Monday, June 1, 2009

The Kingdom: The Really Really Old Perspective on Paul

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit" (Ephesians 2.11-22).

Some observations:
1) There is peace between Jews, Gentiles, and God; it's not a vertical or horizontal thing, it's both. Let's not be platonic.
2) Gentiles are no longer separated from the 'commonwealth' of Israel and the 'covenants of promise'; we shouldn't be scared of using words like 'covenant' because Paul wasn't.
3) The law is the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles. It is okay to say that Jews wore the law as a 'badge' which identified them as those who inherited the covenants and promises of God. However, it can become very difficult to distinguish nationalism and legalism (and I don't think we should).
4) The main purpose of the cross is that it creates a worldwide family that is at peace with one another and with God. The church is not secondary.
5) Both Jew and Gentile need the message of the cross.
6) The church is the worldwide family that is indwelt by the Spirit.

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