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Studies in Ephesians

Proclaiming the Unsearchable Riches

of Christ (See 3:8)

Chapter 2:11-22


No Admittance. Members Only. Restricted Access.

Notices such as these can touch a nerve when they stand between us and a place we’d like to be. It may be the requirement for a membership card before you can shop at the warehouse store; or the “no hunting” sign posted on private property; or even the curtain drawn between coach and first class on an airliner.

Life is full of situations where we find ourselves excluded from privileged areas, services, and information. Usually it is no more than a minor annoyance, if we notice it at all. At times, though, it can put a person on the defensive, bringing to mind questions such as “Why am I not allowed?”, and “What makes those who have access such special people?”

In Bible times questions about the privilege of access had to do with something far more important than mere products and services. The burning question was one between Jews and non-Jews, and it had to do with full and free access to God Himself.

In many ways the Lord had set up the Old Testament system of worship to reflect great privileges for the descendants of Abraham, the Jews. Although God’s plan of salvation in Christ has always included all nations, the Jews were uniquely blessed with the revelation of God’s own Word–and a system of laws for everyday living that set them apart from all other people.

The Jews were the only ones entrusted with the organized worship of the only true God. And by God’s own plan, the temple itself was designed to keep non-Jewish people at arm’s length from the Lord. The site of the temple proper was strictly off-limits to non-Jewish people, who were walled off from coming any closer than the outer “Court of the Gentiles.” According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, the inscription on the separating wall said: “Let no foreigner enter inside of the barrier and the fence around the sanctuary. Whosoever is caught will himself be the cause of death following.”

Jesus Fulfilled The Law

The whole system of special laws and restricted temple worship became a source of conflict between Jews and non-Jews. After Jesus fulfilled the Law, died, and rose again, He sent His disciples to proclaim forgiveness apart from the Law. But Jews who had come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah found it difficult to imagine how non-Jews could suddenly have full-fledged access to the Lord. Non-Jews, while painfully aware of their pagan and sinful background, could not understand what circumcision, diet restrictions, or a particular stone temple had to do with deliverance from that sinful state.

In Ephesians chapter two, Paul shows that even the more irreconcilable differences are no match for the power found in the Gospel of Christ crucified. He writes: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 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, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

The restrictions of temple worship, severe as they were, are a fitting picture of the wall of our sins that separates us from God. No amount of outward washing, not even countless good works and sacrifices, could grant us the access to our heavenly Father that we need. But Jesus cleared the way by suffering in our place at the cross, thus paying the full penalty for our sins. Now, through faith in Him, Jews and non-Jews alike have “most privileged” status with the Father. In fact, it goes far beyond free access to the Lord in His temple, since we now ARE that temple!

” . . . Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

In many areas of life the saying holds true: “Membership has its privileges.” Such privileges are often wrongly viewed as an inborn right by those who have them, and as an affront by “outsiders.”

Blessed be our Savior, whose Gospel breaks down the walls of personal sin, as well as the walls of mutual distrust! His grace is truly undeserved, which means that no one can claim access to the Father by right.

And far from being the possession of the privileged few, salvation is inclusive to all who receive it by faith in Christ.

–Pastor Bruce Naumann