Amplified: But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were [so] far away, through (by, in) the blood of Christ have been brought near. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NET: But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (NET Bible)
NLT: But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: But now, through the blood of Christ, you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God's love and purpose. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But now in Christ Jesus you, who at one time were far off, have become near by the blood of the Christ. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and now, in Christ Jesus, ye being once afar off became nigh in the blood of the Christ,
BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS YOU WHO FORMERLY WERE FAR OFF: nuni de en Christo Iesou humeis hoi pote ontes (PAPMPN) makran:
- Romans 8:1; 1Corinthians 1:30; 2Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:28
- Ep 2:12,17,19, 20, 21, 22; 3:5, 6, 7, 8; Psalms 22:7; 73:27; Isaiah 11:10; 24:15,16; 43:6; 49:12; Isa 57:19; 60:4,9; 66:19; Jer 16:19; Acts 2:39; 15:14; 22:21; 26:18; Romans 15:8, 9, 10, 11, 12
If you have time read Spurgeon's sermon on this verse - Our Glorious Transforming
But now - (compare the abrupt transition in Ephesians 2:4) a strong adversative, highlighting the glorious, dramatic contrast with their dismal state just enumerated. Paul reverses the picture, begins to paint a fresh and glowing contrast. There is particular strong contrast with the words in Ephesians 2:12 "at that time". Here are the NT uses of BUT NOW - Luke 16:25; 19:42; 22:36; John 15:22, 24; 16:5; 17:13; Rom 3:21; 6:22; 7:6; 11:30; 15:23, 25; 16:26; 1 Cor 7:14; 12:18, 20; 13:13; 14:6; 15:20; 2 Cor 8:11, 22; Gal 3:25; 4:9; Eph 2:13; 5:8; Phil 2:12; Col 3:8; 1 Thess 3:6; 2 Tim 1:10; Philemon 1:11; Heb 2:8; 8:6; 9:26; 12:26; 1 Pet 2:10, 25
Now (3570) (nuni) means at the present.
In Christ Jesus - formerly Christ-less, separate from Christ (Ephesians 2:12), but now in Christ Jesus. When they trusted the Savior, God placed them in Christ Jesus and accepted them in the beloved One. From then on they were as near to God as Christ is. There can be no greater contrast in time or eternity!
"Jesus is the `meeting point' with God for all mankind" (Thompson, p. 48). (Quoted in the Expositor's Bible Commentary)
O'Brien explains that…
The words in Christ Jesus are not to be interpreted predicatively, meaning [But now] you are in Christ Jesus. Instead, they are connected with you have come near. It was not that the readers were in Christ prior to their approach; rather, their being in Christ was the immediate consequence of this coming near. They were brought near to God in Him, and the means by which this approach occurred is spelled out in the concluding phrase it was through Christ's sacrificial death. (O'Brien, P. T. (1999). The Letter to the Ephesians. Eerdmans Publishing Co)
Formerly (4218) (pote) in the past. "Formerly" is a key word in Ephesians 2, used 4 times (Ep 2:2, 3, 11, 13-Ep 2:2; 2:3; 2:11; 2:13 Once more in Eph 5:8-note) in addition to the synonymous time phrase "at that time". (Ep 2:12-note).
Pote - 48x in 45v - Matt 17:17; 24:3; 25:37ff, 44; Mark 9:19; 13:4, 33, 35; Luke 9:41; 12:36; 17:20; 21:7; 22:32; John 6:25; 9:13; 10:24; Rom 1:10; 7:9; 11:30; 1 Cor 9:7; Gal 1:13, 23; 2:6; Eph 2:2f, 11, 13; 5:8, 29; Phil 4:10; Col 1:21; 3:7; 1 Thess 2:5; Titus 3:3; Philemon 1:11; Heb 1:5, 13; 1 Pet 2:10; 3:5, 20; 2 Pet 1:10, 21; Rev 6:10. NAS = any time(1), ever(4), former(1), former times(1), formerly(8), last(2), never*(2), once(8), when(1), when once(1).
