Summary: Christians are united in the peace of Christ so that the church may be effective; we must therefore live in the peace God intended and made possible.
It took 125 years, but the infamous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys finally ended; sixty descendants of the original clans gathered on Saturday, June 14, 2003, in Pikefield, Kentucky, to sign a document declaring an official end to more than a century of hatred and bloodshed.
Most think the feuding between the McCoys of Kentucky and Hatfields of West Virginia began in 1878 when Randolph McCoy accused one of the Hatfields of stealing a hog. The Hatfields won the "hog war'' when a McCoy cousin sided with the opposing clan.
Feelings festered and other incidents occurred that finally resulted in the shooting death of Ellison Hatfield in 1882. Retaliation begat retaliation until the feud claimed 11 more family members over the next ten years. Subsequent conflicts between the two clans have involved court battles over everything from timber rights to cemetery plots.
The treaty calling for peace reads: "We do hereby and formally declare an official end to all hostilities implied, inferred, and real, between the families now and forevermore. We ask by God's grace and love that we be forever remembered as those that bound together the hearts of two families to form a family of freedom in America."
1. The hearts of two families bound together into one. What a novel idea; one that may strike us as original to the Hatfields and McCoys. The fact is, the idea of bonding multiple families into a single into one goes back to Bible times.
A. In the OT, God chose Israel to be his people. They entered into a special relationship with him; a covenant relationship that set them apart from the pagan nations around them.
B. In the NT, Christ came to earth in human form (Jesus) to join people from all nations (Jew and Gentile) into a common family—the church. As both Jews and Gentiles accepted Jesus as the Messiah, the body of believers was for the first time, fully integrated. (Non-Israelite believers existed in the OT also (Ruth, Abraham, et al.), but not to this extent.
2. In Ephesus, this integration of Jews and Gentiles was not without its problems. There were significant culture-clashes, and much debate about how one came into a right relationship with God. This led to hostility among the believers, causing Paul to address the matter.
[Christians are united in the peace of Christ so that the church may be effective; we must therefore live in the peace God intended and made possible. OYBT Eph. 2, as Paul reminds the Ephesian believers of the peace they are to have in Christ.]
II. THE OBSTACLE TO PEACE (11-12). Paul addresses “you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’”.
1. In the ancient world, the name by which a person or thing “is called” expresses its essence and dynamic presence rather than an arbitrary attribute. In other words, calling the Gentiles uncircumcised was a great insult.
2. Some Jews believed that regardless of a Gentile’s acceptance and faith in Christ, they would forever remain second-class citizens in the community of faith. Although circumcision had no particular power (except marking one as a member of the covenant family), it suggested one’s commitment to honor the whole of Jewish Law; something the Gentiles were not likely to do.
A. When Paul refers to circumcision as “that done in the body by the hands of men”, he does it to remind the Jews that it is a human symbol of God’s grace, not the act of grace itself. (Compare it to a necklace with a cross. The necklace itself has no power, but is rather a symbol of the power of the cross in the life of the believer).
B. The OT Law was an obstacle to peace for Gentile believers, who were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, without hope and without God in the world.
C. This obstacle was a wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles, and prior to Christ made unity between the two groups practically impossible. Something had to be done; peace must come, even if it was at a price. . .
III. THE PRICE OF PEACE (13-18): Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . .
1. Despite the differences in them prior to conversion, Jews and Gentiles may now live in peace, because Christ’s sacrifice on the cross destroyed the “wall of hostility” between them (you’ve heard it said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross”).
2. Two groups have become one. In fact, people of every nation and land became one in the blood of Christ. His once-for-all sacrifice at Calvary created peace and fostered unity among all those who would call him Savior and Lord, both then and now.