Fellow Citizens With the Saints – Nathan Brewer

Nathan Brewer

The Gentiles had been excluded from being part of the people of God. Not that God loved Gentiles less than Jews, but He separated Abraham and Abraham’s descendants to bring Christ into the world.

Paul reminds Gentile Christians at Ephesus that they had been excluded (Eph. 2:12) but now, in Christ, they are partakers of the New Covenant thanks to Christ’s blood (Eph. 2:13). Christ’s death made salvation possible and removed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-16).

Now, because of Christ’s death, everyone can be saved from their sins and be at peace with God (Eph. 2:16-17).

Paul says in Ephesians 2:18 that through Christ, “we both,” Jews and Gentiles, “have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” to get back the fellowship that all of us lost when we committed our first sin. For just as surely as Adam and Eve were banished from paradise after they defied God’s will (Gen. 3:22-24), we all left God’s presence the first time we broke His law.

Now,” Paul tells the Ephesian Christians, everyone has the opportunity to be “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,” (Eph. 2:19). Back in verse 12, Paul had said that Gentiles were previously “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” but now, in Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike can enjoy citizenship, with all its rights and responsibilities.

But this citizenship is not in any physical nation or geographical kingdom. It is in the household of God. Under the Old Covenant, that household was a physical family, Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. But now, in the New Covenant, the household of God is the church (1 Tim. 3:14-15). Paul spends the first two chapters of Ephesians explaining the blessings that are “in Christ.” First, he says all spiritual blessings are in Christ (1:3). Then he mentions some of them: reconciliation, peace, adoption, redemption, inheritance. At the end of chapter 2, Paul says the process of adoption into God’s family, thanks to the blood of Christ, gives us citizenship.

This citizenship is located “in Christ.” To be in Christ is to be in His body. His body is the church (1:22-23). Therefore, citizenship in God’s family is equal to membership in Christ’s church. The church is God’s family.

Acts 2 provides an example of this actually happening. When the Gospel is preached for the first time, believing Jews ask what to do, and Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in order to be forgiven. About 3,000 comply (2:41). But Acts 2:41 also says those who were baptized “were added.” To what? Verse 47 is explicit—as believers are baptized, the Lord adds them to the church.

Under Judaism, physical birth made a descendant of Abraham a citizen of Israel. Under the Gospel, new birth provides adoption into the family of God, the church of Christ.

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Author: Editor

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