Great Gospel Texts: Ephesians 2:13

But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13).[1]

For a Gentile before A.D. 70, it was common knowledge not to go beyond the outer court of Herod’s temple. They could walk within the outer area known as “the Court of the Gentiles,” but they were forbidden to enter the temple area. Posted signs in Latin and Greek warned that the penalty for trespassing was death.

Paul reminded the Gentile Ephesians of what it was like then: “You were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (v12). There was complete religious separation between Jews and Gentiles. The problem for a Gentile was not only isolation from the glory, the covenants and promises of the Jewish people, but worse yet, they had “no hope” and were “without God in the world.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote about conditions in Israel about 770 years earlier. The issue was between God and His people, Israel. Isaiah wrote, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (59:2 ESV). The heart of the issue for both Jews and Gentiles is that sin separates a person from God.

For this reason, a large veil hung in Herod’s Temple separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place where God dwelled. It was a physical reminder that God could not dwell with sin. Sin was also the reason why Gentiles were without “hope and without God in the world.” Paul described the spiritual condition of the Gentiles in this way: “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (Eph 4:18-19 ESV). Both Jews and Gentiles were living separated from God.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (2:13). Paul is emphasizing for them the difference between then and now. Being “brought near by the blood of Christ” meant the removal of all racial and ethnic barriers and the offer of forgiveness now for all people, including each one of us today! Paul wrote, “For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition” (v14). The death of Christ destroyed the separation between Jews and Gentiles and reconciled both to God because “he is our peace.”

This is what Christ has done. Then, we were separated from God, but now, we have been “brought near by the blood of Christ.” Sin separates us from God, but the death of Christ on the cross removed the barrier of sin between us and God.

Have you been brought near to God by the blood of Christ?

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the NET unless otherwise noted.