Ephesians 2:1-22 . GOD'S LOVE AND GRACE IN QUICKENING US, ONCE DEAD, THROUGH CHRIST. HIS PURPOSE IN DOING SO: EXHORTATION BASED ON OUR PRIVILEGES AS BUILT TOGETHER, AN HOLY TEMPLE, IN CHRIST, THROUGH THE SPIRIT.
12. without Christ--Greek, "separate from Christ"; having no part in Him; far from Him. A different Greek word (aneu) would be required to express, "Christ was not present with you" [TITTMANN].
aliens--Greek, "alienated from," not merely "separated from." The Israelites were cut off from the commonwealth of God, but it was as being self-righteous, indolent, and unworthy, not as aliens and strangers [CHRYSOSTOM]. The expression, "alienated from," takes it for granted that the Gentiles, before they had apostatized from the primitive truth, had been sharers in light and life (compare Ephesians 4:18 Ephesians 4:23 ). The hope of redemption through the Messiah, on their subsequent apostasy, was embodied into a definite "commonwealth" or polity, namely, that "of Israel," from which the Gentiles were alienated. Contrast Ephesians 2:13 , Ephesians 3:6 , Ephesians 4:4 Ephesians 4:5 , with Psalms 147:20 .
covenants of promise--rather, ". . . of the promise," namely, "to thee and thy seed will I give this land" ( Romans 9:4 , Galatians 3:16 ). The plural implies the several renewals of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with the whole people at Sinai [ALFORD]. "The promise" is singular, to signify that the covenant, in reality, and substantially, is one and the same at all times, but only different in its accidents and external circumstances (compare Hebrews 1:1 , "at sundry times and in divers manners").
having no . . . hope--beyond this life ( 1 Corinthians 15:19 ). The CONJECTURES of heathen philosophers as to a future life were at best vague and utterly unsatisfactory. They had no divine "promise," and therefore no sure ground of "hope." Epicurus and Aristotle did not believe in it at all. The Platonists believed the soul passed through perpetual changes, now happy, and then again miserable; the Stoics, that it existed no longer than till the time of the general burning up of all things.
without God--Greek, "atheists," that is, they had not "God" in the sense we use the word, the Eternal Being who made and governs all things (compare Acts 14:15 , "Turn from these vanities unto the living God who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things therein"), whereas the Jews had distinct ideas of God and immortality. Compare also Galatians 4:8 , "Ye knew not God . . . ye did service unto them which are no gods" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:5 ). So also pantheists are atheists, for an impersonal God is NO GOD, and an ideal immortality no immortality [THOLUCK].
in the world--in contrast to belonging to "the commonwealth of Israel." Having their portion and their all in this godless vain world ( Psalms 17:14 ), from which Christ delivers His people ( John 15:19 , 17:14 , Galatians 1:4 ).
13. now--in contrast to "at that time" ( Ephesians 2:12 ).
in Christ Jesus--"Jesus" is here added, whereas the expression before ( Ephesians 2:12 ) had been merely "Christ," to mark that they know Christ as the personal Saviour, "Jesus."
far off--the Jewish description of the Gentiles. Far off from God and from the people of God ( Ephesians 2:17 , Isaiah 57:19 , Acts 2:39 ).
are--Greek, "have been."
by--Greek, "in." Thus "the blood of Christ" is made the seal of a covenant IN which their nearness to God consists. In Ephesians 1:7 , where the blood is more directly spoken of as the instrument, it is "through His blood" [ALFORD].
14. he--Greek, "Himself" alone, pre-eminently, and none else. Emphatical.
our peace--not merely "Peacemaker," but "Himself" the price of our (Jews' and Gentiles' alike) peace with God, and so the bond of union between "both" in God. He took both into Himself, and reconciled them, united, to God, by His assuming our nature and our penal and legal liabilities ( Ephesians 2:15 , Isaiah 9:5 Isaiah 9:6 , 53:5 , Micah 5:5 , Colossians 1:20 ). His title, "Shiloh," means the same ( Genesis 49:10 ).
