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Many of the same mistakes commonly made with Romans 11 are committed when interpreting Ephesians 2. This chapter is also about the reuniting of the two houses of Israel and is correctly understood through the corroborating testimony of the prophets.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Contrary to the common belief that the Ephesians were non-Israelite gentiles, some of the citizens of Ephesus were Israelites who had been scattered abroad and to whom James wrote his epistle:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad…. - James 1:1
The English word “scattered” in the phrase “the twelve tribes … scattered abroad” is translated from the Greek word diaspora. Strong’s Concordance defines diaspora:
…diaspora … dispersion, i.e. (spec. and conc.) the (converted) Isr resident in Gentile countries.83
“Diaspora” is the Greek word used by the translators of the Septuagint Old Testament in Deuteronomy 28:25, 30:4, Nehemiah 1:8 and Psalm 147:2 for the dispersion of the Old Testament Israelites. The Apostle Peter also wrote his first epistle to Israelites of this dispersion, indicated by his use of the same Greek word “diaspora,” also translated scattered in his salutation:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered [dispersed abroad NASV] throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…. - 1 Peter 1:1-2
The Greek word parepidemos, translated strangers, conveys a similar idea:
…an alien alongside, i.e. a resident foreigner.84
…one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives; hence stranger; sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner….85
In other words, Peter wrote his first epistle to Israelite foreigners residing among the native residents of “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia [including the coastal city of Ephesus], and Bithynia.” Flavius Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian and contemporary of the Apostle Peter, verified the existence and location of the scattered tribes of the house of Israel:
…the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.86
The following map reveals that “beyond the Euphrates” included the countries cited in Peter’s salutation.
Josephus’ statement should not surprise any serious student of the Bible because it describes the fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy concerning the house of Israel:
For Yahweh will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking Yahweh to anger. - 1 Kings 14:15 NASV
After making reference to the quotation from Josephus, the Jewish Chronicle, May 2, 1879, declared that the people of the house of Israel must still exist:
There has always been, however, an unwillingness to admit that a fate which has befallen so many nations has overtaken the Ten Tribes. Why should they have been less tenacious of life than their brethren of Judah? Nay, the Scriptures speak of a future restoration of Israel, which is clearly to include both Judah and Ephraim. The problem, then, is reduced to the simplest form. The Ten Tribes are certainly still in existence. All that has to be done is to discover which people represents them.87
Ephesus was one of Asia Minor’s principle cities,* and according to the Prophet Ahijah, the Apostle Peter and Josephus, Asia was one of the locations to which the house of Israel had been dispersed. The Apostle Paul wrote his Ephesian epistle to some of those same dispersed Israelites. This is principally deduced from the Ephesian epistle itself and the numerous Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel fulfilled therein. Consider how Paul addressed the Ephesians in chapter 1:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus…. According as he [Yahweh] hath chosen us in him [Yeshua] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself…. In whom we have redemption through his blood…. - Ephesians 1:1-7
*Ephesus was “a large and important city on the west coast of Asia Minor where the apostle Paul founded a church.” “Ephesus,” Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995) p. 406.
Paul identified himself and those to whom he was writing in Ephesus as having been chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined unto the adoption of children. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul declared that the adoption belongs to Israelites:
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption…. - Romans 9:3-4
Paul also spoke of redemption in Ephesians 1:7. Redemption implies buying something back. Other nations could be bought, but only the people of Israel who had previously been the possession of Yahweh (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, Psalm 135:4) could be bought back. Therefore, when the word “redemption,” or some form thereof, is used in the Bible in relation to a specific people, no matter what Hebrew or Greek word it is translated from, it is always associated with the nation of Israel:
Let Israel hope in Yahweh: for with Yahweh there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. - Psalm 130:7-8
And [Yahweh] said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. …to bring Jacob again to him…. Thus saith Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One … he shall choose thee…. And … all flesh shall know that I Yahweh am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. - Isaiah 49:3-26
But we [the two disciples with Yeshua on the road to Emmaus] trusted that it had been he [Yeshua] which should have redeemed Israel…. - Luke 24:21
…the hundred and forty and four thousand [from the twelve tribes of Israel], which were redeemed from the earth…. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. - Revelation 14:3-4*
*See also 1 Chronicles 17:21-22, Psalm 77:15, Isaiah 41:14, 44:6, 59:20, Jeremiah 31:10-11, Hosea 13:12-14, Zechariah 10:7-9, Luke 1:68-70 and Galatians 4:4-5.
