Main point summary
As God's workmanship, the Gentile readers are called to remember where they were and where the power of God in Christ Jesus has brought them — that now, they, together with the Jews, form the dwelling place of God, by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh ,
called “the uncircumcision”
by what is called k the circumcision ,
which is made in the flesh by hands —
remember l that
you were at that time separated from Christ,
m alienated from the commonwealth of Israel
and strangers to n the covenants of promise,
o having no hope
and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were p far off
have been brought near
q by the blood of Christ.
For r he himself is our peace ,
s who has made us both one
and has broken down t in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in u ordinances,
that he might create in himself one v new man in place of the two,
so making peace ,
and might w reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross,
thereby killing the hostility .
And he came and x preached peace to you
who were y far off
and peace to those
who were z near.
For a through him we both have b access in c one Spirit to the Father.
So then you are no longer d strangers and aliens, 1
but you are e fellow citizens with the saints
and f members of the household of God,
g built on the foundation of the h apostles and prophets,
i Christ Jesus himself being j the cornerstone,
k in whom the whole structure, being joined together,
grows into l a holy temple in the Lord.
In him m you also are being built together n into a dwelling place for God by 1 the Spirit.
Because God in Christ, made us alive, enthroned us and destined us for an eternity of infinite grace, therefore, as his workmanship... Also, what God has done in the individual has corporate application.
This too is us being God's workmanship...
Cf. Ex 13:3 See also Eph 2:1-10 for a similar then-now contrast. The point of remembering and the contrast is to show God's mighty power at work.
The characteristic of that one time was hostility among people, stemming from a separation from God.
Ezekiel 44:7-9, 1 Kgs 6:16-17
Paul signals a problem with mere physical circumcision by his labelling of it as a circumcision by human hands. References to things done by hands are always negative in the New Testament (Mark 14:58; Acts 7:48; 17:24; Col. 2:11; Heb. 9:11, 24; in the OT lxx, Isa. 2:18; 10:11). This is Paul’s first hint that Jews also needed what God would provide in Christ. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 68). IVP. Kindle Edition.
As opposed to the heart. Lev. 26:41 ; Deut. 10:16 ; Jer. 4:4 ; Phil. 3:3 Rom. 2:29 ; 1 Cor. 7:19 ; Gal. 5:6 ; Phil. 3:2 ; Col. 2:11
Ps 147:20, Ezekiel 44:7-9
The Messiah - the hope of the nation of Israel Gen. 49:10; Ps 2:1–7; 110:1–4; Isa. 9:1–7; Dan. 7:13–14; Mic. 5:1–4
See Deut 7:6-8
There is some discussion about whether the Mosaic covenant is included in this as it is characterized by Paul as coming after promise in Galatians 3. Whether it is part of the promise or not depends on whether the Mosaic covenant is seen as tied to its stipulations or as a direction in which God is taking his people. In the former, it is not a covenant of promise. Ephesians 2:15 says as much at this level (also Gal. 4:24). In the latter sense, it is a covenant of promise because it pointed to the hope (Luke 24:44–47; Rom. 4). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 69). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Isaiah 57:18-19, Acts 2:39
Is 9:6, 52:7, 57:19 Peace between God and man AND Peace between peoples. This is what the Prince of Peace achieved and it is far more than Pax Romana
In a covenantal sense - one that set the nation of Israel apart from others under the Mosaic Covenant (now replaced by the New Covenant) There are no distinctions here between ceremonial and moral portions of the law; all the stipulations are in view, and it is the penalties tied to that law that is the point of focus. Colossians 2:14 gives us even more detail, saying it was our indebtedness that Jesus dealt with on the cross (Gal. 3:13). The law as promise with its direction of pleasing God is realized in Jesus and continues its life through the means the deliverer provides. Ephesians emphasizes the result, while Colossians tells us how that result came about. The pedagogue role of the law is gone (Gal. 3:25). It is in this sense that Jesus fulfils the law (Matt. 5:17–48; Gal. 5:2–15; 6:2). His provision enables us to do what the law pushed for in its stipulations: to love God and others (Rom. 13:8–10). Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 73). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Jesus’ death took care of the law and its penalties. This third point gives us more details on the second point (ver 14c): it tells us how the barrier was removed. Jesus did what others could not do by bearing the law’s penalty and thus opening the door for a different kind of access to God (Rom. 3:19–31; 7:6). The impact was a shift in how God administers salvation: where the law was a primary guide before, now it is the Spirit in Christ (Rom. 7:1–6; 10:4; Gal. 2:19; 3:1 – 4:6; Eph. 2:18). Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (pp. 72-73). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Rom. 5:10 2 Cor. 5:19 Col. 1:20, 22; 2:14–15 Also, normally it is God who reconciles. Here it is Christ, implying that the Messiah was in fact...
