In the second part of this three part study, we look at the Man of Peace, and the peace He wrought.
The Man of Peace
It is interesting that while the blood of Jesus is mentioned in the preceding verse, Jesus is not presented as "the Lamb of God", but rather, as we shall see, "a new man, making peace". The Ephesians were Greek by culture, and would not have been so moved by the sacrifice of a lamb, but a man, a man whose very blood brought peace, that had a basis for connection in their mindsets.
14 for he is our peace, who did make both one, and the middle wall of the enclosure did break down, 15 the enmity in his flesh, the law of the commands in ordinances having done away, that the two he might create in himself into one new man, making peace, 16 and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, having slain the enmity in it (Young's Literal Translation)
14 αυτος γαρ εστιν η ειρηνη ημων ο ποιησας τα αμφοτερα εν και το μεσοτοιχον του φραγμου λυσας 15 την εχθραν εν τη σαρκι αυτου τον νομον των εντολων εν δογμασιν καταργησας ινα τους δυο κτιση εν αυτω εις ενα καινον ανθρωπον ποιων ειρηνην 16 και αποκαταλλαξη τους αμφοτερους εν ενι σωματι τω θεω δια του σταυρου αποκτεινας την εχθραν εν αυτω
Remember I said very early in this study that we must be careful with verse numbers and punctuation? This is one of those cases. I think the break between verses 14 and 15 should have come after "in his flesh" and before "the law of the commands". Why do I think that? I will get to that in a minute or two.
14 αυτος γαρ εστιν η ειρηνη ημων ο ποιησας τα αμφοτερα εν
Third person pronoun αυτος used in the substantive reference back to Jesus from verse 13. "He is our peace". Plain and simple, much like the bumper sticker "No Jesus, No Peace; Know Jesus, Know Peace". But is that a peace that makes us feel all quiet and content inside? A peace that keeps our blood pressure low? Or is it more than that? It is all of the above and more! ο ποιησας τα αμφοτερα εν "the One who made the both one", with the "both" referencing the Gentiles and the Jews, Jesus made them into one people: The Possession (Ephesians 1:14).
...και το μεσοτοιχον του φραγμου λυσας 15 την εχθραν εν τη σαρκι αυτου, which I suggest should simple be: ...και το μεσοτοιχον του φραγμου λυσας την εχθραν εν τη σαρκι αυτου, without the break for verse 15. I was confounded by the structure of this phrasing, and it was not until I removed the verse break (remember, such was not a part of the original text) that is made sense. It did not completely resolve the complexities, for this is a case of the flexibility of the Greek language not reading well into English. Literally translated, word for word, in order: "and the middle wall of the fence (enclosure implied) having destroyed the hatred in his flesh". Now here is where translation comes into play. How do we phrase this in English so that reads sensibly to us and does not violate its original meaning? We need punctuation, something not in the original text. Simply "and the middle wall of the enclosing fence having destroyed -- the hatred -- in His flesh". I see in this phrase "the middle wall of the enclosing fence" and "the hatred/enmity" as being the same thing, and Paul was clarifying this for the Ephesians. The hatred the Jews and Gentiles had toward one another was a wall that divided them. The Jews' access to the oracle so of God and the Gentiles being far away from the same was a wall that divided them. The sign of circumcision was another wall between them (this even created an argument in the early church, Acts 16). Unlike some other commentators (though they are more esteemed than me, obviously), I do not think this dividing wall was associated with the temple of Jerusalem, as the Ephesians would have no appreciation of such. The point Paul is trying to make here is that all the differences that divided them, which were very real spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially, have been destroyed "in His flesh", "by means of His flesh".
I think also of Paul's reference to our sonship in Christ being "predestined" (Ephesians 1:5),προορισας. If we look at the root of that word, οριζω, it means "to draw a line around, to set limits, to determine". The verb in Ephesians 1:5 says God pre-determined, drew a line or boundary around beforehand, us into His sonship. This included both Gentile and Jew, that God has chosen His possession of both Gentile and Jew, and even until Christ, God had a middle wall between the two groups enclosed in the boundary that is His Possession, which is also what Christ destroyed by means of His flesh.
τον νομον των εντολων εν δογμασιν καταργησας "...the law of the commandments in regulation made null/of no effect.". As the dividing wall was destroyed, so also was the Law nullified. The Law, possessed by the Jews, their banner of self-righteous (though in fact, our sin-teacher), was nullified, made of no effect. The Jews had nothing left to claim as a special right not possessed by the Gentiles. They are both now sheep of the same Shepherd, indistinguishable from one another.
ινα τους δυο κτιση εν αυτω εις ενα καινον ανθρωπον ποιων ειρηνην "...in order that the two (He) might create by means of Himself into one new man, making peace..." Jesus Christ brought the nature of man and the demands of the Law unto Himself, making peace between the two; making peace, because the two are polar opposites, and in doing so, He is the new man, the Eternal Son now also first-born of the redeemed.
"...και αποκαταλλαξη τους αμφοτερους εν ενι σωματι τω θεω δια του σταυρου αποκτεινας την εχθραν εν αυτω..." "and fully reconcile the two in one body to God, through the cross having put to death the enmity in Himself" The verb αποκαταλλαξη means to reconcile to the point that all is restored to its original harmony, as though no enmity ever existed -- no scars, no wounds, no memories -- fully and complete restoration. This added emphasis comes from placing the preposition απο (back, from) as a prefix to the verb καταλλασσω "I reconcile". The compound word means "to reconcile or restore all the way back, from the current state to the original state". The phrase δια του σταυρου reminds us that the final means, the landmark event, the milestone, the passage for this reconciliation is the cross. The complete reconciliation is not possible apart from the necessity of the cross. There are no other ways for this reconciliation to take place. For it is through the cross alone that the great enmity between Jew and Gentile, more importantly, God and man, was put to death -- not just nullified, not voided, not rendered ineffective, but put to death once and for all. This, Jesus -- the New Man -- did in Himself through His suffering and death on the cross.
The enmity destroyed, the peace restored.
Grace and PEACE,
PS: Part III will be posted in a couple of weeks; as I am preparing to preach at an evangelistic event in Romania this coming weekend.