Far off (3112) (makran) - As illustrated below, the words "far… near" were used in rabbinical writings to indicate, among other things, non-Jew (far) and Jews (near), or those who were righteous and near God or those who were godless and far away. In the present context "formerly far off" describes those Gentiles who had received Christ as Savior and Lord.
Hodge explains that in the Old Testament…
God lived in the temple, those living near His dwelling-place and having access to Him were His people. Israel was near; the Gentiles were far away. They lived at a distance and had no freedom of access to the place where God revealed His presence… Among the later Jews the act of receiving a proselyte was called “making him near.” Being far from God included both separation from his people and spiritual distance or alienation from God himself; so to be brought near includes both introduction into the church and reconciliation with God. And these two ideas are clearly presented and intended by the apostle in this whole context. This double reconciliation is effected through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2 Commentary)
Through His prophet Isaiah God declares…
"I have seen his ways (referring to faithless Israel), but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of the lips. Peace, peace to him who is far (Gentiles) and to him who is near (Jews)," Says the LORD, "and I will heal him." (Isaiah 57:18-19)
Peter reaffirms that even though the Gentiles were "far off" they were not forsaken, for He desires for none to perish but for all to come to repentance and be saved…
"For the promise (of salvation and forgiveness in Christ) is for you and your children (referring to Jews), and for all who are far off (Gentiles who are called), as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself." (Acts 2:39)
HAVE BEEN BROUGHT NEAR BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST: egenethete (2PAPI) eggus en to haimati tou Christou: (Ep 2:16; 1:7; Romans 3:23-30; 5:9,10; 1Corinthians 6:11; 2Corinthians 5:20,21; Colossians 1:13,14,21,22; He 9:18; 1Peter 1:18,19; 3:18; Revelation 5:9)
What Paul does in this verse is summarize the new position of nearness for the Gentiles. In the subsequent passages he elaborates on the significance of this truth climaxing it with the truth that those who were once far off now in Christ have access in one Spirit to the Father! (Ep 2:18-note)
Have been brought (1096) (ginomai) means to come into existence or cause to be or to become. Gentiles have become near. The Gentiles have been made nigh. Literally it reads…
ye being once afar off became nigh in the blood of the Christ,
Near (1451) (eggus) indicates a position relatively close to another position. The Jews considered themselves and their converts to be brought near to God because of their covenant relation to Him and the presence of His Temple in Jerusalem.
When the Rabbis spoke about accepting a convert into Judaism, they said that he had been brought near. For instance, the Jewish Rabbinic writers tell how a Gentile woman came to Rabbi Eliezer. She confessed that she was a sinner and asked to be admitted to the Jewish faith and then pleaded "Rabbi, bring me near." The Rabbi refused. The door was shut in her face. But now in Christ the door has been flung wide open! Those who had been far from God were brought near, and the door was shut to no one.
John MacArthur explains that brought near "is not an external, dispensational, national, geographic, or ceremonial nearness—but is a spiritual intimacy of union with the Lord Jesus Christ… Every person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation, Jew or Gentile, is brought into spiritual union and intimacy with God. (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press) (The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word Pub)
So near, so very near to God
Nearer I cannot be;
For in the Person of His Son
I am as near as He
J Vernon McGee explains brought near writing that…
In the temple was the court of the Gentiles way off to the side. Gentiles were permitted to come, but they were away far off. But now—for the Gentiles who are in Christ—all has changed. They were without Christ; now they are in Christ. The distance and barriers which separated them from God have been removed. They have been made nigh, not by their efforts or merits, but by the blood of Christ. (Thru the Bible Commentary)
Harold Hoehner writes that…
The Gentiles who once were far away (cf. Ep 2:17) from both God and the Jews (Ep 2:12-note) have been brought near through the blood of Christ (cf. redemption in Ep 1:7-note). They have come near to God and to the Jews by means of Christ’s sacrificial death. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary).
