Category Archives: EPHESIANS 2

The apostle first of all shows the relationship of Jew and Gentile to God, and then the relationship of believing Jew and believing Gentile to one another.

EPHESIANS 2

SURVEY OF THE CHAPTER
Chapter 2 continues the theme of the exaltation of Christ, but whereas in 1:19-23 it was the power of God as it was exercised in relation to Christ, lifting Him to supreme heights of glory, in 2:1-10 it is the power of God as it is exercised towards those who believe.
The passage may be divided into two sections, verses 1-10, and verses 11-22, and these sections may be thought of in relation to one another as follows:
(i) In verses 1-10, the emphasis is on dealing with the relationship of Jew and Gentile to God, whereas in the remaining verses it is the relationship of Jews and Gentiles to one another.
(ii) In both sections there is a change, for we read in verse 10, that those who believe from both Jew and Gentile have come into the good of God’s salvation. And in the second half, that those who believe, whether Jew or Gentile before, are brought into a right relationship with one another.
(iii) In the first section the emphasis is on the similarities between Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners. In the second section the differences between each group are stressed.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1 TO 3:

2:1 And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-3 The degradation of the sinner.
(b) Verses 4-10 The salvation of the sinner.
(c) Verses 11-12 The poverty of those who were distant.
(d) Verses 13-18 The process of being made nigh.
(e) Verses 19-22 The privileges of those who are made nigh.

(a) Verses 1-3 The degradation of the sinner

We shall find in these verses that man is dead, deceived, disobedient, depraved, and doomed. Verse 4, however, will begin with the words, “But God”, and will show that He has the answer to man’s condition.

2:1 And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

And you hath He quickened- these words are in italics in the Authorised Version, having been supplied from verse 5 to give the sense. Christ was for three days and nights dead in a grave, but was raised from the dead by God, 1:20. Furthermore, God elevated Him to His own right hand, far above all angelic beings. Now God in mercy turns to deal with the condition of sinners, and, wonderfully, determines to link those who believe with His Son, so that they too are raised and elevated.
Who were dead in trespasses and sins- Christ was dead literally, but sinners are dead morally. Trespasses are false steps, blunders, acts that are contrary to Divine Government. Sins are a missing of the mark, a falling short of the glory of God, and an offence to God’s nature.
God had plainly warned Adam that the day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die, Genesis 2:17. Although Adam lived to be 930 years old, he nonetheless died morally the day he sinned, for he was cut off from the life of God, and so was dead.
The idea of death is used in four ways in Scripture, as follows:
1. There is moral death, the separation of the sinner from communion with God. The apostle describes it as being “alienated from the life of God”, Ephesians 4:18.
2. There is physical death, the separation of the spirit of a man from his body, James 2:26.
3. There is carnal death, the separation of the believer from the enjoyment of spiritual things, in accordance with the words of Romans 8:13, “for if ye live after the flesh ye shall die”. In other words, just as the prodigal son was said by his father to have been dead whilst he was in the far country, separated from the joys of the father’s house, Luke 15:24, so the believer, for as long as he lives carnally, is not able to enjoy spiritual communion with his Father, and in this very precise and restricted sense, is said to be dead. Of course the true believer, whether carnal or spiritual, is eternally secure, because his salvation does not depend on him but on Christ. Nonetheless he can be dead to the joys of the spiritual life.
4. There is also, for the unrepentant sinner, the second death, for the solemn words of Revelation 20:16 are, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”, and in 21:8 we read, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerors, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”.

The preposition “in” is Dative, and has the sense of “through”, or “in respect of”. So the trespasses and sins showed up the fact that man is dead to God. If he lived to God he would not habitually sin. It is clear from Genesis 3 that even as a sinner Adam could interact with God. He was in a state of unbelief, but that did not mean that he could not repent of that position, and start believing. Man believes with the same faculty as he disbelieves. Some teach that man is totally depraved, in the sense that he cannot respond to God at all. They say that man must be totally cast upon the mercy of God. But if he cannot respond in faith, neither can he cast himself on God. Faced with this dilemma, some say that man must be born again before he can believe. But God does not bestow eternal life on unbelieving sinners. When Nicodemus was confronted with the idea that he must be born again, he asked, (and remember he was dead in trespasses and sins when he asked the question), “How can these things be”? The force of this question is, “How can these things become my experience?” He saw clearly that the new birth was entirely of God, so how did it become a reality? The answer soon came to him, that it was “whosoever believeth in Him” that has eternal life. Faith in a crucified Saviour is the way eternal life is received; and to receive eternal life is to be born of God.

2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Wherein in time past- the apostle will now show what being in trespasses and sins involves, hence the word “wherein”, or “in which condition”. Note the reference to “time past”, and then in verse 4, “but God”, and then “in the ages to come”, in verse 7.
Ye walked according to the course of this world- although dead to God, we were very much alive to the world. The word for world is “cosmos”, an organised system. We might think the world to be chaotic, and in one sense it is, but in another it is organised around the central idea of rebellion against God. And unbelievers are active in this environment; in fact their whole manner of life, (conversation) is governed by it.
Like a river, humanity is hemmed in by the banks on either side, unable to break free. Men are living their lives in accordance with the way the world is, with no ability to escape.
According to the prince of the power of the air- not only are men drifting down the river of humanity, hemmed in by its banks, and following the course of the river wherever it goes, but there is a worse thing. The position of those banks, or, in other words, the course they are forced to go, is determined by Satan himself, who is the prince of this world, John 14:30, and who sees to it that men live their lives according to his dictates.
The emphasis is not on the personal name of this evil being, but on his power and his activity. He is a prince, indicating that he holds first place in the hierarchy of the forces of evil. He is the one who, as Lucifer, had rebelled against God at the beginning, and had influenced a third of the angels of heaven to likewise rebel, Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17; Revelation 12:4. He is also called the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4, because unwittingly, men further his interests, and so glorify him as if he were God.
He is the prince of the power of the air, meaning that those evil forces that he controls operate in the air surrounding this planet. There is no part of the globe not enveloped by the air, and so there is no part that is not under the influence of these evil agents.
The spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience- being a spirit, this prince can work unseen, and is able to influence men in various ways, filling their minds with ideas contrary to the word of God. It is not normal for him to speak directly to men, but he uses things like the media, a powerful way of instilling his rebellious thoughts into men’s minds. They do not realise this is happening, but happen it does, for men are called children of disobedience. The principle of disobedience that is part of our sin-nature, is constantly supplied with material which encourages further disobedience. So it is that Adam has begotten many children who have the same disobedient attitude as he manifested when he first fell.

