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Ephesians 2:15

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Having abolished in his flesh - By his incarnation and death he not only made an atonement for sin, but he appointed the doctrine of reconciliation to God, and of love to each other, to be preached in all nations; and thus glory was brought to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will were diffused among men.

The enmity of which the apostle speaks was reciprocal among the Jews and Gentiles. The former detested the Gentiles, and could hardly allow them the denomination of men; the latter had the Jews in the most sovereign contempt, because of the peculiarity of their religious rites and ceremonies, which were different from those of all the other nations of the earth.

The law of commandments - Contained in, or rather concerning, ordinances; which law was made merely for the purpose of keeping the Jews a distinct people, and pointing out the Son of God till he should come. When, therefore, the end of its institution was answered, it was no longer necessary; and Christ by his death abolished it.

To make in himself - To make one Church out of both people, which should be considered the body of which Jesus Christ is the head. Thus he makes one new man - one new Church; and thus he makes and establishes peace. I think the apostle still alludes to the peace-offering, שלום shalom, among the Jews. They have a saying, Sephra, fol. 121: Whosoever offers a peace-offering sacrifice, brings peace to the world. Such a peace-offering was the death of Christ, and by it peace is restored to the earth.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Having abolished - Having brought to naught, or put an end to it - καταργήσας katargēsasIn his flesh - By the sacrifice of his body on the cross. It was not by instruction merely; it was not by communicating the knowledge of God; it was not as a teacher; it was not by the mere exertion of power; it was by his flesh - his human nature - and this can mean only that he did it by his sacrifice of himself. It is such language as is appropriate to the doctrine of the atonement - not indeed teaching it directly - but still such as one would use who believed that doctrine, and such as no other one would employ. Who would now say of a moral teacher that he accomplished an important result by “his flesh?” Who would say of a man that was instrumental in reconciling his contending neighbors, that he did it “by his flesh?” Who would say of Dr. Priestley that he established Unitarianism “in his flesh?” No man would have ever used this language who did not believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin.

The enmity - Between the Jew and the Gentile. Tyndale renders this, “the cause of hatred, that is to say, the law of commandments contained in the law written.” This is expressive of the true sense. The idea is, that the ceremonial law of the Jews, on which they so much prided themselves, was the cause of the hostility existing between them. That made them different people, and laid the foundation for the alienation which existed between them. They had different laws; different institutions; a different religion. The Jews looked upon themselves as the favorites of heaven, and as in possession of the knowledge of the only way of salvation; the Gentiles regarded their laws with contempt, and looked upon the unique institutions with scorn. When Christ came and abolished by his death their special ceremonial laws, of course the cause of this alienation ceased.

Even the law of commandments - The law of positive commandments. This does not refer to the “moral” law, which was not the cause of the alienation, and which was not abolished by the death of Christ, but to the laws commanding sacrifices, festivals, fasts, etc., which constituted the uniqueness of the Jewish system. These were the occasion of the enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles, and these were abolished by the great sacrifice which the Redeemer made; and of course when that was made, the purpose for which these laws were instituted was accomplished, and they ceased to be of value and to be binding.

Contained in ordinances - In the Mosaic commandments. The word “ordinance” means, decree, edict, law; Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; Acts 17:7; Colossians 2:14.

For to make in himself - By virtue of his death, or under him as the head.

Of twain one new man - Of the two - Jews and Gentiles - one new spiritual person; that they might be united. The idea is, that as two persons who had been at enmity, might become reconciled and be one in aim and pursuit, so it was in the effect of the work of Christ on the Jews and Gentiles. When they were converted they would be united and harmonious.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Jesus Christ made peace by the sacrifice of himself; in every sense Christ was their Peace, the author, centre, and substance of their being at peace with God, and of their union with the Jewish believers in one church. Through the person, sacrifice, and mediation of Christ, sinners are allowed to draw near to God as a Father, and are brought with acceptance into his presence, with their worship and services, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, as one with the Father and the Son. Christ purchased leave for us to come to God; and the Spirit gives a heart to come, and strength to come, and then grace to serve God acceptably.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 194

Peter's address brought the assembly to a point where they could listen with patience to Paul and Barnabas, who related their experience in working for the Gentiles. “All the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” AA 194.1

James also bore his testimony with decision, declaring that it was God's purpose to bestow upon the Gentiles the same privileges and blessings that had been granted to the Jews. AA 194.2

The Holy Spirit saw good not to impose the ceremonial law on the Gentile converts, and the mind of the apostles regarding this matter was as the mind of the Spirit of God. James presided at the council, and his final decision was, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.” AA 194.3

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Ellen G. White
Evangelism, 598

Satan, who is the father of lies, deceived Adam in a similar way, telling him that he need not obey God, that he would not die if he transgressed the law. But Adam fell, and by his sin he opened the floodgates of woe upon our world. Again, Satan told Cain that he need not follow expressly the command of God in presenting the slain lamb as an offering. Cain obeyed the voice of the deceiver; and because God did not accept his offering, while He showed His approval of Abel's offering, Cain rose up in anger and slew his brother. Ev 598.1

We need to know for ourselves what voice we are heeding, whether it is the voice of the true and living God or the voice of the great apostate.... Ev 598.2

When type met antitype in the death of Christ, the sacrificial offering ceased. The ceremonial law was done away. But by the crucifixion the law of Ten Commandments was established. The gospel has not abrogated the law, nor detracted one tittle from its claims. It still demands holiness in every part. It is the echo of God's own voice, giving to every soul the invitation, Come up higher. Be holy, holier still.—The Review and Herald, June 26, 1900. Ev 598.3

A Timely Caution—We as a people have fallen into the opposite error. We acknowledge the claims of God's law, and teach the people the duty of rendering obedience. We believe in giving everything, but we do not see that we must take as well as give. We fail to have that trust, that faith, which keeps the soul abiding in Christ. We claim little, when we might claim much; for there is no limit to the promises of God. Ev 598.4

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 30.2

It is the sophistry of Satan that the death of Christ brought in grace to take the place of the law. The death of Jesus did not change or annul or lessen in the slightest degree the law of Ten Commandments. That precious grace offered to men through a Saviour's blood establishes the law of God. Since the fall of man, God's moral government and His grace are inseparable. They go hand in hand through all dispensations. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). FW 30.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1094-5

4. Paul a Friend of the Erring—The apostle Paul found it necessary to reprove wrong in the church, but he did not lose his self-control in reproving error. He anxiously explains the reason of his action. How carefully he wrought so as to leave the impression that he was a friend of the erring! He made them understand that it cost him pain to give them pain. He left the impression upon their minds that his interest was identified with theirs [2 Corinthians 2:4 quoted] (Letter 16a, 1895). 6BC 1094.1

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