Was the Law of Moses Abolished in the Flesh of Jesus? | Ephesians 2:14-15

Ephesians 2:14-15 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us 15having 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 (KJV)

This is probably ‘the’ main passage quoted by mainstream theology to insist that the Law of God given through Moses has been ‘abolished’, because it’s one of only two verses in the Bible that has the words ‘abolished’ and ‘law’ in the same sentence; we’ll get to the second verse shortly.

I do understand and empathize with their viewpoint, as this is what has been taught throughout Christendom for generations. The average person might think it true, if they read these 2 verses without having any knowledge of the original Greek, or the Old Testament prophesies that are revealed by the apostle Paul in these chapters.

In ‘Part 1’ of this study of Ephesians chapter 2, we read and understood ‘where’ these Ephesians were in their “worldly/fleshly walk”, how they could be delivered from it, and more importantly ‘why’ that opportunity of deliverance was made available.

Next, the apostle Paul expounds upon the ramifications of that opportunity.

Let’s begin with the breakdown of verses 14 and 15; the original Greek, the word definitions and grammar, as well as, comparing it to what Paul told the Romans.

What does the text say?

Ephesians 2:14-15 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the 3320middle wall of 5418partition between us 15having 2673abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in 1378ordinances

There it is… the sentence so often quoted as proof-text that ‘the Law of Moses’ has been 2673abolished.

But did you know that this claim, ‘that the Law of Moses was 2673abolished by Christ’s death’, actually contradicts Paul’s own declaration to the Romans…

What does the text say?

Romans 3:31 Do we then make 2673void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

In English, we have the word abolished in Ephesians 2 and the word void in Romans 3, but it’s the exact same word in the Greek both times, Strong’s G2673, καταργέω/ katargeó. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this to mean: to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish.

Romans 3:31 is the only other verse in the entire Bible that has the words ‘law’ and ‘abolished’ in the same sentence, but it states the opposite of Ephesians 2.

So, are we really to believe that Paul told the Romans the Law is notabolished’, but he told the Ephesians that the Law isabolished’…???

What’s going on?

Was Paul psychotic?

Was the Law of God abolished for those that live in Ephesus but not abolished for those that live in Rome?

Is the Holy Bible in error?

How are we supposed to reconcile this apparent contradiction in the Word of God???

If Paul actually claimed that ‘the Law of Moses’ is the “enmity, even the law of commandments in ordinances” that was 2673abolished in Ephesians 2:15 then we have a ‘BIG‘ problem, because Paul contradicted himself in Romans 3:31. For an in-depth study of Romans 3:31 please click this link, ‘Paul Commands Us to Uphold the Law‘.

So, either Paul was a lying hypocrite, or delusional, or there’s something else going on here…

Before we jump to any conclusions though, let’s take another look at Ephesians 2:14, because there are other issues at hand besides the apparent contradiction ~

Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the 3320middle wall of 5418partition between us

Mainstream theology has taken two views on this:

  1. The Law of Moses is the ‘middle wall of partition’, when taken in combination with verse 15, “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances.”
  2. The ‘middle wall of partition’ was the “literal” low wall which separated the clean from the unclean courts at the Temple, known as the Soreg. That wall or “Soreg” was described by Josephus, Josephus Antiquities: 15.11.5. That wall partitioned off access to the area of worship reserved for Israelites from the non-covenanted proselytes of gentile/pagan origins.

Let’s put to rest #2: It can’t be the ‘Soreg’, the “literal” wall at the Temple, because when Paul wrote this letter to Ephesus the ‘Soreg’ was still standing. If the Soreg was abolished/destroyed/made inoperative in ‘the flesh of Jesus’, how could it remain in existence for 40 some odd years after his crucifixion? This physical barrier continued in operation for decades after the death of Jesus, keeping out pagans/gentiles from entering the restricted areas of the court. It was functionally and literally destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D, not by the flesh of Jesus around 33 A.D.

Paul was NOT referring to the actual “physical” wall at the Temple.

