Lesson 10: Part 1 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe Date: 4/14/17

Lesson 10: The Peace which Christ Accomplished in His Death (2:14-18)

Ephesians 2:14-18 (KJV)
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Commentary
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

“For he is our peace,”
He (God) is the person responsible for peace between Jew and Gentile: there was a great resentment by the Jews against the Gentiles, and by the Gentiles against the Jews; and it was chiefly on account of circumcision, the one being without it, and the other insisting on it, and they branded one another with insulting nicknames on account of it. But Christ has made peace between them by nullifying the ceremonial law, which was the justification for their differences, and by sending the Gospel of peace to them both, by converting some of each, and by granting the same privileges to all of them, which may be observed in the following verses.

Christ is the author of peace between God and His people. There is occurring naturally in man hostility toward God which ranges between bad feeling and outright hate. Sin has separated friends and it separates men from God; nor can any man, on his own, make his peace with God; what he does, or can do, will not do it; and what will, he cannot do. Christ is the only suitable person for this work, for He stands between God and man, and is the only One able to bring it about, seeing that he is God as well as man. He gets close to God, picks up the tab for our sins, speaks with Him about terms for peace, agrees to them, and performs them. He can do it all because He brings it about by his blood, his sufferings and death; and He does it on honorable terms, by fully satisfying the law and justice of God. His peace is a lasting one, and is accompanied with a train of blessings; moreover, Christ is the donor of peace, of external peace in His churches, and of internal peace of conscience in His people, and of eternal peace in heaven.

“who hath made both one;”
Jews and Gentiles, one people, one body, one church; He united them, and caused them to agree as one, and made them to be of one mind and one judgment by the above methods; and He gathered them together in one body, with one head, Himself, who represented them all.

“and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
Paul addresses Christians of both the Jewish and Gentile background. Between these Christians there had been a dividing wall, not literally but socially, thus segregating them. The division was seen in the church in many places (see Acts 15:5).

Every time the term “partition” is used in the New Testament it is in the sense of a fence or enclosure. Jesus used the term to describe a wall around a vineyard (Matt 21:33; Mark 12:1). Within the enclosure of God’s people, Jews and Gentiles, Paul spoke of a middle wall that divided God’s people. In Christ this middle wall was broken down; i.e., there was now no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile in Christ’s kingdom.

In the Temple area, there was literally a wall called chel, which separated the court of Israel from the court of the Gentiles. No Gentile was allowed to cross that dividing line. However illustrative of the point Paul was making, this was not the wall (literally) about which Paul spoke, for this wall was not broken down till the temple itself was destroyed; hence, the apostle cannot be supposed to allude to this transaction, since it did not take place until long after the writing of this epistle. Moreover, the dividing wall of which he spoke was far more formidable, being a wall of blind prejudice.

When, at the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom, it was an emblem that the way to the holiest was laid open, and that the people at large, both Jews and Gentiles, were to have access to the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for

to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity”
“Having abolished,”as used here, means “having brought to nothing” or “having put an end to it.” The thought here is similar to that in Hebrews 10:20, where the new and living way is said to have been opened up through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, thus lending probability to the view held by some that Paul was referring to the veil of the temple ("middle wall" in Ephesians 2:14) which was torn when Christ died. He said regarding the "middle wall of partition ..." This probably is a symbolical reference to the partition in the temple which set apart the court of the Gentiles. Its destruction was characterized in the rending of the veil of the temple at the time of the crucifixion (see Matthew 27:51).

“In his flesh” points to Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of His body on the cross. The apostle is stating something that he believes is important for Christians to know: “It was not merely by instruction; it was not by communicating the knowledge of God; it was not as a teacher; it was not by the mere exertion of power; it was by His flesh―his human nature―and this can only mean that He did it by His sacrifice of himself.” Language such as this is appropriate when speaking of the doctrine of the atonement; though it does not teach it directly; but still, one who believed that doctrine would likely use it, and no one else.

It appears from what follows that “Enmity” is used here for the ceremonial law."No iron curtain, color bar, class distinction or national frontier of today is more absolute than the cleavage between Jew and Gentile, going all the way back in antiquity." Christ revoked, annulled and replaced the entire Jewish system with another institution, that of the New Covenant, in which all former distinctions were canceled. “The enmity” (hatred)between the Jew and the Gentile was “caused by the Jew’s law of commandments contained in the written law.” The idea is that the ceremonial law of the Jews, on which they so much prided themselves, was the cause of the hostility existing between them. That made them different people, and laid the foundation for the alienation which existed between them. They had different laws; different institutions; a different religion. The Jews looked upon themselves as the favorites of heaven, and as in possession of the knowledge of the only way of salvation; the Gentiles regarded their laws with contempt, and disrespected their unique institutions. When Christ came and abolished by His death their special ceremonial laws, of course the cause of this alienation ceased.

“even the law of commandments contained in ordinances”
Which consisted of many rules, and carnal ordinances; and is so called because it was an indication of God's hatred of sin, for He required sacrifice from anyone breaking it; and because it stirred up the enmity of the natural man. It was a burden, and a very heavy one for the flesh bear, because of its many and troublesome rites; and because it was the cause of enmity between Jew and Gentile. The Jews say that Sinai, the mount on which the law was given, signifies "hatred"; and that it is called that because from it descended "hatred" or "enmity" to the nations of the world. Now Christ abolished, "in His flesh", or by it; not by His incarnation, but by the sacrifice of His flesh, or human nature, which was in union with His divine nature; but not until he had fulfilled it in himself, which was one reason for His coming into the world. BUT WHY DID HE ABOLISH IT? He did it, so it would no longer exist, and would be of no use and service; and because it was imperfect and inadequate, weak and unprofitable, as well as intolerable; and because there was a change in the priesthood; and because it was contrary to a spirit of liberty, the great blessing of the Gospel; and so that there might be a reconciliation and a coalition between Jew and Gentile.

This “law” was “the partition” or “fence,” which embodied the expression of the “enmity” (the “wrath” of God against our sin, and our enmity to Him (Ephesians 2:3) (see also Romans 4:15; Romans 5:20; Romans 7:10, Romans 7:11; Romans 8:7). Christ has in, or by, His crucified flesh, abolished it, so far as its condemning and enmity-creating power is concerned―“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). He did not just do away with it, but substituted for it the law of love, which is the everlasting spirit of the law, and which flows from the realization in the soul of His love in His death for us.


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