Lesson 6


Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

2:11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "uncircumcision" by that which is called "circumcision," (in the flesh, made by hands); 2:12 that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ. 2:14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, 2:15 having abolished in the flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace; 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby. 2:17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off, and peace to those who were near. 2:18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 2:20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; 2:21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 2:22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.


Today's Lesson

The unique ministry of the Apostle Paul in recorded scripture was that of the "Apostle to the Gentiles". Before Paul, the church consisted almost entirely of Jewish believers. They had a common heritage. They had been raised believing in the God of Abraham and Moses. They would have all understood Old Testament references and imagery from a certain cultural perspective. There were certainly differences in Jewish thought and culture (more than most Christians understand and credit). But, these were differences that were understood and known.

 

Then, Paul and his companions began evangelizing the Gentile communities in the east. The church began to grow and the numbers of these new "Gentile" believers threatened to disrupt the church with new languages, customs, and ways of thought. It deeply concerned some, especially some from the first assemblies in Jerusalem, that there might soon come a point at which their brotherhood might consist of more Greeks than Jews.

 

To these Greeks Paul preached. Once you were called "uncircumcision" and separated from God and without hope. Once we were called "circumcision" and were the keepers of God's covenants and promises. Now, Christ has come into the picture. His blood, His sacrificial death, has brought you near to God. There once was a wall that stood between Jew and Gentile. Many see a reference to the wall that stood around the Jewish temple through which Gentiles were forbidden to pass within. But, Christ is our peace. He has eliminated differences and made us one. He has broken down the wall.

 

He did this by abolishing in His own flesh the hostility of the law. He bore the consequences of violating the law for us. He who had no sin became sin for us and suffered the punishment for sin. He did this so that He might "reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…" He was willing to bear our sin. Through His death, we may be reconciled to God.

 

Because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is available to all men everywhere, the access to the Father that He provides is available to all. He is our peace with God. There are no barriers that prevent our access to God any longer. We are no longer strangers. We are His household. Paul writes that we are being built like a building. The foundation is the apostles and prophets and all that have gone before. Christ Jesus is the chief cornerstone on which all else depends. And we are being built up into a building, each believer a stone added to the structure.

 

The beauty of this image is the purpose for which the building is being created. We are being built into a home for God. When God planned His home, before the creation of the world began, He made a place for you and me. We will be joined one to the other and He will dwell in us for all eternity. We are part of the longest running construction project in history.

 

Jew and Gentile, there is no difference. Man or Woman, there is no difference. Baptist or Catholic or Presbyterian or Episcopalian or any other "ism" or "ian", there is no difference. There is only "in Christ" or not "in Christ". All may enter through the blood of the Lamb and be part of the household of God.

 

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