2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh- so the condition described in verses 1 and 2 is not limited to the heathen; it was true of the nation of Israel, even in the “times past” when they knew God’s direct intervention in their affairs as a nation. So occupation with religion, even a religion ordained of God, does not save from this situation. Religion cannot deal with our sin-nature, which works itself out in the lusts of the flesh. Instead of having desires after God, the sinner has strong desires for sinful things. The flesh is self, with its sin-principle within.
Fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind- the apostle now describes the Jews as fulfilling the desires of the flesh. They did not simply lust after sinful things, but went further and fulfilled and satisfied their lusts. The flesh would emphasise the sensual side of man, whereas the mind would emphasise the intellectual side. There are those who are refined and cultured, and not at all attracted to the baser impulses in man. These too must learn that they are dead in trespasses and sins, and also are under the influence of the enemy of God, Satan himself. For “there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:22,23.
And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others- whatever the outward appearance, it is what man is by nature that matters. We learn here that the nature of man, sinful and corrupt as it is, is the object of the wrath of God. To be a child of wrath by nature is to be the product of a nature that merits God’s wrath.
Summing up these verses, we can say we were:
Dead in trespasses and sins, and cut off from the life of God.
Deceived by the prince of the power of the air, rejecting the truth of God.
Disobedient because of our link with Adam who disobeyed God, Romans 5:19, and rebellious towards the government of God.
Depraved because of our lusts, and contrary to the holiness of God.
Doomed to endure the wrath of God for all eternity, because of the justice of God.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 4 TO 10:

2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,
2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
2:7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

(b) Verses 4-10 The salvation of the sinner.

In verses 4-5a we have the motive for God working. In verses 5b-6 there is the method of God’s working, and in verses 7-10, the manifestation of His working:

2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,

But God- it is only when God intervenes that the situation can be remedied. His power is greater that Satan’s, and He triumphs in the salvation of sinners.
Who is rich in mercy- this is pity to those in need, illustrated by the Good Samaritan, who “had compassion on him”, Luke 10:33. Satan has no compassion, for he drags men down. God lifts men up in Christ. As Hannah sang, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory”, 1 Samuel 2:8.
Notice that He is not simply merciful in a limited way, but is rich in mercy, lavishing His riches on those who believe, so that they possess “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”, 1:3.
For His great love- in verses 1-3 the light of God’s person shone upon us, exposing our sinfulness, but now the warmth of God’s love is known. His rich mercy is on the basis of, and to further the cause of, His great love. As the apostle John wrote, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”, 1 John 4:10. If sending His Son to die under His wrath was not enough to prevent Him loving us, then certainly nothing else is.
Wherewith He loved us- God’s love is not a theoretical idea, but a practical reality. His love has been expressed. It is clear that the apostle is referring now to those who had believed, for it is only these that know the love of God described here. We should distinguish between God’s general love for men, expressed in the giving of His Son at Calvary, (notice the past tense in John 3:16, “loved”, referring to an historical event), and His particular and special love for His children. God does not, (and indeed cannot), love sinners with the special love He reserves for those who have become His children through faith.

2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Even when we were dead in sins- so this personal love of God for His children began before they knew Him, for they were foreseen as those who would believe. Our state of being dead was no obstacle to God, for He was determined to bless.
Hath quickened us together with Christ- this shows that the reference in verse 4 onwards is to believers only. There is no mention of Calvary here, but it is implied in the fact that Christ was quickened and raised from the dead. Christ was quickened from the dead; those who would believe were reckoned in the mind of God as having been quickened together with Him. It awaited the moment of their conversion for this to become a reality. Only God’s love could motivate Him to do this; only His mercy would allow Him to do it.
(by grace are ye saved)- this is a salutary reminder of what verses 1-3 have told us about our condition. The apostle is immediately cautioning us to not think we have in some way merited God’s love and mercy. Far from us deserving this intervention, it is only on the ground of God’s grace (His unmerited favour), that it is available. He will return to this matter in verse 8.
There are three words used in this passage to express God’s attitude:
Grace is favour to the undeserving.
Mercy is pity to the needy.
Kindness is goodness in action.

2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

2:6 And hath raised us up together- not content with quickening us together with Christ, He raised us up as well, lifting us up from the grave of trespasses and sins we were in.
And made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus- there is more to being raised than this, however, for He was raised up to heaven, and so are believers, in the mind of God, and in association with Him. But there is still more, for He has been seated at God’s right hand, and this position is shared by believers, too. We are seated in Him now, (that is, His position is representative of our position), and we shall be seated with Him in a day to come. There surely cannot be any doubt as to the eternal security of the true believer, if he is already seated in Christ in heaven. Nothing can dislodge Christ from His position, so nothing can dislodge the believer. This all happens in reference to Christ Jesus, the ascended and glorified man. By raising us up out of death in trespasses and sins, God also raised us from walking according to Adam’s world. We have been removed from his influence, and brought into the sphere of influence of Christ Jesus.

