Ephesians 2:14-22 Christ Our Peace
In our last study where together we looked at that beautiful passage of Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 1 to 13, Paul told us three things concerning the unconditional good news of salvation. In the first three verses of chapter two, he told us that both Jews and Gentiles are dead in trespasses and sins, that we are by nature the children of wrath. This is something that we all need to discover. You see, an unbeliever is not a sick person but a dead person. He does not need resustication but he needs resurrection. All lost sinners are dead and the only difference between one sinner and another is the state of decay. That is our natural condition.
Then in verses 4 to 10, Paul expounds so beautifully the wonderful unconditional good news of salvation, that together with Christ we were made alive, together with Christ we were raised up, together with Christ we are sitting in heavenly places, that the anchor of our hope, of our salvation, is not in us but in the holy history of our Lord Jesus Christ. He took humanity unto Himself and He gave us, by His life, death and resurrection, a new history, a new status in which mankind no longer stands condemned but justified. As Paul said in Romans 5, verse 18, "By the obedience of one man, justification unto life came unto all men."
Then in verses 11 to 13, Paul told us that this wonderful salvation was not something reserved only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles since both have sinned and come short of the glory of God, since there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in the eyes of God. Man's only hope, be he either a Jew or Gentile is Jesus Christ and redemption through Him.
Now, we are going to turn to chapter 2, verse 14 right up to verse 22 where Paul deals with Christ as our peace. Now, the word "peace" is used in two senses by the apostle Paul. In Romans 5 and verse 1, Paul told us that being justified by faith we have peace with God. Jesus came to bring peace between sinful man and a holy God and through the gospel and through the acceptance of the gospel, through justification by faith, that great truth that Luther discovered and recovered from the Dark Ages, that truth is what gives us peace with God.
But now, in chapter 2 of Ephesians, verses 14 onwards, Paul is not talking about our vertical peace between sinful men and a holy God but he is talking about a horizontal peace between men and men. Let us read it and follow what Paul is saying and once again, if you have your Bibles, dear reader, please turn to it. I want you to discover this truth from your own Bible. Ephesians 2, verse 14, "For he," (that is, Christ) "Himself is our peace." And the "our" here refers to Jews and Gentiles. In fact, he brings this out in verse 17. What does he say in verse 17? "And he came and preached peace to you who are afar off and to those who were near." The "far off" refers to the Gentiles and the "near" refers to the Jews. Let us go back to verse 14, "For he himself is our peace who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of division between us." There was a problem that existed in the Old Testament. God had given the Jews instruction that they should not be unequally yoked with the Gentiles. But you see, the word "Gentiles" in the Old Testament and even in the New Testament, is used in two ways. The word "Gentile" can mean a non-Jew but the Bible also uses the word "Gentile" to refer to the unbeliever. And what God meant in the Old Testament is not that "I am reserving salvation only for the Jews." God's plan was salvation for all men right from the very beginning. So when He used the word "Gentile" in the Old Testament, He was not referring to the non-Jew but to the unbeliever. And what He meant is, a believer and an unbeliever should not be unequally yoked because, you see, a believer belonged to the kingdom of God; an unbeliever belongs to the kingdom of Satan, this world. And these two are enemies, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are enemies because their rulers are enemies. There is a controversy between Satan and Christ. There can be no compromise and therefore, that is the instruction that God gave.
