The Barrier is Removed
Ephesians Series #72
June 28, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Our Father, we are so thankful for all that You’ve given us, all that You’ve provided for us, and for Your Word, that Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Father, we know that it is through Your Word that we are made mature, that as our Lord prayed that it is in Your Word and Your truth that we are sanctified.
“It is Your truth that sanctifies us, and that truth is what gives us stability. So we read, we study, we reflect upon Your Word, for that is the means by which You have guaranteed our spiritual growth. As we study today encourage us with all that You have done in the past because that lays the groundwork for all that You will do in the future. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open the Word of God to Ephesians 2, where we will look at the barriers that Christ removed.
There are two barriers if you read carefully through this passage.
One thing that we should reflect upon is that the first barrier is between the Jew and the Gentiles. This was the barrier of the Law, and Christ removed that barrier. He removed the Law, as Paul says in Romans, He is the end of the Law.
The other barrier is one that affects every human being, and that is the barrier between us—between Jew and Gentile together—between all mankind and God. That is removed at the Cross.
I want to go back and point out a couple of things in Ephesians 2:14. I just recited Ephesians 2:8–9; the verse following, Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship …”
We studied the Greek POIEMA, translated “workmanship,” something that is a work of art, something that is of great value. It is inherently that because God creates it. God is perfect; and therefore, that which He creates is perfect. He is creating something here, “we are His workmanship,” in us. “We;” we who?
I want to remind you that what’s so important as we go through Ephesians are these pronouns: the “you” plural, the “we,” and the “us.” It’s important to maintain our consistency in understanding these pronouns.
When Paul is writing to the Ephesian believers and to those in that region, “you” represents “you Gentiles.” Sometimes “you Gentiles” refers to them as unbelievers—what they were before they were saved. Other times, it refers to them as Gentiles in reference to the fact that they have been, as Gentiles, now united into the body of Christ.
“We” is a little more difficult to understand; “we” sometimes refers to “we Jews who first were saved and were the beginning of the body of Christ.” That is referencing back to the Day of Pentecost when you have the apostles, then the preaching of Peter, and then thousands were added to the church that day and in the subsequent days, and that’s the beginning of the church.
They were all Jews up until Acts 10 when Peter was commissioned by God to go to Cornelius and take the gospel officially to the Gentiles. At that point the Gentiles were added to the body of Christ. At the beginning of Ephesians Paul speaks of “we” as “we Jewish background believers.” Then he will shift to “we” as “we now Jew and Gentile together in the body of Christ.”
For example, Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us …” “Us” refers to Jew and Gentile.
Previously, Ephesians 2:1, he had talked about “you Gentiles dead in your trespasses and sins,” then in Ephesians 2:3a, “among whom we also—that is, ‘we Jews before we were saved.”
Ephesians 2:4, “But now God with the love with which He loved us—Jew and Gentile—even when we were (all) dead in trespasses, He made us alive,” keyword: together. “Together’ here refers to Jew and Gentile are now together in one body. The Law could not do that.
In the Old Testament in order for a Jew to be able to worship in the temple, he had to become a full proselyte, which for men involved surgery. They had to go all of the way. You read in the Scriptures of God-fearers, like Cornelius. Those were men who did not go all the way through the surgery, so they could not go all the way into the temple. They were restricted in their access to God. They were saved, but according to the ritual of the Law, there were these distinctions.
But now Paul is emphasizing that in the body of Christ, these distinctions no longer exist. Jew and Gentile have both been made alive together: emphasis on unity. Ephesians 2:5b, they’ve been “made alive together with Christ,” and Ephesians 2:6, “and raised up together—that is, Jew and Gentile positionally raised up together—and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
In the Church Age starting on the Day of Pentecost, at the instant of salvation every person who trusts in Christ as Savior is immediately identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. That is called the baptism by the Holy Spirit. You don’t feel it; you don’t sense it, you don’t get tingly. The only way we know about this spiritual transaction is we learn about it in the Word of God.
We are united together in Christ. That’s an important background for really grasping all that is being said in this particular chapter, especially the verses that we’re looking at this morning.
“Together” relates to Jew and Gentile. “We” starts to mean “we as both Jew and Gentile in Christ”.
Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you—that is, you Gentiles—have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
He’s not saying, “not you Ephesians,” but he is writing to them—most Ephesians are Gentile—so he is not getting off into issues that relate to particularly Jewish background believers; he is emphasizing that there is now this unity.
The reason he needed to emphasize that: we studied in Ephesians 2:11 that Gentiles were looked down upon and were ridiculed by the haughty Pharisees. In their legalism they had elevated themselves more than God ever intended, thinking that they were really special and really something because they were heirs of the covenant of Abraham.
And that that, in and of itself, would mean that they were saved, and that was indicated through the ritual of circumcision. In pharisaical theology it’s the shed blood of the ritual of circumcision that saved people. And that, of course, was completely wrong.
Paul reminded them in Ephesians 2:12 that prior to the Church Age:
- they were without Christ
- they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel
- they didn’t participate in those special privileges that God gave to Israel under the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant
- they were strangers—that is, they did not participate as Gentiles in the covenants of promise (God did not make a covenant with the Gentiles, other than the Noahic Covenant)
- they did not have hope and were without God in the world.
The great contrast in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus—such an important word, our new legal position and identity in Christ. Remember, this is all a corporate concept. We’ve studied this since Ephesians 1:3, that this is a contrast between the class of Gentiles, the class of Jews, looking at them corporately, looking at Israel corporately, looking at the church corporately.
“But now in Christ Jesus … describing those who are corporately—as a class, as an entity—“in Christ”—legally identified with Him and His death, burial and resurrection. “… you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. We saw that it is an idiom, literally meaning ‘by the death of Christ; that’s the work.
We will come back to that concept when we get to Ephesians 2:16 where it says “that He might reconcile them both”—who are “them both?” Jew and Gentile. That’s important. “… reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross,” This is what happens at salvation.
Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace.”
He Himself is our peace. Jesus Christ as the Messiah is the Prince of Peace. He is the One who comes to bring peace with God. I talked about the different meanings of the word peace. Although at times it refers to the absence of violence or the absence of physical conflict, primarily, it refers to peace with God—between sinners and God—because of what Christ did on the cross. It also refers to inner peace, tranquility and contentment that is ours when we are resting, trusting in our Rock, trusting in the Word of God and Christ.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one …” Who are the “both?” I’m really going to belabor this this morning, so just relax. It’s kind of like learning land, seed, and blessing when we studied the Abrahamic Covenant, I want you to be able to say it in your sleep.
“… who has made both one” Who are the “both?” Jew and Gentile. They’re no longer separate entities—that is, those who are believers. They are now one; the emphasis here is on unity.
I’m going to bring out some things about this unity here that you probably haven’t heard before. I haven’t taught it before, and I haven’t heard anyone else who has taught it, but it’s right here in the passage. And it’s contextual; I keep emphasizing the importance of context.
“He has made both one …” he’s laying this groundwork for unity. Unity is a big idea at the beginning of Ephesians 4. We have to understand what this unity means. It’s not that what we’ve learned before is not right, but the unity here is specifically influenced by the unity that it brought about between Jew and Gentile. That’s its primary context; that will help us understand the position.
Ephesians 2:15–16, “He has made both one, and He has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity.”
What is the enmity? It’s an important word. Notice that it is used here, “He abolished in His flesh the enmity,” then at the end of Ephesians 2:16, “putting to death the enmity.” So “abolishing the enmity” equals “putting to death the enmity.”
What was the enmity? The enmity is then explained in this next clause, “… the law of commandments contained in ordinances …” referring to the Mosaic Law. What, for the Jew was the symbol of submission to the Mosaic Law? Circumcision, Ephesians 2:11.
This enmity is the Law, but it is exemplified by circumcision. So as to express His purpose, to do two things: “to create” in Ephesians 2:15 and “to reconcile” in Ephesians 2:16.
Ephesians 2:15–16, “… so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
Notice this: Ephesians 2:14 starts with the primary statement of this three-verse sentence, “For He Himself is our peace,” and at the end Ephesians 2:15, “thus making peace.”
What does that tell us? When we look at a statement saying one thing at the beginning and repeating the verbiage a little bit later on, we know that it is bracketing, so that everything in between is talking about the same thing.
The reason I bring that out is when we read the phrase, “For He Himself is our peace,” what’s the first thing that came to your mind? Peace with God. Is this talking about peace with God? No, because if you look between the two statements about peace, he’s not talking about peace with God, he’s talking about peace between Jew and Gentile. That’s really important to recognize.
