People like to construe this "middle wall" as being the law, but this is wrong. The middle wall is sin, the breaking of the law. The law gives strength to sin—because, if there were no law, there would be no sin. Thus, it is not the law that "stands between" but sin (Isaiah 59:2). All the law does is tell people how to live—Jew or Gentile, it does not matter. Peace, which did not exist because of our sins, had to be made; we were at war with God. That separation, the gap caused by sin, is bridged by Jesus Christ.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)
In verse 15, Paul says that God "create[s] in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." The apostle defines what these "two" are in verse 11: "Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands. . . ." The two, Gentiles and Israelites, share one Spirit in Christ, "who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us" (verse 14). Whether physically Gentile or Israelite, those who have "put on the new man" have one Spirit, God's Holy Spirit.
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)
The death of Jesus Christ does not do away with law but with enmity. The enmity of the law concerns the penalties that come with the law, for a law always has penalties. The enmity of the law can also be considered those prejudicial things that were expressed in prohibitions that separated Israel from other peoples and nations. However, because we believe in Christ and therefore have Him in common, the enmities and prejudices that have kept us separated begin to break down.
The end of verse 15 is interesting: ". . . so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." It is easy to be drawn into thinking that, when He calls the unconverted person, or when He calls, say, a Gentile, and brings him in contact with the Israelite, that the Gentile will be brought up to speed, brought up to the same level as the Israelite. That is not what Paul is saying here.
He is saying this: Christ is bringing the Israelite and the Gentile together, and He does this by melting them both down and putting them together into one. That is an altogether different picture! Notice, he writes, ". . . to create in Himself one new man from the two." From two, He makes one. He melts them down and mixes them together because neither one of them is any good.
We must begin to approach our relationships with one another from that standpoint. The Israelite should have an advantage because of his introduction to God, at least in terms of having available the Word of God, the covenants of God, and so forth. But "to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48), and the Israelites squandered their advantage (Amos 3:2). So the Israelite is no better.
God is melting them both down and creating a new man, one new man. Notice Paul's use of "create." A Master Craftsman, an Artisan, is at work on all of us. He instructs us, chastens us, does whatever is necessary to blend us all together into what? Into the image of the one that we have in common—Jesus Christ. He is creating us, not into an image of an Israelite, not into an image of a Gentile, but into the image is of Jesus Christ. That is the direction we are headed.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)
In Galatians 6:12-16; Ephesians 2:10-18; and Colossians 3:9-11, Paul broaches the subject of circumcision. He often connects the new man with circumcision because he understands the symbolism behind circumcision, and so should we.
When practiced according to God's law, the ritual of circumcision pertains to men, that is, males, taking place on the eighth day after parturition. Eight is the number of "new beginnings," the idea being that seven is the number of perfection, and seven plus one - eight - restarts the cycle. Thus, the eighth day of the week is Sunday, in reality the beginning of the new week. The Last Great Day, which occurs eight days after the Feast of Tabernacles begins, looks forward to the day when God will make all things new. This is the important symbolic message behind physical circumcision: The boy - the man - circumcised on the eighth day is a "new man."
However, the new man of whom Paul speaks is not new because of physical circumcision. He is new because he has obeyed God's command to "circumcise the foreskin of [his] heart, and be stiff-necked no longer" (Deuteronomy 10:16, see Jeremiah 4:4). Paul, understanding this, claims that "circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit." "Heart," of course, refers to mind. The new man is new because he is "renewed in the spirit of [his] mind" (Ephesians 4:23). By definition, the new man is spiritually circumcised - circumcised in his mind.
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ephesians 2:14:
1 Corinthians 16:1-3