“But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ.”
We were once far off, alienated and strangers to the covenant of promise. We had no hope.
We Gentiles were out of the family because of our birth. This is in contrast to every Israelite who was in the covenant because of their birth.
But now in Christ Jesus, we who were once “far off” have been brought “near.” We were distant, out of reach, but now we are near to the family of God.
This could be interpreted as all christians, the saints to whom Paul is writing, are now near to Christ and His people. In fact so near that we are as close to God as any Jewish person ever was.
Alternatively it could mean that every Gentile, every person who is not Jewish, is brought close to the covenant promise. Not that they are “in” the promise already, but that the gulf that separated them from God has been closed up. In some ways it is just a line that needs to be stepped over to receive Christ and His forgiveness.
All this is God’s work. It is the gift which He has offered to us. The Jewish people, the people of the covenant, had allowed their favoured position to become a cause of pride and self-righteousness. As Gentiles “brought near”, we must never allow our status as saints to become a source of pride. God did it all.
We have been brought near in the blood of Christ. He has paid the price for our sins with His blood.
There is no other way to enter into God’s family. We must all be cleaned by the blood of the Lamb.
For some people, this is a stumbling block. They are offended by the cross, by the thought that God should suffer on their behalf.
That is just pride. They want to think that they can save themselves, or even that they are not sinners who need saving. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Therefore, to be saved we all need to come through the blood, through the cross. There is no other way.
This is a continuous process. We don't get ”washed in the blood” just once, but many times. We come to God “in” the blood of Christ, not through the blood of Christ.
This means that repentance becomes a way of life. We don't just say the sinner's prayer and get saved. We need to be constantly on guard against sinning. When we fall, we need to repent (again and again), turning away from those sins that so easily entangle us.
This repentance and regular confession of sins keeps us “ in the blood”, in the place of humility before God.
However, we need to also ensure that this is not an obsessive preoccupation with our guilt.. That is a religious bondage, not the freedom of Christ.
As the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin, we ask Jesus to forgive us. We bring ourselves back in the blood and receive ongoing forgiveness and cleansing.
Key points in this verse
Salvation is always a gift not a reward
We were once far off but now we are near
The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin