Paul says that his Gentile readers previously ‘were far off.’ They were at a distance from God as well as from Israel. Yet they had been brought near to God, not by joining Israel, but in the formation of the body of Christ which includes both Jews and Gentiles. Paul explains that this nearness was accomplished by two means: the blood of Christ and union with Christ.
The phrase, ‘the blood of Christ,’ reminds us of at least two important truths about him. First, it stresses the reality of his humanity. Second, it refers to the sacrificial nature of his death. By becoming a human and by suffering on the cross Jesus bridged the wide distance between God and the Gentiles.
The phrase, ‘in Christ Jesus,’ shows the proximity of the nearness that Gentile believers now have to the Father (they are as near as Jesus is), it shows the permanence of the nearness that Gentile believers have (they will be there as long as Jesus is ), and it shows the parity of the nearness (none are closer than another in the sense of position, although they may be in the sense of enjoyment).
The use of the verb ‘remember’ in verse 13 is the only imperative in Ephesians 1–3. It is a reminder that it is appropriate to take time to recollect what has happened to us. The children of Israel were to remember that they had been slaves in Egypt, even centuries and generations after those who had participated in the original Passover had died. John Newton, in order to remind himself of his past, had written ‘Remember thou was a bondsman in the land of Egypt.’ Twice, during his teaching in the Upper Room, Jesus pointed out the importance of remembering (John 15:20; 16:4). And to two of the seven churches Jesus stressed the importance of recollection (Rev. 2:5; 3:3):
Remembering is important for three reasons. First, it aids our gratitude as we recall the great salvation that has come our way. Second, it aids humility as we remind ourselves of where we came from. Third, it helps our faith because it helps us to review all that God has done so far in our lives.