Our former life, new life, and new family in Christ
Ephesians 2:11–22
In Christ we strangers have become family to make a new community filled with God’s Spirit.
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Published 03/01/2018
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Eph 2:11–22
Eph 2:11–22
NT
Ephesians 2:11-22
niv
na28
esv
Your Former Life: Far Away, Without God, Without Christ
Therefore, remember that
Therefore remember that
Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι
Who you were (v. 11)
formerly you who are Gentiles by birth
at one time you Gentiles in the flesh,
ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί,
and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—
called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—
οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου,
remember that
remember that
ὅτι ἦτε
What your status was: without Christ, excluded, without hope, without God (v. 12)
at that time you were separate from Christ,
you were at that time separated from Christ,
τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ,
excluded from citizenship in Israel
alienated from the commonwealth of Israel
ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ
and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
and strangers to the covenants of promise,
καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας,
without hope
having no hope
ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες
and without God in the world.
and without God in the world.
καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.
Your New Life: Brought Near Through Christ to Become One Humanity
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off
νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν
Your new status: Brought near by the blood of Christ and at peace with God and his people (vv. 13–15a)
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
For he himself is our peace,
For he himself is our peace,
Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν,
who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ,
by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.
by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances,
τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας,
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two,
that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two,
ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον
Your new community: a new humanity reconciled through Christ (vv. 15b–16)
thus making peace,
so making peace,
ποιῶν εἰρήνην
and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross,
and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross,
καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ,
by which he put to death their hostility.
thereby killing the hostility.
ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
καὶ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνην ὑμῖν τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγύς•
Your new access to God the Father: Christ who made peace by one Spirit (vv. 17–18)
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
ὅτι διʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα.
Your New Family: The Household of God
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers,
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,
Ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι
Your new household (v. 9)
but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
ἀλλʼ ἐστὲ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ,
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν,
Your new foundation: Apostles, Prophets, and especially Christ (v. 20)
with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ,
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
ἐν ᾧ πᾶσα οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη αὔξει εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν κυρίῳ,
Your new future in Christ: As a temple to the Lord (vv. 21–22)
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς συνοικοδομεῖσθε εἰς κατοικητήριον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πνεύματι.
Which two groups? Based on the context: Gentiles, who are uncircumcised (v. 11) and strangers to the covenant. Jews, who are the circumcision (v. 11) , who have citizenship in Israel and the covenants of the promise (v. 12).
Is this Christ or the new humanity? Liefeld, Eph 2:15: "It is difficult to know whether in this one body (v. 16) is another term referring to this new unity or whether it refers to the physical body of Christ on the cross. To be sure, Paul specifically mentions the cross in the same clause. But it can be argued that when Paul clearly has the crucifixion in mind in this passage he uses specific terms such as blood and flesh (vv. 13, 15). It is also true that in Ephesians, as elsewhere, Paul uses body as a term for the church (1:23; 4:4; and elsewhere). The cross may be in view in another phrase, by which or “through it” (NRSV), but the NRSV margin “in him[self]” reflects another possibility, that it refers to Christ rather than to the cross. Such uncertainties are not troublesome, since the passage as a whole makes it abundantly clear that reconciliation comes through Christ and through his death." Foulkes, p. 91: The one body is the new humanity
