Author: Ron Graham
The Priceless Covenant (B)
—Reconciling and uniting
This lesson continues to look at the second C in Ephesians 2, the Covenant legislated by Jesus Christ and ratified by his blood. This covenant is the constitution of the church of Christ. In this lesson we see it as a uniting and reconciling covenant whose author and mediator is Christ.
Excerpt from Ephesians 2
“For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us. He abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances. He did this to make in himself one new man out of two, so making peace so that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby. He came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to them that were nigh... In whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14-17,22).
1 The Covenant That Joins And Does Not Divide
The "both" in this passage refers to the Jews ("those who were near") and the Gentiles ("you who were afar off"). What Paul says could, of course, apply to any enmity or division in human society.
For example, "bond...free, male...female" (Galatians 3:26-29). We could think of others: rich...poor, black...white, weak...strong, educated...illiterate, democratic...communist, and so forth.
Jesus Christ binds people together who were once divided. He makes them "fellow citizens... built together" (Ephesians 2:19,22). Jesus Christ makes peace, and his new covenant is a charter of peace —peace not only between man and God, but between man and man.
The reconciliation of Onesimus the runaway slave to his master Philemon is a good example. (See Paul’s Letter to Philemon).
The only separation that the new covenant causes, is a separation from "this world" of which Paul speaks at the start of our study chapter (Ephesians 2:2-3).
2 The Covenant That Christ Preached
"He came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to them that were nigh..." (Ephesians 2:17, cf Isaiah 57:19).
The priceless covenant which Jesus mediated is not called a "covenant" or "testament" in Ephesians. Paul instead uses the terms "the mystery of his will" and "the message of truth" and "the gospel of peace"(Ephesians 1:9,13, 6:15).
In our chapter for study, Paul reminds us that Christ "came and preached peace" (Ephesians 2:17). What Jesus Christ preached (at first personally and later through his apostles and prophets) was a covenant of reconciliation and peace in his blood, capable of uniting Jew and Gentile to each other because it could unite them both with God.
This gospel covenant was to take the place of the old covenant law abolished in Christ's sacrificed flesh (Ephesians 2:13-17).
3 The Covenant Based Firmly On Christ
"You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20).
Christ, whom Paul previously called "the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1:22-23), is now called the "chief corner stone" in the church's foundation (Ephesians 2:20).
The cornerstone is the stone from which all measurements are taken. Once laid true, it becomes the standard for all the rest of the structure. Christ's covenant is the standard for his church, because the covenant itself is based on Christ. A church is only as true as it is faithful to that standard.
Christ is mentioned at least eleven times in our study chapter (Ephesians 2).
- Made alive together because of Christ (v5)
- Seated in the heavenly places in Christ (v6)
- God shows his rich grace toward us in Christ (v7)
- God’s workmanship created in Christ (v10)
- At one time separate from Christ (v12)
- Brought near to God by Christ (v13)
- In his flesh Christ abolished the Law (v15)
- Blood of Christ makes peace, reconciles us to God (v13-16)
- Through Christ we have our access to God in one Spirit (v12)
- Christ is the chief cornerstone on which we are built (v20)
So we see that everything the new covenant achieves is based upon Christ. Without Christ and his cross there would be no priceless covenant. The new covenant does what the former covenants could not do, because there's something special and powerful in the new covenant that was only promised in the old. It is the cross of Christ. And that is what our next lesson is about.