- “One body” is employed just twice in Ephesians – Eph 2:16; 4:4:
- In this earlier use, “one body” features at the centre of a chiastic structure (Ep 2:13-18, author’s translation):
|A. but now in Christ Jesus you, those then afar off, became near in the blood of Christ (Eph 2:13)|
|B. for he is our peace, the one having made the both one and the middle wall of partition having broken1 (Eph 2:14)|
|C. the enmity in his flesh, the law of the commandments in decrees, having abolished (Eph 2:15a)|
|D. in order that the two he might create in himself into one new man making peace (Eph 2:15b)|
|d. [in order that]2 he might reconcile the both in one body to God (Eph 2:16a)|
|c. through the cross3 having killed the enmity in himself (Eph 2:16b)|
|b. and having come he preached peace to you, those afar off, and peace to those near (Eph 2:17)|
|a. because through him we, the both, have access in one spirit to the father (Eph 2:18)|
Notes on the chiasm
- The participle aorist active nominative Greek verb lying behind “having broken”, “having abolished”, “having killed” and “having come” in B, C, c and b help establish and contribute to the rhythm of this chiasm.
- The subjunctive aorist active Greek verb translated by “he might create” and “he might reconcile” indicates that the purpose expression “in order that (ina)” extends over both D and d.
- “Through the cross” in c is placed as the instrument of hostility having been killed because the parallel with C calls for an explanation of how the law of commandments were abolished. Colossians 2:14 informs us this was accomplished by Christ “nailing it to the cross”.
- At first reading, the extensive use of peace in Eph 2:14,15,17 seems to speak of peace between Jews and gentiles.
- But this chiasm functions to focus on the correspondence of Jesus’ making of peace for the one new man with the Lord’s reconciliation of one body to God:
- this makes it clear the making of peace is principally about peace between all men and God rather than between different kinds of people
- The apostle employs this literary device to lead the gentile readers to think one way only to be pulled up short by a realisation the matter in hand has quite a different focus which is of much weightier significance to them:
- in being pulled up short from thinking about peace between Jews and gentiles, they are led to realise that there is a much more fundamental matter than any differences between Jews and gentiles – the issue of peace between all people and God
- This is why in the apostle’s exhortation that we are eagerly to maintain the unity of the spirit he adds that this is to be “in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3):
- it is the peace established between us and God that is the basis of unity
- The use of Isaiah’s prophecy which is sprinkled through this chiasm confirms such a meaning:
- “our peace”: Eph 2:14 cit Is 53:5
- the peace that is established by Christ’s sacrifice is clearly about what subsists between God and men
- the summary conclusion of Is 53 renders this plain:
- “he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Is 53:12)
- such things are near-irrelevant to matters between sinners but fundamental to the repair of man’s relationship to God