Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us a picture of our condition by nature. In this message we need to see that verses 11 and 12 portray our position according to our status. Because of our sinful nature, we were in a condition of death; according to our status, we were far off from God, Christ, God’s kingdom, God’s blessings, God’s promise, and everything related to God.
The first point concerning our status is that we were the nations in the flesh (v. 11). The Greek word translated “nations” also means “Gentiles.” Hence, according to our status, we were the Gentiles in the flesh.
The man God created to fulfill His purpose was pure, without sin or any kind of negative mixture. However, sin, the evil nature of Satan, entered into man through the fall. When the evil nature of Satan entered into man, it firstly caused man’s body to become the flesh, full of lusts, and eventually caused the whole being of man to become the flesh. In a very real sense, God created only the body of man, not the flesh. But when sin came into man’s body, the body was changed in nature and became the flesh. The body was the pure vessel created by God; the flesh is the corrupted body. God did not create the lusts in man’s body. The lusts came from sin. According to the Bible, eventually fallen man in his entirety became the flesh. Fallen people live according to the flesh, not according to the spirit, the conscience, or reason. Because in the eyes of God fallen man has become flesh, the Bible says, “By the works of law no flesh shall be justified before Him” (Rom. 3:20). The word “flesh” in this verse denotes a fallen person who lives according to the flesh and has become flesh.
Because his whole being had become the flesh, man was damaged and thus prevented from fulfilling God’s purpose. Since mankind as a whole could not fulfill His purpose, God came in to call out of fallen mankind a race—Abraham and his descendants—for the accomplishment of His purpose. God then commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised, that is, to put away the flesh. Thus, circumcision indicates that God’s chosen people must put aside their flesh. The fact that the called race was circumcised meant that they were separated from fallen mankind and delivered out of the fallen condition. Circumcision made a tremendous distinction between them and the rest of mankind. They are called the circumcision, those who are separated from the fallen situation. The rest of mankind are called the uncircumcision, those who remain in the fallen condition. Because Abraham and his descendants, the called race, were circumcised, those who remained in the fallen estate became the nations in the flesh, the Gentiles. We were in this category before we were in Christ.
Verse 11 says that the nations in the flesh were “called uncircumcision by those who are called circumcision in the flesh made by hand.” The words “uncircumcision” and “circumcision” in this verse both apply to people; they do not refer to actions. The circumcision are those who are circumcised, and the uncircumcision are those who are not circumcised.
Verse 12 says that we “were at that time apart from Christ.” Christ, in whom all God’s blessings to His chosen people are embodied, came out of Israel, the circumcised people. Since we, the uncircumcised Gentiles, were separated from Israel, we were apart from Christ, having nothing to do with Christ.
Verse 12 also says that we were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” The “commonwealth” here refers to the citizenship, the civil rights, of God’s chosen people, including God’s ruling, blessing, and presence. Through the fall, mankind lost all the rights which God intended for man in his creation. By calling Abraham, God brought His chosen people back to all these rights through circumcision. But we, as uncircumcised Gentiles, still remained alienated from them.
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