“no longer strangers”
This is such a beautiful verse, isn’t it? Paul is completing a passage on the fact that Gentiles are now as welcome in God’s kingdom as the children of Abraham. Jesus Himself has broken down the wall separating the circumcised from the uncircumcised; those included in the Covenant from those excluded. Through Him, we both have access by one Spirit, to the Father. In Him, we are fitted together; a holy temple in the Lord, being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
But as much as I am struck by the beauty of these words, I am also struck by the words used in the preceding passages. These are words of peace, of harmony, of fellowship. But the words that describe our prior condition chill me. At that time, Paul says, we who were without Christ were “aliens” from the commonwealth of Israel, and worse: “strangers from the covenant of promise”.
Now, when we warn our children of “strangers,” we are cautioning them against those whom they do not know, but in this context, the word “strangers” refers not just to people unfamiliar with the covenant of promise. Strangers to the covenant are not just unfamiliar, they are unwelcome. Intruders. Oh, how I hate the sound of that. I still remember the first time I read Romans 5:10, which says that Jesus died for us even though we were His “enemies”. I cringe at that word, too… at the thought that I was once His enemy. I am equally horrified to imagine being an intruder to His promises, His blessings, and even eternal life. Unfamiliar is bad enough; unwelcome even more painful; but intrusion is a punishable offense.
What joy then, in the knowledge that we are no longer foreigners, no longer strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Amen!