8. Remembering Christ the PeacemakerRelated Media
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-18)
How can we live in peace with one another and with God?
After the fall, a great division entered the world. Adam and Eve hid from one another, and they both hid from God. From that moment, Eve would always try to usurp her husband and Adam would try to dominate his wife (Gen 3:16). Sin caused separation among people and between God and man. We now live in a world marked by division. The world is full of racism, ethnocentrism, elitism, agnosticism, atheism, and many other views that separate.
However, in the midst of this darkness, God promised to send a seed that would crush the head of the serpent—Satan—who started the conflict (Genesis 3:15). This seed would mend the division that was in the world and bring peace and unity. Here in Ephesians 2:11-18, Paul emphasizes how Christ is this peacemaker.
The major theme of this passage is peace; it is mentioned four times (14, 15, and twice in 17). When Christ was born on earth, the angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Lk 2:14). Christ came to the earth to bring peace to men—peace with one another and with God. Therefore, the answer to the division in the world is Christ—the peacemaker.
Sadly, even those who know Christ are still prone to division. Churches split, couples divorce, and believers harbor deep seated unforgiveness towards one another and sometimes even towards God. How then can believers operate in the peace that Christ brought?
Moreover, Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Those who have experienced Christ’s peace should be peacemakers in this world. How can we live in peace and be those who bring peace?
These questions were important to the Ephesians, as discord seemed to be a problem in this mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles. The Jews and the Gentiles had conflict over culture, and deep seated animosity from their past. In this passage, Paul speaks to these Christians struggling with division and reminds them of their peace in Christ. We often need reminders of this as well, so we can live in peace instead of the discord which often mars our contemporary churches.
Big Questions: How does Christ provide peace for the world? How can believers continually live in peace with God and with one another?
In Order to Have Peace, Believers Must Remember Their Sad State Before Christ
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:11-12)
In targeting the Ephesian discord, Paul calls the Gentiles to remember their sad state before they met Christ. He gives six characteristics of their pre-Christian life.
Observation Question: How does Paul characterize the Gentiles before they met Christ?
1. The Gentiles had a hostile relationship with the Jews.
He says, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men)” (Eph 2:11).
The Jews called Gentiles “uncircumcised” as a racial slur. David called Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” before slaying him (1 Sam 17:26). Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with the Jews, which he originally gave to Abraham (Gen 17:11). On the eighth day, Jews surgically removed the foreskin of their male children’s reproductive organ.
Circumcision was always meant to represent an inward circumcision—a change of heart. Moses said this to Israel in Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.”
In fact, Paul says that to have a circumcised flesh and not a circumcised heart was uncircumcision—it counted for nothing. Romans 2:28-29 says,
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Unfortunately, the Jews, who were called to be God’s priests to the world (Ex 19:6), hated the Gentiles and ceased to be missionaries to them. Instead, they despised the Gentiles and exalted themselves. A good example of this is the story of Jonah. God called Jonah to preach repentance to the Ninevites, but instead of speaking to them, he ran from God. And when he repented and did preach to the Ninevites, he was angry at God for saving them.
The ancient division between Jews and Gentiles is comparable to that between blacks and whites in America during slavery and immediately after. It’s comparable to the war between the Shiites and Sunni Muslims. One commentator says the “enmity between Jews and Gentiles was the greatest racial and religious difference the world has ever known.”1 It was deep-seated, and it is still prominent throughout the world, as seen in anti-Semitism.
William Barclay helps us understand this ancient hostility, especially on the Jewish side. He writes:
The Jew had an immense contempt for the Gentile. The Gentiles, said the Jews, were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. God, they said, loves only Israel of all the nations that he had made … It was not even lawful to render help to a Gentile mother in her hour of sorest need, for that would simply be to bring another Gentile into the world. Until Christ came, the Gentiles were an object of contempt to the Jews. The barrier between them was absolute. If a Jewish boy married a Gentile girl, or if a Jewish girl married a Gentile boy, the funeral of that Jewish boy or girl was carried out. Such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death.2
Paul called for the Gentiles to remember the great hostility they once had with their (now) Jewish brothers in Christ.
2. The Gentiles were without Christ.
Paul also says, “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ” (v. 12). How were they separate from Christ? The promise of the messiah was given to Israel (cf. Gen 22:18). Most Gentiles knew nothing of it. In fact, when Christ came to the earth, he came first to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt 15:24). The Gentiles were without the messiah.
