Monday, October 8, 2012

The Disadvantages Of Being A Gentile

Paul taught in Ephesians chapter two that man's natural condition apart from Jesus Christ is a horrible train wreck: spiritually dead, enslaved to the world system, the devil and our own fleshly desires, and by nature remaining under the just wrath of the holy God (Ephesians 2:1-3). We would be hard pressed to think of  a worse predicament. And yet Paul teaches that for one large group of people, it is actually worse!

In the second half of Ephesians two Paul focusses on the condition of the Gentiles (everyone who is not Jewish) and elaborates on their former condition - that is, before Christ intervened:
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12, ESV
Both Jews and Gentiles were dead in sin and needed God to bring spiritual life. But the condition of the Gentiles before Christ was even worse, for they disadvantages the Jews did not share! And Paul wants them to ‘remember.’ He uses this word twice: once in verse 11, and then saying again in verse 12, “remember that you were at that time…” Then he outlines five disadvantages of being a gentile.

1.Separated from Christ. Not only were they actually separated from the life of Jesus, rather than being ‘in Christ’ (and this was true of both Jews and Gentiles), the Gentiles did not even have an expectation of a coming Messiah! Only Israel had hope in the coming of Christ. There was no promised Rescuer.

2. Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. The Gentiles were cut off from God’s chosen people. Estranged. Aliens. Outcasts from the nation of blessing. Jesus said in John 4:22 – salvation is from the Jews.

3. And strangers to the covenants of promise. Gentiles had no claim on God’s promises to Abraham and Israel. God never made a covenant/promise to Gentiles.

4. Having no hope. Gentiles did not share the Jewish hope in the coming Messiah. Nothing to look for beyond the grave.

5. And without God in the world. Though Gentiles worshiped many idols and false gods, they were completely cut off from the true and living God of Israel.

Paul wants the Ephesian Gentile believers to remember their former state. But this is so they can more clearly see the glory of God's answer to their condition in Christ Jesus!

The Blood of Christ
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" Ephesians 2:13, ESV
Now Paul wants his readers to remember what God has done in Christ about their former condition! “But now” – something has changed the hopeless situation! Just as there was a 'but God' moment in verse 4 in answer to our spiritual death (But God made us alive), there is also a 'but now in Christ' moment!
The Gentiles, described as ‘far off’ (Acts 2:39; 22:21) have been ‘brought near!’ God has done something about our alienation, and it has come through ‘the blood of Christ.’ At the cross Jesus shed his blood to ransom a people for God, and this people is made up not only of Jews, but ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Rev 5:9). Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!

So let us who are Gentiles remember our condition before Christ. And let us remember that our God has brought us near to himself through the blood of Jesus. Glory to God!

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