We have been looking at the last section of Ephesians 2 for several weeks now. We will finish chapter 2 this morning. This paragraph (verses 11-22) can be broken into three sections: verses 11-13 describe the pre-Christian past of Paul's Goyim readers in relation to Israel and their present position in Christ:
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Yeshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13 NASB
"But now"—denotes the contrast between their present condition and that prior to conversion. Thank God for the "but now." Do you have a "but now"?
The second division is verses 14-18, and they explain how this coming near was made possible through Christ. He explains how union with Christ makes Jews and Goyim into "one new man":
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, Ephesians 2:14-15 NASB
It was Torah that separated the nations from Israel. And in Christ's finished work, we see that this wall, or as Paul explains this enmity—the Law of Commandments—has been destroyed and abolished. We see a picture of this abolishing of Torah in the transfiguration:
Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Yeshua alone. Mark 9:7-8 NASB
A "cloud" is used in the Tanakh as a symbol of God's presence (Ex 13:21, 19:9, 34:5, 2 Chr 5:13-14) and it's best to take the mention of such a cloud on the mountain as a supernatural phenomenon. It was the cloud of Shekinah glory that appeared on that mountaintop. Shekinah comes from a Hebrew root, which means: "to dwell." The Shekinah glory of God was the manifestation of the presence of Yahweh.
When the tabernacle was finished, this cloud descended upon it in such a manifestation of God's glory that Moses himself could not even enter it. When Solomon's Temple was completed, the cloud again descended so that the priests could not enter. The cloud symbolized the dwelling of Yahweh among men. And this Shekinah glory of God had not been seen is Israel for six hundred years. But now, this luminous cloud not only came, but it enveloped all of them. The entire top of the mountain was covered by the glory of God.
"Listen to Him." —listen is strong and means: "take notice and obey." Yeshua was greater than Moses, He was greater than Elijah. In Him came the full truth about Yahweh. All other messengers had been superseded.
What was the point of Moses and Elijah being there with Christ? It would have been no less spectacular if they weren't there. What was their purpose? They represent the Law and Prophets—the Old Covenant. Yeshua is the minister of the New Covenant:
and to Yeshua, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:24 NASB
And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:15 NASB
On this mountain God is saying in picture form, "The Old Covenant is being superseded by the New Covenant." Yeshua has been saying and doing things that go against the Torah:
And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; Mark 7:18 NASB
Do you understand how radical this statement is? To the Pharisees and any Jew this statement went against their dietary laws. Food was a major consideration under the Old Covenant as is clear from even a superficial reading of Leviticus 11.
What do we do when there is a conflict between what Yeshua teaches and what the Law taught? God the father said, "Listen to Yeshua." The Old Covenant was to fade away in significance during the lifetime of the disciples:
When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Hebrews 8:13 NASB
Moses and Elijah were there, so Yahweh could say it is now time to listen to my Son.
And all at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Yeshua alone. Mark 9:8 NASB
Suddenly, Moses and Elijah were gone. Yahweh had spoken. He had singled out His Son. And now all that filled their vision was Christ. What Yahweh was saying was that His Son, Christ, was of supreme significance. All the other things were to point to Him.
So the Law was abolished by Christ, it no longer separates Jews from Goyim and has made "One New Man":
and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:16-18 NASB
Once there were Jews and Goyim. Now Christ comes and unites them to Himself so that "in Him" there would be only One New Person, namely, Christ: There is neither Jew nor Goyim, but Christ is all and in all:
a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11 NASB
Christ is the One New Man. Jew and Goyim make up the one body of the One New Man.
The death of Christ has created a new humanity—a third race, as it has been called. When you come to faith in Christ you become a member of the Church and effectively and spiritually you lose your nationality and your political allegiance, and you become one in Christ. Believers are a new creation, a new race that is different than the world has ever seen before.
Now in the third and final section, verses 19-22 apply the truths of verses 14-18 to the readers new privileged position in Christ.
Paul closes his discussion of the unity of the body by giving three other metaphors to illustrate how Jew and Goyim have been made one. Now there's no more division. No more separation. He calls us fellow citizens, household of God, and a holy temple. So we have the figure of a kingdom ("fellow citizens with the saints"), the figure of a family ("members of the household of God"), and the figure of a building ("a holy temple ... for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit").
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, Ephesians 2:19 NASB
"So then"—introduces the consequence of the preceding verses, that the Goyim and Jews have been reconciled to one another and to Yahweh through the cross.
