Summary: 13th in the series dealing with our having been brought near to God from alienation through the work of Christ.
“Brought Near from Afar”
I. Our Wealth and Worth In Christ 1-4
A. Paul blessed God for blessing us with every spiritual blessing 1:3-14
1. Specially Chosen 1:4
2. Purposefully Adopted 1:5-6
3. Freely Redeemed and Forgiven 1:7-8a
4. Spiritually Enlightened 1:8b-10
5. Surely Deemed God’s Inheritance 1:11-12
6. Securely Sealed 1:13-14
B. Paul prayed for their enlightenment 1:15-23
C. Paul detailed our resurrected life in Christ 2:1-10
1. Our woeful condition – Dead and doomed
2. God’s wonderful correction – Alive in Christ – Saved by grace
Most everyone knows the devastating emotions associated with rejection and relational conflict. The emotions come from two types of relational discord. There are the emotions associated with rejection and offenses. There are the emotions we feel when we have offended someone or failed. Both have to do with broken relationships.
Neighbor who “hates” you - Offended friend - Marriage conflict – Betrayal - Prejudice based on race, color, gender, customs, beliefs and philosophy - Unpaid debt - Guilt over an offense
These emotions become so overwhelming that we must find some way to cope. People resort to a wide variety of escape and defense mechanisms to cope.
I.e. Humor, anger, avoidance, isolation, denial, aggression, chemical
Ever since Adam deliberately defied God’s only prohibition, there has been hostility between God and people and people and people. Right from the beginning, there was self-centered conflict between Adam and Eve which passed on to the kids to the point of jealous murder.
It continued to deteriorate until the time of Noah where the intent of every man’s heart was evil continually. The number one longing instilled in those created in God’s image is for meaningful community. The number one trauma and struggle in society is the absence and deterioration of community. It is interesting to note that the bulk of the Bible deals with broken relationship with God and people broken relationships with people. People are mad at God. God is angry with people. People are mad at each other. Half of the commandments deal with our relationship with God. The other half deals with our relationship with each other.
Jesus affirmed that the whole Bible deals with loving God and loving each other.
There is no greater power than a meaningful relationship. There is no greater pain than a mangled relationship. When I find out someone is mad at me or has something against me, it affects every area of my life. When I have a disagreement with my wife, it affects my whole focus on life. I can’t concentrate. It is nearly impossible to study. It affects my prayers. It erodes my other relationships.
Situations differ but the struggle does not. The emotions are the same; that knot in the pit of your stomach, the ache in your soul. God made us to live in and enjoy meaningful community.
So why have I spent so much time on this point. I want you to understand and connect to the awful devastation of alienation and rejection. Only to the degree that we apprehend the problem will we appreciate the solution.
In this next section, Paul not only talks about the hostility that existed between God and sinful man but the utter distain between proud Jews and pagan Gentiles. He will spend the next twelve verses declaring our awful alienation and rejection and then our awesome acceptance and reconciliation through Christ.
D. Paul declared our awesome acceptance and reconciliation 2:11-21
1. Our Awful Alienation and Rejection 2:11-12
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12
Paul called the Ephesians to bring to mind; rehearse, recollect their condition before Christ.
He identified the as “Gentiles in the flesh”. Jews called them the “uncircumcised”. For the Hebrew, the rite of circumcision was a sign of their covenant relationship with God. It began with their father Abraham and became the external identification as God’s people.
Paul encouraged the Gentile Ephesians to recall their former condition “BC” (Before Christ).
They were “separate from Christ”. Paul used a word that means “at a space, separate, apart from, by itself, without. They were without Christ. They had no relationship with the long-promised Messiah.
The reason stated here is that, at a point in time, they as a group of people had been alienated from the people God had chosen to bless all nations. Paul used a perfect passive participle.
You were separate from Christ “having been alienated” at a point in time and continued to be alienated. The passive indicates an action that was done to us.