September 22, 2019
To the Reader: these are excerpts from Ephesians 2 on the website at
www.adultbibleclass.com. For a thorough study of chapter 2, I recommend
#155 – Ephesians 2 – this website – CY – 2019)
Since sin has come into this world God’s purpose is to “gather together in one all
things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.”
God’s purpose is that in Christ all believers fine unity in Him, overcoming racial and
cultural barriers because of the greatness of their common faith in a common
Because of our sin separating us from God, we are at odds with Him and with one
another. Jesus Christ, God’s Only Son, is the means by which we are reconciled
to God (step 1) and to one another (step 2).
True reconciliation and unity are only found in Jesus Christ.
The Uses of Remembrance (v. 11)
“Wherefore remember.” The present is built upon the past, and the memory
of the past has much to do with the joys and sorrows of the present, as well
as with the hopes and achievements of the future. It is well for believers to
remember what they have been in view of their present mercies.
Remembrance may thus become a means of grace.
· IT TENDS TO DEEPEN THE HUMILITY OF SAINTS AS WELL AS
TO INCREASE THEIR GODLY SORROW FOR SIN.
· IT TENDS TO MAKE US GRATEFUL FOR OUR MERCIES AND
TO MAKE US MAGNIFY THE GREATNESS AND FREENESS OF
DIVINE LOVE. Where sin did much abound, we have found that grace
did much more abound. (Romans 5:20)
v. 11 “Wherefore remember, that aforetime.” The Ephesian Christians are
reminded of what they were “aforetime,” that is, before they received the
gospel. It is a good exercise of memory for us all to go back on what we
once were. For we did not all receive the gospel when it was first presented
to us. Many of us who now believe were for years in a state of indifference;
How well, then, does it become us to “remember” our former unconverted
condition! The memory of what we were aforetime should make us humble
and thoughtful, and quicken us in present duty.
· THOSE THAT WERE GENTILES BY NAME. “Ye, the Gentiles in the
flesh.” The name ἔθνηος – ethnos – heathen; nation; gentiles - Gentiles –
both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, is “nations.” It was applied by the
Jews to all nations except their own, just aswe distinguish Christians and
heathen. The Jews were one nation over against many; and though Christians
are relatively more numerous than were the Jews, still they are the few and
the heathen the multitudinous. But the apostle has reference to what the
Gentiles were “in the flesh,” and so he applies a second name to them.
· THOSE THAT WERE THE UNCIRCUMCISION. “Who are called
Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by
hands.” The Jews were distinguished by a bodily mark. It is referred to in
the language “in the flesh, made by hands.” By this surgical mark on them,
they were known as God’s. They were therefore properly called “the
Circumcision,” as all others who had not the mark were properly called
“the Uncircumcision.” And when the apostle uses the noticeable language
here, “Who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called
Circumcision,” he is not to be regarded as reflecting on the distinction, or
on the names founded on it. He is simply exercising a little caution. Those
who called themselves Circumcision, as superior to those whom they called
Uncircumcision, should have answered to the name. But he will not say
that circumcision in the flesh was also circumcision in the spirit. There is
often this distinction to be drawn between what we are called and what we
are. We are Christians in name; but are we also Christians in truth? We
have many honorable names applied to us as Christians; but do we answer
to them? Is there a broad line of distinction between us and men of the
world in our characters?
· THEIR BEARING THE NAME OF THE UNCIRCUMICISION
ü Separate from Christ. “That ye were at that time separate front Christ.”
They were not, indeed, without some connection with Christ. For it is only
on the ground of His suretyship and work that men have a lifetime on earth,
brief at it is. (“We spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psalm 90:9)
There was, therefore, indebtedness to Christ, even on the part
of the uncircumcised; but they were separate from Him in that they did not
have Him as their Messiah. There were Greeks and Romans that had more
culture than Jews; where they came behind was in their having no
Messianic privilege. There was no intimation to them of a Savior who was
to come into the world. There was no presentation in type to them of the
atonement that was to be made for sin. They were, therefore, excluded
from such saving relation to Christ as was open to the Jews. The want of
Christ is still the greatest want of the heathen world. He is not made known
to them for their salvation. The radical defect in an unconverted man’s
position is that he is out of Christ (v. 12), and so has none to give him shelter
ü Separate from the Church. “Alienated from the commonwealth of
section, but for the good of all alike. It was constituted, not for mere
political purposes, but for religious purposes principally. It was the Church
more than the state. And the great privilege which every member of the
commonwealth enjoyed was nearness to God. He was allowed to draw
near to Him and worship Him in His temple, Now, when the Jews were thus
constituted into a Divine commonwealth, the Gentiles were kept at an
outside. The arrangement we know was for the ultimate benefit of the
whole race; but none the less deplorable was their condition as aliens, or
persons out of privilege. (Romans chapters 9-11 explain this – CY – 2019)
There is no
arrangement now by which any are excluded from the
of God, and yet it is with many as though such an arrangement existed.
There are some, in Christian lands, who are alienated from the Christian
Church (Does this describe you? CY – 2019), it may be, to a certain extent
owing to the faults of its members; but can it be wholly put down to that, when
there is in the gospel such a representation of goodness as ought to attract
all who are not prejudiced against goodness? “Strangers from the covenants
of the promise.” There were promises to the Gentiles, but they did not
pertain to them who lived before the coming of the Messiah. The Jews had
the covenants of promise, viz. the covenants made to the patriarchs,
founded, not on what had been effected for them, but on what was to be
effected for them in the future, and WHICH WAS PROMISED! These
covenants were their charter as a Church; what they could fall back upon as
the reason for their existence. To these covenants the Gentiles were strangers;
they had no share in them; theirs was an uncovenanted position. The
covenant is not founded now on promise; it is founded on accomplished
fact, IT HAS BEEN SEALED BY CHRIST’S BLOOD! None now occupy
an uncovenanted position, such as the old heathen world did; and yet it is with
many as though no change had taken place.
