Winger, Thomas M. "Reconciled in One Body through the Cross 2:11-22." Ephesians. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014, 309-351.
Winger finds a shift in emphasis starting at Ephesians 2:11. The presentation of the Gospel was general in nature through verse ten (Winger 2014, 310). The Ephesians are to remember the Gospel and the way Paul and they would live as part of their heritage in Christ. The past and present stand in sharp contrast (Winger 2014, 310). The Ephesians are no longer Gentiles "in the flesh." By saying this, Winger observes that circumcision and uncircumcision are not the defining characteristic that matters (Winger 2014, 311). The grace of God is received by grace, through faith. This is what defines the Ephesians. In Ephesians 2:12, they were alienated from Israel. Winger takes this to mean they were separated "from the privileges and way of life of God's chosen people under his covenant" (Winger 2014, 313). The citizenship to which Paul refers is not an earthly, localized right, but something eternal.
Winger observes that the term Paul uses for a "covenant" in Ephesians 2:12 is significant. Rather than a συνθήκη, which indicates a bilateral agreement, he uses the word διαθήκη, a unilateral declaration (Winger 2014, 314). God is the one who set the terms and conditions of the covenant. Ultimately he is the one who keeps the covenant. The covenant of God would then change the Ephesians from being people without hope. In Christ, they do have hope (Winger 2014, 314).
The ground shift Winger observes in Ephesians 2:12 and following, then, is a shift from being "in the world" to being "in Christ" in verse 13 (Winger 2014, 315). The Ephesians who, as Gentiles, had been scattered and "far off" now as Christians are "brought near." Winger notes this was typical language used for conversion to Judaism, but here it is applied to conversion to Christ (Winger 2014, 316).
In Ephesians 2:14, Christ is described as "our peace." Winger notes this is repeated in verse 15, making a bracket around a central idea (Winger 2014, 317). He further notes that Paul associates Christ with "the God of peace," thus making a claim to Christ's divinity (Winger 2014, 318). Jesus' work of "breaking down every wall" may refer to several different impediments. Winger discusses evil forces (Winger 2014, 318), the curtain in the temple, God's law, and hostility of Jewish authorities (Winger 2014, 319).
Winger further notes the forceful nature of Ephesians 2:15. Here, all the Law is oppressive, breeding hostility (Winger 2014, 323). While God's Word, frequently translated as "law" is good, at this point Paul's classification of "the commands" excludes what Lutherans would understand as Gospel. He is here speaking of the demands of God's law, which we cannot keep. This is what Christ took care of, through the Gospel.
Verse 16 makes it clear that the work of Christ is to create unity, gathering different people and making them one, specifically in Christ (Winger 2014, 324). It is only through Christ that this can happen, and that one body is made only by means of Christ being crucified (Winger 2014, 325).
In Ephesians 2:16 Winger takes the aorist participle ἀποκτείνας not to show temporality, but means, "by killing" (Winger 2014, 325). I question this and wish to investigate further. It would not be normal to use a nominative case to show means.
Verse 17 restates the work of Christ as making peace. Winger observes not only that the peace is both for people far and near, but that Paul makes allusions and near quotations of numerous Old Testament passages, applying them to Christ (Winger 2014, 326-327). In Christ Jew and Gentile are together reconciled. Winger particularly notes that in Ephesians 2:18 this is "through him" (Christ), "in one spirit" (the Holy Spirit), "with the Father," a clear Trinitarian statement (Winger 2014, 327). The theme returns in Ephesians 4:1-6.
Ephesians 2:19 returns to the concept of the Ephesian Gentile unbelievers as strangers. They are no longer in their former condition, alienated from God (Winger 2014, 328). Winger speaks to the fact that the Ephesians are counted on an equal footing with all the Christians.
Winger observes that in Ephesians 2:20, the reference to the Christians being built on "the apostles and prophets" seems to be in conflict with Paul's normal emphasis on Christ alone. Here Paul sees Christ and the church as incorporated in building God's temple (Winger 2014, 331). Paul frequently includes teachings which include the apostles as a part of God's work, not only here in Ephesians, but also elsewhere in his letters. Specifically, here, Christ is the cornerstone, which determines the level and direction of the rest of the building. The apostles and prophets, as other parts of the foundation, are dependent on his governance (Winger 2014, 334).
Paul's emphasis in verse 21 is that the entire church is one entity, joined together as a coherent whole (Winger 2014, 336). Winger notes that it grows, not necessarily in number, but in some vital aspect as one organism. He takes this to be a growth in many facets, mentioned in other Scriptures, in its appearance in the world (Winger 2014, 337). Of critical importance to Paul is the fact that in Ephesians 2:22, the Ephesian gentiles have been incorporated in God's building.
Winger finds the divisions in Ephesians, particularly in chapter two, to be very clear-cut. There are distinctive markers of change of topic at each of the modern chapter divisions. Further, there is a clear contrast at Ephesians 2:1 and another at 2:11, suggesting that verses 1-10 go together as one unit. Verses 11 and following shift from a distinction of Jew and Gentile to a distinction between "then" and "now" (Winger 2014, 339). Winger notes that Ephesians 2:11-22 also form a chiastic structure, based on the concepts of "then" and "now" (Winger 2014, 341). The central thought is that of God making peace through the unity found in reconciliation.
In terms of the rhetorical structure of Ephesians, Winger takes 2:11-22 to be "the second major proof for Paul's contention that we are baptismally united in Christ (Winger 2014, 343). The fact of Christ's passion has a natural result, which is unity. Here Winger acknowledges a distinction between his understanding and that of scholars who view chapters 4-6 as exhortation to live out a new life in light of what Christ has done in chapters 1-3.
The division between Jews and Gentiles was addressed by Paul in the Berakah prayer of Ephesians 1:3-14. In 2:11-22 he returns to the theme of God's work to break down division (Winger 2014, 343). Because God has united people to himself, their divisions have naturally been broken down. God's relationship with Israel, as his special covenant people, has not ended (Winger 2014, 345). However, the same relationship has been extended to all nations in Christ. They no longer live as hopeless people (Winger 2014, 346). The division of 2:14 may well represent not only the divide between God and man, but also that between hopelessness and hope.