Ephesians 2.11-13


1. As you folks know, I am a fundamentalist. A fundamentalist is someone who adheres to the fundamentals. And one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith is referred to as the depravity of man. That is, every man born of woman comes into this world utterly depraved.

2. Now, understand that depraved is not a description of how bad you are, though you are truly bad, it's a description of how bad off you are. For example: The skid row bum, the panhandler, the derelict druggie, might commit more obvious sins than the uptown socialite, than the religious person who is a member of the First Church, but have the same destiny awaiting him.

3. Did you hear what I said? People who die without Jesus Christ, whether they are Adolf Hitler or Miss Manners, are equally bad off, although they may not be equally bad. That, my friend, is part of what depravity refers to. So, when I say to you that man is totally depraved, I am saying that man is as bad off as he can possibly be, although he may not be as bad as he can possibly be. Though you are almost certainly more bad than you think you are.

4. The passage that's before us this morning illustrates the concept of depravity as it applies to Gentiles. Turn to Ephesians 2.11-13, and stand, as we read God's Word together: "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; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

5. In Ephesians 2.3-10 the apostle Paul makes frequent use of the word "we" to describe, first, the lost condition of himself and his readers, and then how God marvelously saved them by His grace, through faith in Christ.  But in the three verses we are presently looking at Paul is referring only to his readers; not to himself, and not to Jewish Christians.

6. Notice that Paul wants his readers to remember some things about themselves. It may surprise you that Paul wants us to remember certain things, considering that he powerfully declared "forgetting those things which are behind," Philippians 3.13-14, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God is Christ Jesus."

7. But a careful examination of Philippians will reveal that Paul forgot those things about his past which would be viewed as accomplishments, which would be viewed by most people as assets and achievements. In other words, in total contradiction to the views of the world, Paul advocated forgetting those things you might be proud of in your past, but remembering those things about yourself that would be viewed negatively.

8. Why? So that you will have no trouble thinking little of yourself and much of God's grace. Because if you begin to forget your failings and remember only your accomplishments you might develop a high estimation of yourself. You might develop self confidence. And that would be a tragic mistake. You see, God wants you to have no confidence in your own abilities, but to depend upon Him. And it's difficult to convince yourself to do that when you think about how great you are, or were before you got saved. Amen?

9. Okay. What, precisely, did Paul want his readers, Gentile Christians like some of you and me, to remember about their past? Well, as we see in verses 11 and 12, a number of things: First, they, we, were "in time past Gentiles in the flesh." Now, what do you suppose Paul meant when he wrote this? Several things. He pointed out that we are not Jewish, and he pointed out that we were in the flesh. The flesh is what everyone is in who is not in Christ, who is not saved.

10. What follows is an elaboration of these two statements. "Who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands." Gentiles were called Uncircumcision by the Jewish people of Paul's day. And it was an extremely derogatory description of a Gentile man.  It was a way of pointing out that the Gentile man did not have the mark of a covenant relationship with God that all Jewish men did have.

11. But notice that Paul, himself a Jewish man, pointedly qualifies the Jews as being the "Circumcision in the flesh made by hands." Why does he say that? Because in their own prophets the Jews were told that what they needed was a circumcision of the heart that could not be performed by men's hands, but could only be performed by God Himself. So, although the Gentiles of Paul's day did not have the outward mark of a covenant relationship with God that the Jews had, the Jews still did not have what God wanted most, which was a circumcised heart.

12. "That at that time ye were without Christ." Paul is definitely referring to that period of time in our lives before we came to Christ by faith. You see, folks, a person is either in Christ, by faith, or apart from Christ. There is no in between. You are either saved or lost. And Paul is talking to his readers about the time in their lives when they were lost.

13. Notice that at that time we were, "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." What is an alien from the commonwealth of Israel?  An alien is someone who is not a citizen. It's someone who is not a full participant in the rights and privileges that God gave to Israel. And remember, Israel is the chosen nation of God. The rights and privileges of Israelite citizenship in God's scheme of things were significant.

