For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility
I. HOW HE HAS MADE PEACE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE.
1. He did so by leveling in the dust the middle wall of partition that separated them widely for ages, in a word, by abolishing the narrow particularism of Judaism. The wall in question was the ceremonial law - "the law of commandments contained in ordinances" - given to Israel as a separate people and of positive appointment. The moral law was no part of the partition wail, and contains in itself nothing either to excite enmity or to establish separation between man and man. The death of Christ did not abolish it; it was the law of ceremonies only that was abolished in the cross, for when he died, it disappeared like a shadow when the substance was come. The moral law, as embodied in the Decalogue, was older than the Mosaic institute, and therefore survived its fall. The partition wall that kept Jew and Gentile apart was
(1) an ancient barrier of separation. It lasted sixteen hundred or two thousand years, according as we date its origin from Abraham or Moses. A Puritan Father says, "The foundation of the wall of separation was laid in Abraham's time when circumcision was first given, for that began the quarrel; reared up higher by Moses' rites; further lengthened and stretched out in all times of the prophets, throughout all ages, till Christ, who came to abolish it and break it down."
(2) It was a high barrier. It kept the Jew effectively apart for more than a millennium and a half, that he might be trained for the universalist dispensation that was to be established in the fullness of times.
(3) It engendered a deep hostility on both sides. It was this "enmity that made the barrier so serious an element of separation. The Jew regarded the Gentile with a proud and supercilious superiority, and the Gentile regarded the Jew as an enemy of the human race. Literature is full of the evidences of this continuous hostility. The Gentiles were called in contempt the uncircumcised" and "sinners of the Gentiles." Juvenal, Tacitus, Martial, Horace, repay the debt in the language of bitter and contemptuous sarcasm.
2. Consider the grand instrument of reconciliation between Jew and Get, the. "In his flesh." The language refers expressly to the condition of penal curse-bearing to which the atoning Savior spontaneously subjected himself. As the apostle once represents sin as being condemned in Christ's flesh (Romans 8:3), so here our Lord is regarded as having in his flesh taken upon him the sins of his people, as the great cause of enmity and disunion, and having exhausted at once the sin of man and the wrath of God on the cross, he thus at once abolished the law of ceremonies and annihilated the enmity which found its occasion in it. The cross is still the instrument of reconciling man to man. The world has made many efforts to unite men on a basis of liberty, equality, fraternity - often trying to bring about a union even by the most terrible bloodshed; but no principle has yet been discovered to unite man to man save the gospel of Christ, with its doctrine of atonement through the blood of the cross.
3. Consider the ultimate result of the death of Christ. "To make of twain one new man, so making peace." Those previously sundered were by the cross lifted into a higher unity, and placed upon a platform of equal privilege that obliterated all the old causes of division. The reconciling power of the cross ran through all the relations of men and all the relations of life. The person of Christ crucified became henceforth the great Center of unity.
II. HOW CHRIST IS OUR PEACE IN EFFECTING RECONCILIATION BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. "That he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Nothing can be more explicit than the declaration that Christ's mission was intended to reconcile God and man, who were previously alienated by sin. It is often contended that, as God is essentially a God of love, it becomes us to think only of reconciliation on man's Side. There are, in fact, two reconciliations, the one based on the other - a reconciliation of God to man, and a reconciliation of man to God. The apostle says elsewhere that "God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:18), and that it pleased "the Father, having made peace through the blood of the cross, to reconcile all things unto himself" (Colossians 1:20). The scheme of salvation, whether we take account of the incarnation or the atonement, emanated from the Divine good pleasure as the supreme source of all blessings. It is always important to emphasize the fact that the atonement is the effect, not the cause, of God's love. The peace here spoken of is peace on a basis of law and justice; for the offering up of Christ so magnified the Law and exhausted all its demands, that, on the ground of that propitiation, God could be at once just and the Justifier of the ungodly. This is according to another passage: "God hath sent forth his Son to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness" (Romans 3:25). If this be so, it is an error to hold that the only purpose of Christ's death was the manifestation of Divine love. It was, in fact, a manifestation of Divine justice as well as of Divine love; and if it was not a manifestation of Divine justice, that is, if there was no righteousness making that death necessary, it is difficult to see how there could be a manifestation of love in his dying. It follows also that it is an error to depreciate the importance of Christ's death, and to lay the main emphasis of his mission upon the virtues of his life. The Bible knows nothing of a gospel without a cross, or of a gospel which makes the cross a mere affecting incident at the close of a sublime career; it rather exhibits the cross as the grand procuring cause of life and redemption to man. If you take away the cross, you dry up the stream of blessing which has flowed down through all Christian ages, you put an end to the abiding peace of God's people, and you paralyze the right arm of the ministry. Therefore we are justified in regarding the reconciliation between God and. man as resting on Christ's work, and this work as charged with reconciling power, not as it moved the human heart or led to a new conduct in man, but as it introduced a new relation in which men were placed before God. - T.C.