John Eadie commenting on "brought near" writes that…
The presence of Jehovah was enjoyed in His temple, and that temple was in the heart of Judaea, but the extra-Palestinian nations were “far off” from it, and this actual measurement of space naturally became the symbol of moral distance. Israel was near, but non-Israel was remote, and would have remained so but for Jesus. His advent and death changed the scene, and destroyed the wide interval, as the apostle shows in the subsequent verses. They who had been “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” were now incorporated into the spiritual community, were partakers of “a better covenant established on better promises,” were filled with “good hope through grace,” knew God, or rather “were known of God,” and were no longer “in the world,” but of the “household of God.” The Gentile Christians enjoyed spiritually all that was characteristic of the Hebrew theocracy. As the “true circumcision,” they were “near,” spiritually as near as the Israelites whom a few steps brought to the temple, altar, and Shechinah. (Ephesians 2 Commentary)
John Phillips draws an interesting parallel with the prodigal of Luke 15 writing…
Once we were prodigals of the universe dwelling in the far country. We had spent our substance in riotous living and were in the grip of famine and want. Nobody cared. Our place was with the swine, and our daily bread was the husks that they ate. In our sin we were a disgrace to the One who had created us. We did not even have the good sense of the prodigal mentioned in the Lord's parable (Luke 15), for we did not know our way home. We groped in darkness and blindly longed for a God we did not know. But when we were yet a great way off, the Father saw us and had compassion on us. He ran and fell on our necks and kissed us. Now we who "were far off" are "made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Phillips, J. Exploring Ephesians)
Paul describes our having been brought near in Romans 5 writing…
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained (perfect tense = signifies it is the believer's permanent possession and nothing can remove us from it) our introduction (access much as one would gain entree to a king's presence through the favor of another) by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (see notes Romans 5:1; 5:2)
By (1711) (en) is literally in the blood of Christ. The power which has changed farness into nearness, resides in the blood of Christ.
Blood (129) (haima) is the basis of life (Lev 17:11-note) (click for all 90 uses) Haima is literally the red fluid that circulates in the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins of a vertebrate animal carrying nourishment and oxygen to and bringing away waste products from all parts of the body and thus is essential for the preservation of life. Haima gives us English words like hemorrhage (Gk - haimorragia from haimo- + rragia from regnuo - to burst) English derivatives include hematology (study of blood) and "leukemia" which is from leuco (white) plus haima (blood), which is fitting as leukemia is a disease that affects the white blood cells. Derivatives of haima are : haimatekchusía (130), shedding of blood; haimorroéō (131), to hemorrhage. Haima was used to describe “descent” or “family” in ancient times. “To shed blood” is to destroy life.
Zodhiates says "haima is used to denote life given up or offered as an atonement since, in the ritual of sacrifice, special emphasis is laid upon it as the material basis of the individual life. The life of the animal offered for propitiation appears in the blood separated from the flesh which the Jews were forbidden to eat (Ge. 9:4; Lev. 3:17; 17:10-14; Deut. 12:23; Heb. 9:7-13, 18-25; 11:28; 13:11). This life is, on the one hand, in the blood, presented to God; on the other hand by sprinkling, appropriated to man (Heb. 9:7, 19, 20). This blood thus becomes the blood of the covenant or testament (see diathekē) which God commanded to us (Heb. 9:20). (Complete Word Study Dictionary- New Testament)
Blood "has great significance in the Bible. Its meanings involve profound aspects of human life and God's desire to transform human existence. Blood is intimately associated with physical life. Blood and “life” or “living being” are closely associated." (Blood - Holman Bible Dictionary)
This is Paul's second mention of the blood of Christ, for earlier he had explained that…
Of Christ - No other blood sacrifice could satisfy the righteous demands of God's holiness and His just hatred of sin. Only the blood of the spotless, sinless Lamb of God could take away the sins of the world and bring men near. The writer of Hebrews expounds on the importance of the blood of Christ in Hebrews 9 writing…
But when (in contrast to the Jewish high priests who were sinners) Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 10:11-14-note)
The cleansing value of the blood of Christ immediately washes away the penalty (and power) of sin and ultimately washes away even its presence (this latter speaks of the believer's blessed hope that when we see Him someday in the near future, we shall be like Him, glorified and forever free of the presence of sin and the passing pleasure of sin. Hallelujah!).
