Peace. What does that word mean to you?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines peace in part as freedom from disturbance, quiet, calm, tranquility, freedom from war, harmony within relationships, and freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions. Read the definition again. It sounds so refreshing, life giving. Space to breathe—it’s something we all long for. Jesus is the greatest and only true source of peace, and Paul reiterates that in these verses.
In verses 14–17, Paul mentioned peace four times. Specifically, in verse 17, he mentioned it twice. Jesus came to preach peace to those who were far off (Gentiles) and to those who were near (Jews). Jesus knew the world needed peace and that He was the one who could offer not only temporal peace but eternal peace. This peace allows both the Jews and Gentiles to have access to God through the Holy Spirit. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection gives us access to God, the Father.
After emphasizing the union between Jews and Gentiles in four different ways throughout verses 14–18, Paul discussed the effect of this union in verses 19–22. Gentiles are no longer strangers or aliens but rather they are members of God’s household. They are included as fellow citizens of the saints. They’re a part of Jesus’ church, included with all believers from all time.
In verses 20–22, Paul described the church as a building and explained its foundation, formation, and function. In verse 20, we learn that believers are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. These apostles and prophets were disciples of Jesus who started the church. We know Christ today because of them. Paul made it very clear that Jesus is the cornerstone of this foundation. In a building, the cornerstone was meticulously placed because it was the marker for the rest of the building. Every part of the building lined up with the cornerstone, which signifies the importance of aligning ourselves with Christ.
In verse 21, Paul described the formation of the church: in Christ, the whole structure is joined together. Every part of the building is intentionally fitted together. And this church/building grows into a holy temple in the Lord. As believers are added to the church throughout time, the building grows—a living body.
In verse 22, Paul described the function of the church—believers being built together to become a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Paul referred to the fact that in Old Testament times, God’s presence, His glory, was found in the temple in the holy of holies. Now, Paul was saying that God’s presence dwells in physical bodies of believers instead of inanimate objects (John 14:17, Romans 8:9). Believers’ bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). And as we see in verses 21–22, the Holy Spirit corporately dwells within the church, including all believers—Jews and Gentiles.