Posts tagged ‘Gospel’

Ephesians 2:13-18 – A new people–the church

God in his mercy and grace did not leave the Gentiles in their hopeless condition described in v.11-12. No, he explains in this section how he has brought all Gentiles near through the blood sacrifice of his Son, Christ Jesus. But Paul explains further this sacrifice is for all human beings to have a relationship with the Father and be saved and become a new people—the church.

v.13,“But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him though the blood of Christ.” Paul starts with “but now” to contrast all that he just explained in detail the Gentiles were before their conversion in Christ (v.11-12). Paul again reminds the Gentiles “once you were far away from God.” This described who the Gentiles were in relationship to God before their conversion. “But now you have been brought hear to him” is a description of the Gentiles presently in relationship to God after their conversion. The means by which the Gentile believers are “brought near to” God is “through the blood of Christ.” His sacrificial death on the cross where his blood was shed is what brought all who believe near to God (salvation). Without the shedding blood there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22). However, in this verse Paul is specifically speaking of Gentiles.

Gentile believers: it is not an afterthought that Gentiles are now included in God’s family. This theme may seem to be secondary in the Old Testament, but it is there. God’s covenant with Abraham had in view the Gentiles as well (Gen 12:2-3). Here Paul makes what seemed secondary (Gentiles being included in God’s family—the church), now primary.

v.14,“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” Christ through his death on the cross destroyed the barriers that separated Jews and Gentiles, bringing “peace to us” and “united Jews and Gentiles into one people.” This made way for peace between the two groups. But more importantly Christ reconciled them both to God. Those who believed in God would be made “into one people”—believers! Paul describes the peace that Christ had made between these two groups as a “wall of hostility” that he “broke down.” It was no secret that there was a great hostility between the Jews and Gentiles, a cultural and religious hostility that only God could break. The dividing wall Paul is referring to is the wall in the Jewish temple that separated the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the temple, which only Jews could enter. When Christ died on the cross this wall was broken down (not literally but spiritually). The actual wall wasn’t broken down until the Romans entered Jerusalem in AD 70. It also symbolizing Gentile alienation from God being removed, as well.

In the next two verse Paul answers the questions we all have, how did Christ do this? How did he get rid of the hostility between Jews and Gentiles? Between man and God?

v.15-16,“He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility  toward each other was put to death.” Paul gives us four ways Christ through his death and resurrection, destroyed the hostility between Jews and Gentiles and between God and man.

  1. “Ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.” This statement sounds contradictory to what Christ says about the law in Matt 5:17 in his Sermon on the Mount where he said he has come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Paul is not talking about “ending” the law as the Word of God or as a moral guide. What is ended or abolished is the law as a set of “commandments and regulations” (for sacrifices, circumcision, dietary regulations, ritual cleansing and regulations regarding the sabbath, etc) that exclude the Gentiles. The moral instructions of the law will continue but it will no longer exclude Gentiles or require them to become Jews (Deut 31:11-13). In Christ’s death and resurrection, he made the law ineffective to make people right before God. Christ abolished the law’s way of salvation. We can’t obey the whole law no matter how hard we try. So it separates us from God and from each other. But Jesus perfectly obeyed the law in his life and in his death took on the consequences of our disobedience. Acceptance with God is now only through faith in Christ alone for both the Jews or Gentiles. Christ will accept the Gentiles on equal footing as he does the Jews. The law was a barrier between all of us (Jews and Gentiles) and God, but faith unites us, since all have come to God through Christ in the same way.
  2. “By creating in himself one new people from the two groups.” Paul of course is talking about the church. This “one new people” was created by Christ when he abolished the divisive law (mentioned in point 1) on the cross. In this new people group there is no discrimination because they are all one in Christ (Col 3:11, Gal 3:28). Believers are no longer Jews or Gentiles but now Christians. A whole new group is formed and the result is peace between the Jews and Gentiles (v.14).
  3. “Reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross” Here the hostility is between God and man (both Jews and Gentiles). It is not just our attitude and sins towards him has been an issues, but also his wrath and anger toward us because of our sin. It is only through Christ death on the cross that both of these hostilities has been reconciled. 
  4. “Hostility toward each other was put to death” The hostility was also between the Jews and Gentiles (mentioned earlier in v.14). And again, by Christ death on the cross that hostility was also put to death and no matter who we are if we believe, we are part of the family of God, united as one in Christ.

