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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ephesians Chapter 3 Part One


The primary reemphasis is on the great mystery now revealed by God that Gentiles and Jews are one in Christ and that there is no longer any distinction. The revelation of the mystery is discussed in verses 1-3, the explanation of it in verses 4-6, the proclamation of it in verses 7-9 and finally the intention of it in verses 10-13.
To be specific, he says in verse 6, the sacred secret never before revealed is that “the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” That verse is essentially a summary of 2:11-22.
In 3:1-13 the apostle leads us to focus on five aspects of this divine mystery: its prisoner, its plan, its preaching, its purpose and its privileges.
Ephesians 3:1
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,"
The writer begins his second prayer in behalf of the readers. “For this cause” indicates the reason for his prayer; this expression refers to their being part of the church, which is “a habitation of God” (2:22). Since God lives in the recipients, Paul prays for them. “I Paul”: from this point the apostle’s prayer is side-tracked until its resumption in verse 14.
Before beginning his prayer, Paul decided to go over again some of those truths which prompted it, emphasizing their divine source. The apostle knew the value of repetition in teaching and the importance of establishing authority when teaching such new and nontraditional doctrine.
We none understand a truth fully when we first hear it. God’s truths are so marvelous and vast that we will never comprehend them fully in this life, no matter how many times we hear and study them.
This digression reveals Paul’s own divinely appointed part in disclosing the enormous truth explained in 2:11-22 – that Gentile believers now stand on equal footing with their Jewish brethren in God’s family.
The prisoner of Jesus may be read “a prisoner because of Jesus.” Paul’s imprisonment is due to the Lord’s work; it is not due to any wrongdoing on his part.
Although Paul had been a prisoner for about two years in Caesarea and two years in Rome, he did not consider himself to be a prisoner of any government or person. Rather, he knew he was under Christ’s control, and every aspect of his life was in the Lord’s hands. He suffered imprisonment for preaching to Gentiles, see 2 Cor. 4:8-15.
For the cause of the Gentiles being offered Christianity is possibly what Paul is speaking of here. Paul really would rather have brought his message to the Jews, but the Lord had sent him to the Gentiles.
The reason the Lord chose him to bring the message to the Gentiles could have been because he had been a Pharisee. The fact that he was ministering to the Gentiles, would show the great change that had come when he received the Lord Jesus into his life.
From verses 2-13 in this parenthetical passage, Paul interrupted the thought begun in verse 1 to reemphasize and to expand upon the truths he had just written. He was compelled to affirm his authority for teaching the oneness of Jew and Gentile in Christ, verses 2-7, a new and far reaching truth that most of the Ephesians doubtless found difficult to comprehend or accept.
Ephesians 3:2
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:"
On man's part the continuing requirement is obedience to the revelation of God. This obedience is a (dispensation) or stewardship of faith.
Stewardship … given me”: “Stewardship” here means an administration or management. Paul did not choose the stewardship of his apostleship or ministry. God had sovereignly commissioned him with the calling, spiritual gifts, opportunities, knowledge and authority to minister as the apostle to the Gentiles.
The dispensation of the grace of God” means “the provision consisting of God’s grace.” This refers to the divine ability given Paul which enabled him to successfully execute his apostolic ministry to the Gentiles.
Every believer is a steward of the calling, spiritual gifts, opportunities, skills, knowledge, and every other blessing he has from the Lord. Everything we have belongs to the Lord, and we are therefore entrusted as stewards to manage our lives and everything we possess in behalf of the One to whom they belong.
We are faithful stewards when we use what we have to minister to those within the family of God and witness to those who are without. “As each one has received a special gift,” Peter admonishes us, “employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
"Dispensation", in the verse above, means administration. The job of bringing the message of grace to the Gentiles had been given to Paul by the Lord Jesus.
Acts 9:15 "But the Lord said unto him, go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:"
In the beginning when Paul had founded the church at Ephesus, they heard that God had called him to bring the gospel message to the Gentiles primarily and to all men as convenience arose. This was, in a sense, Paul's converts and he felt responsible for them knowing the truth.

Ephesians 3:3
"How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,"
 “As I wrote afore in few words” refers to 1:9-10 and 2:11-22 where the author only touched on “the mystery” which God had “made known” to him. In the most general of terms 1:9-10, identifies this “mystery” as the establishing of a new humanity under the headship of Christ. A bit more specifically, 2:11-22 defines it as the inclusion of Gentile Christians along with Jewish Christians in God’s family. But 3:6 will spell out with even more precision exactly what this mystery entails.
As we said, above, Paul did not learn the good news of the gospel in the school he attended under Gamaliel. His knowledge of the good news of Jesus had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit of God, while he spent 3 years in the Arabian Desert seeking truth of God.
Paul would never have sought for the truth about Jesus, had he not encountered the great Light on the road to Damascus. The writing in a few words was earlier in this letter to Ephesians.
Ephesians 3:4
"Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)"
It was Paul’s intention not simply to declare the mystery but to explain and clarify it. When Ephesian believers, and every subsequent believer, would read his explanations (here stated as an assumed part of Christian living), Paul’s hope was that they would come to understand his God-given insight into the mystery of Christ.
There were many truths hidden and later revealed in the New Testament that are called mysteries. Here is one: Jew and Gentile brought together in one body in the Messiah. Paul not only wrote of the mystery that, in Christ Jew and Gentile become one in God’s sight and in His kingdom and family, but also explained and clarified that truth. He realized that spiritual knowledge must precede practical application. What is not properly understood cannot be properly applied.
Paul had just casually mentioned it before, and now he will go into greater detail about his encounter with Jesus Christ and with his subsequent study through the teaching by the Holy Spirit.
Some of the things, pertaining to Jews and the Gentiles, had to be unlearned of Paul, because in the law, the Jews thought of all Gentiles as unclean heathen people.
Ephesians 3:5
"Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;"
In other ages was not made known”: Though God had promised universal blessing through Abraham, Genesis 12:3, the full meaning of that promise became clear when Paul wrote Gal. 3:28. Isaiah 49:6 predicted salvation to all races, but it was Paul who wrote of the fulfillment of that pledge, Acts. 13:46-47.
