Talk to any real student of Scripture who has spent years in the Book and he (or she) will tell you that some of the most precious gems of truth that he (or she) has discovered are contained in relatively obscure passages. Usually these passages had been overlooked for years until it dawns on the student the deep truths that are there but overlooked. Eph. 2:15 is just such a passage. Let’s read it in its context.
“14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
Much of this precious truth has been studied, grasped, and expounded on by many preachers in Christendom, yet the truth of the “one new man” is completely missed by the vast majority of them. Let us consider this “one new man” very carefully considering that he is a creation of God.
So what (or who) is this one new man? Actually, the scripture has much to say about him; but we find him only in the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon.
· This “one new man” is the subject of what Paul calls “the mystery…which in other ages [i.e. prior to Paul’s writings] was not made known unto the sons of men, as is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I [Paul] was made a minister…” (Eph. 3:3-7).
· This one new man has a body of which the Lord Jesus Christ is personally the head: “And he is the head of the body, the church: [Christ] who is the beginning [i.e. the one who began the one new man] the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he [Christ] might have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18).
· The apostle speaks of this one body again in Rom. 12: 4-5 “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
· The identification of this one body together with Christ the head as the one new man is made even clearer in 1 Cor. 12:12: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” We need to catch the significance of that expression: “so also is Christ.” That is to say that Christ as He is presented in the Pauline epistles is personally seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Col. 3:1) and that He is always associated together with the Church which is Christ’s Body. The only church which God is forming today is “the church which is his [Christ’s] body” (Eph. 1:22-23; 3:23; Col. 1:18, 24). Every person since the saving of Saul of Tarsus (1 Tim. 1:16) who has trusted Jesus Christ and His work of redemption also is a member of this church which is Christ’s body.
Jesus Christ as a Corporate Body
This one body together with Christ the head is joined together in a marvelous way. The union of each member to Christ is so strong and so intimate that we are said to be “…members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Eph. 5:30). Indeed “…ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Cor. 12:27) This intimate, vital, living union is formed by the work of the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13). This one new man is actually a true living organism in both a spiritual and a physical sense. In a spiritual sense, the Holy Spirit has joined each of us to Christ so as to be one with Him. In a physical sense, Christ can live His life in the mortal bodies of each believer who walks after the Spirit (Gal. 2:20).
At this point an illustration from everyday life might be helpful in understanding the one new man. Let’s consider the creation of a corporation in the business world. A corporation is actually a person in the eyes of the government, even though it is not one single person but a corporation of people. This artificial person carries on business, pays taxes, produces goods and services, pays wages and salaries and does everything an individual person would do. This corporation is created for a purpose that the incorporator(s) had in mind. So too is this one new man that Eph. 2:15 speaks of. Only this new man in not artificial, but in the eyes of God, is real.
The Holy Spirit who indwells every member of the one body is like the central nervous system. The Holy Spirit working through the written Word of God communicates instructions from Christ the head to each member of the body. As individual members humbly live out the doctrine contained in the Pauline epistles, they develop and display “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The new nature that is within the believer through the indwelling Holy Spirit is said to be “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9) and “the Spirit of Adoption” (Rom. 8:15). This is knowing Christ in a far more blessed relationship than is possible by going back to His earthly ministry in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. To go back to the gospels is to know Christ “after the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:17). “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.” That is, we no longer go back to the gospels to His earthly ministry. In fact, we today “know no man after the flesh” but rather know all men as to whether they are “in Christ” or not “in Christ”. That, today, is the whole issue with God. That is the whole focus of the past 1960+ years as far as God is concerned.
Just as a corporation engages in a business, so too the one new man is engaged in a business. That business is the soul saving business whereby God “will have all men to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim. 2:4). The body, and each member in particular, represents Christ as an ambassador during the dispensation of grace (2Cor. 5:20).
The New Man and The Purpose of God
The purpose for this one new man is referred to in Eph. 1:11,
“In whom [i.e. in Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
That purpose is stated in the preceding verse (Eph. 1:10),
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him” [Christ].