ü Miserable condition in the world. “Having no hope.” Not having the
“covenants” to go upon, they had no hope at all. Reason did not suffice to
give them a hope beyond the grave. The hereafter was not a certainty, but
only a vague conjecture. It was not lightened up as it was to Old
Testament saints. We Christians have a rich hope. It is the hope of a
glorious resurrection, and of a perfected and endless life with Christ
as our risen Savior. When such a hope has been brought to the world,
how sad that there are so many in heathen lands who are looking forward
into a DARK and CHEERLESS FUTURE! And sadder far it is that there
are those in Christian lands who place no value on the life and immortality
that have been brought TO LIGHT by the GOSPEL! “Without God in the
world.” Out of the Church, they were in the world. And the great evil of their
being in the self-seeking, God-forgetting world was that there they were
unbefriended by God. They could not live in the sunshine of His love,
for they did not know Him to be THE GOD OF LOVE! IT WAS A
LOSS FOR WHICH NOTHING COULD COMPENSATE! What a gain
would it be to the heathen of our day to conceive of God as having given
His Son for them! And yet, of those who have the opportunity, how few
enter into the intense enjoyment of God’s love!
· THEIR ALTERED POSITION. “But now in Christ Jesus ye that once
were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ.” God had His earthly
dwelling-place in the temple at
off from this center, compared with the Jews. But the distance in space was
only emblematic of the moral distance at which they stood from God. They
were at a distance, in their being out of harmony with His character. They
were at a distance, in the displeasure with which He regarded their actions.
But in Christ, in His becoming the personal historical Jesus, all this was
altered. They were brought into a position of nearness to God. Christ
effected this by HIS BLOOD1 The blood which was shed on Jewish altars
was only for Jews. The Jewish high priest represented the twelve tribes, but
no more. The blood of Christ had a wider reference. It was for Gentiles as
well as for Jews. And that being the case, Gentiles were kept no longer at a
distance. Jesus Christ is our High Priest! CY – 2019)
The manifold wisdom of God -
ü Angels seeing by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. “To the
intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly
places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom
of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in
Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Church is the community of which, as is
said in the first chapter, Christ is the Head. The interest in this
community is here represented as extending to the angels. They are here
designated on the side of their power and rank as the principalities and
the powers. In Psalm 103 it is said, “Ye His angels, that excel in
strength.” In what relation rank or dominion is ascribed to them, we
have not the means of knowing, as we have not the survey of the
heavenly world which they, it is here implied, have of the earthly world.
But we are to understand the apostle, in the loftiness of his thought,
seizing upon this as being to the honor of the Church, that it attracts the
attention of the inhabitants of “the heavenly places” — those who have
never known any other habitation, who, from the first moment of their
being, have lived in the presence of God. They have been contemporaries
of man during all his history. For when the earth was framed “the
morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy.”
(Job 38:7) We are to think of them as witnessing man’s innocence
and fall, and as being made acquainted with the introduction of
grace in the promise. And the Law (which had a separating side) was by
the “disposition of angels.” (Acts 7:53) And angels very signally
heralded the Savior’s birth. But it was not for our sakes alone that they
were thus connected with our history. It would seem that, though in the
heavenly places, they had but a limited knowledge of redemption. They
had not foreknowledge; they had to wait like us for the development of
events. What was mystery to us (as to the including of the Gentiles)
was mystery to them also, being hidden to both in God. They were at
a loss to understand what the development of things under the gospel
was to be. But they were taught by the events. Now through the Church
was made known the manifold wisdom of God. The Church was not to
be instructress, but rather material for instruction by God in the subject
of His manifold wisdom. There was material to be found elsewhere,
in which the angels delighted to study the manifold wisdom of
God. It was when the worlds were brought forth into space that they
shouted for joy. What a field was that opened up for their contemplation!
“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them
all.” (Psalm 104:24) The simple idea of a house is that which has walls,
and door, and windows, and roof; but into what manifoldness, what
richness of structure, may that be drawn out by the creative mind of the
architect! An architect’s work is manifold in proportion to the
multiplicity of the parts, and to the variety he can introduce into these;
and his skill is seen in his combining these parts, in all their multiplicity
and variety, into a unity. What multiplicity of parts has God to deal with
in the material structure of things! and what variety He introduces, so
that no leaf is exactly like another! (nor any two snowflakes, nor any
fingerprints of humans, etc. - CY - 2019) and how there are not only
adaptations which can be made a study of by themselves (as a column,
or bit of tracery on it, may be made a study of), but these are
comprehended in wider adaptations, and so all-comprehensive
is the Divine thought that there is in the result no confusion
but the highest simplicity! That is one sphere for the display of
MANIFOLD WISDOM! We may expect greater manifoldness as we
rise higher. What a manifoldness in the life of rational beings!
