christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

ephesians 2, the enmity abolished

Read Ephesians 2 at Bible Gateway.

I was going to go on to Eph 3 today, but then I found the next structure in Eph 2:

Eph 2:11-19
1a) Eph 2:11-12, Gentiles were aliens from Israel/strangers from the covenants without God;
1b) Eph 2:13, In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ;
1c) Eph 2:14a, For He Himself is our peace;
1d) Eph 2:14b-15a:
– 1d.1) Eph 2:14b, Who has made both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of separation;
– 1d.2) Eph 2:15a, Having abolished in His flesh the enmity;
central axis) Eph 2:15b, The Law of commandments contained in ordinances;
2d) Eph 2:15c-16:
– 2d.1) Eph 2:15c-16a, To create one new man from the two/ making peace + reconciling both to God;
– 2d.2) Eph 2:16b, Through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity;
2c) Eph 2:17, And He came and preached peace to you;
2b) Eph 2:17b-18, Who were afar off + who were near/ through Him we have access to the Father;
2a) Eph 2:19, No longer strangers + foreigners but citizens + members of the household of God.

For He is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down the dividing wall, having abolished in His flesh the hostility, the law of commandments and regulations, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.

Ephesians 2:14-15

The dividing wall is not the Law of commandments, or Torah. We know because we have already studied several of Paul’s letters where this subject has been addressed (as in Rom 3:31, for example). The italicized words in your Bible were not in the Greek, but were added to the text. If the dividing wall was not the Torah of commandments, then what was the dividing wall?

The enmity. He abolished in His flesh, the enmity, and when He abolished the enmity, He broke down the dividing wall. So what is the enmity? Enmity, in Greek, is an enemy, or a hostility. Paul further explains that which was hostile to us in Col 2:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Col 2:13-14

The “certificate of debt” contained in “decrees against us” is what is hostile to us. That is the enmity. A “certificate of debt” is in Greek, a cheirographon: a list of the crimes which a criminal had committed, written out, which was posted at his execution, or posted outside his jail cell. It was for these transgressions of the law that the criminal was in chains. Pilate posted a cheirographon over the head of Jesus when He was crucified. Jesus’ cheirographon read, “The King of the Jews.”

It is not the Torah, which is holy and just and good, which was hostile to us, but the list of our transgressions of the Torah which was hostile to us – since it was because of that list that we were condemned to die.

The enmity of Eph 2 is the same as that which was hostile to us in Col 2. In other words:

[Messiah broke down the barrier of the dividing wall] by abolishing in His flesh the enmity [which was hostile to us], the Law of commandments [written down as the] ordinances [which we have transgressed, which condemned us to death], so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace … Eph 2:15

Now why did Paul do this sometimes, and just use a partial phrase to refer to something instead of spelling everything out so that there would be no misunderstanding? Listen, he never realized, I don’t think, that he was writing the next part of the Bible. To him, he was just answering questions raised to him by the churches. The letter he received from Ephesus, which prompted this reply, might have gone into great detail – we don’t know, we don’t have the letter he was sent, just his reply. It makes no sense, if you are replying to someone, to repeat in detail everything they said to you. They know what they said. Thus referring to it by the key words is enough to bring the whole concept to mind.

Actually, the fact that he was a bit careless about spelling everything out in places is proof that Paul was the author of these letters, and that they were written very early on in the life of the church, not hundreds of years later by a panel of “church fathers” trying to distort Jesus’ message, as some like to claim. A church father, writing hundreds of years later, would spell everything out. 

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