Their Story, Our Story

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), December 6

unknownEarly in the Bible’s metanarrative, in Genesis 3:15, God promised Adam and Eve (the originators of all humanity) a coming Redeemer. Many generations later, He isolated Abraham from all the men upon the earth and promised him, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).

Abraham’s descendants possessed the covenants of promise in the Law of Moses, and the prophets’ foretelling of Christ. In other words, they were nearer to the Truth than the Gentiles, who only had creation’s witness of “His invisible attributes . . . His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:20).

Gentiles were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having ho hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12); The Gentiles’ access to redemptive theology depended upon Israel’s story and the proclamation of those within “the commonwealth” who trusted in the Messiah.

It was to Paul that God called and gave the task of being His ambassador to the Gentiles—“He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Through Paul God also communicated the unification of all people who believe in Jesus. Paul addresses both Jewish- and Gentile-background believers as “saints” in his opening in his letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 1:2). The designation “saints” unifies believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

Paul declares that the barrier—a “middle wall of separation” (2:14) between Christ and all sinners, and between Jews and Gentiles—is removed. Christ destroyed that barrier and abolished “in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances . . . that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross” (2:15). Both those close to the truth (Jews) and those far from the truth (Gentiles) are reconciled to Christ: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God . . . in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (2:19, 21).

God chose to reveal His Messiah through the Jews, and it was through them that the Gentiles would hear about the Messiah—that “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (2:13).

Therefore, believing Gentiles are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people, members of God’s household, and participants in the continuing story, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (2:10).

The Gentiles are debtors to the Jews for the promises of God regarding redemption; they are also indebted to the Jews for the early proclamation of those promises and their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. Their story is that story which Gentiles live and tell.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Acts 28; Ephesians 1:1-2:22):
What does the shipwreck upon Malta’s beach reveal about God’s redemptive purposes?
How do the Jews in Rome respond to Paul’s message proclaimed out of the Law of Moses and the Prophets?
List the components of Paul’s request for the saints in his prayer for them in Ephesians 1:15-22.
Contrast the “before and after” state of the saints in Ephesian 2:1-10. What does this reveal about all saints?