“And God,” says Leibnitz, “has the qualities of a good Governor as
well as of a great Architect.” It may be supposed that the angels will
first contemplate the manifold wisdom of God in themselves, in their
high and varied endowments, in the way in which their eternal well-
being has been secured to them without their having to pass through
the experience of sin, and in the part assigned to each and to all in the
great plan. Is he not called the Lord of hosts, as marshaling the
innumerable army of angels? They have a manifoldness far
beyond our conception, and yet He can dispose of them as easily as an
officer can do with a small section of an army. He calls them, as He calls
the stars, by their names (Psalm 147:4); not one is overlooked, not one
out of place. (We hear of people that are so neat that "not one hair is out
of place! God knows the number of our hairs on our head." Matthew
10:30; Luke 12:7; CY - 2019) The manifold wisdom of God is also to be
seen in the way in which the billions of men on the earth are dealt with
at one moment. The problem here has been complicated by the
entrance of sin. Manifold are the phases of sin, and manifold are the
methods by which He seeks to dislodge men out of their sin. But this
manifold problem of the world of mankind is mastered by Him more
easily than the problems of a single household is mastered by us. But
it is in the Church that there is to be seen conspicuously the manifold
wisdom of God. And, in the first place, it is to be seen in that general
point regarding the Church which the apostle has been considering, viz.
the including of the Gentiles after they had been so long excluded. It
may seem that the exclusion of any from the privileges of the Church
was a reflection on the Divine wisdom. Was it not sacrificing
their interests that an effort was not made for their salvation along with
that of others? But the problem was far more manifold than that. If there
had been a comprehension of all nations all along, the result would
probably have been the extinction of religion. We are not to think that
Christ could have come, and His gospel be promulgated, at any time.
If the gospel dispensation had been introduced at the time of the
election of Abraham, we may suppose it would have been thrown away.
He with whom a thousand years are as one day had to look to, not the
greatest good of men then, but to the greatest good of men to all time.
And so He ordained a long period of preparation, both negative in
bringing out what men could not do, and positive in the way of teaching
by type and providential dealing. And He did not bring Christ into the
world until He saw how His truth could get a firm hold, and be
proclaimed wide to the nations. And though the gospel has yet much to
do, it is in such a position that it cannot now be lost. But this was only part
of a wider purpose. “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed
in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We have to bring in the whole purpose of
God regarding the Church. This purpose He purposed in eternity.
It was a purpose running through the ages. In Christ He saw the Church
in the completeness of its idea, in the whole of its development. And,
with this clear before His mind, He could patiently wait through the
ages for the fuller unfolding of His purpose. As Christ is called the
Wisdom of God, so we may expect to see in His Church a wisdom
manifold as Himself. What an element in the scheme of redemption,
that the Redeemer was a Divine Being in human nature! How justice
and mercy are reconciled in His cross! How sin is forgiven while God
at the same time manifests Hhis detestation of it! How manifold are the
ways by which men are brought into the Church! What THE FINAL
ADJUSTMENT OF THINGS is to be is very much a mystery to us,
as it is doubtless to the angels. But we stand in this position that, in
what has been exhibited to us already of the manifold wisdom of God,
we can look hopefully forward to THE FINAL RECONCILIATION!
· IT TENDS TO INSPIRE US WITH A STRONGER LOVE FOR
CHRIST, WHO HAS PLACED US SO HIGH IN HEAVENLY PLACES.
(I recommend Ephesians ch. 2 v. 20 - Spurgeon Sermon - He Jesus Christ
Himself – #155a – this website – CY – 2019) The woman in the gospel
loved much when she remembered how much was forgiven her. (Luke 7:47)
“The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant in faith and love”
(I Timothy 1:14) to the Apostle Paul in the remembrance of his old
blasphemies and injuries to the gospel.
· IT TENDS TO QUICKEN US TO GREATER ZEAL AND
ACTIVITY IN THE LORD’S SERVICE. We think sadly of our lost time
in the service of sin, and are led now to work with increased energy for the
cause of our Redeemer.
· IT TENDS TO MAKE US MORE HOPEFUL OF THE
CONVERSION OF OTHERS WHO ARE NOW WHAT WE ONCE
WERE AS SINNERS. Yet this remembrance of our past condition is not
to be a rueful, self-accusing thing that will kill hope and heart, but rather
that which leads onward to a higher joy and a more complete consecration
to the Lord’s work.
12 “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth
God in the world:” That at that time ye were without Christ. A very comprehensive
description, having no knowledge of Christ, no interest in Him, no life or blessing
from Him. Being aliens (or, alienated) from the
- politeia – citizenship or citizenship condition, including a country, a constitution,
a divinely appointed and divinely administered economy, rich in blessing. And
strangers from the covenants of the promise. The promise of Christ, of which
circumcision was the seal. The “covenants” (plural) substantially the same, but
renewed to various persons and at various times in which God promised Abraham,
“I will bless him that blesseth thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee
and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
In respect of these they were strangers, not embraced in their provisions,
nor in a state of encouragement to expect a great blessing. Having no hope.
(those who are “Christless” are “hopeless”) - no ground for looking forward to
better times, no reasonable expectation of improvement in your religious condition.
And without God in the world. ἄθεοι,, atheoi - atheists; but not in the active sense
of denying God, rather in the passive sense of unconnected with God; without any
friendly and beneficial relation to Him, without any vital nexus (connecting link)
that would bring into their soul the fullness of God. The words “in the world”
intensify “without God.” It were bad enough to be without God (without His holy
fellowship and blessed influence) anywhere, but it is worse to be without Him in
the world, in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), in a world dominated by
so subtle and evil a god (v. 2 and II Corinthians 4:4). The fivefold negative
description of this verse has a cumulative effect; the situation becomes graver
and more terrible, and the last clause is the climax.
What an accumulation of miseries! Yet men are often ignorant of their misery and
without desire for change. We have a great need of the Holy Spirit to convince us
of our sin and misery.
