December 2nd 2018 – Ephesians 2:11-18

"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. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."

Ephesians 2:11-18

We turn back to 11 in today's Note to get the full flavour of Paul's great teaching on reconciliation, and also to underline particularly Paul's insistence on the need to 'remember' what we once were. 'Reconciliation' is a great New Testament word, but it is to be feared that it is often used today in a way that is not the real intention of the New Testament in using it. Men speak today in terms of reconciliation between this nation and that, this community and that, this denomination and that, but while there is no doubt that these ideas are very important in our world of today, it nevertheless has to be said that this is not the primary meaning of the word as Paul uses it, even though he does make mention in these very verses of the 'making one' of Jew and Gentile through the cross. But this is a result of the doctrine and not the doctrine itself. Here, we begin to look at the heart of this doctrine.

In all my reading, I have never come across anything so profoundly moving and satisfying to my spirit as James Denney's great chapter on Reconciliation in his commentary on 2 Corinthians. Denney points out that the word reconciliation presupposes a state of estrangement, and that estrangement can be of two kinds; the feeling of hostility or estrangement may exist on one side only, or it may exist on both. In the New Testament, he says, 'the estrangement which the Christian reconciliation has to overcome is indubitably two-sided'. In tomorrow's Note we shall give an extended quotation from Denney's commentary on this wonderful theme.