Home > Law, Theology > Abolishing the Middle Wall of Division – is that the law?

Abolishing the Middle Wall of Division – is that the law?

I want to look into two passages that appear to deal with abolishing he law. The passages are Eph. 2:11-15 and Col. 2:13-16. Do they contradict Jeremiah's prophecy about the new covenant that is about the law in the heart? I will only deal with the second one as both have the same interpretation.

Eph. 2:11 "Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands– 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end."

Col. 2:13 And you [i.e. Gentiles], who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us [i.e. both Jews and Gentiles] all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath.

What is Paul talking about here? The law of God? How was that something that "stood against us" – speaking here of both Jews and Gentiles as a united group of people?

Gentiles were always welcomed to convert to Judaism, but to come into the covenant of promise they were required to learn the law properly, repent and become circumcised. Studying the law took a long time, something like five years, during which they were called proselites. They were encouraged (though not required) to keep as much of the law as they could, but they were not part of the covenant and didn't enjoy its blessings, nevertheless they were considered righteous Gentiles.

Gentiles who kept the Noahide laws were also considered righteous, but they were also strangers to the covenant of promise, that belonged to the Jews. This requirement was the wall of division that kept righteous Gentiles away from the covenant, the requirement to convert to Judaism and the taking on of Torah observance.

I contend that in the new covenant this requirement was removed, and Gentiles who entered the new covenant were not required to take on Torah observance. This doesn't mean the law of Moses didn't apply to Jewish converts – actually, we know it did, that is why they were so zealous for the law (Acts 21:20) -, and that the law of Noah didn't apply to Gentile converts.

The new covenant is not about lawlessness, but about the law in the heart (Jer. 31:33). Jews had the law of Moses – God put that into their heart. Gentiles had the law of Noah, and that is what God put into their heart. That is why they were not required to keep the festivals and the Sabbath.

This is the reason why the Jews remove themselves from the Gentiles and eat separately, when Peter comes to Galata. They still kept their laws, and thought that it was not right to eat at the same table with Gentiles who consumed food that was unclean for Jews to eat.

What about putting the principalities and powers to shame? Well, the Sanhedrin and the Roman leaders were responsible for his execution. The resurrection made these leaders look quite ridiculous.

The passage in Eph. 2:14-16 has the same explanation. It is not about abolishing the law, but the requirement of conversion to Judaism, that is the middle wall of division.

If Paul meant the abolishing of the whole law, then both he and James were hypocrats when James asked him to perform the Temple sacrifice to prove, that the charge, that he taught Jews not to follow the law of Moses, was not true (Acts 21:20-21). Besides, this idea makes the NT not the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, and makes Jesus more like the Antichrist who brings in lawlessness.

Categories: Law, Theology
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