2:7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

That in the ages to come- the eternal ages will all be needed to fully tell how rich His unmerited favour has been. Each age will beget another, and eternity will unfold the wonder of God’s purpose. God’s ultimate purpose is to glorify Himself, and this He will do throughout all eternity. Just as He has expressed Himself partially in the different ages of time, so He will do so perfectly in the varied ages of eternity.
He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us- the reason why He has dealt with us in kindness, is so that His grace might be magnified through all eternity. Divine kindness is the practical outworking of His heart of love towards us, motivated by grace, the desire to favour and bless. God will see to it that there is eternal remembrance of His kindness toward us as believers. It will take all eternity to tell it out.
Through Christ Jesus- this is the major reason why all eternity will be needed, for the workings of God’s grace are all channelled through Christ, and so the unfolding of His glories is involved.

2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

For by grace are ye saved through faith- the apostle needs to reinforce this lesson about grace, because man proudly thinks that he has some merit before God. The apostle feels the need to make it very clear, before the ages to come start their course, that the position the believer will occupy in heaven is entirely of God’s grace and kindness, and not at all of our effort. Faith is indeed necessary, but in itself has no value- its value lays in the one believed.
And that not of yourselves- the position of being saved by grace on the principle of faith is totally of God’s doing, and we have no input at all. There are those who devise their own way of dealing with themselves as sinners. They invent a religion of their own, and vainly hope that because it satisfies them, it satisfies God. The apostle decisively condemns such an approach.
The exercise of faith is not a work, since elsewhere the apostle contrasted faith and works with the words, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness”, Romans 4:4,5. Faith is ceasing from work, and resting in Christ. Grace is not of works, either, as Romans 11:6 shows, in the words, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace”.
The gender of the word “that” would indicate that it refers to the whole phrase “salvation by grace through faith”, and not simply to the word faith.
It is the gift of God- the blessing of being saved by grace is God’s gift to those who believe. So the apostle cautions us against thinking we have merit, by saying “by grace”. He cautions us against thinking we have no responsibility, by saying, “through faith”.

2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Not of works, lest any man should boast- not only is salvation not of us, in that we are not worthy in ourselves to gain it, but it cannot be worked for, even by those who own up to the fact that as persons they are not worthy. Heaven will indeed be filled with those who boast, but it is a boasting or glorying in God that they are occupied with, not self-congratulation. As was said of Abraham, “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness'”, Romans 4:2,3.
So salvation is positively, by grace and through faith; negatively, is not of ourselves, and not of works.

2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works- far from being self-made, believers are God’s product, for, as those who are part of the new creation, (which new creation comes about because of the work of Christ at the cross and His subsequent resurrection), they are a new creation in Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:17. It is in the context of who He is to the Father, and what He has done for the Father, that believers are created anew.
Believers are to be occupied with good works, for that is what they have been created for; it was God’s goal when He did it. This will ensure that in eternity, God will be the more praised. He works through our works, so that His work may be magnified and His name glorified.
Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them- in subsequent passages in the epistle, the apostle will speak of walking worthy of the calling, 4:1; of walking unlike the Gentiles, 4:17; of walking in love, 5:2; of walking as children of the light, 5:8; and of walking circumspectly, 5:16. These kinds of behaviour will result in works done for God’s glory in eternity to come, remembering that they were foreordained in eternity past, for it was God’s purpose that they should be engaged in. How noble a task it is to walk and work in harmony with Divine and eternal purpose! No wonder the apostle needed to pray that the believers might understand these things better, for they are so immense that it is impossible to take them in, or work them out in practice, apart from Divine help.

Having spoken of Jew and Gentile in relation to God, we come now to the second section of the chapter, in which the apostle explains how Jew and Gentile may be brought together into harmony with one another.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 11 TO 12:

2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

(c) Verses 11-12 The poverty of those who were distant.

2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

Wherefore remember- the apostle now builds upon what he has taught in the previous verses. The word “wherefore” introduces a logical connection with something that has gone before. (The word “therefore” introduces a logical conclusion to what has gone before). He had spoken of the slightly different circumstances in which the Jews and the Gentiles had come into the good of the inheritance, in 1:12-14. He had then begun the next section with a “wherefore”, and revealed the things he was praying for, the third thing being that they would know the greatness of the power that wrought in Christ when He was raised from the dead and seated in heavenly places. Having shown in verses 1-10 the way in which God has associated us with Christ in His elevation, he now cautions us against pride and self-satisfaction, as if the Christian’s elevated position before God is in some way the result of his effort. Moses warned Israel that when they reached the Promised land they were not to think it was because of their righteousness that they were safely there. He said to them, “Speak not thou in thine heart…saying, ‘For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess the land:'”, Deuteronomy 9:4. In Deuteronomy 26:1-11 the ritual of the basket of first-fruits was established, and an Israelite was to express his gratitude to God for bringing him from bondage to freedom, by bringing the fruits of the land to God. Ephesians 2:1-3 shows very clearly that sinners have no claim upon God’s goodness, and so they also might well express their gratitude to God, especially since their blessings are on a far higher plane than Israel’s.
The Jewish readers of the epistle especially might have doubts as to the legitimacy of the apostle’s words, when he linked the Gentiles with the Jew in the sharing of the blessings and prospects of the gospel. He needs to show that it is indeed so, and this he proceeds to do.
That ye being in time past- the emphasised word “ye” indicates to us that the apostle is addressing believers who were formerly Gentiles. He had made this distinction between “ye” and “we” in 1:11-14. The phrases “in time past”, and “but now” of verse 13 show he is going to contrast their past position with their present condition.
Gentiles in the flesh- this is how they were born. The world of unbelievers is divided into Gentiles and Jews, the latter being descendants of Abraham, and a very privileged nation. Gentiles were not only “in the flesh”, meaning they had no relationship with God, but they were, by definition, under-privileged as Gentiles.
Who are called uncircumcision- this is how they lived, for to be circumcised was to be separated to God. Because they were not set apart from God, the Jews called them “the uncircumcision” in contempt. We can easily see even from this verse that there is a pressing need for peace to be made between these two parties, for they despise one another.
By that which is called the circumcision- the Jews were called “the Circumcision”, because God had instituted the rite of circumcision when He made a covenant with Abraham, the father of the nation. Sadly, for the majority it was only circumcision in name, and not in reality. This is reflected in the expression “called the uncircumcision”. He shows in Romans 2:28,29 that circumcision is in the heart, not in the flesh. His words are, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”.
In the flesh made by hands- so the Jew is in the flesh too, if he is not a believer. So his circumcision counts for nothing if he does not believe. The circumcision referred to here is one that is done by the hand of man on the flesh of man. It is pure ritual. Only those who have been cut off from Adam’s world by association with Christ crucified can say with the apostle, “We are the circumcision”, Philippians 3:3. This is “circumcision made without hands”, Colossians 2:11, for it happens when we repent, and the Spirit of God links us to Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. This is “the circumcision of Christ”, Colossians 2:11, for it is only known in connection with Him.

