Ephesians 2:11-18

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 26, 2006



Marriage Disagreement

A man and woman were having marriage problems, and decided to end their union after a very short time together. After a most brief attempt to reconcile, the couple went to court to finalize their break-up. The judge asked the husband, “What has brought you to this point, where you are not able to keep this marriage together?” The husband said, “In the six weeks we’ve been together, we haven’t been able to agree on one thing.” The wife said, “Seven weeks.”


A story is told of two unmarried sisters who had so bitter a ruckus they stopped speaking to each other. Unable or unwilling to leave their small home, they continued to use the same rooms and sleep in the same bedroom. A chalk line divided the sleeping area into two halves, separating doorway and fireplace, so that each could come and go and get her own meals without trespassing on her sister's domain. In the black of night each could hear the breathing of the foe. For years they coexisted in grinding silence. Neither was willing to take the first step to reconciliation.

Does this describe any of your relationships?


One fellow from Texas says he and his wife have been married fifty years. He says that the secret is that they never went to bed without settling any differences between them. But he concedes there have been times when he went ten days without sleep.

Today’s message is all about reconciliation, the idea of making things right with another person.

:11-13 Brought near by the blood

:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands;

Therefore – In Eph. 2:1-10, Paul has told us how we were dead in our sins, yet God reached out to us and saved us by His grace. Paul is now going to elaborate on how this salvation by God’s grace has affected the Gentile Christians.

Circumcision was a ritual given to Abraham (Gen. 17).

The act of circumcision had significance to it. It represented a cutting away of the flesh, the sin nature. It was a picture that a person was not going to live after their sinful, fleshly nature, but after the Spirit.

Paul is talking about those who called themselves “circumcised” because they had gone through an outward, human, physical ritual. They had “circumcision made in the flesh”.

But God’s ideal was that real circumcision took place in the heart:

(Rom 2:28-29 NKJV) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; {29} but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

The people who were called “the circumcision” called these Gentiles “the uncircumcision”

:12 that at that time you were without Christ,

Before they were Christians … the state of these Gentile believers …

:12 being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise,

commonwealthpoliteia (“politics”) – from polis, which means “a city with walls”. We were outside the walls.

covenants of promise – God made “covenants” or “contracts” with Israel, promises for the good. To Moses He promised:

(Lev 26:3-4 NKJV) 'If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, {4} then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit…

These are really cool promises. But before coming to trust in Jesus, these things aren’t even on our radar. God has absolutely no obligation to help us or bless us at all.

:12 having no hope and without God in the world.

It’s a terrible thing to not have hope.

What do you do when the doctor says, “There is no hope”?

What do you do when you have this fear in your heart about your marriage, “There is no hope”?

without Godatheos (“atheist”) Atheists in the true sense of the word.

Without God there is no true hope. We might be able to hope for something to happen next week or next month. But in the larger scheme of things, there is no real hope if you think everything ends with death. With God we have hope beyond death. We have the hope of heaven.



In the Christian life, this is what keeps us going. Hope.
We have hope that goes beyond the grave.
(2 Cor 4:16-18 NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. {17} For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! {18} So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
But when you do not have Christ, you may have hope for the next couple of days or weeks, but you do not have the greatest hope of all, the hope of heaven for eternity.

:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

in Christ Jesus – this is what happens when we open our heart to Jesus. He comes into our lives. We come into His.

by the blood of Christ

In the book of Leviticus, God told His people that He didn’t want the eating or drinking blood. He laid out a principle concerning blood.

(Lev 17:11 NKJV) 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'
God set up the principle of substitutionary sacrifice. The idea is that one thing could give it’s life in place of another. The thing that would represent the life of the sacrifice would be the blood.
Jesus died for us. And the thing that represents His life being poured out in our place was the spilling of His blood.
(1 Pet 1:18-19 NLT) For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. {19} He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

It is the blood of Christ, the sacrificed life of Christ, which has brought us to God.

:14-18 He is our peace

:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

He is our peace with God. He is our peace with each other.

made both one – instead of two groups, Jews and Gentiles, Jesus has made one group.

the middle wall of separation


Many years ago the Prince of Wales visited the capital city of India. A formidable barrier had been set up to keep back the masses of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty. When the prince arrived, he shook hands with some of the political dignitaries who were presented to him. Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, “Take down those barriers!” They were quickly removed, and all the people, regardless of social rank, had free access to the heir of the British empire. Some time later when the prince came to that district again, 10,000 outcasts waited under a banner inscribed with these words: “The Prince of the Outcasts.” What a great description of Jesus, who by his death has broken every barrier down between us and God.

Jesus has taken down the wall between us and God and between me and you.

:15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

(Eph 2:15 NLT) By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups.

The Law shows us that we are sinful and separated from God.

The Law demands that our sin brings a consequence, there must be a payment for the sin.

The Law provides that a sacrifice might be made in which someone else pays for your sin.

Jesus is God’s perfect sacrifice.  He died on the cross for us.

And now there is no longer an issue of those who are looking to the Law and those who aren’t. The issue now is whether or not you will trust in Jesus to pay for your sins.

:16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

reconcileapokatallasso – to reconcile completely; bring back a former state of harmony

in one body – this isn’t talking about the body of Jesus on the cross. It’s talking about how the two groups, one of Jews and the other of Gentiles, now form one group because of the cross.

:17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

far off … near – referring to the Gentiles and the Jews

:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Notice the work of the Trinity. All three play a part in redemption. The Father is the goal of redemption – our goal is to know and come to the Father. Jesus died on the cross to make it possible for us to know God. The Spirit is the one who takes us to the Father.


