Reconciled

                                                      Ephesians 2:11-22

                                                     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.”

 (ch. 1:10)

 

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

Uncommon Savior.

 

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)

 

 

                        Union of Jews and Gentiles in the Christian Church

 

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 ἔθνηοςethnosheathen; 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

IMPLIED MUCH.

 

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

and help.

 

ü      Separate from the Church. “Alienated from the commonwealth of

Israel.” Israel was a commonwealth, as constituted, not for the good of a

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 Church

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 Jerusalem. The Gentiles were literally far

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

of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without

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 commonwealth of Israel; the πολιτεία

- politeiacitizenship 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

Israel — but he describes the utter destitution of their religious life by

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       pardon,

o       life,

o       grace,

o       hope, and

o       comfort.

 

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

ISRAEL. They were so civilly as well as spiritually, for the Jews had no

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 kingdom of God.

 

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

of Israel; the covenant with David rests upon this earlier covenant, marking

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 Israel, and the

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.

 

  • CHRISTLESS. The Gentile world had no Messiah. Worldly interests —

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.

 

  • CHURCHLESS. “Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” The

Church is now what Israel was in pre-Christian times — the home and

family of the people of God. Only it is not marked by the visible boundaries

of any Holy Land.” The true Church, the fellowship of kindred followers

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.

 

  • UNEVANGELIZED. “Strangers from the covenants of the promise.”

The Jew had a gospel in Messianic prophecy. The Christian has his in New

Testament history.

 

 

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 in Gilead?” (Jeremiah 8:22)  for all this brings no peace

to the weary and the brokenhearted.

 

  • PESSIMIST. “Having no hope.” Pagan Rome and Greece were

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)

Pagan Europe years ago manifests the same tendency.

 

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

            no rest.

 

  • ATHEISTIC. Speculative atheism is rare, if it ever exists. Practical

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!

 

                                                            v. 15

 

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:

 

o        liberty,

o        equality,

o        fraternity

 

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

cross.

 

  • (v. 19) PRACTICAL CONCLUSION, IN WHICH THE EPHESIAN

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 United States Constitution - CY - 2019) at his

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

the sovereign or Houses of Parliament. (In America the Bill or Rights

includes the "right to petition."  CY - 2019) There is the same right

vested in those who belong to the commonwealth of God. This right

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 - poteonce upon a time - in v. 11,

and τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ - toe kairo ekinooat 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 Christiansotherwise, 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.”

 

  • Brought nigh in justification;
  • in adoption;
  • in sanctification;

 

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

apokatallazaeto 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 elthoncoming -  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:

 

  • He made both Jew and Gentile one.
  • He broke down the middle wall of partition.
  • He abolished the cause of enmity between Jew and Gentile — the Law

            of commandments in ordinances.

  • He constituted Himself a new Man, to which both Jew and Gentile belong.
  • He thereby reconciled both to God.
  • All this He effected by His cross.
  • He not only effected it, but came and preached peace to the far off and

            the nigh.

 

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 GOSPELPEACE. 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

removed.

 

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;”

      (Isaiah 26:3)

Ø      “They dwell in peaceable habitations, in quiet resting-places.”

                   (Isaiah 32:18)

 

·         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.)

 

  • True Christians have “access to the Father.”
  • This is secured meritoriously “through Christ.”
  • And efficaciously “by the one Spirit.”

 

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 Mount Zion,

and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable

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 Palestine, but had been appointed to domiciles on Mount

Zion, and were located in the metropolis, not to admire its architecture, or gaze upon its

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 Sheba’s

words to Solomon. (1 Kings 10:8).

 

This relation established with God is not a temporary or occasional one, but

 

·         close,

·         abiding, and

·          indestructible.

 

The reconciliation is effected, not for a day, BUT FOR EVERMORE!

(Romans 8:35-39).

 

  • (v. 22)  The End or Design of the Building.  For a habitation of God.” When we

      build houses, it is that men may dwell in them. Thus the Church is the temple of God.

      “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God

      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.

 

  • What condescension in God to dwell in human hearts! “It is a marvel

            that the habitation He has chosen for Himself is an impure one.”

 

  • What a fearful thing it would be to be in collision with such a God!

      (or collusion with Satan against God, as so much has been said

      about “collusion” in the last three years – 2017-2019 – CY – 2019)

 

  • How careful we ought to be not to defile this temple! We ought to live

            purer lives, to breathe a sweeter air, to open our hearts to all that is

            heavenly.

 

  • What an awful thought, that the holy God dwells in our unholy hearts,

            watching us in our secret moments, and reading our very thoughts!

 

 

  • Yet let us remember with gratitude and love that “the high and lofty

            One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy,” selects His dwelling-

            placewith 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.

 

  • Herein is the true glory of the Church — not in outward magnificence,

            but in the spiritual presence.

 

  • From this arises the responsibility of the Church, not to defile the temple

            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!