In our message, PEACE WITH GOD (Eph. 2:11-18), we looked at how the Lord destroys barriers and hostility between people. Probably no greater rift existed between people in the first century than the divide between Israelite and Gentile people.
The majority of the church at Ephesus was “Gentile… Uncircumcision” (Eph. 2:11). Paul calls them to “remember” their condition before the Good News of Jesus came to them. As Gentiles, they lacked five privileges that Jewish people possessed (Eph. 2:12). Non-Jewish people were:
- “Without Christ”- possessing no national hope in God’s coming Anointed One
- “Without Citizenship”- a Gentile could enter Israel as a proselyte and be saved that way like Ruth was, but they did not have the advantage of being Hebrew born.
- “Without Covenants”- While the blessing of the Gentiles is included in God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3), the Lord did not make any covenant with the Gentile nations (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:1-4; Jer. 31:31-34, Ezek. 36:24-30, Rom. 9:4-5, etc.)
- “Without Hope”- Unlike Israel, they had no direct expectation of a personal Savior and Deliverer (John 4:22, etc.)
- And “Without God”- Ephesus worshiped the fertility goddess Diana/Artemis and many other ‘gods’ like the peoples around them (Acts 17:16-23; 1 Cor. 8:5; Ps. 115, etc.)
“But now in Christ Jesus [they] who once were far off have been bought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). Through the coming of Jesus, salvation is offered to them without their need to become a Jew (Acts 15:9, 11, etc.). Israel was to point to the Messiah and with His Coming God broke “down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the… [hostility that existed between them creating] one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:14-15). This new creation is the church, a mystery hidden in Old Testament times, but now revealed by God in this age (Eph 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 5:17-21, etc.).
Not only does God bring peace in Christ between all people groups who come to Him, but He does this by removing the “enmity” that was between holy God and us “through the cross” (Eph. 2:16). This is the Gospel of “peace” that is to be “preached” to all (Eph. 2:17; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Matt. 28:18-20). Christians “through [Jesus]… have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18).