They are now in
the inner circle. Those who were once "far away"
have been "brought near" by means of the "blood of
Christ." The atoning sacrifice of the death of Jesus
has removed all barriers to God.
In his letter to the
church at Colossea Paul writes, "And you were at one
time strangers and enemies in your minds as
expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has
reconciled you by his physical body through death to
present you holy, without blemish, and blameless
before him" (Colossians 1:21-22 NET). The
change takes place in the man, not God. It is the
sinner who is turned to God.
The atoning death of
Jesus Christ brings us near to God. In the past the
Gentiles were separate from Christ, cut off from His
blessings and salvation, but now in Christ they have
a vital union with Him.
All who believed on
Christ Jesus "have come near in the blood of
Christ." The apostle Paul has just demonstrated this
is something man cannot do because of his sins. God
did it for us in Christ death on the cross.
Nearness of Christ
These Gentile members of
the church at Ephesus were "without Christ," and
"now in Christ Jesus you . . . " Formerly, they were
dead in trespasses and sins. They walked according
to this world, under the prince of the power of the
air. Now they were alive, quickened, raised, and
seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Now they
were near unto God. Formerly they were "without
Christ." Now they were "in Christ Jesus." Formerly
they were "far away," now they have been "brought
near" to God in Christ.
Christ's position is one
of nearness to God, and he makes us near to God. He
gives us our place in the citizenship of God. We are
now members of His kingdom, and His family.
"For in Christ Jesus you
are all sons of God through faith" (Galatians 3:26
NET). What a change in our standing with God!
This nearness to God for
the believer is thus secure in Christ. It comes by
relationship when we are joined to Christ through
faith so that we are quickened, resurrected, and
exalted with him. In Christ we have the same
relationship of nearness to God which he enjoys.
What a blessing and encouragement it is when in the
midst of our discouragements and our reticence
because of failures or sins we are able to look away
to this glorious fact that our position to God
through the Lord Jesus Christ never changes. Christ
dwelling in us brings about this nearness. This
mystical indwelling of Christ is the secret of the
Christian life of victory, of fellowship with God,
and of the sense of nearness of God. Christ brings
God to us and brings us to God. Nearness results in
spiritual blessings. He who is near to God has
access to his resources of blessing and help.
Remember that the God and Savior of our Lord Jesus
Christ has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings
in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." If, therefore,
you would experience this nearness, draw near to
God, that He may draw near to you, and in your
experience you will know what being near to him
means. It is an intimate personal experience with
Wall of separation
In the innermost part of
the Temple was the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place
where symbolically the LORD God dwelt among His
people. Only on one day of the year, the Day of
Atonement, could the High Priest enter that room
within the veil. Outside the veil was the Holy Place
where the priest entered daily. The veil symbolized
separation from God.
The apostle Paul has in
mind the wall of separation that surrounded the
inner courtyards in Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. The
inner temple was separated by the Court of the
Priests, where the priestly tribe of Levi entered to
serve and offer sacrifices. Next was the Court of
Israel where only Jewish males could enter, and
beyond it the Court of Women where any Jewish person
could enter. This was as far as any woman could go
into the temple.
Josephus tells us five
steps below the entrance into the Court of the Women
was a five-foot stone barrier that enclosed the
temple area and below that 14 more steps that
descended to the Gentile Court. Paul is referring to
a stonewall around the Court of the Gentiles with
inscriptions stating that non-Jews could enter only
upon the punishment of death.
discovered one of those tablets. It reads: "Let no
one of any other nation come within the fence and
barrier around the Holy Place. Whosoever will be
taken doing so will himself be responsible for the
fact that his death will ensue." The Jewish leaders
were serious about this requirement. Trespassers
would be killed.
The ancient world
was full of barriers.
But look what Christ did
for us. He removed this hostile barrier. In the body
of Christ there is neither Greek nor Jews,
circumcised or uncircumcised (Col. 3:11). There is
no longer any distinction spiritually. You are
either "in Christ" or outside of Christ. You are
either saved or lost. You cannot be both.
Christ our peace
"For he is our peace, the
one who made both groups into one and who destroyed
the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he
nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in
decrees. He did this to create in himself one new
man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile
them both in one body to God through the cross, by
which the hostility has been killed" (Ephesians
The apostle Paul teaches
us the railings or fence erected for separation has
been torn down by the cross of Jesus. It is a
completed action in the past. It has been
"destroyed." Reconciliation has been accomplished
(vv. 15-16). God and the sinner are at conflict
because of sin. In salvation the believing sinner is
brought into a state in which he is in submission
and obedient to God.
In any Christless society
there can be nothing but middle walls of partition
and hostility. Watch the evening news on TV and you
will have all the evidence you need. Walls build
Christ destroyed the
wall. How? Christ has made the two into "one new
man," thus establishing peace. It is new in quality
because it did not exist before. Jesus did not make
Gentiles into Jews, or Jews into Gentiles. He
produced a new kind of person. This new corporate
entity is united in Christ. It is his body.
We have peace with God
through the blood of Jesus. We have been justified
by faith. "Therefore, since we have been declared
righteous by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1 NET). God has
acquitted us because of what Christ did for us on
Sin separates man from
God because God is holy. We are at enmity with God.
Sin causes discrimination. The death of Jesus Christ
removed the barrier between man and God. God has
reconciled sinful man to Himself by means of the
death of Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-21). The way is now
open for man to approach God through faith in
Christ removed the
barrier, the dividing wall between man and God. The
door of salvation is wide open for all to enter by
faith in Jesus Christ.
