"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down
the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity,
that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create
in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might
reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting
to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar
off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one
Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:14-17)
Just what IS the one new man? The phrase is being used so much now
it's difficult to locate the original intent of its author, Shaul the
Shaliach (Paul the Apostle), in his epistle to the Ephesians.
To illustrate the relevance and immediacy of this question, I just returned
from a five day consultation on this subject, held in Europe, involving
representatives from numerous cities around the world. These ministry
leaders are grappling with several issues emerging from two remarkable
developments of the last 40 plus years. One development is that Jews are
again following Jesus and living a biblically Jewish life - in numbers far
greater than at any time since the first century. This historic (and I
would add, prophetic) trend has led to a second development within some
portions of the worldwide body of Messiah. Christians are being drawn to
investigate the Hebraic background of the New Testament. Jesus and His
disciples were incontestably Jewish, native citizens of Israel in the first
century. An unbiased reading of Scripture makes it clear that they lived,
celebrated, and worshiped in the context of normative Jewish life, based on
the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and the Prophets.
OK, until now no huge controversy. The problem arises, however, when
Gentile believers - enthusiastic about this restoration of the "Jewish
roots" of the New Covenant - want to enter the life practices of the first
apostles, and begin adopting the framework of Torah as their own. To play
with the term ... Is this kosher?
What is the Context?
First, it's always appropriate to check the context of a Bible passage
in order to grasp its intent. The "one new man" phrase occurs in Ephesians
2:15. The apostle is addressing Gentile believers, reminding them that they
were once "without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel
and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God
in the world" (Ephesians 2:11, 12). This statement alone links the
salvation of the nations (Gentiles) to God's divine order of bringing
salvation through Israel. It is a strong reminder, similar to that found in
Romans 11:18: "... remember that you do not support the root, but the
root supports you."
Next comes the (especially in the first century) monumental announcement in
verse 14, that Yeshua "has broken down the middle wall of
separation." This can be seen as a reference to the barrier in the
Temple precinct physically separating Jew and Gentile, keeping the Gentile
excluded from the inner courtyard. The author, a renowned rabbi of his era,
atttributes this reconciliation to the crucifixion of the Messiah. He
identifies the "law of the commandment" as the "enmity" being
removed (Ephesians 2:15) from between Jew and Gentile. He is not calling
the law an enemy. Rather, he is referring to the Gentiles being released
from Israel's obligation to abide by that law. Paul brilliantly
applies the conclusion of the Acts 15 council.
What is the Mystery?
In the following chapter, Paul terms this phenomenon a "mystery" of the
ages, and defines the mystery as Jews and Gentiles being "fellow heirs,
of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Messiah through the
gospel" (Ephesians 3:4, 6). The One New Man is us together - His united
body. The language is crystal clear about our joint position
of Kingdom citizens and heirs of eternal life through faith in Yeshua. What
is less clear is: "How Jewish is the Gentile man within the one new
man; and how Gentile is the Jewish man within the one new man?"
Here, the Jerusalem Council decision is helpful. In that historic
discussion, the apostles and elders concluded that the Gentile believers
were not obligated to observe the Law of Moses. OK, not obligated.
That's clear. So, apparently the difference in our practices
(holidays, diet, etc.) are not something that separates us. The Gentile
does not become Jewish, nor the Jew become Gentilish - "Was anyone
called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone
called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised" (1 Corinthians
7:18). Our full fellowship is not based on the outward aspects of
celebrating our faith, but rather on the priceless blood of our Messiah.
Then how are we to walk out this full fellowship? It is again a matter of
calling. There are non-Jewish disciples who are called to participate in
Messianic Jewish congregations either in the Diaspora or in Israel. In such
cases, the vision of the specific congregation will guide the worshiper,
while there is yet no need to formally "convert". At the same time, a
Jewish believer needs to feel at home in any assembly of Yeshua followers
in the world. In that Christian church, he can enjoy the rich, common life
of the Spirit, while his Biblical calling as an "Israelite" is not being
The Lord's Feasts Express our Oneness
I believe that a key to walking together as the "one new man" is the
biblical framework of the feasts of the Lord, as set forth in Leviticus 23.
While these celebrations are overtly given to "b'nai Yisrael",
the children of Israel, God also weaves them into the whole fabric of
Scripture. Yeshua's first century disciples celebrated these feasts
with Him and each one has a Messianic fulfillment in addition to its
original purpose in commemorating Israel's history.
By discovering these twin applications of the feasts, the New Testament
believer can enjoy the ancient roots of his faith without adhering to all
613 Mosaic commandments. Through the seven seasonal feasts (with Shabbat
preceding all of them), we are able to rejoice together in God's great
While the above may still leave specific questions unanswered, it is
offered in hopes of providing basic clarity. The exciting thing is that God
has brought back the Messianic Jews, as natural branches re-ingrafted (per
Romans 11:16-24). This brings resurrection power to the world-wide Church
(Romans 11:15) and is a signal of Yeshua's soon return (Matthew
For further exploration of this subject, please make use of
Eitan's book "What About Us? - The end-time calling of Gentiles in
Israel's Revival". It can be ordered on