Yahweh is described the Redeemer of Israel, never the Redeemer of the Egyptians or the Philistines or the Canaanites or any other nation. According to the law of the kinsman redeemer, only a brother or near relative could redeem a member of the family:
And if … thy brother … wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him…. - Leviticus 25:47-49
Redemption belongs to the nation of Israel just as adoption does. Therefore, biblical exegesis affirms that Paul wrote the Ephesian epistle to born-again Israelite foreigners residing in the city of Ephesus.
Furthermore, Paul used language in Ephesians 1 similar to that which Peter used in his first epistle to born again Israelites:
…we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. - Ephesians 1:11-12
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. - 1 Peter 2:9
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In Ephesians 2:5, Paul stated that Yahweh quickened or made alive in Christ the two groups - Judahites and Ephesian gentiles - whom he was writing about in this epistle. This quickening was in fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:4-14 where Yahweh prophesied that the dry bones of both houses of Israel would be imparted life by His Spirit.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Yahweh was rich in mercy toward them. It cannot be denied that Yahweh chose one people in particular upon whom to bestow His mercy and love:
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of Yahweh … the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. - Isaiah 63:7-9
Even egalitarians are often heard declaring, albeit mistakenly, that today’s Jews are the Chosen People. Yahweh has indeed designated a “chosen people,” but those people are not today’s Edomite and Khazar Jews. It was instead the nation of Israel whom Yahweh chose as the recipients of His mercy, even selecting her to be His wife. Moses attested to Yahweh’s special relationship with the nation of Israel:
For thou art an holy people unto Yahweh thy God: Yahweh thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth…. Know therefore that Yahweh thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations…. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that Yahweh thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers…. Thou shalt be blessed above all people. - Deuteronomy 7:6-14
Husbands are to love their wives above other women, and because Yahweh chose the nation of Israel to be His wife, it should not come as a surprise that Yahweh loved her above other nations. This special relationship was not exclusive to the Old Covenant. Although certain aspects of the covenants differ, the people with whom Yahweh made the covenants are the same. With the commencement of the New Covenant, this unique marital relationship is being renewed with a remnant of Israelites from both houses who were and are being born again in Yeshua the Christ*:
For finding fault with them [the nation of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant], he saith, Behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Yahweh; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. - Hebrews 8:8-12
*The New Covenant, at any given time, is only with those who have been called to Yahweh through the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua the Christ. Although a remnant is not mentioned in Hebrews 8:8-12 it is apparent, when the sum of Yahweh’s Word on this issue is considered (Psalm 119:160 NASV), a remnant is nonetheless intended.
The Old and New Covenants alike are covenants of marriage made with Israelites. This New Covenant relationship is borne out by the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel:
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith Yahweh. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith Yahweh; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith Yahweh, from henceforth and for ever. - Isaiah 59:20-21
Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them [the reunited Israelites]; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I Yahweh do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. - Ezekiel 37:26-28
In verses 4 and 5 of Ephesians 2, Paul identified himself and the people to whom he was writing as loved by Yahweh “even when we were dead in sins.” This is nearly identical to what he wrote to the Roman Christian Israelites:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8
Some people may question that Romans could be Israelites. It is often overlooked that Paul, a Judahite, identified himself as a Roman:
And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. - Acts 22:25-38
Not all Romans or all Ephesians were Israelites. However, the first-century Romans and Ephesians to whom Paul wrote his epistles and who responded to the New Covenant call of salvation were descended from the house of Judah and the house of Israel.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Paul wrote that the Ephesian Christians were created in Yeshua for good works. When Yeshua foretold the divorce of the house of Judah in Matthew 21:43, He declared that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and be “given to a nation bringing forth the fruits [or good works] thereof.”
Today, that “nation” is made up of a remnant of Israelites from both houses who have been called to salvation by Yeshua the Christ. They are the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). The Apostle Peter identified these born-again Israelites as an ethnos or a nation who would proclaim Yahweh’s excellencies – a people “created in Christ Jesus unto good works”:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. - 1 Peter 2:9-10
The first phrase is a quotation from Exodus 19:5-6 where Yahweh first proposed marriage to the nation of Israel. The last two phrases are quotations from Hosea 1:9 and 2:23, the same prophecies about the house of Israel quoted by Paul in Romans 9. These quotations and what is stated in 1 Peter 1:1 prompted the authors of The Pulpit Commentary to admit that Peter wrote his first epistle to Israelites who had been dispersed among non-Israelite nations:
In 1 Pet. ii. 10 the same text from Hosea is quoted as applying to those who were addressed in the Epistle, and then with more obvious applicability; for it appears to have been written, mainly at least, to Israelites of the dispersion (see ch. i. 1).88
This commentary attempts to expand the application of 1 Peter to also include non-Israelite gentiles by citing 1 Peter 1:14 and 4:3. However, everything in those verses can be applied to the house of Israel after Yahweh divorced and dispersed them. It is exegetically incorrect to apply Hosea’s prophecies and Peter’s first epistle to anyone other than Israelites of the dispersion. It is born-again Israelites who make up the new nation and who are also bringing forth the good works “before ordained that [they] should walk in them.”
