Jews and Gentiles were divided by a wall of enmity until they were made one in Christ. The Ephesian church was mostly Gentile. Jews had an ingrained prejudice against them. It was rooted in their heritage as the circumcised, which the Gentiles did not share. The Jews were God’s people Israel and had God’s covenants. The Gentiles had been heathens with no hope or God in the world. Paul revealed Christ Jesus made both in one body friends with God by His cross.
When Gentiles turned to Jesus, it caused trouble in the church. The Jews looked down on Gentiles, considering them to be uncircumcised heathens. The Gentiles resented Jews, considering them to be haughty, foolish, religious fanatics. Much of this enmity carried over between Jews and Gentiles in the church.
Paul was sent to the proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the Gentiles. When the Gentiles were saved, Jewdizers came and insisted the non-Jews who turned to God be circumcised. This caused conflict. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed to go to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders to resolve the issue. After much discussion, Peter spoke up for the Gentiles. “No, by the grace of the Lord Jesus we believe in order to be saved; and so do they” (Acts 15:11).
Peter had considered them to be unclean until he had a vision. The Lord gave him a vision of all kinds of unclean creatures and said, “Kill and eat.” Peter resisted until a voice said, “Don’t make unclean what God has made clean” (Acts 10.13-14). While Peter was puzzling over that, servants of a Gentile by the name of Cornelius came and told him an angel had told him to call for Peter. Peter went and shared the gospel with Cornelius and his servants. “’While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came down on all who heard the Word.” (Acts 10:44). “Then Peter asked, ‘Can anyone keep the water from baptizing these people? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we did‘” (Acts 10:47)? Then they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote the believers in Ephesian, knowing their situation.
Remember, then, physically you once were Gentiles, and those who call themselves “circumcised” (which is physical and done by human hands) called you “uncircumcised.” You were then without Christ, excluded from being citizens of Israel and strangers to the covenants that had the promise. You had no hope or God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12 AAT
In that relational atmosphere, Paul declares Jesus’ peace
To help us understand how Jesus made peace between Jews and Gentiles let’s consider what has already been revealed. In Messiah Jesus, God made us one new order of humanity, born again, new creatures. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). “Moses brought the Law but Jesus brought grace and truth” (John 1:17).”You were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, even to him who came again from the dead” (Ro 7:4).
But now, in union with the Messiah Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For it is he who is our peace. Through his mortality he made both groups one by tearing down the wall of hostility that divided them. He rendered the Law inoperative, along with its commandments and regulations, thus creating in himself one new humanity from the two, thereby making peace, and reconciling both groups to God in one body through the cross, on which he eliminated the hostility. Ephesians 2:13-16 ISV
Paul reveals spiritual community in Messiah Jesus
Now Gentile believers are fellow citizens of the kingdom, part of God’s saints, members of His family. We are fitted together to be a holy temple, God’s home in the Spirit. The foundation is the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone. In Him they and we are built up together.
And He came with the good news of peace to you who were far away and to us who were near, since by one Spirit He enables both to come to the Father. Then you are no longer foreigners or strangers but fellow citizens, a part of God’s holy people and members of His family. You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone. In Him the whole building is fitted together and grows to be a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you too are built up with the others to be God’s home in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:17-22 AAT
Now, Paul validates his ministry
Here, Paul is writing how God gave him gifts of His grace and revelation to bring to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, Gal 1:12).
For this reason I, Paul, whom Christ Jesus made a prisoner for you who are not Jews—surely you’ve heard how God gave me gifts of His grace to bring you and how He revealed to me the hidden truth, as I have briefly written. When you read this, you can see I understand the hidden truth of Christ. The people of other times weren’t told about it as the Spirit now has revealed it to His holy apostles and prophets, that in Christ Jesus the people who are not Jews have the same inheritance, belong to the same body, and have the same promise through the good news.
I was made a servant of it by the gift of love God gave me by the working of His power. To me, the least of all His holy people, He gave this gift of His love to bring the news of the unsearchable riches of Christ to the non-Jews and let everybody see clearly what God planned to do according to the truth hidden from the beginning in God, who created everything, so that through the church God’s manysided wisdom would now be shown to the rulers and authorities in heaven. He planned it through the ages and then did it in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In Him, by believing in Him, we have confidence and can boldly come to God. So I ask you not to get discouraged by what I suffer for you. It is an honor to you. Ephesians 3:1-13 AAT
In view of that, Paul prays God will help it soak in
For this reason I kneel before the ‘Father/Pater‘ from whom every group in heaven and on earth gets the name of ‘family/patria‘ and ask Him, as He is rich in glory, to give you this; that His Spirit will inwardly strengthen you with power, Christ will live in your hearts by faith, and you will be firmly rooted and built up in love, so that you and all the holy people can grasp how broad and long and high and deep love is, and know how Christ loves us—more than we can know—and so you will be filled with all that is in God. Ephesians 3:14-19 AAT
As we embrace that prayer, we will be filled with all that is in God.
Paul closes with this doxology: “Now to Him who by the power working in us can do far, far more than anything we ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all ages forever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 AAT
Ephesians series 1 Grace and peace to Gods holy ones 2 God has a plan for all who trust in Jesus 3 Our Personal Identity and Purpose 4 Jews and Gentiles made one in Christ 5 Growing up to work in the body of Christ 6 Walking as God’s dear children 7 Godly family and work relationships 8 Let the Lord make you strong