The Dividing Wall – Ephesians 2-3

Paul continues his letter to the Christians at Ephesus in Ephesians chapter 2, telling them that, like all Christians, they have been saved by grace, which is a gift from God, and not by anything that they have done. In verses 11-22, he talks about how Gentiles had been “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise.” But now they have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ “who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments…”

Jerusalem, model city, Herod's Temple, court of the Gentiles.

Jerusalem, model city, Herod’s Temple, court of the Gentiles.

This “dividing wall of hostility,” figurative in one respect, alludes to an actual wall at the temple that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the inner courts. Of this, the historian Josephus wrote:

“Proceeding across this (the open court towards the second court of the temple, one found it surrounded by a stone balustrade, three cubits high and of exquisite workmanship; in this at regular intervals stood slabs giving warning, some in Greek, others in Latin characters, of the law of purification, to wit that no foreigner was permitted to enter the holy place, for so the second enclosure of the temple was called.” (cf. Jos. War 6, ii, 4)

In chapter 3, Paul calls himself a “prisoner for Christ Jesus,” reminding us of the fact that this was one of the letters that he wrote from prison. He speaks of the “Mystery of Christ,” and “the mystery hidden for ages in God.” And he tells them that the mystery is “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

His prayer in the closing verses is for God to grant them “…strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” is not an empty metaphor. We may have an inkling of Christ’s love for us because of our knowledge of what He gave of Himself in sacrifice. But what kind of love must He have for us to be willing to endure such an ordeal so that even those who curse Him in this world can have hope?

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Galatians and Ephesians

/Bob’s boy

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.