14. Additionally, we were "strangers from the covenants of promise."  Recognize that God's covenants, by which God obligated Himself in certain ways, were covenants made with the patriarchs of Israel only. God has not obligated Himself in any way to Gentiles like you and me since the time of Abraham. By that I mean, there are no guarantees from God to Gentiles beyond His promise never to judge the world by flood. Whatever promises God has made He has made only to Abraham and his descendants.

15. Now, what does it mean to be a foreigner to Israel and to have no promises made to you by God? It means two things: First, it means no Christian had hope before conversion. "Having no hope." That is, there is no expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God. None.

16. And second, it meant that in this world the lost are completely without God. I have to laugh when people come to me and tell me that even though they are lost and live like the devil that they believe that "God is always with me." Do you realize, my friend, that if you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior God is not with you, you are without God in the world?

17. What a terrifying predicament to be in. Imagine living in this world, the way it is, without God. The Jewish people, even the unsaved ones, were never completely without God, because they at least had the glory of God in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. But not us. Before I got saved, my friend, I was terribly, tragically, terminally, alone and without God. And if you're lost this morning you're still that way.

18. How can you live in this world and know that there is a God Who created it all, but be totally separated from Him, to have no part with Him or of Him, and to have no future guaranteed to you? So, you can see that the concept of being depraved, as it applies to Gentiles, is well illustrated here. How much worse off can a person be than to be completely outside of God's plan, to have no hope for the future, and to be isolated from the Lord Jesus Christ, God's only avenue of reconciliation? You can't be any worse off than that.

19. Now look at verse 13. Verse 11 and 12 was for remembering. "But now,"  verse 13 begins, things are different for the Gentile who trusts Jesus.  Christians are described by Paul has being "in Christ," who "were without Christ." And we who were "sometimes far off are made nigh." We who were outside are now inside. We who were distant are now close.

20. And how has this been made possible? Paul writes "by the blood of Christ." There is a modern trend in evangelical Christianity to minimize the blood of Christ by saying that the blood of Christ was only a symbolic way of referring to His death. This was begun years ago by such modernists as Harry Emerson Fosdick and Nels Ferre. But the banner has been taken up by radio and television preachers.

21. In his commentary on Hebrews John MacArthur writes, "It is possible to become morbid about Christ's sacrificial death and preoccupied with His suffering and shedding of blood. It is especially possible to become unbiblically preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. It was not Jesus' physical blood that saves us, but His dying on our behalf, which is symbolized by the shedding of His physical blood. If we could be saved by blood without death, the animals would have been bled, not killed, and it would have been the same with Jesus."

22. I beg to differ, John. Nowhere in Scripture are we warned against becoming preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that the shedding of His blood was to be understood to be a symbolic representation of His death. And nowhere in Scripture is there the slightest hint that Christians should take heed against becoming morbid about Christ's sacrificial death.

23. No. Time and time and time again we are shown, and we are told, and it is declared, and it is pictured that but for His shed blood we would not have the forgiveness of sins. In fact, Paul tells us Gentile Christians that we have been brought nigh, who were sometimes afar off, by the blood of Christ. Let no one minimize the blood of Christ.

24. And what is the surest proof that the blood of Christ is not mere symbolism for the death of Christ, that the two are properly distinguished in our understanding? The communion of the Lord's Supper answers such men as John MacArthur with it's two elements, the bread for Christ's body and the fruit of the vine symbolizing Christ's blood.

25. And now I'd like to ask brother Isenberger to come and lead us as we sing the first, second, and last verse of hymn number 30. Let's all stand and sing that together.


1. You know, no matter how individualistic most people like to think they are we tend to think of ourselves as part of a larger whole, we like to see ourselves as a part of a larger group from whom we receive some type of group identity.

2. At one point in time in our country's history people thought of themselves as Americans. They never thought of themselves much as members of a cultural group, but as Americans. My grandfather was not a French-Canadian, though he was born in Quebec province. Francois LaCosse was an American.

3. Before that people thought of themselves as northerners or southerners.  And in the south folks thought of themselves Virginians or Georgians far more than they thought of themselves as Americans.

