Monday, 1 August 2016
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, Ephesians 2:14
Paul has been describing the woeful state of the Gentiles for the past few verses. In verse 13 we then read, “ But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Now in explanation of this, he says, “For He Himself is our peace.” The words, “He Himself” are emphatic. It is through Christ alone that this peace comes about. The idea of peace as given by the Lord simply permeates Scripture. For example, from the Old Testament we read –
“I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord,
“And I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:19
Then at the birth of Christ, the heavenly host proclaimed –
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14
As Christ was finishing His earthly ministry, we then read –
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Paul’s words, however, show that not only does Christ grant peace, He is our peace. He uses the word “peace” in an abstract sense to show that it defines Him and His work rather than merely being a result of what He has done. He is the source of it and the continuation of it. In Him, we now have this peace. Next, to further define this, he says, “who has made both one.” This is speaking of the division between Jew and Gentile which was especially highlighted in verses 11 & 12. Here Paul uses the term “both” in the neuter gender. By doing this, he shows that these states simply existed. They were facts concerning the nature of the state; Jew and Gentile. There was no peace and no accord between the two, but in Christ we are made one. Peace exists because of His work. “Both,” showing a distinction, is replaced with “one,” showing peace.
As a secondary note, it is also true that Christ is our peace between God and us. Where there was once enmity and strife, there is now love and contentment between the two. But this is not the intent of Paul’s words here. That is well described by Paul elsewhere though. In this verse, he is dealing with the issue of individual status before God – Jew and Gentile. This is fully evidenced by the words that Christ “has broken down the middle wall of separation.”
This “middle wall” refers to the wall which was in the temple in Jerusalem beyond which no Gentile could pass. Flavius Josephus indicates that it bore a sign which proclaimed death to any Gentile who passed it. This is what is referred to in Acts 21 –
“Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” Acts 21:28
By supposing that Paul had brought a Gentile into the temple, it would have been considered a defilement of it.
Where the Jews could go, the Gentiles were excluded. However, in Christ, that middle wall of separation no longer exists. Gentiles are considered on the same level as Jews because of the work of Christ.
Life application: Too often we see people continuing to make a distinction between Jews and Gentiles, as if Jews are lifted up as having a special importance and favor with God within the church. This is incorrect. In Christ, all are on the same level, even as far as access to the Throne of Grace.
Lord God, how marvelous it is that all people on earth are entitled to come to Your Throne of Grace on an equal footing when they have come to Christ. There is now no elevation of status because of heritage, race, creed, or color. To You, we are either in Christ and with full access to You, or we are without Christ and alienated from You. And what is so remarkable is that this is granted to us by choice. Will we receive Your offer of peace or not. Thank You for allowing us to choose life. Thank You for Christ Jesus. Amen.