In Ephesians 2:19-22, in the Phillips translation, the apostle Paul writes:
So you are no longer outsiders or aliens, but fellow-citizens with every other Christian [the saints, NKJV] - you belong now to the household of God. Firmly beneath you is the foundation, God's messengers and prophets, the corner-stone being Christ Jesus himself. In him each separate piece of building, properly fitting into its neighbor, grows together into a temple consecrated to the Lord. You are all part of this building in which God himself lives by his Spirit.
We stand on the Christian lives of those who have gone before us. Those who have died in the faith, the saints who await their resurrection from the dead, form the foundation on which we stand, along with Christ, the Cornerstone. If we live our lives with integrity, then we too become an integral piece of the Temple.
Paul's main intention in Ephesians 2 is to let Gentile converts know that they have equal privileges with Israelite converts. Whatever his origins, each individual forms a separate piece of the "building," and all fitted together provide a habitation for God. The building metaphor is equally appropriate for us. Each of us comes from a different social and ethnic background, education, life experience, and so on. In order for us to become part of the Temple, a place where God dwells, integrity must reside in our characters.
Continuing the metaphor, each of us is fitted into the proper place. If a building is constructed of solid pieces - no rotted or bowed wood, no rusted metal, no inferior materials of any type - and if it is erected on a solid foundation, the result is a structure with integrity. The apostle Peter also uses the building metaphor in I Peter 2:1-5:
Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
A building block or stone, used to construct a spiritual house or a temple, must be sound. It must itself have integrity. If the stone is weak, it will crumble or crack easily, endangering the whole building.
Building With Integrity
He is gathering everybody into the household of God, and we are forerunners in the process He is working out.
One of the major keys to the unity God is creating is understanding that it is through Christ that we are reconciled to God. Much of the responsibility for maintaining that reconciliation with God has fallen upon us. Christ is still involved, because He is our High Priest. He is working with us to maintain the reconciliation that He made, so that our contact with God is not broken through disobedience. Thus, each person contributes in the maintenance of this reconciliation by working on himself to become holy—by living a life worthy of God's calling.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)
This spiritual Tabernacle is God's habitation, just as, physically, the Tabernacle of Meeting served as His habitation in the wilderness.
God Our Provider
Formerly, before God began to work in this way, there were two kinds of people on earth: the converted and unconverted. However, let us be a little bit more specific. In the context of Ephesians 2, the two kinds of people were Israelites and Gentiles. When we understand verses 16-20, He is saying now a third class of people is arising. There is the Gentile, the Israelite, and the Christian—the new man.
This is what God is creating, a family, a nation. He is creating something that is unique on the earth: a family that gets along with each other. Such a thing is unseen in the history of men. There are no wars (considering nations being families grown great) that are more vicious and terrible than inter-family wars, which we call "civil wars."
God is creating a family that gets along with each other, and this harmony begins with the acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ. However, God expects that it will not end there. Because of the fellowship that we have with Him through Jesus Christ, as we begin to have more things in common, it will begin to expand out to others whom He is calling. It begins with the Spirit of God working with the person and eventually in him.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ephesians 2:19:
1 Corinthians 16:1-3