v.17-18,“He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” The “Good News of peace” which is another way of saying the “Gospel” was “brought” or preached equally both to the “Gentiles” and the “Jews.” In the NIV the word “preached” instead of “brought” (NLT) is used which could refer to Jesus’ earthly ministry (before his crucifixion and resurrection) where he preached the Gospel to those he came in contact with. It also could simply mean Christ act of his death-burial-resurrection-exaltation. Peace was achieved and access to God the Father was made possible because of Christ’s sacrifice. The Gentiles “were far away” from God because they knew little or nothing about him. And the Jews “were near” to God because they already knew of him through the Scriptures and worshipped him in their religious ceremonies. Because both groups could not be saved by good deeds, knowledge, or sincerity, both needed to hear the Gospel was available to them only through Jesus Christ. “All of us” (Jews and Gentiles) are free to “come the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done.” Rather than “can come” is better translated “have access.” Christ provides the access to the Father by the “Holy Spirit” who helps us when we pray and who baptizes and unifies us into the body of Christ. Notice the emphasis on the Trinity in these verses. All three persons of the Trinity are involved in redeeming humanity (salvation). God the Father developed a plan of grace for salvation through faith. Christ’s carried out the plan through his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection. The Holy Spirit became the means of immediate access to God the Father.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? The hopeless plight of the Gentiles is redeemed by God stepping in through Christ. The Gentiles who didn’t know God can now have a relationship with God and only because of Christ’s shed blood that access is available. Then Paul switches gears to talk about all of humanity. Christ brought the Gospel of peace to everyone (Jews and Gentiles) through his sacrifice and resurrection. He broke down all barriers that were in the way of allowing the Gentiles to have a relationship with God. He did this by ending the rules and regulations of the law to exclude Gentiles. Christ brought peace and access to salvation to both Jews and Gentiles through his sacrifice. He also broke down the hostility between the Jews and Gentiles. And by his sacrifice he also created a new people (one body)—the church or Christians or believers.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  The only thing I can do is praise God for stepping in and not leaving me to die spiritually. Because of his grace and Jesus’ sacrifice I can be saved and have a relationship with the Father. I now have access to the Father and I can be part of the family of God—his new people, the church!

June 29, 2020 at 11:48 AM Leave a comment

Day 76…1 Corinthians 9:19-23

I know it has been awhile since I have posted my “Journey Thru the Bible” but I am back. C’mon along with me as I journey through the Bible, as I discover amazing truths that I missed the first time I studied or great reminders of things I had forgotten about. It’ going to be an amazing adventure!

I Corinthians 9:19-23: Chameleon for the Gospel

Paul wanted people of all cultures, backgrounds and races to hear the Gospel and be saved. So Paul embraced and adapted to culture he was in except when those cultures hindered or violated the Gospel.

v.19, Paul’s goal was to glorify God and bring everyone to Christ. Though Paul was “a free man with no master” which is to say free from all human control, he chose to be a “slave to all” without compromising the Gospel message. Paul could vary the style or method of his message becoming a accommodating to his audience so that he could “bring many people to Christ.”

v.20-23, Paul chose to be like his audience without compromising the doctrine of God’s Word and the Gospel message. Paul was willing to “live like” his audience in order to “bring” them to Christ. Paul mentions three groups: Jews, Gentiles and those with weak consciences.

Jews: When he was with Jews he “lived like a Jew to bring Jews to Christ.” Paul conformed his life to the practices of those“who follow the Jewish law” even though he was no longer “subject to the law” himself because of his freedom in Christ just so he could “bring” Jews who are “under the law” to Christ. He gained an audience with many Jews because he conformed to their regulations and restrictions (after he had been a Pharisee). However he never conceded that those regulations had to be kept in order to become a believer. Examples in Acts 16:3, 18:18, 21:20-26.

Gentiles: When he was with Gentiles “who do not follow the Jewish Law” he met them on their own turf. Paul lived according to God’s law because he didn’t “ignore the law of God” no “he obey[ed]” it. But when he was with Gentiles he did not require them to follow the Jewish law, unlike the false teachers of that day (Judiazers), in order to become believers. Instead he spoke a message that would “bring them to Christ.” An example is Acts 17:1-34.

Weak consciences: The “weak” that Paul refers to are believers who are baby Christians who needed to grow deeper in their knowledge of Christ and deeper understanding of their freedom in Christ. So Paul set aside his freedoms and starting living by their restraints for a time so that he might “bring the weak to Christ.” Paul chose to do “everything [he] could to spread the Good News” to all people and “find common ground with everyone, doing everything [he] can to save some.” But Paul never compromised the Gospel truth, God’s Law or his own conscience in the process.

Paul had one purpose, to take the Gospel to the unbelieving world. He did not preach with pride, counting the numbers or converts, instead he preached with love for the Gospel and those who heard it and in the end he could “share in its blessing.”

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  There was a number of things I took away from today’s study. First, to find common ground with the unbelievers in my life as I try to reach them for Christ. However to never have a know-it-all attitude as I speak to them. Listen a lot more than I speak. Then share in their needs and concerns, genuinely care for them. And always look for opportunities to tell others about Christ.

January 11, 2013 at 10:46 AM 1 comment

Day 74…1 Corinthians 9:1-6

I Corinthians 9:1-6: Paul’s apostleship

Paul takes a few verses here in chapter 9 to defend his apostleship and his freedom to exercise or not to exercise his rights as a apostle in Christ.

v.1-2, Unfortunately there were some people in Corinth that doubted they should listen to Paul so he presents his credentials as an “apostle.”

