What Was the Wall of Partition Between Gentile Christians And Jewish Believers ?

Pod Prep : 11-10-17

What Was the Wall of Partition Between Gentile Christians And Jewish Believers ?


Those that are biblically uninformed can easily misunderstand the deep concepts written by the Apostle Paul. It would be like trying to understand a debate of the comparative musical value of Mozart verses Handel with very little accurate knowledge of classical music. One could easily misunderstand the debate issues. The Bible makes this clear regarding Paul's letters to his gentile churches.

2Pe 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (KJV)

Paul writes to the gentiles that the wall of separation between them and the Jewish Christians has been torn down. Those coming to certain scriptures, centuries later, with a background that the law is done away or, at least, altered, can easily misunderstand Paul. Remember that these gentiles were taught to learn the Laws of God at the synagogues as the Old Testament was read for all to hear. See Acts 15: 19-21. Few could own Bible scrolls in those days. They were also taught by Paul to keep God's Laws and Holy Days including the Sabbaths annual and weekly. Therefore they would not have misunderstood Paul as people have done many centuries later. The Colossians could not have been judged on Holy Days and Sabbaths if they were not keeping them. See Col 2:16-17. Paul could not have told Corinthians about sin and leavening and keeping the Passover and Unleavened Bread if they were not doing so when his letter arrived. Note I Cor. 5:6-8. Let us now look at the misunderstood scripture and try and fully receive the wise counsel Paul is giving gentiles.

Eph 2:14 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;

The ordinances he is referring to cannot be the basic laws of God. If that is true then the implications are that God had been wrong in the past and the pagan gentile world correct. That is clearly an absolutely wrong premise! This would also contradict many other things written by the Apostle Paul. God is not contradictory! Many scriptures show the correctness of God's Laws, but we will touch on only a few.

Ro 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. {lust: or, concupiscence}
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

When you read Ephesians 2 carefully, it is not the law that was abolished but the hatred between peoples and dogma. The word ordinances derives from the Greek word dogmasine or dogma in English. What separated them was Talmudic traditions and laws. Some of these rules made the Jews feel superior to gentiles who knew not God. Paul further explains that all need grace both Jews and gentiles. See our previous program and paper on grace. Paul and the church made exceptions for gentiles regarding the circumcision law. Just circumcise your hearts! Paul therefore is referring to all the extra ordinances and rules generated by the Jewish leadership. Those rules were a partition between Jew and gentile. The Jews installed them intentionally after they returned from the captivity. Read in the Book of Ezra where some Jews were being lured back again into idolatry by surrounding gentiles. Therefore in the following centuries, Judaism created rules to wall themselves off from nearly all gentile influence. Christ criticized many of these traditions as well, See Mark 7:7-23.


This vital story of the gospels breaking out of the Jewish world is found in the Book of Acts. The only gentiles who heard the Gospel had to be affiliated with Judaism. Those gentiles generally sat in the back of the synagogue because they would not get circumcised and become a full Jew. God is going to dramatically end this situation. Peter and a raw gentile (who had not been attending a synagogue) but was a good man receive, visions designed to get them together. Then Peter has a startling vision.

Acts 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.m
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

Note that Peter knew it did not mean that all meats were clean to eat. He knew God's Laws were not incorrect. But he was uncertain as to its meaning. After meeting with Cornelius, the raw gentile, he realized what the vision did mean. God was reaching out to gentiles who were not part of the Judaism. This had been unthinkable to Jews including the Apostles at this point in church history.

Acts 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an UNLAWFUL thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Who made it unlawful for the Jews to eat with gentiles? This is not in the Law of God. God told the Israelites to be kind to gentiles who were living among them and keeping God's Laws. Therefore any gentile not luring them into paganism should have not been shunned. These Talmudic laws are the ones Paul is referring to that walled out the gentiles. As Peter is speaking, God thru the Holy Spirit, gives the spiritual gifts to this raw gentile. God does not wait for Peter and the other Jews to fully get the message. Peter recognizes the unmistakable signs of the Holy Spirit being given and states

Acts10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Peter said 'can anyone forbid water'. They already had the spirit. Note that he and the other Jews were astonished and amazed that God was calling raw gentiles into his church. The reaction to what Peter had done was stunning to the other leaders in the church. When Peter returned to Jerusalem they were not happy with him and he had to explain that it was not his doing but God's. Reading his defense gives us some idea of the strength of all the rules added by Judaism's strong wall of separation.

Acts 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

Peter's only defense was to simply rehearse all that was done by God not him. He was as biased as any other Jew and that is why God choose him to reveal the break out of the gospel to the outside world.

Acts 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

God made it clear that the gospel was to go beyond just the Jewish world but to all the world. Yet little was done to achieve this goal directly until the Apostle Paul was called and commissioned. Peter still had trouble with learning to see the gentiles as one with Jews as described in Gal. Chapter two. The wall was a powerful and emotional barrier that Paul had to work long and hard to remove. It is one reason Paul pushed the charity to the saints at Jerusalem by gentile churches. Jews could NOT enter certain Roman official buildings or they would be ceremonially unclean and could not keep the Holy Days in the Temple. The Jews had many such rules.

Joh 18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. {the hall...: or, Pilate's house}

These seemingly silly rules of partition have been torn down by Christ and all people have an open entry to God and the truth. May we use it wisely!

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