Summary: In Ephesians 2:11–12 Paul shows the need for the work of Christ, the Promise of the Gospel of reconciliation, for Jew and Greek by First, Describing the former Social (Ephesians 2:11) then Spiritual alienation of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:12).
One of the most striking developments in middle eastern politics as of late is the statement by Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu, at the end of his reelection campaign. In the last gasp of the campaign, Netanyahu announced a change of mind. He was now opposed to a Palestinian state. He’s decided it would provide a base for attacks on Israel. (http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/03/20/robert-fulford-bibis-backtrack-on-the-two-state-solution/)
In the first century, when a Jew entered Palestine he would often shake the dust off his sandals and clothing in order not to contaminate the Holy Land with Gentile dust. Jewish contempt for Gentiles often had justification from a human standpoint, because throughout their history they suffered recurrent oppression and persecution from Gentiles—who frequently looked on Jews as a slave people to be exploited.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem during his triumphal entry that first Palm Sunday, He came in ushering a new reality as the messianic King. This true king ushered in His kingdom on the back of a donkey. He inaugurated and established His dominion by taking upon himself the form of a servant. As he fulfilled prophecy in this entry it was His coming to the Jews and Gentiles as a sign of the Covenant of Promise.
As conflict emerged in first century Ephesus, the disunity within the Ephesian church was primarily between Jewish and Gentile believers. The establishment of a new kingdom ethic proclaimed by Jesus that first Palm Sunday would be the answer to their conflict. Instead of clinging to tradition, humble service would need to rule their hearts and fellowship. Converted Jews had difficulty breaking from the ceremonial laws such as Sabbath observance and the eating of unclean animals. Converted Gentiles had difficulty with such things as eating meat that had been offered as a sacrifice to a pagan deity. In many such ways, Jewish and Gentile believers stumbled over their former traditions and beliefs, and in doing so they also stumbled over each other. What was of extreme importance to one group was inconsequential to the other. Christ's entry into Jerusalem, brought the promise of the Gospel, for Jew and Gentile alike.
In Ephesians 2:11–12 Paul shows the need for the work of Christ, the Promise of the Gospel of reconciliation, for Jew and Greek by First, Describing the former Social (Ephesians 2:11) then Spiritual alienation of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:12).
1) Social Alienation (Ephesians 2:11)
Ephesians 2:11 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-- (ESV)
This important section begins with the word therefore, indicating that the next line of thought regarding the new identity of these Gentile Christians is built on what Christ has done to give them life and eternal blessing, as described in verses 1–10. It is as if Paul is calling them to be so grateful for their deliverance from their old situation that they come to fully appreciate their new situation of union with all other believers. Nothing more inspires gratitude in a saved sinner than a look back to the pit from which he has come.
Paul calls his readers Gentiles in the flesh in order to emphasize the physical, external nature of the distinction, and he calls on them to remember who they had been before coming to Christ. The privileges now enjoyed by Gentile believers in Christ would be appreciated all the more gratefully if they bore in mind the state of life from which they had been delivered Whether they are recent converts or those of long standing, they are told to keep on remembering (the verb is in the present tense) the change in their position. Since what has happened in the past (the exodus, the cross) creates the present, ...here believers are not summoned to recollect the great things God has done externally in the past but what he has done in their own lives: once they were outside his people, now they are within (Best, E. (1998). A critical and exegetical commentary on Ephesians (p. 237). Edinburgh: T&T Clark International.).
• Today we remember a historical event of Christ's entry into Jerusalem. But it points to the present and future reality that Gentiles now enjoy through the covenant of Promise.
• This idea of remembering is one that should characterize Christians of all ages. There is of course first and foremost the ‘remembering’ that we engage in as we take communion and remember how and at what cost our redemption and forgiveness was won by Christ. But we should also remember from what we were saved, for this drives us to thanksgiving and praise and to a deeper recognition of God’s grace in taking us from without hope to being near to God (Gardner, P. (2007). Ephesians: Grace and Joy in Christ (p. 60). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.).