Ephesians 2_11-21      Breaking Down the Barriers

Rev. David Holwick  ZG

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

September 29, 1991

Ephesians 2:11-22


  I. Divisions within society.

      A. Yugoslavia & Soviet Union.

          1) Disintegration into warring factions.

          2) Demagoguery - dictators playing to prejudice and hatred.

          3) Without fear of punishment, they go at each others' throats.

      B. Divisions are increasing in America as well.

          1) Each group seeks special treatment.

          2) We no longer see ourselves as a melting pot.

          3) "48 Hours" TV program and police forensics.

                Jew in Brooklyn has his car firebombed.

                Probable motive:  he rented an apartment to a Puerto Rican.

      C. Can diverse people and groups really be brought together?

          1) Wistful Coca Cola ad with hundreds from different

                nationalities singing,

             "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony"

II. What our situation was:  cut off from each other and God.

      A. Jews had immense contempt for the Gentiles.

          1) William Barclay on their attitude (from Jewish lit.):

             Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the

                 fires of Hell.

             It wasn't lawful to give help to a Gentile woman in

                 childbirth, for that would be to bring another

                      Gentile into the world.

             If a Jew married a Gentile, the funeral of the Jew was

                  carried out.

             Such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death.

          2) Labels:  "uncircumcised" and "circumcised."         2:11-12

              a) We use similar labels today.

                  1> Some are acceptable, some are obscene.

                  2> Makes a convenient way to block people out.

              b) Here, difference was real, not just invented by prejudice.

                  1> Source of contempt:  Abraham's promise.     Gen 12

                      A> God gave the Jews special promises.

                      B> Gentiles, therefore, were in a sad state.

                  2> Paul in 2:11-12 -          (Hendriksen)

                "Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless."

      B. Wall of hostility.

          1) Notable feature of Herod's temple.

              a) Three courts for Jews on level, Gentiles down below.

              b) Five foot stone wall.

          2) Notice:  "Trespassers will be executed."      (1871, 1935)

             "Let no one of any other nation come within the fence and

                  barrier around the Holy Place.

              Whoever is caught doing so will himself be responsible

                  for the fact that his death will ensue."

          3) Paul's experience with Trophimus, an Ephesian.  Acts 21:27-31

      C. These barriers were real, but they weren't God's last word.

          1) God's ultimate goal is blessing of all people.  Gen 12:3

          2) His secret weapon is Jesus Christ.

III. What Jesus Christ has done:  made peace.

      A. He brings those far-off near to God.

          1) Language of distance common in OT.

              a) Jews are close to God.       Deut 4:7; Ps 148:14

              b) Gentiles are far off.        Isa 49:1

              c) Now everyone can be close.

          2) Peace also promised in OT.       Isa 57:19, quoted in Eph 2:17

      B. How Jesus did it.                      2:13

          1) "Through the blood of Christ"    2:13b

              a) Sacrificial death for our sins.     > Cross.

          2) "In Christ Jesus"           2:13a

              a) Personal union with Christ.         > Conversion.

      C. The work of Christ as our peace-maker.          2:14

          1) He destroyed the dividing wall.

              a) (Berlin Wall illustration)

          2) He created a single new humanity.             2:15b

              a) The Jew and Gentile reconciled to God.     2:16

              b) No more hostility.

IV. The Church as Christ's body and God's house.

      A. As Christ's body, the church should bring people together in peace.

          1) "Joined together" and "built together."         2:21-22

              a) Billy Graham Central Park crusade:  many ethnic groups.

              b) We may feel uncomfortable, but this is God's ideal.

          2) "Are being built"  - it takes time and effort.       2:22

              a) God isn't done with us yet.

      B. Love and acceptance have always been the sign of a true church.

         (From an anonymous Letter to Diognetus, possibly dating from

            the second century.)                                  #1548

      Christians are not differentiated from other people by country,

         language or customs.

      They do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange

         dialect, or have some peculiar lifestyle.