3. The Gentiles were without citizenship in Israel.
The Gentiles were excluded from citizenship in Israel. Why did this matter? God gave the Jews his commandments and his temple—where his presence dwelled. God gave Israel priests who were called to minister before him day and night. In order to worship God, Gentiles had to become Jewish converts like Ruth and Rahab, but even then, they were still excluded from many aspects of worship because they lacked citizenship.
4. The Gentiles were without covenants.
When people disobeyed God at the tower of Babel, God chose to redeem the earth through a new way—through Abraham. Therefore, God made covenants with his children—Israel. Consider what Paul says about the Jews in Romans 9:4-5:
the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
God made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the nation of Israel. He promised to give them a land, to give them the messiah, and to use them to spread the knowledge of God throughout the earth. God said this through Jeremiah:
“This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. (Jeremiah 33:20-21)
The Gentiles had no such covenants. They were without them.
5. The Gentiles were without hope.
How were they without hope? John MacArthur’s comments are helpful:
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. The Greek philosopher Diogenes said, “I rejoice in sport in my youth. Long enough will I lie beneath the earth bereft of life, voiceless as a stone, and shall leave the sunlight which I love, good man though I am. Then shall I see nothing more. Rejoice, O my soul, in thy youth.” 3
Since there was no true hope in the afterlife, many lived for pleasure. Like Paul, they said, “If the dead are not raised, ‘‘Let us eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’” (1 Cor 15:32).
Even those who worshiped the gods of the ancient world lived in fear, not hope. Since their gods were made in the image of men, they were evil, jealous, lustful, and wicked. They often warred with people. Theirs was truly a life without hope, even if they lived a religious life.
6. The Gentiles were without God.
As mentioned, most believed in many gods; however, they didn’t believe in the one true God. This speaks to those today who believe that to worship Buddha, Allah, Yahweh, etc., is to worship the same God. Scripture does not teach such a view. The pagans were polytheistic, and yet, they were without God. There is only one God—the God of Scripture.
In fact, Scripture teaches that to worship other gods is a result of denying the true God. Romans 1:21-23 says,
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
The Gentiles were in discord with the Jews, without Christ, without citizenship, without the covenants, without hope, and without God. And this was true for all of us as well, in a sense. Apart from Christ, our life was full of discord—often with those we saw as different from ourselves. We were without hope and without God.
Application Question: Why was it important for the Gentiles and why is it important for us to remember the past?
1. Remembering the past is important for remaining thankful.
Many times we live unthankful lives because we have forgotten what we used to be, and how God has changed us. Paul reminds them and us so that we can remain thankful for God’s grace in our lives. God delivered us from lives full of division and unified us with himself and one another. He gave us peace through Christ. Thank you, Lord!
2. Remembering the past is important so we never fall back into old patterns—discord with one another and distance from God.
Sadly, discord was rampant in the early church, especially between Jews and Gentiles. In Galatians, we read that even the apostle Peter would at times still not eat with Gentiles because of pressure from other Jews (Gal 2:12). In Romans 14, it seems that Jews and Gentiles were dividing over eating food offered to idols, the practice of the Sabbath, and other aspects of the law. In addition, Acts 6 records that the Grecian Jewish widows were neglected by the Hebraic Jews in the daily food distribution. There was even discord between Jews of different cultures. This division continued to reap animosity and discord in the early church. No doubt some separated into totally Jewish congregations and totally Gentile congregations to avoid discord. But that wasn’t God’s perfect will. As revealed next, God called for them to be one body (Eph 2:14-15). And this is true for us today as well.
The church is meant to be multicultural, multiracial, and multiethnic in order to bring glory to God. We must remember what we came from so that we will not go back to living a life full of discord, anger, and unforgiveness.
Christians who have forgotten their previous state and what God has done for them will be prone towards racism, ethnocentrism, elitism, and even denominationalism. We see this all the time. In fact, Sunday has often been called the most divided day in the world. On Sundays, various races and denominations gather together in places separate from one another to “worship God.” We must remember our previous state so we won’t return to the division which marks the world, and also so we can continually praise God for his transformational work in us.
Application Questions: In what ways do we still see hostility between races, classes, genders, etc., among Christians today? In what ways have you been delivered from this type of hostility through Christ?
In Order to Have Peace, Believers Must Remember that Christ Brought Us Reconciliation with One Another
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, (Ephesians 2:13-15)
Next, Paul addresses how Christ united these two hostile people groups—the Jews and the Gentiles.
Observation Question: How has Christ united Jews and Gentiles?
