What is the difference between the Jew and the Gentile? Do they both need salvation? Jesus has made them in Him one…join Pastor Ray Viola for a practical and powerful time in the word.
This section begins the unfolding of the revelation of the mystery body, called the church that we will talk more about in Ephesians 3 and 5.
Ephesians 2.11-13 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
- This is how every person is born into this world.
2.4-10 New condition: Alive to God/born of The Spirit
- This is what is needed for one to receive forgiveness of sin and have the assurance of eternal life.
2.11-22 Reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles into one body
This mystery body is the one body that Jesus Himself prayed for in John 17.
- John 10.16 And other sheep (Gentiles) I have, which are not of this fold (Israel): them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
- As we see in Revelation 5, the body of Christ is made up of all of those who have been redeemed by the blood of The Lamb Jesus Christ out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
- Col 3.11 In Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Before we dig into our study, I’d like us to note the different grammar or terms that The Holy Spirit uses to describe the distinction between the Gentiles and God’s covenant people of Israel in verse’s 11-22.
- The Gentiles are called: uncircumcised (vs11); without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, without God in the world (vs.12). Afar off (vs13,17). Strangers and foreigners (vs19).
- The Jews are called: commonwealth (citizens) (vs12), them that were near (vs17), saints (vs19).
- Jew and Gentile together in Christ are called: one (vs14), one new man (vs15), one body (vs16), household of God (vs19), holy temple in The Lord (vs21), habitation of God through The Spirit.
Since the Day of Pentecost, every single person on planet earth is either and unsaved Jew or unsaved Gentile or they are born again and a part of the body of Christ.
- Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God. 1 Cor. 10.32
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands.
The church in Ephesus was made up largely of Gentiles. There was just a small colony of Jews there. To be called uncircumcised was a Jewish term of derision that signified that a person was a Gentile and outside the covenant people of God.
Remember what David called Goliath? This uncircumcised Philistine! (1 Samuel 17.26)
J. Vernon McGee writes: God made a real distinction between Jew and Gentile, beginning with Abraham and advancing to the advent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; (which was a fulfillment of Joel 2.28,29). Israel occupied a unique position among the nations. A Gentile could come in only as a proselyte. In time, this valid distinction caused friction because Israel became proud of her position. Israelites came to look down on Gentiles, and hatred crept into the hearts of both groups.
Jesus tore down those walls of ethnic taboo every time He ministered to Gentiles, like the Samaritan woman in John 4. Or when He taught the parable of the Good Samaritan.
While it is true that one had to be circumcised to belong to the people of God (Genesis 17.9-14), it is equally true that over time, the true meaning of circumcision had been abused and had become a mere ritual or formality with no real impact of a person’s manner of living.
- Romans 2.29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
- Phil 3.3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
In Eph 2.11, The Holy Spirit reminds all Gentile believers that we contribute nothing to our standing before God. As we saw in verses 4-10, we are reminded that it is only by God’s grace and good pleasure that we are drawn near to God by the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed upon His cross (vs.13,16).
In Romans 11.17-24, Paul reminds Gentile believers that they are by nature a wild olive tree who by God’s grace have been grafted into the good olive tree of the covenant that God made with Israel through faith in Christ. He reminds us Gentiles that we only stand by faith and thus there is no room for boasting or pride.
Notice in verse 12 how far away they were from God.
2.12 That at that time ye were without (separated, apart from) Christ, being aliens (estranged, shut up from one’s fellowship and intimacy) from the commonwealth (citizenship, community) of Israel, and strangers (foeigners) from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God (Gr. Atheos; atheists) in the world:
Without Christ- This is the best definition of a lost man. It is the opposite of being in Christ. Though every human being is made in the image of God, and thus “belongs” to Him as a part of His creation, until they are regenerated through faith in Christ, they are estranged from Him and spiritually lost.
Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel- Actually, it can read alienated from the citizenship of Israel. That is the accurate definition of a Gentile. The Gentile had no God-given religion as had Israel. Though some Gentiles were admitted into Judaism as proselytes, Gentiles as a whole were excluded; thus alienated.
- Ephesians 4.18 alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.
Strangers from the covenants of promise (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic)- They had no right to go back in the Old Testament and take the promises which God made to Israel and then appropriate them for themselves.
