Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Because of a promise God made to Abraham, the Gentiles were on the outside looking in. God promised Abraham that from his ancestors a great nation would emerge and He would be their God and they would be His people. The Gentiles were allowed into citizenship in Israel as long as they adhered to circumcision and followed the laws of the Living God -- the laws God gave to Israel. The requirements for the Gentiles were no different than the requirements of the Jews. But . . . we've been through all of that. Here's the good news: we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people because Jesus made it possible through His death. In Him we are one with no barrier between us.
|The Cornerstone by Richard Tuvey|
Paul paints a wonderful picture of architecture, community and family by calling us a household. The foundation, the mortar being the apostles and prophets. Typically, Paul attributes the title "foundation" to Jesus, but here he attributes it to the apostles and prophets who were witnesses to the resurrection appearances of Jesus and who preached the good news. And, also typically, when a New Testament writer refers to "prophets" they are referring to the prophets of old, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., but here Paul is referring to the prophets of a new Israel. The apostles and prophets who established the church, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, etc. by preaching God's message of salvation through Jesus Christ. And, Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. In ancient times, "cornerstone" was referred to as the capstone or building stone. Placed first before all other stones, it covered a right angle joining two walls together and held the whole building together. Often a royal name was inscribed on it and in some parts of the world it was considered more important than the foundation. Paul expounds on this idea and so the purpose behind Paul calling Jesus the chief cornerstone was in the image of being "joined together" into one building, one household, by one chief cornerstone.
So with that image in mind, Paul takes a jab at the Ephesian gods of the day by claiming that this building of God rises to become a holy temple. Now, "temple" is surely a term that the Jews understood since the days of Moses, but Ephesus was steeped in a cult religion that worshiped the goddess Artemis whose temple was so magnificent that it was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
|Ruins of the ancient temple|
The new Church rises, and continues to rise, continues to build. The process of joining together the two families into one household began with Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone, and it continues to this day. Churches work together to put differences aside, individuals work to put differences behind them. This continual "building" has centuries of proof behind it that it cannot be destroyed. It will not be left in ruins like the cult temples of old. It is the dwelling of the Living God made possible by His Spirit. The Church is truly the greatest wonder of them all!