Which barrier and dividing wall of hostility? Foulkes (TNTC), p. 89: "In Jerusalem, between the temple proper and the Court of the Gentiles, there was a stone wall on which there was an inscription in Greek and Latin: ‘No one of another nation to enter within the fence and enclosure round the temple. And whoever is caught will have himself to blame that his death ensues.’ It is strangely significant that Paul was finally arrested and condemned by the Jews in Jerusalem on the basis of a false accusation that he took an Ephesian, Trophimus, beyond this barrier (Acts 21:29–30). But Christ had now broken down the barrier between Jews and Gentiles, of which that dividing wall in the temple was a symbol." O'brien (PNTC), p. 195: "Some have understood the barrier as a reference to the temple balustrade separating the court of the Gentiles from the inner courts and the sanctuary in the Jerusalem temple. Attached to this barrier at intervals were notices in Greek and Latin warning Gentiles not to proceed further on pain of death (Josephus, Jewish War 5.194). Such a reference would powerfully symbolize the separation of Gentiles from Israel, and Paul’s declaration later in the chapter that Gentiles, along with Jews, have become a holy temple in the Lord (vv. 20–22) would be all the more pointed. But whether the Gentile readers of this letter, living in Asia Minor, would have recognized such an allusion is questionable. Furthermore, this temple wall, as part of a microcosmic representation of Israel’s view of the world (cf. Mishnah Kelim 1:6–9) …, was a Torah-inspired spatial representation of the distinction between Israel and the nations. The literal barrier in the temple which prohibited Gentiles from entering the inner courts where Israel worshipped was simply the outward expression of the Mosaic commandments. (c) The real barrier was, in fact, the Mosaic law itself with its detailed holiness code." Bruce (NICNT), p. 296: "The barrier which formerly separated Jews and Gentiles has been demolished by Christ. This traditional barrier was both religious and sociological: as the following words make plain, it consisted of the Jewish law, more particularly of those features of it which marked Jews off from Gentiles—circumcision and the food restrictions, for example. In the gospel order such features were superseded. No longer did circumcision or uncircumcision have any religious relevance: such matters as the observance of special days or abstention from certain kinds of food belonged henceforth to the realm of personal conscience; with regard to them everyone should be “fully convinced in his own mind,” without being condemned or despised by anyone else for his decision (Rom. 14:5–12)." pp. 297–98: "Such a vertical barrier stood in the temple precincts in Jerusalem, preventing Gentiles from proceeding from the outer court (“the court of the Gentiles”) into any of the inner courts. Josephus describes how this barrier encircled the higher ground which contained the inner courts and had attached to it at intervals notices in Greek and Latin warning Gentiles not to proceed farther on pain of death. This was indeed a material barrier keeping Jews and Gentiles apart. It cannot be said with certainty that it provided the analogy for the wording of our text, but it would have been a more appropriate analogy than any horizontal barrier. It might indeed be asked if the readers of this epistle would have recognized such an allusion.116 Perhaps not; but they would have had greater difficulty in recognizing an allusion to the barrier separating the upper from the lower world. Whatever the readers may or may not have recognized, however, it should be remembered that the temple barrier in Jerusalem played an p 298 important part in the chain of events which led to Paul’s becoming the “prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles” (as he is called in Eph. 3:1). For, according to Acts 21:27–36, Paul’s arrest came about because he was charged with aiding and abetting illegal entry by a Gentile Christian through the temple barrier. The charge could not be sustained when it came to court, as no witnesses were forthcoming, but Paul was not released but kept in custody, first in Caesarea and then in Rome. That literal “middle wall of partition,” the outward and visible sign of the ancient cleavage between Jew and Gentile, could have come very readily to mind in this situation." I conclude: The barrier is the law, but it is symbolized by a literal wall in the temple, which excludes Gentiles from having access to God.
How does Christ set aside the law in his flesh? He satisfied it's legal demands on the cross (Col 2:14), which is why it says he did this "in his flesh" (Eph 2:14). O'brien, p. 197: "Here in Ephesians 2:15 the verb signifies that Christ by his death made the law of no effect. He nullified it, so that it is no longer binding. He abolished the enmity by nullifying the law." O'brien, p. 199: "Perhaps it may help to say that what is abolished is the law-covenant, that is, the law as a whole conceived as a covenant. It is then replaced by a new covenant for Jews and Gentiles. The relationship between the stipulations of the old covenant and those of the new covenant still needs to be worked out. But because the old Torah as such, that is, the law-covenant, has gone, it can no longer serve as the great barrier between Jew and Gentile."
Why both? Were not those who were near already near? This passage shows that God had not two plans of salvation, one for Jews and one for Gentiles, but one. All have access to the Father through Christ, whose cross achieves peace for us.
Again, what kind of hostility is this? Hostility based on the distinctions set up by the law.