Paul disclosed a truth that not even the greatest prophets understood, that within the church, composed of all the saved since Pentecost in one united body, there would be no racial, social, or spiritual distinctions.
That the divine blessings of salvation would be extended to the Gentiles was made known from Genesis 12:3 onward. That Gentiles could be saved, therefore, was no secret. But a mystery “not made known” in Old Testament times was the incorporation of Jewish and Gentile believers alike as fellow members of the body of Christ. This secret is “now revealed unto his holy apostles and” (Christian) “prophets.”
The other ages that Paul is speaking of, is pertaining to the days of the Old Testament. The Law of Moses was full of ordinances and sacrifices, but offered very little personal fellowship with the Lord. Christianity is so different from the law. The law was fulfilled in Jesus and the Christians are no longer under the regulations the law put upon them.
The “sons of men” refer to mankind in general, not just to God’s chosen people, Israel. Before the church age no person, not even the greatest of God’s prophets, had anything but a glimpse of the truth that Paul now discloses. The Old Testament teachings that relate to this mystery can only be understood clearly in light of New Testament revelation.
Man could not truly understand the things of God. To speak of a person as a son of man, means that he is a flesh man. Jesus paid our debt for us and we Christians have been adopted into the family of God. We are not any longer sons of men, we are sons of God. Sons of God are following the Spirit of God, not the flesh of man.
No one knew the full meaning of God’s promise to Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3) until Paul wrote, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you’”(Gal. 3:8).
No one knew the full meaning of Isaiah’s prediction, “I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6), until it was explained by Paul to mean the offering of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) to the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Acts 13:46-47).
The clues they had in the Old Testament were a mystery to them because too much information was lacking. That is why Jews in the early church, even the apostle Peter (see Acts 10) had such a difficult time accepting Gentile believers as being completely on the same spiritual level as Jews.
And that is why Paul was concerned in this letter to the Ephesians to state and restate, to explain and explain again, that great truth.

Ephesians 3:6
"That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"
As mentioned before, it is difficult for us to realize how incredibly revolutionary that truth was to Jews of Paul’s day. In spite of the fact that the Old Testament teaches that Gentiles will be blessed by God (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14), that Gentiles will bless God (Psalm 72), that the Messiah will come to the Gentiles (Isa. 11:10; 49:6; 54:1-3; 60:1-3), that they will be saved by the Messiah (Hos. 1:10; Amos 9:11) and that they will receive the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).
The idea of including Gentiles in one body with Jews was the spiritual equivalent of saying that lepers were no longer to be isolated, that they were now perfectly free to intermingle and associate with everyone else as normal members of society.
The “mystery” of verse 3 that has just been divinely disclosed, verse 5, is now explicitly defined. It is “that the Gentiles” are to be “fellow heirs,” that is they now enjoy equal share in a heavenly inheritance to which they, unlike the Jews, had no right by birth. And they are “of the same body” as fellow members; that is, Gentiles have been incorporated into the divine family on the same equal footing before God.
They are just as intimately related to the Lord and just as much loved by Him as are their Jewish brethren. And they are “partakers of his promise;” that is, they are fellow partakers of covenant promises from which they were formerly excluded (2:12).
In a word then, the “mystery” is that of Gentile Christians standing on the same even ground of grace before God and of their being equally included in the body of Christ (the church) along with Christian Jews.
All believers in Christ are heirs with Christ.
Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together."
The promises were made to Abraham and his seed.
Galatians 3:29" And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
All Christians, regardless of their status or position before being saved, are now fellow partakes of everything that pertains to Christ through the gospel, which is everything that pertains to Christ.
The catch to all of this is do you belong to Christ? It does not matter whether you are male or female, old or young, or whether you are black or white. The thing that matters is, have you given yourself to Christ? If you do, then you inherit the same promise of faithful Abraham.
Being in Christ through acceptance of the gospel is what creates among believers their perfect and absolutely new society. There can never be true oneness apart from that reality. And there can never be practical unity in the church until Christians realize and live by the positional unity they already have in Christ, their one Lord and Savior.
Ephesians 3:7
"Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power."
No man can make himself a minister (literal servant) of God, because the calling, message, work and empowering of genuine ministry to and for God are His prerogative alone to give. See Acts 26:16; 1 Cor. 15:10; Col. 1:23, 25, 29.
Minister is from diakonos, the basic meaning of which is servant, in particular a servant who waits on tables. It later came to refer to servants in general. By definition, a servant is one who acts on the commands of others, who recognizes and submits to a higher power. His primary responsibility is to do what he is told to do.
Notice, that Paul did not make himself a minister. He was called of God for the purpose of ministering to the Gentiles. Paul is very aware that the grace of God given to him was not because of his deeds, because he had actually been persecuting the Christians when God called him.
1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more that all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with Me”.
It was not Paul’s education, natural abilities, experience, power, personality, influence, or any other such thing that qualified him to be a minister of Jesus Christ. He was made an apostle, a preacher and a servant by the will and power of His Lord. He felt unworthy of any reward, as if he had sought sacrificially to serve in this way.
Not many of us see the same type of dramatic thing that Paul did. God stopped him in his tracks, and set him on a totally new path. The power of God that was so evident in Paul's call was the extremely bright Light that Paul saw. It blinded him for three days and then he received his physical and spiritual sight as a gift from God.
This encounter with the Light {Jesus Christ} transformed Paul from a prejudiced Pharisee to a believing Christian.
Any person in the ministry of the church whom God has not appointed is a usurper. No matter how seemingly good his intentions, he can do nothing but harm to the work of the Lord and to the Lord’s people.
Then or now, the man who is genuinely called by God is in constant danger of losing his effectiveness by coming to think of himself as more that a servant. When he loses his sense of servant hood, at that same time he loses his spiritual power and usefulness.
When he exalts himself and begins to work in his own human power and according to his own plans, he competes with God and forfeits his spiritual power. To lose dependence is to lose everything, because everything that is of any value in our lives, including power for effective service, comes only from the Lord.
Ephesians 3:8
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
Though an apostle and a specially chosen minister of the mysteries of the gospel, Paul considered himself “the very least of all the saints.” The term “least” is a comparative, indicating less than the least. That was not mock humility, but his honest assessment of himself. In light of God’s perfect righteousness, Paul’s assessment of himself was not false humility but simple honesty. He knew his unworthiness.
