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I. The former condition of Christians: 2:1-3
II. God's rich mercy and love: 2:4-7
Saved by grace through faith to serve: 2:8-10
Remember what you once were: 2:11-12
Access to God only through Christ: 2:13-18
No longer strangers and aliens: 2:19-22
“I sometimes wonder if good and thoughtful people have ever been more depressed about the human predicament than they are today. The media enables us to grasp the worldwide extent of contemporary evil, the spread of social conflict (racism, tribalism, the class struggle, disintegrating family life), the absence of accepted moral guidelines (leading to violence, dishonesty, and sexual promiscuity). Man seems incapable of managing his own affairs or of creating a just, free, humane and tranquil society. Against the sombre background of our world today Eph_2:1-10 stands out in striking relevance” (Stott p. 69). The first three verses of this chapter and the reality of the human condition over 1900 years later demand some conclusions: Man is incapable of solving his own problems without God. 1900 years have passed and we have not eradicated even one sin. In fact, is seems that addictive and deviant human behaviors have only multiplied. The answer is not found in technology. The answer has not been found in any social science, such as psychology. Money and federal programs have not solved our moral programs. The social idealism of the 60's did not help.
“Since 1960, population has increased 41 percent; the Gross Domestic Product has nearly tripled; and total social spending by all levels of government (measured in constant 1990 dollars) has risen from $143.73 billion to $787.0 billion--more than a five-fold increase. Inflation-adjusted spending on welfare has increased 630 percent and inflation-adjusted spending on education has increased 225 percent...But during the same 30-year period there has been a 560 percent increase in violent crime; more than a 400 percent increase in illegitimate births; a quadrupling in divorce rates; a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200 percent increase in the teenage suicide rate...Although the Great Society experienced some success, there is a growing body of evidence which indicates its remedies have, in many cases, reached their limits. Many of the most serious social and behavioral problems we now face (particularly among our young) are remarkably resistant to government cures...Over the years teachers have been asked to identify the top problems in America's public schools. In 1940 teachers identified talking out of turn; chewing gum; making noise; running in halls; cutting in line; dress code infractions; and littering. When asked the same question in 1990, teachers identified drug abuse; alcohol abuse; pregnancy; suicide; rape; robbery; and assault” [Note: _ The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators. William J. Bennett. pp. i-ii] In addition, Ephesians chapter 2 continues the thought presented in chapter 1. Not only has God raised up Christ, but He has also raised us! This chapter graphically describes the depth of sin from which God has delivered us. Here is one more reason to praise God for the riches of His grace.
“ Alienation is a popular word in contemporary society. There are many people, especially young people in the so-called developed world, who are disillusioned with ‘the system’, critical of ‘the technocracy’ and hostile to ‘the establishment’, who describe themselves as ‘alienated’. Some work for reform, others plot revolution, others drop out. But long before Feuerbach and Marx the Bible spoke of human alienation. It describes two other and even more radical alienations than the economic and the political. One is alienation from God our Creator, and the other alienation from one another. Nothing is more dehumanizing than this breakdown of fundamental human relationships. It is then that we become strangers in a world in which we should feel at home, and aliens instead of citizens” (Stott pp. 89-90). Paul had mentioned earlier that we were dead in sin (2:1-3), now Paul gets very specific and points out the hopeless condition that Gentiles are in apart from Christ.
