Access by One Spirit
Ephesians Series #073
July 5, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re thankful for all that You have given us in Your Word—all that You’ve revealed to us. The more we study, the more we see that there is to study; the more we learn, the more we come to understand how much more we must learn. As we study we are impressed with how one part of Scripture complements and expands on another part of Scripture, and seems like no matter how much we study, how much we dig, there’s always more to learn, always more to understand and comprehend.
“Father, as we study today, may we be impressed with our new position in Christ, all that we have in Christ, the unity that all believers are to have in Christ, and understand the uniqueness of this in the body of Christ in the church, the universal church, composed of all believers of all time.
“Father, may we come to understand this as a high privilege, a high position, and that it gives us a tremendous new identity in Him. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2; our focus is Ephesians 2:17–18, but before we do that we need to review a little bit and bring out a few more things from the previous passage that we have been studying.
The focal point here comes in Ephesians 2:18 that in this new body together, Jew and Gentile, we have access or entry to the throne of God, access to heaven, access to God the Father by one Spirit. There’s not a distinction anymore between Jew and Gentile.
We looked at Ephesians 2:14–16, one sentence in the Greek that focuses on one aspect of the peace that is accomplished in Christ’s death. This is not a peace between man and God, it is a peace between Jew and Gentile.
We have to be reminded that ultimately there is only one race—the human race. We all descended from Noah and his three sons. Most people want to say we all descended from Adam, but remember everything got narrowed down at the ark. We’ve all descended from Noah and his wife, and there’s only one race.
Today we hear so much talk about race, racism and antiracism, and sadly we see a lot of pastors and theologians getting on the wrong side of this issue because they failed to apply this passage to their understanding of race. Some of that is because a lot of believers have abused and misused the concept over the years and over the centuries.
But this passage teaches us this breakdown of a distinction between Jew and Gentile, that every believer whether you’re Caucasian, African, Indian or Asian, no matter what your ethnic background may be, all of those distinctions are to be rendered somewhat irrelevant in terms of our relationship to one another because we are believers and in the body of Christ.
For the believer, racism ultimately is putting your ethnic, cultural or subcultural background as being more important than your relationship with one another in the body of Christ. That’s about the best definition of racism I can come up with for the believer.
Sadly, there are many in this country who do not understand that, and they are using culture and ethnicity to create political and other divides that destroy unity in the body of Christ. That is blasphemy against God, and it is making oneself an enemy of the cross because as we see in this passage, it is the cross that is the basis for our unity now in the body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:14 the focus is on Christ and what He did, “For He Himself is our peace …”
We’ve gone through this showing that when Paul uses these pronouns, it’s very important to understand his distinctions. When he says “you,” he is not talking to the Ephesian believers, he is talking to his audience as Gentiles.
When he says “we,” sometimes he means Jewish background believers who were the first saved. From Acts 2 until Acts 10 when Peter took the gospel to Cornelius in Caesarea by the Sea, there were only Jews who were in the body of Christ. They were the first ones to be saved, then Gentiles were added.
Somebody may ask, “What about the Ethiopian eunuch? “He was a proselyte. He had gone to Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost, so he is not counted as a Gentile, as we see with Cornelius.
There are the Samaritans, half Jewish and half Gentile, so they are not counted as Gentiles. That distinction is made in the Scripture, Acts 10 which makes this unique, when Gentiles are added, and there is this unity now in the body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself—Christ—is our peace.”
When we see “we” or “our,” in some places it’s talking about Jewish background believers during that first part. Now with Jew and Gentile together, the “our” refers to Jew and Gentile together in the body of Christ.
We see “together” used in Ephesians 2:4–6: that we have been made alive together, we have been raised together, and seated together with Christ in the heavenlies. “Together” means Jew and Gentile together.
