Live By the Word (Ephesians 2:14-18)

In Ephesians 2:11-13, Paul reminds his readers of that they used to be – separated, alienated strangers with no hope – so that they might rejoice in the fact that they have now been brought near by the blood of Christ. In verses 14-18, He shows how Christ has been able to bring them near. What exactly has Christ accomplished? In short, He has brought about “horizontal” peace – between those who were God’s chosen people and those who were not, and He has brought “vertical” peace – between His new, unified people and God. He has done this through the sacrifice of His flesh and blood. In Christ, we have peace – both with other people and with God.

The word “for” which starts verse 14 shows us that this is the explanation of how Christ has “brought near” those who were “far off” in verse 13. Jesus Himself is our peace. He is our peace, first, because He has “made us both one” (v.14). The “both” refers to Jews and non-Jews. For thousands of years, those two groups had been clearly separated because God chose the Jews and no one else. Moreover, God gave the Jews specific instructions about how to worship and eat and live in every part of life. These instructions marked the Jews as different, and if a non-Jew wanted to be part of God’s chosen people, they had to agree to these various laws and instructions (Gen. 17:12-13; Ex. 12:48-49). This resulted in a clear division between the two groups – a division made even worse by the sinfully arrogant attitudes of some Jews who viewed themselves as superior because of their place as God’s chosen people. It seemed impossible that the the two groups could be brought together – as is evidenced by the struggles of the early church itself.

But, according to Paul, Jesus has made it possible. He has made the two “one” so that “he might create one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (v. 15). Jesus has taken Jews and Gentiles and brought them together into a new entity – the Church. And He has done this “by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances” (v. 15). This does not mean He threw away the Law – as if it were a useless, problematic mistake. Rather, He fulfilled the Law by keeping it Himself. And now – as the true, ultimate Law-keeper, He has built a new people of God that is not based on race or nationality or wealth or class but on relationship to Christ. All who believe are baptized into the one body of Christ with all others who have been baptized into Him (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 3:11). It is not physical descent that matters. It is faith. Jesus has made peace between men.

But there is more. Jesus is also “our peace” (v. 14) because He has taken the “one new man” of Jews and Gentiles, men and women, rich and poor and “reconcile us to God…through the cross” (v. 16). The problem of this world is not just that men are at war with each other but that they are at war with God. Jesus has dealt with both problems. He has made a way for men of every class and race to come together in unity, and even more important, He has made a way for those unified people to escape their hostility with God.

By nature, human beings are “enemies” of God (Rom. 5:10) and objects of His wrath (2:3), but Jesus has changed that. How? “Through the cross.” He willingly laid down His own life and drank down the cup of God’s holy wrath so that the rebels who deserved that death and that wrath could be forgiven. On the cross, Jesus broke down the barriers between God and man so that man could be forgiven and have true fellowship with the Father.

This is the glorious good news of Jesus: He has made peace. Human beings can have fellowship with God instead of fighting with Him. And human beings can have fellowship with each other instead of warring against each other. And they can have all of this because of what Jesus has done. He “came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (v. 17-18). Jesus has made a way. Jesus has brought peace.

Do you know Him? Do you have peace? Do you have fellowship with God by faith in Christ? Do you know the fellowship of God’s people which comes through Christ? If not, repent and believe, and you will be brought near – no matter how far off you are now. And if so, rejoice in the Savior who has made that possible. Recognize that all your barriers have been broken down by Christ – because you were incapable of breaking them down yourself. There is no more hostility between you and God, because the Savior has made it so. Hallelujah! Rejoice in the Savior and walk as His ambassador – proclaiming that good news to others as well.