But unfortunately, Judaism took that word "Gentile" and applied it to the non-Jews. They looked upon the Gentiles as dogs, as unclean men and women, with no hope of salvation. And because of this they built in their temple a partition wall and today archeology has discovered the inscription that was posted on that wall that Paul is referring here to. Let me paraphrase that inscription. This is what it said: "No foreigner may enter within the barricade, that is, beyond this wall" and the word "foreigner" refers to the non-Jew, the Gentile. "Anyone, that is any Gentile who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death." In other words, any Gentile who went beyond that partition wall, which was reserved only for the Jews, was punishable by death. Why? Because the Jews had taken the word "Gentile" and instead of applying that to unbelievers they applied it to those who were not descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Now, I do not know how many of you heard the study when we did Romans, chapter 9, 10 and 11 where Paul deals with the Jewish Problem. But in chapter nine of Romans, Paul made it very clear that the mistake of the Jews was that it is not the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that makes true Israel, but it is the qualities of these three men that qualifies one to be an Israelite. In other words, Abraham stood for faith and if you have the faith of Abraham then you are Abraham's seed. Isaac stands for being born from above and as Paul says to the Gentiles in Galatians 4, we who are born from above belong to Isaac. And, of course, Jacob really refers to those whose faith endures unto the end. In other words, if you have the faith of Abraham; if you have experienced the new birth, the birth from above as Isaac was born from above and if your faith endures unto the end, then you belong to Israel. But the Jews applied the word "Israel" only to those who had the blood of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And Paul is saying here that this false teaching has been removed through Jesus Christ. Why? Because in the incarnation, He took unto Himself, not only the Jewish nation, but He took the whole human race unto Himself as we saw in our last study. God took the corporate life of the whole human race, from Adam to the last person because you see, even though we belong to different nations and tribes and kingdoms and countries, we share a common life.
The human race is the multiplication of Adam's life. When God breathed into Adam the breath of life, the Hebrew text in Genesis 2:7, has the word "life" in the plural. In Acts 17, verse 26, Luke tells us that out of one, God created all the nations that dwell upon the earth. The human race shares a common life or as we would put it from the Word of God, the human race is a multiplication of Adam's life. And God took that corporate life of the human race and joined it to Christ in the incarnation. And then by His perfect life and His sacrificial death and His resurrection, He gave us a new hope, a new history, a new status in which we have salvation, full and complete. That is the redemption of the gospel; that is the unconditional good news. And in that redemption, all distinction between Jew and Gentile was removed. As Paul says in Romans 3, verse 22, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. Both of us have sinned; both of us keep on sinning; we are together become unprofitable but in Christ we were brought together. The middle wall of partition was removed.
Look at verse 15: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity that is, the law of commandment contained in ordinances so as to create in himself one new man from the two thus making peace." The enmity that existed because of the misinterpretation of that wall was removed at the cross and God removed every barrier between men and men. Today the world is torn up into all kinds of factions. The Middle East is torn up between the Israelites and the Palestinians. The people in the former Yugoslavia are torn up and there is this terrible ethnic cleansing that is taking place there that really is a contradiction of the gospel. The world is divided into all kinds of races, color divisions. Folks, the gospel removes all human barriers. As Paul says in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 28: "In Christ there is no male; there is no female; there is no Jew; there is no Gentile; there is no slave; there is no master." In other words, there is no educated or uneducated. We are all one in Christ. That is the wonderful good news of the gospel. He has brought peace, not only between sinful men and a holy God but He has brought peace between men and men. It is only the gospel that can bring peace to this human race that is torn apart with all kinds of factions.
And so I read in verse 16 of Ephesians 2: "And that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross whereby putting to death the enmity." Folks, the cross of Christ has removed all barriers, all enmity between men and men and therefore, verse 17 adds that He came and preached peace to you who were far off, you Gentiles and to those who were nearby. For through Him through Christ we both Jews and Gentiles have access by one Spirit to the Father. You see, the life that you and I were born with, is a life of self and where self dominates mankind, you have divisions, all kinds of divisions, all kinds of factions but a Christian has surrendered that self life to the cross. A Christian is a person who has been born again. A Christian is a person who says with Paul, Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I am living; it is no longer I, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."
