Ephesians 2:11,12  "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; 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:"

Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and tells them to remember where they came from and then he tells them where they are now as a result of the covenant work of Jesus Christ and the New Testament worship.  At the time that Paul wrote this letter, the Gentile brethren had just come to a knowledge of the truth and were brought into the true worship of God. 

During the Old Testament economy there were two manners of attempted worship of God.  There was the Israelites worshipping under the law covenant given to them by God at Mount Sinai.  Then there was the Gentiles worshipping idols.  A good example of this ignorant worship of idols by the Gentiles is illustrated for us in Acts 17:22

"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent."

Next, we will compare the two forms of attempted worship.  First, the Isrealites had the ordinance of circumcision which identified them with the covenant God made with the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.  The Gentiles were not identified with the law covenant and it had not been made with them.

The Israelites had Christ associated with them in many ways.  They had the Old Testament promises of a coming Messiah and of his redemptive work and of his establishing an everlasting kingdom.  Next, they had the types and shadows of the Old Testament ordinances of which all the sacrifices and ordinances pointed to Christ.  Again, they had the tabernacle and the priesthood, which were also types of Christ.  They had the rock which followed them in the wilderness which we are also told was a type of Christ.  The Old Testament scriptures themselves were a continual testimony of Christ.  They had the pre-incarnate appearances of Christ such as the man with the sword drawn appearing to Joshua and declaring that as captain of the Lord's host am I now come.  In contrast, the Gentiles had not Christ in any of these ways.

The Israelites were citizens of the commonwealth of Israel.  They had the promises that God would be with them and lead them and fight their battles and delivery them, if they kept his covenant.  The Gentiles had none of those promises.  They had not covenant of worship and service with God at that time.

The Israelites had the covenants of promise, both the promises made to Abraham, and confirmed with Isaac and Jacob, and the promises made to them with the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.  They also had the promises of timely deliverances and of inheriting the land of Canaan.  Later they had the promise of the coming King and that he would be the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, and the seed of David.  The Gentiles had none of these covenant promises.

Since hope is based on the promises of God, the Israelites had hope of deliverance and blessings based on the covenant promises of a coming Christ.  The Gentiles had no reason to hope because God had not publicly made this promise to them.  Thus, the Gentiles had no hope.

God went with the Israelites in delivering them out of the land of Egypt and across the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptian army that marched after them.  God also provided for the needs of the children of Israel in the wilderness and later delivered them into the land of promise (Canaan).  He destroyed their enemies and was with the armies of Israel in all the battles to take the land of Canaan.  Many times God delivered the nation of Israel from their enemies.  He went before them in the wilderness in a pillar of fire by nation and in a cloud by day.  The Gentiles were without God in this manner during the Old Testament economy.

As Gentiles, this may not mean as much to us today as it did to the Gentiles during the time that Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, yet it is good for us to know from whence we come in order that we may better appreciate what we have today.   Today we are identified with the New Testament worship, we have the New Testament promises, we have the hope based on those promises, we have Christ with us, and God manifest in our presence.  We are fellow citizens with the saints and the household of faith.  We have the true worship of God and no longer have to worship the idols of our own mind.  Thanks be to God for his amazing grace. 

Ephesians 2:13-15  ":13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. :14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; :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;"

This passage is set in contrast to what the Gentiles had before the coming of Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection.  We noted the position of the Gentiles in verses 11 and 12 in the Old Testament days.  The blood of Christ did more than just redeem us from our sins. 

During the Old Testament economy, the Gentiles were far off from the true worship and service of God.  The Israelites had been given the proper manner in which to worship and serve God in the form of the law of commandments contained in ordinances.  This law of commandments contained in ordinances was a middle wall of partition or separation between the attempted worship of the Gentiles and the worship of the Israelites.  So long as the law of commandments contained in ordinances stood the Israelites and the Gentiles were separated from each other in their attempts to worship God.  It was the cause of the enmity between the Israelites and the Gentiles.

The Lord said, "one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled."  The Lord came to fulfill the law and the prophets and he kept the law perfectly as no man had ever done before.  When he went to the cross and died for the sins of his people he had perfectly kept every provision and testimony of the law, fulfilling it perfectly.  Once the law of commandments contained in ordinances was perfectly fulfilled there was no longer a need for the law of commandments contained in ordinances.  Thus, Christ fulfilled the law and put it away in his atoning sacrifice.  He abolished in his flesh the law of commandments contained in ordinances.

Not only had the Lord come to fulfill the law, but also to establish and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  This he did and it is recorded for us in the gospels.  True worship now is found in the New Testament and it is open to God's people both among the Israelites and the Gentiles.  There is no longer a middle wall of partition between the two groups of people.  We are at peace with one another as far as true worship of God is concerned.  Both Jews and Gentiles can worship God in Spirit and in truth if they follow the New Testament instructions.

"For to make in himself of twain one new man."  Even in the Old Testament economy God had a people both among the Israelites and the Gentiles though this was largely unknown.  Christ said in John 10:16 "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."  God had two folds.  He had one fold among the Israelites and he had one fold among the Gentiles.  With the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, those two folds became one fold. 

Ephesians 2:16-18  "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."