John Eadie - The apostle's object is to show that by the death of Christ the exclusiveness of the theocracy was abolished, that Jew and Gentile, by the abrogation of the Mosaic law, are placed on the same level, and that both, in the blood of Christ, are reconciled to God. (Ephesians 2 Commentary)
The KJV Bible Commentary emphasizes that…
We are made nigh by the blood of Christ; not by becoming a proselyte of Judaism, not by the sincerity of our repentance, not by the strength of our faith, not by the depth of our devotion, not by the joy of our spiritual experience. A new relationship has been established in a new covenant sealed with the sacrificial blood of Christ, who suffered the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God (1Pe 3:18-note). (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Peter explains that believers…
were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (See notes 1 Peter 1:18; 1:19)
KJV Bible Commentary - This is what God has done. We are made nigh by the blood of Christ; not by becoming a proselyte of Judaism, not by the sincerity of our repentance, not by the strength of our faith, not by the depth of our devotion, not by the joy of our spiritual experience. A new relationship has been established in a new covenant sealed with the sacrificial blood of Christ, who suffered the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Peter writes that…
Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit (see note 1 Peter 3:18)
Regarding the "blood of Christ" Ray Stedman point out…
that it isn't merely the death of Christ. Paul says that it is the blood of Christ. It is significant that he uses that term. Death, of course, is not always bloody. You can die without losing your blood. The Scriptures sometimes speak of the death of Christ, and more often of the cross of Christ. But still more often they speak of the blood of Christ. Why this emphasis? Many don't like this today. They don't like to think of the cross or of the death of Jesus as being bloody. But God emphasizes it. God wants us to think about it, because blood is always a sign of violence. You see, the death of Jesus was not just a simple passing away -- dying of old age on a comfortable bed. No, no. It was a violent death, a bloody, gory, ugly, revolting scene -- a man hanging torn and wretched upon a cross, with blood streaming down his sides and running down the cross.
God wants us to remember that violent death, because violence is the ultimate result of paganism. It is the final expression of a godless society. Cruelty arises immediately when love and truth disappear from society. And God is simply reminding us that when humanity had done its worst, had sunk to its lowest, had vented its anger in the utter wretchedness and violence and blood of the cross, his love reached down to that very place and, utilizing that violent act, began to redeem, to call back those who were far off and bring them near -- in the blood of Christ.
And, in the blood of Jesus, all the advantages the Jews had were conferred upon the Gentiles. Ignorant, pagan, darkened, foolish, struggling, hopeless -- nevertheless, they had just as much access to God, in the blood of Christ, as any Jew ever had with his temple, his Law, his priesthood, and his sacrifice. By this the apostle is trying to emphasize to us the exceedingly amazing wonder of the grace of God, which laid all these liabilities aside and reached out to us and found us just as we were, and brought us near by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. What a gift to give thanks for! (Read the full sermon Strangers In Darkness)
- American Tract Society Blood
- Bridgeway Bible Dictionary Blood
- Easton's Bible Dictionary Blood
- Fausset Bible Dictionary Blood
- Holman Bible Dictionary Blood
- Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible Blood
- King James Dictionary Blood
- Morrish Bible Dictionary Blood
- Hawker's Poor Man's Dictionary Blood
- Smith Bible Dictionary Blood
- Vines' Expository Dictionary Blood
- Watson's Theological Dictionary Blood
- 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica Blood
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Blood
- Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia Blood
- The Jewish Encyclopedia Blood
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Family Tie - An elderly man who visited an art gallery was deeply moved by a painting that portrayed Christ on the cross. It was so realistic in depicting the suffering of the Savior that his heart was filled with gratitude for the great price the Lord Jesus paid for his redemption. With tears trickling down his cheeks, he exclaimed, “Bless Him! I love Him! I love Him!"
