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Ephesians 2:11-22

Context
New Life Corporately

2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh – who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body 1  by human hands – 2:12 that you were at that time without the Messiah, 2  alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, 3  having no hope and without God in the world. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 4  2:14 For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one 5  and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, 2:15 when he nullified 6  in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man 7  out of two, 8  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. 9  2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, 2:18 so that 10  through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 2:19 So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, 2:20 because you have been built 11  on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 12  with Christ Jesus himself as 13  the cornerstone. 14  2:21 In him 15  the whole building, 16  being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

1 tn Grk “in the flesh.”

2 tn Or “without Christ.” Both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.” Because the context refers to ancient Israel’s messianic expectation, “Messiah” was employed in the translation at this point rather than “Christ.”

3 tn Or “covenants of the promise.”

4 tn Or “have come near in the blood of Christ.”

sn See the note on “his blood” in 1:7.

5 tn Grk “who made the both one.”

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

9 tn Grk “by killing the hostility in himself.”

10 tn Or “for.” BDAG gives the consecutive ὅτι (Joti) as a possible category of NT usage (BDAG 732 s.v. 5.c).

11 tn Grk “having been built.”

12 sn Apostles and prophets. Because the prophets appear after the mention of the apostles and because they are linked together in 3:5 as recipients of revelation about the church, they are to be regarded not as Old Testament prophets, but as New Testament prophets.

13 tn Grk “while Christ Jesus himself is” or “Christ Jesus himself being.”

14 tn Or perhaps “capstone” (NAB). The meaning of ἀκρογωνιαῖος (akrogwniaio") is greatly debated. The meaning “capstone” is proposed by J. Jeremias (TDNT 1:792), but the most important text for this meaning (T. Sol. 22:7-23:4) is late and possibly not even an appropriate parallel. The only place ἀκρογωνιαῖος is used in the LXX is Isa 28:16, and there it clearly refers to a cornerstone that is part of a foundation. Furthermore, the imagery in this context has the building growing off the cornerstone upward, whereas if Christ were the capstone, he would not assume his position until the building was finished, which vv. 21-22 argue against.

15 tn Grk “in whom” (v. 21 is a relative clause, subordinate to v. 20).

16 tc Although several important witnesses (א1 A C P 6 81 326 1739c 1881) have πᾶσα ἡ οἰκοδομή (pasa Jh oikodomh), instead of πᾶσα οἰκοδομή (the reading of א* B D F G Ψ 33 1739* Ï), the article is almost surely a scribal addition intended to clarify the meaning of the text, for with the article the meaning is unambiguously “the whole building.”

tn Or “every building.” Although “every building” is a more natural translation of the Greek, it does not fit as naturally into the context, which (with its emphasis on corporate unity) seems to stress the idea of one building.



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