Christ Our Peace and Christian Unity 


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. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-22)


St Paul describes Jesus Christ as “our peace” referring to Christ’s bringing an end to the division between Jews and Gentiles. In Christ, we have been created as a “new man” – a new humanity which is God’s faithful people now constituted by everyone in the human race who accepts God’s love and salvation. St Gregory of Nyssa comments:

Who, after all, is as peaceable as he who ‘brought the hostility to an end‘ (cf. Ephesians 2:16) and ‘nailed it to the cross‘ (cf. Colossians 2:14); he who reconciled to himself us, his enemies – or better, the whole cosmos – and ‘has broken down the dividing wall… in order that he might create in himself one new humanity, so making peace‘ (Ephesians 2:14-15); he who ‘preached peace,’ through those who brought the message of good things, to people who were ‘far off‘ and to people who were ‘near at hand‘ (Ephesians 2:17)?


And who is such a temple builder as the one who has set his ‘foundations … upon the holy mountains‘ (Psalm 86:1), that is, upon the prophets and the apostles, but laying, as the apostle says, ‘upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets‘ (Ephesians 2:20) stones that their living (cf. 1 Peter 2:5) and ensouled, which by their own agency are rolled up to contribute to the structure of the walls, as the prophet says, so that, being ‘joined together‘ in the unity of the faith and in the ‘bond of peace‘ (Ephesians 4: 3) they have of themselves so increased the holy temple that it has become ‘the dwelling place of God in the spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22)?  (HOMILIES ON THE SONG OF SONGS, p 215)


Christ has united all people into one human race, which is also a holy temple in whom God dwells. This one people is also the Body of Christ. All the divisions and inequalities which resulted from the Fall of Adam and Eve have been overcome in the unity which is Christ’s. Not only are we humans no longer separated from God because of the salvation in Christ, we are not separated from each other. We are to be a new humanity in Christ, united by love for one another. Anti-semitism, clericalism, misogyny, nationalism, political polarization, social class – all belong to the old fallen order and are not to be part of the Church.

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)


And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

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