And my dear people, Christ lives in you and me through the Holy Spirit. In fact, Paul tells us in Romans 8, verses 9 and 10 that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he doesn't belong to Christ. Therefore the new birth is essential for the gospel to be made effective in your life and my life. As Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus, unless you are born from above, you cannot inherit the kingdom of God. And as Christian, it doesn't matter whether you are a Jew or Gentile, you have now received the Spirit as the source of your life, that eternal life that God gave you through His Son, Jesus Christ. And in this life, which is dominated by love that seeketh not her own, this life controlled by that unconditional love, removes all barriers between man and man.
So it is my belief that if we want peace in America, if we want to remove the racial barriers, the barriers between black and white, between the majority and the minority, you cannot do it by legislation. You cannot do it by marches. The only source of removing the barriers between man and man; the only source of peace between man and man is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only through the cross of Christ that the enmity that exists between men and men for whatever reason, can be removed. It is Christ who is our peace. And so if you want peace in America between the various ethnic groups, if you want peace between the majority and the minority, the solution is to proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. No human effort, no humanistic method can solve this problem. I can guarantee you, no human solution is available to mankind. Why? Because Paul made it clear in this epistle and the other epistles; we are slaves to sin; we need a deliverer. And it is our slavery to sin that brings the faction between men and men.
And so it is my prayer that we will turn to the gospel as man's only solution of bringing peace in America and in the world.
But let's go on. In verse 19 of Ephesians 2, Paul goes on now by pointing to Christ as the cornerstone. Listen to what he says, verse 19 of Ephesians 2: "Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners." Remember the "you" is referring to the Gentiles. "Now therefore you Gentiles," Paul is saying, "are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens (fellow citizens with the Jews) with the saints and members of the household of God." We have become one. Jews and Gentiles have equal rights in this new kingdom that God has prepared in Jesus Christ. No distinction between Jew and Gentile. No distinction between male and female. No distinction between rich and poor. No distinction between black and white. We are all one in Christ. That is the wonderful truth of the gospel.
Not only do we have salvation in Jesus Christ. Not only can we do good works in Jesus Christ but in Jesus Christ we have peace, not only between God and man but between man and man.
And so it is important that we understand what Paul is saying here. Listen to verse 20 now: "Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets." Please remember, the "prophets" here is referring here to the Old Testament. The Old Testament, just as the New Testament taught universal salvation. Or in other words, salvation that was planned from the foundation of the world was planned for the whole human race. And this is what the prophets taught; this is what the apostles taught but Christ Jesus is Himself the chief cornerstone. What does he mean by this? Well, let me explain because you see, most of our houses here are built out of wood but in the tropics, in the Middle East where wood is very difficult to get since most of the Middle East is semi-desert, wood is a luxury in the Middle East. Besides, because of its warm temperatures, we have the problem with termites. So the houses in the days of Christ were built out of stone. Labor was cheap and so the stonemasons would carve the stones into squares and build the houses out of stone. Now the first thing they did after they laid the foundation was to lay the cornerstone. By this cornerstone, everything else was measured. They would lay this cornerstone and then tie a string from the cornerstone to the other end of the building and then place the other stone. And then they would tie a string on the other side at right angles so that everything was measured by the cornerstone. And what Paul is saying is that our Christianity, everything that we hope for as Christians, whether we talk of our peace in justification or the holy and righteous living in sanctification or when we talk of the changing of our corrupt nature to incorruption at the second coming of Christ which the New Testament calls glorification, all of this, has its source in Jesus Christ. Everything must be measured by Jesus Christ, our thoughts, our direction, our ambitions, our desires, everything must be Jesus Christ. In other words, a Christian is a person who says with Paul, "For me to live is Christ." He is the cornerstone and since in Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, that must be the basis of our unity. Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets but Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.
