11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
On Sunday we met together to continue our study in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. This week we examined verses 11-22 of chapter 2, where Paul encourages us to remember where/how we were before we had experienced God’s rich, saving grace in our lives. This is a continuation of the thought pattern that he started in the previous ten verses (last week’s message), where he reminds us that apart from Christ we were spiritually dead in our sins. In this passage, Paul reminds us that once we were separated from both God and God’s people. Being without Christ, we were also without hope in this world.
Why should we remember?
To be sure, it’s not so pleasant to think of our sorry state without Christ. However, Paul instructs us to do this and so there must be some value for us in recalling the condition out of which God saved us. For example:
1. It can fill our hearts with a deep sense of thankfulness to see what God pulled us out of and into.
2. Understanding how God works and how God saves brings Glory to Him.
3. In remembering where we once were, apart from Christ, it helps us to understand the world in which we live and the people who don’t know Christ.
Paul writes that we were once separated from God. We had rebelled against God and because of this we were distant from him and without hope in this world. No matter how long we’ve now been Christians, it’s not difficult to grasp the concept of this world being a place where hope is hard to come by – we need only open the newspaper or turn on the evening news to see the hopelessness that surrounds us.
But there is hope. Jesus is the only hope for this world. We can know him and He wants to know us!
Being distant from God, we were also separated from God’s people. This is true in two aspects. On one hand, we were not in fellowship with the saints – we did not experience the blessing of encouragement, fellowship and worship together with God’s people. Also, in the way that Paul is specifically writing about here, as gentiles we were not heirs to God’s covenant promises with his Chosen People, Israel. However, through Jesus Christ, God ‘grafted’ the gentiles into the family of God. Now we are one chosen people and also co-heirs of all his covenant promises. Later, in chapter 3, Paul will call this (the gentiles joining the Jews as co-heirs) the “mystery of Christ”.
A Dwelling Place for God in the Spirit
At the end of the passage, it says that God is fitting his people together, building them into ONE structure for he himself to dwell in. Christ is the Cornerstone of that structure – He is the basis on which it stands. What a marvelous thought – the king of the universe wants to dwell in us! Of course, this is not because of our own merit, but because he desires to glorify Himself in His people.
Questions to think about this week:
1. What are some things that people mistakenly put their hope and confidence in rather than Christ? Why are these things unreliable?
2. What are the implications of being separated from God?
3. Take a moment to pray and thank God for the fellowship of believers that you are plugged into thanks to adoption into God’s family.
4. How does God use us to show others the Hope that they too can have in Christ Jesus?
5. What does it mean that God desires to dwell in his people?