The joy of belonging! Only when one has known the sadness of being isolated and alone can one really appreciate the joy of belonging. In this passage Paul describes a group of people who were nothing and had nothing to boast about [in the eyes of many who believed themselves to be privileged.] He writes to tell them what God had done in His amazing grace and love to make them belong to Him and to His family.
THE BIBLE PASSAGE FROM Ephesians 2:11-13
Eph 2:11 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
A PRAYER BASED ON Ephesians 2:11-13
“Oh Father, what it a joy it is to belong to You and to Your people. We thank You for all You have done through Jesus’ death on the cross to bring us back to You. We thank You that we are no longer separated, no longer alienated and that we have a sure hope because we belong to You. We thank You that You are our God and that we are now Your people.
Lord Jesus, we want to show our appreciation for all You have done for us, by enthroning You as our Lord and by serving You as our Master. We pray these things in Your own precious name of Jesus. AMEN.”
SOME NOTES ON Ephesians 2:11-13
In Ephesians 2:11-13, the Gentiles [non-Jews] are described in many negative terms. However the passage ends on the positive note that those who were once ‘far off’ have been ‘brought near.’
The following are some of the negative terms used of the Gentiles [non-Jews].
- They were called the “uncircumcision” by those called the “circumcision.” In other words the Jews at the time saw the Gentiles as being different, as not belonging because they didn’t bear the “mark” of belonging, the mark of circumcision.
- “separated from Christ.” “Separated” is the word [chōris, χωρίς which can mean simply “without.” They were “without” Christ in the world. So are all people until they receive Him. As John wrote in his prologue, He came to His own people but even many of them didn’t receive Him, Joh 1:11 “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” However there were those who did receive Him from among His own people, 12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The same privilege also applied to the Gentiles who were willing to receive Him. They no longer were without Christ. No longer separated from Christ.
- “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” They were without citizenship in the nation of Israel.
- “and strangers to the covenants of promise.” Promises had been made to the heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but they did not apply to those outside that covenant relationship.
- “having no hope.” Hope is something certain because it is based on the promises of God. It is made real by faith. Faith brings substance to our hopes. But hope is bound up with Christ. Apart from Him there is no hope. In receiving Him, one takes hold of the hope that exists only in Him.
- “and without God in the world.” They may have been creatures of God the Creator, but they weren’t in a relationship with Him. They existed but did not have a relationship with Him. God allowed them to exercise their free-will in rejecting Him. He was there for them but He awaited their openness to Him before He entered their “personal space.”
What an incredibly powerful and life-changing word! Paul had been describing just how it was when God was excluded from people’s lives but something happened that meant changes were possible. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” verse 13.
- They were now “in Christ” rather than being “without Christ” or “separate from Christ.” They were now in a relationship with Him as His followers.
- They were once “far off”. Far off from God. Far off from the promises of God. Far off from the covenants of God. Far off from the people of God.
- What happened? They were “brought near.” Near to God. Near to His people. Near to His plan and purposes for them. Near to His covenants. Near to His saving grace.
- How did it happen? “By the blood of Christ.” verse 13. Something major had to happen for that nearness to come into effect. Jesus had to die. It was only His shed blood on the cross that made that approach to God possible. No one else’s! Only His! Extremely costly, but completely successful!
- The writer to the Hebrews explained the necessity for the death of Jesus, for his readers from a Jewish background, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.” Heb 10:19-20.
Praise God that when everything seems to be hopeless and there seems to be no way ahead, change is possible. The words “But God” assure us of the possibility of change.
- Sinners are in a hopeless situation “’but God’ shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8.
- When we feel we are insignificant we can be encouraged because we read, “’But God’ chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Cor 1:27-29.
Once “far off”! BUT GOD! Now we “are near”. Now we belong to Him and to one another in the family of God in Him!
Blog No.295. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 18th October 2018.