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) — 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. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…
In this section of Scripture, Paul once again contrasts believers’ lives and position in Christ before salvation and after receiving Christ. The church in Ephesus was made up largely of Gentiles. Paul points out that before Christ, the Gentiles were separated from God because of their sin. They were also separated from God’s covenant people. They were ignorant of God’s promises and lived without any hope for salvation. Paul paints a pretty hopeless, bleak picture for the unbelieving Gentiles.
In verse thirteen, something amazing happens to change the plight of the unbelieving Gentile world. Paul writes, “But now in Christ Jesus…” Paul uses this transitional phrase to point to the Gentiles’ new relationship in Christ. Paul considered himself the apostle to the Gentiles. His calling was to take the Good News of Jesus to the unbelieving world he described in verses eleven and twelve. As a result of preaching and teaching the Good News about Jesus, many of the Gentiles came to faith in Christ and were saved. Before they were without Christ; now they are in Christ. Because of Christ, the barriers that separated them from God have been removed.
Now Paul describes their new lives and position in Christ. Those who were far away from God have been brought near through the atoning blood of Christ. Those who were excluded from citizenship in God’s kingdom are now citizens. Those who were ignorant of God’s promises are now heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. Those who had no hope now have found the hope that can only come through the person and work of Christ. Christ destroyed the “dividing wall of hostility” between the Jew and Gentile. Everything changed because of Christ. Jesus came to reconcile “mankind” to God. This means Jew and Gentile alike. We have all been made one in Christ.
Because of Christ, all believers will be together throughout eternity. Because of Christ, God’s reconciliation is complete. In Romans, Paul wrote, “Therefore, since we (Jew and Gentile) have been justified through faith, we (Jew and Gentile) have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). In God’s kingdom, there is only the kingdom-citizen. God’s kingdom is not divided by race, gender, or economic status. If this is true in heaven, it should also be true of God’s kingdom here on earth. Jesus destroyed the “dividing wall of hostility,” so let’s not rebuild it.
Questions to Ponder
What did your life look like before Christ? How has your life changed because of Christ? Do your actions seek to unite the Body of Christ or divide it? Do you make value judgments on others based on physical appearances? What does Paul mean by the phrase, “the peace of God that transcends all understanding”? Are you at peace with God? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
- Give the Almighty glory, honor, and praise. Worship Him as The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Prince of peace, Wonderful Counselor, Risen Lord, King of kings, Lord of lords, The Great I Am, Jesus Christ, and soon-coming Bridegroom King.
- Rejoice and thank the Lord for being one in Christ. Thank Him for reconciling you to Abba. Thank Him for the glorious reality that we are His and He is ours. We have communion and fellowship with the God of Jacob. The One who formed the stars and causes the sun to rise is our Beloved One, the One who our soul delights in, and He delights in us—truly amazing! Our Father is God!
O Lord, how majestic is Your name. You are powerful, mighty, patient, and long-suffering. You are full of grace, compassion, and mercy. You and You alone are the all-wise King and to You and You alone I pour out my affections. For my life is not my own; it is Yours. You bought me with the precious blood of Jesus. You have fashioned me and created me in Your image, and it is You, Lord, who sustains and nourishes me. All my days are written in Your book. You know when I rise and when I fall. You even know what I’m going to say before I say it. Thank You, Lord, for being so intimate with me. I love Your nearness, oh God, my Father and my friend.
Thank You for giving me peace with exceedingly great joy. Abba, I ask today that even in the midst of things happening all around us, that our hearts will truly remember that this world is not our home; we are citizens of heaven. We belong to the household of heaven and to the body of believers, and You, Lord, are the head of the church. Oh God, I ask for myself and Your church all across this region that You would cause our hearts to respond at a deeper level with You. Cause our hearts to burn and yearn for You. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.