the middle wall of partition--Greek, ". . . of the partition" or "fence"; the middle wall which parted Jew and Gentile. There was a balustrade of stone which separated the court of the Gentiles from the holy place, which it was death for a Gentile to pass. But this, though incidentally alluded to, was but a symbol of the partition itself, namely, "the enmity" between "both" and God ( Ephesians 2:15 ), the real cause of separation from God, and so the mediate cause of their separation from one another. Hence there was a twofold wall of partition, one the inner wall, severing the Jewish people from entrance to the holy part of the temple where the priests officiated, the other the outer wall, separating the Gentile proselytes from access to the court of the Jews (compare Ezekiel 44:7 , Acts 21:28 ). Thus this twofold wall represented the Sinaitic law, which both severed all men, even the Jews, from access to God (through sin, which is the violation of the law), and also separated the Gentiles from the Jews. As the term "wall" implies the strength of the partition, so "fence" implies that it was easily removed by God when the due time came.
15. Rather, make "enmity" an apposition to "the middle wall of partition"; "Hath broken down the middle wall of partition (not merely as English Version, 'between us,' but also between all men and God), to wit, the enmity ( Romans 8:7 ) by His flesh" (compare Ephesians 2:16 , Romans 8:3 ).
the law of commandments contained in--Greek, "the law of the commandments (consisting) in ordinances." This law was "the partition" or "fence," which embodied the expression of the "enmity" (the "wrath" of God against our sin, and our enmity to Him, Ephesians 2:3 ) ( Romans 4:15 , 5:20 , Romans 7:10 Romans 7:11 , 8:7 ). Christ has in, or by, His crucified flesh, abolished it, so far as its condemning and enmity-creating power is concerned ( Colossians 2:14 ), substituting for it the law of love, which is the everlasting spirit of the law, and which flows from the realization in the soul of His love in His death for us. Translate what follows, "that He might make the two (Jews and Gentiles) into one new man." Not that He might merely reconcile the two to each other, but incorporate the two, reconciled in Him to God, into one new man; the old man to which both belonged, the enemy of God, having been slain in His flesh on the cross. Observe, too, ONE new man; we are all in God's sight but one in Christ, as we are but one in Adam [ALFORD].
making peace--primarily between all and God, secondarily between Jews and Gentiles; He being "our peace." This "peace-making" precedes its publication ( Ephesians 2:17 ).
16. Translate, "might altogether reconcile them both in one body (the Church, Colossians 3:15 ) unto God through His cross." The Greek for "reconcile" (apocatalaxe), found only here and in Colossians 1:20 , expresses not only a return to favor with one (catallage), but so to lay aside enmity that complete amity follows; to pass from enmity to complete reconciliation [TITTMANN].
slain the enmity--namely, that had been between man and God; and so that between Jew and Gentile which had resulted from it. By His being slain, He slew it (compare Hebrews 2:14 ).
thereby--Greek, "therein"; "in" or "by the cross," that is, His crucifixion ( Colossians 2:15 ).
17. Translate, "He came and announced glad tidings of peace." "He came" of His own free love, and "announced peace" with His own mouth to the apostles ( Luke 24:36 , John 20:19 John 20:21 John 20:26 ); and by them to others, through His Spirit present in His Church ( John 14:18 ). Acts 26:23 is strictly parallel; after His resurrection "He showed light to the people ('them that were nigh') and to the Gentiles ('you that were afar off')," by His Spirit in His ministers (compare 1 Peter 3:19 ).
and to them--The oldest manuscripts insert "peace" again: "And peace to them." The repetition implies the joy with which both alike would dwell again and again upon the welcome word "peace." So Isaiah 57:19 .
18. Translate, "For it is through Him ( John 14:6 ; Hebrews 10:19 ) that we have our access ( Ephesians 3:12 , Romans 5:2 ), both of us, in (that is, united in, that is, "by," 1 Corinthians 12:13 , Greek) one Spirit to the Father," namely, as our common Father, reconciled to both alike; whence flows the removal of all separation between Jew and Gentile. The oneness of "the Spirit," through which we both have our access, is necessarily followed by oneness of the body, the Church ( Ephesians 2:16 ). The distinctness of persons in the Divine Trinity appears in this verse. It is also fatal to the theory of sacerdotal priests in the Gospel through whom alone the people can approach God. All alike, people and ministers, can draw nigh to God through Christ, their ever living Priest.
