Tuesday, 2 August 2016
…having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, Ephesians 2:15
This verse brings in a question upon which scholars are divided. Is “having abolished in His flesh the enmity” speaking of “the middle wall of separation” of the previous verse, or of “the law of commandments contained in ordinances”? Here is how they read together. Remember that the words “that is” are inserted by the translators –
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace…”
The answer, when looking at Paul’s thoughts is that it is speaking of both. The “wall of separation” was there in the temple because they were the stewards of the law. The second explains the first. Christ has made us (meaning Jew and Gentile) both one. The way He did this was by breaking down that middle wall. And that middle wall stood because of the law which set Israel apart from the nations.
The law is now abolished. The word in Greek is katargeó. It properly means, “idle down, rendering something inert (‘completely inoperative’); i.e. being of no effect (totally without force, completely brought down); done away with, cause to cease and therefore abolish; make invalid, abrogate (bring to nought); “to make idle or inactive’” (HELPS Word Studies).
It is the law that Paul implicitly and explicitly states many times in His letters which is obsolete. The author of Hebrews states it explicitly three times and implicitly another dozen or so as well. The law was given to Israel, and it was intended to show us the need for something else. Paul explains this in detail in Galatians. Its purpose was to lead us, as a tutor, to Christ. In Christ’s fulfillment of the law, it is annulled, obsolete, and set aside.
The Bible does not make a distinction between the “moral” and “ceremonial” aspects of this law. They are a united whole. Having said that, those precepts which are restated in the New Covenant are binding; hence, we are not to commit adultery, murder, etc. However, any precepts which are not repeated under the New Covenant are abolished. The Sabbath is such a law. Rather, belief in Christ brings us into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:3). Christ is the end of the law for all who believe.
In abolishing “the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” Jesus has created “in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.” The dividing wall is torn down and now, in Christ, we are one. This does not mean that Jews are no longer Jews and Gentiles are no longer Gentiles. This means that in relation to Christ, and concerning salvation based on that relation, they are on the same level.
Gentiles are now no longer alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. They are now in Christ, having hope, and sharing in the riches of the true God while in this world.
Life application: Paul explicitly states that the law is abolished. Do not be duped by people that take one or two verses completely out of context, and then tell you that you are obligated to adhere to precepts of the law. Abolished means just that. Our salvation comes by faith in Christ’s completion of the law – end of story.
Lord God, many in the world are looking for peace with You. They may toss a sacrifice into a volcano in hopes of obtaining Your favor. They may blow themselves up on a busy train in an attempt to be granted paradise. They may give money to a church, believing that this will make You happy. Or, they may hold to a law which was annulled through a New Covenant. And yet, none of these things will bring us one step closer to You. Only through our trust in the shed blood of Christ alone can we be reconciled to You. What a simple thing to do, and yet it seems that it is the most difficult of all. Help eyes to be opened to the truth of what Christ did. Salvation is of the Lord! Hallelujah and amen.