FREE booklet : The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
¬ Introduction
¬ God's Magnificent Series of Covenants
  Did Abraham Keep the Same Commandments God Gave to Moses?
  How Can We Obey God's Commandments?
  The Sinai Covenant and the 'Voice of the Lord'
  God's 'Laws, Statutes and Judgments'
  Key Elements of the Sinai Covenant
  Rightly Understanding 'Justification' and 'Righteousness'
  Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Moses?
  God's Law: Is It a Burden or a Blessing?
¬ A New Covenant for Transforming the Heart
  What Was the Main Weakness of the Sinai Covenant?
  How God Balances Justice With Mercy
  How Is the New Covenant 'New'?
  The Ten Commandments: Keys in a Law of Love
¬ The High Priest Essential to Salvation
  Grace and Law: Why Are They Inseparable?
  A High Priest Eager to Help Us
¬ Circumcision vs. a 'New Creation' in Christ
  Current Confusion Over Christian Freedom
  The 'Curse of the Law'
  Galatians 4:9-10: Are God's Laws Bondage?
  Did Paul's Words to the Galatians Contradict His Actions?
  Why Paul Used the Term 'the Whole Law' in Galatians 5:3
  What's Wrong With Our Human Nature?
  The Holy Spirit: God's Promise of His Divine Help
¬ The Justice and Judgment of God
  How Paul Put the Law on 'Firmer Footing'
  How Does Justification Relate to Salvation?
  Does Romans 14 Abolish Laws on Unclean Meats?
  Did Paul Teach That All Days of Worship Are Alike?
  Did Paul Tell the Romans One Thing and the Corinthians the Opposite?
¬ Peace and Unity in Christ
  Paul Imprisoned Over a Man-Made Taboo
  The Corruption of Apostolic Christianity
  What Was 'Wiped Out' by Jesus Christ's Death?
  What Does 'Shadow of Things to Come' Mean?
  The Calendar Used by the Earliest Gentile Christians
  The Ascetic Philosophy Affecting the Colossians
  Colossians 2:16-17: Are God's Laws Obsolete?
¬ The Apostles, the Old Testament and God's Law
  Jesus and Paul Emphasize the Law's Correct Focus
  Paul Regularly Used the Old Testament as the Authority for His Teaching
  Acts Shows What the Early Church Believed and Practiced
  What Did Paul Mean by 'Christ Is the End of the Law'?
  The Jerusalem Conference of Acts 15: What Was Decided?
¬ Jesus' Teaching on God's Law
  Other Important Ways Jesus Fulfilled the Law
  Does the New Covenant Abolish the Commandments?
  The 'New' Part of Jesus Christ's 'New Commandment'
  Confusion Over Legalism: What It Is and Isn't
  Does God Set Conditions on His Gift of Eternal Life?
¬ All the World Under the New Covenant
  Liberty Through God's Law
  A Covenant of Marriage
From the publisher of The Good News magazine.
The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
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Paul Imprisoned Over a Man-Made Taboo

Both internal and historical evidence indicates that Paul was in prison when he wrote his epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians. The reason for his imprisonment probably explains why he chose to use the term middle wall of separation in Ephesians 2:14 to represent man-made and discriminatory decrees that alienate and divide people.

Paul's imprisonment resulted from a false charge that he had taken a gentile with him past a forbidden checkpoint in the temple compound (Acts 21:29). In an article titled "The Wall Is Gone," Craig McMahon gives this revealing observation of why that dividing "wall of separation" was likely so prominent in Paul's thinking.

"The most promising [explanation] . . . identifies the 'dividing wall' with the temple wall that cordoned off the Outer Court of the Gentiles from the various inner courts of the Jews. Rhetorically speaking, this temple wall functions as a poignant metaphor of the social and spiritual exclusion of the Gentiles by the Jews. No Gentile was allowed to pass beyond this five-foot high stone wall into the Jewish section of the temple . . .

"Historically speaking, this same temple wall played a pivotal role in the course of Paul's ministry. Acts 21:26-36 recounts the story of Paul having been seen in the exclusively Jewish area of the temple with some strangers, one of whom was assumed to be a Gentile, Trophimus of Ephesus.

"Jewish worshipers seized Paul, making the accusation that 'he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place' (v. 28). This allegation charged that Paul was guilty of aiding Gentiles in breaching the dividing wall . . .

"If in fact Paul wrote Ephesians during this lengthy period of imprisonment . . . then the acknowledgement in Eph. 3:1 ('I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles') may be an historical reminiscence of his arrest for allegedly violating the restrictions of the temple wall . . .

"Paul's mention of the dividing wall . . . fits the probable historical context of Ephesians and is also well-suited to the rhetorical purposes of this passage—namely, depicting the former separation between Jew and Gentile and the new order created in Christ" (Review and Expositor, Spring 1996, p. 262).

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