The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
June 24, 2012
1) Ephesians 2:17-22 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
As we think more of Paul's message to the Ephesians, he continues in
speaking of that unity in Christ between Jew and Gentile and
declares of the Lord, "AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO
WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we
both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." As we
saw in the previous lesson, Paul had been addressing the Gentiles;
so they are the "you who were far away..."; and "those who were
near" (v. 17), therefore, pertains to the Jews. The "He," of course,
who "came and preached peace" to "both" groups (vv. 17,18), refers
to Christ. For though His three-and-a-half-year earthly
ministry was primarily to the Jewish people, He also dealt during
that time with some who were non-Jews, such as the Roman centurion
who had a paralyzed servant in pain and besought the Lord for His
power to heal (Matt. 8:5-10) -- a centurion of whom the Lord said
that He had "not found such great faith with anyone in Israel" (v.
10). Consider also Matthew 4:12-17 that speaks of Jesus as
settling in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, which is called "the
Galilee of the Gentiles." For Galilee was divided into an
upper and a lower Galilee, and it was the upper Galilee where
primarily Gentiles had dwelt. In that area were Tyre and
Sidon. It is also said that some of the specific Gentiles who
dwelt there were Egyptians, Arabians, and Phoenicians. And in
thinking more of that region, Matthew 15:21-29 has the account of
Jesus going into the district of Tyre and Sidon where a Canaanite
woman from the area entreated the Lord for her daughter's sake who
had been demon-possessed. It was to this mother that Jesus had
said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel." But she showed great humility by bowing down to
Jesus and saying, "Lord, help me!" Jesus then said, "It is not
good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs" (v.
26). And rather than reacting with anger or hostility, she
continued in her humility by saying, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs
feed on the crumbs which fall from their master's table" (v.
27). Jesus then said, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall
be done for you as you wish" (v. 28). And immediately her
daughter was healed.
So Jesus personally preached to Jews and Gentiles; but it can also
be said that He preached, in addition, through His apostles and
others that were moved by the Holy Spirit, during the time of the
early church. For it would be through these that Jesus'
message would reach out to even more Jews and Gentiles. As
Paul shows in Colossians 1:23, which was written about A.D. 60 to 62
(almost 30 years after the church was established), the gospel "was
proclaimed in all creation under heaven...." And concerning
Jesus preaching through others, Peter says, "As to this salvation,
the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made
careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time
the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the
sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Pet.
1:10,11). So it would be primarily through these others that
the Lord's word would be proclaimed.
In Ephesians 2:18, each of the three persons of the Godhead is
mentioned: "for through Him [Jesus] we both have our access in one
Spirit [the Holy Spirit] to the Father." Man has often
referred to the Godhead as the "Holy Trinity"; and though that
phrase is not found in the Scriptures, the concept of it certainly
is. For, as this passage shows, the Godhead consists of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and they are each the
perfection of holiness and Deity. In Matthew 13:16,17, all
three persons of the Godhead are present at Jesus' baptism.
For when Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended
as a dove upon Him, and the voice of God the Father declared from
the heavens, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
In Ephesians 2:19, Paul gives a comforting thought to the Gentiles
-- as well as to all Christians: "So then you are no longer
strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints,
and are of God's household." We had seen in the previous
verses how estranged the Gentiles were from God and His people, but
now they are "fellow citizens with the saints" and in the same
"household of God." It applies to every Christian when Paul
declares, "For our citizenship is in heaven..." (Phil. 3:20).
God's "household" today is the church, His kingdom. Paul shows
this in 1 Timothy 3:15: "but in case I am delayed, I write so that
you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of
God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support
of the truth." The phrase "household of God" is also rendered
as "house of God" in some other versions. But unlike literal
houses, the church is made up of people who have a mind and a free
will. So we need to, therefore, truly dedicate ourselves
toward being the Lord's house; and Hebrews 3:6 shows why: "but
Christ was faithful as a Son over His house -- whose house we are,
if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until
the end." So remaining as part of God's house is conditional
upon our faith, perseverance, and hope in the Lord.
In addition, during the Old Testament times, the temple was often
referred to as "the house of God" (Mark 2:26); but during the Gospel
Age, the church is that temple. For instance: "Do you not know
that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in
you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy
him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are" (1
Cor. 3:16,17). Though it is true that even the Christian's
body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), the "you" of 1
Corinthians 3:16 is plural and, therefore, referring to the
church. In 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, Paul again shows that being
that temple of the Lord is conditional: "Or what agreement has the
temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;
just as God said, 'I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I
WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore,
COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,' says the Lord. 'AND DO
NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I
will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,'
says the Lord Almighty."
Paul also refers to the Gentiles as "growing into a holy temple in
the Lord" (Eph. 2:21). And all these phrases -- "fellow
citizens with the saints," "God's house" or "God's household," and
"a holy temple in the Lord" -- indicate the oneness (or the unity)
the Gentiles now have with the Jews in Christ (vv. 18-22).
