Ephesians 2.14-18: A new person
Paul now lays out a vision of reconciliation between two hostile groups (Jews and Gentiles) who are now “one new person” in Christ.
Getting to Know you: Think about your parents. List out some of the opposites the two of them embody [ex: He is quiet, she talks all the time; He is Buddhist, she is Jewish]. How do their opposites shape their relationship? Do their opposites create tension? Balance? Tragedy? Comedy?
Getting to know the Bible: Read Ephesians 2:14-18
One of the key purposes of the Jewish law was to set the Jewish people apart from non-Jewish people [Gentiles], signifying their belonging to the Lord. In verse 14, “both groups” refers to Jews and non-Jews. How might the Jewish law and history have developed hostility between these two groups?
What do you think it would have meant to the Jews for Christ to break down the dividing wall between them and non-Jews? What might it have meant to non-Jews?
How do I apply myself to this message?
Consider one person in particular with whom you experience hostility. If Christ has “created in Himself one new humanity in place of two, thus making peace,” how might this call you to think of, feel about, or treat this one person in a new way?
Getting to know the Bible: Read Isaiah 56:1-8
What strikes you?
What do these verses say about what God’s intentions towards non-Jewish people were before the time of Christ? How broad is God’s invitation of love?
What picture do these verses paint with regards to how reliable or constant God’s commitments are to people He brings near?
How do I apply myself to this message? Especially in the book of Isaiah, the instruction to “keep the Sabbath” has a lot to do with avoiding behavior/actions that are unjust. [see Isaiah 58] Consider verses 6-8. Could the description of “the foreigners” here apply to you? Do you feel “gathered”? How does this inform how you could live your life differently?
Getting to know the Bible: Read Galatians 3:27-29
What strikes you?
Recall the opposites you described about your parents. Consider other dividing lines in our culture [race, 1% or the 99%, male/female, etc.]. How significant is it that Christ could make “one out of two” in all of these instances?
How do I apply myself to this message? Do you belong to Christ? What do these verses mean for you?
Getting to know the Bible: Re-Read Ephesians 2:14-18
What might have been the effect of these groups’ mutual access “in one Spirit to the Father”?
Have you ever seen Jesus bring reconciliation between two hostile parties? [two people, two groups?] What did that look like? How did it make you feel to witness that?
How do I apply myself to this message? Do you have an opportunity to pursue reconciliation, empowered by the peace of Christ? What steps can you make this week to act of this opportunity?