This is the picture of the heathen world given by the apostle — without Christ, without
Church, without covenant, without hope, without God. At the period to which he
refers, religion had outlived itself, unbelief mocked at the superstitions of the
vulgar, and skepticism gradually became the sole wisdom of the cultured classes.
Along with the power of truth the power of morality was IRRECOVERABLY
LOST and yet there was a deep yearning at the heart of paganism for the God
unknown (Acts 17:23) whom it was the high destiny of Christianity to make known
to the Gentiles. They were without God, yet were not outcast from His favor, for those
Ephesian Gentiles were in due time called by His grace.
The Religious Position of the Heathen (v. 12)
The apostle does not speak of the distinguished place of the heathen as to
art and science, culture, and worldly civilization in which they far surpassed
contrast mainly with the privileged superiority of Judaism. The points of
contrast are six in number.
· THEY WERE UNCIRCUMCISED — were “Gentiles in the flesh.”
Circumcision, according to the apostle, might mean very little or very
much. It might mean very much, in so far as it was a “seal of the
righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:11) and was a spiritual thing — “the
circumcision of the heart” (ibid. ch. 2:29), involving “the worship of
God in the Spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence
in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). But it might mean “the circumcision in the
letter” (Romans 2:29), after the habit of those Jews who ascribed objective
power to the mere external rite, regarding it as a channel of grace, irrespective
of the subjective condition of the recipient. It was only in the spiritual sense
of the rite that the Gentiles were disadvantaged by their want of it, not only
because it meant the obligation of withdrawing all the relations of life from
the dominion of nature, but because it implied a covenant union with God,
involving the blessings of redemption itself.
· THEY WERE WITHOUT CHRIST. The Jews were not without Him;
for “salvation was of the Jews;” Abraham, the first Jew, saw the day of
Christ afar off, “and was glad’ (John 8:56); the Jews drank, in the
wilderness, of the “Rock which was Christ” (I Corinthians 10:4). But
the Gentiles were without Him, because:
Ø they had no knowledge of Him;
Ø they had no faith in Him;
Ø they had no union with Him; they were therefore WITHOUT:
o hope, and
How dark and cheerless was heathenism even under its reign of culture!
It had no experience of the threefold blessing of the gospel:
o Christ for us,
o Christ in us,
o Christ with us!
THE GRAND TOTALITY OF CHRISTIANITY!
· THEY WERE ALIENS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF
dealings with Gentiles.
Ø The word “aliens” points in the original to a lapse from a former unity
or fellowship. Universalism characterized the first dispensation of the race
of man: deliverance was to come through the Seed of the woman
(Genesis 3:15); but when the race took a direction contrary to the will of God
and fundamentally wrong, the circle was narrowed into particularism, which
in its turn tended toward a universalistic goal, for all nations of the earth are
to be blessed in Abraham’s seed. Jew and Gentile thus stood apart for ages,
till, “in the fullness of times,” they met at last round the cross of Christ in
an act of supreme rebellion, only to be united in Christ forever in the future
development of the
Ø Their estrangement from the Israelitish commonwealth was an immense
spiritual loss; for to it belonged the oracles of God (Romans 3:2), and
“the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law,
and the service of God, and the promises” (ibid. ch. 9:4). It was a
privilege to belong to a people expecting nothing from their own power or
wisdom, but everything from the interposition of their God. It is a great
blessing to be born within the pale of the visible Church, so as to partake of
her privileges. The Gentiles were outside the whole apparatus of religious
instruction provided for the special guidance of the Jews.
· THEY WERE STRANGERS TO THE COVENANTS OF PROMISE.
Ø The plural reference is to the successive renewals of the covenant with
the patriarchs. It was but the one covenant of promise — “the promise
made to the fathers” which God fulfilled in “raising up Jesus” (Acts
13:32). The word “covenant” occurs two hundred and thirty-six times in
our English Bible, and in more than two hundred instances it is a
DIVINE COVENANT! The covenant with Abraham was the Magna Charta
out more clearly the line in which the Divine purpose of blessing would be
fulfilled to Jews and eventually to all nations. The new covenant of the New
Testament, which has in Christ a Mediator greater than Moses and is
“established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8:6), is no other than the
ancient covenant made with Abraham (Galatians 3:14).
Ø Thus we can see how the Gentiles were strangers to the covenant in all
its historic developments. They had no national covenant with God, and no
land of promise in the present world. As Gentiles, the covenant had never
been revealed to them, and, except so far as they may have been included
in the Israelitish commonwealth, it could bring them no blessing.
· THEY WERE WITHOUT HOPE. They had:
Ø no covenanted hope.
Ø no hope of the Messiah and of salvation by Him,
Ø no hope of a future state of eternal life.
“Such as are CHRISTLESS must be hopeless; such as are without faith
must needs be without hope; and such as are without the promise must
necessarily be without faith; for the promise is the ground of faith, and faith
is the ground of hope.” It is a miserable state to be without hope. “If in this
life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” (I Corinthians
15:19) The future to the heathen was a night without a star. In the Roman
catacombs HOPE is the commonest inscription. There is no such word
on the tombs of the heathen dead.
· THEY WERE WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD. This marks the
climax of their misery. They were without God, though they were not
atheists, for they had a thousand gods that were no gods. And they were
not bold deniers of God, for many of them were “feeling after the Lord.”
(Acts 17:27) But:
Ø they were without the knowledge of the true God;
Ø they had no faith in Him;
Ø they lived without relation to Him; and
Ø they had no consciousness of His presence to bless and guide
and comfort them.
