Thursday, 4 August 2016
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. Ephesians 2:17
The word “He” here is speaking of Christ Jesus, and yet, it cannot be said that Christ “preached peace” directly to the Gentiles, represented here by the Ephesians. He had ascended to the Father by this time. And so we see the Oneness of God hinted at in the Trinity. It is the Holy Spirit who transmitted the message (and continues to do so through the word) after Christ’s ascension. Jesus even spoke of this to the disciples concerning His peace –
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 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 14:25-27
Therefore, though it is the Holy Spirit who is directly speaking, it is still in Christ Jesus’ name that He does so. Understanding this, we see that “He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.” The word “peace” is eiréné. It properly means, “wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace (God’s gift of wholeness)” (HELPS Word Studies). In other words, the peace here speaks of our being reconciled to God. There is no longer a state of enmity between the two parties. Instead, there is peace.
Those “who were afar off” is speaking of the Gentiles; “those who were near” is speaking of the Jews. This is a quote from Isaiah 57:19 –
“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.”
A few things are of interest in this. One is that the Gentiles are mentioned first. This points to the scope of the “peace” which has come through Christ. The number of Gentiles far exceeds that of the Jews. Though the message is “to the Jew first” in chronology, it is the opposite in scope. Secondly, the fact that “peace” was preached to the Jews signifies that until the work of Christ was complete, the enmity between God and Jew still existed. The work of Christ was anticipated in the rituals of Israel, but the peace truly only came when that which was anticipated was fully accomplished. The repetition of “peace” toward both Jew and Gentile shows this to be true. This peace is not only something realized between Jew and Gentile (as verses 11 & 12 show), but it is also peace between each category and a third party, meaning God.
Life application: People want to believe that they are at peace with God through their good attitude, charities, etc. This is a lie. The only way to have peace with God is through accepting the work of Jesus Christ as Lord. The most moral, decent, and giving person in human history is no closer to God without Jesus than the greatest sinner of all. Only Christ! Only Christ can bring the peace we need. Spread the word!
Lord God, the world speaks of “having peace with God” because of having a good attitude, being a nice person, giving away things to charity, and the like. It is as if we can buy Your love through our efforts. But Your word shows this to be untrue. We have no peace with You because we already have sin which puts up a wall between us. You took care of that sin-debt on Jesus’ cross. Only through His shed blood can we get the sin-debt out of the way. Help us to think this through and to first be reconciled to You. And then our relationship really begins. Help us to not miss this most important point. Thank You for Jesus and His cross! Amen.