Ephesians 2:19

The Gentiles were now no longer strangers, but fellow-citizens with the saints.

I. THE CITY MAY BE REGARDED EITHER AS THE CHURCH ON EARTH OR THE CHURCH IN HEAVEN. They are equally the city of God "which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." It is a city strongly fortified with the walls and bulwarks of salvation, and is surrounded by a river of love, which ministers to the wants of its citizens. There God dwells in the midst of them. It is a city possessing glorious franchises and ordered government. It is not limited, like the Jewish theocracy, to one nation; it is not bounded by the frontiers of any land; it is the kingdom which is not of this world, and destined ultimately to triumph over all other kingdoms.

II. THE GENTILES ARE NO LONGER STRANGERS IN IT, like those who have no home, no property, no privileges, no interests, in common with its inhabitants. They are now naturalized citizens of the Christian commonwealth, living on terms of perfect equality with all the other members, as to privilege, protection, and government. They are thus brought into relation, not with the Jews either of the present or the past, but with saints of all dispensations and all times; for the Church of God which Jesus "purchased with his own blood" does not date from the day of Pentecost, but covers the whole period of human history since the beginning of time. The abrogation of old theocratic distinctions leaves a new community in which "there is neither Jew nor Greek, circumcision nor uncircumcision."

III. THE HEAVENLY CITIZENSHIP HAS IMPORTANT ETHICAL BEARINGS. Those whose "citizenship is in heaven" are not to "mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:20), but to think of the Savior who is to be revealed with transforming power in the final resurrection. The laws of heaven are to be our guide on earth. Our calling is, therefore, a "high calling." - T.C.

Fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.
The Church at Ephesus was a mixed community of Jewish and Gentile converts. The old feuds between them had not passed away. The Jew refused to let go the claim of his nation to some religious superiority over the Gentile, and thought the latter ought to stand afar off and worship in some outer court. But the great design of Christianity, argues the apostle, is to abolish these enmities, to break down these partition walls, to bring these separated worshippers both nigh to each other, and nigh to God. Christ, he declares, is both our peace and our peacemaker. In Himself, and by Himself, He made of the twain one new man and one new society; not strangers one to another, still less enemies one to another, but one large family, joined together in the ties of spiritual brotherhood, fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God.

I. There is the COMMUNION OF SAINTS WITH THE HOLY TRINITY (1 John 1:3; John 17:21-23; 2 Peter 1:4). Deity is in some sense grafted into the stock of our regenerate and renewed humanity. Between God and the souls of His elect there is as much of oneness and communion as there is between a vine and its branches, or a body and its members, or a temple and the stones of which it is composed. The tabernacle of God is with men. The incarnation of Christ has made our nature an ennobled thing; the power of the Holy Ghost makes it a spiritual and sanctified thing; and the two together make the communion perfect. There is bestowed upon us a new moral nature, and in virtue of this God may speak with man, walk with man, dwell with man, may suffer to flow towards man the rich tide of His beneficent sympathies, and conclude with man the terms of a holy and everlasting friendship.


1. The communion of spiritual life. The saints of God, however scattered, have the same Word to guide, the same sacraments to refresh, the same essential doctrines as their ground of trust, and the same Holy Spirit to uphold their souls in life. Born under the same curse, inheritors of a common feebleness, and exposed to like temptations, they look forward to the same bright consummation of glory and honour and immortality (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13).

2. Communion of aim and object and united interest.

3. Communion of help and sympathy and fellow feeling with one another's trials (Galatians 6:2).

4. Communion in prayer. Mutual intercession is the life of the Church (1 Timothy 2:1; Philippians 1:19).

III. COMMUNION OF SAINTS ON EARTH WITH SAINTS IN PARADISE — the Church militant with the Church expectant. Death makes no difference in the mystical union which is betwixt Christ and His Church; i.e., makes no difference in the nature of that union. It will give a demonstration to its evidence, a lustre to its glory, an elevation to its bliss; but the union itself is just what it was in life — a joining of the soul to the Lord by one Spirit. Our communion with departed saints is —

1. A communion of hope.

2. A communion of esteem.

3. A communion of imitation.We walk in the same light, we live by the same Spirit, we are looking forward to the same peaceful blessedness which they enjoy who are fallen asleep.

IV. COMMUNION WITH THE ANGELS that stand around the throne. They are our fellow servants, and our fellow citizens. Conclusion: What a field of high and ennobling thought does this subject open up! Into what boundless relations does the human spirit branch out; how mysterious is the tie which binds it with all being, with all intelligence, with all worlds! We say unto corruption, thou art my father; to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister; and yet, notwithstanding this, we are one with all the society of the blessed; with the martyrs, a noble army; with the prophets, a goodly fellowship; with the apostles, a glorious company; with the angels, a radiant host. Nay, this bond of saintly sympathy rests not here; it is interlinked with things divine — with the sanctities of the Spirit, with the glorified humanity of Christ, with the covenant love of God. How important the question for us all — How shall these glorious ties be preserved unbroken, and wherein lies this great strength? The strength of this union of saints lies in their separation from all sinful thoughts and sympathies. We have a name, a character, a calling, and we must be consistent therewith. The world and the Church must have an intelligible partition somewhere. The life of saintship must be saintliness of life. Communion, whether with Divine or created natures, must have its foundation in similarity of moral character. To see God we must be like Him.

