Peace with God and One Another

KEY VERSE: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” —Ephesians 2:19

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 1:8-22

UNDER the Jewish Law, Gentiles were considered foreigners. Even those living among the Jews were not to be considered fellow citizens unless properly proselyted into the religious requirements of the Law. A representation of this fact of life was literally constructed into Herod’s Temple. Only Jews were allowed within the sacred precincts of the Temple, outside of which was a court called The Court of the Gentiles. A stone fence separated this court from the Temple proper, and is alluded to in Ephesians 2:14 as “the middle wall of partition.”

This wall was four and one-half feet high, and on it was a tablet which read: “No man of alien race is to enter within the balustrade and fence that goes around the Temple. If anyone is taken in the act, let him know that he has himself to blame for the penalty of death that follows.” Paul himself had at one time been charged by the Jews of secretly bringing a Gentile into the Temple, and for this they tried to take his life.—Acts 21:28,29

The burden of Paul’s message to the Jews was that Jesus had put an end to the Law, and that now there were no more restrictions upon Gentiles to receive God’s favor.

When Jesus came at his first advent, not enough of the natural seed of Abraham accepted him to make up the predestinated number of those who were to be joint-heirs with him in the kingdom of blessing. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came to his own, but his own received him not. (John 1:11) A few of the Israelites accepted him, such as the apostles and disciples, and the Bible says that to as many as received him, he gave the opportunity of becoming “sons of God.” (John 1:12) Not enough of the Jews having accepted Jesus, the opportunity went to the Gentiles. That is why God visited the Gentiles, as indicated in the Scripture we are considering.

This special class of joint-heirs with Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, will bear God’s family name in two ways. They are owned by God as his sons, and from another standpoint, they are represented in the Scriptures as becoming the Bride of Christ. In the fourteenth chapter of Revelation they are identified as those who have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads.”—vs. 1

These illustrative expressions are designed to convey to us the closeness of our relationship to God and his household. Our text also uses the expression ‘fellow citizens with the saints’ to describe the same thought of a unity and closeness with all whom God has now called into his kingdom arrangements.

The full significance of this and similar statements of Jesus and the apostles would be not only difficult, but impossible for us to comprehend without divine assistance, and with this realization the Apostle Paul prays for the brethren at Ephesus that (1:18, Diaglott) “the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his invitation, what the glorious wealth of his inheritance among the saints.”

We, too, who entertain the same hope, long for a clear view of our calling, and the inspiration it will furnish to “forget the things that are behind,” and to concentrate thought and effort in reaching “forward to the things that are before.” We will firmly set our minds upon our heavenly home, just as have all our brethren throughout the Gospel Age. What a wonderful citizenship is ours!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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