Epistle to the Ephesians
Ephesians 2:11 How does Paul begin this section?
Therefore - a term of conclusion which causes the careful observer of the Scriptures to asks "What leads up to this conclusion?" Although commentators debate the specifics, the immediate context would be Ephesians 2:1-10, describing the former dead spiritual state of the Gentiles and then God in mercy making them alive in Christ, all a work of grace.
Ephesians 2:11 Who is Paul addressing? What does Paul want his readers to do? Why?
Paul is speaking to Gentiles and charges them to remember (keep on continually remembering = present imperative) their former spiritually dead condition (in Adam and outside of Christ), God's salvation by grace through faith and God's giving them purpose in this life as His workmanship in Christ Jesus.
Remembering these things should create in believers an attitude of gratitude and of humility regarding what God has done for us.
As those who have been redeemed, we are prone to forget what God has accomplished for us (See Ephesians 1:3-14).
Ephesians 2:11 How were the Gentiles described?
Gentiles were described by Jews ("Circumcision", which is performed in the flesh by human hands" - to indicate that he is not referring to a "spiritual circumcision" of their heart by the Spirit) with the derogatory term "Uncircumcision".
Ephesians 2:11 What was the past relationship of the Gentiles to God?
1) Separate from Christ - Christ is the Greek word for Messiah
2) Excluded from the commonwealth of Israel -
3) Strangers to the covenants of promise -
4) Having no hope -
5) Without God in the world -
Have ever felt separate, excluded, without hope, without God?
Excursus on Covenants of Promise
Genesis 12:1-3: What did God promise Abraham?
God promised to
· bless Abram
· make his name great
· bless those who blessed Abram
· curse those who cursed him
· in Abram all families of the earth would be blessed
Age 75 (Ge 12:4) (Sarai = 65).God told him He would make Abe a father of many nations.
Age 86 (Ge 16:16) Abe went into Hagar producing Ishmael,
Age 99 (Ge 17:1, 17:17) In Ge12:3 God preached the gospel to Abraham (Gal 3:8), and not only would the Jews find salvation but so would the Gentiles. The seed that God promised was in fact Jesus Christ, [Ga3:16]
Genesis 15:1-18: What was "problem", God's promise and Abraham's response? What was God's response?
Abram was childless, but God promised a son from his own body.
He believed the Lord and was counted righteous.
Abraham was declared righteous or saved by faith not works.
On that day, the Lord made a covenant with him and his descendants to give them the land after they came from Egypt.
Galatians 3:5-9, 16
Galatians 3:5-9, 16: What did Abraham believe according to Paul?
Abraham believed the Gospel (Gal 3:8)
He believed the promise regarding his seed, Christ (Gal 3:16)
Genesis 17:1-14: What fact did God add about His covenant with Abraham? What did He instruct Abraham to do?
The Abrahamic Covenant is everlasting.
Instructed him to circumcise all male offspring = sign of the covenant
Genesis 17:7-8: What did God promise?
God promised that He would be their God, and they would be His people.
Circumcision was the sign of this “Abrahamic” Covenant. Circumcision was to serve as an outward sign of inward dedication to God. In itself, it was neither efficacious, nor unique to Israel. Circumcision thereby became the physical demonstration (sign) of the obedient faith of Abram and his descendants. The Jews perverted the meaning, making the sign in essence the "end". In other words they bypassed the need for internal circumcision of the heart by the Spirit and placed their faith in the externals. Not only that, but they became proud of their "covenant sign" and looked down on Gentiles using the derogatory term "Uncircumcision" to refer to them.
Constable has an interesting note
Paul explained that Abraham...
(2) The New Covenant
Jeremiah 31:31-34: What did God promise and to whom did He give the promise?
God offered the covenant to Israel and Judah
Putting His Law within
Be their God
Be His people
They shall all know Him
Forgive their iniquity
Remember their sin no more
Note: The New Covenant not given to the "Church" as is commonly misunderstood
Ezekiel 36:26-27: What promises does Ezekiel add regarding the New Covenant?