Other visitors standing nearby wondered what the man was talking about. One person walked over and looked at the painting. Soon he too felt deep emotion welling up in his heart. Turning to the old man, he gave him a firm handshake and said, “So do I! I love Him too!” The scene was repeated as a third man and then a fourth walked over, gazed at the painting, and exclaimed, “I love Him too!” Although these men were from different churches, they felt a common bond because of their faith in Christ.
As believers, we need an awareness of our spiritual unity with other Christians. We need to focus on the fundamentals on which we agree—such as our love for the Savior who died for us—rather than bicker about lesser issues.
Regardless of sincere disagreements, we as blood-bought believers should recognize that we have a strong family tie in Christ.—Richard De Haan
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love!
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above. —Fawcett
As we draw near to Christ
we are drawn near to each other.
Amplified: For He is [Himself] our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NET: For He is our peace, the One Who made both groups into one and Who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, (NET Bible)
NLT: For Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For Christ is our living peace. He has made a unity of the conflicting elements of Jew and Gentile by breaking down the barrier which lay between us. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For He himself is our peace, the One who made the both one, having broken down the middle wall of the partition, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for he is our peace, who did make both one, and the middle wall of the enclosure did break down,
FOR HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE: Autos gar estin (3SPAI) e eirene hemon:
Adapted from Ruth Paxson's book "The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian"
OUR PEACE NOT JUST A CONCEPT
For (gar) introduces the reason of the previous statement. Remember to pause, ponder and query this term of explanation. Hoehner explains "Having defined the union, Paul introduces this section with an explanatory gar, “for,” in order to explain how this union was accomplished." (Ephesians- An Exegetical Commentary)
Paul does not simply say “He,” but “He Himself” which is equivalent to “He truly” or “He and none other.”
He Himself (846) (autos) - The pronoun is intensive, signifying "He and no other"! Christ Himself, not just what He did (which of course was necessary). Christ is our peace with God and so with each other, be they Jew or Gentile. Christ is thus not merely our Peace-maker, but our very Peace itself. Note Paul does not say Christ made peace (which is true from other Scriptures) but that He is Peace!
Expositor's Greek Testament adds that "It is not only that the peace was made by Christ and ranks as His achievement, but that it is so identified with Him that were He away it would also fail,—so dependent on Him that apart from Him we cannot have it.” (Ephesians 2:13 Commentary - Online)
Our peace - Note the change of pronouns from "you" in the previous verses to "our" in this verse, clearly signaling that this peace refers to Paul and all believing Jews and Gentiles.
In this verse we see a fulfillment of Isaiah's famous prophecy…
Albert Barnes explains Jesus Himself being our Peace writing that…
MacDonald after asking how Jesus, a Person, can be Peace, answers…
Peace (1515) (eirene [word study] from the verb eiro = to bind or join together what is broken or divided) means in essence to set at one again or join together that which is separated. In secular Greek eirene described the cessation or absence of war.
