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Ephesians 2:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ye who sometimes were far off - To be far off, and to be near, are sayings much in use among the Jews; and among them, to be near signifies,

  1. To be in the approbation or favor of God; and to be far off signifies to be under his displeasure. So a wicked Jew might be said to be far off from God when he was exposed to his displeasure; and a holy man, or a genuine penitent, might be said to be nigh to God, because such persons are in his favor.
  • Every person who offered a sacrifice to God was considered as having access to him by the blood of that sacrifice: hence the priests, whose office it was to offer sacrifices, were considered as being nigh to God; and all who brought gifts to the altar were considered as approaching the Almighty.
  • Being far off, signified the state of the Gentiles as contradistinguished from the Jews, who were nigh. And these expressions were used in reference to the tabernacle, God's dwelling-place among the Israelites, and the sacrifices there offered. All those who had access to this tabernacle, or were nigh to it or encamped about it, were said to be nigh to God; those who had no access to it were said to be far off.
  • Hence the latter phrase is used to distinguish the Gentiles from the Jewish people; and this appears to be the meaning of the prophet, Isaiah 57:19; : I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; i.e. I give cause of praise and rejoicing to the Gentile as well as to the Jew. And to this scripture, and to this thing, the apostle seems here to allude. You Gentiles, who were unacquainted with God, and were even without God in the world, are brought to an acquaintance with him; and are now, through Christ Jesus, brought into the favor and fellowship of God. And as the Jews of old approached God by the blood of their sacrifices, so you approach him by the blood of Christ.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    But now, in Christ Jesus - By the coming and atonement of the Lord Jesus, and by the gospel which he preached.

    Ye who sometimes were afar off - Who were “formerly” - ποτὲ poteTyndale translates it, “a whyle agoo.” The phrase “afar off” - μακρὰν makran- means that they were formerly far off from God and his people. The expression is derived from the custom of speaking among the Hebrews. God was supposed to reside in the temple. It was a privilege to be near the temple. Those who were remote from Jerusalem and the temple were regarded as far off from God, and hence as especially irreligious and wicked; see the notes at Isaiah 57:19.

    Are made nigh - Are admitted to the favor of God, and permitted to approach him as his worshippers.

    By the blood of Christ - The Jews came near to the mercy seat on which the symbol of the divine presence rested (the notes at Romans 3:25), by the blood that was offered in sacrifice; that is, the high priest approached that mercy-seat with blood and sprinkled it before God. Now we are permitted to approach him with the blood of the atonement. The shedding of that blood has prepared the way by which Gentiles as well as Jews may approach God, and it is by that offering that we are led to seek God.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Christ and his covenant are the foundation of all the Christian's hopes. A sad and terrible description is here; but who is able to remove himself out of it? Would that this were not a true description of many baptized in the name of Christ. Who can, without trembling, reflect upon the misery of a person, separated for ever from the people of God, cut off from the body of Christ, fallen from the covenant of promise, having no hope, no Saviour, and without any God but a God of vengeance, to all eternity? To have no part in Christ! What true Christian can hear this without horror? Salvation is far from the wicked; but God is a help at hand to his people; and this is by the sufferings and death of Christ.
    Ellen G. White
    The Faith I Live By, 106.1

    But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13. FLB 106.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 387
    Ellen G. White
    The Story of Redemption, 291

    The disciples, upon hearing this account, were silenced, and convinced that Peter's course was in direct fulfillment of the plan of God, and that their old prejudices and exclusiveness were to be utterly destroyed by the gospel of Christ. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” SR 291.1

    This chapter is based on Acts 12:1-23.

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 139

    Suddenly the discourse was interrupted by the descent of the Holy Spirit. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. AA 139.1

    “Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” AA 139.2

    Thus was the gospel brought to those who had been strangers and foreigners, making them fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God. The conversion of Cornelius and his household was but the first fruits of a harvest to be gathered in. From this household a wide-spread work of grace was carried on in that heathen city. AA 139.3

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