2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

That at that time ye were without Christ- the preposition used for “without” is one which means to be cut off from something or someone. To be cut off from Christ means to have no link with the Messiah of Israel. Being without Christ resulted in four disadvantages, which the apostle now sets out.
Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel- the Gentiles were not citizens in the theocracy of Israel with its freedom and honour. The word here translated “commonwealth” is translated “citizenship” in Acts 22:28. There it is in connection with Paul’s Roman citizenship; here it has to do with being part of the nation of Israel.
And strangers from the covenants of promise- the Gentiles were obviously strangers to the conditional covenant of the law given to Israel at Sinai, but they were strangers to covenants in which God gave unconditional promises too. The covenants of promise were not covenants that only had one promise attached to them, but were concerned with promises rather than prohibitions, as the law was. The covenants were as follows:
The covenant with Abraham to give him the land, Genesis 12:7.
The covenant with Abraham to give him a seed, Genesis 15:4.
The covenant in Deuteronomy 29 and 30 which promised blessing for the nation after they had returned after being scattered.
The Davidic covenant, which promised David the throne, 2 Samuel 7:12,13.
The New Covenant which was originally promised to the house of Israel, Jeremiah 31:31, and which will be operative for them when Christ reigns in a future day.
The reason why the Gentiles were strangers to these promise-covenants was that these were all centred in Christ, the True Seed of Abraham, for the apostle writes, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not ‘And to seeds’, as of many; but as of one, ‘And to thy seed’, which is Christ”, Galatians 3:17. So the promises were made to Christ as the True Seed of Abraham, but since the Gentiles were apart from Christ, then they had no claim on the promises.
Having no hope- where there is a promise there is hope, but the Gentiles, not having the promises, had no hope either. There seemed to be no prospect of the situation changing. Of course, we know from chapter three of this epistle that it was in God’s mind to bring Gentiles into blessing, but this was not known in Old Testament times, even by the prophets. The apostle testified before Agrippa, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God to our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” Acts 26:6-8. Paul testified, in effect, that Daniel 12:2 would come to pass, and the righteous in Israel would rise from the dead to enter the kingdom of Christ on earth. This was their hope, and the Gentiles had no part in it.
And without God in the world- this is a double disadvantage, for they were “in the world”, which is governed by the god of this world, and they had no relationship with the true God of heaven. Paul writes to the Galatians, “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods”, Galatians 4:8. They filled the void that God should have occupied, with the worship of idols, which are vanity and emptiness. So general is this ignorance of God, that the Gentiles are described as “the Gentiles that know not God”, 1 Thessalonians 4:5.
Of course there is a sense in which all men know God as Creator, for the apostle wrote, “because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God”, Romans 1:21. All men know intuitively that God exists, and that He has certain characteristics. The majority, alas, choose to ignore Him. So all know about God and His existence, but the Gentiles, as Gentiles, were not in a vital relationship with Him.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 13-22:

2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
2:14 For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
2:15 Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
2:16 And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
2:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

(d) Verses 13-18 The process of being made nigh.

2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

But now- things are radically different generally, now that Christ has died and been raised again. They are also radically different personally for those who have believed in Him.
In Christ Jesus– this is the title of Christ that emphasises that He is a risen ascended man. It was first used in Acts 19:4 to the disciples of John the Baptist that Paul came across in Ephesus. They had been baptised into the Jordan, confessing their sins, in order to prepare for the coming of Christ. This was as far as they had progressed, but under Paul’s instruction they realised that the Messiah had come, had died, had risen, and was ascended to heaven. It was to such a person that they were baptised the second time. Before, their hopes had been centred on an earthly Messiah, with an earthly kingdom; now their hopes were centred on Christ in heaven.
Those who are “in Christ Jesus” are linked with Him in such a way that where He is, and in what state He is in, they are too. So as earlier verses have shown us, the believer is quickened together with Christ, raised together, and seated together in heavenly places “in Christ Jesus”.
Peter made it clear on the Day of Pentecost that Jesus has now been made Lord and Christ. He was Lord before, Luke 2:11; John 4:1, and He was Christ before, Luke 4:18, (the word Messiah, or Christ, means “anointed”). Now these titles have been given a new dimension, and He manifests His Lordship and Christ-hood in fresh ways.
Ye who sometimes- that is, at one time. It is the same word as is translated “in time past”, in verse 2, and “in times past” in verse 3. Clearly the apostle does not mean that they were far off part of the time and not at others.
Were far off- they were far away from Israel promise-wise. To be without God and without Christ is to be truly far off from blessing. Of course, every sinner, Jew or Gentile, is far off from God, alienated from Him by sin, but in this context, to be far off is a comparative term in relation to Israel, who in verse 17 are said to be nigh.
Are made nigh- they were not just brought nigh as proselytes in Israel, (those referred to often as “the stranger that is within thy gates”). The nearness is that of those who are in Christ Jesus. If a Jew believes, he is in Christ Jesus; and if a Gentile believes, he is in Christ Jesus too. This nearness is in reference to Christ, and not to the religion of Israel which the proselytes of old time adopted.
By the blood of Christ- in 1:7 the blood of Christ secured the forgiveness of sins on a personal level. Now the blood of Christ deals with the distance between Jew and Gentile. As soon as Jew or Gentile have a saving interest in the blood of Christ, they are brought together by that saving interest. So the work of Christ (as implied in the phrase “the blood of Christ”), and the person of Christ, (as implied in the phrase “in Christ Jesus”), are the ground of nearness to one another.
The idea of the blood of Christ, the Messiah, was strange to both Jew and Gentile. To the Jew because he thought of the Messiah as a conquering hero, a warrior-king, subduing His enemies and reigning in glory, not hung upon a cross by their enemies. To the Gentile because the idea of a saviour who was crucified in weakness, and who had apparently failed, was folly to them. But the apostle is insistent here, that nearness comes through the blood of Christ.

