Ephesians 2 - Christ, Our Cornerstone

INTRODUCTION: Paul wrote about the separation of all believers from those who remain dead in their sins as Christ brings new life through grace by faith with no distinction by race or nationality as all who believe become fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. In a picture, a living holy temple is being built for God with the foundation upon the prophets and the apostles, with Christ as the chief cornerstone. The building is continuing to be framed perfectly together as it grows into a holy temple for the Lord with each Christian being a part of that habitation of God in the Spirit.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the 1901 American Standard Version.


A - NO LONGER CHILDREN OF WRATH BY NATURE

Ephesians 2 "1 And you [did he make alive,] when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, 2 wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; 3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:"

COMMENTS: Paul stated that all people are born into a life of lust of the flesh, doing the desires of the body and of the mind, because they are by nature children of wrath. All are under the sentence of death as descendents of Adam and Eve because of the first broken commandment. Genesis 2 "16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The Apostle Paul explained in another letter the impact of that broken commandment on all descendents of Adam. Romans 5 "12 Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:"


B - MADE ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST

Ephesians 2 "4 but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly [places], in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus:"

COMMENTS: Because we serve a merciful and loving God, he did not leave us in that condemned condition without providing a way of redemption. God makes the believer alive together with Christ as we are saved by grace. We are then raised in the spirit to be with Christ in the heavenly places. In the ages yet to come God will show the exceeding riches of his benevolent and compassionate grace provided through Christ Jesus. Jesus assured us in his own words: John 5 "24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life." Paul in another letter said there is a conversion available from the death in Adam to the life in Christ. Romans 5 "17 For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, [even] Jesus Christ."


C - SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH UNTO GOOD WORKS

Ephesians 2 "8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them."

COMMENTS: All glory and praise should go to the LORD for our salvation from sin and death because we have been saved by his grace with no measure of merit owed to us from kind acts we may do for anyone else or even things we may do as a service to God. God's grace to us is given as a gift by him through our faith in his finished work on our behalf. We have no basis to boast about anything good that we do since we are his creative work made knew in Christ Jesus that we may through him perform the good works that he has beforehand prepared for those who believe. We must first have full belief and trust in Christ our Savior before we can display any works for him. John 6 "28 They said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." We who have been saved have the light of the world in us through Christ, and we need to let his light shine in the good things that we do so the glory will be given to the Lord. Matthew 5 "16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."


D - GENTILES NOW HAVE THE COVENANT IN CHRIST

Ephesians 2 "11 Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ."

COMMENTS: For centuries the children of Israel had the Word of God as recorded in the law and the prophets to bring them to faith in God, and most Gentiles had no understanding of the significance of the covenant of circumcision in the flesh that was a distinction for the nation of Israel. All those who were not part of the nation of Israel were referred to by the Jews as the uncircumcised. Paul reminded his Gentile readers that they had been separate from Christ, when they were isolated and turned away from the covenants of the promise given to the nation of Israel. Because of that separation those who were uncircumcised in the flesh had no hope and were without God as they were in and of the world. Now in Christ Jesus, Gentiles who were once far off are made near in his blood. Paul will further explain that Christ brought Jew and Gentile together by his death on the cross to satisfy the law for all who believe and accept his gift of salvation.


E - JEW AND GENTILE ARE BROUGHT TOGETHER THROUGH THE CROSS OF CHRIST

Ephesians 2 "14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, [so] making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:"

COMMENTS: The Prince of Peace provided a way for the Jew and the Gentile to end the deep seated mutual hatred they had for each other through their zeal for the opposing beliefs in their worship. The centuries of intense animosity remained a barrier for Christian Jews to accept Gentiles as brothers in Christ unless they adopted all the ordinances the Jews had always followed. The Gentiles may have believed they had to try to fulfill the law in order to be justified in Christ with the Jews. Paul wanted the Gentiles to know that Christ had removed the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile when he abolished in his flesh the strong division that was present because of the law of commandments in the ordinances. This gave freedom from the law through Christ to both Jew and Gentile. The two are no longer separated as they are made one in Christ through the perfect everlasting sacrifice for sin made when Jesus was slain in the flesh.

The Lord had revealed the truth about the grace in Christ to Peter through his experience with Gentiles at the household of a Roman centurion before Paul began his work with Barnabas at Antioch. Later a division developed at Antioch, and the apostles at Jerusalem affirmed that Gentiles did not need to become Jews as followers of Christ. Acts 15 "6 And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much questioning, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, who knoweth the heart, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us; 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why make ye trial of God, that ye should put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in like manner as they. 12 And all the multitude kept silence; and they hearkened unto Barnabas and Paul rehearsing what signs and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles through them."

The Apostle Paul was in harmony with the other apostles as they affirmed him in this point. Some time after that council, Paul wrote to the Galatians to explain that the law was necessary to bring believers to the promise of justification by faith in Jesus Christ to become sons of God. Galatians 3 "22 But the scriptures shut up all things under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 So that the law is become our tutor [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus." As Paul had preached the gospel in many cities over a period of years with letters to some of them, his gospel message was consistent that grace by faith is available to all who will believe.


F - FELLOW CITIZENS IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD

Ephesians 2 "17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: 18 for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. 19 So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20 being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit."

COMMENTS: Access to God the Father is the same through one Spirit for all believers whether they have a Jewish or a Gentile heritage. The prophets who wrote scripture over many centuries, and the apostles in the time of Christ, all had their heritage in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But Jesus preached the message of peace for all because all who believe in God receive the same Spirit through Christ Jesus. Paul wanted the Gentiles to know that they were no longer strangers or travelers passing through the sacred territory of another people, but they had become fellow citizens with all saints in the kingdom of God. This very unique household of God is like a living building that is being constructed on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone. As the building continues to grow it is carefully framed together to be a holy temple in the Lord. Each believer becomes an integral part of that habitation for god in the Spirit.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, I offer my praise in thanksgiving for your rich mercy given to me through your great love to secure for me the gift of life in Christ by your grace. That gift of grace brought me out of the condemnation of death that was upon me as my nature was to trespass and sin following the course of this world as is common to all. What a blessing it is to know that you, LORD, have prepared a place for the saints in heaven to be with Christ our Savior so in the ages to come the exceeding riches of your grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus will be fully shown. I know LORD that my salvation from sin by grace through faith is a gift from you that I could not have earned by any means within myself. I pray that I will show good actions in my redeemed life that will give all honor and glory to your name because all were prepared ahead by you. The blood of Christ was the only sacrifice that could atone for my sin and bring me into the household of God to become part of that glorious and holy habitation for the Spirit built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the chief cornerstone. Hallelujah and amen!

Published 24 April 2015