In Ephesians 2:14 it’s “both.” He “has made both—Jew and Gentile—one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”
Ephesians 2:14-15 is about peace, “He Himself is our peace …” Ephesians 2:15 it repeats this: He has “created in Himself one new man from the two—that is, from Jew and Gentile—with the result that He made peace …”
This passage is talking about what He did—that He broke down that dividing wall, which is defined in Ephesians 2:15 as the Mosaic Law, “the law of commandments contained in ordinances.”
That’s how He made peace: He abolished the Law.
Slide 7 or 8
The reason He did it was twofold:
First, “so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”
Second, “that He might reconcile them both—now that they are together, He’s going to—reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
These are the two purposes:
Ephesians 2:15, “to create in Himself one new man,”
Ephesians 2:16, “that He might reconcile them both to God.”
We will wrap up with Ephesians 2:16 and move on to Ephesians 2:17–18.
Ephesians 2:16 states the second principle, “and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity—that is, the Law,” from the previous verse.
APOKATALLAXE is one of the key verbs used for reconciliation. Reconciliation has the idea that harmony or peace is restored between two or more parties, where there has been a state of war, hostility or enmity. That is a favorite way that the translators translate the hostility here, is through “enmity.”
There are two barriers in the passage. The first barrier is the Law; that is, commandments contained in ordinances, and the Law, the precepts of the Law separated Jew and Gentile. Jews had to eat a special diet; Gentiles could not eat that diet. Jews had to keep certain laws of cleansing; Gentiles didn’t have to do that. Jews would not go into Gentile homes; Gentiles would not be invited in unless they were a proselyte and would prepare themselves. All these different stipulations in the Law separated Jew from Gentile.
But the Cross ended that. I want you to notice in this passage that He does this, Ephesians 2:16, through the Cross.
Look at the ways in which this is communicated:
In Ephesians 2:13 the last phrase is “have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
In Ephesians 2:16 the language is “through the cross.”
(He uses different prepositions in the Greek, which is interesting. I don’t want to get off into the weeds on that. I spent two or three hours yesterday just reading through, I think there were 225 different verses that used these two prepositions in proximity to one another, trying to figure out what the distinctions were in what was being said, but will get to that. I’ll summarize that later.)
It’s by means of the blood of Christ, by His death through the Cross that we really see here. That’s the means, but it’s more like that is the basis for what Christ did for Him being able to bring us together.
In Ephesians 2:18 it’s summarized as “through Him,” referring to that work on the Cross.
The second barrier, the one that we will see starting in Ephesians 2:17 is that we are brought together in one body.
We have a sin barrier that not only separated Gentiles and Jews, but the sin barrier that-separated Gentiles and Jews now united in one body from God. That’s his logical progression.
He says that in reconciliation this new body composed of Gentiles and Jews is reconciled to God.
He gives us an interesting verse, Ephesians 2:17, referring to what Christ did. But if you’re not careful, you’ll miss what He did before the Cross.
Ephesians 2:16 says that He is reconciling “both to God in one new body.”
Ephesians 2:17 he gives what it is basically a historical illustration, and in your English New King James it reads, “And He came and preached …”
The English translation treats those as two finite verbs. But the first is a participle and should be translated “after He came” because it’s an aorist participle. An aorist participle will precede the action of the main verb here, which is “preached,” because it’s an aorist tense verb also.
When I teach this with people who don’t know a lot of grammar and don’t know a lot of Greek, they say, “Well, how can you tell exactly how that action relates to one another?” Because it’s not something that is objectively indicated by some ending or prefix in the text. I say, “It’s simple. You just have to think about what you’re talking about.”
Did He come and preach simultaneously? When did He come? He came at birth at the Incarnation. He wasn’t proclaiming anything when He came at birth. So first He had to come, and then He had to proclaim.
I am preaching this morning. First, I had to come here, then following that I am preaching. When you see these words together with a participle, just think through: is it simultaneous or does one precede the other? You have to take it logically.
“After He came” refers to the Incarnation when Jesus the eternal Second Person of the Trinity entered into human history through the virgin conception and birth. Philippians 2, He came and added on humanity to Himself.