You see, the prophets offered us salvation as a promise. The apostles pointed to Christ as our salvation but it is Christ who is the cornerstone. What the apostles and the prophets simply did was to point us to Christ, the prophets by a promise, the apostles by the historical truth of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And so the church here is defined by Paul as a building. Look at verse 21. In verse 20, Christ is presented as a cornerstone by which every other stone is measured and placed. Now in verse 21, he says, "In whom (that is, in Christ) the whole building being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord. My dear listener, every believer has a vital part in the temple of God and when the New Testament talks about the temple of God, it is not talking about buildings. You know, the tragedy of the Christian church is somewhat the same as the Jews. The Jews put emphasis in their temple. You remember what Jesus said in John, chapter 2, I believe verse 29, He said to the Jews, "Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up." And the Jews missed the total point of Christ's statement. They said to Him, "It took 46 years for this temple to be built and you can restore it in three days?" But Jesus was not talking about the building. He was talking about His body. And you know something? Even His disciples failed to understand this truth because as I read John 2, it tells me that only after the resurrection the disciples remembered those words and realized that He was not talking about a building. He was talking about His body. Folks, it is not a building that makes up a Christian church. We have some beautiful churches here in America. I look at the Washington Cathedral, that beautiful artifice. Oh, what a wonderful building it is. You go to Europe and see those beautiful Cathedrals that were built in the Middle Ages. But folks, many of those buildings are empty. Very few people go to church today. In Europe, it is just a small percentage. In America, it is a higher percentage but the majority of the people stay at home. Folks, the building is not the church; the church is men and women who are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, who are joined together with Christ as the cornerstone. And it is God's desire that the church grow up as a building in perfect harmony with the cornerstone. It is God's purpose that the church, Jews and Gentiles, are perfectly united together.
You know, when you look at the corner of a building, the stones are interlaced so that the bonding will be very strong. And in the church, the bonding between all groups, all ethnic cultures, should be bonded together in one. Yes, we may not see eye to eye in many things but in the church there must be unity in spite of diversity because the gospel is the power of God, not only to save us from the condemnation of the law; not only to save us from the guilt and punishment of sin but from sin itself which has divided this world into all kinds of factions and which is the cause of all the wars and strife that we are seeing and listening to on the news.
Listen to the concluding verses of this section. "In whom (that is, in Christ), we also are being built together." Christianity is a growing experience. "for a habitation of God in the Spirit." Oh, what a wonderful message this gospel is. You know, we have tried as human beings, every single method to bring unity in this country. We have tried legislation; we have tried marching; we have tried all kinds of educational programs and everything seems to be failing. Passing laws has not solved our problems. Using force, using authority, using police force has not solved our problems. Education has not solved our problems. Human gimmicks have failed. Every method that we have tried, has failed to produce a united nation. There is only one way, dear reader, that you and I can be united genuinely. It is through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ because the enmity was removed at the cross; the middle wall of partition between men and men was totally eradicated at the cross. The curtain between a holy God and sinful man was torn apart from top to bottom, says the gospel records. There is no barrier between a holy God and sinful man in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And there is no barrier between men and men through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And it is my prayer that as we understand this truth, this truth will set us free, free from the factions and the divisions that have been produced even in the Christian church. You know, in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul divides Christians into two camps. He says, he calls one group carnal Christians, babes in Christ and the other spiritual. And one of the evidences of a carnal Christian is there is jealousy; there is division; there is strife within the church. Folks, if there is strife within the Christian church, if there is division, it is because we are still carnal. And Paul is saying, "Please, how long are you going to remain carnal?" It is time that the church grows up into Christ. It is time that the Christian church understands the full implications of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not enough to raise our arms and say, "I am saved." Folks, the world needs to see the power of the gospel in your life and in my life.
And I will conclude with these words of Jesus Christ. John 13, verse 35: "By this shall men know that you are my disciples when you have love." Or in other words, when you have unity within the church. And it is my prayer that this truth will set you free, that no longer will there be any division in your church, in my church, that we shall be one in Christ and the world will see the power of the gospel bringing all kinds of ethnic groups, all kinds of cultures, all kinds of races, all kinds of colors united by the blood of the Lamb. This is my prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.
Christ Our Peace