Though Ephesians 1:1-22 was divided into three parts for our ALL IN series, when Paul wrote this passage it was one long run-on sentence. The “therefore” in verse 11 refers back to all 10 verses that came before it: You were dead, but God, who is rich in mercy, made you alive with Christ and raised you up with Christ to show the incomparable riches of His grace. You are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works! Therefore…
11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. Ephesians 2:11-22
Discuss an experience you had when you tried to be a part of a new community (neighborhood, school, church, work).
Read Ephesians 2:11-22. Why do you think Paul wants his audience (and you) to remember their former identity?
Paul describes two groups – the uncircumcised (Gentiles) and the circumcised (Jews). Judging by the tone of this passage, what do you think the relationship between these two groups was like?
Read Ephesians 2:13-16, Romans 2:28-29, and Colossians 2:11-13. How did Christ remove the barriers between Gentiles and Jews?
Do you see any barriers that exist at Fellowship? Are there those who are excluded because they are different? Have you withheld unity from a fellow believer? If so, what needs to take place to restore unity in Christ?
What are some of the word pictures used to describe the new unification of Gentiles and Jews in Ephesians 2:19-22? How do these images emphasize the unity believers have?
Read Ephesians 2:14 and Romans 12:18. What barriers in your heart need to be broken down in order to “live at peace with all men”? List action steps you can take, with the help of the Spirit, to bring peace to a broken relationship.
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FOR FURTHER STUDY
Read Genesis 17:1-14. Why was circumcision important to the Jew? What did it represent?
Read the following passages: Deuteronomy 10:12-16, Deuteronomy 30:1-10, Jeremiah 9:25-26, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Romans 2:25-29, Galatians 5:2-6. If physical circumcision was a sign of Israel’s covenant with God, what is “circumcision of the heart”?
List the five things you are to remember in Ephesians 2:12. Which of these realities seem most harsh to you?
Read Ephesians 6:19-22. List below the things you now have in Christ that you did not have when you were “far away”:
Read the following passages: Ephesians 4:32, Philippians 2:3-5, James 5:9, and 1 John 3:23. Since other believers are “joined together” (Ephesians 2:21) with you, how should you treat them?