In fact, I was reading one very well-known commentary today written by the head of the Greek department, who has since gone to be with the Lord. He makes the statement at the beginning of this section that it’s very difficult to determine when we first read Ephesians 2:14 whether this is talking about peace with God or peace between men.
He comes down on the peace between Jew and Gentile, but he missed the observation that I just made. It’s bracketed here so that the peace is described as making both one, as removing the middle wall of separation, abolishing the enmity, creating in Himself one new man from the two. By creating one new man from the two in Himself, He made peace—that’s how He made peace.
I’m going to break this down further. This is an extremely complex sentence, but the thoughts and the relationship of the thoughts in these three verses is critical. He starts off telling us what Christ did in Ephesians 2:14.
“He Himself is our peace.” That is the topical clause. Then he has to say a few things to elaborate on that statement. First, he wants to say what He did—“He” referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. He made both one, and—notice the conjunction here—“and” means that it puts these two together as two equal actions: 1) He made both one, 2) He broke down the middle wall of separation. This is done when? At the Cross.
Ephesians 2:14 tells us what Christ did: He made us both one; He broke down the wall of separation.
Secondly, the first part of Ephesians 2:15 tells us how He did it. It’s usually expressed in the English, by “having abolished in His flesh …” emphasizing that this happened in the past. It expresses it with the past tense “abolished,” which is all good, but it’s a participle of means.
There are about 10 or 12 different ways a participle modifies a verb. It’s not clearly stated. It’s not objective. It could have been causal. It could have been time. One translation translates it “when,” which very much expresses the truth: when did He make us both one and break down the middle wall of separation? He did it when He abolished in His flesh the enmity.
I think the sense here is more means. It’s how He did it. How did He make us both one? How did He break down the wall separation? He did it by abolishing in His flesh the enmity.
Enmity is defined: the law of commandments contained in ordinances. Those two terms always refer back to the Mosaic Law.
The third point: why did He do it? He did it for two reasons, expressed by the grammar in the Greek, and it’s obfuscated—that is, it is made cloudy, difficult to understand—by the English translation. I used italics to express these two purpose clauses.
Why did he do it?
First, “that He might create …”
Second (the verse number breaks up the thought, so that’s where we miss it) “that He might reconcile …” That’s the two whys.
Why did He do this? First, so that He might create in Himself one new man.
Did anybody see an important word in that phrase? It is “create,” which takes us back to and is why I reminded you of Ephesians 2:10, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:15 we read that being created in Christ Jesus is related to creating in Himself this one new man. That’s part of this masterpiece that Christ creates back in Ephesians 2:10.
I’m stressing this because it is so overlooked today. This is taking you and me, every believer that we know together and every believer since the Day of Pentecost and is elevating us to a position that is far superior to any believer prior to that time. It’s the church, the body of Christ, this new organism that God created on the Day of Pentecost, and it’s a masterpiece.
This masterpiece is composed of a unification of believers—Jew and Gentile together—in this one body. The first thing that happens is this creation in Himself of one new man from the two. I’ll come back to that phrase later.
What’s the last line of Ephesians 2:15? “Thus making peace.” It’s a result participle with the result that peace is made. That closes out the bracketing of what’s covered in Ephesians 2:14–15. It’s by His death, and His death is for the purpose of creating in Himself one new man from the two.
But he did a second thing; He had a second purpose, “that He might reconcile …” so this brings in the Doctrine of Reconciliation that reconciliation is not just between us and God.
Remember, we are always reconciled to God. God is not reconciled to us. In arrogance most people want God to conform to us and give us permission to do what we want, but Christ at the cross reconciled us—we were the ones who were out of line—reconciled us to God.
But reconciliation in Ephesians 2:16 isn’t between Jew and Gentile and God, it is “that He might reconcile them both—who’s the “them both?” Jew and Gentile—that He might reconcile them both to God in one body—that is the present church.”
This is foundational for understanding what THE CHURCH is. A church is important because a local church is a manifestation of the body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:16, “that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross—which is parallel to ‘through His blood’ in Ephesians 2:13—through the cross thereby—or with the result that—He put to death the enmity.”
