11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Paul now turned to a description of what believers were like before their salvation and in their state as non-Christian Gentiles.
Paul drew an inference from God’s work of salvation (vv. 1-10). God’s work of salvation is one thing; our status as unbelievers before that salvation is another. In light of the wholly unmerited status God imparted to us, we are to “remember” something.
Paul called on Ephesian believers to “remember” what they were before their salvation. Remembering calls for a heightened state of awareness of the need for salvation and of the alienation from God.
that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh [physically],
Paul asked Ephesian believers to remember where they once were in their unsaved state. Being uncircumcised physically, they did not belong to the theocratic nation Israel. “Flesh” here does not refer to sin capacity but to the physical body. However, even had they been circumcised, they would still have been lost and without God.
who are called Uncircumcision
Jews called Gentiles “Uncircumcision.” Gentiles were physically uncircumcised. The sign of being a Jew was physical circumcision; it was the rite of Judaism. “Uncircumcised” Gentiles were outcasts, as Jews deemed them.
by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
The people called “Circumcision” were Jews who were physically circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. Christians have a new circumcision—the circumcision of Christ—that established our new status with God (Co 2:11). The later circumcision is available to both Jew and Gentile.
Rites are not necessary for salvation.
God saved Abraham, the first Jew, before he was circumcised. Circumcision was never the means of salvation, even in the Old Testament (Ro 4:9-12). It was a sign that Israelites were set apart unto God and that they belonged to the people of God.
God does not save us by our keeping rites. Our salvation is not outward but inward; it is salvation of the soul by the blood of Christ. No matter how religious or good a person might be, he needs cleansing by the blood of Christ to have eternal life.