New heart and spirit
Remove heart of stone and give heart of flesh
Put the Spirit within - cause you to walk in My statutes (God's part) and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (Man's part)
Luke 22:14, 19-20
Luke 22:14, 19-20 How was the New Covenant fulfilled?
At the last supper, the Passover, the night before He was crucified, He symbolically inaugurated the New Covenant.
Jesus’ body was the offering which is the fulfillment of this New Covenant. His blood was the blood of this covenant.
(3) The Davidic Covenant
2 Samuel 7:12-13,16: What did God promise King David?
God promised to establish David's throne and kingdom forever.
2 Chronicles 21:7: How do we know this was a covenant promise?
Scripture calls it a covenant.
The fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant which was promised "forever" would of necessity have to pass through the line of David, a lineage which Paul summarizes in the opening verses of Romans
Revelation 19:16 What does this passage teach regarding the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant?
Jesus Christ was in the line of David and it would be through Him that the covenant promises of an everlasting kingdom would be fulfilled. The apostle John elaborates on this fulfillment in the Revelation, explaining that when Jesus returns at the end of this age He returns as King of kings.
Revelation 20:4 What does this passage teach about the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant?
Ephesians 2:13 How does Paul introduce this section? Who was "formerly far off"? How were they "far off"?
But now - a dramatic contrast (see note) or "turn-around" compared to the aforementioned Christ-less, country-less, covenant-less, hope-less and God-less condition they had experienced as unbelieving Gentiles = those who were "formerly far off" from Israel's privileges of which Paul had just enumerated five.
Compare this introduction with the dramatic reversal introduced by "but God" in (Ephesians 2:4), where the Gentiles went from those dead in sin to those alive in Christ.
Why does Paul repeatedly use "formerly"? What is he emphasizing?
Clearly he does not want them to forget where they've come from, and certainly he does not want them walk in the manner they did formerly ,but motivated by gratitude regarding their privileged position in Christ to walk worthy of their calling.
Ephesians 2:13 Where are the Gentiles now? What is their position?
In Christ Jesus = speaks of their inseparable union with Christ.
Ephesians 2:13 How did this miraculous change transpire?
They had been brought near by the blood of Christ (the Cross). The power which has changed farness into nearness, resides in the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:14 How does Paul explain the Gentiles "brought near by the blood of Christ"? How does this truth parallel Isaiah 9:6?
Christ Himself is our peace.
Jesus as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) brought the believing Gentiles near to God and to the believing Jews.
Ephesians 2:14 What did the One Who is Himself peace accomplish?
1) Made both (Jew & Gentile) one
2) Broke down the barrier of the dividing wall (Click discussion of the barrier of the dividing wall)
Ephesians 2:15 How did He break the barrier?
Abolished in His flesh the enmity (between Jew & Gentile)
Ephesians 2:15 What was the source of this enmity according to this verse?
The Law of commandments in ordinances - they resulted in enmity between Jew and Gentile. The Law had been given to be a light to expose evil and a guard to restrain evil. The Law can never change the heart but it did serve as a tutor to lead men to Christ, Who in the new covenant in His blood, gives sinners a new heart.
In abolishing this enmity, Christ nullified or made ineffective the commandments and ordinances, one purpose of which had been to create a moral or ethical separation between Israel and all the other nations of the world. The purpose was not to exclude the Gentiles forever, but that by this very separation, the Gentiles would see the moral/ethical advantages of Israel and would be attracted to them and ultimately to God.
Now let's look at some background for why enmity existed between Jew and Gentile.
Leviticus 20:22-26: What do these OT passages teach about God's purpose for the ordinances? What truth does God emphasize regarding His people?
