Sunday, September 19 2021
What hope is there for various groups of people who are without hope and without God? Paul reminded the Gentile Christians in Ephesus that they were once “separated from Christ” and alienated from Israel because they were the “uncircumcised” and strangers to God’s covenants (Ephesians 2:11–12). Therefore, the apostle noted that they had “no hope and without God in the world” (2:12).
What is the answer for those separated from God and His promises? The faithful of all nations are now “in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:13). Paul had already noted that all the spiritual blessings from God are for the faithful who are “in Christ” because they heard and believed the gospel. As God promised to bless all nations, God predestined those who are “in Christ” to be holy and blameless by His forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:3–14). No matter one’s ethnicity, followers of Christ are to unite in Christ.
How can many people from different backgrounds unite in Christ? The apostle Paul revealed that those in Christ from other nations were “once far off” but now “have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). For this reason, Paul declared that Christ is peace because He unites all ethnicities in one body, the church (2:14). Jesus broke down the dividing wall between the Jews and all other nations by annulling the law of commands and ordinances given to Israel (2:14–15). Furthermore, Jesus revealed that He came not to abolish God’s Law but to fulfill God’s Law (Matthew 5:17). Christ brings together people of all ethnicities through the cross (2:16). The apostle noted that Jesus came preaching peace for all people (Ephesians 2:17). Jesus put an end to the hostility of all peoples bringing peace to all nations who remain faithful to Jesus. Through Christ, all have access to God the Father in one Spirit (2:18). While cultures differ, all can unite in Jesus Christ.
What foundation does Jesus give to unite people among all nations? The church has no strangers and foreigners within, but all are members of the household, the family of God (2:19). The church is God’s people built like a house of gathering with “the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (2:20). Paul taught that the church is symbolically a house and a structure joined together as a holy temple for God’s dwelling by His Spirit (2:21). In other words, God dwells among His people in this world. Jesus does not separate churches by ethnicity. Christ has set the foundation for all people to unite upon one faith (4:4–6).
What is the conclusion then? Unity for the sake of unity is futile and meaningless. However, Jesus has brought peace and unity among all peoples. Christ is the head over the church as His body and He is the cornerstone of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 2:20). The church has Christ as the foundation of being one body, so we must strive to maintain unity in the bond of peace (4:1–3).