Jesus Christ, The Gospel, and Reconciliation
The following quotation is from Darrell L. Bock [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries] on Ephesians 2.14-16. While this textual commentary speaks of the conflict, divide, tensions, and even hatred [one of the meanings of the word Paul uses translated here ‘hostility’] that was then-current between Jews and Gentiles, the same truth applies to any and every other conceivable root of bitterness and division that may exist among us. In fact, we might argue, that we don’t know and have any prejudices among us that would even come close to rivaling the Jew vs. Gentile racial/ethnic/religious/cultural hostilities they held toward one another.
Yet, Jesus Christ and The Gospel of His Cross creates a brand new ‘man’ or humanity or ‘race’ or community or ‘new creation’ people group – unique and distinct all to itself, unified, and made to be without distinction “in Christ.”
For my own understanding, I call this the New Covenant Race Theory [see Bock’s sentence below: “It is a new race in which the weaving together of that which had been separate is clear.”]
Read here what Bock says about their reconciliation by way of one-ness in Jesus Christ – and ‘go and do likewise’ in all our diverse relationships with one another. Not to do so is to reject and disobey this work Christ died to work in us [Ephesians 2.10].
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by 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, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Here is Bock:
“The results of Jesus’ death on the cross changed the world and the potential relationships between people: that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.
This is the first of two purposes Paul notes for Jesus’ work. Jesus has formed a new community. Just as if one is in Christ, one is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), so with Jesus’ work there is a new community in the world.
The new man is humanity reformed, no longer tied to Adam but now in Christ, incorporated into the new people God is forming from Him.
Colossians 3.10 also uses this image, and in that context we are told that in the ‘new man’ there are no distinguished groups of people but all share an identity focused on Christ.
This is part of the workmanship God created us to be (Ephesians 2:10; the Greek verb ktizo, to create, is used in both verses).
Both Jews and Gentiles who believe and benefit from what Christ has done are moved into this new entity. The picture is not of Gentiles becoming Jews or simply moving into their space. Those who were near and those who were far are both now brought into something new, which is why Paul calls it the one new man…
It is a new race in which the weaving together of that which had been separate is clear.
This has been called the ‘third’ race, neither Jew nor Gentile, though we are to retain the understanding that God has woven these two together in a way that allows us to see the two made one.
There is no segregation in Christ, even in the midst of recognizing a distinction in where each group came from before being united, for reconciliation is only clear when the former estrangement is appreciated.
“Gentiles are not made into Jews or vice versa. They are who they are and yet they now function side by side and together, with Christ uniting them rather than the law dividing them.”
In practice, this will allow each group some measure of distinction, as opposed to homogeneity (Romans 14-15). Gentiles are not made into Jews or vice versa. They are who they are and yet they now function side by side and together, with Christ uniting them rather than the law dividing them.
“Their bond of oneness transcends the distinctions they also might have in some everyday practices.”
Their bond of oneness transcends the distinctions they also might have in some everyday practices. This reconciliation is available only to those who embrace what God has offered, for this deliverance into reconciliation comes by faith (vv. 8-10).
There is no idea in Paul of a dual covenant whereby Jews and Gentiles are saved by distinct paths to God. All roads come in and through Christ.”
Let it be!