2:14 For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

For He is our peace- Solomon, whose name means “peaceable”, could not even keep his own nation united, let alone Jew and Gentile. At his death his kingdom was rent into ten tribes and two tribes, 1 Kings 11:29-33. It is not a case, however, of administrative ability, or skill in handling people. This peace is vested in a person, for the unity is based on the common interest all believers have in Him.
Who hath made both one- He has brought about complete unity between the believing Jew and the believing Gentile. He prayed to His Father before He died, asking “That they may be one, even as we are one”, John 17:22, and that prayer has been answered. For every believer possesses eternal life, which is the life of God, so they are united in common possession of life of God. The oneness of God is based on the fact that His life is possessed equally by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the ground of their oneness, and therefore those who share that life have a share in that oneness.
And hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us- in the temple courts in Jerusalem there was a low wall, called “the middle wall of partition. “. It was 30″ high, and was surmounted by a wooden fence one cubit, (approximately 18”), high. As a result, the way was barred to Gentiles, but they could still view the temple buildings over the wall, and even children could see through the fence. No Gentile was allowed beyond this wall, and inscribed on the sections of the wall, (for there were gaps through which Israelites could pass), were the following words:
“No-one of foreign descent may pass the partition and encircling wall. Whoever is seized is himself responsible for his death which will follow as a result”.
These words were carved into creamy-white chalk, and were painted red. The threat of death was not an idle one. Some time after AD 6 the Romans withdrew the right of the Jews to execute criminals, but with one exception. They could still impose the death penalty on any Gentile who passed beyond the middle wall of partition, even if he was a Roman. This shows the importance of this wall, and the way it represented the radical difference between Jew and Gentile in the realm of religious privilege.
This explains the anger of the Jews against Paul, for they thought he had brought Trophemus, an Ephesian, past that barrier. “And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place’. (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophemus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple)”, Acts 21:27-29. As a result, we read, “And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they were about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul”, verses 30-32. We see the following things from all this:
1. The zeal with which the rule about the middle wall was preserved.
2. The great anger against Paul for supposedly bringing a Gentile into the temple courts beyond the wall.
3. The lack of reasonableness with which they hastily assumed what in fact was not true. With this we may compare the lack of justice in the trial of Christ.
4. That not content with expelling him from the temple precincts, they shut the doors. The site was cleared, the worshippers dispersed, the place was virtually empty, and all because of misinformed religious fervour.

Paul requested that he might address the crowds, and this he did in the Hebrew language, thus gaining their attention. He gave his testimony, and reached the point where he was telling how the Lord had sent him to preach to the Gentiles. Their response was the same as they had shown to Christ. They said of Him, “Away with this man”, Luke 23:18. They said of Paul, “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live”. They were clearly still of the opinion that since he had spoken of going to preach to the Gentiles, he was sympathetic to them, and saw no distinction between Jew and Gentile. To take a Gentile past the middle wall of partition, and to preach blessing to the Gentiles, was to the Jews one and the same, hence they called for his death again.
So it is that not only did the Jews see the wall as symbolic, so did Paul. And just as the Jews thought that Paul had virtually broken down the wall by his supposed action, so Christ has done so by His work at the cross, as the next verse goes on to show.

