“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 continues to explain the standing of Gentiles during the times of the Old Testament. Not only does this description apply to the physical Gentiles of the Old Testament times, but taken in the spiritual sense, it is a picture of a lost individual and their condition of alienation before the Lord…
(Ephesians 2:12) 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:
Just like the physical Gentiles during Old Testament times, the Ephesian church members rightfully could be rejected by God based upon their physical lineage.
In this description, Paul is reminding them of:
1. “what could have been” apart from God’s grace sending the gospel to the Gentiles and accepting them into His local assemblies.
2. But also, since the condition of OT Gentiles is illustrative of the condition of a lost person, it is also reminding the Ephesians of their alienation from Christ prior to their salvation experience.
Paul’s teachings throughout this section would hit home with the Ephesians in two ways, their physical lineage and their spiritual condition before their salvation…
That at that time ye were without Christ,
As Physical Gentiles – In the Old Testament times, they would have lacked a relationship with the Lord and lacked His presence in their life.
As Spiritual Gentiles – The Ephesians, just like any lost man before their salvation, who did not have the Lord or His indwelling Spirit in their lives. (Colossians 1:21)
being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,
As Physical Gentiles – In the Old Testament times, they were considered “aliens” (estranged, not linked to) the physical nation of Israel. They were considered to be “outsiders” not entering into citizenship of the nation of Israel.
As Spiritual Gentiles – The Ephesians, just like any lost man before their salvation, are considered “aliens” (estranged, separated) and “outsiders”, not entering into membership in the family of God nor possess citizenship of the spiritual, eternal, nation of God (the Israel of God). (Galatians 6:16)
and strangers from the covenants of promise,
As Physical Gentiles – In the Old Testament times, they were considered “strangers” (foreign, not belonging) not being a party to the covenant made between Israel and Jehovah.
As Spiritual Gentiles – The Ephesians, just like any lost man before their salvation, do not share in the new covenant made between The Lord and His chosen people which are made up of both believing Jews and Gentiles (Hebrews 8:7-13)
having no hope,
As Physical Gentiles – In the Old Testament times, they had “no hope” of acceptance into citizenship of Israel and the worship of Jehovah. According to the law of God they were to be excluded.
As Spiritual Gentiles – The Ephesians, just like any lost man before their salvation, does not have hope of attaining salvation of their own merit or deeds. They are hopeless apart from the gracious intervention of the Lord. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
and without God in the world:
As Physical Gentiles – In the Old Testament times, being alienated from the nation that possessed the truth of God’s Word, His worship and His people, the Gentiles were truly without God.
As Spiritual Gentiles – The Ephesians, just like any lost man before their salvation, is without God as well. They do not have the indwelling Spirit of God within them. They are separated from God due to their sinfulness and spiritually blinded, unable to come to an understanding of His Words nor seeing their great need of salvation from their sins. (Galatians 4:7-8)
Certainly, the Ephesians had much to be thankful because…
By them taking a moment to remember their past they are reminded that, due to their physical lineage and their sinful condition as lost men, they were alienated from God. Apart from His intervention in their lives, they were helpless to secure communion with Him. But, praise be to the Lord, they have entered into a personal relationship with their Lord based upon His wondrous mercy and grace!
So too for each one of us, whether Jew or Gentile, we all can praise His wonderful name for giving us access to Himself through His work on the cross. May the Lord bring our past into our minds and help us to realize the great grace He has shown to us on our behalf!
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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