"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."
We turn now to the consideration of another important issue in these verses, namely Paul's summons to us in the words 'wherefore remember ...' Why should Paul be so insistent in asking the Ephesians to cast their minds back to what they once were? There is an insistence in the word amounting almost to a command to them to relive their past. Now, we should realise that Paul was deeply taught in the Scriptures, and he would know that this is something that is rooted in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. For him therefore to make such a challenge here is to speak in a biblical way. Again and again in the Old Testament, especially in books like Exodus and Deuteronomy, we find the Lord enjoining His people to remember that they had once been bondman in Egypt (cf Deuteronomy 15:15, 16:12, 24:18, 22). The significant thing is that, in the context of these and other such references, the fact of having been delivered from bondage is made the basis of the claim upon God's people to live true, generous and compassionate lives, and the remembrance of this becomes the inspiration for such behaviour. This is why Paul calls on the Ephesians to remember where they once were. By the same token there is a great challenge here for us. For the world has great need to see compassionate, generous living, holy living and liberal, loving attitudes; for this is so out of the ordinary that when such living is seen, it makes people ask questions of those who so live. It makes them ask, 'What makes you tick? What makes you live like this, and do such things?' And the answer is, 'I was a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord brought me out and saved me'. There could be no greater or more persuasive commendation of the gospel than this, than a life transformed by divine grace into true godliness and Christlikeness.