It took not one plague—nor two—nor three—nor six—nor even eight but ten plagues[1] before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, at last complied with the LORD’s command and allowed the enslaved Israelites go and worship him. But this allowance was fraught with danger given Pharaoh’s double-minded nature. Therefore, rather than adhering to the original request of taking a three-day journey to worship the LORD and then returning to Egypt,[2] the Israelites would now leave Egypt for good. This journey out of Egypt, this mass departure of people, is how the book of Exodus derives its name. The period for dwelling in Egypt had ended. The time had now arrived for the Israelites to journey back home to the land that God had promised their father Abraham.[3]

As the LORD had previously told Moses, after the tenth and final plague of the death of the firstborn humans and animals, Pharaoh insisted that Moses leave.[4] As recorded in verses 31–32 of Exodus 12, “31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.’” Whereas previously Pharaoh had sworn that should Moses ever see him again, he would be a dead man,[5] he now had to humble himself as he had Moses, alive and well, brought before him and demanded that he and all the Israelites—not just the men without the women;[6] not just the men and women without the flocks and herds;[7]—but all the Israelites with all their possessions, flocks, and herds were to leave and go worship the LORD as he had commanded—never mind that this request had been made nine times prior to this. For added measure, Pharaoh said to Moses, “And also bless me”—although requesting a blessing after having voluntarily subjected himself and his Egyptian subjects to ten horrific plagues seems too little, too late.

Now it wasn’t only Pharaoh that wanted Moses and the Israelites to leave. So, too, did the rest of the Egyptians who “urged the people to hurry and leave the country.” As verse 33 goes on to state, “‘For otherwise,” they said, ‘we will all die!’” This fearful and desperate response makes sense for although Moses had been told by the LORD that the death of the firstborn would be the final plague, neither Pharoah nor the Egyptians had any such knowledge. Having seen their firstborn children and animals die, they were quite naturally apprehensive about what might happen next should the Israelites remain in Goshen.

The Israelites, of course, were only too happy to leave as they followed the instructions the LORD had given concerning the Feast of Unleavened bread. As stated in verse 34, “So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.” Having already partaken of the animal sacrifices for the first Passover and marking the tops and sides of their doors, they now prepared to partake in the Feast of Unleavened bread that followed. As stated in verse 39, “With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.”

Next, the plundering of the Egyptians that the LORD had previously told Moses—and Abraham before him[8]—about now came to pass. [9] As stated in verses 35–36, “35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”[10] Not only did the Israelites leave with all of their own possessions, but those possessions were greatly added to by the Egyptians.

The number of Israelites that set off on this exodus is noted in verses 37–38, “37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.” The “many other people” may refer to believing Egyptians who had decided to go with the Israelites.[11] Another possibility, as suggested by a commentator, is that these “other people” may have been “persecuted minorities or other slaves [who] came with them, as well as other Semites. Egyptians who had intermarried with the Hebrews, and even God-fearing Egyptians were doubtless also included.”[12]

Now this enormous number of people—which doesn’t include women and children—had accumulated in Goshen over the four-hundred year period that the Israelites had lived there. From the seventy descendants of Jacob who first arrived in Egypt,[13] the Israelites had multiplied vastly. As noted in verses 40–41, “40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.” Four-hundred and thirty years had passed from the time when Joseph—having been sold into slavery by his brothers arrived alone in Egypt and become second to the Pharaoh of his day—to the time when Moses led this enormous number of Israelites away from the Pharaoh of his day who was now driving them out of his land. From beginning to end, all of this was all the LORD’s doing. As observed by another commentator, “Although Israel probably had enough people to stage a military coup, the plagues and the exodus signified that it was the LORD who would fight on behalf of his people.”[14] As confirmed in verse 42, “Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.” So we see how all who belong to the LORD are called to emulate and honor him, acknowledging that he is their deliverer.

