A Wall Broken-Down (v. 14-18)
Soreg – Paul has a very handy image that he can use to describe the inclusion of the Gentiles. He says that the middle wall of separation has been broken down. In the Jerusalem Temple, as you walked through the courtyard outside the Temple, you had pass through gate in a low wall the soreg. This wall was a picture of the barrier that separated sinful men (Gentiles) from God’s holiness (Jews).
Trophimus – In Acts 20, Paul leaves Ephesus right after the famous riot. And we are told that he takes seven companions with him on this trip. One of these companions was Trophimus (Acts 20:4, also mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:20). But in Acts 21:28-29, when Paul was arrested in the Temple, it was because they thought that he had brought Trophimus the Ephesian past the soreg.
Peace – Where there once was hostility, now there was to be peace (14, 17). Peace is literally completion, that sense of being brought together so that there is nothing lacking.
The Veil – However, on the night that Jesus died, what separation was removed? It wasn’t the soreg, it was the veil inside the Temple (Mat. 27:51). The soreg pointed to a more fundamental separation.
A Holy Temple (v. 19-22)
The Gentiles, who once were excluded from the Temple, are now, in Christ, being built into the Temple. Those who were once dead, aliens, strangers, hopeless, and far off have now been brought into that from which there were previously excluded.
There were two fundamental movements that are described here – being brought near and being brought up. Being brought near is just a picture of being brought up.
But look back at v. 11. “You who are called uncircumcision,” present tense. They are still currently treated as excluded by Jews. Jesus came as a stone, a stone that would be either a cornerstone on which we are built into a temple, or a stumbling stone on which we become offended.
What was the offense? The inclusion of the Gentiles was offensive because it necessarily implied the guilt of the Jews. The horizontal reconciliation that God requires of us is a way of underlining our need for vertical reconciliation. Rejecting the first will end with us rejecting the second.
Paul uses an assortment of images to help us understand the Church. It is a building, a temple, a man, a marriage, a family, a job, a kingdom, a mountain, a sea, a tree, a vine, etc. It is all of these things. And it is simply Jesus, who is our peace.