In the preceding verses of this chapter Paul magnifies the riches of God's grace toward Jew and Gentile sinners. We all were dead in trespasses and sins. We all were children of wrath, following Satan and fulfilling our lusts and desires. But God quickened us together with Christ. Both Jew and Gentile have need to praise the grace of God (Rom. 3:19-24).
(Vs. 11.) The Ephesians are called upon to remember and consider further (in order that God's grace and mercy to them might be magnified) that they were not only dead in sin, but were Gentile dogs not of the covenant people Israel, not of the house of Abraham, not of the people to whom the promises, prophecies and sacrifices were given. They were called uncircumcised by way of reproach and contempt.
(Vs. 12.) As Gentiles, "Ye were without Christ." The Messiah was promised to Israel, the prophecies concerning the Saviour were given to Israel and the types, sacrifices and priesthood were of Israel.
"Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel." So great an alienation and distance was there between Jew and Gentile that Gentiles could not dwell among Jews, eat nor converse with them, marry them, eat the Passover, nor join with them in worship.
"Strangers from the covenant of promise," to the covenant given to Abraham, to the covenant at Sinai and to the covenant of grace. It might read, "strangers to the promises of the covenant".
"Having no hope" of a Messiah or salvation by him, no hope of the first resurrection or eternal life (Rev. 20:5, 6).
"Without God in the world," without any knowledge of God, without any prescribed worship of God, without any sacrifice or sin-offering by which to approach God. It was said, "He who dwells outside the land of Israel is like one who has no God!"
(Vs. 13.) But now, being chosen in Christ, redeemed in Christ, called to faith in Christ and becoming believers in Christ, we who were far from his law, his land, his people (aliens, strangers, without any knowledge of God) are made one with God through the blood of Christ. We are sons of God, having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:19-22).
(Vs. 14.) Christ is the author of peace with God, the giver of peace to our hearts and the maker of peace between Jew and Gentile. The wall may refer to the wall in the temple which divided the court of Israel from the court of the Gentiles and kept them at a distance in worship; but it definitely is the ceremonial law of circumcision, types and sacrifices, for Christ is the fulfilment of all for Jew and Gentile (Rom. 1:16,17).
(Vs. l5.) Christ, in his flesh, abolished all differences between Jew and Gentile. He is the tabernacle, where God meets men and men meet God. He is the one great High Priest, who intercedes on behalf of all. He is the Passover, the Lamb of God, the atonement. Circumcision is of the heart (not in the flesh) and results in a broken heart toward sin and God. All believers are one (Gal. 6:15; 3:28).
(Vs. 16.) By one body is meant either the human body of Christ, in which he obeyed the law, suffered for our sins, arose and ascended, or it may be meant that he reconciled all believers into one mystical body, the church of which he is the head. This he did by the cross, having slain the enmity of the law (both moral and ceremonial) (Eph. 5:22, 23).
(Vs. l7.) He came by his Spirit in the ministry of his apostles, preaching Christ, who is our peace (peace made by his blood) and the gospel of peace to Jew and Gentile.
(Vs. 18.) Jew and Gentile have access to the Father through Christ. Neither the law nor justice stand in the way of a believing sinner approaching God if he comes through Christ alone (Heb. 4:14.16).
(Vs. 19, 20.) Now we are no more aliens (strangers or foreigners) but citizens of the city of God, sons of God in his household. Christ is the foundation on which the church is built. He is the cornerstone which knits together all believers Jew and Gentile, Old and New Testament saints, saints on earth and saints above, in all ages and places (Matt. 16:15.18; 1 Cor. 3:10,11).
(Vs. 21, 22.) This is a spiritual building and will abide for ever. It is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It grows and is brought together as God calls out his elect, It is not finished yet as it will be. It is the habitation of God through the Spirit. God dwells in his people (1 Peter 2:4, 5).