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15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity. The meaning of Paul’s words is now clear. The middle wall of partition hindered Christ from forming Jews and Gentiles into one body, and therefore the wall has been broken down. The reason why it is broken down is now added — to abolish the enmity, by the flesh of Christ. The Son of God, by assuming a nature common to all, has formed in his own body a perfect unity.
Even the law of commandments contained in ordinances. What had been metaphorically understood by the word wall is now more plainly expressed. The ceremonies, by which the distinction was declared, have been abolished through Christ. What were circumcision, sacrifices, washings, and abstaining from certain kinds of food, but symbols of sanctification, reminding the Jews that their lot was different from that of other nations; just as the white and the red cross distinguish the French of the present day from the inhabitants of Burgundy. Paul declares not only that the Gentiles are equally with the Jews admitted to the fellowship of grace, so that they no longer differ from each other, but that the mark of difference has been taken away; for ceremonies have been abolished. If two contending nations were brought under the dominion of one prince, he would not only desire that they should live in harmony, but would remove the badges and marks of their former enmity. When an obligation is discharged, the handwriting is destroyed, — a metaphor which Paul employs on this very subject in another Epistle. 128128 ᾿Εν δόγμασι — “Δόγμα is equivalent to the participial form — τὸ δεδογμένον, and has its apparent origin in the common phrases which prefaced a proclamation or statute— ἔδοξε τῷ λαῷ καὶ τὣ βουλὣ. In the New Testament it signifies decree, and is applied (Luke 2:1) to the edict of Caesar, and in Acts 17:7, it occurs with a similar reference. But not only does it signify imperial statutes; it is also the name given to the decrees of the ecclesiastical council in Jerusalem. (Acts 16:4.) It is found, too, in the parallel passage in Colossians 2:14. In the Septuagint its meaning is the same; and in the sense first quoted, that of royal mandate, it is frequently used in the book of Daniel.” — Eadie. (Colossians 2:14.)
Some interpreters, 129129 Theodoret, Theophylact, and others. — though, in my opinion, erroneously, — connect the words, in ordinances, with abolished, making the ordinances to be the act of abolishing the ceremonies. This is Paul’s ordinary phrase for describing the ceremonial law, in which the Lord not only enjoined upon the Jews a simple rule of life, but also bound them by various statutes. It is evident, too, that Paul is here treating exclusively of the ceremonial law; for the moral law is not a wall of partition separating us from the Jews, but lays down instructions in which the Jews were not less deeply concerned than ourselves. This passage affords the means of refuting an erroneous view held by some, that circumcision and all the ancient rites, though they are not binding on the Gentiles, are in force at the present day upon the Jews. On this principle there would still be a middle wall of partition between us, which is proved to be false.
That he might make in himself. When the apostle says, in himself, he turns away the Ephesians from viewing the diversity of men, and bids them look for unity nowhere but in Christ. To whatever extent the two might differ in their former condition, in Christ they are become one man. But he emphatically adds, one new man, intimating (what he explains at greater length on another occasion) that
“neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision, availeth anything,” (Galatians 6:15,)
but that “a new creature” holds the first and the last place. The principle which cements them is spiritual regeneration. If then we are all renewed by Christ, let the Jews no longer congratulate themselves on their ancient condition, but let them be ready to admit that, both in themselves and in others, Christ is all.