For He is our Peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition.1. Christ Jesus is the author of all our peace.(1) In restoring the amity and friendship which we had in creation, but lost by the Fall.(2) In vanquishing those enemies which had taken us captive, and wrongfully detained us.
2. There was a separation between Jew and Gentile, before they came to be in Christ.
3. The way to obtain peace is to take away that which bars it. To make two rooms into one, you must beat down the wall which forms the partition.
1. In all terror of conscience we must look to Christ. We keep the fire from our faces and eyes with screens; but they are wise who put between their souls and God's wrath the screen of Christ's reconciliation, lest this fire burn to the pit of destruction. This stills the conscience, and fills it with good hope.
2. This must make us cleave unto Christ, even to let our tenderest bowels love Him who has done this for us.
3. Seeing Christ alone is the author of all true peace, this should cause us to seek to be under His kingdom, yea, to give our eyelids no rest till we have enlisted in the army of Christ. Look how you would do, if the enemy had entered your gates, taken your wives and children, spoiled you of your goods. If there were a town near you, where you might prevent such danger, and find safe protection, and live peaceably and securely, who would not with all expedition betake himself thither?
4. Seek to be, like Christ, a peace maker.
5. How miserable the condition of all out of Christ.
(Paul Bayne.)I. THE SUBSTITUTION.
1. This substitution of Christ in behalf of His mystical body is primary, original. It runs as far back as the council of peace. He became our Peace then, when He entered into the covenant of peace, met the stipulation for peace, undertook to satisfy all the demands of law and justice for peace, and pledged Himself to be that peace.
2. It is permanent — it runs through every dispensation of the Church of the living God. There was not one sort of gospel to preach to Abraham, and another to preach to the present race of sinners. The doctrine of substitution runs through the whole of the Mosaic economy, and hence it is permanent, and comes down to the present moment of the existence of the Church upon earth.
II. THE UNION. The smallest finger in my hand can move, can grasp, can unite with the other, in any effort that is put forth, because it is one with the hand, one with the body, and derives its life and strength and blood from thence; but sever my little finger from my hand, and it has no more strength — it is utterly useless. "Apart from Me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing." But in vital union with Jesus, the strength which is His flows to the feeblest and weakest member, and is put forth in the mighty actings of faith, and the holy energies of the new man. Moreover, this union is so experimental as always to produce communion. It is close, it is grasping, it is uniting, it is abiding, it is mutual in interest. Moreover, it is evident and manifest, because the world must see that the union which grace has effected between our souls and Christ, has cut asunder the tie which once existed between us and them, has cut asunder the union which made us once very fond of their fooleries.
III. THE PARTICIPATION. His justice is perfectly satisfied on my behalf, that I may look upon the bleeding Christ, the rising Christ, the exalted Christ, and the interceding Christ, and say with Paul, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." What serenity! A satisfactory, solid, sacred, holy, serenity of soul; a heavenly calm, a believing acquiescence in the love, and power, and grace, and goodness, of my God, not only in matters relating to Providence around me, but in matters relating to my soul's everlasting salvation.
(J. Irons.)I. He is "our Peace," in that He MAKES peace. Peace between God and man — "reconciling both (Jew and Gentile) unto God — by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (verse 16).
II. He is "our Peace," in that He GIVES peace. "My peace I give unto you — let not your heart be troubled" (John 14:27). Or, as it is put here, "came and preached peace to you who were afar off" (verse 17).
III. He is "our Peace," in that He PROMOTES peace. "Who hath made both (Jews and Gentiles) one" (verse 14). This is ever the practical outcome of the rule of "The Prince of Peace." He promotes peace.
1. In the family, subduing the elements of strife and discord.
2. In the neighbourhood, as every successful missionary at home and abroad can testify.
3. In the Church.
4. Among nations.Note: These senses in which Christ is "our Peace" are progressive. He has made peace for us, for all men, by His atoning work. He may be our peace, speaking peace within, quieting the tumult of doubt and fear (Matthew 11:28-30). And, if we are His, He will promote peace through, and by means of us in every circle in which we move and in every place in which we have influence.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(American.)1. Every man by nature, in himself, and without Christ, is at war and enmity with God, with His Church, and chiefly those in the Church who are truly regenerate.
