Sunday October 7 "Our Peace" Pastor Wood
A single new humanity 2:11–22
‘Alienation’ is a popular word in contemporary society. There are many people, especially young people in the so-called ‘developed’ world, who are disillusioned with ‘the system’, critical of ‘the technocracy’ and hostile to ‘the establishment’, who describe themselves as ‘alienated’. Some work for reform, others plot revolution, others drop out. In no case can they accommodate themselves to the status quo.
It was Karl Marx who popularized the word, . . . understood the plight of the proletariat in terms of economic alienation. Every worker puts into his craftsmanship a part of himself. When his employer then sells his product, he is guilty, at least in part, of alienating the worker from himself. This according to Marx was the basis of the class struggle.
Nowadays the word is used more generally of the working man’s alienation not only from his achievement and its due reward, but also from the exercise of power, especially in decision-making. In other words, the term has become more political than economic. ‘Alienation’ is partly a sense of disaffection with what is, and partly a sense of powerlessness to change it. . .
The grand theme of Ephesians 2 is that Jesus Christ has destroyed both enmities. . . .
I shall entitle the three unfolding stages of God’s plan as follows:
a. the portrait of an alienated humanity, or what we once were (verses 11–12)
b. the portrait of the peacemaking Christ, or what Jesus Christ has done (verses 13–18)
c. the portrait of God’s new society, or what we have now become (verses 19–22)
Paul explained Christ’s peace mission in this section. Those who were separated from the covenant have been united, those who were alienated have been reconciled, and those who were far off have been brought near.
The first ten verses of chapter 2 dealt with personal reconciliation. The remainder of the chapter turns to corporate reconciliation, particularly the reconciliation of Gentiles. For centuries the Jews (the “circumcision”) looked with contempt on the Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”). The Jews thought they were participants in God’s covenant by their heritage. They believed the Gentiles were distant from this covenant. Thus Paul described the Gentiles with the term “without.”
They were without Christ, without citizenship, without covenants, without hope, and without God. Their condition was not due to their heritage or even to God but to their own sinfulness and spiritual bankruptcy.
Paul exclaimed the good news in verses 13–18. Apart from Christ the Gentiles were hopeless. “But now in Christ Jesus” (v. 13) Gentiles and Jews are reconciled to God and to one another. The enmity, the barrier, has been broken down. This is the meaning of reconciliation—to bring together again. In Jesus Christ, Jew and Gentile became one because of His crosswork. The law and its accompanying barriers created the barriers. Now those barriers have been nullified. Not only has Christ made peace, “He himself is our peace” (2:14). Jews and Gentiles are no longer strangers; they are called in one hope as one people of God.
Holman Bible Handbook