This shows just how humble this proud Pharisee had become. He believes that he is not less than just the apostles, but all of the believers who accepted Jesus without question. He had not believed in the beginning. He is questioning why God would choose someone like him, who had not believed in the beginning for such a large task as this.
Paul is saying, that this is not through his own ability he brings this message of the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is Christ in him that is bringing this message to them. Paul is the mouth that God is speaking to them through. This is what makes Paul such a good teacher. It is Christ bringing the message through him.
To the end of his life he considered himself the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
The unsearchable riches of Christ”: All God’s truths, all His blessings, all that He is and has. The purpose of every preacher is to declare those riches, to tell believers how rich they are in Christ. That is why it is so important for Christians to understand the greatness of their position in the Lord.
Simply knowing about the riches of Christ is not enough, however. When we fall into sin and disobedience we forfeit the present blessing of those riches, just as did the fleshly, disobedient Corinthian believers. Like the Laodiceans, they thought they were rich and in need of nothing, not realizing that they were really “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).
We learned in a previous lesson that Paul was like an ambassador. An ambassador brings the message of the one who sent him, not his own message.

Ephesians 3:9
"And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"
Paul is saying, in effect, “I am not only called in the vertical area to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ, but in the horizontal area to teach about the administration, the stewardship or dispensation, of the mystery of the church age.” The first area deals with our relationship to God and the second with our daily living and our ministry to each other as fellow believers.
The verse is better read, “And to reveal what is the plan (arrangement) of the mystery, for it has been hidden for ages by God who created all things.” The two reasons for which God gave Paul this grace (“ability”) are (1) to preach the gospel to Gentiles, verse 8, and (2) to disclose God’s plan for implementing the Jew-Gentile mystery in human history.
This message had been concealed for many years, until the time of the cross. The mystery of the fellowship, to me, is the fact that God would even want to fellowship with sinful man. This was God's plan from the beginning. He made man that He might fellowship with him as a Father does with a son.
Jesus created all things. Jesus' name, at the time He created all things, was the Word of God.
John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "The same was in the beginning with God." "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
He took on the name Jesus, when He came to the world to save mankind. Paul, in speaking to these people, knew they all believed that the Word of God created everything. His concern was that they realize that Jesus was the Word of God.
Ephesians 3:10
"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,"
Principalities … Powers”: Angels, both holy and unholy. God through the church manifest His glory to all the angels. The holy angels rejoice (see Luke 15:10; 1 Peter 1:12) because they are involved with the church. In heavenly places refers to the entire realm of spiritual beings.
Angels are also spoken of in such terms in Eph. 1:21 and Col. 1:16. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul uses similar words in regard to fallen angels. God has brought the church into being for the purpose of manifesting His great wisdom before the angels, both holy and unholy.
The New Testament emphasis is on the holy angels’ concern with the church, but it is obvious that the fallen angels can also to some extent see what is going on, though they have no desire or capacity for praise.
Paul’s disclosure of this mystery teaches angels (“principalities and powers in heavenly places”) of God’s wisdom.
This is speaking to the end that those who God has given limited authority to in the heavenlies were not really aware of this, until Jesus was victorious on the cross. Lucifer, the old devil, really thought that the cross was defeat for Jesus, when, in fact, it was His greatest victory. The church, of course, is the believers in Christ.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the believers to teach us all things. Jesus said Himself that He had not hidden things from those who believe. The Holy Spirit of God opens our understanding to the things of God.
Matthew 11:25-27 "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." "Even so Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [him]."
The worldly people have eyes to see, but they do not see, because their understanding has not been opened. The wisdom of God is so far above the normal understanding that even the angels in heaven did not understand, until it was revealed to them by God.
Ephesians 3:11
"According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:"
Paul continues to explain that everything God has ever done has had the ultimate purpose of giving Himself glory. As Paul declares elsewhere, “there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” 1 Cor. 8:6), and “All things have been created by Him and for Him” (1 Col. 1:16).
The church does not exist simply for the purpose of saving souls, though that is a marvelous and important work. The supreme purpose of the church, as Paul makes explicit here, is to glorify God by manifesting His wisdom before the angels, who can then offer greater praise to God. The purpose of the universe is to give glory to God, and that will be its ultimate reality after all evil is conquered and destroyed.
The holy angels not only are interested in the salvation of men (1 Peter 1:12) but constantly watch the face of God in heaven to see His reaction to the treatment of His saved earthly children (Mat. 18:10, 14), standing ready to carry out any mission in their behalf.
In the classroom of God’s universe, He is the Teacher, the angels are the students, the church is the illustration, and the subject is the manifold wisdom of God.

God is not like man that He should be influenced by circumstances. Salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord was part of the eternal plan of God. This was all decided by God, even before He made man. His purpose was the salvation of man.
It was always the plan for Jesus to save His people who believed in Him, by giving Himself as sacrifice for them. We are just as if we had never sinned, because of the blood that Jesus shed to pay our debt to God in full. The law was fulfilled totally in this.
There was nothing left for us to sacrifice. He paid it all when He took our sin on His body, and He became our substitute. Salvation for all mankind is in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is salvation in no other.
Ephesians 3:12
"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ we can freely come to God and share in all of heaven’s unfathomable riches. In Judaism only the high priest could enter the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, and that but briefly once a year on the Day of Atonement. For anyone else to come into God’s presence meant instant death.
But now, Paul says, every person who comes to Christ in faith can come before God at any time and with boldness and confident access. That is the privilege within the mystery of the church.
Heb. 4:15-16: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need”.
We are not to be flippant or irreverent but are to come to the Lord with an honest, open heart – in freedom of speech and freedom of spirit. Confident access is trust that knows no fear of rejection, because we belong to Him (1 Tim. 3:13).
Access with confidence”: Every person who comes to Christ in faith can come before God at any time, not in self-confidence but in Christ-confidence.
This verse affirms that Christians “have boldness” (freedom of speech before God) “and access” (the right of entering His presence”) “with confidence” (assurance of being heard by God) “by the faith of him” (through relying upon Christ to gain God’s ear).
The veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom at the moment Jesus cried, it is finished on the cross. This signified that Jesus had opened the way to the Father for all who would believe. Jesus is the Way. No man cometh to the Father, but by Him. He is the door that we must walk through on our way to the Father.
The door in heaven is now open to all the Christians. We can boldly go to the throne of God, knowing that we are in right standing with God, because we are washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus. We now pray directly to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.
We Christians are now the sons of God. We have been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus. We are even allowed to use the special endearing name for the Father "Abba". Only His children call Him by that name.
Romans 8:15 "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

Philippians Chapter 1 Part Two


Philippians 1:15
"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:"
We find the very same thing that we have in our society today. Many, who profess to know Christ, bring a different message than the others who profess to know Christ. As long as what they are preaching is doctrinally sound, we should not worry about this.
Jesus said, those that are not against us are for us. I would rather teach that God loves you and get you to heaven, than to preach threatening you out of hell. This is just personal preference.
The attitude of Paul’s detractors, who really did preach the gospel, was jealous of his apostolic power, authority, success and immense giftedness. Strife connotes contention, rivalry and conflict, which resulted when Paul’s critics began discrediting him.
On the other hand, there are teachings now which border on blasphemy such as teaching that Jesus suffered in hell for our sin. This is a blatant untruth and takes away from the victory of Jesus on the cross. This is something we cannot tolerate.
I believe this is what Paul is speaking of here. Paul is saying, be sure the doctrine they are bringing is of God.
Good will” speaks of satisfaction and contentment, the attitude that Paul’s supporters had for him personally and for his ministry.
Philippians 1:16
"The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:"
The word "contention", here, means selfish ambition. It seems that these were Judaizers who were causing problems in the church. They did not agree with the good news of the gospel that Paul had brought. These were those who were interested only in self advancement, or who ruthlessly sought to get ahead at any cost.
Paul’s detractors used his incarceration as an opportunity to promote their own prestige by accusing Paul of being so sinful that Lord had chastened him by imprisonment.
In the process of causing problems in the church, they are causing Paul extra problems.
Philippians 1:17
"But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel."
Paul’s supporters were motivated by genuine affection for him and confidence in his virtue. “Set” meaning here appointed is a Greek word which describes a soldier’s being placed on duty. Paul was in prison because he was destined to be there by God’s will, so as to be in a strategic position to proclaim the gospel.
Paul will defend the gospel, even at the cost of his own life. Paul is teaching the love of God. The gospel is good news, not bad news. It seems so many of these other teachers were trying to put them back under the law.
They really had not shed many of their customs and practices they had before they came to Christ. They were still trying to work their way to heaven, by keeping laws and ordinances.
This was in terrible error, because Jesus either was the perfect sacrifice for all things for all time, or He was not. You could not accept Him as the fulfillment of all the sacrifices and still sacrifice. That would be a contradiction.
Philippians 1:18
"What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
Paul’s joy was not tied to his circumstances or his critics. He was glad when the gospel was proclaimed with authority, no matter who received credit. He endured the unjust accusations without bitterness at his accusers. Rather, he rejoiced that they preached Christ, even in a pretense of godliness.
Whatever the case was, Jesus is being preached and many believe. This could not be all bad.
1 Corinthians 1:21: "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
 God can turn something bad into something really good. They are still meeting in church, and they are still speaking of Jesus. These two things together cause many to be saved. There is power in the name of Jesus.
Philippians 1:19
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,"
Praying for them will bring the truth. This is not speaking of Paul being saved later {in my opinion}. It is saying, if they are introduced to Christ Jesus and they pray, the Lord will straighten them out as to the truth.
Here salvation is “deliverance” which is from the basic Greek term for salvation. But it can also be rendered “well being” or “escape” which presents four possible interpretations:
1.      It refers to Paul’s ultimate salvation;
2.      It alludes to his deliverance from threatened execution;
3.      He would finally be vindicated by the emperor’s ruling or
4.      Paul is talking about his eventual release from prison.
Whatever Paul’s precise meaning, he was certain he would be freed from his temporary distress.
Paul had supreme confidence in the Spirit. Those who receive the Holy Spirit will be taught of the Spirit, and that will bring them to absolute truth.
Philippians 1:20
"According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death."
Earnest expectation” this Greek word indicates keen anticipation of the future, as when someone stretches his neck to see what lies ahead. Paul was very confident and excited about Christ’s promise.
Paul not only hopes, but expects them to come to the full knowledge of Christ. Paul was bold in proclaiming Christ, and it did not matter to him whether he was alive or dead, the message would go forth.
As in many cases, it would probably be more accepted after his death. Paul would be bold in speaking of Christ, no matter what his circumstances were.
Philippians 1:21
"For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain."
Paul's life was a proclamation for Christ, and his death was a proclamation, as well. The following Scriptures say it better than I can.
Romans 8:35-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the daylong; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come," "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Paul speaks of two desirable possibilities, living and dying. Living is attractive, since it affords possibilities to increase fruit or spiritual gain in his apostolic labors. But because dying is “gain,” he is unsure of which of the two he prefers.
Paul's life would glorify the Lord. His death would glorify Him even more.
Philippians 1:22
" But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not."
The word flesh here does not refer to one’s fallen humanness but simply to physical life. Paul knew that the only reason to remain in this world was to bring souls to Christ and build up believers to do the same.
Paul's greatest desire was to be with the Lord in heaven, but he would not be able to bear fruit in heaven. To bear fruit for Jesus, he would have to endure the hardship in the flesh.
We can read this verse thus: “But should I continue living in the flesh, this will result in fruit (again profit) from my labor; yet which (of the two) I will prefer, I know not.”
Philippians 1:23
"For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:"
As in a tug of war, Paul is torn between the two desirable possibilities of living and dying. “To depart” is a euphemism for dying. To be with Christ signifies to be forever with Christ. Of the two options, dying is far better.
Strait meaning hard pressed picturing a traveler on a narrow path, a rock wall on either side allowing him to go only straight ahead. Paul knew if he died he would have complete, conscious, intimate, unhindered fellowship with his Lord.
