Ephesians 2 – New Life with Christ & The Dividing Wall of the “Court of the Gentiles” in Herod’s Temple

Finger Pointing Up1If the Jews could they’d imprison everyone and it’s a wonder that they haven’t, at least not yet. 

Speaking of wonders, we have looked at the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind.

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

Ephesians 2
New Life with Christ

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2:1-10 – Paul wrote of the great purposes and plan of God, culminating in the universal headship of Christ, all of which is to be for “the praise of His glory.”

2He now proceed to explain the steps by which God will accomplish His purposes, beginning with the salvation of individuals.

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

“Prince” – Satan  (cf. Jn 14:30, “prince of this world”).

“Air” – Satan is no mere earthbound enemy. 

“Spirit” – Satan was a created angel and he’s still an angel, but a fallen one, and an enemy of God’s.  Who he hates the most is Jesus Christ and then people.

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)3

“Quickened us together with Christ” – see Rom 6:1-10.

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

A major passage for understanding God’s grace, i.e., His kindness, unmerited favor and forgiving love.

“Are ye saved” – “Saved” has a wide range of meanings.  It includes salvation from God’s wrath, which we all had incurred by our sinfulness.  The tense of the verb suggests a completed action with emphasis on its present effect.

4

“Through faith” – which establishes the necessity of faith in Christ as the only means of being made right with God.

“Not of yourselves” – no human effort can contribute to our salvation; it is the gift of God.

We can’t create our own salvation or earn it, it is God’s decision to give it to us.  Many think you can’t lose your salvation but you can, see Heb 6:4-6, 10:26-27.  Those that believe you can’t lose it probably aren’t saved anyway, they just think they are.

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

2:11-12 – from the salvation of individuals, Paul moves to another aspect of salvation in which God reconciles Jews and Gentiles, previously hostile peoples, not only to Himself but also to each other through Christ.

More than that, God unites these now reconciled people in one body, a truth introduced in vv. 19-22 and explained in chapter 3.5

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

“Abolished…the law” – the Old Testament law is not changed by the coming of Christ, what is abolished here is probably the effect of the specific “commandments contained in ordinances” in separating Jews from Gentiles, whose nonobservance of the Jewish law renders them ritually unclean.

616 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord:

22 In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

The Dividing Wall of the “Court of the Gentiles”
Herod’s Temple

7 Jerusalem
Jerusalem Temple Warning Inscription
1st century B.C.
Reproduction
When King Herod rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem between 19 and 9 B.C. he enclosed the outer court with colonnades.

The large separated area was referred to as the Court of the Gentiles because the “gentiles” (non-Jews from any race or religion) were not permitted to go beyond the outer court of the temple area.

They were excluded from entering into any of the inner courts, and warning signs in Greek and Latin were placed on the balustrade, the stone partition wall called the Soreg, giving strict warning that the penalty for trespassing into the sacred areas of the temple would be death.

The Romans permitted the Jewish authorities to carry out the death penalty for this offence, even if the offender was a Roman citizen.

An intact temple warning inscription in the Greek language, chiseled into a limestone block, was discovered by C.S. Clermont-Ganneau in 1871.

The letters were painted with red ink against the white limestone.

Portions of other such warning inscriptions have since been discovered.

The warning reads:
NO GENTILE MAY ENTER
BEYOND THE DIVIDING WALL
INTO THE COURT AROUND THE HOLY PLACE 

WHOEVER IS CAUGHT
WILL HAVE HIMSELF
TO BLAME FOR HIS
SUBSEQUENT DEATH

Gentiles were allowed to enter the outer temple enclosure in Jerusalem. This large, paved area surrounding the temple and its inner courts was enclosed by a double colonnade of pillars standing 37 feet high. The perimeter of this area measured three-quarters of a mile. This outer court was also called the court of the Gentiles.

But Gentiles were physically prevented access to the inner courts of the temple by a 4½ foot high barrier (Paul’s “dividing wall of hostility” in 2:14).

The Jewish historian Josephus pointed out that 13 stone slabs with writing in both Greek and Latin were placed at intervals on the barrier, warning Gentiles not to enter. In Josephus’s words,

“There was a partition made of stone… Its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters, that “no foreigner should go within that sanctuary” [Wars, 5.5.2).

Archaeologists have discovered two of these warning slabs, which state:

“No foreigner is allowed to enter within the balustrade surrounding the sanctuary and the court enclosed. Whoever is caught will be personally responsible for his ensuing death.”

This dividing wall had great significance for Paul, who was arrested in Jerusalem for reportedly bringing a Gentiles into the inner court of the temple.

Paul and other Jewish followers of Christ recognized that the God who had previously resided in the temple had entered humanity in the person of Jesus, the Messiah.

Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection had in effect broken down the dividing wall, effecting spiritual unity between Jews and Gentiles.

As a result, Paul knew, all people have been granted access to God through saving faith in Jesus Christ.

…the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

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