In describing more of that household, Paul states in Ephesians 2:20,
"having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone." Is it actually
the apostles and prophets who make up the foundation of the
church? What would it be about them or in them that the church
could be built upon? Are they not just men? Rather than
it being anything about them, would it not be in what they taught --
Jesus -- that is the foundation?
This might also remind you of Matthew 7:24, in which Jesus says,
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon
them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the
rock." In this parable, it is the doers of the word who have
built upon the sure foundation; and that is done by not only
hearing, but also by obeying that message. So those who submit to
the teaching of the gospel will be building upon the church's one
foundation. For it is through that message that the Lord
builds His church, of which He is the "rock" (Matt. 16:13-18) and
the only "foundation" (1 Cor. 3:11).
Jesus is also spoken of as being the "corner stone" (Eph. 2:20),
which is the stone by which the entire building would be aligned
correctly. For if it were off, the whole building would be
off. So this very well illustrates the need for man to align
himself with the word of God by believing in and submitting to
it. But, unfortunately, not all are willing to do that.
For as prophesied, "The stone which the builders rejected has become
the chief corner stone" (Psa. 118:22); and the term "builders" is
referring to many of the elders, the chief priests, and the
Pharisees (Matt. 21:23, 42-45). So, in other words, many of
the religious leaders of that time, by their rejection of Christ,
were actually demolitionists, in a manner of speaking, by their
striving to tear down the only way of salvation (cf. Acts 4:8-12),
rather than building upon it. See also 1 Peter 2:4-10.
To many people, Jesus was just another prophet, another teacher of
God's word. So if all of God's people make up different living
stones in the Lord's house (1 Pet. 2:5), Jesus would be just another
one of those living stones. But, again and again, we see Jesus
as not merely being another living stone; but, rather, as the "chief
corner stone" (v. 6), on which all the other stones depend.
To others, however, Jesus is referred to as a "stumbling stone," due
to their unbelief (Rom. 9:31-33). For the "precious
value" of Jesus as the corner stone is only to those who believe (1
With Christ as not only the chief corner stone, but also the entire
foundation, look what Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:21,22, as
we close this chapter: "in whom the whole building, being fitted
together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you
also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the
Spirit." As Peter writes, "you also, as living stones,
are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to
offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus
Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
The very word "edify" literally means "to build a house"; and a
building, "esp. one of large size or imposing appearance," is called
an "edifice." But as "living stones," Christians are to strive
to build up each other in God's spiritual house. Thayer not
only shows this literal meaning of "edify," but also its
metaphorical meaning of "2b) to promote growth in Christian wisdom,
affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness 2c) to grow in
wisdom and piety." Each member of the body of Christ has this
duty toward striving to help build up one another in the faith (cf.
Eph. 4:15,16), and it takes the word of the Lord to make this type
of edification possible. For as the Psalmist expresses in
Psalm 127:1, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain
who build it...."
So, today, Jesus still "builds the house" through His word, which is
how His promise that "...I will build My church..." (Matt. 16:18) is
fulfilled, along with the prophecy in Zechariah 6:12,13, where One
whose name is "Branch...will branch out from where He is; and He
will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will
build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit
and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His
throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two
offices." Since the church was purchased with Christ's blood,
according to Acts 20:28, then it would have to be after His death
when the church could be established; and we see of this in Acts 2,
which takes place on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the
Lord's resurrection. For verse 47 shows that God added to the
church those who had heard and submitted to the gospel, which
included their believing (v. 36), their repentance, and their being
baptized (v. 38). And those who have become Christians by
their faith and obedience are also called "God's building" (1 Cor.
3:9), God's "house" (1 Tim. 3:15), and "the temple of the living
God" (2 Cor. 6:16). For "...just as God said, 'I will dwell in them
and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My
people" (ibid.). Similarly, Ephesians 2 closes with Paul
declaring, "in whom you also are being built together into a
dwelling of God in the Spirit" (v. 22).
This metaphor of the church being "God's building" also illustrates
the unity (or the oneness) of its members. For just as a body
is one, but with different members, even so a building is made up of
different parts -- such as its foundation, walls, windows, doors, a
roof, and so on -- but all of that makes one building.
We are nothing without the Lord; but so much we will gain with Him,
which begins with our accepting His gospel of peace and becoming a
part of His household, as we have seen in Ephesians 2:17-22.
So, if you haven't done this yet, why not this very day? In
the judgment, no one will ever regret having been redeemed and being
able to spend an eternity in heaven!
News & Notes
We are glad to report that Andrew
Robertson and Anthony
Webb have landed new jobs, which we had been praying
We have also been praying for little Beaux David Harkrider who was born prematurely June
7 and weighed only about 2.5 to 2.6 pounds the first couple
weeks. He is the firstborn of Ross and Laura (of Shreveport,
Louisiana) and is now gaining weight and doing well. But let
us who are Christians continue praying for him.
Let us also be praying for Jean
Calloway, Cheryl Crews, and Shirley Young, due to their health problems.
And also Mike Dubose (who
is to continually undergo cancer treatment), Curtis Gautreau (Keith's
brother) who is now receiving treatment for bone cancer, and Clifton Trimble who is elderly
and in poor health.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)