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Ephesians– overview of 2:14-18; Double Reconciliation, part 2.

EPHESIANS-1-190619
length: 62:52 - taught on Jun, 19 2019
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Class Outline:

Wednesday June 19, 2019
 

EPH 2:14-18 - The Double Reconciliation.

 

Paul sees the reconstruction of the human race to perfect peace begin in the church, in the body of Christ where Jew and Gentile, the greatest division between men ever known, would become one new man.

 

Paul sees the Sabbath of a harmonious people (ISA 56:1-8) fulfilled in the age that began with him as its apostle to the Gentiles. He, a Jew filled with hatred towards Gentiles for half of his life, would preach peace to them.

 

The peace that Christ brought and established would be enjoyed by believers who were in the know. So not everyone in the world, but only a segment of the world, and they would be a foretaste of this same peace being established worldwide during the Millennial reign of Christ.

 

LUK 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

 

For peace among men, first, the enmity between Jew and Gentile had to be abolished, which meant the taking away of the Law of Moses.

 

The hostility of the Jew and Gentile was removed when Christ rendered the Law inoperative. The Law could never be abolished, but rather it was fulfilled and so no longer affective. The Law was never meant to be permanent.

 

Without the Law, the middle wall of partition no longer existed between Jew and Gentile.

 

Paul’s life was dedicated to keeping the Law, and then he heard, “Why do you persecute Me?” He knew more than anyone that no one was saved by the works of the Law.

 

Paul, a Jew by birth, a Pharisee who kept all the Law, received new life apart from the works of the Law. The appearance of the resurrected Lord brought Paul to faith. And Paul was not fulfilling the Law as a Pharisee if, as Jesus told him he was, persecuting the Creator of the Law.

 

ROM 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

 

ROM 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,

 

When Jesus fulfilled the law, the barrier between Jew and Gentile was destroyed.

 

EPH 2:15

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

 

ROM 3:30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

 

EPH 2:11

Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision,"

 

GAL 2:15 "We are Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles;

 

Paul claims the ancient differences as the elected nation descended from Abraham, gifted with the covenants and the rest, Gentiles, called sinners.

 

EPH 2:3

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

 

GAL 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

 

It is hard for us to understand the enmity of Jew and Gentile Christians in the church. Of course, we have antisemitism in the church, but generally not towards Jews who claim to be Christians. The antisemitism of the church is now far more subtle than it used to be. Today it is found in replacement theology where the literal fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant is denied to Abraham’s progeny, as if the denial of God by their majority would mean God’s denial of the covenant, the nation, and the remnant of believers.

 

JER 33:25-26

"Thus says the Lord, 'If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.'"

 

Early church divisions:

Jews - Gentiles

Hellenistic Jews - Hebraic Jews

Jerusalem - Antioch

 

Yet, in the time of Paul’s writing, the church was new and mostly filled with Jewish converts, but rapidly were Gentile converts rising. Within the ranks of the church as well as in society, Jew and Gentile stood on opposite sides of a wall that they thought still stood, but was demolished by Christ.

 

Not only was there a division between the Jews and Gentiles in the early church, but also between Jews who were Hellenistic and Jews who identified as Hebrews. The Hellenistic were Greek speaking from Alexandria and Antioch who had Greek culture in them, while the Hebrews were of Judah, considering themselves purer Jews, unstained by evil Greek culture.

 

ACT 6:1 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.

 

ACT 6:2 And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.

 

ACT 6:3 "But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.

 

ACT 6:4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."

 

ACT 6:5 And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch [Gentile].

 

ACT 6:6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.

 

There was a bit of a language barrier, as the Hebrews mainly spoke Aramaic while the Hellenists mainly spoke Greek. Each would have known the other’s language; especially would the Hebrews have known Greek but not preferred it. The Hebrews considered Aramaic [very close to Hebrew] as more patriotic. They had the classic cultural and linguistic barrier built up in their minds. 

 

Early in the Book of Acts, we find Peter astounded while witnessing Gentiles being baptized by the Spirit.

 

These Gentiles spoke in tongues. There was no doubt that they were recipients of the promise. Peter had them baptized.

 

When Peter returns to Jerusalem to report this, the Jewish Christians are also amazed, and also concluding that the Gentiles are recipients of the salvation promise.

 

Peter said to the council at Jerusalem:

ACT 11:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them [Cornelius’ house], just as He did upon us at the beginning.

 

ACT 11:16 "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 

 

Let’s see what Peter remembered:

 

ACT 1:4 And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;

 

ACT 1:5 for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. "

 

ACT 1:6 And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"

 

Their only focus is Israel.

 

ACT 1:7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

 

ACT 1:8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

 

It’s not for you to know times or epochs, but it will soon be for you to know what I (Jesus) means by “the remotest part of the earth.” Peter recalls this conversation and realizes through the example he witnessed in Cornelius’ house, that the Gentiles were called along with the Jews in this age.

 

ACT 11:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them [Cornelius’ house], just as He did upon us at the beginning.

 

ACT 11:16 "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'

 

ACT 11:17 "If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?"

 

ACT 11:18 And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

 

ACT 11:19 So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.

 

Though fully confronted with the truth that God was calling the Gentiles as well as the Jews into the church, many of them were still only preaching to Jews alone. We must realize that Jews only associated with other Jews and it was completely foreign to them to consult Gentiles. They would have to break out of their comfort zone and God would force them to.

 

Despite revelation, old habits are hard to break.

 

Still, there were some Jews who, when they understood that Gentiles were called to the church, embraced the good news and immediately went to the Gentiles with the gospel.

 

ACT 11:20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

 

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