As He matured, He went through the normal maturation process of any human. He had to learn, He had to be taught. He was not accessing his omniscience. When He was born, He didn’t come out of the womb teaching about the Law or things of that nature.
He had to go through the process of language acquisition, He had to go through the process of learning the Torah, and all of the other things that we normally learn as we grow up. When He began His public ministry, Ephesians 2:17, He began to “… preach peace—to whom?—to you who were far off and to those who were near.”
Let me ask you a question. When He is preaching to those who are far off? And when Jesus was preaching to those who were near, was He preaching what Paul is talking about in this passage? No, not at all. Why?
In this passage he’s talking about what happens as a result of the Cross and what began on the day of Pentecost when the church was given birth; the beginning of the church was a new organism that would be composed of Jew and Gentile.
Initially, in AD 33, when the church began on the Day of Pentecost, it was only composed of Jews. It wasn’t composed of Gentiles until Acts 10. So, Jesus wasn’t preaching the peace that Paul was preaching after the Day of Pentecost and after Jew and Gentile were together in one body.
We need to take a look at this, simply because you get conflicting information in the commentaries. In one particular commentary—I’m always surprised, nobody ever gets everything right—he makes the point here that this is Christ preaching through the apostles. But that’s not what the tense of the verb is saying. That would entail a present tense verb, that He is now preaching this peace to you through the apostles.
The verbs indicate this is past tense; thus it was the preaching of peace to those who were at enmity with one another in the ministry of Christ. Take a look at a couple of examples.
First of all, let me give you an illustration from John 4. We have borders between nations. We have a border between the US and Canada, and that is a peaceful border. You don’t have a “Checkpoint Charlie” there, you don’t have barbed wire. You don’t have a military presence with machine guns and other weapons. There is peace between the two nations.
But that border is different from the border that we have in the United States between, let’s say, Texas and Louisiana or Texas and Oklahoma, where sometimes you don’t even know that you’ve crossed from one state into the other, except maybe the pavement is a little less smooth.
In these examples the peace that is being preached by Jesus before the cross, before the beginning of the church, is like that peace that we have between the US and Canada. The peace that we have after the cross is like the peace that we have between two states who are part of the same union.
John 4, a situation where Jesus takes His disciples on a little training mission. They’re headed up to Galilee, rather than taking the normal route, which would take them east and across the Jordan, then up to the area that was then known as Perea.
Once they got up by the Sea of Galilee, then they would come back over into the area of Galilee, and completely bypass the area in between. In a map of Israel at that time, Judea was in the South, Galilee in the North, and in between you had “some area.” Just think about it… it’s a slow burn. Samaria is an area you would avoid.
The racism that Jews had for Samaritans was more intense than the hatred a Ku Klux Klan member would have for a black person in America. Just think about that. They would walk 50 miles out of their way to make the route up through Perea rather than take the direct route and walk from Jerusalem due north into Galilee. They would do that every time.
But Jesus takes His disciples this time through Samaria, and they were probably looking at each other wondering why in the world Jesus was taking them this way, because as observant Jews, they did not want to have anything to do with Samaritans. If you asked them, they might prefer to do something with a Gentile rather than a Samaritan. Their hatred of the racial mix of Samaria was extremely intense.
John 4:4–6, “But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar—which is now Nablus—near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there.”
This well had been dug by Jacob around 1800 to 1900 BC. Today it is enclosed in a church, and you can go there as I have. The water is good, and it’s a long way down to the water. The little attendant there will drop a coin or stone or something into it, and you wait about five or six seconds before it hits the water
We’re told in John 4:7 that “a woman of Samaria came to draw water.” She had to come a long way and the terrain there in Nablus is really hilly. She had to go up the hill with the empty containers, then she had to come back down, which was very uncomfortable.
She has a conversation with Jesus, and He begins to witness to her. She’s questioning why He’s even talking to her. John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would’ve asked Him, and He would’ve given you living water.”
