Ephesians Devotions – part 7
An overview of Ephesians Chapter 2
In my continuing effort to absorb Paul’s teaching for the Ephesians, I see this second chapter as about walls.
Paul begins the second chapter of his letter to the Ephesian church by speaking to the Gentile believers. He describes the life of sin. He says they were following the ways of the world, listening to the spirit that works in the those who are disobedient to God, satisfying the cravings of their flesh and carrying out the desires of their body and mind. He sums this up by saying everyone is by nature deserving of God’s wrath. There is only one sentence for a life lived in sin. It is death. (Eph. 2: 1-3)
That sounds completely hopeless! And it is, if we are depending on our own ability to please God. Paul begins the next sentence with, “But. . .” There is an answer to this fatal attraction to and life of sin. The answer is God’s great love and the mercy that He shows us. God makes us alive with Christ. (Eph. 2;5-7)
I will come back to the next few verses, but first it would be helpful to look at the other members of the church. The others were Jewish converts to Christianity. The Jews had received covenant promises from God. They looked down on everyone who was not circumcised, which was the sign of their covenant with God. There was a great wall between Jews and everyone they considered ‘the uncircumcised.’ Circumcision was done by human hands to the body. It was a reminder of the covenant, but did nothing in itself to save the Jews. Nevertheless, Gentiles were alienated from Israel, they were strangers to the promises, without hope and without God. There was a very secure, strong wall of division between Jews and Gentiles. (Ephesians 2: 11-12)
Jesus destroyed the wall
Like the Berlin Wall was totally destroyed, Jesus totally destroyed the wall between the Jews and Gentiles. He destroyed the wall by his death on the cross. His blood made the way for the Gentiles to come near to God. And He overcame the Law with all its rules and regulations by the very same blood so the Jews could come near to God. (Even the best of the Jews could never fulfil all the laws.)
Instead of two groups of people trying to find a way to please God, Christ joined the two groups into one. No more were the Jews required to fulfil all the law and no more were the Gentiles excluded from worship of God. Now all people everywhere, have one way to be reconciled to God. Jesus came to preach peace to Jews and Gentiles alike. (Ephesians 2: 13-17)
Paul uses different ways to express the resulting peace since the hostility has been destroyed. He says we are one body, one new humanity. Now in this new body, we all have access to God, the Father, through the Holy Spirit. We are fellow citizens. There are no more, citizens and foreigners or strangers. We are all part of God’s household, his huge extended family! We are like a building based on the teachings of the apostles and prophets. Jesus himself is like the cornerstone that holds the whole structure together. We are growing up to be a holy temple to the Lord, a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Paul is overwhelmed with the enormity of this concept of peace and unity. (Ephesians 2:17-22)
I want to finish this part of the study by returning to verses 8 – 10. In the last devotional we looked at these verses from the personal point of view. This time, it is good to think about these verses in relation to the whole body of Christ.
It is by God’s grace given to all of us that we have been saved. This grace is only accessible to us through faith. It has nothing to do with anything we did or can do. It is a gift! Gifts are not earned; they are freely given. Our salvation is freely given to us when we believe. We can’t boast about how righteous and pleasing we are to God. There is nothing we do or don’t do that could ever earn God’s pleasure.
We are made by God. He made us to do good works. They are not work we do to earn His love, but rather because we have received His love. He prepared these works for us to do. We do what He shows us to do.
Because He loves us and rescued us from our own striving to please Him, we want to do whatever He has made us to do. That is a really refreshing thought. We don’t have to do rituals or make sacrifices or try to figure out what pleases God. We just have to believe Him, love Him, and do what blesses and makes life better for our family, our friends, and anyone God brings across our path. We can do that and that pleases God. Let’s rejoice in this peace and show God’s love and grace to everyone around us!
There are no second-class believers. How we came to believe in Jesus doesn’t make any of us better or worse than others. We all have equal access to the Father through the Spirit. If we see other brothers or sisters worshipping differently from us, that doesn’t make them better or worse believers. If others use a different translation of the Bible, that doesn’t make them more or less spiritual.
Jesus’ whole purpose was to bring all believers into one body and that body to be reconciled to God and have constant communion with Him and each other. He wanted nothing to keep us apart and distant from God, especially our faulty human ways of trying to please Him. He destroyed the walls. He didn’t just punch a hole in them, He totally destroyed them. We must be tireless in keeping the walls from being rebuilt. We must continue to hold hands and join our hearts with believers everywhere in praising and honoring our Lord and Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
- To see the first part of the Ephesians Devotions, click: Mystery
- To see the second part of the Ephesians Devotions, click: Consider Creation
- To see the third part of the Ephesians Devotions, click: Each One
- To see the fourth part of the Ephesians Devotions, click: That We May Know Him
- To see the fifth part of the Ephesians Devotions, click: The Big Picture
- To see the sixth part of the Ephesians Devotions, click: What All of Us have in Common