Almost every single English translation of verse 14 states either, ‘the middle wall of partition’, ‘the barrier the dividing wall or just ‘the dividing wall’.

The Greek states:

“τὸ  μεσότοιχον  τοῦ  φραγμοῦ

“to mesotoichon tou phragmou

In the original Greek, μεσότοιχον/mesotoichon is Strong’s G3320, and φραγμοῦ/phragmou is Strong’s G5418.

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, mesotoichon is a compound word, consisting of mesos and toichos:

  • Mesos means “in the midst”, “between”
  • Toichos means “a wall” (especially of a house)

Therefore, mesotoichon is ‘the wall between’ or ‘the wall in the midst’.

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, phragmou is: a hedge, a ‘fence’. Phragmou comes from Strong’s G5420 φράσσω/phrassó, which means: ‘to fence in’.

So, Ephesians 2:14-15 more accurately reads ~

‘He himself is the peace of us having made both one and ‘the wall between (us)’, “the fence”, having broken down the enmity in the flesh of him, the law the commandments in ordinances having abolished…’

So, “the wall between” that kept them (us) apart isthe fence”, and this fence isthe law the commandments “in ordinances”.

This phrase, “the law the commandments in ordinances”, stated here is the one and only time it is ever used in the Bible; the only one!

Think about it for a second; the apostle Paul talked about the Law of God scores and scores of times in his letters, referring to it as ‘the Law’, or ‘the Commandment’, and occasionally as ‘the Law of God’.

But then, all of sudden, for the first and only time he wrote, “the law the commandments in ordinances”. What’s different? Why would he change his word usage???

◊♦◊♦Words mean things♦◊♦◊

What does the original Greek text say?

Ephesians 2:15

  • τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας
  • ton nomon tōn entolōn en dogmasin katargēsas
  • The law the commandments in ordinances abolished

The English word ‘ordinances’ in the Greek is Strong’s G1378, δόγμασιν/dogmasin, from the root word δοκέω/dokeó, Strong’s G1380. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this to mean: to be of opinion, think, suppose.

Each cognate of dokeó, such as ‘dogmasin’, stresses “the subjective mental estimate or opinion about a matter”.

This Greek word is where we get the English word ‘dogma’. Webster’s Dictionary concurs with the definition of the word dogmasin’: DOGMA, noun [Gr., to think; Latin ] A settled opinion; a principle, maxim or tenet; a doctrinal notion, particularly in matters of faith and philosophy; as the dogmas of the church; the dogmas of Plato.

The Greek word ‘1378dogmasin’ is used only 5 times in the New Testament; the other four verses are as follows:

In those days a 1378decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. | Luke 2:1

As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the 1378decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. | Acts 16:4

and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the 1378decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus. | Acts 17:7

having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of 1378ordinances that was against us | Colossians 2:13-14

So, we have 2 decrees/decisions of Caesar, 1 opinion/decision of the apostles and elders of Jerusalem, a metaphorical handwritten list of our trespasses/sins that was against us, and the verse we are currently studying.

The verse in ‘Luke’ and the two in ‘Acts’ are obviously decrees of men; I submit the other two are as well. If you will permit, the Scriptures will reveal this to be true.

The ‘Colossians 2 study’ can be read by clicking this link, ‘Was the Law of Moses Nailed to the Cross?’.

In Ephesians 2:15, “the law the commandments in 1378dogmasin” is referring to the ‘law of men’; the commandments of the leaders of Israel to keep the people of Judea segregated from the outside world, the “fence” to protect Israelites from the influence of the nations/gentiles.

It can NOT be referring to the Law of God; besides the obvious fact that Paul did not call it the ‘law of God’ or the ‘law of Moses’, the only “law” in the history of Israel that ever commanded this separation/segregation/enmity of Jew and gentile has only ever come from man. I go over these divisive, ‘dogmatic’ laws of men thoroughly in the study of Peter’s vision in ‘Acts 10’, ‘(Thus he declared all foods clean) Part 2: Peter’s Vision | Acts 10:13‘.