The Christian and racism

They say that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week in America.
To make things worse, it is not uncommon for the people who are the most prejudiced to claim to be Christian. Often some of the worst hate groups do it under the guise of some religious group.
But this is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us that work of Jesus in dying for our sins has eliminated any reason for racism. Before Jesus, the only thing that could be hinted at as racism was the distinction between being circumcised or uncircumcised. But when Jesus died to fulfill the requirements of the Law, He eliminated any excuse for racism.
The Bible says,
(Rom 10:12 NKJV) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
(Col 3:11 NKJV) where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
(Gal 3:28 NKJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
When Brennan Manning, an evangelical Catholic, was waiting to catch a plane in the Atlanta airport, he sat down in one of the many places where usually black men shine white men’s shoes. And an elderly black man began to shine Brennan’s shoes. And Brennan had this feeling inside that after he was done, he should pay him and tip him and then reverse the roles.
And when he was finished, he stood up and looked at the black man and said, “Now, sir, I would like to shine your shoes.” And the black man recoiled and stepped back and said, “You’re going to do what?” He said, “I’d like to shine your shoes. Come on. You sit down here. How would you like them done?” And the black man began to cry, and he said, “No white man ever talked to me like this before.” And the story ends with the white Catholic with arms around a black Atlanta man, and they’ve only just met, tears flowing, reconciliation taking place.


Planning to reconcile

Paul has been talking about the racism and hatred between the Jews and the Gentiles.  Even though the Jews had thought that they would be the only ones to be saved, God thought otherwise.
(Isa 49:6 NKJV) Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

It has always been in God’s plan to bring Gentiles to Himself.

For us, perhaps God would be speaking to us to learn how to plan on reconciling with others.
Perhaps it may not be overnight. It may take time. But the grudges and unforgiveness we can hold against each other are things that God wants us to deal with. He doesn’t want us carrying the bitterness to the grave.
As we’ve been seeing in Ephesians, these great blessings that God has for us are only laying the groundwork for how we walk with God.
(John 13:34-35 NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. {35} "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

If we look at how He loves us, it ought to help us learn how to love each other.  His love produces reconciliation.  So should ours.

Bill Bright, founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ wrote,

I know two law partners who used to hate each other. When one became a Christian, he asked me, “Now that I’m a Christian, what should I do?” I said, “Why not ask him to forgive you and tell him you love him?” “I could never do that!” he said, “because I don’t love him.” That lawyer had put his finger squarely on one of the great challenges of the Christian life: On the one hand, everybody wants to be loved, but on the other hand, many people never experience it. That’s why we need to learn to love as Christ loves—unconditionally. We can’t manufacture that kind of love. It only comes from God; and it’s a love that draws people to Christ. I prayed with that attorney. The next morning, he told his partner, “I’ve become a Christian, and I want to ask you to forgive me for all I’ve done to hurt you, and to tell you that I love you.” The partner was so surprised and convicted that he, too, asked for forgiveness and said, “I would like to become a Christian. Would you tell me how?” See what love can do?

In the book of Hosea, we have this picture of unfaithfulness between Israel and God. We see it pictured as a wife that has been unfaithful to her husband. But instead of divorcing His wife and never seeing her again, God works differently with His people. God would work through Hosea as a picture for the people to see. Hosea’s wife had been a prostitute before they got married. After they were married and had children, she again became a prostitute. But instead of letting her go, God told Hosea to go and buy her back. This is exactly the way that God works with His people. He talked about his plan:
(Hosea 2:14 NKJV) "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her.

The idea is that God would work to win His people who had strayed back to Him.

Joseph Garlington writes,
One morning before I left for class, Barbara said, “Why are you wearing that?” I took her comment as an attack and went into my G.I. Joe mode. I counterattacked. I said, “Why are you always criticizing what I put on?” She said, “I’m not always criticizing you.” I answered, “Yes you are! You do it all the time.” She replied, “I don’t do it all the time.” We continued to exchange comments with increasing volume. I thought, “Hey, I don’t have to put up with this,” and remained aloof (for three weeks). Finally I said, “Barbara, I really need to talk with you” She said, “Sure.” I explained in detail how I had been offended by her responses to me. Barbara waited patiently until I was finished. Then she said, “Honey, I never said those words that you said I said.” Normally Barbara would “give in” first, but it didn’t happen this time. So that morning I said, “God, what am I going to do? I believe I’m right. ... Then He asked me the question, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be reconciled?” As much as I hated the question, I knew the answer.
Yesterday at our marriage seminar, Dr. Kevin Jones talked about resolving conflicts.  One of his challenges to us was to examine what our goal was in the conflict.  Do we want to “win” the argument, or do we want to “resolve” it?
Plan to resolve things.



Unity ought to be our goal.
(Psa 133 NKJV) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!
{2} It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.
The anointing oil that was put on the High Priest Aaron was a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the Spirit.
I believe there is a connection between unity among believers and the working and outpouring of the Spirit.
{3} It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing; Life forevermore.
Mount Hermon is to the north of Israel on the border between Lebanon and Syria. It rises to over 9,000 feet above sea level and is the highest point on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The melting snow from Mount Hermon is what feeds the Jordan River, which in turn waters the nation of Israel.
Unity among the brethren brings refreshing. It brings life.
I wonder how much work of God’s Spirit we lose, how many times of refreshing we miss out on, all because we neglect the importance of unity, the importance of reconciliation.
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Last Supper, he had an intense, bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way the hated painter’s face would be preserved for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarreled. Leonardo continued to work on the painting. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back. Leonardo decided his hatred toward his fellow painter was the problem. So he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas’ face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus’ face and complete the masterpiece.
The work of God’s Spirit, the times of refreshing come when we work at unity.  It comes when we’re able to paint the face of Jesus into our lives.