2. This enmity could only be removed by Christ's bloodshed and death.
3. The uniting of both Jew and Gentile in one Church is a branch of the peace which Christ has purchased.
4. From the apostle's designing the ceremonial law by a metaphor taken from houses divided by a mid-wall, or from an orchard, garden, or inclosure, separated from the outfield by a dyke or wall of rough stones, we learn several things relating to the nature, use, and duration of the ceremonial law, which are the grounds of the similitude. And first, as a wall is built by the owner of the enclosure, so the ceremonial law was by God's own appointment (Deuteronomy 32:8; Exodus 25:40). Secondly, as a rough wall is made up of so many hard, unpolished stones, not covered over with lime or plaster; so the ceremonial law consisted of many ordinances (Hebrews 9:10), and those very difficult to be obeyed, and an intolerable yoke (Acts 15:10). Thirdly, as a wall or hedge encloseth a piece of ground for the owner's special use (which therefore is more painfully manured), and separateth that enclosure from the outfield which lieth about it; so the ceremonial law did serve to enclose the people of Israel, as the Lord's own garden and vineyard, for bringing forth fruit unto Himself (Isaiah 5:7), and to separate them from all the world besides (Deuteronomy 4:7, 8), as being a worship wholly different from and contrary unto the superstitious rites and worship used among the Gentiles (Deuteronomy 12:2), and containing strict injunctions unto the Jews to avoid all conformity with the Gentiles in their garments (Numbers 15:38), cutting of their hair (Leviticus 19:27), and such like. Fourthly, as a rough wall is but weak and ruinous, as not being built with cement or mortar to make it strong, and therefore but to endure for a season, until the owner think fit to enlarge his enclosure and take in more of the open field; so the ceremonial law was not to last forever, but only for a time, until Christ should come in the flesh, and take in the Gentiles within the enclosure of His Church, who were before an open field, not possessed nor manured by Him; after which there was no further use of the mid-wall.
5. So long as the ceremonial law did stand in force and vigour, the Jews and Gentiles could not be united into one Church: for seeing by that law the chief parts of God's worship were restricted to the Temple at Jerusalem; therefore, though scattered proselytes of the neighbouring nations did join themselves to the Church of the Jews, and in some measure observed the way of worship then enjoined (Acts 8:27), yet there was a physical impossibility for the generality of many nations far remote from Jerusalem to have served God. according to the prescript of worship which then was: besides, there was such an habituate and as it were a natural antipathy transmitted from one generation unto another among the Gentiles against the ceremonial worship, that there was little less than a moral impossibility of bringing up the body of the Gentiles unto a cordial joining with the Jews in it: for the apostle showeth the ceremonial law behoved to be abrogated, in order to a union betwixt these two, while he saith, "Who hath made both one, and broken down the middle wall of partition between us."
6. Whoever would make peace betwixt God and himself, or betwixt himself and others, he ought seriously to think upon those things which stand in the way of peace, and set about the removal of them, if it be in his power, and chiefly those evils in himself, of pride, vain-glory, self-seeking, and a contentious disposition, which are great obstructions in the way of peace (Philippians 2:3, 4); else, whatever, be his pretenses for peace, he is no real follower of it: for, Christ intending to make peace betwixt Jew and Gentile, did take away whatever might have impeded it; He even "broke down the middle wall of partition between them."
TopicsBarrier, Brake, Break, Broke, Broken, Destroyed, Dividing, Division, Enclosure, Gentiles, Groups, Hostile, Hostility, Human, Jews, Middle, Nature, Partition, Peace, Wall
Outline1. By comparing what we were by nature, with what we are by grace,
10. he declares that we are made for good works: and being brought near by Christ,
19. should not live as Gentiles and foreigners, but as citizens with the saints, and the family of God.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEphesians 2:14
6717 reconciliation, world to God
2525 Christ, cross of
5005 human race, and redemption
6661 freedom, and law
5030 knowledge, of Christ
6718 reconciliation, believers
LibraryMarch 14. "We are his Workmanship" (Eph. Ii. 10).
"We are His workmanship" (Eph. ii. 10). Christ sends us to serve Him, not in our own strength, but in His resources and might. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them." We do not have to prepare them; but to wear them as garments, made to order for every occasion of our life. We must receive them by faith and go forth in His work, believing that He is with us, and in us, as our all sufficiency for wisdom, faith, love, prayer, …
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All of Grace
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