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Ephesians

Chapter 2

   

Eph 2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

Dead. Obviously a reference to spiritual death. Adam and Eve died “in the day” they ate the fruit, although Adam lived more than 900 years.

transgressions and sins. Transgression is a violation of the Law. Sin, however, is a violation of God will although no Law is given. Paul is showing that both Jews and Gentiles are guilty; Jews are guilty of transgressing the Law while Gentiles are guilty of the same error, except they were not given the Law. Jews transgressed; Gentiles sinned. The outcome is the same.

2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

in which you used to live. Paul gives five proofs that we were dead spiritually: 1. Followed the ways of the world, 2. followed the ruler of the kingdom of the air (this is Satan),

3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature a and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

3. gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, 4 following the flesh’s desires 5 and thoughts.

were by nature objects of wrath. The real reason we were dead in our sins was because we inherited the sinful “nature” from Adam. We are not sinful because we sin; we sin because we are sinful.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,

because of his great love for us. God’s motive to save us was simply love. Love cannot be explained; it is simply there.

rich in mercy. God has other characteristics such as justice and judgment, but mercy triumphs over them all.

5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.

made us alive with Christ. Eternal life is now in our spirits. We do not wait to be made spiritually alive at the resurrection because a true believer is made spiritually alive now. Since the problem for the human race was that they were “dead in sins” the answer is not in reformation or rehabilitation, but in “life.” Man needs God’s life to change.

by grace you have been saved. Grace by definition is unmerited. A dead man can do nothing to make himself alive, so it is with Christ. God did it all. He made us alive. The two other monotheistic religions—Judaism and Islam—teach that man must in some way earn God’s favor. Christianity is completely opposed to merited or earned salvation.

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

God raised us up with Christ. Jesus death is our death and his resurrection is our resurrection.

seated us with him. It is against protocol to sit in the presence of a king who is seated on the throne. Everyone must either remain standing or kneeling, but not with Christ. He makes us equal to him in rights and blessings.

heavenly realms. Three heavens are mentioned in the Bible: 1. physical heaven, 2. Spiritual dwelling of angels 3. God’s throne. We are there in the highest heavens as far as God is concerned. Even angels must be submitted to us.

7  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

coming ages. God’s full grace is not expressed in this age alone. God needs the coming ages to express his grace to us.

expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. God’s full expression of his kindness can only be seen through Christ sacrifice.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

through faith. The means that we receive this free salvation is our belief in Jesus Christ. Grace is God “giving”, faith is our “receiving”. A gift not received does nothing for the recipient of the gift. Salvation is not universal. It belongs only to those who trust in Christ. 

9  not by works, so that no one can boast.

not by works. In case there is any doubt as to the meaning of “grace” Paul emphasizes the negative side by saying no amount of works—even good works—can save an individual.

10  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God's workmanship. Any workman is proud of his product. God will see to it that believers show good works.

created in Christ Jesus to do good work. Far from being against the value of good works, Paul shows that good works will naturally result in us being born again or as he puts it, “made alive.”

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—

 

12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

separate from Christ. This is a good definition of “spiritual death.” Death means
“separate” from God.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

through the blood of Christ. The cross shall always stand out as the way God expressed his love for us.

14  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

made the two one. That is Jew and Gentile into one family. Christ unites us both.

destroyed the barrier. The barrier was the Law of Moses. The Law covered not just the “moral” laws, which never becomes obsolete, but the laws that governed the nation. There is no way to fully bring the Law of Moses into every nation, for how could other nations, with their own laws, try to incorporate the Law of Moses into their country?

15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,

by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. The Law had to go because it was limited in several ways: first in its outreach: it extended only to Israel’s family. Second it was limited in its power: the atonement covered men’s sins for only one year. Third it was limited in its guarantee: as long as there was a temple and the rightful high priest to offer the sacrifices then the atonement was good, but if either the temple disappeared or the lineage of the high priest is unknown then the sacrifices end, which is the case for today. Fourth, it was limited in its cleansing: it could never do away with sin, it only covered it. Fifth, it was limited in its application: it never defeated the devil or caused a believer to receive the Spirit.

create in himself one new man out of the two. The new creation is the new man in Christ.

16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

put to death their hostility. Who can doubt that there is great hostility between Isreal and her neighbors? Once Israel comes to Christ then we can expect the hostility to end because the Jews would no longer consider themselves special solely because of their physical ancestry but they will recognize all have sinned and all need salvation through Jesus, the Messiah. 

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

He came and preached peace. This is peace with God. There will be no peace between each other until we accept the “Prince of Peace.”

those who were near. The Jewish people.

18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

access to the Father by one Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that draws us to God the Father.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,

fellow citizens. Greek word “citizens” soompolites. Polity, taken from this word, means an organized community. The church is like a government. All have rights and obligations. We are not saved outside of citizenry. We are a public community, much like citizens of other countries. Church must have an organized government to conducts her affairs, thus the need for pastors, teachers, deacons, administrators, and such, etc.  The “home church” movement without structure is not of God unless it encourages involvement in the institutional church.

members of God's household. More personal is this description and less formal than citizenship. We are a family. There is no need to choose between citizenship and family. We are both.

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. I cannot be a Christian without being built on God’s first leaders. To accept the epistles is to accept the apostles. Many claim to follow Christ and not the apostles, but this claim is superficial. Christ chose the apostles to lead. Prophets can refer to the Hebrew scriptures. It can also refer to modern preachers with an unusual, anointed message to the church.

21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

the whole building is joined together. You cannot really live successfully as a believer without being attached to a community of believers with real, ordained leaders.

rises to become a holy temple. The first century church laid the foundation; we should be building on it and rising.

22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

 

 

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