1. Christ united Jews and Gentiles by bringing both groups near God.
Paul says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near” (v. 13). When he says they were brought near, he means near God. Unity has been developed by both Jew and Gentile being brought closer to God.
A great illustration of this is a triangle. At the peak is God and on the two sides are people. The closer we get to God, the closer we will naturally get to one another. This was Christ’s method of unifying people—he brings them closer to God.
And this is true for all division—division in friendships, family, marriage, etc.—the closer we get to God, the closer and more unified we become with one another. However, the farther we get from God, the more we will find division and discord in our relationships.
In fact, this also works in reverse. If we are right with others (walking in righteous relationships with them), then we will naturally become closer to God. Our horizontal relationships always reflect our vertical relationship and vice versa. Christ says this in Matthew 5:23-24:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
If we are in discord with others, we must first make those relationships right so we can properly worship God. Our horizontal relationships affect our vertical relationships and our vertical relationship affects our horizontal.
Are you in discord with anybody? Many times the answer to fixing that relationship is as simple as drawing near God. When we draw near God, he changes our hearts so we can better work for reconciliation.
Are you distant from God? Many times the answer to fixing that relationship is drawing near others—having proper fellowship with his body. I have often experienced times of dryness in my spiritual life simply because I was not in proper fellowship. The more isolated we are from believers—God’s family—the more we will find ourselves isolated from him.
2. Christ brought unity through his death for sin.
Paul says the way we are brought near God is “through the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13). The blood of Christ is a “euphemism” (a mild expression substituted for a harsh one) for Christ’s death. Christ died for the sins of the world. Romans 4:25 says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
For Christ to bring unity among people, he had to deal with the very thing that separated them, which was sin. Again, when man sinned in the Garden, it naturally brought separation both in human relationships and our relationship with God. Therefore, Christ died for our sin to deliver us from its power so we could be united.
Romans 6:6 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” When Christ died for our sins, our old self—our sin nature—died with him. It died in the sense that the power of sin over us was broken.
The root of division is sin—our pride, our selfishness, our insecurity, our anger, our jealousy, our envy, etc. We argue and fight because we want our own way. But through Christ’s death, believers are now no longer bound to follow the sinful urges that result in discord.
Are you in discord? Then, how is God calling you to practically live out your death to sin? In Romans 6:11, Paul says, “Therefore, reckon yourself dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Humble yourself—reckon your pride and anger dead. As one person said, “Dead people don’t get offended.” Stop living in that old nature since Christ set you free from it. It died on the cross with Christ, and you must reckon it so.
3. Christ brought unity by becoming our peace.
Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself is our peace.” It must be noted that Christ did not simply bring peace, he became our peace. John MacArthur shares this story about World War II to illustrate how Christ is our peace:
During World War II a group of American soldiers was exchanging fire with some Germans who occupied a farm house. The family who lived in the house had run to the barn for protection. Suddenly their little three–year–old daughter became frightened and ran out into the field between the two groups of soldiers. When they saw the little girl, both sides immediately ceased firing until she was safe. A little child brought peace, brief as it was, as almost nothing else could have done.4
Similarly, Jesus Christ came to the earth as a baby so that he could bring peace between those who were warring and divided. However, this peace is not temporary; it is an eternal peace. Christ became peace for us. And therefore, he must be the reason we labor for peace in our relationships. Consider what Paul said to two ladies fighting in the Philippian congregation: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord” (Phil 4:2).
How were they supposed to work things out? They needed to agree with each other in the Lord. They needed to resolve their conflict on the basis of Christ having brought peace. They needed to resolve their conflict on the basis of Christ’s character. They needed to resolve their conflict by being like Christ—the one who humbled himself to serve and unify others (Phil 2:5). This is true for us as well. Christ is our peace.
4. Christ brought unity by abolishing the Mosaic law that separated Jews and Gentiles.
Ephesians 2:14-15 says: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.”
One of the things that divided Jews and Gentiles was the Mosaic law, which God originally gave to the Jews. According to this law, the Jews were to be separate. They were not allowed to intermarry with other nations. They had to wear different clothes and eat different foods. However, God’s purpose in the Jews being separate was to prevent contamination by the sinful pagan cultures. The hope was that pagans would notice the righteousness of the Jews and be drawn to God (cf. Deut 4:6-8). The law commanded separation for this purpose.
