This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Once Far Away, Now Brought Near!
Meditation on Ephesians 2:11-13
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made with hands; that at that time ye 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: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
The Apostle Paul was writing to believers in Ephesus where the majority of them were Gentiles. Verses 11-13 belong together. They are two sentences and express one idea. This idea is first put forth negatively and then positively. Our text begins with the word, “Wherefore.” Paul linked this phrase to what went before, namely, that we are saved by grace alone. All the work of salvation is of mere grace, so that there is nothing left for us except to show forth the fruit of that grace. So no one can boast in himself, but only in God! Paul emphasized this truth by drawing attention to what these believers were in the past and what they are now in the present. He says, “Remember…” Constantly bear this in mind! Our salvation is all of God, even our walking in good works is proof of the grace and lovingkindness of God. Therefore, we must walk in love before God and to His glory.
This applies to you and me who are also Gentiles. What is our past and what is our present status as believers? It is a terrible past. The Jews before their conversion were, like the Gentile believers, “dead in trespasses and sins.” But the condition of the Gentiles was even worse. The Gentile believers were heathens in the flesh, separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world (vs. 12).They did not have the Jews’ unique advantages. What was their present status? “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ”(vs. 13). Once, before saved by grace, they were simply heathen in the flesh and did nothing but else but sin. They were called the Uncircumcision, meaning that they were not in and under the sphere of the covenant. Circumcision, done by hands, was the sign given to Israel. It meant that they belonged to the covenant of God. That was the outward sign. That, of course, does not mean that all of the Jews were circumcised spiritually, a circumcision of the heart!
The Gentiles were not raised in the sphere of the covenant. They did not have the instruction of the prophets nor the promise of the covenant. They did not have believing parents. They did not have all the types and shadows of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. They were outside of Christ. They had no part with Him. They did not know Him. They had no part with His sacrifice and resurrection. They were strangers, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. They did not know nor participate in the one covenant of God as it developed starting with Adam in Paradise, with Noah after the flood, with Abraham and his seed, and the covenant with David, finally ending in Christ. They were without hope and were without God! What a dreary past!
But now in Christ Jesus, those who were afar off have been drawn near in the blood of Christ! “Drawn near” does not mean that they were almost in the covenant. Rather, they now had fellowship and belonged to the covenant of God and the covenants of the promise. How? It is only in the blood of Christ Jesus. Paul was talking about being brought near to God as a result of Christ’s atonement. Without the blood of Christ there is no possibility of being near to God.
What a difference there is in our past and now the present! Paul indicates a change in the situation as a result of God’s intervention. No longer cut off from Christ but as believers, we are now united to Christ. Yes, as the Apostle Paul wrote in vs. 4,5: “But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” Now we are “of God’s household…built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone” (vs. 19-20).
The apostle used the word “remember” twice in this section. We too must remember. If we forget how God drew us near to Him, we can become insensitive to God’s great grace to us. We also become insensitive to those who are lost in sin around us. We then become insensitive to God’s ability to bring others to Himself as he did with us. Remember “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” With whom are you going to share what the Lord has done for you?
Amazing grace – how sweet the sound – That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see. (John Newton, 1725-1807)