Having addressed how Pharaoh came to comply with the LORD’s command to let his people go, the text transitions to who would—and would not—be permitted to celebrate the Passover meal that the LORD had instituted. It’s likely that the LORD had given these instructions to Moses earlier since the meat of the lambs and goats had already been consumed and the bread for the feast had already been prepared. However, these instructions were necessary, as noted by one scholar, because of “the ‘mixed multitude’ that went out of Egypt with Israel,”[15] part of the “many other people” mentioned in verse 38. Therefore, as stated beginning with verse 43, “43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘These are the regulations for the Passover meal: No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.’’ The foundational requirement for partaking of the Passover meal was the circumcision of its participants. Even slaves were allowed to participate if they were circumcised. The reason may be found in Genesis 17[16] where, if you’ll recall, the LORD first established this ritual with Abraham as a way of denoting those who were members of God’s covenant community.[17]

Next, the Israelites were told where the Passover was to be celebrated. As stated in verse 46, “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house.” Recall that initially a lamb or kid from each household was to be sacrificed in order that those living in it would be spared God’s wrath. The end of the verse adds concerning the sacrifice, “Do not break any of the bones.” Last week we noted similarities between the practices of Passover and the Lord’s Supper. Here we find yet another one for Jesus, too, the Passover Lamb of God,[18] after dying on the cross by crucifixion did not have his legs broken either. John connects this historical fact to our passage in stating, “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’”[19]

No one was to be exempt from the Passover but, verse 47, “The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.” Every man, every woman, every child was to partake of this celebration that pointed to the LORD’s mercy and provision. But having stated that “No foreigner may eat” the Passover meal at the end of verse 43, verse 48 allows for the same exception provided the slave, that is, if foreigners residing among the Israelites were circumcised, they, too, would be allowed to celebrate the meal with the Israelites. As stated in verses 48–49, “48 A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.” Thus we see that if a foreigner who had settled among the Israelites received the sign of the covenant, circumcision, he would be treated as a member of the covenant community and thereby be permitted to partake of this sacred commemoration. This law of circumcision applied equally to “the native-born” and “the foreigner residing among you.”

The chapter closes by noting Israel’s compliance with all that the LORD had disclosed to Moses. As stated in verses 50­–51, “50 All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.”

In considering this portion of Exodus 12, I was struck by the fact that although the LORD had created a new nation for himself, Israel, from one man, Abraham, nonetheless, from the beginning God had in mind to bless not only him and his descendants but all nations. As the LORD declared to Abraham when he first called him, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.[20] It’s evident that from the beginning, God was a missionary God, desiring to bless not only Israel, the nation he created for himself, but all peoples for all people have been made in his image.[21] In allowing foreigners to participate in the sacred ceremony of Passover and thereby be treated as part of his covenant people, as denoted by the men being circumcised, the LORD was already expressing and extending his blessing to all nations.

This extension of God’s blessing finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to be Savior of all who believe and receive him. This culmination of blessing is expressed well in the portion of Ephesians 2 we heard read earlier this morning. As Paul, apostle not only to Jews but also Gentiles,[22] states in verses 11 and 12, “11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)—12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” In the New Testament, a “Gentile” is a way of referring to anyone who isn’t Jewish. Paul is writing to a non-Jewish, a Gentile audience, noting how Jewish believers—who by their circumcision considered themselves to be part of God’s covenant community—looked down upon them, reminding them of their exclusion from God’s family and calling them “uncircumcised” as a way of insulting them. For some at this time falsely taught that salvation could occur only through circumcision.[23] In teaching this, they had overlooked the fact we’ve noted, that from the beginning all peoples and nations were to be included in God’s blessing. However, it’s certainly the case that prior to placing their faith in Jesus Christ Gentiles were “separate from” him and “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” They had no hope for no one had yet told them that God had included them in his plan of redemption.