They were without God “in the world” — in contrast with the position of
the Jews entrenched within their commonwealth privileges — and were
thus homeless and forsaken in that world which had Satan for its prince.
This is the picture of the heathen world given by the apostle:
Ø without Christ,
Ø without Church,
Ø without covenant,
Ø without hope,
Ø without God.
At the period to which he refers:
Ø religion had outlived itself,
Ø unbelief mocked at the superstitions of the vulgar, and
Ø skepticism gradually became the sole wisdom of the cultured classes,
Ø the power of truth and the power of morality was irrecoverably lost;
and yet there was a deep yearning at the heart of paganism for THE
UNKNOWN GOD whom it was the high destiny of Christianity
to make known to the Gentiles. They were without God, yet
were not outcast from his favor, for those Ephesian Gentiles were in due
time called by His grace.
Dark Depths (v. 12)
Step by step descending into darker and darker depths, Paul describes
the awful condition out of which heathens had been rescued when they
became Christians. Regarded from a Jewish point of view, this condition is
seen to consist in the loss of all the high privileges of
salvation of the Gentiles appears as an adoption into the circle of those
privileges. But larger things of more general import are covered by the
description, so that it applies virtually to all who are outside the pale of the
gospel. Let us go through the descending and darkening series and observe
the several woeful characteristics.
business, pleasure, culture — have their advantages; but they bring no
Savior, no Physician of sick souls. As Christ is the Foundation-stone of the
new temple, to be without Christ is to have nothing on which to erect
subsequent Christian blessings. If we have the doctrine and discipline of the
New Testament without the Christ, we have nothing of real profit. The
dumb, pathetic helplessness of spiritual hunger in the finer inquiring and
doubting minds of our day is a proof that to be without the light and life
and love of Christ is as great a loss to us as it was to any in old times.
Church is now what
family of the people of God. Only it is not marked by the visible boundaries
of any “
of Christ, contains many a choice soul that has been accounted a schismatic
and cut off from the organized communities of Christendom. Real
excommunication comes not by the vehement protest of an anathema, but by
the breach of spiritual sympathy. Without the union that comes through our
relation to Christ we voyage in solitude over lonely seas of thought.
The Jew had a gospel in Messianic prophecy. The Christian has his in New
ü What covenant is there in science?
ü What promise in art?
ü What gospel in commerce?
We may discover laws and facts of the universe, and create works of skill
and beauty, and accumulate treasures of wealth. But still stricken souls cry,
“Is there no balm
to the weary and the brokenhearted.
verging towards pessimism in the days of Paul, when philosophers
advised suicide and historians taught contempt of mankind. (Tell me this is
not what is happening in so-called Progressive America – CY – 2019)
ü Culture fails to convert the Philistine.
ü Science dwarfs humanity before nature, and
discovers no soul and no heaven.
ü Business, politics, and society drive man to a weariness that sees
atheism is more common and more disastrous. It is worse to believe in God
and to live as if there were no God, than to doubt His existence. To be
without GOD is not to look for His help nor to obey His will.
THIS IS DEATH since IN GOD we live and move and have our being.
GLORIOUS must be the Gospel that redeems us from SUCH A
DEPTH OF RUIN!
Ø Consider the grand instrument of reconciliation between Jew and Gentile.
“In His flesh.” The language refers expressly to the condition of penal
curse-bearing to which the atoning Savior spontaneously subjected Himself.
As the apostle once represents sin as being condemned in Christ’s flesh
(Romans 8:3), so here our Lord is regarded as having in His flesh taken
upon Him the sins of His people, as the great cause of enmity and disunion,
and having exhausted at once the sin of man and the wrath of God on the
cross, He thus at once abolished the law of ceremonies and annihilated the
enmity which found its occasion in it. The cross is still the instrument of
reconciling man to man. The world has made many efforts to unite men on
a basis of:
often trying to bring about a union even by the most terrible bloodshed;
but no principle has yet been discovered to unite man to man save the
gospel of Christ, with its doctrine of atonement through the blood of the
CHRISTIANS ARE ADDRESSED IN A THREEFOLD CHARACTER.
ü They are members of the spiritual commonwealth. “So then ye are no
more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the
saints.” “Fellow-citizens with the saints.” They are citizens in relation
to God as Head of the commonwealth. “They are no more strangers and
sojourners.” There were those who stood in this relation to the Grecian
states. They did not live on Grecian soil, or they lived on it without
possessing the rights of “citizens.” Such had been the relation of the
Ephesians to the Jewish commonwealth. But now they were fully
enrolled and recognized as citizens in that commonwealth in which
were incorporated both Jews and Gentiles. The members of this
commonwealth are designated “saints,” as were the Ephesians in the
opening of the Epistle. It points to their bearing a certain character,
and having certain duties to perform. But the leading idea
is the privileges of citizens. And these may be particularized.
Ø There is the privilege of good laws. In a civil community, laws are
good where as much liberty of the subject is secured as is consistent
with the public good, and where the interests of all classes are equally
regarded. In this land we have been blessed in large measure with
good laws. And our legislators are always trying to work out more
perfectly the idea of justice. In the spiritual community, we do not
need to concern ourselves about the improvement of the laws.
(The are from time memorial, just laws from the finger and mind
of God Almighty! CY - 2019) They have had the character of finality
from the beginning. We never need to distinguish here between law
and equity. We can feel that the whole Divine dealing is characterized
by the utmost fairness, reasonableness. “I know the thoughts which
I think concerning you.”
