Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The House of God (Ephesians 2:11-3:13)

"Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20)

Having discussed the fact that all new covenant believers are united to Jesus Christ and are positioned at the right hand of the Father, Paul turns to one of the prevailing concerns of New Testament theology: the relationship of Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:11–22). In the old covenant period, God called Abraham and the Hebrew people to serve Him as priests to the other nations. The rite of circumcision was given to mark the Israelites, later called Jews, for this task. They were closer to God than other people, though they also were kept at a distance, not being allowed to enter the tabernacle and the temple. Only the Aaronic priests might enter those holy places, and only the high priest might enter the Holy of Holies, and he was only allowed in once a year.

Now all believers, being in Christ, have even greater access to God. Clearly, the distinction between Jew and Gentile must evaporate in the new covenant. No longer are some people nearer than others. Paul says that Gentiles were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). In fact, God-fearing Gentiles were not without hope and had access to God, even without being circumcised. But for the most part, and in essence, what Paul writes here was the case: the Gentiles were separated from God.

Paul writes that the new covenant church is the new temple and tabernacle, the new house of God. Unlike the old ones, from which both Jew and Gentile were excluded (except for the priests), in the new temple all are present as building blocks. The foundation of this new temple is the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New, with Jesus as chief cornerstone. The cornerstone is put down first to establish the location of the building. By its shape it establishes the line of its length and breadth. By its size, the cornerstone establishes the size of the building as well.

But the foundation in general consists of the writings of the prophets and apostles—in other words, the Bible. The liberals who treat the Bible as uninspired and seek to tear up the books into various “sources” are undermining the very foundation of the church.

In construction, the foundation is usually concealed or at least not easily noticed. But if the foundation is not properly established, the entire structure is compromised. In Matthew 5:17–18, Jesus affirmed the Scriptures as a sure foundation. Do likewise and reaffirm your confidence in God’s Word, its trustworthiness and strength.