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


Ephesians 2:17-22
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 Pet. 2:7).  

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 for. 

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. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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
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