Remember Where You Came From
Paul has already spoken of the state of man apart from Christ only a few days ago; now he speaks of the state of the Gentile world apart from the knowledge of the true God as it was before Christ came. Psalm 147:19-20 states: “[God] declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know His rules” (also see Deuteronomy 4:6, 32-34). Israel was different—a creation of God through the loins of Abraham, a nation set apart to which He had given His law and established His covenant in the flesh by circumcision. Each of the terms used here to describe the nations (Gentiles) expresses the fact that they were outside the God’s covenant and not His covenant people: the “uncircumcision,” “separated from Christ,” “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel,” “strangers to the covenants of promise,” and worst of all, “having no hope and without God in the world.” One only has to read the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, to discover just how ugly and immoral the Gentile world was: cult prostitution in pagan temples, homosexuality, pederasty, slavery, cruelty in war, lawlessness—all of which were reflected in the gods (demons, actually) they worshiped—which in turn were simply the projections of their own lascivious and vicious appetites. The Gentile world was exactly how Paul describes it here.
But then comes 2:13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Thus, through Christ’s blood, the Gentiles have been reconciled to God. Through faith in Christ, Gentiles may no longer be separated, alienated, strangers, hopeless, and without God in the world. On the contrary, they are now members of the covenant through the circumcision of the heart, which is the only circumcision that now matters. And this was always God’s plan—to create a people to whom he would give His law to be a light to the Gentiles, and who would one day bring forth the Messiah to save the Gentiles. And so it has happened.
And so now, the Church is largely Gentile; but it did not have to be this way. We could still be separated, alienated, strangers, hopeless, and without God in the world. But God has not willed it so; He has determined our salvation, instead. So bless God that though our ancient ancestors were wretched pagans, we are now God-fearing Christians. And pray for God’s ancient people, the Jews. Pray that they will come into the fold through faith in their Messiah, and we truly be one in Christ when he returns to gather us both in.