Thielman, Frank. Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
Chapter 5, “From Existence without God to Membership in the People of God (2:11-22)” pp. 148-186
Thielman observes that Ephesians 2:11-22 is roughly parallel to 2:1-10, beginning with a description of trouble with God, moving to the gracious divine response, then showing the positive outcome of God’s grace (Thielman 2010, 148). In this passage there is a greater emphasis on the horizontal relationship of man to man rather than the vertical God to man (Ibid., 149). In 2:11-13 Paul’s emphasis is on the troubles of the Gentiles, being separated from God (Ibid., 151). The Gentiles were separated from the Jews physically, shown in uncircumcision. This was a strong indicator of their exclusion from God’s people (Ibid., 153). Paul goes on to detail several disadvantages of the Gentiles. The narrative shifts in verse 14 as Paul describes Jesus as the one who has brought the Gentiles near (Ibid., 161). The emphasis is on Jesus who is, himself, our peace, for all who believe, even in alienated groups (Ibid., 164). The imagery of a dividing wall is especially vivid, known in reality as a fence prohibiting entry (Ibid., 165-166) Thielman questions the implications of Jesus’ tearing down “the middle wall...in his flesh” at some length. The syntax is slightly unclear. He concludes that by his death Jesus set aside the Mosaic Law, creating a new obedience to himself by faith. This looks very similar but is rooted in Jesus (Ibid., 170). Finally in verses 19-22, Paul describes the Gentiles as an important part of God’s people (Ibid., 177). The language used strongly points to citizenship and belonging (Ibid., 178). This citizenship is based alike on the apostles and prophets (Ibid., 180). It is absolutely sound and complete. In all, Jesus is preeminent, the cornerstone and capstone of the people of God.