The New Man in Ephesians 2:11-22
In trying to understand the Biblical idea of the "new creation" we’ve looked at the only two Biblical passages that explicitly use the phrase: Galatians 6 and 2 Corinthians 5. Next we investigate the three passages which refer explicitly to the "new man," beginning with Ephesians 2:11-22.
Parallels between this passage and Galatians 6 suggest strongly that for Paul the "new man" and the "new creation" are closely related concepts. The differences between the circumcision and the uncircumcision, between the Jews and the Gentiles, have been abolished. Previously Israel had been granted privileged access to God. But now, through Christ, everyone has access. Paul doesn’t say that the Gentiles have now been granted entry into the commonwealth of Israel, nor that the Jews were already the "new man" even before Christ. Instead, Paul asserts that the barrier that formerly separated Israel and the Gentiles has now been broken down. What previously had been two separate and antagonistic old men — the Jew and the Gentile — God has now joined together into one "new man." Paul says that this joining-together by Christ is an act of "creating," the verb κτιζω referring exclusively in the New Testament to God’s acts of creation.
What was it that had previously kept the two old men apart? Paul doesn’t blame the Gentiles’ sinfulness or unbelief. Instead, he says that the dividing wall was the Law: the commandments and ordinances that distinguished Israel from its neighbors. As in the Galatians passage, Paul here associates the Law with the flesh: circumcision is "performed in the flesh by human hands" (v. 11); Jesus "abolished in the flesh" the enmity between Jew and Gentile, which is the Law itself (v. 15). In destroying the barrier and in creating the one new man, God reconciles Jew and Gentile to one another and establishes peace (v. 15f). Now Jews and Gentiles are fellow-citizens (v. 19), being built together into a spiritual home of God (v. 21f).