This is the purpose referred to in Rom. 8:28 when the apostle tells us,
“…that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Again the apostle tells us in 2 Tim. 1:8-11,
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; But be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but now is made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death and hath brought light and immortality to light through the gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
Note that this purpose which culminates and finds fulfillment in “the dispensation of the fullness of times” was actually ordained by God “before the world began.” Before the world began, God had the creation of this one new man in mind and had an eternal purpose for him (the one new man) that would involve a resurrection life for the members of this one body—a life that would be “eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1). In fact, that one new man will reign with Christ the Head there in the heavens (2Tim 2:10) and will indeed “judge angels” (1Cor. 6:3).
The One New Man and Salvation
Before discussing this one new man, we should give some attention to what scripture has to say about how he is formed. We have already considered the passage in 1 Cor. 12:13 where we saw that the Holy Spirit baptizes individual members into the one body. That baptism is the one baptism of Eph. 4:5. That is the only baptism that is in effect today in the dispensation of grace. It forms an unbreakable, eternal union between the believer and the Lord Jesus Christ. That baptism takes place the very instant that an individual soul makes the decision to trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ as the full price of redemption. At the moment in time when a soul believes, the Holy Spirit joins that soul to the Saviour so that Christ receives that previously lost soul to Himself (Rom. 15:7). The previously lost soul brings to this spiritual union his/her sin and guilt so that it can be transferred to Christ. Christ could then have legitimately paid sin’s debt on behalf of that soul. Upon God seeing faith in the heart of the sinner, God reckon’s Christ’s death for sin as the sinner’s death (Rom 6:3). The gospel, pure and simple, is that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The moment we believed that, we each were “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27) and “baptized into his death” (Rom. 6:3) so that the merits of Christ’s work might be applied to us. Unless there was some means whereby Christ who knew no sin could become guilty of our sins, then God the Father could not have reckoned His death as payment for our sins. It is the guilty party that must pay the penalty for sin. So too, a guilty person cannot be declared righteous without some means of that transfer of guilt being made. It is in the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit in forming the one new man that the believer is so totally identified with Christ as to be literally one with Him. Thus we have the blessed truth of 2 Cor. 5:21
“For he [the Father in heaven] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we [the ones who sinned] might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Israel also has a means whereby the believers of that nation (both in the four gospels and Acts period and in the future tribulation) will be identified with Christ; that being circumcision and water baptism. Both of these rites relate to covenants that God had with the nation. Isaiah 53:8 speaks of His identification with Israel in her sins
“He was taken from prison and from judgement: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people [Isaiah’s people-Israel] was he stricken.”
This identification of Christ with Israel is seen in His submission to water baptism with the baptism of John.
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:4-5).
Clearly, John’s baptism was for the purpose of Israel’s sins being “remitted” so that the Messiah could come to a clean nation. But to John’s surprise, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Mt. 3:13-15). In God’s program with the nation of Israel, circumcision identified people with the Abrahamic covenant and Abraham’s seed—Christ; while water baptism identified people with the Kingdom of Heaven. Note John’s opening statement, “…Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 3:1). Thus, water baptism was required for salvation in Israel’s program (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; etc.).
Now back to the baptism that forms the one new man – The Body of Christ. Let’s consider two different individuals who are both yet in unbelief. Let’s give them the names Pete and Sam for discussion purposes. Now let’s say that they both hear a clear gospel presentation that Christ died for their sins and thus eternal life is offered to each. Now let’s say that Pete responds in faith and, having acknowledged his lost state, reaches out in faith to receive the gift of eternal life. At that instant, the Holy Spirit baptized Pete into Christ forever and sealed him there (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Sam on the other hand, though he might give lip service to the gospel and may be a very good and even religious person, considers himself to be acceptable to God as he is, and chooses not to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Sam therefore remains a member of the lost masses of humanity. That is, he is still “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:22) where all die and not “in Christ” where all shall be “made alive.” Now we ask: “Did Christ die for both Pete and Sam?” The answer is “Yes!” “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). The righteousness which both Pete and Sam need to get into heaven, but which neither has in his own right, is available to both of them. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all [i.e. an unlimited provision] and upon all them that believe [a limited application]: for there is no difference” (Rom. 3:22). However, though Christ died for the sins of both, only Pete believed so therefore only Pete was baptized into Christ.
The One New Man and Justification
Every person who becomes a member of this one new man is “…Justified freely by his [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). The apostle makes this clear when he says: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works…” (Rom. 4:5-6). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:10).
