“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Gracious Salvation Of Christ: Ephesians 2:11-18
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Paul now explains to the church at Ephesus (and each one of us) that the Lord has graciously included Gentiles as recipients of the gospel message, saving faith and membership into the family of God.
What is meant by the term “Gentile”? The word translated “Gentile” is the Greek word “ethnos”, meaning “nations”. It is from this word we get the word “ethnic”.
Generally, when the term Gentile is used in the Bible in was used in one of two ways:
1. When used to describe a physical condition of a nation, it describes a non-Jewish nation, or a foreign nation.
2. When used to describe a spiritual condition, it describes those who are alienated from the Lord. Before Christ, most non-Jewish nations did not possess the truths of God’s Word, nor did they experience His saving grace. Because of this, the term “Gentile” in the Bible was related to those who were alienated from the Lord, many times indulging in false worship and spiritually separated from Him.
Please keep in mind, this condition of Gentile alienation during the times of the Old Testament is being spoken of by Paul, in generalities. There were exceptions to this principle of Gentile alienation. Some of the OT Gentiles who were saved and enjoyed communion with God include:
1. Everyone saved before the establishment of the nation of Israel (Gen 1:-11:)
2. Inhabitants of Nineveh under the ministry of Jonah (Jonah 3:)
3. Rahab the harlot (Hebs 11:31)
4. King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:)
5. Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:)
6. Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth)
And perhaps others.
A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I. The past alienation of Gentiles from the Lord – 11-12
II. Gentiles brought into communion with God based upon Christ – 13
III. The work of Christ on behalf of Gentiles – 14-17
IV. Communion with God by the Spirit – 18
In this morning’s devotional, Paul begins to explain the standing of Gentiles during the times of the Old Testament…
(Ephesians 2:11) Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,
Paul called upon the church at Ephesus to recall their physical lineage (Gentiles) and their spiritual condition before God. In the times prior to Christ’s coming, Gentiles were generally excluded from the worship and communion with God. If things had continued on, as in times past, these believing Ephesians would not have come to faith in Christ, nor would they have enjoyed the blessing of local church membership. It was only through the gracious intervention of the Lord that they had been included into a state of fellowship with, and worship of, Him.
Paul now describes to them the spiritual condition of the Gentiles
who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
In past times, physical circumcision was an outward indication of those who were a part of the Israelite nation (as a nation, they were partners in the covenant of Jehovah, possessed the truth of God and experienced His true worship).
Circumcision made the Jews “stand out” from all the Gentile nations around them. Or if we looked at in the opposite light, the lack of Gentile circumcision made the Gentile “stand out” as those alienated from the true Lord and a relationship with Him.
Paul is reminding the Gentile Ephesian assembly that, in the past, physical Jews looked upon Gentiles as unclean, separated from the Lord and without hope of inclusion. They pointed to the lack of circumcision on the part of the Gentiles as proof that they were aliens from the nation of the Lord and they purposefully excluded them from the worship of Jehovah based upon His instructions.
So once again, Paul is reminding the Ephesians of God’s great grace shown to them in allowing them (who were once, purposefully, excluded from His worship) to now be equally accepted with believing Jews.
In our next devotional, Paul will continue to remind us of God’s grace being shown to those who are spiritually alienated from Him.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:8-15 XE “Colossians 02\:08-15” )
God’s great grace is shown in His acceptance of those who were once alienated from Him (Gentiles) to now being accepted into His beloved through faith. Whether we are of the Jewish or Gentile lineage, we all can thank Him for accepting us who were once spiritually separated, into an eternal relationship with Him.
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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