Yesterday we read about the riches of God’s grace that provides us salvation and marks us as His workmanship. Today, Paul begins verse 11 with a reminder to his Gentile readers. Paul wanted them to remember that before they were brought into God’s family, their future was very dim—they were separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, were not recipients of God’s covenants with the Israelites, and were without the hope of a Savior and without God. At times, it can be good for us to remember how far away we once were from God, our great need for God, and how much God did for us when He opened our eyes to truth and saved us. Remembering produces worship for the God who alone is worthy.
The Gentiles were also uncircumcised, and the Jews objected to their inclusion. The Jews had been God’s people for centuries, since the time of Abraham. God gave the Jews a physical sign of circumcision to separate them and call them out as His own so they could be a light to other nations (Isaiah 42:6). But God’s plan all along was to include Gentiles in the family of God through Christ, as Paul explained in Ephesians 3:6: Gentiles are fellow heirs.
Even though Paul reminded the Gentiles of their dire situation before Christ, he began verse 13 with the famous three-letter word he used earlier in the chapter— but. Paul said that in Christ Jesus those who were once far away had been brought near by the powerful blood of Christ. Jesus’ sacrificial death atoned for the sin that separated us from God. Now, we are near to God.
Christ’s death and resurrection atones for our sins and brings us to near to God, restoring our personal relationship with Him. But that’s not the only thing His sacrifice does. It also restores our relationship with others. In verses 14–16, Paul described the peace that could now exist between Jewish and Gentile believers. Christ is our peace personally and also our peace between each other. Jesus made the Jews and the Gentiles one by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility. Instead of hostility, peace. Oh God, we need peace in our hearts and with each other. Help us to be Your representation of peace.
Jesus ended this hostility for two reasons. First, to “create in himself one new man in place of the two” (v. 15). This new man is also referred to as a body in verse 16, meaning the church. In the church moving forward, Jews and Gentiles together formed a whole new entity—Christians. Second, Jesus ended hostilities to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God. This reconciliation was achieved through the cross of Christ, killing hostility between Jew and Gentile but also between God and man. Reconciliation means the removal of enmity.
Jesus, thank You for reconciling us and restoring our relationship with You. Thank You for also removing the hostility between others and us. Help us be the representation of Your reconciliation to those around us.