Eph_2:1 “And you did He make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins”
“You”: This includes Christians from a Gentile background. In 2:3 Paul will include Christians from a Jewish background in the expression “we too”. “When Paul speaks of you, he is speaking of the Gentiles; when he speaks of us he is speaking of the Jews, his fellow countrymen. In this passage he shows how terrible the Christ-less life was for Gentile and for Jew alike (Barclay p. 95). “Did He make alive”: God's great power is also seen in the fact that God can raise men from spiritual death (1:19-20). “When ye were dead”: The Jehovah Witnesses and other groups claim that "death" equals annihilation, but such is not true of physical death ( Jam_2:26 ) and neither is it true of spiritual death. Death is simply a separation. Sin alienates and separates the human soul from God ( Isa_59:1-2 ). Those dead in sin still had a soul or spirit ( Mat_10:28 ). Barclay gives us some good observations concerning spiritual death. “Sin kills innocence. No one is precisely the same after he has sinned. The experience of sin had left a kind of tarnishing film on his mind and things could never be quite the same again. Sin kills ideals. Each sin makes the next sin easier. Sin is a kind of suicide, for it kills the ideals which make life worth while. In the end sin kills the will. At first a man engages in some forbidden pleasure because he wants to do so; in the end he engages in it because he cannot help doing so. Once a thing becomes a habit it is not far from being a necessity . Sin kills ideals; men begin to do without a qualm the thing which once they regarded with horror. Sin kills the will; the thing so grips a man that he cannot break free” (pp. 97-99). “Sin kills truthfulness, industry, integrity, and all virtue” (Pulpit Comm. p. 61). Yet a state of death infers a pervious life, these people were not born spiritually dead.
“It is quite possible for one to manifest the most vigorous physical and mental life, while at the same time he is spiritually dead” (Erdman p. 48). “Lots of people who make no Christian profession whatever, who even openly repudiate Jesus Christ, appear to be very much alive. One has the vigorous body of an athlete, another the lively mind of a scholar, a third the vivacious personality of a filmstar. Are we to say that such people, if Christ has not saved them, are dead? Yes, indeed, we must and do say this very thing” (Stott p. 72).
“Through your”: The sins and trespasses that killed us were our own. We were not separated from God because of the sins of others ( Eze_18:20 ; Mat_18:3-4 ; 1Co_14:20 ). One of the easiest ways to undermine the false doctrine of total inherited depravity is to point out that God has no plan of salvation for babies and infants. His only plan of salvation contains conditions that no baby can meet, that being hearing the gospel ( Rom_10:17 ), faith in Christ ( Mar_16:16 ), repentance ( Act_2:38 ), confession ( Rom_10:9-10 ) and a voluntary submission to baptism ( Act_22:16 ). Lenski argues, “The view that Paul refers to a nature that is developed by actual sins disregards this context” (p. 413). Rather, he has missed the point. This whole context includes such phrases as "your trespasses and sins", "wherein ye once walked", "among whom we also all once lived", and "doing the desires". How can anyone read these verses and walk away thinking that these people had not brought this condition of spiritual death upon themselves because of their own actions?
Hugo McCord offered a very insightful view of the statement of David in Psa_51:5 , that is often twisted. “David's abject and contrite admission that he had been born into a world of sin...is much misused. In truth he had been formed in a world where sin is, and his mother had been a sinner before he was born. Then, in sequence, he himself became a sinner, stealing a man's wife, but that is not to say that he had been born a sinner”. [Note: _ "The Living Messages of the Psalms", C. Hugo McCord, pp. 218-219] Years ago I heard someone say, that being born into a sinful world, no more made David "inherently depraved", than being born in a potato patch, makes one a potato. Paul pointed out that everyone becomes a sinner, because eventually everyone sins ( Rom_5:12 “so death spread to all men, because all sinned”. )
“Trespasses”: Sin can never be viewed as a right. When we are sinning were are in forbidden territory. “Sins”: “Etymologically, (trespass) points to sin as a fall, and (sins) to sins as a failure” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 283). “These two words seem to have been carefully chosen to give a comprehensive account of human evil . A trespass is a false step, involving either the crossing of a known boundary or a deviation from the right path. A sin however means rather a missing of the mark, a falling short of a standard” (Stott p. 71). .
The word rendered sins in the above passage means missing the mark. Hence sin happens when we miss the real purpose for our existence ( Ecc_12:13-14 ). “One misses his mark by failing to fulfill his purposes in life. Our purposes in life are to act, think, and speak like God who created us, thus glorifying Him” (Caldwell p. 69).
