Ephesians 2:12 says Gentiles were “aliens” and “strangers” from Israel and the covenants of promise. Seven verses later Gentiles are “no more strangers and foreigners”.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” – Eph 2:19
Something happened in those seven verses that granted uncircumcised Gentiles benefits they did not have before.
What happened? What are the benefits?
The answers are in the context.
If we ignore the verses between Eph 2:12 and Eph 2:19, we could easily jump to the wrong conclusion that the church is Israel now and the true recipients of Israel’s covenants of promise.
In Time Past
Between Eph 2:12 and Eph 2:19 there is a dispensational change. That is to say Paul explains a change in God’s revelation concerning how he relates to us and we to him.
In Ephesians 2:12 Paul is explaining the way God related to the world in “time past” as seen in the previous verse.
“ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;” – Ephesians 2:11
In time past God purposed to work through Israel to bless the nations. Israel was the channel of blessing from God to the world. No one had closer access to God than did a Jew.
Jews were separated from Gentiles by their God given covenants, circumcision, and laws.
In time past, Gentiles had no access to God or his blessings except through Israel and their covenants. Gentiles had no hope without Israel, the created nation of priests.
But now, it is different.
A Dispensational Change
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” – Eph 2:13
In a single verse Paul leaps a dispensational boundary from how God operated in time past, to describing how God operates now.
Now, Gentiles have the privilege of being “in Christ Jesus” by the blood of Christ offered to all, both those that were far off in time past, and those that were nigh in time past (Eph 2:17).
No longer do Gentiles need to go to Israel or be partakers of their covenants of promise to receive hope and blessings from God.
Eph 2:13 describes their privilege of gaining access to God and his blessings by means of the blood of Christ.
Instead of requiring Israel to offer sacrifices to make peace with God, Gentiles could now glory that Christ Jesus is our peace (Eph 2:14).
The same Christ according to the mystery has broken down what separated the Jew and Gentile in time past, and which, at that time, gave Israel special access to God and salvation.
Now, all have free access to God through Jesus Christ by the preaching of the cross.
A New Creature
Paul continues to explain the change in Eph 2:15-16. Whereas in time past there were two peoples (Jew and Gentiles), there is now only one man.
Moreover, the one man is a new man, being neither Jew nor Gentile.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” – Gal 6:15
Both Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God equally in one body by the cross (Eph 2:16).
In time past, the house of God was the house of Israel. But now, the house of God is a body of believers in Christ.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” – 1 Cor 3:16
Gentiles do not need to go through Israel to be reconciled. They now have access in the “one body” of Christ.
Gentiles do not need to partake in Israel’s covenants of promise to have peace with God. They can now be saved freely by the cross (Eph 2:8-9).
Access Through Christ
Eph 2:18 explains the benefit and privilege that is now accessible to Gentiles.
In time past it would’ve been a privilege to be part of Israel, and heir to Israel’s covenants, because it would grant exclusive access to God and his blessings.
But now, access to the Father is offered freely to all men through Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.
“For through [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” – Eph 2:18
Men no longer need to be citizens of Israel to have access to God. We need to be members of the one body of Christ, the new creature.
Neither do men need to be heirs of Israel’s covenants to receive blessings from God. We need to be part of God’s promise in Christ to offer salvation freely to all men by his grace (Eph 3:6).
No More Strangers
In time past Gentiles were aliens from Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise given to Israel, making them far off from the only channel of access to God and his blessings.
But now, a new channel of direct access to God is revealed for both Jew and Gentile which is through the Lord Jesus Christ according to the gospel of the grace of God.
“ Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” – Eph 2:19
There is no more separation between Jew and Gentile. We are fellowcitizens with all saints (who are no longer called circumcision nor uncircumcision, but saints).
Instead of becoming part of the house of Israel and Judah according to the old and new covenants, we are partakers of the household of God, which is the church (1 Tim 3:15).
Instead of strangers we are all familiar to God, and instead of being foreign we can now receive the benefits of God’s grace as rightful heirs in Christ (Rom 5:2, Rom 8:17).
If any be in Christ, he is no more strangers and foreigners.