The one ‘new man’ is now equated with the church, with the reconciliation going in three ways: reconciliation of Jews to God, reconciliation of Gentiles to God, and reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles to each other as a result. It is important to note that all are reconciled to God. Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 74). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Paul could have simply reversed ver 12 and said, now we have hope and God. Instead, he says we have access through God the Son in God the Holy Spirit to God the Father . We have access to the Father, not just into his chamber, but onto his lap. What about hope? We have the Spirit under the new covenant. The promises have begun their fulfillment. We have more than hope. We have a downpayment (cf. 1:13-14).
The key word is access (prosagōgē).83 The picture is of access to the family and people of God, since it is to the Father they have access. Access that also gives the secure status of God’s family members is the point (Rom. 5:2). There is more than the idea of introduction here; it involves participation, so the term is intransitive in force. Whether one thinks of access in the temple because one is qualified to be there by the presentation of a sacrifice (Lev. 1:2–3, 10), or of an audience with a king (Xenophon, Cyropaedia 7.5.46–47), the point is the freedom to be present (1 Kgs 8:41–43; Isa. 56:6–8; Zech. 8:20–23). Christ’s death makes that possible both now and in the age to come. The book of Hebrews makes a similar point in speaking of our drawing near, which is a response to the access we now possess as believers (Heb. 4:16; 7:19; 10:19–22). Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 76). IVP. Kindle Edition.
There seems to be a lot of layering here. When the structure of Old Covenant was set aside at the cross, God's purpose was peace and the destruction of hostility. What happened? Jew and Gentile were no longer separate, but made one in Christ - a new man The Jew and Gentile of faith were each united in Christ, and thus died together with and as Christ's body (a.k.a., the church) on the cross The result of this corporate death in Christ, was the second purpose: a reconciliation of both Jew and Gentile to God And thus, in one stroke, in one body, in Christ, hostility was destroyed —between man and God, between Jew and Gentile.
This is what peace looks like —Jews and Gentiles now one in the body of Christ! cf. Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:12-13)
The law was not hostile (cf. the laws for sojourners, etc.), but it did call for separation and condemnation conditionally. Along with this, the people of the law found great pride in being "a chosen nation". All this was destroyed at the cross. The penalty of the law was knocked out because Jesus took care of it and bore it. So what separated the Jew and the Gentile within the law no longer exists, and so both have access to God (see ver 21-22) in this new temple.
A new people in Christ, instead of in Adam. This is not Gentiles becoming Jews or vice versa. This is a new man in Christ. There is peace because these are two distinct people brought together and united in Christ. Now we have a new race woven together by two formerly separate hostile races. This is not a homogeneous new race, but it is a people without segregation. If we neglect where they (and we) formerly were as separate people, we might fail to see the reconciliation brought about by the cross. Hence the command in ver 11.
This is a reference to the goal of Jesus’ life and coming and what has happened as a result of that, since in his ministry Jesus focused on preaching in Israel (Matt. 10:5–6; 15:24–27). The apostles, through the Spirit, preached that message, the roots of which are in what he came to do and be (Eph. 3:5, 8). The apostles are seen as representatives of Christ. Jesus’ ultimate goal was wider than just Israel. So Paul talks of you and addresses the Gentile readers directly yet again, as he did at the start of this unit. The reconciliation resulting from Jesus’ life and death was for all the creation and those in it (Rom. 8:18–39). ...that peace is (now) preached as a result of Jesus’ coming (Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:14–17; Eph. 6:15). To get to peace, one must respond to the offer. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 75, 76). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Cf. Isa 52:7, 57:19
Christ's work led to preaching of that message to those who were far off and those who were near.
He is a blessing of the new covenant (cf. 1:3-14) and the idea of his access-enabling/indwelling includes that of the the temple (ver 19-22)
Welcome to the family of God!
Cf. ver 5-6 "fellow" and "together" bring the idea of co-citizens
paroikos, anticipates the term to come in the verse, oikeioi: they were outside of the house looking in, noncitizens or ‘aliens’, but they are no longer such aliens; now they are in. Paul turns positive. The Gentile believers now share citizenship (sympolitai) with the saints and are full household members. This term of citizenship also links back to verse 12 (politeia). The picture is of full kinship with others. The family of God is made whole when Jews and Gentiles are united in faith in Christ (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 11:13; 13:14). There are no levels of citizenship in Christ; all share in the family. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 77). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Since this is a new work (vv. 15–16) and the apostles are mentioned first, it is apostles and prophets of the new era that are in view, not Old Testament prophets. They are also seen as a unit because the two terms are tied together by one article. From these the building is being built. Apostles includes people like Barnabas, not just the Twelve (Acts 14:1, 4, 14; 1 Cor. 9:5–6). New Testament prophets spoke into the situation of the churches (Acts 11:28; 13:1–3; 21:9–10; 1 Cor. 14:4, 6, 30–31). Paul will come back to mention this group as he discusses the ‘mystery’ in 3:5–6. He covers both groups in 4:11. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 78). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Isa 28:16, 1 Pet 2:6
The building is not just something static, but grows and is built
The term for temple (naos) is important. It refers to the most sacred part of the temple, the holy place and holy of holies (Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). This is the place where God was said to dwell. The point is that the church is God’s inner sanctum, the place of God’s presence, in the world. We have truly been brought near. This temple is holy, set apart to God, and is that which represents him in the world. For a city that had its own magnificent temple to Artemis, the image is a powerful one. The real transcendent presence resides in the church, not with the goddess. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 79). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Exod. 15:17 1 Kgs 8:13, 39, 43, 49 2 Chr. 30:27
Yet another "you also". Cf. 1:13, 2:11 To be brought near is to be brought in.