2:15 Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Having abolished in His flesh the enmity- when the Lord Jesus died on the cross He made blessing available on a totally different basis. No longer was blessing available only to those who came through the Jewish religion, (past the middle wall of partition, so to speak); it was open to all in Christ. It was by what He did in the flesh, and not through any empty ritual, that the Lord Jesus abolished the enmity that the middle wall of partition represented. Note the decisiveness and thoroughness of this action. The wall of partition is “broken down”, and the enmity is “destroyed”. These are not half measures. Just as the veil in the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, and thus was made completely useless for the purpose for which it was made, so Christ has thoroughly destroyed the enmity between believing Jew and Gentile that we see expressed in their attitude to Paul in Acts 21. He did this when He was impailed upon a cross because the Jews were hostile to Him. So He has used the expression of their hostility to destroy that hostility, as far as those who believe are concerned.
Even the law of commandments contained in ordinances- this is the explanation as to what the enmity was centred around. The law of Moses distinguished the nation of Israel from all other nations. As Moses said, “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgements so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Deuteronomy 4:7,8. The law represented the dividing line between Jew and Gentile, and this was symbolised by the wall of partition in the temple, beyond which no Gentile could pass to share in the privileges of Israel.
The law was contained in ordinances. In other words, the law was expressed by ordinances, and these ordinances were the cause of enmity. An ordinance seems to denote established practice based upon an original command. Thus, for instance, there was a command to keep the Passover, and it was to be kept as an ordinance, Exodus 12:17. So “law” links with the giving of the law at Sinai, whereas “ordinances” speak of the ongoing practice of what was commanded there. These things set Israel apart, and they were very jealous of their apartness.
By what He did on the cross the Lord Jesus has set aside the need for ordinances that help in the keeping of the law. It is not that He has abolished law as such, but has abolished the ordinances that were designed to express obedience to the law. We know from other Scriptures that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, Romans 10:4. He has not ended the law, as if it were evil, but He has ended the idea that law could be used to produce righteousness. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”, Galatians 2:21. It was because the law could not produce righteousness in sinners, that Christ needed to die. If the law could have produced righteousness He need not have died. The law is not revoked, but it is not the principle that governs the believer in his life. The words of the apostle are decisive, “ye are not under the law, but under grace”, Romans 6:14.
For to make in Himself, of twain, one new man, so making peace- He is the uniting centre, and those linked to Him are new creatures, not Jews and Gentiles. It is not that Gentiles are made religious, like Jews are religious. And it is not that Jews are made irreligious, as Gentiles are irreligious. It is not a question of compromise, but of new creation. The Gentile who believes is no longer a Gentile, with no privileges. The Jew is no longer a Jew, and exchanges Jewish privilege for Christian privilege. The new man is what the two, Gentile believer and Jewish believer, have both been made individually. It is not another name for the church. There is not a Jewish new man and a Gentile new man. Both Jew and Gentile have lost their own identity in favour of Christ. This is indicated by the expression “in Himself”; it is what each is in Christ that matters now. Before, it was what they were in themselves. Each is now a new man, and each is the same new man, and that new man is modelled after Christ, just as the old man is modelled after Adam. The new man is not expressly Christ Himself, but Christ reproduced in the believer. Adam was reproduced in us because we received a sinful nature by natural birth, whereas Christ is reproduced in us because we received a new nature at new birth.
If all believers, whatever their former religious background, are modelled on Christ, then that results in peace. When they were in the flesh Gentiles and Jews were opposed to one another, for there was enmity, but now the reverse is the case. Can Christ in one believer be at enmity with Christ in another believer? Such a thing is unthinkable. So if believers are not at peace with one another, then they must be exhibiting Adam, not Christ.

2:16 And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body- not only are the two united because of a common nature, but they are also united in the one body, the church, so the unity is both personal and communal. Not only does each have Christ as model, each has Christ as head of the body of which they form part. The body of Christ consists of all believers from Pentecost to the Rapture, and is the company of which He alone is the head.
By the cross- this reconciliation is on the solid basis of the work of the cross, so it is not a loose association, but one that is permanent and unbreakable. The cross is a doctrine, not a piece of wood. It is the truth that by what He did on the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus has set aside all that is of Adam, and by His resurrection introduced all that is of Himself and His Father. Because this is so, and because the enmity between Jew and Gentile sprang from them having the Adamic nature, when that nature is dealt with the enmity is dealt with as well.
Having slain the enmity thereby- Christ turned His own death into death for the enmity, for He dealt with the root cause of it. So the middle wall is broken down, the enmity is abolished, and the way it was done was by the cross. Just as breaching the middle wall of partition had a death penalty attached to it, so the destroying of the partition was by Christ bearing the death penalty on the cross.

2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

And came and preached peace to you which were afar off- Jonah preached to the Gentile Ninevites, as recorded in the book of Jonah, and then had a word for Israel, as recorded in 2 Kings 14:25. Significantly, it is Jonah that the Lord selects as an illustration of the fact that He is going to bless Gentiles as well as Jews. Consequent upon their continued refusal of Him, the Pharisees are told that they will receive no sign but that of the prophet Jonah, who, after a three days and three nights experience, went to Nineveh and preached to it. See Matthew 12:38-41. And so it came to pass, and the fact that Paul puts the preaching to the far-off ones first, highlights that the Jews have nothing to boast of, for they rejected the Messiah when He came exclusively to them.
The difference with Jonah, however, was that he did not preach peace, but judgement. God was at war with Nineveh because of its sin, but now, in Christ, God is reconciling the world, because of Calvary. So it is that Christ, through His sent-servants, preaches peace. We read in Mark’s gospel that “they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following”, Mark 16:20. In this way He preaches still.
And to them that were nigh- perhaps this is put last because it is the more surprising, therefore it is reserved as a climax. Unlike the Gentiles who were kept at a distance by the middle wall of partition, Jews could come relatively near to God in the temple courts.
The word of the Lord to the disciples was that they should begin preaching at Jerusalem, Luke 24:27, and so this is what they did. In the Old Testament, when a man was found dead, the city next to the slain man was held responsible, and the elders were required to slay a heifer as a sin offering, wash their hands over it, and say, “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood to thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them”, Deuteronomy 21:7-9. Now clearly the city of Jerusalem was the city next to the slain Christ, for He was crucified just outside its walls. The people, however, had cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children”, Matthew 27:25, thus saying the opposite of what God required to hear. How perverse this situation is, for it is Pilate who washes his hands, in verse 24.
But in His amazing grace He gives to Jerusalem the opportunity to reverse their decision. So it is that Peter exhorts those who were exercised about their sin to “save themselves from this untoward generation”, Acts 2:40. By confessing their guilt, they could come into the good of a sacrifice infinitely better than a heifer, and know God’s forgiveness, and clearance from the guilt of crucifying their Messiah. And it was to give them this opportunity that Christ came and preached to them that were near in terms of national privilege.

2:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

For through Him we both have access- the fact that Paul writes as if Christ personally comes to preach, highlights the fact that He is personally the way. When an easterner is asked the way by a traveller, instead of giving directions, he starts out on the way with him; thus the man becomes the expression of the way, and to follow him is to be on the way. So with the Lord Jesus, but in a much more intense way. He comes to men, Jew and Gentile alike, and offers to be “the way” for them, as long as they will acknowledge their sin, (which is the reason why they are not on the way in the first place), and believe in Him as the one who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me”, John 14:6.
Significantly, when Paul was accused of taking a Gentile past the middle wall, the doors of the temple were shut to him, Acts 21:30. But this does not matter, for he has access to God, as all believers do. Access is “a bringing or leading into the presence of another”.
This access is first of all for salvation, (“no man cometh unto the Father but by Me”, John 14:6), then for worship, (“let us draw nigh”, Hebrews 10:22), and then, ultimately, for entrance into the Father’s house in heaven, which is the context of John 14.
Note the difference between being nigh, and having access. Whilst the Jewish worshipper could come relatively near His God, he did not have full access to his God. But the Christian does, for he can approach into the holiest in heaven, Hebrews 10:19.
By one Spirit- the Holy Spirit dwells within believing Jews and believing Gentiles alike. This fact might be disputed by Jewish believers at first, which shows that Peter was wise to take men with him when he went to preach to Cornelius. They could act as witnesses of the effect the preaching had, for the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his company, and this was proved by the fact that they spoke in tongues, Acts 10:45,46. So the Spirit who came upon Peter and the others at Pentecost, now comes also on Cornelius and his friends. There is one Spirit, Ephesians 4:4, and He comes alike upon all who believe. It is by His agency we are enabled to cry “Abba, Father” as we draw nigh to God, Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:14,15. The doors in Solomon’s temple were of the olive tree, which yielded the oil which symbolised the Spirit of God, see Zechariah 4:1-6. This illustrates the access that the Holy Spirit gives as He encourages us to approach God.
Unto the Father- because the Son has been to earth, and been to the cross, He has made the way whereby sinners may have access to God. And He is known to them as their Father, because they are born of Him, and are therefore in His family. Abraham built an altar to the name of the Lord who appeared to him, Genesis 12:7. In other words, his approach to God was in line with the way God had revealed Himself. So believers address God in line with the way He has been manifested to them by the Son of God. This is why they address Him as “Father”. The Jewish prayer-books carefully avoided referring to God as Father, but the Christian has no such reservations.

(e) Verses 19-22 The privileges of those who are made nigh.

2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Now therefore- their present position is as a result of the foregoing movements of God towards them in Christ.
Ye are no more strangers and foreigners- as those who were formerly apart from Christ, they had no claim on the privileges of Israel. The inscription on the middle wall of partition spoke of those of “foreign descent”, meaning Gentiles. The two words used here do not so much signify distance geographically, but distance religiously. For the word “stranger” does indeed mean an alien, as in verse 12, but it can also mean a guest. The implication being that if you were entertained as a guest it was because you were not part of the household. So also with the word “foreigner”. It literally means “one who lives near”. So the apostle seems to be emphasising the fact that even if a Gentile were a guest or a neighbour in relation to a Jew, he was as far away as he could be in terms of privilege.
But fellow-citizens with the saints- notice the word “fellow”. It denotes that something is shared, and what is shared is citizenship. From being at enmity, they now are in fellowship.
The Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, verse 12, (the word commonwealth denoting citizenship in the theocracy of Israel), but now believing Gentiles are citizens on the same level as believing Jews. But is not citizenship in Israel that is in view, for believing Jews are no longer citizens of Israel, but of heaven; and so are believing Gentiles, on an equal basis.
And it is with saints that this citizenship is shared, even those who have been set apart by God for Himself. Those who have saved themselves from the untoward nation of Israel that crucified their Messiah, Acts 2:40. So they are not proselytes of Israel, (which is the nearest a Gentile could be to God in Old Testament times), but citizens of heaven.
And of the household of God- instead of being outsiders, with no relationship with God, they have become part of the family. But it is not the family of Jacob, the nation of Israel, but the family of God. Peter wrote to converted Jews and explained that they were now of the household of God as holy priests, 1 Peter 2:5, and now this is true of believing Gentiles too.
There is no mis-match between the idea of being of the household of God and being stones in a building, for the Old Testament word for stone and son was the same. Sons are the stones of a man’s house; the sons of Jacob formed the House of Israel.

2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets- in the passage just quoted, Peter describes believers as living stones, and he also describes Christ as the living stone. In other words, believers are made suitable to be linked to Christ, for they have received life from Him. It is no surprise then to be told here that in some way we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Being those initially responsible to preach the word to Jew and Gentile, they were the first to be laid. They themselves represent the doctrinal foundation upon which all believers rest. In Acts 2:42 we read that of new converts that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”. So believers were marked by steadfast observance of all that the apostles taught.
We should not miss the link which the Lord Jesus made between Himself as the Rock, and Peter as a stone. He had deliberately given Peter the name Cephas, meaning “a stone”, John 1:42, in view no doubt of what He would say later on about building the church. John interprets the word Cephas for us, for the Holy Spirit through the apostle is pre-empting any idea that Peter is the rock.
Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God. The response of the Lord was, “Blessed are thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, Mathew 16:17,18. In our zeal to deny that Peter is the foundation of the church, (a notion which is clearly not true, for “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”, 1 Corinthians 3:11), we should not ignore the fact that the Lord did put the name Peter, “a stone”, in close proximity to Himself as the rock. So Peter has something to do with the foundation, but is certainly not the foundation. We should bear in mind the following:

