International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 9, 2012
Purpose: To affirm the ways in which God's grace has erased barriers, artificial and real, between persons
Scripture Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
Ephesians 2:11-22 (CEB)
(11) So remember that once you were Gentiles by physical descent, who were called “uncircumcised” by Jews who are physically circumcised. (12) At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. (13) But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
(14) Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. (15) He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. (16) He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.
(17) When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. (18) We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. (19) So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. (20) As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. (21) The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. (22) Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This lesson is very appropriate for this time of the year when there is a lot of talk about “peace on earth.” Paul was also interested in peace; he was looking for peace between the Jews and Gentiles.
An interesting note about this passage, you can divide it into three parts. Verses 11-13 are all about a “you,” narrative, verses 14-18 talks about “us” and “our.” Verses 19-22 reverts back to “you.”
Paul was a very good, believing Jew that had followed all of the laws, and understands that Gentiles were never included in the promises made to Abraham, Moses, or David. They had never received the covenant of “circumcision” He also is aware of the “new covenant” made in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (31) The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. (32) It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the LORD. (33) No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. I will put my instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (34) They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the LORD!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.
Paul explained how at one time, Gentiles were on the outside, without hope, they had no God and no hope, until the coming of the Messiah, Christ, (which is the Greek word for Messiah.) The life ministry and a death on the cross changed everything for the Gentiles and Jews as well, now all were also included in this new covenant made by God. Paul affirms that it is the “blood of the Messiah (Christ) that has changed everything.
There is no more “you and us” now we are all one, all believers Jew or Gentile, are now a part of “The family of God.” The sacrifice made by Jesus the Christ removed all the barriers and hatred that had existed between Jew and Gentile. The rule of the Law was canceled by the Messiah's death on the cross.
Unfortunately not all Jews accepted Jesus the Christ as also being the promised Messiah. Of course not all Gentiles accepted Christ as the savior, redeemer that could take away all the sins of the world, as well as the One that could bring real peace to all nations.
The good news for everyone is that all of us now have access to the Father through Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. The sad news is that not everyone has accepted that fact or allowed Christ and the Holy Spirit to control of their lives.
The last verse of our text is a hard lesson for all of us. Christ is building each of us into a place where God can live, through the Spirit. Our call is to be Christ, to the rest of the world, to bring about peace, and make everyone aware of the salvation that has been made available to all. I am the Church you are the Church, as believers we are all temples dedicated to the LORD.