She kind of looks at Him, trying to figure what He’s talking about, then she says in John 4:11, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do you get that living water?”
John 4:13–14, Jesus said “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again—referring to the physical water—but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become to him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Jesus went to a Samaritan woman, gave her the gospel and offered her eternal life. In conversing, He focused the attention on Himself. John 4:21, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.”
John 4:23, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
John 4:25–26 The woman had started to put things together and said, “I know that Messiah is coming.” Jesus said, “I who speak to you am He.”
She trusts in Jesus as the Messiah. This is one way in which Jesus is taking the gospel outside of the circle of Jews.
Turn to Matthew 8:5–13 for the next two examples. Here Jesus heals a centurion’s servant. I’ve heard this passage taught many times, but when I taught this in Matthew, I didn’t recognize an element that I picked up on this morning, after what I’ve taught in the verses we’re looking at in Ephesians 2.
Jesus went to Capernaum, where many of you have been, a fishing village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There were a number of Roman officials in a center there. There’s a centurion living there, and he pleads with Jesus in Matthew 8:5, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
The centurion is a Roman soldier, a Gentile. He didn’t make an issue out of the ethnicity of the servant, whether the servant was Jewish or Roman; it is not relevant.
Matthew 8:7, Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” What was the centurion’s response?
Matthew 8:8, “Lord, I’m not worthy that You should come under my roof.” That’s the thing I hadn’t caught before. The centurion is a Gentile, and a Jew would not go into a Gentile’s home. The centurion understood that.
Later after the Lord revealed to him that He’s declared Gentiles clean, Peter will not only invite the Gentile messengers from Cornelius, Acts 10, into his house to spend the night, which never would’ve happened before, but he also went into Cornelius’ house in Caesarea.
This centurion recognizes that this would not be right. No Jew would want to come into his house. Matthew 8:8-–11,
“Lord I’m not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel. And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.’ ”
He takes us right back to the Abrahamic Covenant, where Abraham is told that through his seed all the world will be blessed.
Two things are going on here: Jesus is healed the centurion’s servant, and He talked about his faith. He is saved, and he will be in the kingdom.
The next example, Matthew 15:21. Jesus speaking to the Syrophoenician woman, “Then Jesus went out from there.”
He had been in Galilee, and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. He’s crossed out of Israel into the area of what is Lebanon today, and He saw a Canaanite woman. This is really making the point—He’s going to this unclean Gentile, which is bad enough, but she’s also a Canaanite.
Matthew 15:22, “And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! She recognizes Who He is by giving Him this title, that He is the Son of David. That’s a Messianic title, so using it reveals that she’s a believer. My daughter is severely demon possessed.’ ”
Jesus doesn’t say anything to her. Who’s His ministry to? Remember, early on He sent His disciples out and said, “Only go to the house of Judah and the house of Israel.” He’s making a point, though—He keeps silent—and His disciples say, “Why aren’t You answering her?”
Matthew 15:24–25, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She says, “Lord, help me!”
This is a really interesting passage, Matthew 15:26, “It’s not good to take the children’s bread—who are the children? That’s Israel. The bread represents God’s blessing to Israel. It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Dogs were not nice little pets in the ancient Near East. They were scavengers, they were dirty, they were unclean; they weren’t the pet that you think of when you think of dogs. This is throwing garbage to the scavengers, so he’s not talking very politely of this Canaanite woman.
Today, those who are virtue signaling on the arrogant left, would say, “He’s a racist!” Let’s redefine racism then because Jesus wasn’t a racist, but He uses a very pejorative term here. So maybe that’s not wrong! Maybe there’s a context for it.
“It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Matthew 15:27, “And she said, ‘Yes Lord—this woman is sharp—yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the masters’ table.”
She gave Him a rationale for why she should be blessed, even though His mission right now isn’t to go to the Gentiles.
