"10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 11Therefore 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— 12remember 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. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
The 'new thing'! We have only to link 1-3 with 11ff to see the greatness and wonder of divine grace, for what we have in these verses is not simply a repeat of the earlier description of man's lostness, but a subjective and highly moving statement of man's predicament - not so much his sin as his misery in his sin - a description which throbs and pulsates with an unutterable anguish. There is the sound of many voices in the pathos that it reflects - 'without Christ', completely in darkness, in a sense and in a way the Jews had never been, for they had had the promise and the covenants, with types and shadows of the cross cast backwards from Calvary over all their history. The road had never been in complete darkness for them for there were lights on the way enough to see by; 'aliens' - one has only to think of the pathos of the countless refugees of modem times, without country, without rights, without homes, cut off from the possibility of living like ordinary human beings - when we translate this into the spiritual realm, we have some faint idea of the plight of the Gentile world before grace touched their lives; 'strangers' - displaced persons - and what a tragic state, in the spiritual realm; 'having no hope' - one need only think of the literature of the ancient world to recognise the truth of this, for with all its brilliance and excellence, its development of culture, the arts, and learning, that world was gripped by a profound uncertainty and despair. Someone has said, 'In Greece, at the epoch of Alexander the Great, it was a current saying, and one profoundly felt by all the best men, that the best thing of all was not to be born, and the next best thing was to die'; 'without God in the world' - note well the words 'in the world', this unfriendly, uncertain existence, full of gigantic question marks and enigmas, to be without God, and with nothing to hold on to, and nothing for a sure anchorage! A sad plight indeed! Such were the Gentiles then, and such is our world today. What Paul is underlining is the hopelessness and meaninglessness of life, its frightening senselessness - the tragic 'lostness' of humanity. It is over against this that the 'But now' in 13 stands in such glorious contrast, as we shall see in tomorrow's Note.