FROM SEPARATION TO ACCESS IN CHRIST! (2:11-22) Saved from: Separation from God without Chris t (2:11-12) 2:11-12a Now that Paul has established God's mighty work of salvation —making us alive, by grace— he moves to a simple implication: "remember" (cf. Ex 13:3) that a. at one time you Gentiles were derogatorily called "the uncircumcision" by "the circumcision" (both being fleshly ideas) b. at that time you were separated from the Messiah c. at that time you were alienated from the citizenship of Israel d. at that time you were strangers to God's covenants of promise 2:12b The result of this separation and alienation was twofold. These Gentiles: a. were hopeless b. were God-less (in that they had no joy of the real God) We thus have Paul showing that what God does in the individual (Eph 2:1-10) has corporate application, and the path of these good works must be walked on because we are his workmanship, created for these good works. 1. How might I practice this remembrance? Why would it be important? 2. In what ways can we serve the communities around us? In what ways can we within the local church serve the communities within us? 3. For me to remember my former location and status, I need to know what it was. Do I know the whole counsel of God enough to understand the distance I was at? What can I do to intentionally enjoy the breadth of the Bible? Saved to: Access to the Father in Christ (2:13-18) 2:13 Contrasting, the status of the Gentiles "at that time", Paul begins the next section with the great concession —"But now". The same Gentiles who "once were far off", now, in Christ, have been "brought near" by the blood of Christ. 2:14-16 Paul then explains what this "brought near by the blood of Christ" means: First, that the Messiah himself is our peace: a. The Messiah (cf. Isa 9:6) himself is our peace who - made both "the circumcision" and the "uncircumcision" one - and destroyed the hostility between them in his flesh b. He did this by abolishing the structure of the Old Covenant that set the "circumcision" (the Jews) apart c. The Messiah did this with 2 purposes: - to create a new entity out of the two (Jews and Gentiles) —thus making peace - to reconcile both Jews and Gentiles to God (united) in his body on the cross —thus destroying the hostility (between Jew and Gentile and humanity with God) 2:17 Second, progressing from the Messiah's peace-making, he communicated and preached that peace to Jew and Gentile —those far off an those who were near— through his apostles and prophets. 2:18 Explanation: How else can it be? Through the Messiah, not only Jew, but Gentiles too have the Holy Spirit —a massive blessing of the New Covenant. Ver 12 has been reversed. Now no wall or veil hinders access to anyone. And so, not only Jews, but Gentiles too have access to their Father, who is God over all! 1. Do you and I love others in Christ's body, irrespective of ethnicity? How do we show that love? 2. Do we preach this massive reconciliation brought about by Jesus on his cross? 3. How does access and nearness to God my Father change the way I see myself and others? How does this manifest in daily life? How often am I with my Father? 4. Do I habitually remember where I was and where I am in Christ? How might I remember this better? Now: the Growing Family and Temple of God (2:19-22) 2:19 Paul's conclusion is stated negatively and positively: a. Negatively: You (Gentiles) are no longer strangers (as opposed to ver 12) and you are no longer non-citizens (aliens) b. Positively: You are now citizens and part of the family of God, together with the other believers 2:20-21 Paul moves to the image of a building. The household is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (the New Testament prophets), the essential piece of this foundation being the Messiah Jesus himself. And this building is a temple, set apart to God, that represents Him and in which His presence dwells. This temple is presently growing too, as God fits more stones together in Christ. 2:22 In Christ, God is building believing Jew and (astonishingly) Gentile together to form a dwelling place for Himself empowered by the Holy Spirit. 1. We are God's holy temple. What does this look like in our lives? Do we represent God to the world? Do we intercede to God for the world? Do we help others enjoy the presence of God? Do we live like we are "fit and joined together"? 2. God dwells in us. How seriously do we take this? Compare with Leviticus. 3. We are God's family. God is our Father. How much security and identity do we find in this?