United by Christ
11Don't forget that you are Gentiles. In fact, you used to be called “uncircumcised” by those who take pride in being circumcised. 12At that time you did not know about Christ. You were foreigners to the people of Israel, and you had no part in the promises God had made to them. You were living in this world without hope and without God, 13and you were far from God. But Christ offered his life's blood as a sacrifice and brought you near God.
14Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles, and he has united us by breaking down the wall of hatred that separated us. Christ gave his own body 15 to destroy the Law of Moses with all its rules and commands. He even brought Jews and Gentiles together as though we were only one person, when he united us in peace. 16 On the cross Christ did away with our hatred for each other. He also made peace between us and God by uniting Jews and Gentiles in one body. 17 Christ came and preached peace to you Gentiles, who were far from God, and peace to us Jews, who were near God. 18And because of Christ, all of us can come to the Father by the same Spirit.
19You Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens with everyone else who belongs to the family of God. 20You are like a building with the apostles and prophets as the foundation and with Christ as the most important stone. 21Christ is the one who holds the building together and makes it grow into a holy temple for the Lord. 22And you are part of that building Christ has built as a place for God's own Spirit to live.
Paul paints an incredible picture in this passage. We see a master builder at work: demolishing, laying foundations, putting in a cornerstone and building up walls to produce the grandest design of grand designs! The result is the most amazing temple, in which God dwells. Its firm foundations are the teachings of the prophets and apostles, its stones are the believers in Jesus and the cornerstone that holds the structure together is Christ Himself (v.14, vv.19-22).
The Divine Architect drew up His plans before the foundation of the world, but it was at an incredible cost. At the appointed time, the price for turning the design into reality was paid and this, of course, was the death of His beloved Son.
But Paul wants to encourage the Gentiles that they are equally a part of this building as the Jewish believers. This new Temple, the Church, is the fulfilment of all that the prophets had predicted in the Old Testament, that those among the nations who had faith would be joined with all who had faith in Israel.
He wants to leave them in no doubt as to their position in the Church, so tells them what Christ, their Good Shepherd, has done on their behalf: He has brought them near to God by dying for them (v.13), and has destroyed the commands and regulations of the Jewish Law (v.15). In addition, He has created in Himself one new humanity out of Jews and Gentiles, by destroying the barrier that divided them (v.16). So the Gentiles have every reason to have confidence in their position in Christ!
Tragically, Jesus’ death didn’t end hostility in the Church – some people still erect barriers, causing pain and discouragement to believers. How that must grieve Him.
Dear Father, Because Jesus prayed for the unity of His people, our hearts are stirred with concern for the witness of your Church. Help us to be one in our relationships and service. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.