(Daniel Moore, M. A.)

1. Believers are fellow citizens.

(1)Bound to seek each other's good.

(2)Bound to conform to the customs of their city.

(3)This teaches us our happiness when we are brought to believe, and should stimulate our faith.

(4)Citizens of Bethel must not communicate with Babylon.

2. Believers are conjoined as members of one family. This is a stricter bond than the former, and should serve to increase love. We being confined within one family, a common roof under which we all live and board, we must be all of one heart, at peace and unity; and the God of love and peace will be with us.

3. It is God's family.

(1)Therefore we must live to Him. The household is bound to obey its master.

(2)How dishonouring to God are the sins of those who profess to be His!

(3)The Lord will make due provision for His household.

(4)Those who have servants under them, should learn from this to be kind and just to them; for they and we are all fellow servants in the family of God.

(Paul Bayne.)

"It is not good for man to be alone." There are few things more terrible than to be utterly friendless and alone in the world. One of the most awful forms of punishment is solitary confinement, and many a poor prisoner has grown gray and old in a few years, or has gone mad, because he was not allowed to see, or speak to, a fellow creature. In days gone by, we read that one of these unhappy captives actually made friends with a spider, finding the company of an insect better than absolute solitude; and that another captive devoted all his thought and affection on a prison flower. Quite lately I read of a prisoner in one of our gaols who had tamed a rat as a companion, and who became almost mad when his only friend was taken from him. We have all heard of the sufferings of those who have been cast away in shipwreck upon lonely islands, with no companion to share their exile. But let Christ's servant be where he will, on lonely island, in solitary prison, among crowds of strangers, he is never alone, because he believes in the communion of saints.

I. FELLOWSHIP WITH THE MARTYRS. We need not die for Christ in order to be His martyrs. St. Paul would have been a martyr if he had died quietly in his bed, and never felt the sword of the Roman headsman. His years of patient suffering in Christ's service, his bold preaching in the face of persecution and death, made him the faithful martyr of Jesus. And so now, those of us who are trying to do their duty where God has put them, doing what is right at any cost, bearing loss, trouble, insult, it may be, rather than commit sin, they are Christ's martyrs, no matter how lowly and obscure their lives may be.

II. FELLOWSHIP WITH THE PROPHETS. But you may say, "How can I do the work of a preacher or prophet like Elijah, or Jonah, or Ezekiel, or the rest?" You need not be preachers as they were, yet you can be like them. They were not afraid to speak the truth, they were not too timid to rebuke vice wherever they saw it. They defended the honour of God and His Church at all times, and never thought of their own safety. Now you, my brothers, can be brave for Jesus; show that you are not ashamed of your Master, or your Christian calling.

III. FELLOWSHIP WITH THE APOSTLES. The name apostle means one who is sent forth; the first apostles of Jesus were sent to preach the gospel to every creature. We, as Christian men and women, are all, in one sense, apostles. The pure man, the honest man, the faithful man, is an apostle of Jesus; his life is a gospel, a sermon on purity, honesty, faith. The temperate man is a preacher; his example is the best lesson on self-control.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

The phrase now before us, "the household of God," is but a reflection of the ever-recurring reference in the teaching of Christ to God as the Father, both of Himself and of men. The idea of a household grows out of Christ's idea of God as Father, just as the idea in the word citizen in the previous part of the verse grows out of Christ's conception of the kingdom of God. It is to this idea of the Christian society as a household we now give our attention. In another place, regarding it, not in the light of its head, but of the spirit which binds us to this head, he calls it "the household of faith." Now what are the essentials of a household? A household is a society marked by diversity in unity. It is like light, which is composed of the many colours of the spectrum, each colour having a character of its own, but when all are combined forming the pure white light by which we see and work. So a household is a combination — a unity of different characters under one head. And this is the true conception of the Christian society we call the Church. Without the diversity it would be as uninteresting as the grains of wheat in the garner — which are all alike; without the unity it would not be a society at all. Let us see what each involves:


1. A household is not an institution founded on identity of thought. Each member of it may have ideas of his own. Such diversity grows naturally out of the variety of character and mind of its members. It is only another side of the same truth to say —

2. in a household identity of experience as not essential. There is as great a variety of inward life as of mental thought in the members of a family, The differences of feeling are as great as those of intellect.

II. OF THE UNITY OF THE HOUSEHOLD. In what does it consist? Unmistakably in loyalty to its head. Loyalty in a home is only another name for love. The children may have different conceptions of the head of the family; they may regard him in different ways; but if they be loyal, loving, they are a real part of the household. Within this limit there is room for almost endless diversity. One child may understand one part of his father's character, and another may understand another part. The boys may appreciate best the business capacity of their father, and the girls may best discern the tenderer home side of that character. One may appreciate his intellectual qualities, and another his practical ability. But all belong to the household who look up to and trust him as the head. So it is in the household of God — one mind may be compelled by its very nature to grapple with the problems of the Divine Nature; another may be able to believe without attempting to prove. One may need definitions and theories, another may quietly rest in the Lord. But the central, essential thing is to be loyal to the Head. And closely connected with, yea, a part of such loyalty, is, obedience to the Head. Obedience is loyalty in action. Works are the fruit of faith.