1. The Rabbis described Abraham as the rock on which the earth was founded, so the idea of a system built upon a person was not foreign to the Jews.
2. The word for Peter is “petros”, a masculine word meaning stone or rock. The word for rock is “petra” a feminine word which always and only means rock. A “petros” takes character from a “petra”, just as believers are said by Peter to be partakers of the Divine nature, (and God Himself is called a Rock in Deuteronomy 32:4,15,18,30,31).
3. Peter himself referred to the Lord Jesus as a stone when he was addressing the “builders” of Israel in Acts 4:5-13. It is true that the word he used, as also in 1 Peter 2:4,5,6,7,8 is “litho”. But this is the word that is used of the stones of the Temple in Jerusalem, Matthew 24:2, and he also uses it of Christ in his quotation from the Old Testament in 1 Peter 2;8.
4. Peter personally would be a poor foundation, since he is called Satan in Matthew 16:23.
5. Peter refers to Christ as a Living Stone, and believers as living stones built upon Him, 1 Peter 2:4,5. It is not possible for Peter to be the foundation, and also be built on the foundation.
6. Pope Pius 4th decreed that nothing should be taught that the fathers are not agreed upon. They are evenly divided, and Augustine changed his view, and said all should believe what they like about it! The statistics are as follows: 17 of the Fathers said the rock was Peter; 44 said it was Peter’s faith; 16 said the rock was Christ; 8 said that it was all the apostles. So we have a situation where the system which teaches that Peter is the rock on which the church is built, is undecided, and has decreed that if they are undecided the idea should not be taught.
We may safely conclude that the foundation of the church is Christ alone; that the apostles and prophets, being vitally important initial members of the church, may be seen as the first row of stones built upon the foundation, and then the other living stones are built on these. So as far as the church as a spiritual building is concerned, Christ is the foundation. As far a the doctrinal foundation is concerned, Christ is also the foundation, but inasmuch as the apostles were intimately linked with that doctrine, (taking character from Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16), then the apostle is justified in calling them a foundation too, but in a secondary sense.
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone- without any help from others, even apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ is the personal chief corner stone. The corner stone was the stone that joined two sides of a building together, giving alignment and stability to the structure. Because of its vital importance in this work, it was called chief. The apostle clearly has the temple of God in Jerusalem in his mind as he makes these statements. We have seen his allusion to the middle wall of partition, and now we find reference to the foundation of the building. The temple in Jerusalem was built on solid rock, and then the foundation stones were laid, including the chief corner stone, the one which linked two walls together. It is as the foundation stones in the first row relate to the chief corner stone, that the whole building is given straightness and a true line. It is noticeable how much of Christ’s prayer to His Father in John 17 is taken up with the apostles. He was concerned that they might be united in their testimony. His prayer was answered, and they formed the foundation as they taught the truth in relation to Christ. They did not give the building its stability, however; that came from the chief corner stone.

2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

In whom all the building- because the stones are living stones, they are individually, as to their position, in Him. As such they are stable and firm, for He is the corner stone. It is in Him alone, (“Jesus Christ Himself”, verse 20), that all the building grows, not in the apostles.
Fitly framed together- ancient stone-masons were able to square stones so skilfully, that when they were builded on one another, not ever a sheet of paper could be inserted into the joins. Such is the skill of the heavenly Temple-builder, that the powers of evil, (“the gates of hell”, Matthew 16:18), cannot make any inroads. There are divisions in abundance in Christendom, but there are none in the true church.
When Solomon’s temple was being built, the stones were fashioned away from the building site. Scripture says, “And the house, when it was in building, was made of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building”, 1 Kings 6:7. The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 8:16 reads, “Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the Lord, and until it was finished. So the house of the Lord was perfected”. So we see that the preparation beforehand was in view of the laying of the foundation, and also of its completion. Applying these principles to the church, we could say that in the mind of God the work of fitting stones for the church was done before those stones were actually laid. His people were on His mind in eternity, and He associated them with His Son, involving them in His glorious purpose. Then as soon as they believed they were fitted perfectly to be part of that purpose, with the rough edges of the Adamic nature chipped away, so that they conformed perfectly to Christ. Peter shows in 1 peter 2 that just as Christ is the living stone, so believers are living stones too, (“lively”, verse 5). Just as Christ is elect, (“chosen of God”, verse 4, “elect”, verse 6), so believers are elect, too, (“chosen”, meaning elect, verse 9). Just as Christ is precious to His Father, verse 4, so believers are a “peculiar people”, verse 9, meaning “a people for a possession”. So the “chief corner stone”, verse 6, Christ Himself, and those who are built on Him, are perfectly fitted together.
Groweth- a building may either grow as stone is placed upon stone, or it may grow in its beauty with the passing of time. It is the latter that is in view here. God has the church in its entirety in mind from eternity, but it is a church that will grow in dignity and maturity as the features of Christ become more evident in it. Because the stones are living stones, sharing the life of Christ, this can happen.
Unto a holy temple- notice it grows unto, not into, a holy temple. A building grows into something as it develops from incompleteness to completeness. This building, however, is complete from its inception, but grows unto that condition of things which glorifies God. It is not the quantity of stones that is to the fore, but their increasing quality. The goal is a spiritual, living building in which God can be at home. The Lord Jesus called the temple “My Father’s House”, John 2:16, but sadly He could find no home there. The church will be the house of God in eternity.
In the Lord- the holiness of the temple derives from the fact that it is the dwelling-place of the Lord; it is holy as being in Him, the Lord, whose authority repels all unholy elements.

2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

In whom ye also are builded together- they have not only been builded together perfectly as far as God’s purpose is concerned, but there is an ongoing building, for “builded together” is in the present; it is something happening as Paul writes, and this applies to the Gentiles as well as the truths of verses 19-21, for all those verses have the Gentiles in view. So as well as having been built, they are being built. So the “ye also” does not mean, “ye also, as well as Jewish believers”, (for he has not been contrasting Jew with Gentile in the last few verses), but rather, “ye also, as well as having been builded, are being builded together”. The emphasis is on the word together, and the building now is consolidated, with each living stone learning to relate to the others in a spiritual way.
For an habitation of God- the idea of being a temple, with its associations of glory and grandeur, now gives way to the idea of a habitation, which in the natural realm is a place where a man is at home and comfortable. As the living stones grow in maturity and Christ-likeness, then God feels more and more at home in the building.
Through the Spirit- the whole thing is a spiritual concept, and it is only by the power of the Spirit that we become increasingly a place for God to inhabit with joy. He ever associates with the glories of His Son, and so the more those glories are reproduced in the people of God, the more He can be at home.