4. Nowadays, for better or worse, people think of themselves as Latinos and Latinas, African-Americans, Italians, Armenians, Japanese or Filipinos.  But do you realize that God never thinks of you that way? Insofar as we can tell in the Bible, God only categorizes unsaved people by one criteria. Are you a descendant of Abraham through Sarah or not? If you are then you are Jewish. But if you are not Jewish you are a Gentile. Most of you in this room entered the world as Gentiles.

5. That being so, you have a serious problem. Using Ephesians 2.11-13 as my text, I want to address this problem that you, being a Gentile, have. 

6 Relative to your problem, I have three observations to make about you.


"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."

Notice that in this verse we actually have two descriptions of you, a Gentile human being.

1B. The First Is The Apostle Paul's Description Of You

1C. Before the Ephesians had become Christians, when they were unsaved, Paul indicates that they were "Gentiles in the flesh." You, here today without Christ, are a Gentile in the flesh.

2C. Understand that the flesh does not refer to your physical body, primarily, when used in this way by Paul. The flesh refers to that which is unredeemed and unredeemable. It refers to the nature and personality of a lost man. Turn one page back in your Bible to Galatians 5.19-21 and there you will see what, precisely, is wrong with being in the flesh: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

3C. This is not exhaustive, but is a typical list of the kinds of sins someone who is in the flesh commits. And notice, "they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." People who are in the flesh are not

2B. But There's A Second Description Of You Found Here. And This Is How You Would Be Typically Described By The Jewish Person Of Paul's Day "who are call Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands"

1C. The Circumcision, of course, are the Jewish people, the males of which were circumcised on the eighth day as a sign of their covenant relationship with God.

2C. Now, I've debated all week long sharing this with you, but I'll go ahead and see what happens. Please understand, I seek not to be insensitive in the Church house, but I do want you do get the full impact of what Paul wrote.

3C. This word "Uncircumcised" does not translate the Greek counterpart word to "circumcised." In actuality, the Greek word translated "uncircumcised" is the word that literally means "foreskin."  Imagine.Jewish people actually used to refer to Gentiles as "foreskins."

4C. And as they used this term they were intentionally derogatory. And for this reason: As strange and unusual as Jewish customs were to Gentiles around the world, Gentiles actually were nauseating to Jews. And why? For any number of reasons.

5C. So, to the Jewish person the one thing that typified all that was unclean and unholy about the Gentiles, all that was crude and pagan, all that was contaminated and corrupt, was the single physical characteristic
that distinguished them from the eighth day on from Jewish males.


You may be sitting here today thinking to yourself, "What do you mean, desperation? I'm not desperate. Everything's okay with me." Now, if you're thinking that and you're lost you don't get my point. A person is in a desperate situation when his situation is hopeless, when he is in trouble too deep to have any way of getting out. So, a person can be in a desperate situation and have no fears, no qualms, no worries. How can this be? He is simply unaware of what's going on.

Based upon Scripture, I maintain that you are in a desperate situation.  Notice what the Bible says about your desperation who are not saved (2.12)

"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."

1B. Without Christ You Are Alienated From Israel

1C. Now, that may not trouble you unless you consider this. Not having citizenship in Israel, you are not one of God's chosen people.

2C. And why would citizenship in Israel be particularly important? Israel is the only nation that God has ever called into existence. Israel is the only nation that God has ever directly ruled through by theocracy. Israel is the only nation that God has ever directly given His Word to as their constitution and by-laws. And Israel is the only nation that had the Presence of God in their midst.

3C. Oh, especially in the United States, we talk about being a Christian nation and being founded on Biblical principles. But a cold and analytical look at the facts will reveal that God has blessed our nation by virtue of some of the godly individuals who have lived here and wonderfully served Him. He has never blessed our country because He chose us and committed Himself to us as a nation.

4C. And what's true of us is true of every other Gentile nation. If you are a Gentile you stand outside the citizenry of the commonwealth of Israel.  And that's not a good place to be.

2B. Without Christ You Are Estranged From The Covenants

1C. Being a stranger from the covenants of promise is not a good thing.  You see, the only things God is obligated to do are those things He has promised to do. And those promises are contained in the covenants, literally contracts, that He established with patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and with the nation of Israel.