"No longer strangers and aliens"—in verse 12 Paul said that we were "strangers to the covenants of promise." The word "strangers" refers to a foreigner, while "aliens" refers to the foreigner who lives in the land as a resident alien. Both words convey that they were an outsider to Israel. Is this speaking of the redeemed of the Northern Kingdom or of non-Israelite goyim? Yes! Both, they are one in the same because the Northern Kingdom became goyim. Yahweh said, "They were not my people."
Even though a person may be living in the country legally, he/she doesn't possess the same rights as legal citizens. The word "alien" in Ephesians 2:19 is from the Greek word paroikos, which is used in the LXX twenty six times mostly translated from "ger." We saw last week that the"ger" were to be treated as natives, as Israelites. They were to love the ger, the non-Israelite, as themselves. The "ger" could draw near to Yahweh and worship through Israel, but they were not of equal status with the Israelites. They were strangers and aliens:
"You are not to eat any animal that dies naturally; although you may let a stranger staying with you eat it, or sell it to a foreigner; because you are a holy people for Adonai your God. "You are not to boil a young animal in its mother's milk. Deuteronomy 14:21 CJB
We see here a distinction between Israel and the stranger who worshiped Yahweh. Israel couldn't eat what died naturally, but the stranger could:
You may demand that a foreigner repay his debt, but you are to release your claim on whatever your brother owes you. Deuteronomy 15:3 CJB"You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess. Deuteronomy 23:20 NASB
So even though the "ger" could worship Yahweh there was a difference between them and Israel. But Paul says to the Goyim, "You are no longer strangers and aliens," because in the New Covenant there is NO distinction, NONE! Some people consider any view that does not exalt the Jews as anti-Semitic, but under the New Covenant the Jews are not exalted, there is no distinction between them and Goyim.
"But you are fellow citizens"—the adversative conjunction "but" (alla) marks a strong contrast from the negative just stated. "Fellow citizens"—is from the Greek word sumpolites, this Greek word is not found in the LXX and occurs only here in the New Testament. It is the opposite of foreigner. The Goy are now Kingdom Citizens. Previously, in the Old Covenant, we were strangers and aliens. We were not at home in the Kingdom of God.
To the Greek, Roman culture to which Paul was writing to in Ephesus, citizenship was the highest personal thing that you could have. Being linked to a polis—a city state, was the greatest thing that you could have. It spoke of your identity in every way.
To become naturalized is to admit (a foreigner) to the citizenship of a country. This just happened with Amparo last week, she was naturalized, she became a citizen of the United States of America. It took her a lot of time and effort to become naturalized. What Paul is telling the Goy in our text is that they have become super-naturalized. They have become citizens of the Kingdom of God! Not through effort, but through faith in Yeshua.
Paul is using the analogy of the Church, both Jews and Goy, as God's nation or Kingdom. From Abraham until the time of Christ, the Jews were God's chosen nation. He revealed Himself to them in a way that He did not do with any other people on earth. He made exclusive covenants and promises with them (Rom. 3:1-2; 9:4-5). But now Yahweh has created a new man, the Church, made up of Jews and Goyim. The Church is presently His Kingdom people. No longer are the Goy second-class citizens, they are now fellow-citizens with the saints.
We are given the rights and privileges of a full citizen, because we are one. How? Because Christ is the fulfillment of the covenant, and if we are "in Him," then we partake in all of the blessings that He received. You see, Yeshua is the true Israel. None of the nation of Israel ever fulfilled the covenant. None of them, save one—Yeshua. All of the promises to the seed of Abraham and to the seed of David, were not fulfilled in Isaac, Jacob, or Solomon. These covenants all pointed forward to the One who would fulfill every covenant—Yeshua.
"Saints"—is from the Hebrew qaddysh, which means: "holy or set apart." We see from the Tanakh that it is Israel that was "set apart." They were "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Israel was a holy nation and a holy people to Yahweh. But now, Paul, an Israelite himself, is using this same designation for the Goy, who by faith in Yeshua are joined to the great saints of the Tanakh, men like Abraham, Moses, Elijah Elisha, David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. We have an inheritance with them; we belong to the same Kingdom. Your spiritual new birth in Christ has made you a super-naturalized citizen of His Kingdom.
Then Paul says we, "are of God's household"—the Greek here is oikeios. It is found in the LXX nineteen times, mostly translated from "blood relation." This is an advance on the metaphor of the a citizen. We all are citizens of the Kingdom, if we are in Christ. But more than that, says the apostle, we are members of Yahweh's own intimate family. The sense of belonging is much stronger in a family than in a national sense. John never could get over this. He said:See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 NASB
In the Tanakh, to come under the household of someone meant much more than it does now. If you were in a household, whether you were genetically related or not, you were family and had all of the rights afforded to a family member.