Matthew 15:28, Jesus said, “ ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
Here are three examples where Jesus recognizes that—not on the principle of the Church-Age body of Christ where there is a unity between Jew and Gentile—but on the basis of Genesis 12:3 in the Abrahamic Covenant that the Israelites were to be a blessing to those around them.
Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.”
If you weren’t aware of it, right now there’s a lot of discussion with the Black Lives Matter organization, who had a couple of marches this last week, one in DC and one in England. In both cases they were chanting anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic chants. Black Lives Matter is inherently an anti-Semitic organization, which means that God will curse them.
Nobody should use the phrase “Black Lives Matter” because that’s just one of those shibboleths that people use to try to win you over to their position. “If you say our slogan, then we’re starting to win our argument.” If anyone validates Black Lives Matter, the organization, either actively or passively, they are involving themselves with anti-Semitism, they are anti-Israel, and this will never end well.
In the Abrahamic Covenant, God went on to say, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God’s not making a division based on who can get to heaven and who can’t. He’s making a division between that group of people that He can work through and the rest of the world—the Gentiles, who rebelled against Him at the Tower of Babel. At this point, He’s calling out Abraham and his descendants, and He will work through them.
God said, Genesis 12:3, “… all the families of the earth shall be shall be blessed,” so it’s on that basis that Jesus is blessing these Gentiles during his ministry.
Ephesians 2:17, “He came and—the text translates it—preached—but the word is EUAGGELIZO, which means to proclaim good news. It’s different from preaching—which is an argument that Harold Hoehner made in his commentary—that He was preaching through the apostles and the prophets. He’s proclaiming good news and, in these situations, three Gentiles who all become believers as a result of His ministry.
Ephesians 2:17, “He is proclaiming the good news to those who were near—that is, the Jews—and to those who are far”—that is, the Gentiles.”
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” “Him” is referring to Jesus Christ, “For through Jesus we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
This is one of eight passages in Ephesians where Paul refers to the Trinity in either one verse or in a strung-together argument. For example, in Ephesians 1:4–14 he breaks it down in terms of the Father in the first four verses, then to the Son, and then the Spirit’s way of blessing us. Also there’s a mention of all three members of the Trinity in Ephesians 1:17–18, and again in Ephesians 2:22.
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him—that is, through Christ, but through the Cross and by means of His blood—we—meaning Jew and Gentile—both have access.”
Access is PROSAGOGEN in the Greek which means freedom to enter or to have access to something.
Under the Law they did not have access to God. Gentiles could not go any further than the Court of the Gentiles. They couldn’t go to the court of the women, they couldn’t go into the Holy Place; they had no access to God. But now through Christ, Who is our High Priest, the veil has been torn in the temple. As our High Priest, we have direct access to God the Father.
This verb PROSAGOGEN is only used three times in the Scripture. Another time that it is used in a significant way is in Romans 5:1–2, the passage we read this morning in our Scripture reading.
Paul begins in Romans 5:1, having already laid out justification in Romans 3 and 4, “Therefore, having been justified by faith—or because we have been justified by faith—we have peace …”
He is saying that once we trust in Christ as Savior we receive the imputation of righteousness, we are declared just. At the instant of faith in Christ we are justified and because of justification, “we have peace—present tense with God—through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Romans 5:2, “through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. Here the access is into this grace, into this position of being recipients of God’s saving grace. As a result, we—rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
This is connected to reconciliation in Romans 5:10–11, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Christ’s death on the cross reconciles us by removing this barrier that has existed. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
The objective aspect to reconciliation: what Christ did on the Cross.
The subjective aspect of reconciliation: when we trust Christ as our Savior.
Ephesians 2:18, “through Him—that is, through Christ—we both have access by one Spirit.”
There is a lot of ink spilled trying to understand the relationship of these Greek prepositions. “For through Him:” “through” is DIA plus the genitive, usually described in English as expressing means, but you also use it with “by one Spirit.” Some say, “Well, it would be redundant for both of them to express means.”