The Law of God given through Moses can NOT be the “enmity” between the Jew/Israelite and the nations/gentiles, because the Law of Moses actually forbids Israelites to show “enmity” towards outsiders. The Law of Moses forbids Israelites from excluding, dissociating with, showing enmity towards or treating as “enemies” any stranger or foreigner from other nations/gentiles.

What does the text say?

You shall not wrong a H1616sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. | Exodus 22:21

You shall not oppress a H1616sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. | Exodus 23:9

And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a H1616sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. | Leviticus 17:15

You shall have the same rule for the H1616sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God. | Leviticus 24:22

For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the H1616stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. | Numbers 15:15

Love the H1616sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. | Deuteronomy 10:19

You shall not pervert the justice due to the H1616sojourner or the fatherless | Deuteronomy 24:17

“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the H1616sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ | Deuteronomy 27:19

  • ‘Sojourner’ in all of these verses is Strong’s H1616, ger/גָּר in Hebrew, according to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon it means: a stranger, foreigner, one who is living outside his own country.

There are many other verses like these from the Law, as well as, the Prophets and the Writings, and they all instruct the Israelite to engage with the stranger/foreigner, as well as treat them with respect, love and compassion, not enmity! Israel, with the Law of God as it’s foundation, was to be an example to persuade all of the nations to fear and follow the Almighty; to be a light to the nations ~

Deuteronomy 4:6-8 6Keep them and do them (The Commandments), for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

In addition to that, the Scriptures prophesy that in the End-Times ‘all of the nationswill learn the Law of God ~

What does the text say?

2It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. ”For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. | Isaiah 2:2-3

a second witness ~

1It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. | Micah 4:1-2

♦◊♦ How in the world can ‘the Law go forth out of Zion‘ to the nations in the “latter days” if it was abolished in the flesh of Jesus??? ♦◊♦

Continuing ~

Remember, ‘1378dogmasin’ is used only 5 times in the New Testament, and never in reference to the Law of God.

Well, in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, the word ‘1378dogmasin’ is found “only” in the Book of Daniel: chapter 2:3, 3:10, 12, 29, 4:6, 6:8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 26. It is NOT used in any other Book, and it’s NEVER used in reference to the Law/Instructions of Almighty God! It is only used in reference to the decrees, opinions, and declarations of men.

Are we really to believe that the apostle Paul, the greatest Scriptural scholar of his day, did not know this? If Paul is claiming in Ephesians 2 that the Law of God segregated Israel from the nations and called it dogmasin, then we have to conclude Paul had absolutely no knowledge of the Scriptures, Greek or Hebrew…

Let’s use logic, and not stand on the emotional ties to incorrect teachings from the mainstream denominational system.

Now then, how do we know that there were man-made laws segregating the Israelites from the nations/gentiles?

What does the text say?

Acts 10:28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.

This “law”, that Peter is referring to, is an extra-Scriptural man-made law; it is found NOWHERE in the Law of God given through Moses. Period.

Therefore, since this is NOT in the Law of God, but Peter acknowledged that it had been decreed ‘as law’, then this is logically an ordinance/dogmasin made by man that he and his fellow Jews were required to adhere to at the time they grew up in Judea.

In Ephesians 2:14, “the fence” that divided the Jews from the gentiles/nations was the man-made ordinance/dogmasin mentioned by Peter in Acts 10:28 above. And, by using the word “fence”, Paul actually reveals this fact.

The ‘Oral Law’ (as opposed to the written Law of Moses) were extra-Scriptural commentaries, interpretations and traditions of men, which were upheld, often on equal authority as the Law of Moses, for centuries before Jesus was even born. These were what we call today, the Talmud; i.e. the Gemara and the Mishnah (quoted below). They contain the basis for this “fence building”, with the goal to protect the Law/Instructions of God and the people. However, when it was used as an excuse to create laws that over-rule, contradict, add to or take away from the Law of God, it caused great confusion and ‘enmity‘, to the detriment of all man-kind.

‘Torah’ is the Hebrew word that is translated as ‘Law’ in all English Bibles, but actually means “Instructions”.