There are millions of citizens of our nation. But to be a member of a household is personal and more intimate. Family members know one another pretty well. In Paul's day, to be a member of a household meant refuge, protection, and identity.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul says that the household of God is the Church:but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15 NASB
So we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, which is the Church, and we are adopted into the household of God, which is the Church, and now Paul gives us a third analogy of a building. Most buildings are constructed, but this one is different, it is growing:having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Yeshua Himself being the corner stone, Ephesians 2:20 NASB
This is not just any building, but rather, the Temple, where Yahweh manifests His presence in a special way. Yahweh is omnipresent, but there is a special sense in which He dwells in His Holy Temple. The Jews experienced this as the Shekinah, the brilliant manifestation of the glory of God. But now, Paul says, the Church is this Temple. For New Testament believers, there is no such thing as a sacred building. God's Temple now consists of His people.
At first glance, you may think that what Paul is saying is that the Church has been built upon the foundation of the prophets of the Old Covenant, and the apostles of the New Covenant. But notice the order: it's not prophets and apostles, it's apostles and prophets. And we read in the New Testament that there are New Testament prophets, like Agabus, and Silas.
Look at what Paul said to the Corinthians:For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Yeshua Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 NASB
So, here Paul says that Yeshua is the foundation, and in Ephesians 2 he says that the apostles and prophets are. In what sense, then, can apostles and prophets be the foundation and Christ, too, be the foundation? Well, I think that what he means is that Christ is the foundation, but it's by means of the teaching of the apostles and the prophets that we are given revelation and teaching concerning the Lord Yeshua the Christ as the head of the Church. And so it's upon the apostolic teaching concerning Christ:They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 NASB
Look what John says about the apostles:And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:14 NASB
Before the canon of the New Testament was completed, the prophets received direct revelation from God to build up and encourage the Church (Acts 15:32; 1 Cor. 14:3, 29-32). Paul's point here is, the Church was founded on the truth that we now possess in the New Testament, the testimony about Yeshua the Christ.
Since the apostles are the foundation and not the roof, the implication is that there are no apostles today. The office of prophet and apostle are things of the past. No Christian since the first century has had any such office. No one today receives new revelations from God. The canon is closed.
Please notice that this New Temple is not build on the foundation of the Mosaic Law, but of the teaching of the apostles about Yeshua the Christ.
"Christ Yeshua Himself being the corner stone"—the cornerstone was the major stone that was set down. It had to be so large to support the super structure. It had to be so accurate because the walls were all conformed to the angle of that stone. And every other block in the entire building fit into that stone. You don't begin building a wall from the center up and out. You set a cornerstone, and from it, the trajectory of the walls are already set. The builder would place the cornerstone so that the rest of the building would grow out from it. So the cornerstone was the thing that framed everything. It was the thing to which everything was adapted. The cornerstone was the support, the unifier, the connector, the strength giver, it was everything. And that is Yeshua the Christ.
Peter, when addressing the Sanhedrin, speaks of this cornerstone. The setting of this story centers on the healing of the lame beggar at the temple. This story's physical healing is simply an illustration and demonstration of the greater spiritual healing:let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Yeshua the Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead— by this name this man stands here before you in good health. Acts 4:10 NASB
Peter says, "You killed Him, God raised Him. You are at odds with the God you claim to worship." So, in the presence of the Sanhedrin, Peter boldly indicted Israel for executing Christ. Then to support his case Peter indirectly cites Scripture:"He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone. Acts 4:11 NASB
Peter sites here from Psalm 118:22 with a slight difference:The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. Psalms 118:22 NASB
Do you see what Peter adds? He adds "by you." By their rejection and crucifixion of Yeshua, they fulfilled one of their own prophecies. The rulers, the "builders" of Israel, have rejected Him and set Him at nought, because He did not seem to fit, but Yahweh made Him the cornerstone of the New Temple. With this metaphor, the biblical writers established that the Kingdom God built would be founded upon Yeshua the Christ.
If this New Temple is built on Yeshua and the apostles it should be clear that it is not a physical building. This is a spiritual Temple, the Church, the body of Christ:in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, Ephesians 2:21 NASB
The word "building," from the Greek oikodome, is used by classical writers of a building or the act of building. In the present context oikodome has to refer to the act of building, because the following participle and main verb denote that the building is still in the process of construction. This building that is being built is the New Jerusalem.