These passages reiterate God's desire for His possession to be separated, set apart and holy. One purpose of "the Law of commandments contained in ordinances" was to separate Israel from the Gentiles so that Israel might be holy as God was holy. God did not desire to shut out the Gentiles from eternal life, but to use Israel's separateness, distinctiveness, and holiness (especially in the moral/ethical realm) to attract and draw the Gentiles to the true and living God. The problem was Israel became smug and began to focus on the externals (external circumcision rather than internal heart circumcision, possession of the Law rather than obedience to it from the heart, and excessive attention to clean and unclean foods rather than to the ethical conduct God desired). And so Israel failed (for the most part) to be a light to the Gentiles and instead created "religious" barriers rather than righteous bridges that the Gentiles might walk across!
Israel had turned ordinances that God had meant to only be "shadows" into the the "substance". Israel forgot that things like the Sabbath (rest) pointed to the perfect rest in Jesus Christ, Who was the fulfillment of all the shadows in the festivals, new moon, Sabbath, etc. These ordinances became the means by which Israel felt morally superior to the Gentiles and this created enmity between Jews and Gentiles. (See notes Colossians 2:16, 2:17) Israel did the same thing with ordinances in the Law that had to do with "clean" and "unclean" things.
Acts 11:1-18 What problem were the Jewish leaders addressing and how did their solution support Paul's statement that Christ abolished the enmity between them in His flesh?
The problem was that circumcised believers (Jewish) were eating with uncircumcised men (Gentiles). Peter related his vision in which God told him it was okay to eat "unclean" foods. He explained how the Gentiles had received salvation (this occurred about 8 years after the events of Pentecost when the Spirit fell on the Jews in Jerusalem and they spoke in tongues) and the gift of the Spirit in the same manner as had the Jews at Pentecost some 8 years earlier. Upon hearing Peter's testimony, the Jewish leaders "quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:18) Their "enmity" abated because of clear evidence that the Gentiles were also saved.
Ephesians 2:15 What new entity resulted from Christ's death, abolishing in His flesh the enmity?
1) Jew and Gentile became one new (see note below) man
2) Established peace (between believing Jew and Gentile - now one in Christ, our Peace)
Ephesians 2:16 What did the Cross accomplish for both Jew and Gentile in their relationship to God?
They were reconciled in one body to God
The enmity (between man and God) was put to death -
God reconciled us to Himself when we were His enemies (echthros = from échthos = enmity, the same word used by Paul in Ephesians 2:15-16)
We reconciled through the death of God's Son (cf "through the cross by it having put to death the enmity")
Through Christ, the blood of His cross ("in His fleshly body through death" v21), all things will be reconciled
Mankind need reconciliation to God because we "were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds"
God's ultimate purpose for reconciliation of alienated, hostile men and women is that He might present us "before (directly in front of) Him
2Cor 5:17-21 Who reconciled us? How? Why?
God reconciled us to Himself
We were reconciled through Christ - God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself
God then gave the "reconcilees" a ministry of reconciliation
2Cor 5:17-21 How does Paul explain the believer's ministry of reconciliation?
God committed to us the "word of reconciliation"
We are now ambassadors for Christ (as if God entreats through us)
We beg others on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God (parallels Ephesians 2:17 where Christ "came and preached peace to" Jews and Gentiles... He preaches through those He has reconciled!)
Ephesians 2:17 What did the Christ do for both groups? How?
Preached peace to those far away (Gentile) and preached peace to those near (Jew)
As alluded to above, Christ preached through His "ambassadors" who spoke forth "the word of reconciliation".
Ephesians 2:18 How does Paul explain the nearness both Jew and Gentile can now experience?
Through Jesus both now have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Note the "Trinity" here and in Ephesians 2:22)
Ephesians 2:19 How does Paul begin this next section? What is the before/after picture?
So then - a term of conclusion - Paul had begun Eph 2:1-3 and Eph 2:11-12 by reminding the Gentiles of their spiritually dead state of separation from God, he now sums up their new relationship to God in figurative language (metaphors)...the first metaphor speaks of a "country" (kingdom of God) and the second of a house, a household or a family (family of God).
As an added exercise - how does the new truth about Gentile believers in this verse compare with the things that were formerly true of them in Ephesians 2:12 (Christ-less, country-less, covenant-less, hope-less and God-less)?