2C. Now, some of the covenants are conditional upon Israel's obedience, and others are unconditional. Some covenants are temporary, and others are eternal in their scope. But every single covenant that God has established since the time of Abraham has been with Israel and only with Israel.

3C. So, if you are a Gentile you are in a peculiar situation. God is going to do great and wonderful things in the future in order to fulfill His covenant promises. But if you are a Gentile God is under no obligation whatsoever to include you in any provision or blessing of those covenants.  That means you have no guarantees, Gentile. None whatsoever.

3B. Third, Without Christ You Have No Hope

1C. Recognize that in the Bible hope has nothing to do with wishful thinking or optimism. The Bible is a supernatural book of reality, not personal delusions and dreams.

2C. So, when Paul declares that you have no hope he means that you have no reasonable expectation of future blessing. You have no cause for optimism.  And if you have any expectation of eternal bliss it's because you are dreaming, it's because you are deluding yourself, it's because you are engaged in wishful thinking.

4B. Finally, Without Christ You Are Without God In The World

1C. It doesn't matter that you may think, "Well, God has always been with me through think and through thin." The fact is, if you are not saved, if you've not trusted Christ, you are without God in this world.

2C. Now do you see why your situation is desperate? How can anyone who is alienated from God's chosen nation, who is a stranger from the commonwealth of Israel, who is without hope of any kind, and who is without God in the world, not be desperate?

3C. If you are here today without Christ and you do not recognize your desperation then you are out of touch with reality. Friend, you need to be saved.


"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

Perhaps you have heard before that you stand in danger of Hellfire because you are a sinner. And you are a sinner. But you might not ever have heard that you are also in deep spiritual trouble because you do not figure in God's stated plans. And unless God miraculously intervenes in your life your fate is sealed. Well, praise the Lord, God has made provision for the likes of you and me. God has made a way for you to be delivered from your sin. God has made a way for you to be delivered from the consequences of being a Gentile and all that entails. You can have deliverance through Jesus Christ.

1B. You See, Deliverance Comes In Christ Jesus

1C. The Greeks thought in terms of spheres of influence. So, with respect to Jesus Christ, you are either in Christ or not in Christ. If you are in Jesus Christ you're saved.

2C. Second Corinthians 5.17 illustrates this: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

2B. Deliverance Comes By The Blood Of Christ

1C. God is holy and will not abide sin. But the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, washes away sin, First John 1.7. That's why the blood is so important as the payment for our sins.

2C. So, once your sins have been washed clean in the blood of Christ there is no longer any barrier, no longer any obstacle, no longer any reason why you should be estranged from God.

3C. The result? We who were afar off are made nigh, are made close, by the blood of Christ.

3B. Deliverance Comes Through Faith In Christ.

1C. How many people believe that Jesus died on the cross and shed His precious blood an atonement for sin, but still die and go to Hell? Why? They have not trusted Him to save them.

2C. It's one thing to know and believe that the facts concerning the Lord Jesus Christ are true. But it's quite another thing to actually commit to Him the safekeeping of your eternal soul. This is why Paul wrote, in Ephesians 2.8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith."


1. My friend, you have a great many problems. Your one central problem is the fact that you are a sinner. And, of course, this is compounded by the fact that you are a Gentile sinner.

2. From verse 11 we see that your description is not good. From verse 12 we see that your desperation is real. You are without God. You have no hope.

3. But in verse 13 we see the possibility of your deliverance. Jesus died on Calvary's cross and shed His blood to provide for the forgiveness of your sins. What a wonderful and marvelous act of love that was.

4. But until that point in time that you come to Christ by faith His doing and His dying will have done you no good at all. As you stand, right now, an unsaved person, the blood of Christ is not your deliverance. It is your damnation.

5. If, however, you embrace Jesus as your personal Savior, if you will trust Him, you can join me in shouting "Hallelujah for the blood" as testimony to the fact that Christ's blood has washed your sins away.

6. Won't you come to Jesus for salvation full and free? Won't you come to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? Come to Jesus without hesitation.  Come to Jesus now.

 Home   Who Is God?   God's Word   Sermons   Tracts   Q & A   Feedback