The phrase “before ordained” in Ephesians 2:10 is translated from the Greek word proeetoímasen. This is the same word that is translated “afore prepared” in Romans 9:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Judahites [the house of Judah] only, but also of the Gentiles [nations of the house of Israel]? As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them [the house of Israel] my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. - Romans 9:23-26
Wherefore remember, that ye [the house of Israel] being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision [the house of Judah] in the flesh made by hands.
Because Paul characterizes the Ephesians as uncircumcised gentiles in contrast to the Judahites who boasted of being the circumcised, most Christians assume that the Ephesians must be non-Israelites. However, bear in mind that Yahweh divorced the house of Israel because she no longer followed His laws, including the law of circumcision.
In Joshua’s day, before entering the Promised Land, the Bible identifies all twelve tribes of Israel as uncircumcised:
At that time Yahweh said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time…. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: …all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised…. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised because they had not circumcised them by the way. - Joshua 5:2-7
Thus Paul’s use of the term “uncircumcision,” by itself, does not prove whether he was writing to non-Israelites or Israelites.
That at that time ye [the house of Israel] were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
The phrase “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” describes the house of Israel after Yahweh divorced and banished her. Jay P. Green’s The Interlinear Bible, Alfred Marshall’s The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament and The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures all translate the Greek phrase apeellotriooménoi teés politeías toú Israeél as “having been alienated from the citizenry of Israel.” This description fits only Israelite nations because only they had once been citizens of the commonwealth of Israel. The Prophet Zechariah recorded that the commonwealth or brotherhood between the houses of Judah and Israel would be broken:
Then I [Yahweh] cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. - Zechariah 11:14
The phrase “strangers from the covenants of promise” also depicts the house of Israel because that is precisely what they became when Yahweh divorced them. The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of marriage between Yahweh and the nation of Israel, but after being divorced the house of Israel could no longer lay claim to that covenant. Those Israelites became strangers to the covenants of promise and they fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy that Yahweh would break covenant with the house of Israel:
And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock…. And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant [with the house of Israel] which I had made with all the people. - Zechariah 11:7-10
The two staffs, Beauty and Bands, represent the house of Israel and the house of Judah. The covenant was first broken with Beauty, the house of Israel, when Assyria took her captive in 722 BC.
Ephesians 2:12 describes the gentiles as being “without hope.” In Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the dry bones, Yahweh proclaimed because the people of Israel were without their God that they were also without hope:
Then he [Yahweh] said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. - Ezekiel 37:11
Jeremiah prophesied that Yahweh would restore the hope of the house of Israel, indicating that for a period of time they would be without hope:
Thus saith Yahweh; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith Yahweh; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith Yahweh, that thy children shall come again to their own border. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me … turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed…. Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? …I will surely have mercy upon him, saith Yahweh. - Jeremiah 31:16-20
The Prophet Joel testified that hope would be restored to the house of Israel when it was reunited with the house of Judah:
For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I [Yahweh] shall bring again [reverse] the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations [among whom the house of Israel had been dispersed], and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage [the house of] Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations … Yahweh will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. - Joel 3:1-16
The Apostle Paul declared that this hope pertained to all twelve tribes of Israel:
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come…. – Acts 26:6-7
“Without God in the world,” the last phrase in Ephesians 2:12, is similar to the language Hosea used when describing some of Yahweh’s reasons for divorcing the house of Israel:
Then said God …ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. - Hosea 1:9
Hear the word of Yahweh, ye children of Israel: for Yahweh hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. - Hosea 4:1
It was Israelites who were “without God” when Yahweh divorced them, and thereby they became “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” and “strangers from the covenants of promise.” Through the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua the Christ, Yahweh made it possible for people from both houses of Israel to be reunited with Him and with each other. After all, it was with these people whom the promise had been made:
I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. - Acts 13:22-24
But now in Christ Jesus ye [nations of the house of Israel] who sometimes [formerly NASV] were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
The phrase “ye who sometimes were far off” might appear at first to describe non-Israelite gentiles. However, “far off” is precisely where Yahweh exiled the nations of the house of Israel after divorcing them and from where He also promised to save them:
But now thus saith Yahweh that created thee, O Jacob … O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine…. For I am Yahweh thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth. - Isaiah 43:1-6
Thus saith Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel…. In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people … for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them…. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.* - Isaiah 49:7-12
*“Sinim [SIH nem] - a land from which the scattered Israelites were to be gathered, according to the prophet Isaiah (Is. 49:12). It refers to Syene, present-day Aswan in southern Egypt.” “Sinim,” Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986) p. 1184.)