However, being marked by Christ Jesus’ Holy Spirit, not circumcision, is what designates those who belong to their Father in heaven. Another way of saying this is that it’s spiritual circumcision, not physical, that matters most in the eyes of God.[24] As Paul states in his letter to Romans, “28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit….”[25] Whereas circumcision is a rite “done in the body by human hands,” as stated in verse 11, “circumcision of the heart” can only occur “by the Spirit.” Indeed, with Christ’s coming to earth, baptism, in which both men and women partake, became the sign designating God’s covenant community. As Paul reiterates in his letter to the Colossians, “11 In [Christ] you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”[26] The fact that all of this is a result of God’s working further emphasizes the fact that belief in Christ is what is saving, not circumcision or baptism—the thief on the cross believed[27] but never had the opportunity to be baptized. So whether circumcision or baptism, the sign of salvation must never be confused with the act of salvation that only God is able to bring about in and through Christ’s death and resurrection. As stated in verse 13 concerning the Gentiles, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

As stated beginning with verse 14, this salvation that has been made available by Christ’s blood, by his dying for the sins of all who believe in him, is intended for both Jews and Gentiles: “14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.” The “dividing wall of hostility” is possibly a reference to the temple courts in Jerusalem which, as noted by one commentator, was “A wall [that] separated Gentiles and Jews, and signs were posted excluding Gentiles from the inner courts where sacrifices for sin were performed.”[28] So we see how Christ’s death is the path to peace, to shalom, not only with our Father in heaven but also with one another. As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one God in three Persons, so this triune God calls us—both Jew and Gentile—to be one in him through Christ Jesus, our Lord. For what matters most to our Father in heaven is that we be marked, as we noted last week, by the body his Son broke for us; by the blood his Son shed for us. As one scholar notes, “Christ offered in His own body the final sacrifice to which the temple’s sacrifices merely pointed. The ceremonial laws of the Old Testament that separated Jews and Gentiles are no longer appropriate after their fulfillment in Christ.”[29]

As Paul further emphasizes beginning with the second half of verse 15, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” The body and blood of Christ are so powerful that they’re able to destroy barriers, divide walls of hostility, and thereby create “one new humanity” where formerly there had been two. For Christ “is the head of the body, the church.”[30] Therefore, all who follow Christ Jesus are but members of his one body. Apart from him we are all equally sinners, living for ourselves, suspicious of others and their intentions; but in Christ, we are all equally sisters and brothers, called to love not only God with all our heart, souls, mind, and strength but also each other as ourselves.[31] Hostility is only appropriate between enemies, not family. But all who believe in and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord have been made one family, united in and through his life, death, and resurrection. As Paul states elsewhere, the new life God in Christ has given means that in him “28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”[32]

This oneness with God and one another is why Christ was sent to earth by the Father. As stated in verses 17–18, “17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” This fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy—“Peace, peace, to those far and near” [33]—is found in our Lord Jesus who seeks to save those who were “far away,” the Gentiles, together with those who “were near,” the Jewish descendants of Abraham. Jesus’ intention has ever been peace with him and others. This peace is possible only in and through him. He is the only means that sinful humans—whether Jew or Gentile—have to our Father in heaven.[34] For only those who believe in him are able to receive the Holy Spirit he sends.

But all who do receive his Spirit are united to him, the Father, and everyone who has ever believed him not only now but forever. As stated in verse 19, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Jesus Christ is the way that those who were formally viewed as foreigners to God’s covenant are able to become not only fellow citizens but, most important of all, family, “members of his household.” For this household, this holy edifice, has been built upon the rock of Christ, “the chief cornerstone.” It’s a building built not with perishable materials but with souls that have been saved and are now indwelled by Christ’s Holy Spirit. As Peter puts it, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”[35] As similarly stated in verses 21–22, “21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Dear brothers and sisters, let us take to heart the oneness that Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, has made possible by his Holy Spirit;

Let us never forget that we are united to him—and our Father in heaven—and to all who believe in him by his Holy Spirit who lives in and through us;

Indeed, especially in these divided times in which we’re living, one of the things I’m most grateful for is that the Linebrook Church branch of Christ Jesus’ eternal family is comprised of those who have willingly set aside whatever political differences we may have and have chosen instead to embrace the truth that Paul is teaching—that we who were once foreigners to God are now fellow citizens of his heavenly kingdom and, most important of all, family.

