In Ephesians 2.11–18, Paul writes:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands — remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Whenever you read the word therefore in Scripture, you should ask yourself what it’s there for. In Ephesians 2.11–22, therefore is there for the purpose of making a logical connection between grace and peace. According to Ephesians 2.1–10, we are sinners saved by grace through faith. According to Ephesians 2.11–22, sinners saved by grace live at peace with one another.
In the ancient world, ethnicity and citizenship were common boundary lines between people groups. A person was proud to be a Jew or a Greek or a Roman. He was happy to be a citizen of Jerusalem or Athens or Rome. But that pride and happiness often turned into disdain for others who were members of other ethnic groups or citizens of city-states.
This is the social situation Paul addresses in verses 11–18 when he notes the distinction between Gentiles and Jews. That distinction was biblically rooted, of course. God actually had chosen the Jews to be a channel of salvation to the entire world. In Romans 9.4–5, Paul lists all the blessings God had poured out on the Jews: “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.”
Notice that those blessings culminate in Christ. When Christ came, the ethnic distinction between Jew and Gentile became irrelevant because Israel had served its divine purpose. It had given birth to the world’s Savior. So, Paul writes that Christ “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (verses 14–15).
Through Christ, God is making us into a new humanity. Because of grace, sin no longer operates as a barrier between God and us. And also because of grace, no distinctions of ethnicity or citizenship or sex or wealth should operate as a barrier between members of the church. “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” (Galatians 3.28). Those who have been saved by grace live at peace with one another.
Don’t you think our world needs to hear this message?