“So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— “ (Verse 11)
The “ares” and “are not” – in the case of the writer of Ephesians (yes, Paul it is assumed) it was the Jews who were circumcised and the Gentiles who were not; but it could by any group that comes from differing backgrounds or are divided at the foundations because of different beliefs or histories. The names matter less than the fact that there is disunity. Let us see, beloved reader, where Paul is going with these opening remarks. Let us read on.
“. . . remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Verses 12-13)
What ever the disunity was, in Christ it has been taken away and replaced with unity – all believers under one God. That is a concept that is sometimes not seen as deep, wide, and pervasive as it really is.
“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Verses 14)
Hostility?! Here is another sign that many (too many) believers do not believe in and live out the concept of unity. Christ has broken down the wall that divide previous non-believers with ongoing traditional believers. It is not a far stretch to extend this to people who profess a common faith but allow differences to rise up so that the common faith is splintered.
“He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, . . .” (Verse 15)
Ah! Here is the rub! Each group has a different interpretation if what Christ has set in place of the “old” commandments and ordinances. Or, believers have not let go of commandments and ordinances that they feel strongly about.
“ . . . and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.” (Verse 16)
Do you believe this beloved reader? Do you live life according to this? That through Christ God reconciles all peoples? All our differences, nuances and not so nuanced beliefs, are melt and fade away?
“So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Verses 17-18)
Paul is back to his “near” and “far” designations – Jews who were said to be God’s chosen people and Gentiles who become God’s adopted people. Those designations no longer apply – but they are remembered. We know the differences between us – who is “them” and who is “us.” We do not forget the differences; they stand between opposing believers. And dare I say it – they stand between us and God.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
We who profess faith in Christ are one group – the past, the present and the future. From all parts of the world and from all circles of faith, we are one group. Do we act like it beloved reader? Shalom!