In verses 11-18, we are given a clear view of the peace that Christ brings between us and man, as well as the peace He brings between us and God. In this next section, Paul lays out for us the implications of this peace. In other words, what are we given this peace for?
Verse 19 gives us the first answer: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God..." We, as Gentile believers, get to be included in the people of God! Think of the wonderful privilege that is! We are part of the citizenship of true Israel. Not only that, but we are part of God's family. That means God is our Father and we can go directly to Him anytime we need since we are His adopted sons and daughters.
But Paul continues to build on the implications of the peace that the gospel brings. Not only are we citizens and family, but we are also "a holy temple in the Lord" (verse 21). This means that God dwells in us! It is the church which God has chosen to make His "dwelling place for [Himself] by the Spirit" (verse 22). It is not just that we are "like" the temple, but we are the living stones that make up the temple.
Think about what the temple was meant to be. One of the things it was meant to be was a symbol to the watching world, "this is where God dwells with His people." Now, the church is meant to be that same representation. It should be a refuge to a world that desperately needs the loving presence of the Lord.
The temple (specifically, the holy of holies) was also meant to be a physical representation of God's dwelling in heaven. We see this laid out for us in Hebrews 8, for example. Therefore, when the church is called the temple, it means we are meant to represent the kingdom of heaven here on earth. We are, as 2 Corinthians 5 states, "ambassadors for Christ." Our churches should be little embassies, representing the city of God to the city of man.
And all of this is held together by Jesus. Verses 20-21 say, "...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord." The entire structure is held together by Christ. The church is held together by Jesus, all for the glory of Jesus.
This vastly changes how many of us view the church. This means that programs, structures, and leaders are not ultimate. We aren't ultimately following pastors or elders. We are following Christ. He is the supreme Being in all the church. He is the One with the ultimate vision and authority in the church. Jesus is the One who loves us and died for us. He is the One who has brought us peace so that we would trust in Him, no matter what storms of life may come. Like a house daily has to rely on its foundation to hold it together, so we must daily rely on our Cornerstone. As the hymn goes, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
He alone is our firm foundation. There is no greater peace than knowing that.
Sermon Series: Ephesians: Church Alive In Christ