This text, Ephesians 2:13–17, speaks of reconciliation between peoples— through the cross of Christ.
13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached [the gospel of] peace to you were far off and peace to those who were near. –Ephesians 2:13–17 (ESV)
What aspects of this text speak exclusively to Jew-Gentile reconciliation in the church? What aspects of the text speak of reconciliation between Gentile peoples, tribes, or other social groups in the church?
What does it look like in a given local context when Jesus Christ, the One who is all in all (Eph 1:23), is the Savior-King through whom our tribal, racial, or status divisions in the church are resolved?
What does it look like in a given local context when the crucified Christ, having “killed the hostility” (Eph 2:16), becomes the body of Christ living as the “one new man” (Eph 2:15)?
This text (Eph 2:13–17) has dense atonement-and-gospel content; why, then, has it been broadly ignored in atonement doctrine—especially at the popular level? Why do few pastors preach on this text concerning the meaning of the cross of Christ?
To what degree is collective identity conflict addressed by the atonement verses in Ephesians 2:13–17? Does the atonement of Christ/gospel of peace offer reconciliation horizontally between groups in competition or in conflict within the church?
How was this text used, abused, or ignored in three historical contexts when the church failed to halt violence and bloodshed—despite widespread Christian influence in the nation?
- Christianity and the genocide in Rwanda, 1994
- Christianity and the German Reich, 1933–45
- Christianity and America—slavery and racism
How does Eph 2:11–22 fit into the broader context of Ephesians? How does this text relate to the three passages that refer to cosmic powers of darkness, “rulers and authorities” (Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12).
Does this text speak of a reconciliation in Christ that is simultaneously vertical with God and horizontal within God’s people?
How does this text speak to the problem of group-based honor competition or tribalism in the Global Church? How might this text speak to the church in America?
How does this text challenge our Western bias toward individualism in theology?
What can we learn from Early Church interpretations of this text?
What honor-shame dynamics in the Roman Empire might inform our interpretation of this text? (I begin to address this here.)
How do scholars and preachers from minority groups interpret this text?
What might this text say to the Church Growth Movement or the Unreached Peoples Movement?
In service of our Savior-King and the global church, to what degree can a team of scholars and practitioners from around the world, be in fellowship on a journey together, to answer these questions?
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3 Ways to Honor God on Your Next Mission Trip
We're sharing three things you should consider before you organize or participate in an international mission trip, seek to do work in the multicultural neighborhood in your own city, or embark on any cross-cultural partnership.