- Jere 31.31-34 speaks of the New Covenant that God made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah that Gentiles are grafted into by grace through faith in Messiah Jesus.
No hope- Unlike Israel, the Gentiles had no expectation of a personal Messiah-Deliverer and the Messianic Age.
Without God in this world- Literally in the Greek, without God, reads an atheist; because to believe in any god other than the True and Living God is not believing in God at all, but a god of my own making. Read Psalm 115.4-8. The identity of The True and Living God is not up for negotiation.
- 1 Cor 8.5 There is one God, The Father of Whom are all things, as we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him.
This shows that they were not only spiritually dead, but they also did not have the access to God that the Jews enjoyed. This is a terrible, awful condition that Paul describes. To be without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise is the worst possible condition that any human being can be in regardless of their outward religious affiliation or beliefs, their financial or social status.
I cannot think of a more frightening thing than for a person to be without Christ and without God in this world. Please note that a person who is without Christ, (apart from Christ), is also a person who is without God (an atheist) in this world.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Paul the apostle’s personal testimony.
- Phil 3.4-6 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
How did Paul describe this condition after he was born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ?
- 1 Timothy 1.12,13 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer (impious, against God, a slanderer), and a persecutor, and injurious (insulter, despiteful, an insolent man lifted up with pride): but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Despite how zealous, devout and religious he was. Despite that fact that he had a zeal to learn the Torah and sat under one of the most prestigious rabbi teachers Gamaliel, now that Paul has been born of The Spirit, he describes himself before knowing Christ as a blasphemer, a persecutor and injurious.
Religious, but unregenerate. Devout but deceived. To say that I believe in God only makes me not a fool. To say that I believe in God puts on equal belief with demons. It is not until I am born of The Spirit, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that I cease being an atheist in the biblical sense of the word.
Verse 12 is an incredibly horrific description of man apart from Christ. But now in verse 13, notice what The Father has done through Christ to change that hopeless situation.
- 2.13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Many people suggest different ways to come near to God. Some think you can come to God by keeping the 10 commandments, or by being baptized as a baby or by observing holy days, or by belonging to a particular denomination. Col 2.8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
- Col 2.16,17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
The cross of Jesus Christ plus anything negates the cross of Jesus entirely, and leaves you lost.
Col 2.10 And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a mixture of God’s grace with human effort or merit. It is all of grace, n ot of works lest any man shuld boast.
The only way to be brought near to God is by the blood of Christ. What Jesus did on the cross, suffering as a guilty sinner in the place of guilty sinners, brings us near to God.
It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are brought from position of being afar off to one of being near to The Father through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Acts 2.37-39 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
- According to Isaiah 59.1, 2 we are all afar off because our sins have separated us from God.Behold, the Lord ‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.
God The Father paid the highest price to secure a people for Himself, by sending His One and Only Begotten Son to live a perfect life and die a dishonorable death so that His wrath would be satisfied and His grace extended to sinners. That is what the word propitiation means:
- Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4.10
- Whom (Jesus Christ) God sent forth to be a propitiation (Gr. Mercy seat) through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare at this time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified (declared right in the sight of God) by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not the God also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. Romans 3.25-30
Every person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation, Jew or Gentile, is brought into spiritual union and intimacy with God. This is the reconciliation of Romans 5.10; 2 Cor. 5:18–21 and Colossians 1.20-22. The atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross washes away the penalty of sin. Reconciliation is not a process, but an act of God by which we are once and for all delivered from estrangement to fellowship with God.
Those who were separated from the covenant have been united to God; Those who were alienated have been reconciled through faith in Christ; & those who were far off have been brought near by His precious shed blood on the cross.
- Col 1.14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
- Heb 9.12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
There is not one plan of salvation for the Jews and another for the Gentiles. Listen to the conclusion of the council that was held in Acts 15 regarding whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised in addition to placing faith in Jesus to be saved.
- Acts 15.11 But we (Jews) believe that through the grace of The Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they (the Gentiles).
- John 1.12 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.
Received in Gr. To take hold upon, lay hold on to, choose).
Through Christ’s shed blood on the cross (Ephesians 2:13,16), sinners are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). But reconciliation accomplished is not personal reconciliation until you reach out with the hand of faith and place all of your trust in Jesus Christ as Lord. “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)