By Charles H. Welch
For a fuller discussion of this dreadful term, the doctrinal import should be included, which speaks of the
condition of the carnal mind (Rom. 8:7), the friendship of the world (Jas. 4:4), the great enemy of God and man,
Satan ‘the enemy that sowed them is the devil’ (Matt. 13:39), and finally death itself (1 Cor. 15:25). These,
however, we must leave, and concentrate our attention on that use of the words enmity and enemy that has a bearing
on Dispensational Truth. Echthros, enemy, occurs thirty-two times of which occurrences, two are translated ‘foe’
(Matt. 10:36, Acts 2:35). Echthra occurs six times, five times being translated ‘enmity’ and once ‘hatred’. We give
a concordance of this word.
The idea of an invading army which the word ‘enemy’ is so likely to conjure up in the mind just now, is not uppermost in the use of the word in the New Testament. This meaning is found in such a passage as Luke 19:43, but it is rare. The enemies of the New Testament are the members of one’s household (Matt. 10:36), or like Israel, by reason of their rejection of Christ and the gospel (Rom. 11:28), or again, by reason of antagonism that exists in the mind against all that is spiritual and true (Phil. 3:18; Rom. 5:10; Gal. 4:16). The passage with which we are chiefly concerned is Ephesians 2:15,16 but we shall obtain light on the essential character of enmity by giving a thought to the other occurrences of echthra.
Luke who records this fact, records also the Divine commentary in Acts 4:26-28. Both the enmity and the friendship of these rulers was one of policy, not of deep-seated principle.
The enmity between Herod and Pilate was economical, and could be exchanged for friendship by the pressure of self interest, but the carnal mind is not merely AT enmity against God, it is enmity, and is unchangeable. This enmity belongs to no one dispensation but is universal ‘for there is no difference for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’.
‘Now the works of the flesh are these ... hatred’ (Gal. 5:19,20). These works of the flesh are placed over against the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and are the indices of the two natures in the child of God.
In this epistle to the Galatians, ‘the flesh versus the spirit’ is one of a number of antonyms, like ‘faith versus works’ or ‘law versus grace’, and the enmity or hatred that is one of the works of the flesh that is here mentioned is one of the many characteristics of the old nature. This enmity is too deep-seated for any sort of ‘religion’ to change, and the Galatians were being seduced from the only safe ground, the finished work of Christ, to attempt some measure of amelioration or deliverance by their own efforts. It is this that drew from the apostle this challenging epistle. See GALATIANS for analysis and structural outline.
‘The friendship of the world is enmity with God’ (Jas. 4:4). Friendship with the world, must not be confused with the Christian grace of love to enemies, for even God Himself so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son. The world as at present constituted is under the domination of the great enemy of truth, and friendship in these circumstances is but treason and betrayal. The kingdoms of this world will one day become the kingdom of the Lord, but until that radical change takes place, friendship with the world, can only mean enmity with God.
Thus briefly we have considered the references to enmity apart from the one great dispensational passage Ephesians 2:15,16. The setting of this passage has been partly considered in the article entitled BOTH which it would be advisable to read once more, and a fairly exhaustive analysis of the whole passage will be found under the title MIDDLE WALL. Light too will be received by re-reading the article entitled DECREES which deals with Acts 15. We must allow these different articles to speak, and cannot afford the space for repetition here, but will supplement their findings by giving fuller heed to the implications of the word ‘enmity’ as it is used in this great passage. This enmity is said to be ‘even the law of commandments contained in ordinances’, and as a result of the cross, the enmity is said to have been slain, making reconciliation possible ‘so making peace’. It existed between ‘the both’ who had now been made one and a survey of the conditions under which the Church grew, with its strong association with the Jewish synagogue, the ceremonial scruples of Jewish Christians, the ‘four necessary things’ enjoined upon the believing Gentiles, which form ‘the decrees’ (Acts 16:4), the consequent friction that would arise out of two codes of sanctification, all this and more was like the middle wall of partition which stood in Herod’s temple, and which forbade the foreigner on pain of death from access. The inscription containing this prohibition together with its translation, will be found in the article entitled MIDDLE WALL and cannot be repeated here.
The ‘breaking down’ of the middle wall of partition is interpreted as being typical of the ‘abolishing’ of this enmity that the decrees fostered, and that this enmity and the ensuing peace were not the enmity of a sinner’s heart against God, and the consequent place that flows from being justified, the whole context proves. Sin had already been dealt with (Eph. 2:1-10), but the disability of being a Gentile quite apart from individual sins, was a barrier between man and God. Israel, whatever their condition, were a people in covenant with the God of their father Abraham, but the Gentile, however upright he may have been personally, was a stranger from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
All this, as well as the distance suggested by the decrees of Acts 15, was fully and finally removed at the opening of the dispensation of the Mystery, ‘the both’ as two separate entities disappearing and in their place, a newly created new man, in which no precedence could be claimed by the Jew, no disability felt by the Gentile, but in place of the enmity induced by these distinctions, is the Church of the one Body, a calling unknown until revealed at Acts 28, which gives an access and provides an acceptance that all the resources of inspired language used in Ephesians and Colossians together, scarcely conveys to the believer the grace and the glory of this parenthetical dispensation that intervenes between the blindness of Israel, and the day of their restoration.