Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Strangers in This House

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
There are no second-class citizens with God; if you’re in, you’re in all the way, with full benefits. Paul addressed this particularly to non-Jewish believers in Christ. Once they were strangers and foreigners, now they were fellow citizens with full membership in God’s household. Non-Jews do not have to become Jews, as some erroneously taught (Paul addressed this error in his letter to the Galatians). Nor do Jews have to become non-Jews, as some of the traditions of men within the Church have held, and as some non-believing Jews have insisted. No, in Christ, the “middle wall of separation” (v. 14) between Jews and non-Jews has been abolished. For God is doing a new thing, making one household.

The concept of household runs very strong in this passage, particularly as revealed in the Greek text. The Greek word for “house” is oikos, and we see some form of this word six times this short passage:
  • Once non-Jews were foreigners. The Greek is paroikoi — those who dwelt alongside the house, but not in it. They were resident aliens, not citizens. But now in Christ, we are fellow citizens with the saints, God’s “set-apart” ones.
  • Now we are part of the household of God. The word is oikeoi — of the house and part of the family.
  • The household of which are now a part is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, with Christ as the chief cornerstone. The word for “built” is epoikodomeo — to build a house upon its foundation.
  • This building is perfectly fitted together. The word is oikodome — the architecture or structure of the house.
  • All who believe in Christ, whether they are Jews or non-Jews, are being built together. The Greek is sunoikodomeo — building, not two, but one unified structure.
  • We are being built together into dwelling place of God. The word is katoiketerion — a habitation, an abiding place, a residence.
The foundation of this house is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, for that is who the apostles and prophets proclaim. Indeed, Christ Himself is the chief cornerstone, the one by whom the whole structure is brought into perfect alignment. All who believe in Him, whether Jew or non-Jew, are brought together, just as two walls are brought together at the corner and perfectly joined.

This house is a spiritual house, that is, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. Once we were outside of the house, separated from God. But now, we are not merely inside the house with God, but we are the house of God — He dwells within us!

Once we were far away. But now through faith in Jesus Christ we are brought into such intimate relationship with God — and each other — that He has made Himself at home in us.