Ephesians 2:11-22: The United People of God
Do all lives matter or do Black Lives Matter? Do we need separate safe spaces for black Christians to worship, or do we need united worship spaces? The problem of unity in God’s people is a perennial problem. The portion before us, Ephesians 2:11-22 speaks to our identity as a united people of God. What defines you and determines your relationship to other Christians? Do we subscribe to modern views that seek to define and relate us as intersecting minorities situated in relation to oppressive structures; or views that divide us by our gender preferences; are we stratified generational groups each having our own truths; do we define ourselves by our cultural and racial identities? Each one of these views is built on a worldview that has implications for how we relate to each other.
One of the biggest divisions in the ancient world was the division between the Jew and everyone else, divisions that were built on race, culture, religion, etc. The portion before us shows how Christ has come to a fractured world that has been divided since the tower of Babel and has only driven the wedge of those divisions deeper and how in Christ God is building a new humanity, a united humanity for a future where all divisions will be gone. The church is the community of the new creation exhibiting that future unity now. The Jewish Gentile division is what governs the foreground of our text, but has massive implications for any other divisions.
Paul has just told us how the power of God was at work to save us. He painted a picture of universal deadness in sin, both Jews and Gentiles are dead in sin, are by nature children of wrath and are saved, not by works but by a gracious God intervening in Christ. Paul is now going to map out the implications for our united identity. This portion divides up into 3 sections. In v11-12, Paul describes what the Gentiles were in their double alienation from God and His people; then in v13-18, He outlines what Christ did to reconcile us to God and His people; and v19-22 look at what we are as the new people of God in Christ.