A MYSTERY REVEALED
What is the One New Man and why does it matter?
Put simply it is a marriage between the Jewish and Gentile peoples in the Body of Jesus. So how does this work and how does this impact our lives of faith today?
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 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."
What is the One New Man and why does it matter?
We have the Apostle Paul to thank for the words “one new man” which you can see above in Ephesians chapter 2. This is the only time this particular phrase appears in Scripture so we have some digging to do to see exactly what Paul is telling us. Firstly, the context of Paul’s writings is his call as an “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). This tells us he is wrestling with how the Gentile nations fit in now the Good News of salvation is being proclaimed from Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. The very Jewish story of the Jewish Scriptures prophesying a Jewish Messiah who was born into a Jewish family and lived His life traveling and teaching in the territory of Israel takes a dramatic turn when He died on the cross for the sins of not just the Jewish people but the whole world. To help us get to grips with what Paul means by “one new man” for Jew and Gentile alike we will look at this phrase word by word.
The word “one” holds great significance in the Bible as it is used to describe God Himself. Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” The Scriptures reveal God’s oneness is a composite unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19). The same word which is used in Deuteronomy 6 is used in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. Man and woman, two very different entities, in marriage become “one flesh”. Jesus/Yeshua Himself used the word one to describe the unity that He prayed His followers would have.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Paul as an accomplished scholar is clearly referencing this understanding of the word one and using it to point towards the unity Jew and Gentile now have in Messiah through the cross. Paul is making it plain to all the followers of Jesus/Yeshua that be they Jew or Gentile, male or female we have a unity in Him. This understanding is of vital importance for us at the One New Man:Network. We see our call as to proclaim this truth and make it real in our day by bringing together Jewish and gentle leaders in the Body of Messiah.
In Scripture new can mean, totally new, as in something never seen before or it can mean, made new, as in renewed and restored. Here we are wrestling with the ‘now and not yet’ of scripture. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”. What this scripture tells us is the extent of the power at work in us. Yet we also know from experience we are not a completely different person to who we were before we were saved. We are the same person but a renewed and transformed version, who is being made into the fullness of God’s plans and purposes for us.
This is important when we look at the ingredients being made new. The one new man is made up of Jew and Gentile and if these ingredients lose their original character during the process of being made new then we have no more use for these identities. The problem, if this was so, would be that much of the Bible would then become void and irrelevant as it speaks of a Jewish people who no longer exist in the eyes of God. This of course can never be as the book of Jeremiah tells us that only if the sun and the moon stop appearing, will Israel cease to be a nation before God forever (Jeremiah 31:35-36). This verse and many others rule out God no longer recognising the Jewish people as unique and separate from the rest of the nations on earth. What we are looking at here therefore is Jew and Gentile being renewed and transformed into the fullness of God’s plans and purposes for them.
The final word to unpack is the most straight forward. Man does not mean a single male but in fact means something much broader, humanity. The word in greek is anthrōpos which gives us the word anthropology (the study of humans and human behaviour). Anthrōpos means the whole of humanity both male and female in all the nations of the earth. This really is exciting as it tells us that the one new man is God’s power at work to unify and renew the whole of humanity. No corner is left untouched by the plans and purposes of God in the one new man which means it matters to everyone who is seeking God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
One new man is a marriage of Jew and Gentile in the Body of Jesus/Yeshua on the Cross.
As we saw above the "one" of one new man speaks of the unity we see in marriage as two very different entities become unified as one. The power to make this happen is the cross as we see in verse 16 of Ephesians 2. In the next chapter, Paul speaks of this event as a mystery revealed.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles […] that by revelation He made known to me the mystery […] which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.
As we know from Acts 11, when Peter returned from the house of Cornelius, the inclusion of the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel was not understood by the disciples at first. Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life”. This is amazing to us 2000 years later when the vast majority of the Body of Messiah is Gentile. It is even more amazing that the followers of Jesus were not prepared for this turn of events considering the many prophesies which declare the Gentiles coming to Messiah (Is 2:2,49:6 et al).
As we have seen above at the beginning of Ephesians 3 God Himself is taking the lead in bringing this revelation to Paul so he can carry it to the Gentiles. Paul has a unique task in bridging the gap between the Jewish people and their understanding of God’s plan up to this point and this new revelation which will go on to shape the Body of Messiah for all time. In light of this complex and difficult task Paul is the only expert that God calls to be an Apostle. He had a full rabbinic education at the feet of the most eminent and learned rabbi’s of his day. He was rich and well connected with roman citizenship from birth. He undoubtably spoke and wrote in many languages. So what was it that Paul described this mystery as?
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
Paul uses the word fellowship to describe what the mystery of One New Man is. This word in greek is "koinonia" meaning fellowship, association, community, communion or joint participation. God has brought Jew and Gentile together in a binding fellowship where we work together and in so doing, “make all see what is the fellowship”. Furthermore, Paul tells us the fellowship of mystery which is the one new man needs to be declared by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Paul uses this phrase “heavenly places” five times in Ephesians and it is very important to understanding the significance for one new man. Philippians 3:5 tells us Paul was a Pharisee and Acts 23:8 tells us that they taught the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels and spirits, as Jesus did. Paul is referring to the spiritual realm where angels and demons reside when he refers to heavenly places. Ephesians 6 tells us that, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). We also know from Ephesians 1 “heavenly places” is also the place where the throne of God rests, “which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come" (Ephesians 1:20-21).
For Paul to say that the fellowship which marries Jew and Gentile as one new man is something which declares the sovereignty of God to the principalities and powers of heavenly places is hugely significant for the One New Man: Network. This is our Biblical mandate to gather and declare our unity as one new man.
So how does the one new man work and how does this impact our lives of faith today?
For the One New Man: Network gathering is a vital part of what we do. This is where the fellowship of the mystery becomes flesh as Jew sits down next to Gentile and drinks coffee and talks. Despite Paul’s declaration in Ephesians, within a few short centuries Jew and Gentile had become completely estranged in the church. Believing Jews lost their identity and became absorbed into Gentile nations and unbelieving Jews were subject to repeated attacks and abuse which saw them hounded from place to place by the followers of their fellow Jew, Jesus/Yeshua. Yet God was true to His word and the Jewish people were never extinguished. The distinction between Jew and Gentile remains very important as it is the doorway for global blessing and revival. Jew and Gentile are connected in mutually beneficial ways. What blesses the Jewish people blesses the Gentiles and what blesses the Gentiles blesses the Jews. The foundation of this relationship of mutual benefit is found in the call of Abraham as father of the Jewish nation. Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”. Paul expands this in Romans 11 and tells us, “if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” (v12). When the fulness of the Jewish people is reached the Gentiles can expect rich blessing. The same is true for the Jewish people as we read a little further on.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
Blessing and encouraging one another to reach our fullness brings a corresponding blessing on each other. Meeting and fellowshipping together as one new man brings a blessing and encouragement which powerfully declares the fulness of God’s plans in the Scriptures. This is the goal of the One New Man:Network. To gather and stand together declaring the sovereignty of God who is true to His word!