All of that comes out of just examining the basic structure of his thought, and that’s so important today. That’s why we have to learn to think logically. Logic is expressed through grammar. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands of people who don’t like grammar. Grammar is so important. Grammar is almost as important as history for understanding the Bible.
Let’s break this down a little bit.
Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace,” that’s our topical sentence. That’s the main clause. “He Himself” is a structure in the Greek language emphasizing that it is Christ Himself. It is His uniqueness that establishes our peace.
I talked about peace last time, and in context here the peace in this parenthetical point in Ephesians 2:14–16, is making the both one. There is peace between Jew and Gentile. He has made both one.
We have to deal with a little grammar here, because grammar really brings out some important things.
“Making” is the Greek POIEO, which simply means “to make,” but it’s an aorist active participle. The aorist tense means it happened in the past. Well, when in the past? It happened at the Cross. That’s where this transaction took place.
Ephesians 2:14, “… who has made them both one.” “Both” is the Greek AMPHOTERA, but it has an article. The article with it is very important. It says, made “the both one,” so it’s identifying “the both” that we’ve been talking about. But since it’s an adjective, it can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. It’s neuter here, which is really important. We will find the word “both” two more times.
In Ephesians 2:16, “that He might reconcile them both to God …” it’s masculine.
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father,” also masculine.
Why is it neuter in Ephesians 2:14? Because it is referring to the classes of Jew and Gentile—that these classes of people are now brought together as believers in Christ. It is not talking about reconciliation between human beings and God. That comes to play in Ephesians 2:16 because “reconciling them both—is human beings. That’s why it has to be masculine—to God—God is also masculine.”
“Both” has to be masculine gender in Ephesians 2:16 because it’s not talking about classes of people anymore, it’s talking about human beings and God, and it’s more personal. Same thing in Ephesians 2:18.
Just a shift by that adjective brings out an important distinction between what’s being talked about. First, a reconciliation between two classes of people in Christ, and the second is reconciliation between humanity and God.
Ephesians 2:14, first, “He has made both one …” and second thing that He does is “He has broken down the middle wall of separation.”
What’s important to recognize here is the verb “made,” “He has made,” and “He has broken” are both participles. They are both identical in their grammatical breakdown. He’s saying He did two things: He made both one; and second, He broke down the middle wall of separation.
What in the world is “the middle wall of separation?” First of all, we have to understand the word “abolish” that comes up in Ephesians 2:15 because, “He’s broken down the middle wall of separation by having abolished—or by abolishing—in His flesh the enmity.” That’s how He broke down the middle wall of separation.
This is an important word in Greek. It’s also used in 1 Corinthians 13:9–10, that the gifts of prophecy will be abolished and the gifts of wisdom will be abolished. It means that something is completely nullified: it is abolished; it’s completely done away with.
Here it emphasizes that this wall of separation between Jew and Gentile is obliterated, it’s nullified. It doesn’t exist anymore; it has no role in the current dispensation.
It is further defined in Ephesians 2:15 as the enmity. He had broken down the middle wall of separation “by abolishing in His flesh—that is, on the Cross when He bore in His own body on the tree our sins—the enmity—the enmity equals that middle wall of separation, which is defined as—“the law of commandments contained in the ordinances.”
In Ephesians 2:16, he repeats “the enmity” saying that this results “in putting to death the enmity.”
The first thing this means and tells us is that the Mosaic Law is now nullified. In fact, it was only for Israel. No Gentile in the Old Testament was ever held accountable by God for the observance of the Mosaic Law. It was never intended for Gentiles. It was only intended for Israel because they were God’s chosen people: a nation chosen for a specific purpose.
It had no relevance whatsoever to any Gentile. According to this passage, it has no relevance for any Church Age believer, because that middle wall of separation—the law of commandments and ordinances—is abolished; it’s over with. We are not under the Law anymore.
Does that mean that we can just do whatever we want to do? No, because there are still standards and absolutes and commands in the New Testament that express God’s standards for the life of a believer. We are held to a higher standard as believers in Christ than anyone else. There are things that people can do that are perhaps legal, but as believers they don’t cut it. They are not part of the standards for the body of Christ.
So, the Law is canceled, but that doesn’t mean we’re lawless. There is the law of Christ: the law of love. There are new standards that are given in the New Testament.
This wall of separation was illustrated by a physical wall in the temple. I have two or three slides here showing you what the temple was like, from the Holman Christian Study Bible.
