Ephesians 2 : 13 - 18 ( NRSV )

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.(13) 1For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.(14) He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity2 in place of the two, thus making peace,(15) and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.(16) So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near;(17) for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.(18)

Comment

     The writer urges that reconciliation to God, through the death of Christ, has broken the power of evil and the long-standing separation between Hebrews and non-Hebrews!
     All the characteristics of the Messiah are evident in Jesus' work. Peace-making among those formerly hostile. A new creative power in evidence in His healings. His reconciling. His opening up access to God. All these practices are in agreement with the Hebrew prophetic tradition about the behaviour of the Messiah!
     The people "far off" or "near" (v.17) refer respectively to "non-Hebrews" and "converts." By His sacrifice, Jesus has united Hebrews and people of other nationalities. All are reconciled to God and one another through the peace achieved "by the blood of Christ." Before Jesus' coming, non-Hebrews were outside Israel's privileges. They were worldly, despairing and without the real God. Jesus broke down the barriers that were barring them of access to God (vv.14-15).
     The barriers mentioned was probably a reference to the wall that separated the court of the Hebrews from the non-Hebrews in the temple area. A religion based on all kinds of rules and regulations (about hand washing or how many steps could be taken on the Sabbath) could never be a universal religion. Jesus ended all this. According to the author - now Hebrew and non-Hebrew can find their way to the Father in the one holy Spirit (v.18). The Christian community is part of a building founded on apostles and prophets, and always held together by the work of Christ. Together they make up the new temple of God!
 
footnotes:
1. [ vv.14-16 ] The elaborate imagery here combines pictures of Christ as our peace (Is.9:5), His crucifixion, the ending of the Mosaic law (cf Col.2:14), reconciliation (2 Co.5:18-21), and the destruction of the dividing wall such as kept people from God in the temple or a barrier in the heavens.
2. [ v.15 ] One new humanity: A corporate body, the Christian community, made up of Jews and Gentiles, replacing ancient divisions; cf Rm.1:16.


 

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