Yesterday, I preached from Ephesians 2:11-22. There is much to learn and apply to our own divided world in our present church context. Our world is filled with walls of division. From divorce courts to racial divisions, we’re constantly bombarded with divisive attitudes and ideas. In recent days, Donald Trump has stirred up the political pot with his idea of a southern border wall along the Mexican border. In ancient days, walls and fences were a normal thing. You can still see old ruins of walls that separated royalty from the common people. Palaces and castles often had large walls that kept one class of people separated from others. You can still see that type of thing in our day in places like England where the royal family is kept secure behind large fences.
As Paul wrote Ephesians, his desire was to make it known to the Gentiles that they were not to be kept outside the dividing wall any longer. They were to be considered one with their Jewish brothers and sisters through the blood of Christ. This divisive mentality was thick among the Jews who considered the Gentiles to be savages and outcasts. Paul began in verses 11-12 by reminding the Gentiles of their past. One way to be filled with joy as a Christian is to be reminded of where you were when God came seeking you.
Paul explained that they were:
- Called the Uncircumcision
- Separated from Christ
- Alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel
- Separated from the Covenants of Promise
- Without hope
- Without God
What a gloomy picture. They could not understand God’s love and mercy to the Israelites. They were cut off from God and could not understand the language of grace. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explained, unbelievers can’t understand the things of God:
They can read their Bible and it does not move them. They can look at these ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ and say: To whom does this apply, what is all this about? They are strangers; they are like people from another country; they do not understand the language. 
Then, as Paul continued, he turned to encourage them regarding their position in Christ. Before Christ saved them, they were lost and without hope. Now, as Paul explains, they have hope and in this hope comes access to God through the blood of Christ. It was through the blood of Christ that they who were far off were brought near to God.
In the Jewish temple, the centerpiece of worship life for Jews, there were specific courtyards designated as boundaries for certain people. At the top was the Court of the Priests. Only male Jews of the tribe of Levi were permitted to enter this courtyard. As one traveled away, he would come to the Court of Israel where only male Jews were permitted to enter. Further back was the Court of the Women where any Jew was permitted, including women, but the women could not go beyond this point.
At this point, moving down one would travel down a section of five stairs to a five foot high stone boundary. This boundary circled the entire temple. On it was written these words, “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”  Still moving down another set of stairs, fourteen to be precise, one would finally reach the Court of the Gentiles. This was the boundary for all Gentiles – set on a much lower place – and cut off from the rest of the Jewish temple and worship area.
Paul explains that this was the way the Gentiles were before Christ saved them, but now they have access to God and unity with the Jews. Although they were once strangers and aliens to the covenants of promise, now they are included and have access to God. This was hard for the Jews to grasp, especially since they viewed Gentiles as being created to fuel the flames of hell. Yet, Paul was making it clear that the walls of division were abolished by Christ.
We can all expect the world to be harsh and abrasive to Christians. The world hates Christ and His church. Therefore, the followers of Christ should come into the church community with love and peace toward one another and seek to be an encouragement and support for one another along the journey of faith. Any attitude and motive of division in the church is unbiblical and labors against the unity that Christ established through His work on the cross.
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Way of Reconciliation: Studies in Ephesians, Chapter 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), 170.
- See J. H. Iliffe, “The ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ Inscription from Herod’s Temple: Fragments of a Second Copy,” Quarterly of Department of Antiquities in Palestine VI (1938), pp. 1 ff.
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