19. Now, therefore--rather, "So then" [ALFORD].
foreigners--rather, "sojourners"; opposed to "members of the household," as "strangers" is to "fellow citizens." Philippians 3:19 Philippians 3:20 , "conversation," Greek, "citizenship."
but--The oldest manuscripts add, "are."
with the saints--"the commonwealth of (spiritual) Israel" ( Ephesians 2:12 ).
of God--THE FATHER; as JESUS CHRIST appears in Ephesians 2:20 , and THE SPIRIT in Ephesians 2:22 .
20. Translate as Greek, "Built up upon," &c. (participle; having been built up upon; omit, therefore, "and are"). Compare 1 Corinthians 3:11 1 Corinthians 3:12 . The same image in Ephesians 3:18 , recurs in his address to the Ephesian elders ( Acts 20:32 ), and in his Epistle to Timothy at Ephesus ( 1 Timothy 3:15 , 2 Timothy 2:19 ), naturally suggested by the splendid architecture of Diana's temple; the glory of the Christian temple is eternal and real, not mere idolatrous gaud. The image of a building is appropriate also to the Jew-Christians; as the temple at Jerusalem was the stronghold of Judaism; as Diana's temple, of paganism.
foundation of the apostles, &c.--that is, upon their ministry and living example (compare Matthew 16:18 ). Christ Himself, the only true Foundation, was the grand subject of their ministry, and spring of their life. As one with Him and His fellow workers, they, too, in a secondary sense, are called "foundations" ( Revelation 21:14 ). The "prophets" are joined with them closely; for the expression is here not "foundations of the apostles and the prophets," but "foundations of the apostles and prophets." For the doctrine of both was essentially one ( 1 Peter 1:10 1 Peter 1:11 , Revelation 19:10 ). The apostles take the precedency ( Luke 10:24 ). Thus he appropriately shows regard to the claims of the Jews and Gentiles: "the prophets" representing the old Jewish dispensation, "the apostles" the new. The "prophets" of the new also are included. BENGEL and ALFORD refer the meaning solely to these ( Ephesians 3:5 , 4:11 ). These passages imply, I think, that the New Testament prophets are not excluded; but the apostle's plain reference to Psalms 118:22 , "the head stone of the corner," proves that the Old Testament prophets are a prominent thought. David is called a "prophet" in Acts 2:30 . Compare also Isaiah 28:16 ; another prophet present to the mind of Paul, which prophecy leans on the earlier one of Jacob ( Genesis 49:24 ). The sense of the context, too, suits this: Ye were once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (in the time of her Old Testament prophets), but now ye are members of the true Israel, built upon the foundation of her New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets. Paul continually identifies his teaching with that of Israel's old prophets ( Acts 26:22 , 28:23 ). The costly foundation-stones of the temple ( 1 Kings 5:17 ) typified the same truth (compare Jeremiah 51:26 ). The same stone is at once the corner-stone and the foundation-stone on which the whole building rests. Paul supposes a stone or rock so large and so fashioned as to be both at once; supporting the whole as the foundation, and in part rising up at the extremities, so as to admit of the side walls meeting in it, and being united in it as the corner-stone [ZANCHIUS]. As the corner-stone, it is conspicuous, as was Christ ( 1 Peter 2:6 ), and coming in men's way may be stumbled over, as the Jews did at Christ ( Matthew 21:42 , 1 Peter 2:7 ).
21. In whom--as holding together the whole.
fitly framed--so as exactly to fit together.
groweth--"is growing" continually. Here an additional thought is added to the image; the Church has the growth of a living organism, not the mere increase of a building. Compare 1 Peter 2:5 ; "lively stones . . . built up a spiritual house." Compare Ephesians 4:16 , Zechariah 6:12 , "The Branch shall build the temple of the Lord," where similarly the growth of a branch, and the building of a temple, are joined.
holy--as being the "habitation of God" ( Ephesians 2:22 ). So "in the Lord" (Christ) answers to "through the Spirit" ( Ephesians 2:22 ; compare Ephesians 3:16 Ephesians 3:17 ). "Christ is the inclusive Head of all the building, the element in which it has its being and now its growth" [ALFORD].
22. are builded together--Translate, "are being builded together."
through--Greek, "in the Spirit." God, by His Spirit in believers, has them for His habitation ( 1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:17 , 6:19 , 2 Corinthians 6:16 ).