Mishnah Tractate Avot 1: Moses received the Torah (Law) from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah (Law).

Mishnah Tractate Avot 3: Rabbi Akiva said: Jesting and frivolity lead a man towards promiscuity. ‘Tradition’ is a safeguarding fence around the Torah. Tithes are a fence to wealth. Vows a fence to abstinence. Silence is a fence to wisdom.

The most ‘notable’ fences that created this enmity, segregating Israelites from gentiles were in the ‘18 edicts of Shammai‘ and are NOT part of God’s Torah/Instructions/Laws for His people; they were man-made laws. These had been newly ratified in approximately 10 CE. James, John, Peter, Paul and even Jesus were all raised with these ‘man-made laws’, these ‘fences around the Torah‘. But some of, if not most of, the edicts either were burdens for the people and or contradicted the Laws of God given through Moses, like segregating Israelites from the nations.

‘Ephesians 2:14-15’ is “actually” the apostle Paul reiterating, retelling his version of the revelation given to Peter in Acts 10! [Again, please click this link and read the study, ‘Peter’s Vision | Acts 10:13’]. That revelation is, ‘In Messiah there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free… all are of one-body in Jesus the Christ!’ The unauthorized, un-Lawful man-made ordinances/dogmasin that segregated the Israelites from the nations/gentiles, which made the Jew think the nations/gentiles were enemies, those are the laws/ordinances that were abolished in the flesh of the Messiah!

Hallelu Yah!!!

Final Thought: If the Law of God given through Moses is ‘the Fence’, ‘the Enmity’ of Ephesians 2:14-15, ‘the Dividing Wall’ between the nations/gentiles and Israel, then how in the world does mainstream Christianity explain “Ruth” {not to mention Caleb the Kenizzite – Exodus 32:12, and Rahab of Jericho – Joshua 6:25}?

As a Moabitess, and a true gentile, Ruth chose to change her citizenship and became a “Law abiding” Israelite. She was NEVER treated with ‘enmity’ by Israelites! She was not only embraced by the people of Israel, but became the grandmother of their greatest sovereign, King David. More CRITICAL than that, is the fact that this former-gentile is the direct descendant to the Son-of-God!!! The Law of Moses did not divide or segregate Ruth from Israel, nor did it divide or segregate Caleb and Rahab from joining the original band of Israelites during the ‘Exodus’.

The Law of God given through Moses is NOT a dividing wall or enmity between the Israelites and the nations; we have been, and still are being taught wrong doctrine by mainstream Christianity regarding these verses in Ephesian chapter 2.

Please consider the apostle Paul again ~

So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. | Romans 7:12

Paul’ s quote here in ‘Romans’ is him actually paraphrasing King David ~

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. | Psalms 19:7-11

The apostle Paul said the Law is holy and righteous and good decades after the Messiah rose from the dead. If the Law was holy, righteous and good to Paul (post-resurrection), then it still is today!

Remember, Paul stated in Romans 3:31 that even though we have faith, this does not abolish the Law, “by no means”; he said we still uphold the Law! Please click the following link to read the full study of this verse, ‘Paul Commands Us to Uphold the Law | Romans 3:31‘.

Peter told us that Paul could be hard to understand, 2 Peter 3:16; this is what has happened in Ephesians chapter 2. James also knew that Paul could be misunderstood, as he discussed this with Paul in Acts chapter 21. James knew that many had heard false accusations about Paul, and they were “told” that he taught against ‘Moses’. But since he knew this was false, James asked Paul to participate in the Nazarite Vow in order prove to everyone that ‘there was no truth in what they had been told about Paul, but that he actually lived his life in observance of the Law’; Acts 21:24. For a complete study of this verse please click this link, ‘You Yourself Also Live in Observance of the Law‘.

  • For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, see the ‘Links’ at the top of this page or blog posts at the bottom. Be like the Bereans, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”; look up for yourself more than 60 of the “forever verses” listed below. Please ‘share’ this study. Thank you for your time!