As we said, Paul's greatest desire was to be with Jesus in heaven. The desire of every true Christian is for the Lord Jesus to hurry His coming back for us. The rewards for Christians are in heaven, not on this earth.
Philippians 1:24
"Nevertheless to abide in the flesh [is] more needful for you."
Paul was needed to teach others of the love of God on this earth. Even those, who had already received Jesus as their Savior, needed Paul to continue to teach them, so that they would grow into mature Christians.
In this verse the writer turns from his own wishes to his responsibility, from what he wants to do to what he must do. While he personally yearns to be with the Lord, Paul senses it would be to the advantage of the Philippians for him to remain on earth awhile longer in order to minister to them.
Paul yielded his personal desire to be with his Lord for the necessity of the building of the church.
Philippians 1:25
"And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;"
The delay of Paul going to heaven and the delay of the return of the Lord is not because God is slack, but because He wants everyone saved, who will be saved.
II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
The furtherance or progress pictures trail blazing so that an army can advance. Paul wanted to cut a new path for the Philippians to follow to victory; the increasing of their faith would result in the increasing of their joy.
Paul is willing to stay and continue to teach these who he started with. It is for their benefit he is staying and not for his own benefit.
Philippians 1:26
"That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again."
Abundant …. In Jesus Christ”: meaning confident. The Greek word order is “that your confidence of joy may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me.” The point is, as Paul lived on fruitfully, their joy and confidence would overflow because of Christ’s working in him, not because of anything he himself did by his own ability.
This could be translated, “That your confidence in Christ may continue to abound because of me, by my coming again to you.” Paul’s future ministry to the Philippians should increase their confidence in the Lord.
This may be speaking of Paul coming to them in this letter, rather than in person. Their rejoicing should be in Jesus and not in Paul.
Philippians 1:27
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
This is like a loving parent instructing their children on how they are to act. Paul is reminding them to let everything that comes from their mouth bring glory to the Christ within them.
Believers are to have integrity, i.e., to live consistent with what they believe, teach and preach. The church was to look and act as thought she possessed but “one mind” and one way of thinking. To achieve this, the assembly must put away their many petty grievances, jealousies and disunity.
The manner in which the Philippians are to stand fast in one spirit is by their striving together for the faith, that is, by their standing up for the Christian faith. Like Paul they, too, are to expend their lives for the good of the gospel. But proper conduct on their part and unity in the church are essential if they are to benefit the gospel.
One spirit with one mind” introduces Paul’s theme of unity that continues through 2:4. His call for genuine unity of heart and mind is based on (1) the necessity of oneness to win the spiritual battle for the faith; (2) the love of others in the fellowship; (3) genuine humility and self sacrifice and; (4) the example of Jesus Christ who proved that sacrifice produces eternal glory.
Paul, also, tells them even though he is not with them in person, to follow his teachings and live in the Spirit. This would make him proud to have been the one who led them to the Lord.
Paul would like to hear that they are guided by the Spirit of God. He would, also, like to hear that their mind is stayed on Christ.
Fellowship, one of the keys to spiritual growth, occurs when Christians share their walk with God in an atmosphere of love and respect. Fellowship occurs when everyone communicates in love with other believers, and the whole assembly becomes strengthened as a result.
Sometimes fellowship requires confessing our faults (James 5:16) as we strive to develop a unity of spirit and mind. Those who work to hinder the fellowship of the brethren practice a sin that is hated by God (Prov. 6:19).
Philippians 1:28
"And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God."
Paul is telling them to not be overwhelmed with fear of those who are against them. The enemy will say that they are not even following God, but they will be strong in their salvation. Notice in the following Scriptures, that only the true Christian understands.
I Corinthians 1:23-25 "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;" "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
When believers willingly suffer without being terrified, it is a sign that God’s enemies will be destroyed and eternally lost.
One of the ways in which the readers’ proper conduct benefits the gospel in v.27, is mentioned here: not being terrified by their adversaries. The lack of intimidation is a twofold sign: (1) to unbelievers it is evidence of their lost condition; (2) to believers it is an assurance of their salvation.
Philippians 1:29
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;"
The very highest calling for a man is that of suffering for Christ. How much do you believe? Do you believe enough that you would be willing to give your life for that belief? Salvation is a gift of God to man. The willingness to suffer for this salvation is, also, a gift from God to man.
II Timothy 2:12 "If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us:"
Here the work “given” meaning granted … to suffer. The Greek verb translated “granted” is from the noun for grace. Believers’ suffering is a gift of grace which brings power and eternal reward. (1 Peter 4:13)
For” reinforces the assertion that the proof of the believers’ salvation, provided through their courage in persecution, comes from God. This justification lies in the fact of the Philippians’ is being divinely granted the dual privilege of believing in Christ and suffering for Him. Thus the assurance of their salvation is from God, just as is their suffering for Jesus, for the latter was the occasion providing the former.
Philippians 1:30
"Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear [to be] in me."
Paul set a good example for those who would follow him. Paul is saying here, you know how I suffered for the furtherance of the gospel. Paul is not saying this to get sympathy from them, but that they might look to his problems and know that they, too, can live through the persecutions.
The same conflict”: He says, you are experiencing the problems I had. Some of the recipients’ persecution was of the same nature as they witnessed in Paul when he was beaten and imprisoned in Philippi 10 years earlier, and similar to what they now hear him to be currently experiencing in Rome.
Ye saw”: This refers to what the Philippians witnessed when Paul and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi (Acts 16:19-40) They had seen the way he had been persecuted when he was with them, and now, they hear that he is in chains in Rome.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ephesians Chapter 2 – Part Two

Ephesians
Verses 11-12: Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) experienced two types of alienation. The first was social, resulting from the animosity that had existed between Jews and Gentiles for thousands of years. Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, objects of derision, and reproach. The second and more significant type of alienation was spiritual, because Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in 5 different ways:
  1. They were “separate from Christ” the Messiah, having no Savior and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny.
  2. They were “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel”. God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefitted.
  3. Gentiles were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which He promised to give His people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom and a king, and to those who believe in Him, eternal life and heaven.
  4. They had “no hope” because they had been given no divine promise.
  5. They were “without God in the world”.
While Gentiles had many gods, they did not recognize the true God because they did not want Him.