For, lo, the days come, saith Yahweh, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah…. But they shall serve Yahweh their God, and [the greater] David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith Yahweh; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar…. - Jeremiah 30:3-10
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near [the house of Judah], and that are far off [the house of Israel], through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. - Daniel 9:7
And the word of Yahweh came unto me, saying, Take of them [of the house of Judah] of the captivity … which are come from Babylon…. And speak unto him [the high priest Joshua], saying, Thus speaketh Yahweh of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH … he shall build the temple of Yahweh … and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them [the house of Judah and the house of Israel] both… And they [the house of Israel] that are far off shall come and build in the temple of Yahweh…. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Yahweh your God. - Zechariah 6:9-15
In this last prophecy, Zechariah prophesied that the Branch, a prophetic appellation for Yeshua, would bring peace between the houses of Judah and Israel. This began to be fulfilled following Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection as described in Ephesians 2.
For he [Yeshua] is our peace, who hath made both [the house of Judah and the house of Israel] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.
Paul’s description of Yeshua and what he accomplished fulfills Micah’s and Zechariah’s prophecies concerning the reunion of the house of Judah with the house of Israel:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah … little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he [Yeshua] come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel…. Therefore will he [Yahweh] give them [the house of Israel] up, until the time that she [Mary, the mother of Yeshua] which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren [of the house of Judah] shall return unto the children of [the house of] Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of Yahweh, in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God…. And this man shall be the peace…. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people. - Micah 5:2-8
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I [Yahweh] will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he [Yeshua] shall speak peace unto the heathen [goyim or nations]…. - Zechariah 9:9-10
Ephesians 2:14-15 records the fulfillment of the same Old Testament prophecies concerning the reunion of the house of Israel and the house of Judah that were fulfilled by Romans 9 and 11. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Micah and Zechariah prophesied that the two houses would again become one and there would once more be peace. There are no Old Testament prophecies describing such an event between Israelites and non-Israelites. Therefore, the word “ethne” in Ephesians 2 refers to Israelite rather than to non-Israelite nations.
The word “partition” in the phrase “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” in Ephesians 2:14 is translated from the Greek word phragmos. Phragmos is usually translated hedge in the New Testament. When Yahweh divorced the house of Israel, He declared that he would both hedge up and wall off the house of Israel:
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. - Hosea 2:6
Paul identified the wall of partition as the “law of commandments contained in ordinances.” It was these commandments, broken by the house of Israel, which eventuated in her divorce. In 2 Chronicles 15:3, the Prophet Azariah not only declared that the house of Israel was “without God” but also that she was “without law.” Therefore, “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” would have indeed been a “middle wall of partition” between the houses of Judah and Israel.
The Samaritan woman in John 4, who indicated that she was a descendant of Jacob through the house of Israel (verse 12), acknowledged this wall of separation when she questioned Yeshua concerning His kindness toward her:
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Judahite, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Judahites have no dealings with the Samaritans. - John 4:9
Isaiah’s depiction of Yeshua mending the division between the houses of Judah and Israel fits Paul’s description in Ephesians 2 of this same restoration:
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people [of the house of Judah]; to it shall the Gentiles [nations] seek…. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. - Isaiah 11:10-13
In fulfillment of dozens of Old Testament prophecies, the wall of partition is broken down a little more each time a Judahite or an Israelite finds salvation in Yeshua the Christ.