Jesus as the essence of Peace is the NT parallel of Isaiah's description of Him as the "Prince of peace" (Isaiah 9:6)
Wayne Barber reminds us that "Peace is never going to be present until Jesus is in an individual’s life. Until a man has received God’s grace, he will never know His peace. Look in Eph 1:2: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. " You see the first thing that must be received is God’s grace. God’s grace is what God does to a man, in a man, for a man and through a man that a man can’t do himself. God came down. Man could not ascend. He tried that in Genesis 11. That’s where the Gentile nations came from. God came down as He told Nicodemus in John 3. He came down to die for our sin. The greatest picture of grace in all of Scripture is Jesus coming to die for our sin and shedding His blood to redeem us off the slave block of bondage to sin. When man receives God’s grace, then and only then can he be at peace with the God that he has been estranged from since Adam’s sin. So before we can talk about peace with man, we must realize that Jesus is the essence of our peace with God. So often we do it the reverse. So often there is a problem between two of us, and we try to major on our relationship to make our relationship with God better. No, you major on your relationship with God, and that makes your relationship with others what it ought to be. Jesus is the essence of God’s peace, the essence of our peace with God. (God so Loved the World)
Jesus as our peace is a fulfillment of Micah's prophecy…
And this One will be our peace.
Micah prophesies of this peace as a Person in Micah 5:5-note
This One will be our peace (shalom) - Notice that true peace is not just a precept but a Person! This One is the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6-note, Lk 1:79, 2:14, 19:38, 42, Jn 14:27. 16:33), the Messiah - Anointed One Who alone will bring peace - He brought peace to hearts of believers with His first coming (Ro 5:1-2-note, cf Isa 52:7 where "announces peace" and "brings good news" are the same verb in Septuagint -Lxx = euaggelizo/euangelizo), but will bring peace to the earth at His Second Coming. Peace will characterize the Millennial reign of Messiah (Isa 11:6-9-note, Isa 55:12; 66:12; Jer 33:6-note; Ezek 34:25; 37:26-note). Are we telling the lost around us of this promised personal and prophetic peace? (Acts 10:36, Mt 5:9-note, Eph 6:15-note)
In Paul's writings we discover that Christ "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (2Pe 1:3-note). And Christ is....
Expositor's Bible Commentary writes that…
Wuest explains that…
Ray Stedman writes that…
John MacArthur has an interesting illustration writing that…
Warren Wiersbe comments on Christ as our peace writing…
Eadie explains that…
Blaikie -Christ is not only our Peacemaker, but our Peace, and that in the fullest sense, the very substance and living spring of it, establishing it at the beginning, keeping it up to the end; and the complex notion of peace is here not only peace between Jew and Gentile, but between God and both. (Ephesians 2 Pulpit Commentary)
William Barclay explains how Jesus Himself is our peace writing…
WHO MADE BOTH GROUPS INTO ONE: o poiesas (AAPMSN) ta amphotera en: (Ep 2:15; 3:15; 4:16; Isaiah 19:24,25; Ezekiel 37:19,20; John 10:16; 11:52; 1Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11) (Esther 3:8; Acts 10:28; Colossians 2:10, 11, 12, 13, 14,20)
Who - Christ (5547) (Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus (exceptions = "false Christs" - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22).
Both (297) (amphoteros) means each of two. Literally the Greek reads "the both", "both things", "both elements" so that there is now no ground for separating between a Jewish element and a Gentile element. They are now unified.
Jesus alluded to this bringing together of Jew and Gentile in John when He declared that…
One (1520) (heis) is the cardinal numeral one and in this verse defines that which is united as one in contrast to being divided or consisting of separate parts. Heis speaks of oneness, unity and identity, believing Jew and Gentile united in position and privilege. They are no longer Jews or Gentiles, but Christians. And to go one step further, strictly speaking it is not accurate to speak of them as Jewish Christians or Gentile Christians because all distinctions such as nationality were nailed to the cross.
Because of Christ work in bringing about this union between Jew and Gentile, now race and national distinctions disappear as Paul explained to the Galatians writing that…
The Scottish expositor John Eadie explains that…
Thomas Constable makes an interesting observation writing that…
Click to enlarge
Barrier (5418) (phragmos from prasso = to fence or hedge in) describes a fence, or enclosing barrier. It signified originally a fence or railing erected for protection rather than separation.
