7.9 Ephesians -- Jesus Himself is our Peace
b. Jesus himself is our peace.
It is fascinating that Paul does not substitute a new regulation, a new dogma, a new ideal of brotherhood, in the place of traditional enmity. Instead, "Jesus himself is our peace" (Eph 2:14). What an amazing statement. Here we have this former hardcore, diehard, religious fanatic who has found the reality of Jesus not as an ideal, but as a living Presence, a Presence that is to be shared with others, especially his former enemies. This is important because it shows that the transition from Judaism to Christianity was not merely a change of belief systems, a new set of principles in place of the old. It is more fundamentally a change in the relationship to the Deity Himself -- previously experienced through the Temple, through observances, through the study of the Torah. Now He is known directly, intimately, personally -- a knowledge whose fruit is peace among men. Not Jesus "was" our peace, but "is" -- an ongoing reconciliation when men relate to one another in the Presence of a resurrected Jesus mediated by the Holy Spirit.
c. who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.
Men are united in sin ("all have sinned" – Rom 3:23), but were divided by the remedy. This is the condition of the Old Testament, in that the Law (and sacrifices) provided a temporary and partial solution to the problem of sin for the Jews alone. The Law itself was the barrier. The Gentiles were on the other side of the wall, "outside the camp" of the righteous. When the permanent solution for sin appeared – Jesus' body on the cross – the function of the Jewish atonement system was superseded and the wall collapsed. Henceforth, all men must find peace with God through Jesus' sacrifice. The distinction of Jew and Gentile, with the resultant hostility between them, ceases to have meaning. Those very categories themselves become an obstacle to God's plan in history for the unification of creation under His rule. The perpetuation of this division violates Jesus' prediction in the Gospel of John that
"there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (Jn 10:16).
d. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.
This is the “new creation” of 2 Cor 5:17. God is not making a compound of two warring elements. This was the error of the Judaizers, who wanted to retain the best traditions of Israel in the new order. Jesus was insisting that each side start over on a new foundation – himself -- rather than bring along all their own cultural/religious/racial baggage. Rather than taking the best of both worlds, Jesus puts them both to death:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).
The reason there is peace is because dead men don’t fight. There are no longer any grounds for disagreement: atonement is on the same basis for all humanity. The blood unifies all people who repent.