In order to be an apostle you had to show 3 evidences:

  1. “Have I not seen Jesus with my own eyes?” Personally seen Jesus after his resurrection. [Paul saw Jesus in Acts 9:3-18]
  2. Signs, wonders and mighty acts. [Paul did so in Acts 13:9-12]
  3. “Isn’t because of my work that you belong to the Lord?…you yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.” Successful ministry. [Paul had described his work  among the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 & Acts 18:1-17]

These credentials make the advice Paul gives in this letter authority. Paul goes into even greater detail of his apostleship in 2 Corinthians 10-13.

v.3-5, “This is my answer to those who question my authority.” Those who were questioning Paul’s authority brought up the issue that Paul wasn’t taking advantage of everything he could do as an apostle and thus were questioning whether he was an apostle at all. As an apostle in the Greco-Roman world, it was quite an issue how missionaries, traveling teachers and philosophers were supported. They could charge, beg, work or accept gifts. Paul accepted support from Lydia in Acts 16, but since then had stopped that practice. However because other leaders continued to accept support, the issue arose: maybe Paul was not getting support anymore because he wasn’t really an apostle. But the truth was Paul chose to not take the support so as not to bring the gospel under suspicion. Then Paul names some rights that accompany being an apostle: “Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals?” which is the right be financially supported by the church–a place to stay and meals. “Don’t we have the right to bring a Christian wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does?” which is the right to marry, and if Paul had a wife like many others he mentions, to take her with him and also to be supported by the church.

v.6, “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?” Barnabas and Paul worked together on Paul’s first missionary journey but just before Paul started his second the two parted ways and Barnabas started his own missionary journey. Paul mentions Barnabas here because they were the only apostles who made it a habit to work and earn their living as they travelled and spread the Gospel.

Paul chose to work as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3) and not receive support from the Corinthian believers because it could hinder his work for the Gospel.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Paul used himself as an example of giving up personal rights. He had the right to be married and to receive financial support for his work, but he willingly gave up these rights to win people to Christ. When I focus on living for Christ my right should become unimportant.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I was thinking about the rights I have as a believer and even as a citizen of Canada. The question I have been thinking about is…would I be willing to give them up for the furtherance of the Gospel?

February 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM 3 comments

Day 69…1 Corinthians 7:25-28

I Corinthians 7:25-28: Questions about singles

Throughout this chapter, Paul has been telling the believers at Corinth to not change their situations but to serve the Lord where they are. Paul wanted the believers to focus on sharing their faith so that many would become believers before Christ’s return. In these few verses Paul answers some questions people had about being single. As always he didn’t want anything to hinder their work of the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

v.25, At this point in Paul’s letter he decides to answer a question the Corinthian church had asked him about “young women who are not yet married”, probably in a letter he was sent.

In the culture then, a young woman’s parents usually would make decisions about whether or not their daughter(s) would get married.

As Paul writes to answer this question he specifically says “I do not have a command from the Lord for them” which means he didn’t have a direct teaching from Jesus to draw from. However this doesn’t mean that Paul’s words should be taken less inspired then the rest of this letter. Paul was giving advice because “the Lord and his mercy has given [him] wisdom that can be trusted.”

v.26, Paul advises that the young women should “remain as [they] are” which is unmarried. The reason was that it would be easier on them to be single during the “present crisis” I believe the present crisis was not so much the 2nd coming of Jesus (some scholars believe this) but more so the impending persecution that the Roman government would soon bring on the Christians.

v.27, Now Paul expands his advice to everyone and says “if you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married” which is to say don’t seek to divorce if you are married but don’t get married if you are not married. But why? Paul’s reasoning again was what he said in v.26, it would be difficult to be a Christian in the Roman empire’s coming persecution, so wherever you are stay focused on the Lord and sharing the Gospel and not on your personal life.

 v.28, Paul doesn’t want to be misunderstood so he goes on to say “if you do get married, it is NOT a sin.” Same for young women if they get married it is not a sin. He doesn’t want those reading his letter to think it was sinful to get married, this would be inconsistent with all the other Scriptures. Paul was simply trying to “spare [them] those problems” and “trouble” that come with marriage. We all know that people who are single have just as many problems, so Paul is not saying only married people have all the problems, or more problems, no he was talking again about the impending persecution and he wanted all the believers at Corinth to be able to let go of everything in their faithfulness to God–it would be much easier without the attachment of marriage, so he advised those who were not yet married to stay that way, but if they chose to get married it was not a sin or wrong.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? I think this is Paul again making us realize that we need to stay where God has us, not just married or unmarried (but other lots in life) and focus all our energy on serving him wherever we are. So it comes back to being content where I am but more importantly focussing my energy and time on serving God and telling others about Christ.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I need to pray for my unsaved friends, in the meantime continue to serve God where he has me, but pray for opportunities where God opens doors for me to share the Gospel with my unsaved friends and family.

November 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM 2 comments


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