Except when you look at this passage, you have the use of the preposition EN which is the one used with “by one Spirit” as instrumental in Ephesians 2:13: we have been brought near “by means of the blood of Christ,” a reference to His death. Ephesians 2:16, it’s DIA “through the cross.”
They express almost synonymous ideas, but if you’re going to draw the line pretty thin, you’re going to recognize that “through Him,” “through the cross” and “by His blood” represent a more distant means. “By means of the Spirit” is a more immediate means that focuses on our immediate salvation and being brought into the body of Christ.
Let’s look at how this is used especially through Acts and a couple of other epistles to understand the significance of what the Holy Spirit is doing here when it says that we are given “access by one Spirit.”
Acts starts where Luke ends. Luke wrote both Acts and Luke, so it’s Part One and Part Two. Acts starts with the ascension of Christ, then takes us through the early years of the expansion of the church.
At the very beginning of Acts 1 Jesus is with His disciples, and He’s giving them instructions. He reminds them of what John said when John the Baptist began his ministry in Matthew 3:11.
John said that he was baptizing with water, but there would be someone who would come after him that would baptize by means of the Spirit and by means of fire—two different baptisms. The fire is a judgment that comes in the future.
Here he reminds them of John’s baptism. Acts 1:5, “for John truly baptized—and He uses the preposition EN here—baptized with water …” Water is the means by which he made this identification with the Kingdom and the Kingdom message to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
“… for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized—it’s future. ‘You will be in the future,’ John the Baptist said—you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit—that is, by means of the Holy Spirit. Same preposition in Ephesians 2:18 that we have “access by means of the Spirit.”
The Spirit is seen as the instrument or the means by which we are going to be brought into the body of Christ.
Acts 1:8, Jesus said to the disciples, “But you shall—still future tense—you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In Acts 1:5 He’s talking about the baptism by the Spirit. In Acts 1:8 He said, “receiving power by the spirit,” and tells them to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes upon them.
The baptism by the Spirit and receiving power from the Spirit are talking about the same event that will take place on the Day of Pentecost in the beginning of Acts.
We will look at Acts 2:4 and couple of other passages in Acts 2 to catch the progression that’s taking place.
In Acts 1 Jesus says you will be baptized by the Spirit. John the Baptist said the Spirit will come on you. You will receive power; we see that fulfilled in Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The word for “filled” is not the word used in Ephesians 5:18 for the believers’ filling today. That’s a different verb, PLEROO. This is PIMPLEMI which is almost always immediately followed by some sort of speaking. It was distinctive at that time in history, not today.
Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Acts 2:33. Peter is giving his sermon on the Day of Pentecost; talking about the ascension of Christ, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
Peter looked at what happened that morning when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, and they spoke in languages they had not previously learned, as the fulfillment of the promise Jesus had made about the coming of the Spirit in Acts 1:5 and Acts 1:8. That connects the dots for us. What Jesus promised in Acts 1:8 is what happened in Acts 2:4, and Peter identifies it as such in Acts 2:33
In Acts 8, we will see another situation in Samaria. We started off with the first example with the woman at the well in Samaria, and now we have another situation in Acts 8, where Philip has been going and giving them the gospel.
Acts 8:14-16, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God—that is, they became believers—they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The situation in Acts15: the apostles pray, and the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit. Why did God not give them the Holy Spirit when they believed? There are several reasons, but the primary one is, remember the Samaritans, were not only sort of a mongrel ethnicity—not purely Jewish—but they were also a sect that had split off from the Jews.
They only accepted the Pentateuch as Scripture. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim where they worshiped. They worshiped their own way, and they would not go to Jerusalem or to the Temple, so they were a schismatic sect.
Peter and John went, and as a result of their prayer and laying on of hands, they received the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:17. This shows that both groups were united by the apostles.
If the Samaritans had received the Holy Spirit without the connection to the apostles in Jerusalem, then they could have continued to be a group of separatists. But by receiving the Holy Spirit at the hands of the apostles from Jerusalem, they are unified in the same group of believers as the Jews.