Converted Jews had difficulty breaking from the ceremonial laws such as Sabbath observance and the eating of unclean animals. Converted Gentiles had difficulty with such things as eating meat that had been offered as a sacrifice to a pagan deity. In many such ways, Jewish and Gentile believers stumbled over their former traditions and beliefs, and in doing so they also stumbled over each other.
What was of extreme importance to one group was inconsequential to the other. In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul confronts that problem from two sides. First, he describes the former social and spiritual alienation of Jews and Gentiles, and then he describes their new spiritual unity in Jesus Christ.
The first kind of alienation was social:
Ephesians 2:11
"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;"
Uncircumcision was a derogatory term used by the Jews regarding Gentiles because the latter were uncircumcised. Jews called themselves the Circumcision since they were circumcised. David had called Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:26)
The circumcision is the Jews who thought that they were God's only people. Many of the Jews thought that they would be saved, just because they were the descendents of Abraham. Pertaining to the law, they were circumcised in the flesh. They thought this would make them God's people.
It was not the circumcision of Abraham that put him in right standing with God, but his faith. Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was saved before he was circumcised 4:9-12.
Circumcision had never been a mark of personal relationship to God, for Jews or anyone else. Paul makes much of that truth in the book of Romans 2:28-29.
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:” “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.
This is speaking of cutting away the earthly desires from the heart. In a man's heart, he believes unto salvation. What our heart is is what we are.
Paul also takes exception for such Jewish hatred, as evidenced in his choice of words to describe Jews, the so called “Circumcision”.
A much more important Gentile alienation was spiritual:
Ephesians 2:12
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"
At that time refers to the readers’ pre-Christian life. Commonwealth (or nation) of Israel recalls the concept of ancient Greek city-states, whereby a city or country provided numerous valuable advantages, benefits, and privileges for it citizens, but withheld them from foreigners.
Since the Gentile addressees used to be aliens from the Jewish nation, who were God’s people, the Gentiles were without the spiritual blessings given them by God. Without God means not having His help and assistance. This was their spiritual plight before salvation.
Before Christ came, the Jews were the people of promise from God, but the Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in five different ways as is shown at the top of this chapter.
Had the Gentiles accepted the true God they, too, could have been a part of that blessed nation. But because they rejected God, they forfeited His national blessing. They had no God blessed community or kingdom and no divine benefactor. They received no special blessing or protection, because they were outside the dominion of God.
The Gentiles were spiritually alienated because they were hopeless, “having no hope”. Those who have no Christ, no commonwealth, and no covenants of promise also have no hope. Living without hope of future joy and enrichment reduces man to a piece of meaningless protoplasm.
Most Gentiles of Paul’s day either thought that death ended all existence or that it released the spirit to wander aimlessly in some nether world throughout the rest of eternity. Death brought only nothingness or everlasting despair.
This describes the whole world, before Jesus came and gave them hope. It especially describes all who were not Jews. The covenant did not cover the non-Jews, until Jesus came. Now, if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
We who have faith in Jesus are seed of Abraham, because he believed, also. It is our faith that makes us faithful Abraham's seed. There was no hope for the heathen world, until Jesus came and brought us hope.
The problem was not that the Gentiles had no god but that they did not have the true God. They were without God in the world because they did not want Him. The Gentiles rejected God by suppressing the truth about Himself that He had made abundantly evident.
The problem was that, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened”, verse 21.
There will never be an end to alienation until Christ returns and by only His power breaks down the barriers of separation. Apart from Christ there not only can be no harmony with God but no harmony among men.
Ephesians 2:13
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Far off”: A common term in rabbinical writings used to describe Gentiles, those who were far apart from the true God. Jews considered themselves and their converts to be brought near to god because of their covenant relation to Him and the presence of His Temple in Jerusalem.
Made nigh or brought near”: 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 2 Cor. 5:18-21. The atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately even its presence.
Because Jews had access to God through His temple in Jerusalem, they were said to be nigh. But Gentile nations, geographically removed from the temple, were said to be far off. These terms of space came to denote moral distance, so that to be “nigh” was to have a proper relationship with God, and to be “far off” was to have an improper relationship with Him.
The blood of Christ Jesus does not just do away with our sin, but literally saves us. It is the blood of Jesus {our Savior}. That makes us acceptable to the Father. It was His blood being shed that removed the veil to the holy of holies.
Colossians 1:14 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:"
1 Peter 1:18-19 "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers;" "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
The cleansing value of the blood of Christ immediately washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately washes away even its presence. Because in Christ the great foundational barrier of sin has been removed, every other barrier has been removed as well. Those who are one in Christ are on in each other, whether they realize it or act like it or not (1 Cor. 6:17).
The purpose of the Lord’s Table is to remind us of the sacrifice our Lord made not only to bring us to Him but also to each other. By removing our sin, Christ gives us peace with each other and access to God.
 
In verse 14-15, “Who hath made both one:” Jesus has formed the two antagonistic groups of Jew and Gentile into a single new party, the Christian church. He did this by removing the middle wall of partition, that is, the Mosaic Law. The law was meant to protect Jews from pagan corruptions; but by misconstruing the purpose of the law, the Jews felt superior to Gentiles, who were incensed at this arrogance.
So Jesus abolished this enmity (hatred), caused by an abuse of the law, by making the law invalid for His church. Of twain one new man: As above, Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles now compose this “one new man” or Christian church.
Ephesians 2:14
"For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];"
He Himself”: This emphatically indicates that Jesus alone is the believer’s source of peace, Isaiah 9:6. Jesus alone is our peace.
Just as sin is the cause of all conflict and division, it is also the enemy of all peace and harmony. Built into wickedness is the impossibility of peace. Sin is basically selfishness, and selfishness is basically divisive and disruptive. We cannot always have what we want without infringing on what someone else wants or needs. We cannot always have our own way without interfering with someone else’s way.
Jesus Christ is the King of Peace. He not only brings peace, but is Peace. When we receive Jesus Christ within us {whether Jew or Gentile}, we have the peace of God which passes all understanding.