Ø There is the privilege of protect/on. A British subject (American citizen
- CY - 2019), so long as he keeps within the laws, has really the whole
British power (The
back. If a foreign state allows him to be trampled upon, he can claim
protection from home. Such cases not unfrequently have arisen, and,
where redress has not been given, there has been resort to punishment.
A member of the Divine commonwealth who is possessed with its
spirit has the theocratic power at his back — has, it may be said,
ten legions of angels at His command, as the Master had. “Whoso
toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye.” (Zechariah 2:8) There
was this protection enjoyed by the Israelites very remarkably in
connection with their going up to their feasts. And, in the Christian
commonwealth, we can feel there is a wall of protection round
about us. We can boldly say, “If the Lord is on our side, who
are all they that can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Ø There is the privilege of petitioning. It is a fundamental principle of the
British constitution that every British subject has the right of petitioning
sovereign or Houses of Parliament. (In
includes the "right to petition." CY - 2019) There is the same right
vested in those who belong to the
Daniel exercised when he made his petition three times a day.
ü They are members of the household of God. “And of the household of
God.” The relation in the family is closer than in the state. The
theocracy was as a house in relation to which they had been strangers
or sojourners; but now they had the full rights of members of the family.
Ø There is the right of a place in the household. “The servant abideth
not in the house forever; but the son abideth ever.” (John 8:35) There
is no breaking up of the household of God, such as is witnessed in
earthly families. There is no banishment, such as there was from the
household of David.
Ø There is the right of intimacy. Not the right of interview, let it be
noticed, but the right of living in the Father’s presence, and, in
communion with Him, entering into His thoughts and plans.
“The servant knoweth not what His master doeth." (John 15:15)
But of this intimacy we have not yet the full manifestation.
Ø There is the right of being provided for. “If any provide not for his
own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the
faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (I Timoth 5:8) God holds
Himself bound by covenant to make all suitable provision for us,
HERE and HEREAFTER! And in our Father’s house there is
enough and to spare. (Luke 15:17)
13 “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the
blood of Christ.” But now.- antithesis to ποτὲ - pote – once upon a time - in v. 11,
and τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ - toe kairo ekinoo – at that time in v. 12. Another of the very
powerful “buts” of this Epistle, completely reversing the picture going before
(see v. 4) – “in Christ Jesus” - This expression is the pivot of the Epistle, denoting,
not only that Christ Jesus is the Source of blessing, but also that we get the blessing,
i.e. by vital union and fellowship with, Him. The “without Christ” of v. 12 contrasts
powerfully with “in Christ Jesus” of this verse; and the addition of “Jesus” to the
name is significant, denoting His saving power, denoting One who is not merely
AN OFFICIAL SAVIOUR, but to whom we get linked by all manner of endearing
qualities and personal attractions, whose human name is JESUS because He saves
His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Ye who sometimes were far off are
made nigh. That once were far off are become near. The apostle has
slidden into a new figure; formerly the contrast was between death and life, now it
is between distance and nearness. Not merely geographical distance, or remoteness
in respect of outward position, but moral distance too: ye were far off from God,
i.e. from His favor, His fellowship, His gracious pardoning and renewing grace.
In this sense too ye are now brought near. God is become your God and Father.
Your orbit is changed to a near and blessed position, where the light of God’s
countenance falls upon you. By the blood of Christ. “in the blood of Christ” –
This is the particular instrument of the change; not merely Christ manifesting
the Father’s readiness to receive you, but shedding His blood to make atonement
for you (ch. 1:7). The preposition ἐν - en – in, (not merely διὰ - dia – by, is again
significant, denoting more than the instrumentality, viz. PERSONAL CONNECTION
with the blood, as if sprinkled on us, so that we are symbolically in it. Cleansing us
from all sin, it brings us nigh. (I John 1:7) – There is no divider like sin! It is THE
BLOOD OF CHRIST that has obliterated the interval between the Gentiles and God.
(The world seems to be not only in a mess, but close to a hell of its own making.
The blood of Jesus Christ is the only help or hope for the world today – it too will
obliterate the difference between Jews, Muslims and Christians – otherwise, IF HIS
BLOOD IS IGNORED OR REJECTED, Christ has warned that there is a time
coming that will be so bad that if God did not intervene, ALL FLESH WOULD
PERISH! [Matthew 24:21-22] - Thank God, that for the elect’s sake, He will
come and those days will be shorted. ONE OF THE THEME’S OF THIS
WEB SITE IS: THE TIME IS SHORT! - CY – 2010)
V. 13 is one of the brightest verses in the Bible, as v. 12 is one of the darkest. From being
“far off,” they are “brought nigh.”
to be finally brought nigh in glory. To be nigh or near to God is to be in a blessed relation
to Him, to be restored to an orbit in which we get all the blessed influences of His
presence, so that the light of His countenance falls richly upon us, and we become
changed into the same image, from glory to glory. (II Corinthians 3:18)
May we all hail “THE POWER OF JESUS’ NAME”!
16 “And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having
slain the enmity thereby:” And that He might reconcile both to God in one body
by the cross. Exegetical of preceding statements, and making emphatic the fact of
reconciliation to God on the same footing and by the same means; both were to
be reconciled in, one body (see ch. 4:4) and “by the cross.” No preference was to
be given to the Jew facilitating his union to Christ: the Gentile was to be taken into
Christ’s body as readily as the Jew. In reference to the sense in which reconciliation
was effected by the cross of Jesus, some say it was only as the cross demonstrated
to men the love of God and His willingness to bless them; while others maintain
very strongly that it was as providing a satisfaction to God’s justice for their guilt,
and thus enabling Him to receive and bless the sinner. Not only the analogy of
other passages of Scripture as well as of this Epistle justifies the latter view, but
preeminently the words, “by the cross.” If Christ had only to proclaim God’s
friendship toward sinners, why should He have suffered on the cross?
