Ephesians 2:11-12 ESV
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
The Israel of old was the Jewish nation. They were God’s chosen people. Those who were not Jews were not Israel. They were called Gentiles. The Jews were called the circumcision because they circumcised all their males, in obedience to God, but the Gentiles were called the uncircumcision.
The Israel of old were believers in God and in the promise of the Messiah who was yet to come, but they didn’t all believe. Just because they were Jews didn’t mean they all had faith. In fact, Scripture tells us that many Jews failed to enter into God’s eternal rest because of their unbelief, which was evidenced by their disobedience to the Lord (Heb 3:7-19; Heb 4:1-13).
Jesus even told the Pharisees that their father was not Abraham, and their Father was not God, but that their father was the devil, for they didn’t do the works of Abraham, but the works of the devil. And, he told them they would die in their sins because they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, and because everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin (Jn 8:12-59).
So, it wasn’t just the Gentiles who were separated from Christ, but it was also unbelieving Jews. But now that the Messiah had come, Jesus Christ the righteous, the Gentiles were being given the opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ and to become one with all who were Israel by faith in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:13-16 ESV
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
What we need to understand here is that Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, and it is only by faith in Jesus Christ that we are Israel. Only those who believe in Jesus Christ are heirs of the promise God made to Abraham and to his seed, meaning Jesus.
There is no longer the division of Jew and Gentile. Jesus made us one in him, by faith in him. Being a physical descendant of Abraham does not mean one is Israel, either. We are only Israel by faith in Jesus Christ.
[Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:10, 16, 26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18; 1 Jn. 2:22]
Another thing we need to understand here is that God did not abolish the whole law, just those expressed in ordinances, such as the ceremonial and the purification laws and laws about special days. We, as followers of Jesus, are not under all those old laws the Jews had to follow.
But we are still under God’s moral laws, which Jesus and the New Testament apostles repeated over again, and in fact said that if we do not keep the commandments of God (under the New Covenant), and if we are still living according to our flesh, that we will die in our sins, not have life with God.
Ephesians 2:17-22 ESV
“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
The peace this is speaking of is not world peace. It is not absence of conflict in this world. It is not uniting with the world so that we become one with the world. It is not making compromises with the world, so we don’t upset people with the truth of the gospel, either.
The peace this is speaking of is peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We are no longer his enemies, no longer separate from him, but we are united with him by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, we have died with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness.
And, again, Jew and Gentile both have access in One Spirit to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. Christian and Israel are the same thing. They are not separate. Anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives is not Israel, but all who do are Israel.
So, whether Jew or Gentile by birth, if we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, which dies with Christ to sin, and which lives to Christ and to his righteousness, we are Israel. We are heirs of the promise God made to Abraham. There are no other heirs.
We who believe in Jesus are God’s household, his temple, the body of Christ, Israel, his church. But this is not a physical building or temple. We the people of God by faith in Jesus Christ are his temple which is the body of Christ. So, this building is not physical, but spiritual.
And, this building is not built with human hands, but on the spiritual foundation of the apostles and prophets of old, with Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. We are joined together by faith in Christ to grow into a holy temple in the Lord, set apart from the world and unto God and to his service, for the glory and praise of God, and not for our own glory.
For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Our lives are to be for his glory and praise. For, Jesus bought us back for God with his blood which he shed for our sins (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17).
Frances J Crosby, 1873
Phoebe P Knapp, 1873
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
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