And that he [Yeshua] might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
Joseph Thayer pointed out that the Greek word apokatalláxee can be rendered “to reconcile back again, bring back to a former state of harmony.”89 This cannot refer to a reconciliation between those who were never in a prior state of harmony. The implication of this phrase fits only Judah and Israel who lost their harmonious relationship when the united kingdom was divided and the house of Israel was divorce and dispersed abroad among non-Israelite nations. Isaiah prophesied that both houses of Israel would be reconciled to Yahweh and, therefore, each other:
And now says Yahweh, who formed me [Yeshua] from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him … to restore the preserved ones of Israel…. - Isaiah 49:5-6 NASV
To apply Paul’s statements regarding the ethne in Ephesians 2 to non-Israelite nations forces the Scriptures to say something they were never meant to say and to leave unfilled many Old Testament prophecies.
And [Yeshua] came and preached peace to you which were afar off [the dispersed house of Israel], and to them that were nigh [the house of Judah]. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ephesians 2:17 is a quotation from one of Isaiah’s prophecies:
…he that putteth his trust in me … shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people…. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth…. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him…. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off [the house of Israel], and to him that is near [the house of Judah], saith Yahweh; and I will heal him. - Isaiah 57:13-19
This prophecy is about the nation of Israel and can be applied only to Israelites.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.
The word “strangers” refers back to verse 12 and the phrase “strangers from the covenants.” When Yeshua reconciled the two groups by the blood of the New Covenant, the Ephesian gentiles who became Christians were no longer strangers from Yahweh’s covenants of promise. This can only refer to Christian Israelites because Yahweh made His covenants with the people of Israel (Romans 9:3-4). Jeremiah prophesied that Yahweh was going to make the New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah:
Behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith Yahweh. - Jeremiah 31:31-32
There are no prophecies declaring that Yahweh would make His New Covenant with both Israelites and non-Israelites. This is not to say, however, that non-Israelites cannot share in some of the New Covenant benefits by way of Yeshua the Christ and His blood-atoning sacrifice, just as non-Israelites did under the Old Covenant.*
*See Appendix 2 - Yahweh’s Plan for Believing Non-Israelites.
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The term “cornerstone” comes from a prophecy in Isaiah 28 about the nations from the house of Israel and the house of Judah:
The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim [the house of Israel], shall be trodden under feet…. In that day shall Yahweh of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue [remnant NASV] of his people [from both houses of the nation of Israel]…. Wherefore hear the word of Yahweh, ye scornful men, that rule this people [of the house of Judah] which is in Jerusalem…. Therefore thus saith the Lord Yahweh, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste…. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand…. - Isaiah 28:3-18
Peter also quoted this prophecy in 1 Peter 2:6 when he wrote to Christian Israelites from the scattered nations of Israel living in foreign countries.
The claim in Ephesians 2:21 that Yeshua, the Judahites and the gentiles would build a holy temple in the Lord fulfills Zechariah’s prophecy that Yeshua the Branch would bring peace between the houses of Judah and Israel:
…Thus speaketh Yahweh of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH … shall build the temple of Yahweh: … the counsel of peace shall be between them both [the house of Judah and the house of Israel]…. And they [the house of Israel] that are far off shall come and build in the temple of Yahweh, and ye shall know that Yahweh of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Yahweh your God. - Zechariah 6:12-15
In 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 6:16, the Apostle Paul described the temple of God as being composed of Christians in whom dwells the Holy Spirit. This New Covenant temple fits with the prophecies about a remnant of Israelites from both houses whom Yeshua would call to become the New Covenant temple of Yahweh - a temple not built by human hands.
A part of the mystery of Christ that Paul referred to in Ephesians 3 is that the gentiles - the divorced nations of the house of Israel - would become one body with the house of Judah:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles…. How that by revelation he made known unto me … the mystery of Christ … that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. - Ephesians 3:1-6
The Old Testament prophets establish that Ephesians 2 concerns the reunion of the house of Israel with the house of Judah.
Paul’s summation in Ephesians 2:20 includes the phrase “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” According to the prophets and apostles, the house of Judah was to be reconciled with the nations of the house of Israel. The Old Testament prophets never prophesied that Judah would be united with non-Israelites. Therefore, the textual evidence supports the conclusion that the gentiles in Ephesians 2 are Israelites.
Chapter 7 Table of Contents Chapter 9
83. James Strong, “Dictionary of the Greek Testament,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 23.
84. James Strong, “Dictionary of the Greek Testament,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 55.
85. Joseph Henry Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1981) p. 488.
86. Flavius Josephus, Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews” (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1960) Book XI, Chapter V, Verse 2, p. 234.
87. “The Israelites Found in the Anglo-Saxons,” Jewish Chronicle (London, England) 2 May 1879, p. 3.
88. The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1962) Volume 18, p. 269.
89. Joseph Henry Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1981) p. 63.