This chapter should go up there as one of the most important chapters in all of Scripture. I hope you were able to follow what Paul was saying. Remember, he is writing to a church that is composed of primarily gentiles who came to know Jesus. So they did not come to Jesus through Judaism, but rather from Paul’s preaching they gave their lives to Christ. So Paul is writing to people he knows and loves and who have a completely different background from him. But he obviously embraces them.
He begins this chapter by laying out the facts that all of us began this life as sinful. We were all disobedient and lived out our lives according to the passions of the flesh. But God chose to choose us even while we were yet dead in our sins, to make us alive in Jesus Christ. And in case you have forgotten, look at vs.5, we have been saved by grace. Remember it is not the following of the law, or a set of rules, or any of our actions that save us, not even living a “good” life, it is the grace of God that saves us. Follow along from vss.8-10 which are so fundamental to our beliefs and to whom we are as Protestant Christians. We have been saved by grace through faith. This faith, this grace is a gift of God. We do not deserve it. It is not by our own doing, it is not because we have lived right that we are saved. Because if it was a result of any of our actions, we could boast. But no one can boast. But it gets better. Look at vs.10. The reason why we are saved is not simply so we can have eternal life. Oh, that would be nice and a simple goal. No, the reason that we are saved, according to Paul, is because eternal life starts here and now in this life. We were created, we were saved by Jesus, for good works which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
So let’s be clear. Good works have nothing to do with our salvation, but have everything to do with our vocation. We are made to do good works. That is to be our joyful response to salvation. He then goes on to explain that those who were not originally part of God’s plan, you know, the chosen people through Abraham who became the nation of Israel, if we are not in that number, do not worry. Look at vs.13, it is such an important verse for goyim like you and me. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” It is by the blood of Jesus that we were brought near.
Because of Jesus there is no longer male or female, there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer rich or poor, there is no longer black or white, there is no longer good and bad, there is no longer, well, you can fill in the blank. Jesus has broken down whatever privilege, whatever dividing wall that society and culture has set up. In fact, and I love this part, Jesus has created a single humanity, and this single humanity, according to Paul, should create peace.
But boy do we like our differences and boy do we harp on that which is different as opposed to how we are similar. Jesus proclaimed peace to those who were far off, that would be us who do not have Jewish descent, and those who were near, that would be those who came from Jewish descent. Look at vs. 17 for these verses. We now have a new citizenship. We are no longer Americans. Can I say this in the middle of the Olympics when we are absolutely dominating? We are no longer Americans…we are Christians. We have a new citizenship according to vs.19. This was a big deal for Paul who finds himself in the middle of the Roman Empire. But when Jesus is our cornerstone, as we find in vs.20, then we can be a unified people.