Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Extreme Home Makeover: Messiah Edition
Read Acts 21:26 ? 29. This is the account of Paul when he returned to Jerusalem the final time. A riot broke out when the Apostle brought two Jewish men to the Temple to fulfill a vow. What got the people all up in arms was that they thought Paul had brought Gentiles into the Temple. In those days there was an inscription posted in the Court of the Gentiles, an outer portion of the Temple grounds, that warned of death for any Gentile that dared venture into the Temple area.
Paul may well have been thinking about this inscription when he penned the verses from 11 to 22 in Chapter two of Ephesians. That inscription represented an impenetrable wall between Jew and Gentile. Gentiles were not part of Jewish life and Jews could not be a part of Gentile life.
The Jews were God?s chosen people and were special. They had a special relationship with God, had received God?s Word and would birth the Messiah. The Gentiles, well, they were just the ?stinking Gentiles.?
This all changed when Messiah Jesus came. Detailing what that change means for both Jew and Gentile, is what the remaining part of Chapter 2 is all about.
Paul has been talking about the wonderful new life that Jesus gives those that trust in Him. Especially in the beginning of Chapter 2 he talks about the grace of God bring us salvation that is not of works. This is our position vertically with God. But now Paul talks about our new position horizontally with one another.
11 ? 12
What set Jews apart was circumcision, first given to Abraham in Genesis 17. It was their sign of God?s special covenant with them. Everyone else was a Gentile. The ?in the flesh? part is important because what used to be a physical circumcision, in Christ becomes a circumcision of the heart.
Colossians 2:11 ?You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.?
Without the Messiah: Jesus said in John 4 ?Salvation is from the Jews.? And in Matt. 15:24 ?I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.?
Excluded from the citizenship of Israel: There wasn?t any other way to God but through the Jews and no way to become a Jew unless you were born one. The old saying ?membership has its privileges? was really true if you were a Jew.
Foreigners to the covenants of promise: here mainly it is the covenant of promise given to Abraham in Genesis 15 which was a land and a people without number?that people initially was the Jewish nation, but now in Christ it is the body of Christ (as we?ll see later in this section).
?Without hope and without God in the world?: what an awful condition to be in.
The Jews really had a special relationship with Yahweh. They were to reflect what the true God was really like, bring forth His Word, and bring forth the Messiah?the salvation and rescue we all need from sin. The problem was that the Jews figured they were the only ones to receive special favor from God. They were right, and wrong.
The blood of Jesus did something amazing. As we?ll see, it?s not that Jesus made us Jews, but He has created a way for both Jew and Gentile to come near to God through His blood. We are no longer alienated; no longer without hope; no longer without God.
14 ? 16
That ?wall of hostility? likely refers to that wall separating the Court of the Gentiles from the rest of the Temple. It served as a physical reminder of the separation and hostility between Jew and Gentile. But Jesus tore it down. He made ?both groups one??as we?ll see, we are no more Jew and Gentile but members of Christ?s body the church. We both leave our former state to become something new.
As a Jew you were required to obey the entire Law of Moses. In order to break down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, Jesus fulfilled the entire Law and then died under the Law (that?s the part about commands and regulations) to create peace between Jew and Gentile and between God and man.
The word is now the same to Jew and Gentile. No more special relationship only if you are a Jew. The peace we have is for both groups to reach up to Jesus. We were ?far away? as Gentiles, but even the Jews who were ?near? to the promises of God, were just as far away from Him in their sins.
18 ? 20
The great news is that we Gentiles are no longer ?foreigners? which were people passing through with no rights at all, or ?strangers? which meant people who had settled in Israel but had few rights. Now we have the exact same access to God through the Spirit. We are ?saints? ? holy and clean, and ?fellow citizens? in God?s new reality.
This is all built on the prophets and apostles?the prophets strongly foretold what God was going to do, and the apostles declared the good news of what Jesus had done. Jesus Himself is the corner, which was a special stone placed at a right angle between two walls, joining them together. Often a royal name was inscribed on it to signify the ruler who built the structure. Here Jesus is the One who is building this new thing: the church.
Verse 21 is so cool. Remember the picture of the Temple, with its dividing walls? God is building a new temple?not out of stone but out of living humans with eternal life. We are being built as a place for God?s Spirit to dwell, but unlike the Temple, which was a temporary dwelling place, we are God?s permanent abode. And instead of a notice that says: ?Gentiles Keep Out? the gospel says ?Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.? (Matthew 11:28).
Why should this matter to me?
- It is a big deal that God broke down the Jew/Gentile barrier?otherwise you would not be saved.
- Let?s finish in 2 Peter Chapter 1, which provides a little more detail about what being a new building in Christ is all about:
- 2:1 ?So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, 3 since you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Coming to Him, a living stone?rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God? 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.?
The new building of God is relational?both to each other (?put away??) and to God (?spiritual sacrifices??).
Skip down to verse 9 of 1 Peter 2: 1Pet. 2:9 ?But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.?
- You are a new race?not the old ways, but new ways of God?s character built in.
- A royal priesthood. Priests represent God to man. We represent the king of the universe to a dark world.
- A holy nation. We are part of a new kingdom, one that is set apart to God and not the ways of this age.
- A people for His possession. You belong to Him so let Him take first place in your life.
The purpose is to shine the light of this new life and new way of thinking speaking and act