July 29 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 49–50; Romans 1
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
READ Ephesians 2:11–22
A monk named Telemachus lived a quiet life, but his death at the end of the fourth century changed the world. Visiting Rome from the East, Telemachus intervened in the blood sport of the gladiatorial arena. He jumped over the stadium wall and tried to stop the gladiators from killing each other. But the outraged crowd stoned the monk to death. The emperor Honorius, however, was moved by Telemachus’ act and decreed the end of the 500-year practice of gladiator games.
When Paul calls Jesus “our peace,” he refers to the end of hostility between Jews and gentiles (Ephesians 2:14). God’s chosen people Israel were distinct from the nations and enjoyed certain privileges. For instance, while gentiles were allowed to worship at the Jerusalem temple, a dividing wall restricted them to the outer court—on punishment of death. Jews regarded gentiles unclean, and they experienced mutual hostility. But now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection for all, both Jew and gentile can worship God freely through faith in Him (vv. 18–22). There’s no dividing wall. There’s no privilege of one group over the other. Both are equal in their standing before God.
Just as Telemachus brought peace to warriors through his death, so Jesus makes peace and reconciliation possible for all who believe in Him through His death and resurrection. So, if Jesus is our peace, let’s not let our differences divide us. He’s made us one by His blood.
By Con Campbell
REFLECT & PRAY
How do you reveal you’re at peace with all people? What issues—such as race, status, or privilege—sometimes get in the way? Why?
Dear God of peace, You’ve made us one in Jesus. Help me to know it and live it.
In his letter to followers of Jesus in Ephesus, Paul addresses the relationship between Jews and gentiles. While this topic is mentioned in a number of Paul’s New Testament letters, Ephesians 2 deals most explicitly with the topic. He references the hostility the two groups had for each other (vv. 14, 16) and what Christ did to eliminate it. In His death, Jesus set aside the law and made one people out of the two by giving them both the same access to the Father. What we have in common supersedes our differences.