Summary: In this passage Paul wants to share that in Jesus the Messiah we can experience ONENESS , PEACE and BE THE LIVING TEMPLE OF GOD.
Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-22
Theme: You are God's Holy Temple!
In this passage Paul wants to share that in Christ we can experience ONENESS , PEACE and BE THE TEMPLE OF GOD.
Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
This morning as I look around it is easy to see a good amount of diversity. Some of you are rather tall while others are relatively short. Some of you are lean while others have a little more meat on their bones. Some of you have long hair while others have short hair or no hair at all. Some of you have blue eyes while others have brown or some other variation of color.
We could go on and on and on this morning citing all of our differences. Usually, that is one of the major ways that we view one another. We notice each other's differences. We notice different skin tones. We notice different head shapes. We notice different cultural back grounds. We notice different social circles. We notice different financial circumstances. We notice different educational backgrounds. And again, we could go on and on and on spelling out all the different ways we notice one another.
The Apostle Paul does this in the first part of our passage this morning. He begins by pointing out some of the differences that existed between those who were receiving his letter. For the most part the recipients of Paul's letter were divided into two major groups - those who were Gentiles and those who were Jews with the largest group at the time being Gentiles.
While we don't focus very much on that distinction today it was a major distinction in Paul's day. The majority of Jews in Paul's day considered themselves a people specifically chosen by God dating all the way back to the call of Abraham (Genesis 12). They believed that God had called Abraham and his descendants to be His Special People above all the other people(s) on the earth. And by the word "God" they meant the " One and Only True God - the God of Creation - the Good God of Creation". To the Jews there were no other god or gods besides YHWH. There was only YHWH - the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. And it was this Only True God (YHWH) that had elevated them above everything and everyone else.
As God's Chosen People, the Jews throughout time had responded by being obedient to certain commands that they believed God had instructed them to obey. Commands that were written down in what today is called the Torah ( the first five books of the Old Testament) and made them God's "special people". Commands involving certain dietary, social and religious rituals and laws. Laws that included strict obedience to such things as the Sabbath and circumcision. Each one of these distinctives were to separate them from all other peoples, tribes and nations.
Gentiles on the other hand were seen as the uncircumcised people, the people who had not been specifically chosen by the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. Most Jews believed that Gentiles had no relation to Jesus as Israel's Messiah. Furthermore, they believed that Gentile were outside the promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.
Because of all of this, most Jews believed that there was no spiritual or everlasting hope for Gentiles. They believed that most Gentiles could not escape the enslavement of sin nor eternal damnation. Gentiles were in a word - HOPELESS. They were without the True God - the Good God of Creation - YHWH. They were not of the lineage of Abraham. They were isolated from God's covenant promises merely living out lives of futility. In the end Gentiles would neither experience the general resurrection or if they did so they would only be raised to then be condemned to an eternity without God.
Paul's words in verses 11 - 12 therefore do not paint for us a pretty picture. Taken by themselves they are quite shocking. If we allowed ourselves to hear and focus on these few words then we might have wanted to burn Paul's letter. We might have wanted to walk away and just label the Apostle a racist and hate monger. After all, who wants to hear that they are a people without hope and a people without God?
It isn't hard to imagine that as people were listening to Paul's letter being read out loud that people began to think - "What does Paul mean that as a Gentile I was without hope and without God?" "What does he mean to say that I away from the Messiah, alienated and a stranger?" "Is Paul saying that there is no hope for any Gentiles?" "Excuse me, would you please read that part again so that I can hear what Paul is saying?"