(W. G. Herder.)

Sonship is one side of the home relationship, brotherhood is the other. No one can be a good son unless he be a good brother. The true parent cares as much for right feeling among his children as for right feeling to himself. It is perhaps more difficult to be loyal to our brethren than it is to be loyal to the head. Where the head is concerned the idea of authority comes in, but where the members are concerned the relationship must be even more spontaneous. The child may be afraid to offend his father, but that feeling does not arise in relation to those who are his brothers or sisters. The father will probably not put so severe a strain on the loyalty of his children as they may do one to another. Rivalry is not so likely to spring up between child and parent as between brothers and sisters. Age, which naturally wakens deference to the parent, is not present to the same degree to waken it between those whose years are more on an equality. For these, and many similar reasons, it is more difficult to keep unity in the household than between the household and its head. But the New Testament is quite as insistent on the one as on the other. There should be room for all diversities of character, that by contact and converse they may modify and balance one another, the solemn moderating the merry, the merry brightening the solemn, the poetic elevating the practical, the practical steadying the poetic, the guileless quickening faith in the calculating, the calculating preserving the guileless from being deceived. This is a part of the Divine method of education for our life. We are members one of another, so that no one may say to another: "I have no need of thee." The peace of a family is gone if any one member seek to dominate the rest, and always have his own way. Many a household has been ruined by self-will. And more than aught beside, this has rent asunder the household of God. Closely connected with such — indeed, lying at the root of self-will — is the idea of infallibility. Such a confidence in our own opinions that all others are regarded as erroneous. The learned Dr. Thompson, late Master of Trinity College, once said "None of us are infallible, not even the youngest." Nothing is more irritating — nothing is more likely to disturb the unity of the home or of the Church, than some one member who poses as an oracle. This is but the negative side of the matter. These are the things to be avoided. There is a positive side: things to be done. The true conception of a household is of a company in which the resources of each of the members are at the service of all the rest. It should be a ministering company. The joy of one should be the joy of all. The sorrow of one should be the sorrow of all. A company in which the strong bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please themselves. Those on the hilltop of faith moving down to those in the valley of doubt, to lead them to the height of vision. The glad and merry bearing some of the sunshine of their nature to the morbid and gloomy. In such ministries, prompted of love, the home consists, whether it be of man or of God. Indeed, the home is but the miniature of the greater household of God. A home is not made by those who live and eat and sleep under the same roof. It may be a hotel, it is not a home. The home does not begin to be until it is a place of mutual ministries, inspired of love. And the household of God is not constituted by men and women who hold the same creed, repeat the same prayers, join in the same sacraments — these are but the form, the letter; not until the spirit of love, reaching out to mutual help, arises, is it worthy of the name of a household of God.

(W. G. Herder.)

In the text, St. Paul sets forth the privileges of the Gentile state, that is, of our state, by a very intelligible figure, by a figure especially understood in that day. The inhabitants, or rather I should say, the actual and acknowledged and free members, of particular cities, then enjoyed particular rights and benefits, to a greater extent than is usually found amongst us; and this was particularly the case with regard to the city of Rome, the then mistress of the world; of which city the apostle himself was a free-born citizen, and found the benefit of his birthright on several occasions. While strangers and foreigners then were disowned, and often unprotected and despised, the citizen was regarded and honoured and cherished wherever he went. And the Church of God is here compared, in this respect, to a city, of which the Israelites had formerly been the only true members, had alone enjoyed the blessings; the rest of mankind being in the situation of strangers and foreigners. But circumstances are now totally altered: the Gentile believers are no longer excluded from the privileges of the people of God; they are become fellow citizens of the spiritual and heavenly Jerusalem. Now, let us first inquire what is the nature and extent of this city, of which we are made the privileged members? what the family into which we are admitted? It is the whole body of Jehovah's accepted people throughout the universe: the whole family of the blest, wherever they are to be found. But it is not to the present race of mortals that our fellowship is confined: we have communion also with the saints at rest, with all that ever lived and died, from Adam to the present generation. The new dispensation is united with the old; they are both one; we may say one gospel; being parts of that same grand scheme of redemption, which was framed and declared from the beginning, for the recovery and salvation of mankind. But, indeed, we have not yet surveyed the length and breadth of that community, into which we have been received as members. The angels, the highest angels, form a part thereof; we are one with them; our city is theirs, and our Lord is theirs. Of the blessed Jesus, "the whole family in heaven and earth is named."

(J. Slade, M. A.)

He that walks in communion with the saints, travels in company: he dwells in a city where one house sustains another, to which Jerusalem is compared.

(H. G. Salter.)

The Rev. James Owen, of Shrewsbury, being asked on his deathbed, whether he would have some of his friends sent for to keep him company, replied, "My fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ; and he that is not satisfied with that company doth not deserve it."

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