The verb "fitted together" is a rare verb in the Greek language that means: "single part fit snug." Believers are the Temple of God:Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 2 Corinthians 6:16 NASB
Look at what Peter says about this Temple:And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5 NASB
Notice the corporate-ness that comes with being a living stone. We are being "built together" into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. The Church is a Temple, and the Temple was where worship was carried on.
"Is growing into a holy temple"—the present tense verb along with the preceding participle shows that continuance of the growth process indicating a living organism that continues to increase. It's not the future tense looking forward to some eschatological temple, but is the present tense dealing with a present temple that is not finished and continues to grow. The Greek word for "temple" here is naos, which is the inner sanctuary, not hieros, which would be the temple with its porches and outbuilding.in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 NASB
What was said of the whole body of believers, is here affirmed of the Ephesian Christians. "You also," are "Being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit"—the ongoing process results in a building where God dwells. The verb is a present indicative with the tense again indicating the continuance of the building.
Goyim together with the Jews are becoming a dwelling place of God. Yahweh has created something entirely new and unexpected in the birth of the Church. Jews are no longer distinguished from Goyim. Goyim need not become Jews to be saved and to enter into the blessings which Yahweh promised Abraham. The Church is a new entity, born by the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of its Head, Yeshua the Christ. Everyone who believes in Christ is a part of His body.
We saw in verse 21 that the building is still in the process of construction, it "is growing into a holy temple"—the present tense verb shows the continuance of the growth process indicating a living organism that continues to increase. Verse 22 talks about the ongoing process of the building being built. This growing process can only be understood by someone who understands fulfilled eschatology. Only they know what time it is. This building is no longer being built, it was finished in A.D.70, and Yahweh moved in. Most see this as a process that is still happening.
One commentator writes, "This metaphor depicts believers as a carefully joined, constantly growing temple inhabited by God. The Jews and Gentiles are now an ever-growing spiritual structure indwelt by God." This is not an ever-growing temple, it is finished.
Another commentator writes, "The apostles and prophets laid the foundation for the church, and now it is continuing to be built up, completed just before our Lord establishes His kingdom on earth." He doesn't know what time it is.
John MacArthur writes, "And it grows, the temple grows. Why? New stones are added all the time, right?" Wrong, new stones are being added, but the temple is complete and Yahweh indwells it.
This is the New Temple promised throughout the Tanakh:Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:2-3 NASB
Dispensationalism puts great emphasis on a rebuilt physical temple and priesthood because they fail to see these as types. Physical Israel was a type and so was the tabernacle:who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN." Hebrews 8:5 NASB
The tabernacle was a type. What is the anti-type? Yeshua is the anti-type:Yeshua answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2:19 NASB
Yeshua replaces the temple itself. Yeshua is the anti-type of the temple. The Temple represented the presence of Yahweh among His children:And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 and there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. Acts 2:2-3 NASB
Notice also that there are tongues of fire. What is the significance of this? Throughout the Scriptures, fire is always a sign of Yahweh's presence among His people. Note how at Pentecost the manifestation of the flaming presence of Yahweh is not positioned over a tent as it was in the Old Covenant. This time it is over PEOPLE. Why? Because they are the New Tabernacle—the dwelling place of God. Yahweh is descending in fire on the New Temple of His people by His Spirit. This is the promise of the New Covenant where Yahweh would dwell with His people.
I said earlier that the "building" is the New Jerusalem. Look at what John writes:Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2 NASB
The "building" is now finished and comes down from God. Notice that the New Heaven and Earth is the New Jerusalem, and according to Scripture, the New Jerusalem is the New Covenant:This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. Galatians 4:24-26 NASB
Paul speaks here of two Covenants—the Old and New. The Old is Mount Sinai, and the New is the Jerusalem above. So, the New Jerusalem is in the New Heaven and Earth, which is the New Covenant. Now notice the dimensions of this New Jerusalem:The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. Revelation 21:16 NASB
The New Jerusalem is a perfect cube just as the Holy of Holies was in the tabernacle. The Holy of Holies was Yahweh's dwelling place and so is the New Jerusalem:And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, Revelation 21:3 NASB
In the New Covenant, which is the New Jerusalem, which is the New Temple is where Yahweh dwells with His people. There is no more Jews and Goyim there is only One New Man—the body of Christ.
Believers, we live in the New Covenant, thus we are in the Temple of the New Jerusalem dwelling with Yahweh now. Believers, the Church is God's Temple, which was completed in A.D.70. Our God is not "up there, out there, some where"; He is "with us, He dwells in us, we are His people."
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