By Charles H. Welch
is found fourteen times in the New Testament and is translated in the A.V. as
follows: alien 1, another man’s 6, of others 1, strange 2, stranger 4.
be alienated 1, alien 1, alienated 1. The Greek word
allotrios is one of a large family, the
root of which is alla ‘change’, and it is
of great importance to remember that alienation and reconciliation, the two
poles of experience, are both derived from the same root. Reconciliation being
translated ‘stranger’ (see RECONCILIATION 4
). The word that has a direct bearing upon dispensational truth is
which occurs as follows:
Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.
Being alienated from the life of God.
That were sometimes alienated.
The references in Ephesians 4 and in Colossians 1, belong to the practical
and doctrinal sphere of revealed truth, the passage that interests us is
Ephesians 2:12. The structure of Ephesians 2:11-19 divides the subject-matter
into three time periods:
In time past ... What we once were.
But now ... What grace has done.
No longer ... The complete reversal of the past.
Each part of Ephesians 2 deals with a time past in contrast with a time
present, with its accompanying change. It is important to observe the
distinctive features of these two parts, the former dealing with death and life,
the latter with distance and nearness. Ephesians 2:1-10 uses such words as
‘dead’, ‘trespass’, ‘sin’, ‘disobedience’, ‘wrath’, ‘quickened’, ‘saved’,
‘faith’ and ‘walk’. Ephesians 2:11-22 uses an entirely new vocabulary. Instead
of sin and death we have ‘Gentiles’, ‘uncircumcision’, ‘aliens’ and ‘far off’;
instead of being quickened and raised, we have a ‘middle wall broken down’,
‘ordinances abolished’, ‘one new man created’ and the thought of ‘fellow
citizens’ and a ‘holy temple’. Instead of trespasses we have dispensational
distance; instead of the flesh with its lusts we have the flesh in its
uncircumcision and enmity. In the first section we have a new creation, and in
the second the creation of a new man; in the first, believers are seated
together in the heavenlies, in the second builded together as an habitation of
These differences are important, for if the section before us deals with
dispensational distance rather than with sin and death, this will materially
colour the meaning of the reconciliation referred to here by the apostle. The
trend of the two parts of this chapter may be seen if set out as follows:
a 1-3. Once. Walk.
World and flesh.
b 4. But God. Mercy. Love.
c 5-10. Made alive together.
Made to sit together.
a 11,12. Once.
Gentiles. In flesh. In world.
b 13-18. But now. Nigh. One.
c 19-22. Citizens together.
Fitly framed together.
The Gentiles who composed the majority of the members of the One Body had no
Scriptures full of promises made unto their fathers; they were not only
alienated from the life of God, but were also aliens from the commonwealth of
Israel. The structure of the epistle as a whole (see article entitled
EPHESIANS p. 275) throws into prominence two
features - the new man and this twofold alienation. For the moment our attention
is to be directed to the dispensational alienation, the dispensational
disability of being a Gentile as contrasted with the dispensational privilege of
being a Jew.
What was the position, dispensationally, of those who are now members of the
One Body? This passage bids us remember that we were once:
A Gentiles in the
B Without Christ.
C Aliens from the commonwealth
C Strangers from the covenants
B Having no hope.
A Godless in the world.
There was nothing personally wrong in being a Gentile, but being born a
Gentile carried with it great dispensational disabilities.
‘He sheweth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto
Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they
have not known them’ (Psa. 147:19,20. See also Amos 3:2; Rom. 3:2).
We observe in Ephesians 2:11,12 that the sphere of Gentile disability is ‘in
the flesh’; so also is the sphere of Israel’s
privileges. Some of these privileges are set out by the apostle in Romans
A According to the
flesh ... Brethren.
C Adoption (placing as sons).
A According to the flesh ... Christ
In the flesh, the Gentile is without Christ. He can only be in Christ ‘in the
Spirit’; in the flesh he is without hope, for it was
of Israel according to the flesh, that
Christ came. Thus the words en pneumati
(Eph. 3:5) really preface the threefold fellowship of the mystery detailed in
At the close of the dark list of Gentile hopelessness are the words ‘in the
world’. The world is at the present time an abandoned evil, the enemy of God and
of truth. Its prince is the devil, for the Saviour’s kingdom is not of this
world. The whole world lieth in wickedness, and its rudiments are antagonistic
to Christ. It is totally oblivious of the work and witness of the Spirit. Its
elements hold the Gentiles in bondage. Nothing but utter hopelessness,
therefore, can be the condition of those who are ‘in the flesh’ and ‘in the
From this pit of corruption, and from this godless, Christless, hopeless
wilderness, God, in His rich mercy, stooped and saved those whose destiny is to
be blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. The
Syrophenician woman shows us something of the meaning of the words:
‘Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants
of promise’ (Eph. 2:12).
The Gentile was by nature ‘far off’. How could he be made nigh? The answer is
that, while the dispensation that included the nation of Israel lasted, Gentile
believers could be grafted into the olive tree of Israel. Romans 9 does not
refer to a merely national position - those addressed were ‘brethren’ and were
reminded that they stood ‘by faith’ (Rom. 11:20,25). The justified Gentile
during the Acts period did not become a member of the body of Christ; he became
a graft in the olive tree of Israel of which Abraham was the root.
‘But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the
blood of Christ’ (Eph. 2:13).
When we realize something of the slavery of Satan and the dominion of sin
(Eph. 2:1-3), with what relief do we read the words of Ephesians 2:4, ‘but God’.
Again, when the helplessness and the hopelessness of the Gentiles’ case
dispensationally, as set forth in Ephesians 2:11,12 is realized, how blessed the
‘but now’ of verse 13. The blood of Christ which accomplished deliverance from
the bondage of sin (Eph. 1:7) now breaks down all barriers and gives perfect
access. The former condition of alienation is closely linked with a special
enmity. The new status brings in peace, evidently the result of the cessation of
The reader should refer to MIDDLE WALL
DECREES p. 212,
BOTH p. 125, and
ADOPTION p. 40, to obtain an all-round view of
what this alienation involved, and how it has been met by grace.