Eph_2:2 “wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience”
“Wherein”: “In which” (NASV). “In the midst of which” (Gspd). In which sins and trespasses. “Trespasses and sins were the domain in which they had their habitual course of life in their former heathen days” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 283). “Once”: They had stopped the practice of habitual sin ( 1Jn_3:9 ). “Walked”: “Once lived” (Gspd). “Passed your lives” (Mon). See Col_3:7 . “It was not just an isolated failure here or there in their lives that separated them from God; it was their whole way of life” (Boles p. 220). “According to”: Even sinners follow, submit and obey someone ( Mat_6:24 ; Rom_6:13 ; Rom_6:16 ). “The course of this world”: “Ways of the world” (TCNT). “Lived under the control of the present age” (Gspd). '”Lived in accordance with the spirit of this present world” (Wms). “Denotes a life shaped by the goddess standards and aims which result in moral ruin” (Erdman p. 49). “As we might say---secularism. So both words age and world express a whole social value-system. It permeates, indeed dominates, non-Christian society and holds people in captivity. People tend not to have a mind of their own, but to surrender to the pop-culture and television and the glossy magazines. It is a cultural bondage. We were all the same until Jesus liberated us. We ‘drifted along the stream of this world's ideas of living’ (JPB)” (Stott p. 73). “It is life lived in the way this present age lives it. That is to say, it is life lived on the world's standards and with the world's values. The essence of the world’s standard is that it sets self in the center; the essence of the Christian standard is that it sets Christ and others in the center. The essence of the worldly man is, as someone has said, that ‘ He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing " ' (Barclay p. 99). The sinner is not a “free-thinker”, but rather they are conforming to a definite course. We get into sin, when we start listening and believing the wrong ideas ( Jam_1:14 ). “According to”: The present age, the opinions and views of the world, did not originate with mankind. The Christian listens and submits to God's viewpoint, the non-Christian is listening to the devil's viewpoint. “Prince of the powers of the air”: A reference to Satan ( Joh_12:31 ; Joh_14:30 ; Joh_16:11 ; 2Co_4:4 ). “Powers”: The term here means mastery, authority or jurisdiction. “Collective, the whole empire of evil spirits” (Vincent p. 374) ( Eph_6:12 ). “Of the air”: “Some of the early church fathers connected of the air with storms and atmospheric disturbances, which supposedly were caused by the devil” (Boles p. 221). Others felt that the literal air above our heads was literally filled with evil spirits. A more logical view is the following:
“The atmosphere or climate of thought which influences people's minds against God” (Bruce p. 283). “ The moral atmosphere of the world, the air that men breathe, the ‘spirit of the age’, is vitiated by Satan with evil” (Erdman p. 50). “It is preferable to understand of the air as explained by the phrase which follows it in the text itself” (Boles p. 221).
“Of the spirit that now worketh”: “The Devil is operating. He is not still or indifferent. When we adopt the spirit which characterizes him, we become like him” (Caldwell p. 71). The Devil works in people, not by personally indwelling them, but by getting them to listen to his lies. Falsehood does work or makes progress in people. When you get a hold some false concept, in any form, it never stays still ( 2Ti_3:13 ). Some people naively think that they can reject God, but they can still maintain a proper grasp of reality. Every false concept can be tied to the devil ( Joh_8:44 ; 1Ti_4:1-3 ). Every opponent to the truth is a servant and slave of the devil ( 2Ti_2:25-26 ). Hence, such people need to be pitied and every effort needs to be made in the attempt to save them. The devil is a real being! “Such things as psychology, social pressures, and poverty are simply not an adequate explanation of evil. ‘Simple folk are often better theologians than the learned of the schools’” (Coffman p. 141). “The sons of disobedience”: People characterized by disobedience “Defines those persons of whom it can be said that disobedience is the characteristic feature of their relation to God” (Erdman p. 50) ( Eph_5:6 ).
