Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Understanding And Applying the Text
The Ephesians were Gentiles. And as gentiles, they were not circumcised. The Mosaic law required circumcision. It was one of the ways that Jews marked themselves as separate from the cultures around them. God separated them from the world. It was a sign they were God’s people.
Paul pointed out that before the Ephesians were separated from God. They were foreigners to the promises of God. They did not partake of the benefits of citizenship of the nation of God. They had no hope of participating in the promises of God. They were uncircumcised. But Christ, by His work on the cross, bought them and reconciled them to God.
Paul builds on the theme the Ephesians have done nothing for their salvation. God had chosen them. Christ brought them to God because of God’s grace. This was through faith and not anything they had done. And even the faith was not their own. God had given their faith to them as a gift. Now Paul backs up and runs at it again in case they missed it the first two times. They were brought near to God through the work of Christ. They cannot even claim it was because of being born into a family of God’s people. They were foreigners. They were aliens.
The Ephesians are now members of the one body. Christ tore down the barrier the law established separating Jews and Gentiles. But the Ephesians are not now simply mixed in with Jews. They are part of a new body, a body that is holy, a body in which God dwells.
Since the Ephesians are now part of the new body of Christ, the church (Eph 1:22), they have access to the Father through Christ. They have peace with God because Christ, who is himself, God, is our peace.
The grace and mercy of God are once again outlined. Not only did we not do anything to deserve the gift of salvation that God has given. As Gentiles, we cannot even claim a birthright. It is all God’s grace and mercy. It is the work of Christ, not our work. It is not even our luck of being born into the right family. It is all God! Understanding what God has done and you have nothing to do with it is the key component of Christianity. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
It is Christ who is making a new body out of two people groups. Two groups were once divided and separated by a great wall. Before, we were at war with God and each other. It is Christ who reconciles us to God. It is Christ who tore down the wall between Jews and Gentiles. And it is because of the work of Christ we have access to God the Father. And because of the work of Christ, we are no longer aliens or foreigners. We are part of the family of God. We are members of the household.
Praise God for the grace he has shown us through Christ. Praise God for the mercy He has given us. We were in rebellion against Him. Rather than the punishment we deserved, we have Christ reconciled us to Him through His work on the cross.
The reconciliation is so complete that not only are we simply at peace with God, but He dwells with us. God dwells in us, as the church. Christ is building one body. The church is the temple Christ is building. Christ is rising up a new body, the body of the church. Paul labors the point here and elsewhere. There is no longer a distinction between Jew and Gentile. Together we are the church. And Christ is building His church upon the foundation of the Apostle and prophets. But it is Christ who joins us together.