Wednesday, 3 August 2016
…and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:16
This verse explains and builds on the thought of the previous verse. Together they read –
“…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, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
The “one new man” of verse 15 precedes the thought of reconciliation which is given in verse 16 in the order of Paul’s statement; but actually the reconciliation comes first, thus the new man is created. The verb from which “reconcile” comes is apokatallassó. It is used only here and in Colossians 1:20 and 1:22. It means more than bringing about conciliation, but reconciliation. In other words, there was once unity, but that was lost. Now in Christ, and through His cross, there is harmony once again. As Vincent’s Word Studies Notes, “This brings out the profound idea, which so especially characterizes these Epistles, of a primeval unity of all created being in Christ, marred and broken by sin, and restored by His manifestation in human flesh.”
The Pulpit Commentary shows this thought in a marvelous way. They say, “If Christ had only to proclaim God’s friendship toward sinners, why should he have suffered on the cross? The cross as a mere pulpit is hideous; as an altar it is glorious.” In other words, God didn’t just proclaim reconciliation to fallen man as with a trumpet, but as an offering. In the crucified body of Christ, the enmity that existed has ended.
It needs to be remembered that this enmity is speaking first and foremost of that which existed between Jew and Gentile. It is true that the cross does this between God and man, and this will be noted in the coming verse in exactly this context, but it was the Jew who had access to God through the temple worship. Now, the cross of Christ offers it to all. The “middle wall of separation” no longer stands between Jew and Gentile. The enmity which existed is put to death.
Life application: Do you have a secret prejudice or bias against a person of a certain color or national heritage? If so, you are not seeing that person as God does. All people are descended from one man, Adam. Thus all are related. Now, in Christ, there is even more reason to not have enmity towards such a person. If they are “in Christ,” they are truly one with you in Christ as well. Put away your prejudices and see your fellow Christians as true brothers in the Lord.
Heavenly Father, Christ Jesus came to give His life a ransom for many. This includes people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. If He has done this for all of these categories, then why should we be dividing up our love by those same categories? Rather, help us to see humanity with Your eyes. Help us to reach across all barriers in love, sharing the message of Christ with any and all who will but receive it. Amen.