Paul explains God's vision for Jews and Gentiles together in the Body of Messiah
An original translation from the Greek by Jeffrey J. Harrison.
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2 1 And you# [Gentile believers], being dead because of your# trespasses and sins,

2 in which you# previously walked [or lived]

according to the present age of this world,

according to the ruler of

the principality of the air,°

the principality of the spirit now acting in the sons of disobedience [apathy, stubborn indifference],

3 in which trespasses and sins we [Jewish believers in Jesus] also all previously turned up [conducted ourselves] in the desires of our flesh,

obeying the wishes of the flesh and of the mind,° and were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest [everyone else],

4 but God, being rich in mercy, because of his abundant love with which he loved us, 5 even though we were dead because of trespasses, made us alive together [Jewish and Gentile believers] in the Messiah

—by grace you# are saved°—

6 and raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenlies in Messiah Jesus, 7 in order that he may demonstrate in the ages that are coming on us the surpassing riches [abundance] of his grace in kindness in Messiah Jesus. 8 For by grace you# are saved° through faith, and this is not from you,# but is the gift of God, 9 not from deeds, that no one else may boast, 10 for we are his workmanship, having been created in Messiah Jesus for good deeds, which God prepared in advance, in order that we may walk [or live] in them.°

11 Therefore remember that once you,# Gentiles in the flesh, called "uncircumcision" by the so-called "circumcision,"°

a circumcision made in the flesh by human hands, 12 remember that you# were at that time without Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and in the world without God. 13 But now, in Messiah Jesus, you# who once were far away were made near by the blood of Messiah.

14 For he himself [Jesus] is our peace [Micah 5:5a], who made both [Jews and Gentiles who believe in him] one and destroyed the dividing wall of the fence,° the hostility between the two, in his flesh 15 when he made the law of commandments in ordinances ineffective° [or powerless]

that in himself he may create out of the two one new man, making peace, 16 and may reconcile both in one body to God by means of the cross, abolishing the hostility between the two in him. 17 And when he came, he preached good news of "peace to you# [Gentiles] who were far away and peace to those [the Jews] who were near" [Isaiah 57:19], 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

19 So, therefore, you# are no longer foreigners and strangers, but you# are

fellow-citizens with the holy ones° and

members of the household of God,

20 having been built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Jesus himself being the cornerstone° [Isaiah 28:16]

21 by which the whole building is joined together and

because of which it is growing into a holy sanctuary° in the Lord,

22 in whom you# [believing Gentiles] are also being built together [with believing Jews] into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

2:2 The ruler of the principality of the air: The devil. The New Testament teaches that the devil has been expelled from the heavens, where God dwells (compare Luke 10:18 with Isaiah 14:12. See also John 12:31, Rev. 12:9-12). For a short time longer, he exercises his rule over the unbelieving world from the air around us, the traditional location of spirits in religious thought at the time.

2:3 Wishes of the flesh and of the mind: This may be an allusion to the traditions of the elders, also known as the Oral Law (Mark 7:3,5). The scribes and Pharisees added these traditions to the Written Law of Moses, making them obligatory to the Jews. But Jesus rejected this claim to divine authority. He considered these traditions to be nothing more than the teachings of men (Mark 7:6-13).

2:5 You are saved: The Greek verb here emphasizes the continuing state of salvation which results from the past action of coming to faith in Messiah: "by grace you were saved and now continue in that salvation."

2:8 You are saved: see above (2:5).

2:10 In them: In these good deeds, in contrast to the sins we used to do (mentioned in 2:1,2).

2:11 Circumcision: The Jews. The Jewish ritual practice of removing the foreskin at eight days of age is a sign of participation in the covenant of God with his people. Paul understands this physical act as a foreshadowing of the spiritual circumcision of the heart in Messiah. For Paul, only this spiritual circumcision is true circumcision; not the "so-called `circumcision'" of the flesh.

2:14 The dividing wall of the fence: The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was divided into two parts by a stone fence. The court outside this fence was permitted to Gentiles; the areas of greater holiness inside this fence, which represented greater nearness to the presence of God, were permitted only to Jews. At the time this letter was written, Paul was in prison in Rome because of the charge that he had taken a Gentile past this boundary (Acts 21:27 ff.; The charge was not true). Here he uses this same fence to represent the historical division between Jews and Gentiles, which created mutual hostility between them. Through faith in Messiah, this "dividing wall" has been abolished.

2:15 Law of commandments in ordinances ineffective: The Law as an external code is no longer sufficient as a means of reconciliation with God. Now, reconciliation takes place through Messiah, who accepts equally both Jews and Gentiles who believe in him. The division and resulting hostility that once existed between these two groups has now been eliminated for those who are "in him."

2:19 The holy ones: That is, Jewish believers in Jesus.

2:20 Cornerstone: A large stone placed at the bottom of one of the corners of a stone building. It gave the building structural stability, and could be said to hold it or join it together.

2:21 Sanctuary: This was the name given by the Jews to the innermost building of the Temple area. In the sanctuary was located the Holy Place (with the lampstand, bread of the presence, and incense altar) and the Holy of Holies (which once held the ark of the covenant). Only priests were allowed in these areas, the Holy of Holies restricted to the high priest once a year. Paul describes the church as its spiritual fulfillment.

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Translation and notes by Jeffrey J. Harrison.  Copyright © 1992, 2001, 2006, 2007 by Jeffrey J. Harrison. All rights reserved.
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