Paul in Ephesians 2

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An often quoted verse in support that Jesus abolished the law is Ephesians 2:14-15 (ESV):  “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances…”  Read Ephesians 2:11-16 to expand your view around these verses.

The context is about how the Gentiles now have access to the Congregation of Israel through faith in Jesus (v.11-12).  To gain meaning we must understand that the Temple system of Jesus’ day had a “dividing wall” between the Jews and Gentiles.  This “outer court” or “court of the gentiles” was not Biblical law but a religious, man-made law.  This outer court is also the same area where Jesus threw the money-changers out (Mark 11:15-18) and said:  “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”  Jesus was referencing Isaiah 56:7.  Read God’s Open Invitation in Isaiah 56 to get a clearer picture.

Is Paul stating Jesus abolished the Law, the Commandments of God? No.  Paul is actually referring to the law regulating the temple separating the Jews and Gentiles which is a religious, man-made law not found in the Bible.  The Greek word used for “ordinances” is Strong’s Ref. #G1378 refers to a civil, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical law.  Other uses of the same Greek word in the New Testament reveal it is never used in relation to the Commandments of God or the Torah.  To better understand the meaning we find this word translated as ‘decree’ in Luke 2:1, Acts 16:4, Acts 17:7, and as ordinances in Ephesians 2:15 (shown here) and Colossians 2:14.  Colossians chapter 2 refers to allowing ourselves to be judged “after the commandments and doctrines of men.”  For more details see “Do Not Let Any Man Judge You” on this website.

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