Explaining Ephesians 2:15.

QUESTION:  Ephesians 2:15, ?by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.? Please, clear this up for me. When I talk to my Christian brothers in the Baptist Church, where I used to go they said, I don?t have to keep the Sabbath on the 7th day, and I don?t have an answer for Eph. 2:15 when they use it to verify their words. I believe on the Sabbath because God says it is his day, but I don?t know how to explain Eph. 2:15. ? Carlos Luis.

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Answer: In understanding Ephesians 2:15, the first thing we must do is take it in its context.  Reading from verse 11 onward, we find that Paul is talking about ?the circumcision? (the Jews) and ?the uncircumcised? (the Gentiles).  The Gentiles were ?separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God . . .But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.?  (vs 12, 13).  In verse 14 Paul states that Christ ?has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.? What was the barrier, the dividing wall? In the Jewish mind it was ?circumcision,? and in Paul?s thinking circumcision represents all the ceremonial law of sacrifices, including restrictions added to that law by the Jews.  The way the Message Bible puts it makes this quite clear:

He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.  

How did Christ ?abolish in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations??

Why did Jesus have to die? ? Because we are sinners, and ?the wages of sin is death? (Romans  6:23), He bore our sins in his body on the cross so that ?in him we have redemption through his blood.? Eph. 1:7. Sin is ?transgression of the law.? It is our transgression of the law that made the death of Jesus necessary, in order that we might be saved. If that law could have been abolished, then Jesus would not have needed to die (See Romans 3:31). Obviously the ?law? in this case, which we had broken, refers to the Ten Commandments, which include the Sabbath commandment. So ?the law with its commandments and regulations? which Jesus ?abolished in his flesh? (Eph 2:15) could not be referring to the Ten Commandments. 

Jesus was the ?Lamb of God.? As the sacrificial lamb was slain twice a day in the temple service, and again in the Passover service, that lamb pointed forward to the sacrifice of the ?Lamb of God.? When Jesus died, at the very moment he died, the Temple Veil, separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place, was rent from top to bottom by an unseen hand. This signified that the ?law with its commandments and regulations,? regulating the sacrificial services, had ceased to have any meaning or significance. Therefore, ?in his flesh,? or in his sacrifice, Jesus, the real Lamb had been slain to deliver us from our sins, and from henceforth it is faith in that sacrifice that is the means of our salvation, and no one, either Jew or Gentile, needs to observe the Ceremonial law of the Old Testament sacrificial services in order to be saved.  

The Ten Commandments have not been abolished; therefore the Sabbath commandment has not been abolished. In fact, the Sabbath has a double meaning now: 1 It commemorates the seventh day of creation, when God rested from his labours, and 2. It commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus, for he rested in the tomb, and did not rise until the Sabbath was passed.

Related questions: Christ, the law and the Sabbath, Keeping two SabbathsSunday and the Resurrection, Saturday as a holidaySabbath on Saturday.

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