14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
He (v.14) — in Greek, it’s intensive — He Himself, He and no other, He in His own Person
made (v.14) = to join together that which is separated — (here) Jew and Gentile
middle wall of separation (v.14) — Christ has broken down the middle wall of partition, that is, the law with its animal sacrifices, feasts, baptisms, Sabbaths, etc. This wall stood tall and strong for over fifteen hundred years. It barred the Gentiles access to the true and living God. There was no place this was more acutely evident than the temple. The following inscription was recently unearthed from Herod’s temple in Jerusalem by archeologists:
No Gentile may enter the barricade which surrounds the Sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.
But now, we are free from the law. Christ has “abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (v.15). Christ delivered us from the obligation of fulfilling the demands of the law as a condition of justification. He accomplished this by redeeming us from the curse of the law. The curse of the law was the pronouncement of “death” due to sin. But Christ who knew no sin was made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). In other words, He died our death, freeing us from the bondage of the law. — Sadler, pages 107-108.
Acts 21:28 —Crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This [Paul] is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”
abolished (v.15) = rendered inoperative
enmity (v.15) — referring (here) to the middle wall (v.14) between Jew and Gentile
new man (v.15) — not the individual believer but the Church, the Body of Christ — as in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
The new creation and the new union have their ground and principle in Christ. What was contemplated, too, was not simply the making of one man where formerly there were two, but the making of one new man. The result was not that, though, the separation between them was removed, the Jew still remained Jew and the Gentile, still Gentile. It was something new, the old distinctions between Jew and Gentile being lost in a third order of “man” — the Christian man. The word “make” is not “to make,” but “to create.” The word “new” is not “new” in time but “new” in quality. The word “man” is not “a male individual,” but the generic, racial term, speaking of an individual, here of the new creation made up of male and female, the mystical body of Christ. — Wuest, page 76.
and (v.16) — continuing the thought in v.15 and extending it. — Now reconciliation to God is introduced — a reconciliation to a condition which had been lost — the unity of the human race before God brought in the Jew as a separate and distinct nation.
reconcile (v.16) = reconcile things that are at variance.
having slain the enmity (v.16) — between (here) the sinner and God
came (v.17) = having come
preached (v.17) = lit. “brought good news”
This passage has troubled some …, insofar as it seems to imply that Christ preached this message during His earthly ministry. Of course, we know this could not have been the case since this truth was hidden. The answer lies in the fact that the revelation of the joint Body was to be manifested in due time through Paul’s gospel (1 Timothy 2:3-7cf.Titus 1:1-3). So, it is through Paul’s message that Christ is making known that Jews and Gentiles are reconciled in one Body by the Cross. — Sadler, page 109.
you who were afar off (v.17) — Gentiles
those who were near (v.17) — Jews
Verse 18 is an appeal to the truth of what has just been stated based on experience. — The Spirit is witness to the truth that Jews and Gentiles are now one body. All three members of the Trinity are in view in this verse.
access (v.18) — used of those who secure for one an interview with a sovereign
In Christ’s baptism into death at Calvary all Jewish believers die, and cease therefore to be Jews, and, likewise, all Gentile believers die and cease to be Gentiles. They rise with Christ, and as one body — a new man — they are brought into a new creation — separated from the earth and placed in and with Christ in the heavenlies. There He as the Head and they as the members form the Church.
This purpose of God respecting the Church in the heavenlies and His counsel concerning Israel and the nations in the earth, do not conflict. All His promises made in the Scriptures to the Hebrew Church will most surely be fulfilled in the earth. The nations will be blessed with Israel as Israel. The distinction between Israel and the nations will be maintained; for Israel will be set at the head of the nations; and all together they will become the Kingdom and the power of Christ. But the Church’s home and hopes are heavenly. — Williams, page 922.