      They follow local customs in clothing, food, and the other

         aspects of life.

      But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the wonderful

         and certainly unusual form of their own citizenship.  ...

      They marry and have children just like every one else;

         but they do not kill unwanted babies.

      They offer a shared table,  but not a shared bed.

      They are at present "in the flesh" but they do not live

         "according to the flesh".

      They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others.

         They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks.

      Yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.

      To put it simply--the soul is to the body as Christians are to

         the world.

      The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians

         through all the cities of the world.

      The soul is in the body but is not of the body;

      Christians are in the world but not of the world."

  V. As a Christian, what have you done to break down barriers?

      A. In your neighborhood.   (nation)           God's kingdom.  2:19a

          1) Everyone loves you already?  Work on the others.

          2) Are you a factor in bringing people together?

      B. Within your own family.                    God's family.   2:19b

          1) It's one thing to have barriers for people you hate.

              a) It's quite another to have barriers for people you love.

          2) Bitterness separates.

              a) Inability to forgive.

              b) Inability to forget.

              c) The differences accumulate with years.

          3) Love should work out ways to come together.

              a) Maybe not one miraculous event, but definite small steps.

      C. In this church.                            God's temple.   2:22

          1) Reach out to someone different than you.

          2) Don't let barriers arise between Christians.

************************* Study Notes *****************************

John Stott

Theme of Ephesians 2:11-23 >    A single new humanity.

  I. Alienation describes contemporary society.

      A. Karl Marx popularized the expression.

          1) Workers are cut off from sense of achievement, and power.

      B. Alienation and the Bible.

          1) Cut off from God.

          2) Cut off from other people.

      C. Ephesians 2 shows how reconciliation can replace alienation.

          1) Eph 2:1-10 deals with alienation from God.    (cf 4:18)

          2) Eph 2:11-22 deals with alienation among people.

II. Jesus Christ destroys both enmities.    2:14,16

      A. He replaces them with a new humanity.

III. What we once were:  alienated humanity.             p 94

      A. Gentiles called derogatory names:  the uncircumcision.

      B. Paul lists Gentile disabilities:             contrast- Rom 9:3-5

          1) Separated from Christ.

          2) Alienated from citizenship in Israel.

          3) Strangers to covenant of promise.

              a) Prob refers to Abraham's covenant.

          4) No hope.

          5) Without God in the world.

              a) They suppressed truth and turned to idols.   Rom 1:18ff

              b) Roman & Greek religion was on downward slide.

      C. William Hendriksen:  "Christless, stateless, friendless,

                                   hopeless and Godless."

      D. Walls built by people outside Christ.               p 96

          1) Berlin wall.

          2) Invisible iron or bamboo curtains.

          3) Barriers of race, caste, religion.

      E. Remember:  what we were like before Christ reached us.

IV. What Jesus Christ has done:  made peace.               p 97

      A. He brings far-off Gentiles near to God.

          1) Spatial language common in OT.

              a) Jews are close to God.       Deut 4:7; Ps 148:14

              b) Gentiles are far off.        Isa 49:1

          2) Peace also promised in OT.       Isa 57:19, quoted in Eph 2:17

      B. How this is done.                      2:13

          1) "In the blood of Christ"    2:13b

              a) Sacrificial death for our sins.  Cross.

          2) "In Christ Jesus"           2:13a

              a) Personal union with Christ.  Conversion.

              b) Not universal reconciliation.

      C. The work of Christ.        2:14

          1) He is our peacemaker.

      D. How he did it.

          1) He abolished the law of commandments.         2:15a

              a) Moral vs. ceremonial law.

              b) Jesus upheld the OT law.

          2) He created a single new humanity.             2:15b

          3) He reconciled the Jew and Gentile to God.     2:16

             (Diognetus letter illustration)

  V. What we have now become:  the portrait of God's new society.

      A. God's kingdom.           2:19a

      B. God's family.            2:19b

      C. God's temple.            2:20-22

VI. Conclusion.

Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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