Pictured is Herod’s Temple. Along this lower left side is Solomon’s Portico, where the moneychangers were. Over on the west side you can see one of the entrances into the courtyard. If you’ve been to Israel, this is like Wilson’s Arch here, just to the north of the Western Wall, which was the retaining wall on this side of the temple.
Entering this courtyard, you notice an outer wall—that’s not the significant one. You would have to go through the gatekeeper just to make sure of who you are, what your identity is. You’re bringing a sacrifice to make sure you have washed in the mikveh on the southern steps, that you are cleansed and ritually prepared to go in to worship God.
Next the first courtyard, the court of the Gentiles. This low wall, which is about 4½ feet high, is the soreg, which was designed to prevent Gentiles from entering into the main part of the temple.
Two Greek inscriptions are here, discovered archaeologically. The first was found in 1871, about 2 feet high and 3 feet wide and is now in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. The inscription reads, “Let no foreigner enter within the partition and enclosure surrounding the temple.”
There is another inscription that was discovered in 1935, now located at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. There were warning signs all around the temple prohibiting a Gentile from going any further.
This is from Logos Bible Software, how they depict the temple; on the outside is this low wall, which is the soreg that marks off the Gentiles. Jewish women and men could go beyond that.
This outer courtyard here is the courtyard of the women. Only the men could go beyond that into the priests’ courtyard, where they would bring sacrifices for the family.
Here’s another diagram showing that same wall, the soreg. That’s not the wall of separation that Paul is talking about, but it illustrated that its purpose was to prevent Gentiles from coming in because they can only go so far. The Law separated them from Israel.
Ephesians 2:15. Here I’m showing two translations that back up what I’ve been saying. The ESV translates that first abolishing as a participle of means “by abolishing the law of commandments—to do two things—that He might create—and Ephesians 2:16, and He might reconcile us both to God.”
The second example comes from the NET. They take the participle as a participle of time “when He nullified—that is, at the Cross—when He nullified …”
Notice how they express the purpose or the result, “He did this to create in Himself one new man, Ephesians 2:16, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross.”
These two purposes answer our question of why.
We looked at what Jesus did at the beginning: He made peace and He broke down the wall of separation.
We looked at how He did it: “by abolishing the enmity in His flesh, that is, the law of commandments.”
Why did He do it? Answered by two purpose clauses, Ephesians 2:15–16:
“so as—or for the purpose of—creating in Himself one new man from the two,”
“and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
We need to look at the phrase, Ephesians 2:15, “the new man.” “He is creating in Himself one new man.”
This is the first time we see this terminology in Ephesians, so I want to remind you of something that I’ve said several times, that the first three chapters describe the wealth of the believer. This is foundational to understand the walk. First, Paul tells us what we have in Christ; then he tells us what difference that’s supposed to make—how we are to live. The third thing starting in Ephesians 6:10 will be the warfare.
It’s interesting that when you read through Ephesians, there are a lot of terms and phrases that are used in the first three chapters that must be understood contextually within those chapters, because they’re going to be used again in Ephesians 4, 5, and 6, and they’re used the same way. We’re not going to change our meaning from what we established in the first three chapters to what’s in the next part. Paul is very logical in this.
What is the new man? A lot of times we will read this and think regeneration. Wrong. He’s creating from what? “… in Himself one new man from the two.” From Jew and Gentile. That’s not regeneration.
The new man is what? The new man is the body of Christ. The new man is this new entity that is in Christ. The new man is not an individual; it is a corporate idea. How many times have I said the word “corporate” in the last year and ½ since we’ve been in here? We, we, we, us, us, us; it’s all corporate. We’re in the body of Christ. The new man is the new entity; the new man is the body of Christ.
Let’s look at how this is used in a couple of other places. I won’t go through all of them as we will get to this in Ephesians 4, just giving you a preview of coming attractions here.
Colossians 3:9–11 uses this in the exact same way, “Do not lie to one another—Why?—since you have put off the old man with his deeds.”
There was a time—it may be in the Scofield Reference Bible—when people took the old man as the sin nature, taking the position that you put off the sin nature.
Well, I’m not going to ask for show hands because I always know the answer, “How many of y’all are sinners?” We all still have a sin nature. We haven’t put it off. We haven’t taken it off. The word indicates the removal of clothing. We haven’t removed the sin nature.