In fact, the temple itself had several courts. East of the temple was the Court of Priests, then the Court of Jews (for laymen), then the Court of Women, and then the Court of Gentiles. And between the Court of Gentiles and the rest of the temple was a wall with inscriptions in Greek and Latin saying: “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”5
It was this wall that the Jews claimed Paul and his Gentile friend, Trophimus, crossed, when they attacked and threatened to kill Paul—leading to his first imprisonment (Acts 21:28-33). However, Christ abolished, literally annulled, the regulations in the Jewish law so that believers are no longer under it (Eph 2:15). Jews and Gentiles are no longer called to be separate.
Interpretation Question: In what ways did Christ abolish the law?
- Christ abolished the law by paying the penalty required by it for our sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (KJV).
- Christ abolished the law by fulfilling the perfect righteousness required by it that we could not fulfill. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.”
- Christ abolished the law by his death, and our death with him, to the law—delivering us from its governance.
Romans 7:1-4 says,
Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
Paul compares our union with Christ to the marriage union. When one spouse dies, the other is free to remarry—he or she is no longer bound by the law of marriage. In the same way, we died with Christ on the cross, and therefore our previous marriage to the law was broken. We are now married to Christ and called to submit to him instead of the law. In fact, Paul later says that although as believers we are not under the Mosaic law, we are under the law of Christ. First Corinthians 9:21 says, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.”
The law of Christ is his teachings in the New Covenant (i.e. the New Testament) coming through both Christ himself and his apostles. Many of the teachings in the New Covenant are the same as those in the Old Covenant. Do not lie, do not steal, do not cheat, etc.; however, the governance is different. It’s like being punished by Korean law while residing there instead of in the United States. Similarly, we are now married to Christ, and we are under his governance and not that of the Mosaic law. It should be noted that while many teachings in Christ’s law are the same as in the Mosaic law, others are different. For instance, under the New Covenant we are not under the food, Sabbath, and festival laws and rituals (cf. Col 2:16-17).
Christ destroyed the law to unite us as one. The Jew is not nearer to God than the Gentile, and the Gentile is not nearer than the Jew. We are all on equal standing in the New Covenant. Colossians 3:11 says, “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
5. Christ brought unity by creating a new man.
Ephesians 2:15 says, “His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” Christ brought unity by creating something new—a new race. Kent Hughes’ illustration and comments on this are helpful:
Bishop John Reed tells about driving a school bus in Australia which carried whites and aborigines. Tired of all the squabbling, one day far out in the country he pulled over to the side of the road and said to the white boys, “What color are you?” “White.” He told them, “No, you are green. Anyone who rides in my bus is green. Now, what color are you?” The white boys replied, “Green.” Then he went to the aborigines and said, “What color are you?” “Black.” “No, you are green. Anyone who rides on my bus is green.” All the aborigines answered that they were green. The situation seemed resolved until, several miles down the road, he heard a boy in the back of the bus announce, “All right, light green on this side, dark green on that side.” Bishop Reed had the right idea. What was needed was a new race, “the greens,” but he couldn’t pull it off! Our text says that Jesus created a new man, a new humanity, a new race.6
In the New Covenant, a Gentile doesn’t have to become a Jew to worship God, and a Jew doesn’t have to become a Gentile. When we are saved, God essentially shatters the racial and ethnic barriers that divide us as we are united in the church. We are not black, white, Jew, Gentile, Asian, African, or any other race or ethnicity. We are all part of the church—citizens of heaven living on the earth (Phil 3:20). It is for this reason that the church should not be divided by racial, social, or economic distinctions—for we are all one in Christ. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Christ unites us, drawing us near God and each other by breaking the power of sin through his death, by becoming our peace, and by removing the barrier of the Mosaic law—making us a new people. Therefore, we must labor to keep the unity God has given us (cf. Eph 4:3).
Application Question: How should we as Christians apply Christ’s work of unifying people in our lives, churches, and communities?
In Order to Have Peace, Believers Must Remember that Christ Brought Us Reconciliation with God
and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:16-18)
Finally, Paul talks about how Christ reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God through the cross. To reconcile means to “renew a friendship.” Christ did this in many ways.
Observation Question: In what ways did Christ reconcile both Jewish and Gentile believers to God?
1. Christ reconciled believers to God through his death (v. 16).
Paul says that Christ reconciled us to God through the cross. Before salvation, we were separated from God because we weren’t like him—we weren’t holy. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Without holiness no one will see God.” Holiness is a separation from sin to righteousness. And Christ accomplished this for us by his death. He made us holy by taking our sin on the cross with him and giving us his perfect righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). The righteousness of Christ imputed to our account allows us to come into God’s presence and have a relationship with him.