Peace comes only when self dies, and the only place self truly dies is at the foot of Calvary. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul said; “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
In Jesus Christ, a Jew is no longer distinct from a Gentile as far as religion is concerned. Since AD / 70, when the Temple was destroyed, true religious Judaism ceased to exist. Not only was the place of sacrifice destroyed, but so were all the genealogical records on which priestly descent was based. Likewise, a Gentile in Christ is no longer distinct as far as his spiritual condition is concerned. His paganism is gone, his unbelief is gone, his hopelessness is gone, and his godlessness is gone.
The barrier of the dividing wall”: This alludes to a wall in the temple that portioned off the Court of the Gentiles from the areas accessible only to Jews. Paul referred to that wall as symbolic of the social, religious and spiritual separation that kept Jews and Gentiles apart. Jesus made both groups, Jew (those who were “near”) and Gentiles (those who were “far off”), into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.
God had originally separated Jews from Gentiles for the purpose of redeeming both groups. He placed the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple for the very purpose of winning Gentiles to Himself. It was meant to be a place for Jewish evangelism of Gentiles, a place for willing proselytes to Judaism and of thereby bringing them “near.”
In this church of Ephesus, both Jew and Gentile had given their heart to Jesus. They were one in Him. Jesus is the focal point upon which all of us, whatever denomination, must center on. He is the hub of the wheel, and each of us is spokes. We all are connected to Him, if we are Christians.
We draw our strength and power from Him. Of course, we all know that Jesus tore the veil in the temple from the top to the bottom when He gave His body on the cross. The veil in the temple was symbolic of the flesh of Jesus. He opened the way for whosoever will into the very presence of the Father.
It matters not whether we are Jew or Gentile. We are one in Him. He is our Peace.
Ephesians 2:15
"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;"
Christ forever broke down (the Greek aorist tense signifies completed action) every dividing wall by “abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances”. When Jesus died on the cross He abolished every barrier between man and God and between man and his fellow man.
The greatest barrier between Jew and Gentile was the ceremonial law, “The law of commandments contained in ordinances. The feasts, sacrifices, offerings, laws of cleanliness and purification, and all other such distinctive outward commandments for the unique separation of Israel from the nations were abolished.
Abolishing in His flesh the enmity”: Through His death, Christ abolished Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices which uniquely separated Jews from Gentiles. God’s moral law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments and written on the hearts of all men, Romans 2:15) was not abolished but subsumed in the New Covenant, however, because it reflects His own holy nature, read Matthew 5:17-19.
One New man”: Christ does not exclude anyone who comes to Him, and those who are His are not spiritually distinct from one another. “New” translates a Greek word that refers to something completely unlike what it was before. It refers to being different in kind and quality. Spiritually, a new person in Christ is no longer Jew or Gentile, only Christian, (Rom. 10:12-13; Gal. 3:28).
Jesus summarized God’s moral law still further by declaring, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) The 10 commandments, like all of God’s moral laws, are but the structured and particularized love that God still requires (James 2:8).
Jesus fulfilled the law of commandments in His body on the cross. He paid the debt of the ordinances in full for all of mankind in His body. He is our Sacrifice. He is our Way. He is our Truth. He is our Life. The way to heaven is in Jesus. It does not matter whether you are black or white, young or old, male or female. The only way is in Him.
The new person in Christ is not simply a Jew or Gentile who now happens to be a Christian. He is no longer a Jew or Gentile but only a Christian. Every other characteristic is “former”, see v.11. Paul summed it up when he said “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:12-13)
When we receive Jesus, we are a new creature in Christ. Our old self has vanished away. Our prejudices vanished with self. Now we live by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:3 "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"
Ephesians 2:16
"And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:"
Reconcile them both … to God”: As Jews and Gentiles are brought to God through Christ Jesus, they are brought together with each other. This was accomplished by the cross where Jesus became a curse, Gal 3:10-13, taking God’s wrath so that divine justice was satisfied and reconciliation with God became a reality.
There would be no longer special privileges to one race of people. God is the Father of them all. We all, Jew and Gentile, make up the family of God. When we become believers in Christ, we are brothers and sisters with all other believers no matter what the race. The separation is over. We are actually sons of God.
Romans 8:14 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." The Spirit of the Risen Christ dwells within us if we are believers in Christ.
1 John 3:1 "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
The cross is God’s answer to Judaizing, racial discrimination, segregation, apartheid, anti-Semitism, bigotry, war, and every other cause and result of human strife. This is the great mystery of Eph. 3:6, “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Ephesians 2:17
"And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh."
Preached peace”: The Greek word for “preached” literally means “to bring or announce good news,” and in the New Testament is almost always used of proclaiming the good news those sinners can be reconciled to God by the salvation which is through Jesus Christ. In this context, Christ, the One who “Himself is our peace” (v.14), also announced the good news of peace.
Far off and … nigh”: That is to Gentiles and Jews alike.
Jesus' main mission upon this earth was to reconcile man to God. He preached the good news of the Gospel to all who would hear. Only the love of God can bring peace to mankind then or now. Man had lived in terror of God. Jesus taught the love of God.
Romans 5:1 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"
Among His last words to His disciples were, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33). The ministry of the apostles and others preachers of the early church was characterized by “preaching peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36).
Ephesians 2:18
"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
Access in one Spirit to the Father”: No sinner has any right or worthiness in himself for access to God, but believers have been granted that right through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death, 3:12; Romans 5:2. The resources of the Trinity belong to believers the moment they receive Christ, and the Holy Spirit presents them before the heavenly throne of God the Father, where they are welcome to come with boldness at any time.
"Him", in this verse is Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Father is, of course, Father God. We see the action of Father, Son {Word}, and Holy Ghost here. The Gentile and the Jew had no way to reach the Father directly, before Jesus opened the way for us. Our Mediator is Jesus Christ and Him alone.
Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
When we have Jesus Christ (Him) we also have access by the Spirit to the Father. The resources of the entire Trinity are ours the moment we receive Christ. The only access into God’s presence, the only door into the sheepfold of His kingdom, is through His Son. We can always “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Christians can now come to God as their own Father, knowing that He no longer judges or condemns but only forgives and blesses. Even His discipline is an act of love, given to cleanse and restore His precious children to purity and spiritual richness.