The cross as a mere pulpit is hideous; as an altar it is glorious. The love of God is ill
revealed, if it subjected Jesus to unnecessary agony. The love of both Father and Son
is indeed commended, if the agony was voluntarily borne by the Son, and permitted
by the Father, as being indispensable for the pardon of the sinner. 'Αποκαταλλάξῃ –
apokatallazae – to reconcile fully - denotes the whole process of reconciliation.
Having slain the enmity thereby (or, thereon). “The enmity” is the same
as at the beginning of v.15 — the enmity of man to God. The destruction of this
enmity is ONE OF THE EFFECTS OF THE CROSS, though not the only effect;
it is necessary to root out the enmity of the carnal mind. That this is the meaning
here seems plain from Romans 5:10, “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled
to God by the death of His Son.” The apostle there makes no allusion to the enmity
of Jew and Gentile to each other, but to this wider fact — τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς
ἔχθρα εἰς Θεόν – to phronaema taes sarkos echthra eis Theon - the carnal mind is
enmity against God – (Ibid. 8:7) - If any words can denote the result of a propitiatory
sacrifice, it is surely “RECONCILED TO GOD BY THE DEATH OF HIS SON!”
17 “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that
were nigh.” The coming denoted by ἐλθὼν – elthon – coming - is subsequent to the
transactions of the cross. It cannot denote what Christ did personally, but what He
did by sending His Spirit to the apostles and other early preachers. It was only after
the cross and after the resurrection that peace could be proclaimed on the footing
of FAITH IN A SAVIOR WHO HAD DIED AND WAS ALIVE! And only in the
sense of having sent His preachers and given them His Spirit could Jesus be said to
have preached to the Ephesians. The repetition of the word “peace” in the Revised
Version is expressive; if the subject had been merely peace between the two classes
of men, we should not have had the repetition; the repetition denotes peace between
each of the two classes and a third party, viz. God. It is remarkable that
the Gentiles, “those that were far off,” are mentioned here before the Jews,
“those that were nigh.” In point of chronology, the Jews came first; but the order is
here transposed, probably to emphasize the offer of the gospel to the Gentries, (Ponder
“and they will hear it” - Acts 28:24-28 – CY – 2010) and to show that spiritually
they were as near as the Jews.
Observe the several statements in vers. 14-17 – CHRIST IS OUR PEACE:
of commandments in ordinances.
The idea conveyed is that no single thing was left undone that could contribute to the
great double result of reconciling Jew and Gentile, first to God, and thereby to each
other. (Compare God’s work in the Old Testament – see Isaiah 5:1-7, especially v. 4)
Thus reconciliation to God effects reconciliation between man and man, as sometimes
a child, mutually beloved, may effect reconciliation of parents after a difference. The
apostle says elsewhere that “God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ”
(II Corinthians 5:18), and that it pleased “the Father, having made peace through
the blood of the cross, to reconcile all things unto Himself” (Colossians 1:20).
If you take away the cross, you dry up the stream of blessing which has flowed down
through all Christian ages!
To a world obsessed with “finding peace” but which also is obsessed with sin and
“anti-God” we give this advice! There is nothing in the world discovered, NOR
CAN BE DISCOVERED that will unite man to man SAVE THE GOSPEL OF
JESUS CHRIST, with its doctrine of ATONEMENT THROUGH THE BLOOD
OF JESUS CHRIST! When Christ came into this world, the angels annunciation
was, “Peace on earth.” (Luke 2:14) – This peace comes through the righteousness of
Christ: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
The Proclamation of Peace (v. 17)
· HE WHO IS OUR PEACE IS THE PUBLISHER OF PEACE. “And
came and preached peace.” He came as the Prince of peace, spoke of peace
before His death as His parting legacy to the Church, and after His ascension
to heaven sent forth His ambassadors with the gospel of peace to say, “We
pray you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20).
What Christ does by the apostles He does by Himself.
· THE BURDEN OF THE GOSPEL — PEACE. The first word of the
angelic annunciation was, “Peace on earth.” (Luke 2:14)
ü It is peace through the blood of Christ, which thus “speaketh better
things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)
ü It is peace through the righteousness of Christ: “Therefore, being
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
ü It is the staple of the gospel, which is a gospel of peace proclaimed by
ministers who are the publishers of peace.
ü It introduces sinners into the covenant of peace, which cannot be
ü It has peace for its fruits, for believers have:
Ø “joy and peace in believing;” (Romans 15:13)
Ø “Great peace, have they that love thy Law, and nothing
shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165; [reading the Bible and
taking it to heart would remedy a great percentage of
American cultural problems! – CY - 2019)
Ø “To be spiritually minded is life and peace;” (Romans 8:6)
Ø “They that trust in the Lord are kept in perfect peace;”
Ø “They dwell in peaceable habitations, in quiet resting-places.”
· THE PERSONS TO WHOM PEACE IS PREACHED. “To you that
are afar off and to them that are nigh.” There was peace for both Jew and
Gentile. It was peace for the world. There is no restriction upon the
message of peace. “The Lord shall bless His people with peace” (Psalm
29:11). “Great shall be the peace of thy children.” The proof that the peace
has this wide and blessed efficacy is OUR FREE ACCESS TO THE FATHER
BY JESUS CHRIST!
