Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
Many of us live in highly individualistic modern societies. Even Christians see their salvation in very individualistic ways—me and my God, me and my salvation. But that is a faulty way of thinking. While the Christian faith must be personal, it must not be private; it has social ramifications.
Paul elaborates on how God acts to save us by reconciling us with Him and also with one another. In His ancient plans are blueprints for a new society—the church. Ephesians 2:11–22 introduces three sections with the key words “formerly” (v. 11), “but now” (v. 13), and “consequently” (v. 19). The salvation that brings people near to God and one another has great consequences, which Paul describes in a way that brings purpose and dignity to the church.
Although the Christian faith was built on the older Jewish faith, Gentile Christians were not second-class citizens in the church. They were “fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19). Thus the status of the Gentiles before their conversion (v. 12) was reversed. Paul describes the church as a kingdom and a family in which Gentiles and everyone else had full citizenship and membership.
The church was also a building established on Christ and His teachings. By faithfully propagating Christ’s teachings, the apostles and prophets had set the foundations in obedience to the Lord. These teachings would later become the Holy Scriptures; hence the unique authority of Scripture in the church. All teachings and prophecies find their meaning and fulfilment in Jesus, and thus He is the chief cornerstone upon whom the church is raised and held together (vv. 20–21).
Today, there are no apostles and prophets with such foundational roles and authority. But we are all part of this building (“living stones”, 1 Peter 2:5), built and held together in Christ. He is the unifying Head, and in Him we rise up to be a living temple for the Lord, in which we all serve as priests (Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5).
The church is the new temple (made not of stones and mortar, but of people), the dwelling place of God (Ephesians 2:22). This is a wonderfully high view of the church that needs to be recovered through the recommitment and submission of the church to its living Head.
The church is a kingdom, a family, and a temple. How do these truths affect the way you and your fellow church members relate to God, one another, and the world?
Believers in church are “joined together” and “built together” (Ephesians 2:21). How should this be experienced and how can it be strengthened?