Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of the two one new man, so making peace
To understand this verse fully, we must go back in time to the Old Testament when Israel was wandering in the desert after escaping from Egypt. Moses led the nation to freedom, and he then oversaw how God entered into a covenant agreement with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The statutes of this pact came to be known as the Mosaic Law. Its most famous section is the Ten Commandments, but there were many more decrees. Jewish tradition counts a total of 613 commands. I can’t imagine trying to remember them all!
It shouldn’t surprise us that such an extensive and comprehensive set of rules and regulations would cause separation between Jews and Gentiles. God’s purpose was to set apart a nation for himself through whom the Messiah, or Savior, would come. The Israelites were also to shine God’s light in a dark world. But because of our human tendency to sin, the result was mostly hostility and distrust between the two groups.
With this backdrop in mind, Paul describes precisely how Jesus changed everything. Thanks to his sacrifice on the cross (“his flesh”), Christ abolished the Mosaic Law. The Greek verb means “to render inoperative,” or in other words, “to deprive something or someone of its force, influence, or power.” I would compare it to a police officer having to give up his badge, thereby losing all the authority that his position gave him.
Jesus opened a new way by which humanity could relate to God. As a result, the previous method, as described in the Law of Moses, became obsolete. The Mosaic Covenant still teaches us many important truths, but it has no more control over how we can reconcile with our Creator.
So, where does this leave Jews and Gentiles? Since the differences between them were no longer necessary, Paul writes that Christ made them into “one new man.” In other words, Jesus enabled both of them to become part of the church and be called what was a new term at that time, a “Christian.”
The final result is peace, which Jesus offers to those who follow him. He can turn a hostile relationship into a peaceful one if only we will let him.