Let’s go to the passage I’ve alluded to twice before, Acts 10, when Peter has the vision of a tablecloth that came down three times with all the unclean animals on it. Each time Peter said, Acts 10:14, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything unclean or done anything unclean.”
Acts 10:13, God says, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
Finally, after the third time Peter gets the point, and he is told from heaven, Acts 10:15, “What God has cleansed you must not call common—or unclean.”
That is the point of it because there are already messengers from Cornelius on the way to ask Peter to come to Caesarea. If God had not given him this revelation, he would’ve said, “Oh, there is separation between Jew and Gentile. I can’t go into a Gentile’s home. I can’t eat with the Gentile. They’re unclean. I would become unclean.”
God gives him this vision to say basically what Paul says in Ephesians 2: the barrier’s down; there’s no problem. It’s okay to go with them. When the men came, they spent the night with Peter, and the next day headed up to Caesarea by the Sea.
The key verses are Acts 10:44–45, “While Peter was still speaking these words—when he comes to the household of Cornelius and begins to explain the gospel, while he is speaking—the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision—those who went with him—who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter—that means all of them.
They were all just floored. They just couldn’t believe it—because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”
That last word is important because it tells us that the event in Acts 10:45 is connected to what happened in Acts 2 and by way of application, also Acts 8. All of this is happening with the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Peter is telling the other apostles in Jerusalem what happened in Acts 11:15, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as upon us at the beginning.”
What the apostles experienced in Acts 2 is the same thing that the Gentiles experienced in Acts 11:16, “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized by the Holy Spirit.”
I started this with Jesus saying “Remember what John said. I’m going to leave, but you stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes with power.” The Holy Spirit came in Acts 2, the baptism by the Spirit; then the Holy Spirit came to the Samaritan believers in Acts 8. It’s all tied together in Acts 10 and 11, that it’s all the same thing. All of these groups are now united by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul said, “For by means of one spirit, we were all baptized—or identified—into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
This is the access that Paul is talking about—we have access to God by one Spirit; it’s by the baptism by the Holy Spirit. Every time we see this language, “whether Jew or Greek,” it’s emphasizing Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2:14–18, that we are now both one in one new body.
Paul also speaks of this in Galatians 3:26–28 using the word “baptism,” “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. That is important language: baptism into Christ—you put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Jesus Christ.”
This unity that Paul talks about in Ephesians eradicates racial distinctions for every believer. We are all united as one in the body of Christ; this is the new man that we have put on. As I pointed out last time, this language used in Ephesians 2:15 is that He created in Himself one new man from the two. That new man is the body of Christ.
Next time we will start the next section in Ephesians 2:19 about this new entity—that we’re no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens in the household of God. And, what is the household of God?
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to come together and study Your Word, to be reminded of who we are as Gentiles, that we have been brought together with the Jews in one body, united in one body, and that whatever a person’s ethnicity, it is irrelevant in the body of Christ.
“And that we should learn to work together with other believers on the basis of the unity of faith, as Paul will explain in the next chapter. Sadly, there is little unity of faith today because there’s so much apostasy.
“Father, we’re thankful that we have this new identity in Christ, that we have been given a new position, an elevated position as members of the body of Christ—which indeed is going to be the bride of Christ—and that You have made us special and unique.
“Father, we pray that anyone who is listening to this message that has never trusted in Christ as Savior would understand that becoming a Christian is not a matter of joining the church, it’s not a matter of giving money or doing anything.
“It is simply a matter of trusting in what Christ did on the Cross: trusting in Him alone. Only trust—faith alone; and only Christ—Christ alone. That is the gospel. It’s good news that we don’t have to do anything. We can’t do anything. If we try to do anything, it messes up everything else. All we can do is trust in Christ because He did it all.
“Father, we pray that You would make this very clear to those who are listening. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”