The old man is not the sin nature. The old man is: what we were, who we were, our identity—before we were saved. Paul puts it in the past tense here, “… since you have put off …” What has happened is that we all put off the old man.
I’ve taught this. You can listen to the tapes of the messages I did in Romans 6–8 on sanctification about 1998 or 1999 up in Preston City. The old man is everything we were before we were saved.
Colossians 3:9, “… you have put off the old man with his deeds,”
Colossians 3:10, “and you have put on the new man.”
I taught before that the new man is all that we are in Christ. That’s true. But what I’ve discovered from looking at the use of the new man in Ephesians 2:15 is that this new man we’ve put on is the body of Christ—our identity as a Church Age believer.
It is more than just all that we are now in Christ. It is that, but it is talking about what we are as Church Age believers. That’s our new identity in Christ. That is what should inform every thought deed and action now that we are believers.
Colossians 3:10, we have put on the new man, that’s positional. The next word is experiential, have or being—“renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
Adam is created in the image and likeness of God. Adam sins. The image and likeness doesn’t go away. It is now corrupted, so that Genesis 5:2–3, Adam has sons and daughters, and they’re in the image of Adam. That doesn’t mean the image of God went away, because God says in the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9:6, “he who sheds man’s blood—or commits murder—shall by man have his blood shed …” That’s capital punishment, because he has shed the blood of someone in the image of God. We’re still in the image of God.
What is said in the New Testament in Romans 8:28–30? We are being conformed to the image of Christ. So, in regeneration, that corruption that is ours that we inherited from Adam through the sin nature is going to be partially dealt with.
It’s not eradicated, but it is dealt with through sanctification because God is working to conform us by the renewing of our minds. Studying the Word of God, not being conformed to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of your mind—that is the experience of our spiritual growth—according to the image of the One who created them, which is God.
There is a reversal. I think for a lot of us it’s minute, for others it’s minute squared, for others it’s a little bit more than that. I don’t know how much, but we still have a sin nature, and we still struggle with that sin nature.
Look at what else Paul says here in Colossians 3:10, “who is renewed in the knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” Where did He create him? There’s that word again. Where did we see it?
In Ephesians 2:10 and Ephesians 2:15, that the new man is created in Himself. Colossians 3:10, “according to the image of Him who created him …” Where did he create us? In Christ, Ephesians 2:15, “in Himself.”
Colossians 3:11, “where there is neither Jew nor Greek, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all it all.”
Here’s the question: where do you find that similar phraseology? You find it in passages like Galatians 3:27–28 stating that we have been baptized or identified into Christ, so there is no longer Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond nor slave. This is our new identity in Christ.
It doesn’t mean there are no more women or men, males or females, that there are no longer role distinctions; there certainly are. But under the Law where there is a separation between Jew and Gentile, Gentiles couldn’t get into the temple, women could only go as far as the courtyard of the women, men could only get into the area just outside the Holy Place. Only priests could go into the Holy Place, and only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.
BUT NOW in Christ, in our new identity—identified with Him through the baptism by the Spirit that places us in Christ identifying us with His death, burial and resurrection—whether you’re Jew or Gentile—because together you’ve been made one—whether you’re male or female, bond or slave, you have access to God.
What does Paul say in Ephesians 2:18? “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
That did not happen in the Old Testament, but that’s our new identity in Christ. Colossians 3:9–11 fits this.
We will get to Ephesians 4 in the future, but I’ll just mention it now. Look at one other thing in Ephesians 4, which starts the application process based on the first three chapters.
Ephesians 4:1. “Therefore …”
What’s he saying? “I’m going to draw a conclusion. We’re going to look at the inferences of everything that I’ve said in the first three chapters. Now we are going to see what it means.”
Ephesians 4:1, “Therefore, I the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you are called.” The rest of Ephesians 4–6 is going to explain that.
Ephesians 4:2 “with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love …” That’s not just with one another as believers, it is Jew and Gentile bearing with one another in love. Remember, unity is defined in Ephesians 2:14–18. You’re not just bearing with one another in love, but specifically, contextually, one another as Jew and Gentile. The middle wall of separation’s gone; the enmity is removed
Ephesians 4:3, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” That’s true for every believer, but specifically in context he says this is especially true now that we have this unity, this one body in the church.
