Thought # 14 – “Identification: Who We have Now Become” (Eph. 2:19-22)
The Apostle Paul summarizes the reconciling work of Christ by saying the Gentiles are now joined together with the Jewish Christians in a new community, the Church. To illustrate our identity, Paul uses three word pictures: citizens, family, and stones in a temple.
Citizens of God’s Kingdom (Eph. 2:19). Paul tells the Gentiles that they are now, along with the Jewish Christians, are a part of the kingdom of God. They and we are no longer second class citizens in someone else’s territory. The Gentiles have the same rights as the Jews in a relationship with God.
Paul says in Phil. 3:20 that “our citizenship is in heaven…” As his subjects, we have privileges to enjoy and responsibilities to be carried out. Paul contrasts this citizenship with Roman citizenship, which was greatly prized in his time. Roman citizenship was prized and we must be striving to be live according to our spiritual constitution, the New Covenant Scriptures and serve, honor, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
The hymn writer writes these words: “I love Thy kingdom, Lord, the house of Thine abode…” We are in both the kingdom and the church.
Members of God’s family (Eph. 2:19b) One might imagine Jew and gentile together in a secular kingdom, to not in the same family. That would be stunning. In 1 Tim. 3:15, Paul says we are “God’s household.”
How are we one family? We have the same Father. We have free access to Him. The church so made up of adopted children. We have family responsibilities which are to bring glory to our heavenly Father. In 1 Tim. 5:1-2 Paul says that we should treat one another like family. Every member of the family has responsibilities and a role in God’s household.
Stones in God’s Temple (Eph 2:20-22) the third metaphor that Paul uses would have been vivid for his audience. The Jews were used to a physical temple in Jerusalem. Except for the Babylonian captivity and the early part of the Persian Empire there had been an earthly temple for nearly 1,000 years.
Paul says that the foundation of the temple is God’s Word. The church of the Lord Jesus stands or falls upon its faithfulness to God’s Word. Next we see the mention of the cornerstone. As the hymn writer says: “The Church’s One Foundation IS Jesus Christ, Her Lord…”
Paul likens people to stones. Peter calls us “living stones” (2 Pet. 2:5). Each member is added to the church. Both Jew and Gentile are now a dwelling place for God by the Holy Spirit. We are joined together and built together. We are related to each other and are growing together in Christ.
We need each other’s time, talent, treasure, love, resources, encouragement and rebuke. We are to live the Christian life together, entered in Christ and rooted in the teaching of Scripture.
-Larry Miles, August 14, 2015
Camp Cilca, IL