BROTHERS IN THE FAMILY
OF GOD (vv. 15-22)
God has created a
We are reconciled into
We have been reconciled
into one body to God through the cross (v. 16).
Christ died "to reconcile them both in one body to
God through the cross, by which the hostility has
been killed" (NET).
The word "reconcile"
means to bring together friends who have been
estranged. It has the idea of reconciling
completely, to change from one condition to another,
so as to remove all hostility. There is no hindrance
to unity and peace.
The basis for this
reconciliation is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus
In a parallel passage
Paul wrote: "and through him to reconcile all things
to himself by making peace through the blood of his
cross – through him, whether things on earth or
things in heaven. And you were at one time strangers
and enemies in your minds as expressed through your
evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his
physical body through death to present you holy,
without blemish, and blameless before him"
(Colossians 1:20-22 NET).
God has effected a change
from a hostile to a friendly relationship. It is a
bringing together again, a reuniting, and a
reconnecting of the relationship. Christ through His
atoning death has completely removed the enmity, and
as a result complete harmony follows. The
reconciliation is so complete that where there was
formerly hostility there is now perfect fellowship.
This is something that God has done in Christ Jesus.
He took the initiative to accomplish reconciliation.
It was God’s initiative.
Sin and depravity
alienated us from a holy God. Our sins have
separated us from God. When Adam fell, we all fell
down, and as a result were born in a state of
separation. God in Christ reached down from heaven
and made reconciliation. The Father sent His Son to
the cross and died to make peace. Jesus bore the
full punishment of our sins in His death to
accomplish a full restoration with God.
Christ "came and preached
peace to you who were far off, and peace to those
who were near" (v. 17 NET). When did Christ come and
preach? It was the day when his apostle and
missionaries arrived bearing the good news of Jesus
Christ (cf. Acts 18:9-21, 24; 19:1).
We now have access to the
Father (v. 18). Paul says it is "through him we both
have our access in one Spirit to the Father." In
Romans 5:2 the apostle writes we have this "access
by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we
rejoice in the hope of God’s glory" (NET). Jesus
Christ is the "mediator of a new covenant," who has
"sprinkled blood" to cut a new covenant with God. He
is our peace.
Once again the Trinity
is implied here. The word "access" is used for
introducing a person into the presence of the king.
The idea is for someone to lead or bring another
person into the presence of another of a higher
rank. We have someone who takes us by the hand and
leads us into the presence of the LORD God. We
have someone we can break in upon, take our troubles
to, our problems, our difficulties, our loneliness,
and our sorrows. Because of Christ’s faithfulness we
have bold and confident access into God’s presence.
The Holy Spirit takes us into his presence.
We are reconciled
to one another.
We are no longer
strangers, outsiders, and aliens. Christianity
transcends all the local cultural differences; it
produces men who are friends with each other because
they are friends with God. It produces men who are
one because they meet in the presence of God to whom
they all have access. We all come on the same level
of acceptance—sinners saved by free grace.
You are fellow-citizens.
"So then you are no longer foreigners and
noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the
saints and members of God’s household" (Ephesians
2:19 NET). Gentiles are no longer foreigners, but
full members of the family of God. No longer to be
regarded with suspicion and dislike, but a full
member of the community of God. "But our citizenship
is in heaven – and we also await a savior from
there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform
these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his
glorious body by means of that power by which he is
able to subject all things to himself" (Philippians
3:20-21 NET). What will that body of glory be like?
Here we are told we will be like him! (cf. 1 John
Have you ever been around
someone who tries to create division, suspicion, or
turns people against each other? There are some
people who are never happy unless they are creating
chaos for others. Christians on the other hand are
peacemakers. They have a ministry of
reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
You are of God’s
household. "So then you are no longer foreigners and
noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the
saints and members of God’s household, because you
have been built on the foundation of the apostles
and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the
cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined
together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in
whom you also are being built together into a
dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians
It is through Jesus that
we are made full members of the family of God. We
are at home with him because of the work of Christ.
You do not have to feel shut out, and lonely in the
dark. There is a "we" feeling, a sense of
belongingness that comes through being a part of the
family of God.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
1. When Jesus Christ
comes into your life there is a dividing line, a
change that takes place and you can look back upon
your life before and after that event. This is what
my life was like before I put my trust in Jesus
Christ. This is the time and place when I trusted in
Him and this is what my life has been like since.
You cannot argue with a change person. What are
changes Christ has brought about in your life?
2. When we fall in
love with Jesus Christ we come to love each other.
There can be peace only in and through Jesus Christ.
Reconciliation with God involves and necessitates
reconciliation with man.
3. When Jesus died
on the cross he brought an end to legalism as a
means of salvation and sanctification. He removed
the fences when He abolished religion founded on
rules and regulations. Jesus tore down the walls.
Why in the world do we put up fences to keep people
out of our lives, and our church?
4. When God saves
us by grace it is always through faith in Jesus
Christ. There is no other way but faith in Him. "And
there is salvation in no one else, for there is no
other name under heaven given among people by which
we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 NET). Jesus said, "I am
the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NET).
5. When Jesus
Christ comes into your life He produces an
altogether different kind of person. Jesus does not
make all the Jews into Gentiles. Nor does He make
Gentiles into Jews. He makes all men of all nations
into Christians. Unity lies in oneness in Christ.
6. It is tragic
when the church is more exclusive than God.