Ephesians 2:19-22 – God’s people, his family & his house

July 2, 2020 at 9:51 AM Leave a comment

In order to indicate the richness of the Gentiles’ changed position (from outsider to insider) and their new privileges in Christ, Paul shares three familiar models of the church: God’s people, God’s family and God’s house.

v.19,“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.” Paul reminds us that Gentiles are no longer aliens but actually part of God’s people. Yes, in the past without Christ’s sacrifice Gentiles were lost and separated from God, “strangers and foreigners” or outsiders but this was their old position. Because of Christ’s sacrifice Gentiles are now “citizens” with all of “God’s holy people.” Not second-class citizens (or aliens), but full fledge citizens just like the Jews. Anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ are “members of God’s family” including the Gentiles!

v.20,“Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” The third model Paul shares is the church is a building: “his house” or his temple. The temple in Jerusalem had for nearly a 1000 years been the focal point of Israel’s identity as the people of God. Now there is a new people. Not a new nation but a new humanity, international and worldwide—the church. This new house or temple didn’t have to be in Jerusalem anymore, according to Paul it was the believers across the world. He states “together, we are his house” speaking of all believers. Then he goes into detail on each item that makes up his house.

“The foundation” of this house was the “apostles and the prophets.” The “apostles” were a special group of individuals that Jesus chose and authorized to teach in his name and who were eyewitnesses of his resurrection (twelve disciples and Paul and James, possibly others). What they taught was expected to be believed by the church and what they commanded they expected the church to obey. The “prophets” also indicated teachers as well. They were given the Word of God by God himself and they conveyed that word to others faithfully. This simply means that the church is built on a strong and solid foundation—the teaching of The Word of God.

“The cornerstone” of this house “is Christ Jesus himself.” The cornerstone is a crucial part of the building, it anchors the building  (bears the weight of the building) and gives unity to the entire structure. The cornerstone is the most important stone in the whole building. The chief cornerstone of this new building (or temple) is “Christ Jesus.” This is not the typical cornerstone where you stamp a date on it, no this is better referred to as the foundation stone in Isaiah 28:16. It promises security in a time of destruction. Even if a flood came and washed everything away, the cornerstone stood and provided a place of refuge. Christ is not just another stone in this building but he is the most important stone which makes the whole building possible, including the foundation. He is the promised place of security on which the community of God is built. 

v.21, “We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” Not only is the building built on Christ Jesus the cornerstone but it is “carefully joined together in him” as well. Christ is the one who unites all believers (Jews and Gentiles) together with each other and with God.“Becoming a holy temple for the Lord” is better translated “growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” This emphasizes the growth of the building process. This happens by joining or fitting together each of the various pieces to make up “a holy temple” which is the church universal (all believers). The word “temple” refers to the dwelling place of the God, the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple. God no longer dwells in a temple made of stones but now dwells in a new temple made up of believers. This temple is “holy” because God dwells in these believers that are set apart for God’s use.

v.22,“Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” Here Paul says that “Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling” which means they are joined together with the Jews to make up this house or “holy temple” (v.21). As the temple in Jerusalem was the physical dwelling place of God in the Old Testament, now the body of believers (made up of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles), is the dwelling place “where God lives by his Spirit” which is the Holy Spirit. In other words God lives in all believers as the person of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17, Rom 8:9). No privilege is given to God’s people in which the Gentile believers are excluded.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? It is only because of Christ sacrifice on the cross that God has made all of us his people, his family and a part of his holy house. No matter if I am a Gentile (or a Jew) he has accepted me as his own. He no longer sees me as an alien or stranger. I am both a member of his holy people and holy family. He has built a holy temple which is us (all believers). We have the best foundation (teaching of the Word of God) and the strongest secure cornerstone (Christ Jesus) so no matter what comes our way we are safe and secure. God indwells us through his Holy Spirit so we (all believers—the church) know we are set apart by God for God use to serve him no matter where we go. 

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Thank God for his acceptance of me as his very own—his holy people and his family. Thank Jesus Christ for his sacrifice. And thank the Holy Spirit for his support and care for me as he resides in me, as I am his holy house or temple.

Entry filed under: Journey Thru the Bible. Tags: .

Ephesians 2:13-18 – A new people–the church Ephesians 3:1-5 – Paul’s insight into God’s plan

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