Josephus used phragmos to refer to the balustrade in the Jerusalem temple separating the court of the Gentiles from the temple proper. (see the "fence" above - to the right of the low fence is The Court of the Gentiles in Herod's Temple).
When Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70, this partition was demolished along with the temple itself, but Paul saw it as already destroyed by Christ on the Cross. Ironically enough, Paul himself had been wrongfully accused of taking an Asian Gentile, Trophimus, past this checkpoint Acts 21:29.
Dividing Wall (3320) (mesótoichon from mésos = middle + toíchos = wall) means middle wall or partition. Metaphorically mesótoichon referred to the Mosaic Law separating Jews and Gentiles and recalled the common rabbinic idea of the law as a fence dividing the Jews by their observance of it from all other races and thus arousing hostility.
What is the "barrier of the dividing wall"?
Paul in the present context is not referring to a literal wall, but to the invisible barrier set up by the Mosaic Law of commandments contained in ordinances which separated the people of Israel from the nations.
Vincent explains the spiritual implications of the barrier writing that it represented "the whole Mosaic economy which separated Jew from Gentile. (Ephesians 2 Commentary)
Barth adds the following thought that the barrier of the dividing wall "is (1) the fact of separation between Israel and the nations, (2) has to do with the law and its statutes and interpretations, (3) is experienced in the enmity between Jews and Gentiles and (4) also consists of the enmity of Jews and Gentiles alike against God."
In any event, this "barrier" was dramatically illustrated by well-known literal wall in the Temple Complex on Temple Mount. There the Jews had constructed a barrier that separated the outer Court of the Gentiles from the inner Court of the Jews. Between these two courts (see diagram below) there was a low wall some 4.5 feet high, with thirteen openings.
Josephus records that "When you went through these first cloisters unto the second court of the Temple, there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits. Its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek and some in Roman letters that no foreigner should go within the sanctuary"
In another description Josephus writes of the second court of the Temple "This was encompassed by a stone wall for a partition, with an inscription which forbade any foreigner to go in under pain of death".
Observe from the diagram that Gentiles were restricted to the outer court of the temple, the court of the Gentiles (they were "far off") and they could not go beyond the sacred enclosure into the women’s court, or into the court of Israel, much less into the court of the priests, on penalty of death.
Along the top of the barrier of the dividing wall (the outer bold line in the diagram), at regular intervals, were stone pillars bearing an inscription engraved in both Latin and Greek…
The Roman government gave the Jews permission to execute any Gentile, even those who were Roman citizens, if they proceeded beyond this barrier!
Archaeological excavations (1871) have uncovered one complete stone marker and a fragment of another from Herod's temple.
Luke records an event in Paul's life that underscores the fact that the Jews were deadly serious about this warning to Gentiles not to transgress this barrier…
And so we see that Paul was all too familiar with the barrier, and quite likely the thoughts of his former encounter associated with the barrier of the dividing wall flooded his mind as he wrote the words in Ephesians 2:14, here referring not to a literal dividing wall but a spiritual dividing wall as discussed above. Paul would have recalled that his arrest at Jerusalem, which led to his final imprisonment and death, was due to the fact that he had been wrongly accused of bringing Trophimus, an Ephesian Gentile, into the Temple beyond the barrier of the dividing wall.
In summary, this physical barrier in the Temple Complex illustrated the barrier of hostility and hate that separated Jew and Gentile. God had originally separated Jews from Gentiles (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7; Mt 21:33) for the purpose of redeeming both groups, not for saving the Jews alone. In fact God had placed the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple Complex for the very purpose of winning Gentiles to Himself. It was meant to be a place for Jewish evangelism of Gentiles, a place for winning proselytes to Judaism and of thereby bringing them “near.” Instead the intervening dividing wall with its barrier shut the Gentile out from the presence of God! It was also that very court (the court of the Gentiles) that instead of using as a place of witness to the pagan Gentiles of the true and living God, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day usurped and converted to “a robbers’ den” (Mk 11:17)!