The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ephesians 2:14-18

One New Man

In the ancient world there were two groups of people: Jew and Gentile.  And these were very different groups.  When the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C., they scattered the Jews far and wide throughout the Mediterranean world.  Some Jews returned to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem some seventy years later under Persian domination, but most Jews remained scattered throughout the empire.  And since kingdoms come and go according to God’s sovereign plan (Acts 17:26), the Jews in those lands passed from Persian domination to Greek and then to Roman by the first century.  At any rate, the obvious differences between Jew and Gentile were noted as early as the Persian Empire under Ahasuerus when Haman complained to the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom.  Their laws are different from those of every other people…” (Esther 3:8).  Thus, the Jewish laws concerning circumcision, dietary restrictions, and Sabbath-keeping were well-known and contrary to the usual way of doing things in the ancient world, and we may assume their moral laws even more so as enumerated in the Ten Commandments.  The animosity between the two groups was only intensified by the first century and was, unfortunately, mutual.

But now the distinction is broken down in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Gentile but one new man.  Though the ordinances were necessary as they were given to the Israelites by God’s order under Moses, they were merely preparatory till the coming of the One under whose new administration they would become unnecessary, that new administration being by the Spirit who, upon our Lord’s ascension, was sent forth by both him and the Father.  Now he is the Holy Spirit who has come to reside in the hearts of those who have been born of him, who enlightens our minds by the word and empowers us to live by that word not by coercion but by faith working through love.  And so we are now at peace—peace with God and one another, Jew and Gentile as one in Christ.

I am aware that this peace has not always been lived out, and the believing Gentile Christian has been more at fault in this than the unbelieving Jew.  Let this no longer be the case.  Let us rejoice that the wall has been broken down between us and may we as believing Gentiles now patiently wait for our unbelieving Jewish brethren, “for if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Romans 11:12, 15).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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