By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In Ephesians 2:11-15, Paul wrote “11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace…” (NKJV)
Common Argument: These verses have been used to say that the entire law of God was torn down when Christ was sacrificed.
Think it Through: Christ did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (CLICK HERE to see article on Matthew 5:17-18). He died because we transgressed/violated God’s Law (I John 3:1-5).
Short Answer: Christ tore down the man-made laws of men so that Gentiles and Israelites could be one in Christ. (click here see article on Acts 10 and 11)
Longer Answer: In Ephesians 2:11-15, Paul explains that Gentiles were at one time excluded from citizenship in Israel. However, through the blood of Christ they have been made one with Israel and the covenants of promise. For Gentiles and Israelites to be unified, Christ had to die to abolish the ‘law of commandments contained in ordinances’ that separated us from citizenship in Israel. What is Paul saying?
The Greek word translated as ‘ordinances’ is dogmasin, and it refers to a man-made ordinance or decree. The phrase “law of commandments contained in ordinances” refers to the laws and commandments in man-made ordinances of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which separated Gentiles from becoming members of Israel.
The man-made rules of the Pharisees and Sadducees often treated Gentiles as second-class human beings. For instance, some Jewish people had a man-made rule which stipulated that any fellowship with Gentiles would make them unclean. God never said this in the Bible. It was a man-made rule. Peter struggled with this for years; the Lord had to correct Him (click here to read more about this subject – Acts 10 and 11).
Rules such as this separated Gentiles from coming into covenant with God and becoming citizens in Israel. It excluded them and diminished their meaning as a human being. This is the wall of regulations (man-made ordinances and commandments) that the Pharisees and Sadducees had built to create enmity between Israelites and Gentiles. According to the Law of God, Gentiles were allowed to enter into covenant with God (Leviticus 24:22). They just simply had to take the sign of the covenant, circumcision, and obey the terms of the covenant, which is the Law. When the Israelites left Egypt, they left a mixed multitude of Gentiles and native Israelites (Exodus 12:38). All of the Gentiles that left Egypt with the Israelites became naturalized citizens. They were baptized by the sea and cloud (I Cor. 10:1-4). Rahab and Ruth are examples of Gentiles allowed to be apart of God’s covenant people.
Through Christ’s death, we have access to all the promises God made to the patriarchs and citizenship in Israel without having to go through man-made rules.
Kelly McDonald, Jr. BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org