2. Christ reconciled believers to God through preaching the gospel of peace (Eph 2:17).
The Greek word for “preached” is euangelizō, and it “literally means to bring or announce good news, and is almost always used in the New Testament of proclaiming the gospel, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.” 7 It is the same term from which we get the English words “evangelize,” “evangelist,” and “evangelical.”
As seen by the context, this preaching happened after the cross (cf. 16-17); therefore, it does not primarily refer to his pre-resurrection ministry but to his post-resurrection ministry. After Christ’s resurrection, he appeared to his apostles and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). This also probably refers to Christ’s gospel ministry through the apostles and subsequent generations of Christians. Jesus still preaches today through his followers. It is wonderful to consider that when Christians preach the gospel, Christ preaches through them. Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (KJV).
Do you have beautiful feet? Are you allowing Christ to preach through you and reconcile people to God?
3. Christ reconciled believers to God by giving them access by one Spirit.
Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” One cannot but notice the Trinitarian work involved in this reconciliation. Christ gives Jews and Gentiles access to God by the Holy Spirit. John MacArthur’s comments are helpful in considering the word “access.” He says,
Prosagōgē (access) is used only three times in the New Testament, in each case referring to the believer’s access to God (see also Rom. 5:2; Eph. 3:12). In ancient times a related word was used to describe the court official who introduced persons to the king. They gave access to the monarch. The term itself carries the idea not of possessing access in our own right but of being granted the right to come to God with boldness, knowing we will be welcomed.8
We often think of Christ as once and for all giving us access to God through the cross, but according to Scripture we still go through Christ in approaching God. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
In the Old Testament, the priest and the people of Israel could only approach God through the blood of a lamb. Every year the people sacrificed a lamb so they could approach God and be accepted by him. It is the same for us, except that our Lamb was slain once and for the sins of the entire world. Every time we enter into God’s presence, God still sees the perfect sacrifice and righteous life of the Lamb. It is for this reason that we have access.
In fact, this somewhat reflects Christ’s teaching in John 10:1-14 about him being the Good Shepherd and the Gate for the sheep. John 10:9 says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” In John 10:11, Christ says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” It almost seems like he is mixing metaphors, but he is not. The Palestinian shepherd gathered all the sheep into a pen or erected a temporary fence at night—leaving a narrow opening for a door. The shepherd then laid across the narrow opening, as the door to the pen.9 Christ, the Good Shepherd, is still the doorway to God, not just for salvation, but daily. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Therefore, as believers we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16).
And it is by the Holy Spirit that we continually approach God (Eph 2:18). The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to draw us near God and to seek his face. Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Are you still drawing near God? Christ paved the way for us to have continual access to God. Christ gave us the Holy Spirit to encourage us and draw into God’s presence (cf. John 16:7, Eph 2:18). The Holy Spirit enables us to cry out, “Abba Father”— “Daddy Dearest.”
Why is this important? Often Christians deem themselves unworthy to come into God’s presence because of some failure or sin. However, God never accepts us because of our righteousness. We weren’t saved because of our righteousness, and it is not our current righteousness that gives us access to God. It is still Christ’s.
God doesn’t accept us because we did our daily devotions or went to church on Sunday. We are always accepted on the basis of Christ’s righteousness. Christ is still our doorway; he is our public official that brings us into the court of God. Therefore, we can always come with boldness. We are righteous in Christ and accepted because of him.
Christ removed the hostility between us and God—reconciling us to the Father. He is truly the seed that would crush the head of the serpent and make all things right (Gen 3:15). He is our peacemaker.
Application Questions: How has Christ, through the Holy Spirit, been drawing you to deeper intimacy with God? Describe your experiences in evangelism. How has Christ been challenging you to participate in reconciling others to God?
How can we maintain the peace Christ, our peacemaker, has given us with one another and also with God?
- In order to have peace, believers must remember their sad state before Christ.
- In order to have peace, believers must remember that Christ brought reconciliation with one another.
- In order to have peace, believers must remember that Christ brought reconciliation with God.
Copyright © 2016 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked KJV or AKJV are from the King James Version or Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.
All emphases in Scripture quotations and commentators’ quotations have been added.
1 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1920). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
2 Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 91). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
3 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 73–74). Chicago: Moody Press.
4 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 76). Chicago: Moody Press.
5 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 23–24). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
6 Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ (pp. 92–93). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
7 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 79). Chicago: Moody Press.
8 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 80). Chicago: Moody Press.
9 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 80). Chicago: Moody Press.