During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.
“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.”(Ephesians 2:13–16).
Paul next moves to tell us Gentiles — he describes them as “you who were once far off” — have been brought near by the blood of Christ. It is the blood of Christ at Calvary which levels the field, for none gain the righteousness of God without it. But what Paul is highlighting here is what the blood has done: it has brought far-off Gentiles into the family of God. God had predicted this day would come. Isaiah saw a day when the nations would inquire of the root of Jesse (David’s descendant). The Psalms spoke of a day when “all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (Psalm 22:27). Jesus spoke of other sheep not of the Jewish fold, sheep which He would bring into one new flock with one Shepherd (John 10:16). It is the blood of Christ which has brought near the lost Gentile sheep of the nations.
How We Are Brought Near
We are not brought near geographically, for we do not move to Israel upon conversion. We are not brought near genealogically, for we do not become Jewish upon conversion. We are not brought near nationally, for we do not become Israeli citizens upon conversion. And we are not brought near ceremonially, for we do not take up the Old Testament sacrificial system upon our conversion. Instead, Christ brings us near through spiritual union with Himself. Jew and Gentile alike are drawn into vital and real spiritual union with Christ via His blood.
What Jesus Broke Down
In producing this union, Paul tells us Christ broke down “the dividing wall of hostility” and that He “killed the hostility.” What hostility is Paul referring to? In Paul's day, there was a sign posted in the Court of the Gentiles, a sign indicating they ought not to go any further. It read: “Let no one of any other nation come within the fence and barrier around the Holy Place. Whoever is caught doing so will himself be responsible for the fact that his death will ensue.” That fence and barrier was likely the wall of hostility, or at least emblematic of it. A hostile wall separated Jew and Gentile. The division was stark and, seemingly, impossible to overcome.
But Christ overcame it. He destroyed the hostility. By the blood of Jesus Christ a may is made for even the harshest natural opponents, Jew and Gentile, to come together. If Christ can offer peace in that realm, what realm is too hard for Him to heal? Surely, if Christ can deal with the hostile wall erected between that generation of Jews and Gentiles, He can deal with our lesser walls of hostility. By His blood generations can cease to war and find love and harmony together. By His blood people of various educational levels can enjoy fellowship together. By His blood people across a broad political spectrum can be brought together. By His blood, the broad range of classes of people can enjoy a rich appreciation and relationship with one another. By His blood, the war between genders can give way to respect and admiration for the other. By His blood, every tribe and nation and tongue can have a place within the church.
How Jesus Did This
But this is only possible by His blood. It alone can do that unifying work. And, though accomplished on Calvary, we must spend our lives appropriating the blood, for we have a long way to go in seeing each wall of hostility dealt with practically. Positionally, Christ has already done it. Experientially, we have work to do.