My prayer is that we will ever embrace the ways of God’s kingdom above any earthly kingdom; that our priority as children of our heavenly Father will ever be, as we pray together each week in the prayer that Jesus taught, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Let us pray.

Benediction: Colossians 3:12–14: 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

[1] The first plague was the Nile River turning into blood (Exodus 7:14–24); the second plague was the multiplication of frogs (Exodus 8:1–15); the third plague was turning the multiplication of gnats (Exodus 8:16–19); the fourth plague was the swarm of flies (Exodus 8:20–32); the fifth plague was the death of the livestock (Exodus 9:1–7); the sixth plague was the soot becoming festering boils (Exodus 9:8–12); the seventh plague was the hail (Exodus 9:13–35); the eighth plague was the locusts (Exodus 10:1–20); the ninth plague was darkness (Exodus 10:21–29); the tenth plague was the death of the firstborn (Exodus 11:1–10; 12:29–30).

[2] See Exodus 8:25–27: 25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.” 26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.”

[3] Genesis 12:1: The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.; Genesis 13:14–17: 14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

[4] See Exodus 11:1: Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.

[5] Exodus 10:28: Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”

[6] Exodus 10:10–11: 10 Pharaoh said, “The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 11 No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

[7] Exodus 10:24: 24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.”

[8] Genesis 15:13–14: 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.” Stephen refers to these verses in his speech recorded in Acts 7:6–7:God spoke to [Abraham] in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’

[9] See Exodus 3:21–22: 21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”; Exodus 11:2–3: Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.).

[10] See Exodus 3:21–22: 21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”; Exodus 11:2–3: Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.).

[11] For example, Exodus 9:20: Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.

[12] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 12:38. They provide the following passages as cross-references: Exodus 9:20: Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.; Exodus 12:48: “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.; Isaiah 56:3: Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.”

[13] Exodus 1:5: The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

[14] Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 12:41. The note goes on to state, “When Israel is equipped for battle, it is not to fight Egypt, but to be ready to go into the land the LORD has promised them (13:18).”

[15] Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 12:43–49.

[16] Genesis 17:9–11:Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”

[17] See sermon preached on August 2, 2021, Almighty Humor—and Blessing, on Genesis 17 selections.

[18] 1 Corinthians 5:7: For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

[19] John 19:36. The context beginning with verse 32 records: “32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” See also Numbers 9:12: They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.; Psalm 34:19–20: 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

[20] Genesis 12:2–3. Emphasis added.

[21] Genesis 1:26–27: 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

[22] Romans 11:13b: Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry. Galatians 2:7: On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.; 1 Timothy 2:7: And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

[23] See Acts 15:1: Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

[24] This is evident in the Old Testament as well. See Deuteronomy 10:16: Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.; Jeremiah 4:4: Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done—burn with no one to quench it.

[25] Romans 2:28–29. See also Philippians 3:3: For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.

[26] Colossians 2:11–12. Verses 13–15 go on to state, “13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

[27] Luke 23:39–43: 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

[28] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Ephesians 2:14.

[29] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Ephesians 2:15.

[30] Colossians 1:18. See also Ephesians 1:22–23: 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

[31] Matthew 22:34–40: “34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” and Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

[32] Galatians 3:28–29. Emphasis added. See also Colossians 3:11: Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

[33] Isaiah 57:19.

[34] John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

[35] 1 Peter 2:5. In verse 6 he goes on to note Jesus is the cornerstone by connecting him to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 28:16. As Peter states, “For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”