The Glory of Jew and Gentile Joined in the Church: Ephesians 2:11-22
As we continue our study on the blessings that every believer has in Christ, we move to another interesting statement by Paul in verse 14. Paul says that God “has made both one, and broken down the middle wall of partition that is between us.” We cannot be absolutely sure what Paul is referencing when he mentioned a middle wall of partition, but some commentators believe he is referring to a wall located in the temple during the time of Christ that separated Jews and Gentiles in worship. This wall actually warned Gentiles, that a decision to pass could lead to their death. No matter how you understand that statement, there were major issues in the early church because Jews desired to maintain these inter-testamental practices of distinction. Peter was rebuked by Paul for the way he treated Gentile believers in the church in Galatians 2:11. He was withholding fellowship from his brothers. In Acts 10, God used a vision before Peter to convince him not to view the Gentiles as unclean. The Jerusalem counsel in Acts 11, was focused on the relationship of Gentiles to Jews in the church as well as their relationship to the law. The Jewish uproar in the temple that nearly cost Paul his life in Acts 21, was instigated when the Jews believed that Paul took Gentiles in to unauthorized sections of the temple during the Jewish Feast. Samaritan’s and Gentiles were viewed by Jews including the disciples as unclean, all throughout the gospels. The strained relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the inter-testamental period as well as the early church in undeniable, yet what is God’s heart toward the nations both Jew and Gentile?
Think about Rahab a harlot in Jericho, and Ruth the Moabite. What about God’s mercies toward the widow who sustained Elijah at Zarephath, in 1 Kings 17, or Nineveh’s repentance and God’s grace recorded in Jonah? Does God love all men, both Jew and Gentile? The answer is absolutely yes. The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s grace on the Gentiles, and God’s desire for Gentile’s to be His people. Psalm 96 commands “all the earth to sing unto the LORD,” and God commands His people to “declare his glory among the heathen, and his wonders among all peoples.” We are to say “among the heathen that the LORD reigns.” These words, teach us that God has a heart for all people groups, even in the Old Testament. We could look at many more examples, but one I read recently in Isaiah really grabbed my attention. If you read the chapters leading up to Isaiah 19, God exposes the absolute wickedness and lawlessness of Israel and those nations whom God would use to chasten His people. The details are so graphic, that if you read it carefully you feel that you have lost all sense of modesty. Israel, Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon were ruthless, godless people, yet notice what God says He will do in the last days.
Isaiah 19:25 says that in that day, God will say, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” God is going to gather a people as His own before His throne from every kindred, tribe, and nation. Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be His people in that day. He has made both Jew and Gentile one. This is the beauty of the mystery of the church! This is God’s amazing grace.