Study Notes

Ephesians 2:11-22


We are in the second chapter of the book of Ephesians. Paul has made the point that we were dead in our sins, but made alive in Christ, and that we have been given this new life for one purpose: to do the good works of God that He prepares in advance and expects us to do. Now he says...

2:11-12 The Separation Of Gentiles

The Jews had no love for anyone who was not a Jew. They grouped every non-Jew into a category of Gentiles. They called them, among other derogatory words, "uncircumcision." Their laws even mandated this prejudice. In Acts 10, Peter explained the situation to a crowd of Gentiles at Cornelius' house,

Acts 10:28 ..."You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him..."

And later, Peter got in big trouble for this visit to a Gentile's home.

Acts 11:2-3 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them."

It is evident that the Jews hated the Gentiles. But to say that they merely hated them would be a terrible understatement. Hate is too soft a word. In fact, they violently despised them. We can see an example of this seething hatred in Luke 4, when Jesus was preaching in the His hometown synagogue in Nazareth. When He was reading the Scriptures and teaching with authority, everyone was amazed and impressed.

Luke 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips...

But then His sermon took an unexpected turn. He said,

Luke 4:25-27 "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Tsaq-ref-ATH, {in the land} of Tsee-DONE, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Nah-am-AWN the Syrian."

If you're not familiar with the Scriptures, you may miss what Jesus was saying. He mentioned these two stories from the Old Testament - the widow of Zarephath in Sidon who was miraculously ministered to by Elijah in 1Kings 17. And Naaman the Syrian who was cleansed from leprosy in 2Kings 5. Both of these people were Gentiles, and Jesus was making a point of saying that although there were many Jews around, God had ministered to them instead. Those listening to Jesus' sermon did not miss this point.

Luke 4:28-29 And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.

This was not an isolated incident. In Acts 22, Paul was explaining his ministry to a massive crowd in the temple. He gave his history and shared his testimony, and they listened patiently. But then he told them of God's commission to him:

Acts 22:21-22 "And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'" And they listened to him up to this statement, and {then} they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!"

The Jews hated the Gentiles so much that they would not associate, visit, or eat with them. And when anyone suggested that God would actually minister to them, they would become enraged to the point of murder.

No Hope And Without God

The people in Ephesus had been Gentiles. Hated by the Jews, having no covenant with God, and not yet knowing Jesus Christ. Their situation was a mess. As Paul describes it,

Eph. 2:12 ...having no hope and without God in the world.

2:13-18 Brought Near By The Blood Of Christ

Jews and Gentiles were separated by hate and bitterness on both sides. But in Christ, there is no more dividing wall, no more Jew or Gentile. Through the cross, both have been made one. Through Jesus, we are no longer Gentiles or Jews. We are Christians. Like Paul told the Galatians,

Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

As Christians, we're all on a level playing field, and there is no more enmity between us.

Abolishing Enmity And Establishing Peace

Now here's a difficult question for every Christian here: Is this true in your life? Can you honestly say about every Christian that you know, "There is no division, there is no enmity. I am at peace with them, reconciled to them, and being one in them"?

The sad truth is that most of us cannot say this with integrity. Most of us have people who make our stomach hurt when we think about them. Most of us have people that we avoid when we see them across the supermarket. Most of us get angry when certain people's names are mentioned.

Saints, I'm going to be frank with you: this is not acceptable to God. It is sin. Whether it is bitterness, unforgiveness, or anger, it is still wrong. It chokes out our fruitfulness, keeps us from growing, and hinders our prayers.

At the cross, Jesus abolished this stuff. He made us one. He preached peace. You don't want to be in the same store as them, you don't want to be in the same neighborhood as them, the same social circles as them, even the same church as them. And yet it says here that in order to get to the Father, we must be in the same Spirit as them.

Eph. 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

2:19-22 Fellow Citizens

Every Christian in the world is a fellow citizen with every other Christian. We all live in the same house - God's household. We all walk on the same foundation of the Word of God, and Christ is the cornerstone of that foundation. We are all one, in One, and on one. And we must not be divided. Jesus said,

Matt. 12:25 ..."Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand."

When the house of God is divided, it becomes powerless. That's why Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 1:10-11 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's {people,} that there are quarrels among you.

If we're not in unity, we're not complete. He also told the Philippian church,

Phil. 4:2-3 I urge Uoo-od-EE-ah and I urge Soon-TOO-khay to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in {the cause of} the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

If you have difficulty with someone who is a Christian, remind yourself that their name is in the book of life too. Make a point of being in unity and harmony - with no division.

Let these words from Hebrews 12 minister to your heart this morning:

Hebr. 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled

Go to next study

Go to previous study