Introduction: Have you ever felt like an “outsider?” How about in
high school? I took my driver’s training at a local public high
school. I recall walking up to the classroom and seeing a knot of
guys standing outside the door. I knew I was an outsider, but I
thought I knew one of them. Gathering my courage, I walked up to the
group and introduced myself. I did not like the feeling of being an
outsider, and wanted to move “in” as quickly as possible. Our lesson
today is about moving from an outsider to an insider. Let’s jump in
and find out how that is possible!

  1. Outsiders

    1. Read Ephesians 2:11-12. What is the significance of
      circumcision? (Read Genesis 17:7 and Genesis 17:11.
      Circumcision was a sign of agreement between God and an
      individual. (Specifically Abraham and his descendants.)
      They agreed on personal loyalty between God and man.)

      1. What, then, did it mean ( Ephesians 10:11)to be called
        “uncircumcised.” (You had no relationship with God.)

      2. Why would a group call themselves “the circumcision?”
        (They considered that act so important to their
        spiritual life, that they were known by that name.)

        1. Is that a problem?

        2. What about being called a “Baptist?”

        3. What about being called a “Methodist?”

        4. What about being called a “Seventh-day

        5. What problem can arise from over-emphasizing one
          portion of your beliefs?

      3. Notice Paul’s aside in Ephesians 2:11: “that done in
        the body by the hands of men.” What would motivate
        Paul to add this note? What point is he making?(In
        contrast to those who identify themselves by this
        single act, Paul downgrades the importance of the act
        by pointing out it is done by men.)

      4. Paul has tossed some insults in the direction of the
        “the circumcision,” but who really is (was) in
        trouble? (The Gentiles.)

        1. What were the problems of the Gentiles? (They
          were without hope and without God.)

          1. Consider this for just a moment. In prior
            times, was salvation only open to the
            Jews? Make a mental note of your answer.

  2. Insiders

    1. Read Ephesians 2:13. What changed everything for the
      Gentiles? (Jesus.)

    2. Read Ephesians 2:14-15. Paul tells us the two are now
      made one. Since he has been talking about the condition of
      the Jews and the Gentiles, are Jews and Gentiles now one?
      (Yes – amazingly.)

    3. How did Jesus convert the “two” into “one?” (Paul tells
      us: “By abolishing the law with its commandments and

      1. Wait one minute. What has the law got to do with
        being a Jew or a Gentile?

      2. Aren’t we talking about people, not rules?

    4. Read Acts 10:9-16. What is this vision about?

    5. Read Acts 10:19 and Acts 10:28. What was at the base of
      the problem between Jews and Gentiles? (The Gentiles were
      “unclean” in the eyes of the Jews.)

      1. How did the rules (regulations) separate Jew from
        Gentile? (The whole Mosaic system separated the Jew
        from the rest of the world. The point of all of these
        regulations was to be a “clean” and separate people.
        See, e.g. Leviticus 20:25-26. Being separate from the
        Gentiles had everything to do with the regulations.
        Gentiles were “unclean.”)

    6. What subject started our discussion today? (Circumcision.)

      1. Was that a “dividing wall” ( Ephesians 2:14) between
        Jews and Gentiles? (Yes.)

    7. The NIV translates Ephesians 2:15 a little differently
      than many other translations. It appears to me that the
      Greek text says Jesus “abolished in His flesh the
      hostility, the law of commandments in ordinances.” How
      did Jesus’ death on the cross abolish the “ordinances?”
      (The Jews thought they were superior because of their
      various ordinances, such as circumcision. Paul is saying
      that Jesus fulfilled these ordinances and thus they no
      longer serve as a point of distinction between Jews and

      1. Can an ordinance be commanded by God? Or, are
        ordinances just some things the Jews thought up to
        make sure they did not violate God’s law? (Since the
        specific point of discussion is circumcision, let’s
        go back to Genesis 17. Read Genesis 17:9-10. This was
        a command direct from the mouth of God. This was not
        something cooked up by Jews as a “good idea.”)

      2. If an “ordinance” comes straight from the mouth of
        God, is it any different in importance than one of
        the Ten Commandments?

  3. Now One

    1. Let’s review for just a minute so we can dig deeper. Re-read Ephesians 2:15-16. Who is the “one man?” (The
      combined Jew and Gentile. There is no more conflict
      between Jew and Gentile. We are now to be at peace.)

    1. You remember that mental note I asked you to make before?
      Tell me what salvation looked like for the Jews before
      Jesus came? (They had no hope of salvation either since
      they had all sinned. Romans 3:23.)

      1. If that is true – Jews also had no hope – why was
        Paul saying ( Ephesians 2:12)that they had all these
        advantages when it came to salvation? Why would he
        imply that the Jews had hope and had God? (The Jews
        had the hope of a coming Messiah (Jesus) and they
        literally “had” God in the sense that Jesus was one
        of them. However, in many respects they were just
        like Gentiles. Without the Messiah they had no hope.)

    2. What does Paul tell us in Ephesians 2:16 was done for the
      “one new man” ( Ephesians 2:15). (That “one new man” not
      only has internal peace (between Jew and Gentile) he also
      has been reconciled to God. Jesus not only fulfilled the
      ceremonial law – thus eliminating the wall between Jew and
      Gentile, but Jesus fulfilled the obligations of the Ten
      Commandments – thus eliminating the wall of hostility
      between God and us. Romans 8:1-4.)

    3. Is this “one new man” a clean or unclean man? (Do you
      follow Paul’s line of argument? The Jews said the Gentiles
      were unclean because they did not follow the Mosaic law
      (given by God.) Paul tells us that Christ cured that
      problem. But Jew and Gentile both still had this problem
      that they were “unclean” in the eyes of God. They were all
      sinners. Paul tells us that God cured that problem, too.
      This new man has, to use a computer term, a “virtual
      clean.” He is likely not “clean” (obedient) under the
      Mosaic law, and he certainly is not “clean”
      (obedient)under the Ten Commandments (especially as
      explained (expanded) by Jesus – see Matthew 5:27-28).
      Jesus did the impossible, He made us all clean in the eyes
      of God.)

    4. Read Ephesians 2:17-18. Were Jews nearer to God? (It seems
      that is what Paul is saying.)

      1. Did it matter? (No!)

      2. Friend, notice this. No matter how far (or how near)
        you are to God, with Jesus it does not matter. Not
        only do those who are far away from God now have
        access to Him through Jesus, but those who are near
        need Jesus for their access. You cannot be too bad or
        too good to be eligible to come. All must repent of
        sin and claim the salvation made available through

  1. A New Church

    1. Read Ephesians 2:19-22. What is the real church of God?

      1. How many walls does this church (household) have?
        (See Ephesians 2:14 – it has none!)

    2. What does this text teach us about arrogant “remnant”
      claims made along denominational lines? (When you start
      thinking that your little group is “clean” and the rest of
      Christianity “apostate,” then you need to re-read this
      chapter. God has a remnant all right, a remnant of “God’s
      people and members of God’s household, built on the
      foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus
      Himself as the chief cornerstone.” That is the remnant

    3. Friend, God’s church is completely open to you. Will you
      repent of your sins, and become part of the household of

  2. Next week: God’s Mystery: The Universal Fellowship.