 In verses 19-20, “Now therefore” draws a conclusion for verses 14-18: Christian Gentiles are no longer alienated from God, but now enjoy the same intimate relationship with Him and the same spiritual blessings as do Christian Jews. Three figures express this unity and equality existing between believing Jews and Gentiles.
1.      A city: this figure comes from the Greek city-state political concept whereby all inhabitants of a particular city-state were fellow-citizens enjoying the same privileges.
2.      A family: Since Gentiles have been reconciled to God (v.16) and to His people (v.15) they are now members of the household of God, that is, children of the divine family.
3.      A building: Believing Jews and Gentiles are part of the same divine structure, the church. The church’s foundation is composed of the apostles and prophets, its chief corner stone is Christ, and its superstructure is composed of Christians. Oriental architecture placed greater importance on the cornerstone than on the foundation, for it connected the walls and concentrated the weight of the building on itself, thus bonding and holding together the whole structure.
Ephesians 2:19
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;"
Paul closes his discussion of the marvelous unity of the Body of Christ by giving three metaphors to illustrate it.
Fellow citizens with the saints”: God’s kingdom is made up of the people from all time who have trusted in Him. There are no strangers, foreigners or second class citizens there, Phil. 3:20. Both have become part of the same kingdom. Paul shows how all believers are one spiritual family in Christ.
Of God’s household”: Redeemed sinners not only become heavenly citizens but also members of God’s own family. The Father bestows on believers the same infinite love He gives His Son. All believers are together a habitation for God.
The Gentiles had no opportunity to know God, until the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The law was limited to just a very few people, but Christianity was offered to all who would believe. Look at the following Scripture and see who is in the family of God.
Mark 3:35 "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother."
Look, with me once more, who can receive the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
The next Scripture will show that the Gentiles were far off, but belief in Jesus brought them in, too.
Ephesians 2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
As if being members of His divine kingdom were not enough, God’s gracious work in Christ draws us even closer and makes us members of God’s household. Because we have identified ourselves with His Son by faith, God now sees us and treats us exactly as He sees and treats His Son, with infinite love.
Heavenly citizenship and family membership are not distinct roles or positions but simply different views of the same reality, because every kingdom citizen is a family member and every family member is a kingdom citizen.
If believers have no distinctions before God, they should have no distinctions among themselves. We are fellow citizens and fellow family members, equal in every spiritual way before God. If God accepts each one of us, how can we not accept each other?
Ephesians 2:20
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone];"
The foundation of the apostle and prophets”: As important as they were, it was not them personally, but the divine revelation they taught, (which in its written form is the New Testament) as they authoritatively spoke the word of God to the church before the completion of the New Testament, that provided the foundation, Romans 15:20.
Because the Greek genitive case appears to be used in the subjective sense, signifying the originating agency, the meaning is not that the apostles and prophets were themselves the foundation – though in a certain sense they were – but that they laid the foundation. Paul spoke of himself as “a wise master builder” who “laid a foundation” and went on to say, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”.
The unique function of these N.T. prophets was to authoritatively speak the word of God to the church in the years before the N.T. canon was complete. The fact that they are identified with the foundation reveals that they were limited to that formative period. As 4:11 show, they completed their work and gave way to “evangelist, and … pastors and teachers.”
Corner stone”: This stone set the foundation and squared the building. The corner stone of the foundation is Christ Jesus Himself (see Isaiah 28:16; Psalms 118:22; Matthew 21:42 and Acts 4:11. A cornerstone was the major structural part of ancient buildings.
It had to be strong enough to support what was built on it, and it had to be precisely laid, because every other part of the structure was oriented to it. That is what Jesus Christ is to God’s kingdom, God’s family and God’s building.
The stone that the builders rejected was Jesus Christ. He became the Cornerstone, and we are the lively stones that build upon that cornerstone.
1 Peter 2:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
The apostles and prophets have laid the foundation for this building. Jesus is the cornerstone. We Christians are building this spiritual temple {house}.
Through Isaiah God declared, “Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed” (Isa. 28:16). After quoting that passage, Peter says, “This precious value, then, is for you who believe … you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:7, 9).
Ephesians 2:21
"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:"
This verse refers to the careful joining of every component of a piece of furniture, wall, building, or other structure. Every part is precisely cut to fit snugly, strongly and beautifully with every other part. Nothing is out of place, defective, misshapen or inappropriate. Because it is Christ’s building, the church is perfect, spotless, without defect or blemish. And that is how He will one day present the church, His own holy temple, to Himself, Eph. 5:27.
A holy temple in the Lord”: Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s temple, the church, Christ’s body of believers. Christ’s building of His church will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so, (2 Peter 3:9).
Paraphrased, this verse would read, “By whom the whole building, being carefully and harmoniously joined together, raises into a holy temple for the Lord.”
Christ’s body, however, will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so. Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s building, His holy temple. Thus Paul says the temple is growing because believers are continually being added.
Fitly framed together is translated above as “being carefully and harmoniously joined together.” This implies the harmonious blending of the Jewish and Gentile believers in the church.
The "who" here, of course, is Christ? The apostle Paul, here, is trying to make these Ephesians understand that each Christian {whether Jew or Gentile} framed together make up the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone that brings the building together.
The church is made up of many members. Those members have one head {Jesus Christ}. We are to grow into the temple holy, acceptable unto God. The church that Jesus is the head of is righteous, because we have taken on the righteousness of Christ. We are in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:22
"In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
A dwelling of God in the Spirit”: The term for “dwelling” connotes a permanent home. God the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in His earthly sanctuary, the church, the vast spiritual body of all the redeemed (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 6:16)
Ye also” in Greek is emphatic. It stresses that Christian Gentiles, as well as their Jewish counterparts, are part of the church. Christians are viewed as a habitation or dwelling place in which God lives through His Holy Spirit.
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the habitation of God. We Christians are the church of God. We are the habitation of God on this earth.
Revelation 21:3 "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God."
John 14:17 "[Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
Through the blood, the suffering flesh, the cross, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, aliens become citizens, strangers become family, idolaters become the temple of the true God, the hopeless inherit the promises of God, those without Christ become one in Christ, those far off are brought near, and the godless are reconciled to God. Therein is the reconciliation of men to God and of men to men.