The general theme of verses 13 through 18 is peace.  Verses 13 through 15 set forth that peace between the Israelites and the Gentiles was accomplished at the cross when Christ having fulfilled the law to a jot and a tittle, then abolished it and established a new form of worship under the covenant of grace.  Under this form of worship both Israelites and Gentiles can worship God in Spirit and in truth.  Thus, the Israelites and the Gentiles are no longer at enmity with one another but are at peace with respect to the true worship of God.

Verse 16 above teaches us that both Israelites and Gentiles had been at enmity with God because of sins.  However, by the blood of Jesus Christ at the cross, this enmity between God's elect and God was reconciled.  Now there is judicial peace between God and his elect among both the Israelites and the Gentiles. 

Verse 17 deals with the conflict and condemnation that the elect have in their hearts and minds because of their sins.  Isaiah chapter 40:1, 2 describes the utility of the gospel to bring peace to the hearts of God's elect people: Is. 40:1 "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."  Judicially we were already at peace with God through the atoning blood of Christ.  However, we did not have this knowledge of what God had done for us until we heard the gospel preached.  The gospel brings knowledge of salvation by the grace of God.  It tells us that the warfare is accomplished and that iniquity has been pardoned.  It tells us that we are no longer condemned before God because of sin.  This knowledge of salvation brings peace to our hearts and minds.

Verse 18 deals with having peace in our daily lives amidst the conflicts and trials of life.  By having access by the Spirit through the atoning sacrifice of Christ unto the Father, we can take our cares, conflicts, and trials unto God and have the assurance that he cares for us and that he will either deliver us or give us the understanding and wisdom to be able to deal with our problems, trials, and conflicts.  This gives us inner peace amidst the conflict of a world full of turmoil. 

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable love and for his grace towards us through the atoning sacrifice of Christ at the cross.           

Ephesians 2:19-23  "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

The Gentiles had, before this, been strangers and foreigners to the commonwealth of Israel.  They had no citizenship with those covenant people under the law covenant given to them by God at the hands of Moses.  Now believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are fellow citizens, whether Jew or Gentile, with the saints and the household of God.  To be a citizens means that you are rightfully identified as having legal right and part in the government, provisions, and responsibilities of some kingdom.  The Kingdom of which we are fellow citizens is the Kingdom of God.  As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of citizens of that Kingdom. 

Being a part of a household indicates that we are members of that family.  We are members of the household of God.  We are children of God and brothers and sisters to one another. 

"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets."  A good foundation is essential to having a good house.  Jesus said in Matt. 16:18 "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."  The rock Jesus built the church upon is himself.  He built the church upon three great principles of himself. 

He built the church upon who he is.  He is the Son of God.  He is the eternal Word.  He is the creator of the universe and all things therein.  He is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and all wise. 

Second, he built the church upon what he has and is and will do.  He has saved his people from their sins by his atoning sacrifice.  He is calling the elect into Spiritual life.  He will raise all the elect from the dead in the morning of the resurrection. 

Third, he builds his church upon his words.  His words and the application of his words were given to us at the hands of the apostles and prophets.  With his words that he has given to us at the hands of the apostles and prophets we know the nature of our God, the great actions of our God and we know how we are to worship and serve the Lord in Spirit and in truth.  Further, we know the government, workings, order, offices, purposes, and utility of the New Testament Church.  Others scriptures also show us that we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets:

    1.  1 Cor. 3:10 "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is."

     2.  Rev 21:14 "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

The New Testament scriptures were given to us at the hands of the apostles and prophets.  The apostles and prophets gave the examples of doctrine, discipleship, church order, and government unto us.  Everything that we do in the Lord's church today is established for us in the scriptures that were handed down to us through the apostles and prophets.  Truly, the New Testament Church is built on this foundation.

"Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone."  In the foundation of most  important structures is a stone with an inscription, known as the chief corner stone.  The name of the person to whom honor and glory is to be given for the building of that structure is inscribed in the chief corner stone.  In the Church, all honor and praise and glory is to be given to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thus, his name is inscribed in the chief corner stone.  The church is not a literal physical building, but the Lord's name is in the hearts and minds of his people in the church.

 "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord."  The temple is the place where God is worshipped.  The church is the holy temple today:

    1.  1 Cor 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

    2.  1 Cor 6:19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

    3.  2 Cor 6:16 "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Notice in the above verses how the plural pronoun "ye" is tied to the singular noun "body" or "temple."  That indicates that the body consists of a multiple number of people.  The body of the church is the temple of the Lord. 

The church consists of several members.  Each member has their own gifts, their own work given to them of the Lord, and their own talents given to them of the Lord.  The amazing thing to behold is how that members with different gifts, works, and talents can all function together in unity and in love as a growing temple of the Lord.  This takes place because the Lord through the Holy Spirit fitly frames the members together and causes each to grow in his service unto the Lord. 

"In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."  Not only are we fitly framed together for the purpose of worshipping God and in growing in service unto God, but we also have God making his abode with us.  When we gather together to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth and have come with prayerful hearts we find that the Holy Spirit makes it known to our hearts that He is present with us.  The Lord said that "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."  Thanks be to God that he abides with us!