For Israel, however, being justified by faith alone was not God’s mode of justification. Justification by God is always on the basis of the believer’s faith. But, in Israel’s program, the faith that justified had to be a faith that worked. James explains this in his epistle to the twelve tribes (James 1:1) saying, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (2:24). The faith James is talking about is the faith to stand up to a severe test as Abraham was tested when he was asked by God to offer his son in sacrifice (Gen. 22:2 ff). For Israelites in the coming tribulation, such faith will be required. The works will be the act of obedience to the revealed will of God.
For us today in the dispensation of Grace, members of the one new man, we are justified as the uncircumcised Abram was when all he did was simply believe a promise from God that he would have a son even though he and his wife Sarah were entirely too old to have a son according to the natural course of life (Gen. 15:4-6).
The One New Man and Security
Regarding the matter of the eternal security of the believer, we find some very interesting doctrine in the scripture. When we study the epistles of Paul (the apostle of the Gentiles, through whom the information regarding the one new man was revealed), we find that every member of the church which is Christ’s body is sealed to eternal life by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). This sealing work of the Holy Spirit, like his baptizing work, happens in a moment, at the instant of personal belief of the gospel. Note—the apostle’s description of this work of God,
“That we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12-14).
It is interesting to note in studying the Bible on the subject of eternal security, that when we are studying passages outside of Paul’s epistles, that we do not find absolute security. For example, as we study passages on salvation for an Israelite under the law (e.g. Ezekiel 18), we find that they had a conditional security. Consider Ezek. 18:21-24:
“But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the LORD God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”
So too, Israelites in the tribulation period will have a conditional security in that “…He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Mt. 10:22). Enduring to the end is a term that pertains to the enduring of the persecution that will come on believers in the tribulation. Heb. 6:1-6 speaks of those who do not endure as being fallen away and unable to be renewed unto repentance.
The One New Man and Election
This one new man of Eph. 2:15 existed in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world. The apostle makes a powerful statement on the election of this one new man in Eph. 1:4-5,
“According as he hath chosen us in him [i.e. in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Note that the passage says that “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.”
It does not say that “he chose us to be in him” before the foundation of the world. It is the one new man that was chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before him in love. Individual members of Christ are in him by virtue of the fact that they exercised their volition in choosing to trust Christ as Savior. We would refer to this election as a corporate election in that it is the one new man that is chosen. People become members of that one new man by exercising faith.
Regarding predestination, we see again that the predestination is a reference to the one new man. We (corporately) are predestinated to be adopted as children of God by Jesus Christ [i.e. by His work] to himself. Romans 8:29-30 touches on this as well. Note that it says,
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he [Christ] might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Referring again to the illustration of Pete and Sam, we can now understand some things about election and predestination. Pete (the believer) was chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world…” that he should be “…holy and without blame before him in love…” He is also “…predestinated…unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself…” (Eph. 1:4 & 5) all because Pete exercised faith to believe the gospel. Sam on the other hand is not so chosen because he is not in Christ. However, he too can be a member of that chosen body by believing the gospel and thus be joined to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Eternal Destiny of the One New Man
While Israel is God’s elect nation (Isa. 42:1-5; 45:5; Jer. 23:5-8) through whom He will one day establish a kingdom upon this earth, The Body of Christ (the One New Man) looks forward to a glorious resurrection life that will be “eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1). The one new man had his beginning in time when our Lord saved Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. However, the earthly existence of the one new man will one day culminate in the event that we call the rapture. The apostle describes it in 1 Cor. 15:50-52,
“Behold I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
However, until that time comes, this one new man carries on a restraining ministry in this earth. This restraining ministry is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:7,
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let [restrain], until he [the one new man] be taken out of the way [with the rapture]. And then shall that wicked one [the antichrist] be revealed…” We see the eternal destiny of the Body in the heavens again in Paul’s description of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch angel and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds [i.e. raptured] to meet the Lord in the air [i.e. the unseen, heavenly realm] and so [i.e. in the air—the heavens] shall we ever be with the Lord.”
What a glorious future this one new man has. Will you be like Pete; chosen in Christ to be holy and without blame before God in love and predestinated to be children of God in heaven in eternity future. Or, will you be like Sam and remain a member of the lose masses of humanity? The choice is yours.
Berean Bible Church - Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Revised: January 07, 2007 .