“He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Let’s review the previous verses so we can see what these verses are talking about. In Ephesians 2:13-15, Paul writes about Christ tearing down the dividing wall of hostility between the Jew and the Gentile, creating a new man and this resulting in peace. Now we are going to see why he did this.
In verse 14, the hostility was between the Jew and Gentile. Once he created the one new man from the two, in verse 16, it says, “He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death.” This hostility was between God and man. It is a mutual hostility. Stott writes in his commentary, “It is not just that our attitude to him has been one of rebellion; it is also that his wrath has been upon us for our sin. And only through the cross have both hostilities been brought to an end, for when Christ bore our sin and judgment on the cross God turned away his own wrath, and we, seeing his great love, turned away ours also.”
The next verse says, “He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” Paul is writing this to the church at Ephesus, who were Gentiles, so the “you” here is referring to the Gentile believers. The “those who were near” were the Jews.
In my last blog post, we looked at the word peace. We see it again here. In verses 14-17, we see peace three times. The first time is in verse 14, where Paul tells us that Christ is our peace. He tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In verse 15, he created a new humanity, so he made peace. And in verse 17, he proclaimed the good news of peace. This was done after the work of the cross, so this is not talking about his earthly ministry. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, he said, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20: 21). He sent them out to make disciples of all the nations. In the passage that is referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus told his disciples, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20). Jesus’ followers will now carry on his message of peace. He is our peace and the origin of our peace. He brought about our peace. And he preached peace. Ray Steadman, in his commentary, writes, “Here we will see him in fulfillment of that prophecy in Isaiah 9 ‘…his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…’” (Isaiah 9: 6 RSV).
The last part of this passage states, “For through him, we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Here is a clear mention of the Trinity. We have access to the Father, through the Holy Spirit, because of Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross. Before Jesus’ death on the cross, only the high priest had access to God. He had to go into the Holy of Holies in the temple and was only allowed to go in once a year. It was separated from the rest of the temple by a heavy veil. You can read about it at gotquestions.org by typing “Holy of Holies” into the search engine. When Jesus died on the cross, this veil was ripped in two. Matthew describes it this way. “But Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matthew 27: 51-52). We now have access to God because of Jesus’ death on the cross. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” We now can go straight to God without a high priest interceding for us.
All the verses in chapters 1 and 2 have been leading to this very important point. We were sinners separated from God and each other, but now we are unified and have access through the Holy Spirit to God the Father because of Jesus’ saving work on the cross. I’m going to conclude with Ray Stedman’s summation of this. “There is nothing higher than this. When the full glory of this relationship breaks upon us, we will have discovered that nothing can be greater. ‘This is eternal life,’ Jesus said, ‘that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent’” (John 17:3 RSV).
Grace be with you!