2:15 when he nullified 1 in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man 2 out of two, 3 thus making peace, 2:16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. 4
1 tn Or “rendered inoperative.” This is a difficult text to translate because it is not easy to find an English term which communicates well the essence of the author’s meaning, especially since legal terminology is involved. Many other translations use the term “abolish” (so NRSV, NASB, NIV), but this term implies complete destruction which is not the author’s meaning here. The verb καταργέω (katargew) can readily have the meaning “to cause someth. to lose its power or effectiveness” (BDAG 525 s.v. 2, where this passage is listed), and this meaning fits quite naturally here within the author’s legal mindset. A proper English term which communicates this well is “nullify” since this word carries the denotation of “making something legally null and void.” This is not, however, a common English word. An alternate term like “rendered inoperative [or ineffective]” is also accurate but fairly inelegant. For this reason, the translation retains the term “nullify”; it is the best choice of the available options, despite its problems.
2 tn In this context the author is not referring to a new individual, but instead to a new corporate entity united in Christ (cf. BDAG 497 s.v. καινός 3.b: “All the Christians together appear as κ. ἄνθρωπος Eph 2:15”). This is clear from the comparison made between the Gentiles and Israel in the immediately preceding verses and the assertion in v. 14 that Christ “made both groups into one.” This is a different metaphor than the “new man” of Eph 4:24; in that passage the “new man” refers to the new life a believer has through a relationship to Christ.
3 tn Grk “in order to create the two into one new man.” Eph 2:14-16 is one sentence in Greek. A new sentence was started here in the translation for clarity since contemporary English is less tolerant of extended sentences.
4 tn Grk “by killing the hostility in himself.”