The New Humanity in Christ

The New Humanity in Christ

This is an essay written in commentary format.  The attached document includes an outline of Ephesians, a clausal layout in Greek, an exegetical outline of Eph 2:11-22, commentary, and suggested application. 

Introduction

“If Ephesians is the crown of Paul’s theological writing, 2:11-22 is perhaps the central jewel; but like a beautifully cut gem it has a depth and subtlety that is not easily summarized.”[1]   God’s gospel of reconciliation and forgiveness is the very heart of Christianity.  This good news, that God is reconciling the world to himself through Christ, is the central theme of this passage.  A redemptive-historical framework under girds Paul’s logic as he repeatedly compares and contrasts the “then” and “now” effects for his Gentile readers that flow from the work of the cross.  God’s sovereign plan for all of history, formerly shrouded in the mysterious types and shadows of the old covenant, has now been accomplished and proclaimed through Christ’s entrance into history to decisively win the cosmic battle that has raged since the dawn of creation.  Ephesians 2:11-22 contains an exposition of the results of the work of Christ.  Through his death, Gentiles are no longer separated from God and Israel in hostility, but are now united with believing Jews as a new people of God, and are now at peace with God and each other in God’s new household.

Gentiles Now United to Christ and His People (vv. 11-13)

V. 11  Paul begins a new section of argumentation with the conjunction Dio. which signals that what follows is a conclusion to the previous pericope in 2:1-10.

Here Paul reminds the Gentile Ephesian believers that they were once considered unholy by the circumcised Jews.  The Jews looked upon the uncircumcised status of Gentiles with derision and basically ostracized them for not having the mark of the Abrahamic covenant that identified God specially chosen people.  But Paul adds a clarifying comment: the “circumcision” that the Jews possessed was made in the flesh by hands.  This is the first hint in this passage that the Jewish people are also in the flesh, just as the Gentiles once were.  Paul probably has in mind the contrast between the circumcision made with hands and that wrought in Christ (Col 2:11).  “This ‘man-made external circumcision’ he now depreciated; in one place he dismisses it as no better than mutilation (Phil 3:2).  What mattered in the sight of God was the circumcision or cleansing of the heart of which Moses and the prophets spoke (Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4), the ‘circumcision not made with hands’ or ‘circumcision of Christ.”[2]   The term “flesh” that Paul uses explicitly to describe the former condition of his Gentile audience and implicitly of those who are called the “circumcision” probably means in the context that the distinction between Jew and Gentile is no longer favorable in the sight of God.  It “underlines that the writer is making an ethnic distinction…based on a real physical difference, but also that from the Christian perspective of the writer this no longer counts as religiously significant.”[3]

Continue reading here.

Endnotes

[1] Max Turner, “Ephesians,” in New Bible Commentary, 4th ed. (ed. G. J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, R. T. France: Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1994), 1230.

[2] F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1984), 293.

[3] Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC 42; Dallas: Word Books, 1990), 135.

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One Response to The New Humanity in Christ

  1. Lina Quinsan says:

    what is the humanity of christ ?

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