Ephesians 4:4–5, “There is one body—Jew and Gentile are now one body; that’s the first thing—and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism—for Jew and Gentile alike because they are now one in the body of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:22; Paul says, “… that you put off …”
That is often taken as a command that you should put off or that you ought to put off, but that’s not what it says. It’s an aorist infinitive: it’s “that you have put off,” just like in Colossians.
Ephesians 4:22–24, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man—that’s all that you were before you were saved—the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed—that’s the same language as Colossians 3. This is your experiential growth—in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on—it’s like ‘that you should put on.” No. It’s also an aorist infinitive. It means—that you have put on the new man which was created.”
Every time we see this new man, he is a special creation of God. It’s not regeneration because it all goes back to Ephesians 2:15, “He created in Himself one new man from the two.” It’s not regeneration, it’s the church.
This ought to blow our minds! People who are Christians and have what they call a low self-image are saying none of this is true. They’re still getting their identity from the world and from their old man who is dead and gone. Our identity in Christ is incredible. Other passages talk about the royalty we have as members of the body of Christ.
We are elevated above every other believer. We have been given privileges and blessings beyond any believer of any other dispensation. This ought to blow our minds. It ought to change how we think about everything in our life because we are not who we think we are. We are what God says we are. We are adopted into His royal family, and we have been given a unique blessing.
The result of all this is given in Ephesians 2:17, “And He came and preached …” That means Christ came after the resurrection and proclaimed—not preached; that has a totally different nuance. The verb KERUSSO is to proclaim—peace—the peace between Jew and Gentile—to you who are far off—that’s the Gentile—and to those who were near.”
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him—that is, through His death on the Cross through the blood of Christ—we both—who’s the both? We both, Jew and Gentile—have access by one Spirit to the Father.” To get the point across I would say “have equal access by one Spirit to the Father.”
I’ve charted this: The first barrier—the Gentiles are on one side, separated by the Law from Jews.
But the first barrier is removed through His blood by the death of Christ, by the Cross.
The second barrier is the sin barrier that separates Gentile and Jew from God.
But the sin barrier is removed by Christ. It is gone. The issue now isn’t what have you done, it isn’t what sins have you committed, the issue is, “what do you think about Christ?” Because He paid the penalty for sin. The sin barrier is removed, so that the issue is faith in Christ
To make it simple, I modified the barrier: three issues that separate us from God:
First, there is a legal penalty of sin. Every person is under that legal penalty of death. Christ paid that penalty for everyone. Penalty of sin is taken care of by the cross. We have two other problems: we lack righteousness, and we lack life. Christ paid the penalty for sin, but that doesn’t mean everyone is saved. It just means everyone had the sin penalty taken care of.
How do you get righteousness? The same way Abraham did in Genesis 15:6. God imputed righteousness to Abraham and declared him just by faith. We are justified by faith. That’s the illustration Paul uses in Romans 4.
How do we get life? When we trust in Christ, God gives us life. Again and again and again, that’s the message of Jesus in the Gospel of John.
The penalty of sin is paid for by Christ, but that doesn’t automatically save us. When we trust in Christ—that’s our responsibility—then the righteousness becomes perfect righteousness because we receive the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. You’re declared just by God, and given His life, and that life is life eternal.
John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came not to steal and destroy, like a thief, but to give life—that’s eternal life at faith in Christ—and give it abundantly.” That’s what we realize when we grow spiritually.
John 20:31, “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that by believing you will have life in His name.”
It is the Cross that removes the barrier between man and God, and the issue then is just faith in Christ.
“Father, we thank You for the clarity of Your Word, being able to see how different passages correlate and reinforce the message of other passages. We thank You for this new identity that we have as believers in Christ—that there is no longer Jew or Gentile, there’s no longer that division, that distinction, that animosity, that enmity—but we are now one in Christ. From two both have become one.
“Father, this is due to the work of Christ on the cross, what He has accomplished in establishing this fabulous new entity called the church. This is why it’s important to be involved in a local church or maybe an extended due to other circumstances, but that we are involved as part of that body because it’s the localized expression of this body of Christ that is so remarkable.
“For those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, let me reiterate that it is very simple. It is simply to believe Christ died on the cross for your sins, to trust in Him, to rely upon Him and Him alone for your salvation. “There is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby you must be saved.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” That is the only way.