Summary: Christ came, tore down the walls, and united people in Himself.
Tearing Down the Walls - Eph. 2:11-18
Steve Simala Grant, Aug. 26, 2001
Intro: (don’t read, but read/explain relevant parts – point of desire for removal of walls)
Robert Frost. 1875–
64. Mending Wall
SOMETHING there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."
link to Eph. 2:11-18; read.
1. The walls – background:
The first paragraph (vs. 11-13) deals with the same concepts which we saw in 2:1-10 – Paul once again contrasts the state of people outside of Christ with that of those inside. This paragraph looks at it from a larger perspective – 1-10 was a personal, individual consideration of the transformation that occurs when we become Christians, these 3 verses focus on the corporate aspect of salvation. 1-10 it was for me, here it is for us.
Verse 11 makes it clear that Paul is addressing Gentiles, which is simply a term meaning everyone who is not Jewish. We need to recognize a background here of an attitude of superiority of the Jewish people over the Gentiles – the Jewish people looked far down their noses at people outside of their ethnic faith community because of their stature as God’s special, chosen people. That is what the language there about circumcision communicates. This background is essential to understanding this entire passage. There was great division between Jews and Gentiles, which because of the history of persecution is somewhat understandable, but from which the end result was a strong hostility towards anything that was Gentile. Jews avoided them as much as possible, and in fact “hated” is not too strong a word to describe their feelings.
Some of this separation, of this wall that was built between Jews and Gentiles, is of a theological nature – the Jews were God’s chosen people – the ones with whom God entered into covenantal relationships. Of course it was always God’s intent, even in the OT covenants, that His blessings extend beyond Israel to the nations, but it is not until Jesus comes that we see this fully and finally. What we need to understand as background is that there was immense hostility towards Gentiles, and that the wall between them was high and strong.
Paul makes five statements that apply to Gentiles prior to Christ in vs. 12, all making the point that before Christ Gentiles were outside of God’s kingdom.
A. separate from Christ:
“Christ” is not a name, but rather a title – throughout the OT, the Jews were waiting for the “Messiah” to come and save them. “Christ” is simply our NT translation of this title for Messiah. So this phrase simply means that the gentiles did not share in the Jewish hope of a Messiah who would come and save them.