Where else does Paul talk about the apostles and prophets? How do they relate to Christ? In Paul, apostles and prophets came at the head of the listing of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Cor 12:28. They seem to be God's servants in the church. O'brien, p. 214: " Apostles , as we have seen, were those specially commissioned and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes the Twelve and Paul himself, together with one or two others (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:7–9; cf. Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 9:6). They provided the essential link with their master, and their role was a foundational one. Although Paul on occasion uses the term ‘apostle’ in a nontechnical sense to signify a ‘messenger’ of the churches (cf. 2 Cor. 8:22–23; Phil. 2:25), the overwhelming number of references in his letters are to ‘apostles’ in a technical sense who were called and sent by Christ." O'brien, p. 216: "To assert, then, that these Gentile believers are built upon the apostles and prophets is to state that their membership in God’s people rests on the normative teaching that arises from divine revelation. They have the right foundation. None may question their membership in God’s new community." The key thing is their role, which is laid out in Eph 4:11–12, that is, to minister God's word so as to build up the body of Christ into maturity. Whether God continues to speak regularly through prophets or not, no one can build on any other foundation. Anything that is contrary to God's Word is not from God.
Allusion to Ps 118:22; Isa. 28:16? Foulkes, p. 94: "As the building metaphor is applied here Christ Jesus himself is described as the cornerstone. This thought comes from Psalm 118:22, a passage which was used by our Lord himself (Mark 12:10), and then in the early church, ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner’ (1 Pet. 2:7; see also Acts 4:11). It denotes primarily the honour of his position in the building, but then also the way in which each stone is fitted into him, and finds its true place and usefulness only in relation to him (cf. Col. 2:7; 1 Pet. 2:4–5)."
What does Paul say about circumcision in this letter? In Colossians? In Galatians? The rest of the Bible? Circumcision is a marker of those who belong to Abraham's family (Gen 17:10-14). However, see Jeremiah 9:25-26, in which the prophet further notes that Israel was uncircumcised in their hearts. Ezekiel 44:9 reiterates that uncircumcised foreigners were not to enter the temple, and the previous verses accuse Israel of breaking that command. Stephen accused the Jews of being uncircumcised in heart (Acts 7:51). When Peter preached to Gentiles who were uncircumcised, the Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 10:44–48). Acts 10:45 notes that they were uncircumcised. This became an offensive thing to some Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1–3). Later, some Christians wanted to require circumcision for salvation (Acts 15:1, 5), but the Jerusalem Council did not require that (Acts 15:28–29). Paul decided to circumcise Timothy, whose father was Greek (Acts 16:3). Circumcision continued to be an issue for the early believers (Acts 21:20–21; Gal 2; Titus 1:10). In Romans 2:25–29, Paul emphasizes that circumcision is not only outward but also inward. In Romans 3:1-2, the advantage of the Jew, of the circumcised person is that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. In Romans 3:27–31, all are saved by faith, whether circumcised or not. God is the God of Jew and Gentile. He then cites Abraham as one who received the blessing before he was circumcised (Romans 4:1–12). In 1 Corintians 7:18–20, Paul advises not changing one's status as circumcised or not. In Galatians 5:6 Paul emphasizes the importance of faith working through love over circumcision. Circumcision counts for nothing but rather the new creation, through the cross (Gal 6:15). In Philippians 3 Paul emphasizes that he only boasts in Christ, not in circumcision. In Colossians 2:11–12, Paul says that believers are circumcised not by hands in Christ, through symbolized in baptism. The next verse emphasizes the dead-alive change. In Colossians 3:11, Paul says that Christ does away with distinctions based on circumcision.
Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί, οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου,
ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.
νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ,
τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην
καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ.
καὶ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνην ὑμῖν τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγύς•
ὅτι διʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα.
Ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι ἀλλʼ ἐστὲ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ,
ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν, ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ,
ἐν ᾧ πᾶσα οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη αὔξει εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν κυρίῳ,
ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς συνοικοδομεῖσθε εἰς κατοικητήριον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πνεύματι.
ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.
Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί, οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου,
phrasing
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