31st August 2012

The Barriers Removed

“Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place”
Acts 21:28 (NKJV)

The book of Acts buzzes with excitement and tension. Here a group of Jews from Asia become indignant because Paul had, they thought, desecrated the temple by bringing a foreigner into it. They had seen Paul’s travelling companion, Trophimus from Ephesus, in Jerusalem, and assumed, wrongly it so happens, that Paul had taken him into the temple. 

“And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut” (21:30). In their mind Paul was worthy of imprisonment if not death, and Trophimus should be executed. In 1871 archaeologists found a Greek inscription when excavating the remains of Herod’s temple. Written in red was the following warning for Gentiles who would dare to enter the temple’s inner courts: “Anyone who is caught doing so will be himself to blame for his resulting death”. 

I wonder whether Paul would have seen that sign. It was posted in a prominent position. Did he have it in mind when he wrote Ephesians 2:14? He explained that Jesus “has broken down the middle wall of separation”, referring to the marble dividing wall that kept the Gentiles out of sacred parts of the temple. Jesus “Himself is our peace”, said Paul. Now both Jews and Gentiles – in other words, all people – “through Jesus have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). 

All of humanity is included in the reconciliation of the cross. The spiritual temple is open for everyone. We all “become fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ, through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). 

Father, thank you that Jesus died for all. “For this reason I bow my knees” to you, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3”14-15).

Study by James.Henderson

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