Saturday, November 9. Ephesians 1 – 4

“For he [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made the two one, and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” (Ephesians 2:14).

Here we have a problem: more than one, actually.

Jesus specifically said: “Do not think I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

So did he abolish the law or not? And if he did, precisely what law was it?

Jesus did not come to do away with rules. Paul goes on in Ephesians to law down a bunch of them:
* “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (4:22).
* “Stop lying” (4:25).
* “Stop stealing” (4:28).
* “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (5:3).

These are just a few.

And incidentally, all of these come from the Old Testament, so what Jesus “destroyed” cannot be the Old Testament.

You should have noticed by now in reading through the New Testament that there was a strong ethnic rift between Jewish and gentile Christians. You see it plainly in Romans and Galatians. Paul maintains that the distinctions between the two have been removed. The identifying characteristics of Judaism (things like circumcision, holy day observance, and dietary laws) have been abolished so that the two, Jew and gentile, could become one. Both have access to the Father precisely the same way – by the Holy Spirit. All these distinctive regulations were in the Old Testament. They are even called “the law” by Paul in Galatians and Romans. But they were not the totality of the law, nor, when they were abolished, did that remove the authority of the Old Testament for Christian living. This becomes evident as Paul cites the Old Testament as the authority for mandating a change of lifestyle when one becomes a Christian (5:14).