One in Christ
March 21, 2021
This is week four in Ephesians where in week 1, chapter 1, verses 1-14 our focus was on “In Christ” and the destination predetermined for all who would be in Christ.
In week 2, again in chapter 1, verses 15-23 where we learned we (believers) are Christ’s treasure, His inheritance paid for with His body and His blood as in the parable He spoke of in Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. He gave everything to purchase us!
Then in week 3 in chapter 2 verses 1-10, our message was titled Made Alive in Christ, as we learned we were dead in our sins before we came to Christ in faith accepting His gift of salvation that was unearned and undeserved, then as believers, we become God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Today, in week 4 in chapter 2, verses 11-22 our message is titled One in Christ.
v11-12. Paul begins with Therefore (or Wherefore or Remember) bringing everything to bear that he has said previously in what he writes next about the past and now the present. He does this by bringing up the very real separation between Jews and Gentiles in the time of Paul. That separation was denoted by the circumcised and the uncircumcised where circumcision was the seal between the Jews and God. Now as we know from 1:13 we all who believe have the seal of the Holy Spirit. Some of the separation between Jew and Gentile continues to this day. But that is not God’s desire. God’s desire is to reconcile not only you and I to Him, but also to reconcile any and all groups of people that are at odds.
v13. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Once again, we return to what Paul said in verse 1, To God’s holy people, the faithful in Christ Jesus. What a contrast with v12 where the Gentiles were separate from Christ, without hope and without God. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. This verse is the key or pivot of this entire epistle in my opinion. It signifies not only that Jesus is the singular source of our blessing, our salvation, and the blessing is a result of our union and fellowship with, him. Notice Paul had brough a new contrast to our attention. Before the contrast was between life and death, but now it is between distance and nearness. Before the distance between us and God was infinite, but now in Christ Jesus we have been brought near and God has become our God and our Father.
When we take communion, we are effectively celebrating our personal connection with Jesus and Father God through the blood of Christ which literally cleanses us of sin making our relationship possible.
v14. This verse explains how we are brought near. Christ is not only our peacemaker, He is also our peace. Go back to verse 2, Grace and peace. Because of His Grace, His unmerited favor we have peace, the third fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). This peace we have is not only a peace between Jew and Gentile, but between God and both! The Old Testament predicted peace via the Messiah. To understand how He destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility we have to go to v15.
v15. The barrier Jesus destroyed, the dividing wall of hostility was the law which created enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles as well as between both and God. The key is the removal of the enmity of the sinner to God, also provided for the abolition of the enmity between Jew and Gentile. Jesus did this by His flesh broken, crucified for the sins of all mankind. And the law set aside or superseded by Christ did not include moral law. Paul addressed this in Romans 3:31 when he wrote, Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. Still out of this Jesus created one humanity, a church, His church. A church based upon a mutual connection with Christ.
v16. Paul makes explicit in this verse how Jew and Gentile were to be reconciled to one another and to God, it was by the cross. No longer would they have hostility towards one another and especially not towards God because of His great expression and demonstration of love and mercy to all men through the cross for the pardon of the sinner. Jesus is also rooting out the hostility of the carnal mind which is made plain from Paul’s writing in Romans 5:10, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son.
v17-18. Not only are Jews and Gentiles saved by the same gospel, but they also have the same walk with God and access to Him. One group does not have a greater access than the other does. Guzik noted, When conflict arises among Christian groups of different backgrounds, you can be sure that they forget that they were saved by the same gospel and that they have the same access to God. One or both groups usually feel they have superior access to God. That has been my observation as well and likely yours too.
Notice as well in verse 18 we have the holy trinity as it is through Jesus we have access to the Father (God) by the Holy Spirit.
v19-21. Christians from a Gentile background are no longer to be regarded as “second-class citizens” in God’s kingdom. They are full citizens in God’s kingdom and equal members of His household. This is just as it is spoken of in Hebrews 12:22-24, But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
What is built on built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone? A temple, of which Christians are stones of which we are the stones.
In this sense of laying a foundation of supremely authoritative revelation for all God’s people, there are no more apostles or prophets today. The foundation is already set.
In a lesser sense there may be apostles and prophets today, but not in the foundational sense Paul means here.
And of course, Jesus is the corner stone which refers to the set stone at a corner that ensures the whole structure is built soundly and will hold together.
In Him (v21) illustrates the organic unity of believers, Jewish and Gentile, as one great body. We all make up this building, this holy temple in the Lord. This building becomes a holy temple or grows into a holy temple in the Lord. How does the building become or grow into a holy temple in the Lord? It does so, not by merely increasing in numbers, instead its character grows in a holy direction, continuously, by always being in the Lord. The Christian Church is to be a holy temple, dedicated to God, purified by His Spirit.
v22. So now we come to the last verse for today which is like v21, but more personal. It emphasizes each individual Christian. While we will become a stone in the building in heaven, a holy temple in Christ Jesus, we are being prepared for that now. Right now. Each and every one of us is being prepared here in this life for how He will fit us into His building.
Recall how this chapter began with our being dead in our trespasses and sins, but now ends with us as part of a holy temple where God dwells by His Spirit. Jesus and His Father will dwell within us.
Old Testament Examples
Isaiah 9:5-6 (NIV)
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Zechariah 9:9-10 (NIV)
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River[a] to the ends of the earth.