Why remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…
In the apostle's prayer for the Ephesians the power of God to us-ward who believe was illustrated first in the experience of our risen and reigning Head, and secondly in the experience of us as risen and. reigning members of his mystical body. The unity of the members, however, has not been as fully brought out in the preceding verses as Paul desired, and so we have in the section now before us the subject amplified and completed mainly round the figure of a "spiritual temple." It is this main figure which we shall now keep before us. And -
I. CONSIDER THE RAW MATERIAL OUT OF WHICH THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE IS TO BE BUILT. (Vers. 11-17.) This is Gentiles and Jews, the Uncircumcision and the Circumcision, those far off from God and those that were nigh. The Gentiles were "without God" (ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ), by which we are not to understand "atheists" in the sense of disbelieving the Divine existence, but simply "without God in the world," as men who cling to the world in its corporate capacity, wherein it ignores the Divine sovereignty and lives an alien citizenship. The Jews, on the other hand, were nominally citizens of the sacred commonwealth, and the covenants of promise were in their hands, and they had hope in consequence. Yet the raw material in both cases was rough and unsightly until the Lord undertook its preparation for the temple wall. Both were under sin, both had to be redeemed from evil, taken out of the quarry of nature and fitted by Divine grace for their place in the building.
II. THE FOUNDATION OF THE TEMPLE. (Ver. 20.) The spiritual temple is here said to be built on the "foundation of the apostles and prophets." This, of course, signifies that it is upon the revelation God made through apostles and prophets that the edifice is erected. It is not upon speculations or dreams, but upon "the sure Word of prophecy," that the structure rests. Without the witnesses in the inspired Word, we should have no basis for spiritual unity and no foundation for edification. Hence our deep indebtedness to the sacred writers. We cannot do without "the Book;" we should only be building on the sand.
III. THE CORNERSTONES. (Ver. 20.) The next consideration here is the cornerstones. Now, Christ is called here the "chief Cornerstone," that without which the two walls could not be bound into one. He lies at the foundation of the structure, the massive stone, so to speak, which unites the two great wails. Above him and. upon him are laid other but minor corner-stones; for every Christian soul who longs to promote unity among men is so far a corner-stone in the great building. Hence the minor honor of being elements of union is given unto Christ-like souls. But Jesus is the indispensable Cornerstone. And the apostle shows how Jesus is the bond of union between Jew and Gentile. Both as under sin needed an atoning Savior; but only one Savior and one blood were provided. The Savior of the Jews was the Savior of the Gentiles also. Thus both Jews and Gentiles were brought of necessity to the one Savior; the one sacrifice on Calvary atoned for both; the one blood blotted out the transgression of both; the one crucifixion reconciled both to God, and. peace produced between both and God secured at the same time peace with each other. Jew and Gentile are united and brought nigh to God by the one blessed Savior.
IV. THE UNITY OF THE TEMPLE. (Vers. 18, 19.) The seemingly discordant elements are reduced to real harmony, and the unity of the whole is realized in the Spirit which pervades all hearts. For when the Gentiles and the Jews realize access unto the Father by one Spirit, then the alienation has passed away, and citizenship and. the family feeling have supervened. It thus appears that "Christian prayer is a witness of Christian citizenship." We squabble about differences until we are united at the throne. It is the united prayer which really is felt to unite believers. Alienation cannot survive union at the throne of the heavenly grace.
V. THE AUGUST GUEST WHO INHABITS THE TEMPLE. (Vers. 21, 22.) Every temple is erected for some god as guest. It may only enshrine a phantom or an idol, which is nothing in the world, and yet the idea in temple-building always is the enshrining of a god. Now, this temple, whose stones are the souls of religious men, and whose unity is realized in religious exercises, is meant to be the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost. He does not dwell in temples made with hands, but he dwells in those temples which are made without hands. The personalities of saintly men become his glorious home, and he condescends to dwell within us richly and- to fill us with his fullness. It is the unifying power of his presence that moulds all into one. The temple grows from within, like every growth in nature. The guest determines the character of the temple. The Holy Ghost secures a holy temple. To this unity Paul desires the Ephesians to come. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;