Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Dividing Wall of Ephesians 2: Question #9

Judah asked a great question.  He said:  "What's your take on Paul's "dividing wall, the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances", which Messiah tore down in order to create one new man of Jew and gentile? Many Christians interpret this to mean the Torah was abolished by Messiah in order to create a single entity, One New Man, out of Jew and Gentile."

I didn't really have an opinion and then I remembered reading this recently:

Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, pg. 603 says "3. allogenes...(allos, 'another,' genos, 'a race') occurs in Luke 17:18, of a Samaritan.  Moulton and Milligan illustrate the use of the word by the inscription on the Temple barrier, 'let no foreigner enter within the screen and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary,'..."

So I looked a little further.  Barnes Notes on the Bible Says:

"And hath broken down the middle wall - There is an allusion here undoubtedly to the wall of partition in the temple by which the court of the Gentiles was separated from that of the Jews; see the notes and the plan of the temple, in Matthew 21:12. The idea here is, that that was now broken down, and that the Gentiles had the same access to the temple as the Jews. The sense is, that in virtue of the sacrifice of the Redeemer they were admitted to the same privileges and hopes."

Clarke's Commentary offers another take:

"Some think there is an allusion here to the wall called chel, which separated the court of Israel from the court of the Gentiles; but this was not broken down till the temple itself was destroyed: and to this transaction the apostle cannot be supposed to allude, as it did not take place till long after the writing of this epistle."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible says:

"...the allusion seems to be to the wall which divided the court of Israel from the court of the Gentiles, in the temple, and which kept them at a distance in worship."

But a lingering question remains, and one to which I hope someone out there may provide an answer.

Question #9

Is the Anti-Torah, Christian interpretation of Ephesians 2:15, correct?  Is the abolishment of "the law of commandments contained in ordinances ["dogma" in Greek] to be read as "Yeshua abolished the Torah"?


  1. Check this out:

  2. No, the Torah was not abolished, on the other hand, the dogma's of men were made 'a display' as Yeshua disarmed them according to Col 2:15, that were keeping gentile and jew apart. Peter shared one of these dogmas in Acts 10, it was not God's Torah that divided man. So if men are dividing and keeping other men from serving God, they are an example of that dividing wall and an opposition to Yeshua's work, there exist many today, among Christians and Messianics sadly.

    1. "it was not God's Torah that divided man."

      Of course it was all rabbis' fault! Because G-d never told Israelites to stay far away from the idolatrous nations around them, not to intermarry with them, not make treaties with them, not eat with them, not to... and those racist Jews never welcomed or accepted any Gentile converts... oh, wait...

    2. Zion is quite correct. The Torah never called the gentiles inherently unclean. This was a Rabbinic fence that prevented social intercourse between Jews and gentiles. Peter himself succumbed to it in Galatians 2 and Paul had to set him straight.

    3. "Peter himself succumbed to it in Galatians 2 and Paul had to set him straight."

      This is beyond a mere aversion to hanging out with Gentiles. Remember,this was AFTER Cornelius. Instead, Peter was succumbing to the external pressure to convert the uncircumcised Gentiles he was hanging out with to Judaism, to have them live like Jews. Hence Paul's rebuke:

      'If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?'

      Not exactly a ringing endorsement to the "One Law" theology, with Paul chiding Peter for pushing Gentiles toward becoming "Torah observant", to compel them to live like Jews... That's why many One-Law/Hebrew Root folks don't like Paul very much.

    4. Gene, there's so much you could learn from Spock. : )

      Paul's reasoning was like this:

      (1) you (Peter) are acting like a gentile

      (2) thus, you shouldn't be teaching gentiles to act like Jews

      The warrant behind this reasoning is as follows: it is fitting for an ethical Jew (i.e. non-hypocrite) to teach gentiles the ways of Judaism.

    5. Peter, take in the bigger picture (e.g. Galatians, Acts 15, etc.) of what Paul actually believed about Gentiles being compelled to convert to Judaism and then it will become clear what he was actually saying to Peter and not saying.

      That said, I must say that you were very creative above - I've never heard such an explanation before!

      Paul was a Pharisee (the strictest sect of Judaism) and even he never compelled a Gentile to convert. Peter was also a devout Jew, but couldn't hold a candle to Paul, and yet, somehow through his actions he was compelling Gentiles to convert.

    6. You are claiming conversion based on what the Pharisees taught, arguably the gentiles did convert, this is stated in Acts 15, they just did not convert by the method of the Pharisees as also seen in the Acts 15, which Peter and the Council disagreed with.

      So to compel the gentiles to take part in a conversion which was that of the Pharisees was invalid.

  3. If there is only one body and one spirit, etc...

    Can the body obey different instructions without trying to go in different directions? Will the Ruach haKodesh lead Jews to one truth and Gentiles to another?

    I think we may have different offices (functions) but the law will always be "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". Otherwise how can "man" live?

    It seems like some believe "Jews" should live by all of the word, but gentiles by a portion?

    Sorry if my questions seem childish.

    1. Anonymous,

      This is an excellent defense of the inexorable principle of assimilation. The good kind of assimilation which involves assimilating into a Torah lifestyle. We see this happening in various passages (e.g. Colossians 2). Of course the gentiles would want to observe things like Passover (1 Cor. 5, etc). It is natural and inevitable....especially if many of them are returnees of the lost tribes.