Ephesians 2:20 How is God's house composed? What is the practical significance of this foundation? What was the most important part of the building?
The foundation includes the apostles and the prophets - What foundation? This has to refer to the divine revelation which they taught and which they recorded for all future saints to be nourished by so that they might grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (see note 2 Peter 3:18)
Jesus comprises the most important aspect of the building -- the Corner Stone, a beautiful metaphor.
Ephesians 2:20 Who is Paul referring to when he says "prophets"? Old Testament prophets or New Testament prophets?
First note that they are listed after "apostles" suggesting a chronological relationship. Also comparing Scripture with Scripture, later in this letter Paul notes that Jesus gave to the church "apostles and some as prophets" (See notes on Ephesians 3:5 and Ephesians 4:11) indicating that the reference in verse 20 is to New Testament prophets not Old Testament prophets.
A holy Temple
First note that "having been built" is in the aorist tense which depicts a past completed action. All of the succeeding three verbs are in the present tense. indicating that they are "works in progress".
Bring fitted together (continually)
Growing (continually) into a holy temple of the Lord
Being built together (continually) into a dwelling of God in the Spirit
Summary of this section: Through the blood, the suffering flesh, the cross, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, aliens become citizens, strangers become family, idolaters become the temple of the true God, the hopeless inherit the promises of God, those without Christ become one in Christ, those far off are brought near, and the godless are reconciled to God. Therein is the reconciliation of men to God and of men to men. Hallelujah!
What do the the OT prophecies state regarding the Corner Stone?
Psalm 118:22 prophesied He would be rejected by the builders (Israel) but would still be the chief corner stone of the building.
Isaiah 8:13-15 prophesied that the stone would be to some (believing remnant) a Sanctuary, a set apart place (Person) -- a place and a Person they could worship.
On the other hand, those who rejected the Stone and refused to believe in Him would find Him to be a Stone that cause men to stumble, a Rock that makes them fall, a Snare and a Trap.
Is Jesus a "Sanctuary" of rest or a "Stone" of stumbling for you?
Isaiah 28:16 God ordains His Son to be a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed (Lxx = disappointed).
OT PROPHECIES and NT FULFILLMENTS
Jesus after telling the Jewish chief priests and elders of the Jewish people the parable of the Vineyard, then quoted from Psalm 118:22-23 explaining that the Stone rejected by the Jewish builders was chosen of God as the Head of the corner. Matthew records our Lord's words...
Paul in explaining God's sovereign plan for salvation of the Jews and Gentiles (in Romans 9-11) quotes in part from Isaiah 8:13-14 and Isaiah 28:16 writing...
Peter filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit when asked by the Jewish priests, rulers and elders by what power or in what name was he preaching unabashedly, boldly declared...
Peter reiterated this important truth about Christ Jesus the Corner Stone in his first epistle explaining to his readers...
1 Peter 2:5 How does Peter's description of believers help explain the fact that the building is (continually) growing in Ephesians 2:21?
Believers are "living stones being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ"
What does Peter emphasize about Jesus the "precious Corner Stone"?
Those who believe in Him shall not be disappointed
What about those who disbelieve or refuse to believe in Jesus?
He becomes a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense
1 Peter 2:10 What was the former state of Peter's readers?
Once not a people but now the people of God
Once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy (cf, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us" see notes Ephesians 2:4)
1 Peter 2:9 What is our present status in Christ?
1 Peter 2:9 What work which God prepared beforehand in Christ Jesus are we to work out in our daily walk?
Proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light
What are some of His excellencies from Ephesians 1 and 2?
As Paul has beautifully expressed, everything changes when Christ comes into a life. In Ephesians 1, he emphasized the spiritual blessings that are our present reality because of our position in Christ. In Ephesians 2, he has given these incredible spiritual blessing as added emphasis by contrasting them with what we were like before. Every believer must make certain not to forget the awesome changes which Jesus has wrought in our life.
How is your memory regarding the glorious truths