18 “For through Him we both have our access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
Further illustration of identity of position of Jews and Gentiles, and of the work of
Christ in bringing it about. The subject of this verse, access to the Father; predicate,
this access effected through Christ by the one Spirit. Our having access to the Father
is assumed as a matter of spiritual experience; the converted Ephesians knew that in
their prayers and other exercises they did really stand before God, and felt as children
to a Father. How came this to pass? “Through Him.” Sinful men have not this
privilege by nature; “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God”
(Isaiah 59:2). They need a Mediator; Jesus is that Mediator; (I Timothy 2:5) and
through Him, both Jews and Gentiles enjoy the privilege. But right of access is not
enough; in approaching God and holding fellowship with Him there must be some
congeniality of soul, a fellow-feeling between God and the worshipper;
(My son, give me thy heart” – Proverbs 23:26 – CY – 2010) this is effected through
the same Spirit. Some render “in the same spirit, or disposition of mind.” This is true,
but not all the truth; for the question arises — How do we get this suitable
disposition? And the answer is — IT IS WROUGHT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!
As the state of the soul in true intercourse with God is substantially the same in all,
so it is brought by the same Holy Spirit. In fact, this verse is one of the characteristic
texts of Ephesians, in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are brought together.
CHRIST AS OUR PEACE BRINGING US NIGH (v.18.)
How much is implied in having access to the Father! Access to His love, His wisdom,
His transforming influence, His capacity of satisfying the soul in all its lawful
propensities, and blessing it forever!
19 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens
with the saints, and of the household of God;” Now therefore ye are no more
strangers and foreigners. “Sojourners” is nearer πάροικοι – paroikoi - sojourning
as strangers - than “foreigners;” it denotes persons dwelling in a place, but without
citizen rights and privileges; but as such persons are usually foreigners, it is immaterial
which term is used. But fellow-citizens with the saints. The saints are the chosen
ones of all time (compare Hebrews 12:22,
“But ye are come unto
and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly
company of angels”). “Their names are engraven on the same civic roll with all
whom “the Lord shall count when He reckoneth up the people that this man
was born there.” (Psalm 87:6) It is as if they who had dwelt in the waste
and howling wilderness, scattered defenseless and in melancholy isolation, had been
transplanted, not only into
battlements, or envy the tribes who had come up to worship in the city which is compact
together; (Ibid. 122:3) but to:
· claim its municipal immunities,
· experience its protection,
· obey its laws,
· live and love in its happy society, and
· hold communion with its glorious Founder and Guardian” (Eadie)
And (members) of the household of God. A nearer relation to God and a higher
privilege is denoted here. You are not guests or occasional visitors, but permanent
dwellers in the house and
members of the family. Compare the Queen of
words to Solomon. (1 Kings 10:8).
This relation established with God is not a temporary or occasional one, but
· abiding, and
The reconciliation is effected, not for a day, BUT FOR EVERMORE!
build houses, it
is that men may dwell in them. Thus the Church is the
“Know ye not that ye are the
dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16). “I will dwell in them, and walk in them”
(II Corinthians 6:16). Thus “we will be filled with all the fullness of God”
(ch. 3:19). Thus we have the true temple of the Father, built in the Son, inhabited in
the Holy Spirit, the offices of the three blessed Persons being distinctly pointed out:
God the Father in all His fullness dwells in, fills the Church; that Church is constituted
to Him a holy temple in the Son; is inhabited by Him in the ever-present indwelling of
the Holy Spirit.
Think of the raw material out of which the spiritual temple is to be built. These are
Gentiles and Jews, the Uncircumcision and the Circumcision, those far off from God and
those that were nigh. Both were under sin, both had to be redeemed from evil, taken out
of the quarry of nature and fitted by Divine grace for their place in the building!
Think of both as under sin, needing an atoning Savior; but only one Savior and one
blood were provided. The Savior of the Jews was the Savior of the Gentiles also!
Think of the safety and glory of the church. Christ is its Foundation. All the stones
are knit to the Cornerstone. It is well proportioned, because the Holy Spirit is the
Architect; it is vast in its proportions, for it is spread over the earth; and it is inviolable,
for it is devoted to the Lord.
Think of God dwelling in the Church. The Christian is an epitome of the Church. He is
himself a temple of the Holy Ghost.
that the habitation He has chosen for Himself is an impure one.”
(or collusion with Satan against God, as so much has been said
about “collusion” in the last three years – 2017-2019 – CY – 2019)
purer lives, to breathe a sweeter air, to open our hearts to all that is
watching us in our secret moments, and reading our very thoughts!
One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy,” selects His dwelling-
place“with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15)
Now, this temple, whose stones are the souls of religious men, and whose unity is
realized in religious exercises, is meant to be the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost.
All classes of men are here united, and those who once were furthest from God,
publicans, Samaritans, Gentiles, heathen, the neglected, the ignorant, and the
base are brought into Christ! God does not dwell in temples made with hands,
(Acts 7:48-50; I Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1-2) but He dwells in those temples
which are made without hands. THE REAL PRESENCE OF GOD is in
the Church. He does not only bless His children, He visits them and abides
with them. He does not confine His presence to a select few — inspired prophets,
ordained priests, etc. He fills the whole Church with His presence as the incense
spreads through every quarter of the temple.
but in the spiritual presence.
of the Holy Ghost, but to let the glory of God shine out through every
door and window unsullied by any cloud of sin.
The personalities of saintly men become His glorious home, and He condescends
to dwell within us richly and to fill us with His fullness. It is the
unifying power of His presence that molds ALL INTO ONE!