Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Now we come to verse 19: “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow-citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.” This verse covers two aspects of the church: the kingdom, indicated by the term “fellow-citizens,” and the family of God, indicated by the phrase “the household of God.”
Verse 19 says that we, the Gentiles, are no longer strangers and sojourners. The word “you” in this verse refers to the Gentile believers. Strangers are aliens, and sojourners are foreigners sojourning among the Israelites without the right of citizenship. Both refer to the Gentiles.
Now that we are no longer strangers and sojourners, we are fellow-citizens of the saints. The term “fellow-citizens” indicates the kingdom of God. All the believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are citizens of God’s kingdom, which is a sphere wherein God exercises His authority. As long as anyone is a believer, he is a citizen of the kingdom of God. This citizenship involves rights and responsibilities. We enjoy the rights of the kingdom, and we bear the responsibilities of the kingdom. These two things always go together. For example, as citizens of the United States, we enjoy certain rights, but we must also fulfill our responsibility to pay taxes.
Verse 19 reveals that we are also “members of the household of God.” This phrase indicates the house of God. Both the Jewish and Gentile believers are members of God’s house. God’s house is a matter of life and enjoyment; all believers were born of God into His house to enjoy His riches. God’s kingdom is a matter of rights and responsibility; all believers who were born into the house of God have the civil rights of and bear responsibility in the kingdom of God. In such a short verse two profound matters are covered: the kingdom of God with its rights and responsibilities and the house of God with its enjoyment of the Father’s life and riches.
Verse 19 speaks of the saints, the house of God, and the kingdom of God. The saints are individuals, but the house of God is corporate and results in the kingdom of God. If there were no house, there could be no kingdom. Firstly we are saints, individuals. Then, corporately, we are the house of God resulting in the kingdom of God. Therefore, we have both the individual aspect of the Christian life and the corporate aspect in the house of God and the kingdom of God.
In verse 19 why does the Apostle Paul refer to the kingdom of God before the house of God? Paul’s thought here concerns our former status as strangers and sojourners. Strangers and sojourners are related to a kingdom, not to a household. Those who are aliens in this country are not aliens in relation to a family, but in relation to the nation. Because strangers and sojourners are aliens to kingdoms, not to families, Paul mentions the kingdom first. In this verse Paul’s main concept is that of citizenship in God’s kingdom. The kingdom, however, is composed of families. For this reason, Paul also mentions the household of God, that is, the family of God.
In verse 19 there is the thought of intimacy, seen in the term fellow- citizens. As unsaved Gentiles, we once were far off from God and the commonwealth of Israel, but now we have an intimate relationship with the saints. We are fellow-citizens of the saints and members of God’s household. Among the citizens of the United States, there is a certain intimacy. But this intimacy cannot compare with that among members of a family. The Jews and the Gentiles are not only citizens of the same kingdom, but also folks of the same family. We need to regard the saints in an intimate way as our folks. Being members of the family of God must not only be our doctrine, but also our experience. In the universe God has just one household, one family. No matter what our background may be, as believers we all are members of God’s unique universal family, and all the saints are our folks. Do not take this matter lightly, but consider it seriously as an important aspect of the church. What an intimate relationship we have in the household of God!
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