One in Christ
Status of Gentiles before Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Word Study: A Gentile is a word that refers to all non Jewish people
Comment: I remember that I once gave a sermon at a church youth group and after I finished, one of the ladies said to me that she feels that when the bible speaks of a Jew, she is also included in it because she feels she was also a Jew. She could not accept that the old covenant was between God and the Jews and she was not as a gentile part of that. I remember quoting the above passage to show her what her status was before Jesus died for us. In verses 11-12 above, Paul indicates clearly where we as gentiles stood before the cross.
- Gentiles were called “the uncircumcised” by the Jews
- Gentles were separated from Christ
- Gentiles were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel
- Gentiles were strangers to the covenants of promise
- Gentiles had no hope
- Gentiles were without the true God in the world
At this stage we as gentiles had absolutely no hope of eternal life.What is comforting here is the words that Paul used here to start the passage. If you look at the beginning of verse 11 above,Paul says “therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles…” At one time, this means that we are no longer at this stage. What changed? That is what we will look at below.
Message: It is always good and beneficial to know in what state you are in, because then you can appreciate the work that had to go in, to change your current state.
The Redemptive Work of Jesus Christ brought Peace
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Comment: Now we get to the good news. After having made us remember who we were as gentiles, Paul takes us through the redemptive work of God through Jesus Christ. Paul starts by saying in verse 13, “But now in Christ Jesus..” emphasizing and clearly indicating that it is in Christ that the Gentiles who were once far off, have been brought near by His blood. Through the cross, Jesus became the peace between Jews and Gentiles by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility. Jesus broke down the wall of hostility that stood between Jews and Gentiles. How did Jesus do this? Jesus achieved this by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances. What does this mean? It means that when Jesus died on the cross, He brought to an end the Mosaic Law and all its commandments and regulations. These are what stood between the Jews and Gentiles and through them, the Jews could not have joined with Gentiles. Does this mean that we no longer have to obey God’s law?
No, we must obey God’s law but what this means is found in Jer 31.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV Strong’s)
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
As you can see in the above passage, the Old Covenant was to be replaced by the New Covenant and in the new covenant, according to verse 33, the law of God will now be put within us and written in our hearts. The above passage says the replacement of the old covenant will take place in the coming days and those days referred to the day of the death of Jesus on the cross.
Therefore, the Mosaic law or the Old covenant was then replaced by the New covenant through the death of Jesus Christ and this also, brought peace between the Jews and the Gentiles. The Old Covenant, which contained the Mosaic Law, its commandments and ordinances, was abolished in order to bring peace. Therefore those who still hang on to the old covenant, are hanging on to a dead covenant.
So, by abolishing the Mosaic law, Jesus made what used to be two people, Jews and Gentiles, one new man in Himself. He then reconciled us both to God in one body through the cross. Once He had achieved peace between Jews and Gentiles and reconciled us both with God though His death on the cross, He then went to both Jews and Gentiles to preach and inform them of the newly created peace and now through Him, we both have access in one Spirit to God the Father Amen.