Eph_2:3 “among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest”
“Among whom we also”: “We all lived among them once” (Gspd). “Most probably, among the disobedient--we Jews also followed our course of life” (Bruce p. 283). Regardless of race, privileges or culture, all found themselves in sin ( Rom_3:23 ). “All”: Even Paul, the former gifted religious student, found himself guilty of terrible crimes ( 1Ti_1:13-15 ). “Once”: Something drastic is to change when one becomes a Christian (4:25-32). “Lived”: “Passed our lives” (Wey). It is scriptural to use the expression that one is "living in sin". Yet I think that a good number of people outside of Christ do not view themselves as living in sin. They might argue, "Well, once and a while I do something wrong, now and then I let down my hair, but for the most part I usually behave in a very responsible manner." “In the lusts of our flesh”: Stott makes some good observations concerning the expression of our flesh. “It means not the living fabric which covers our bony skeleton but self-centered human nature. There is nothing wrong with natural bodily desires, whether for food, sleep or sex. For God has made the human body that way. It is only when the appetite for food becomes gluttony, for sleep sloth and for sex lust, that natural desires have been perverted into sinful desires. Wherever self rears its ugly head against God and man, there is the flesh” (p. 74). “The flesh is anything in us which gives sin its chance” (Barclay p. 101). Thus opposition to God, and refusing to listen and follow His word, is living in the flesh ( Rom_8:7 ).
“Desires of the flesh”: This would include sins which are especially dependent on the cooperation of the physical body for their fulfillment, such as fornication, homosexuality, adultery, and drunkenness. Observe that such things are “desires” or “lusts”, rather than manifestations of love. “And of the mind”: “and of our imagination” (Con). “The purest essence of sin is not some horrible, unthinkable atrocity. It is simply living for self. The desires of the mind can be just as bad and sometimes worse. The mind demands its own way in matters of anger, pride, resentment, and revenge. In Paul's day people were often taught by Greek philosophy that everything physical is evil. It must have shocked them, however, to discover that the (wrong) desires of the mind are equally sinful (with the wrong actions of the body)” (Boles pp. 221-222). “The waywardness of our thoughts seems to be denoted, the random roaming of the mind hither and thither, towards this pleasure and that, sometimes serious, sometimes frivolous, but all marked by the absence of any controlling regard to the will of God” (Pulpit Comm. p. 61). Often people forget that envy, jealousy, strife, hatred, and so on, are all just as bad as drunkenness and fornication. Such mental sins will condemn our souls as well ( Gal_5:19 ff; Mar_7:20-23 ; Mat_5:28 ). The following may be news for some, but we do not have the right to think anything we want.
“By nature”: Unfortunately, all of a sudden people forget everything these verses have taught when they encounter this phrase. Immediately they think, "inherited nature", that is, that we were born totally depraved, inheriting the original sin of Adam. That is not what these three verses are teaching. These people are responsible for their former condition. They were dead because of their own sins (2:1), sins in which they had lived in (2:2), sins that were the result of listening to the ways of the world (2:2), sins that resulted from sharing the attitude of disobedient men (2:2), sins that resulted from obeying selfish physical and mental desires (2:3), and sins that resulted from refusing to control their bodies and their thoughts (2:3). “It is not an accident of birth into the family of Adam that condemns men; it is what men themselves have done!” (Boles p. 223). The phrase "by nature" here means that which by habit and practice has become nature, that is, an acquired nature or second nature. Calvinists run into big problems when they try to make by nature mean, "inherited nature". Remember Paul argues in the Roman letter that some Gentiles by nature did the things of the Law ( Rom_2:14 ). How can people have an inherited sinful nature and at the same time do by nature what is good? See also 1Co_11:15 . “Children of wrath”: The objects of God’s wrath ( Eph_5:6 ; Joh_3:36 ).
“God's personal, righteous, constant hostility to evil, His settled refusal to compromise with it, and His resolve instead to condemn it. Thus Paul moves from the wrath of God to the mercy and love of God without any sense of embarrassment or anomaly. He is able to hold them together in his mind because he believed that they were held together in God's character. We need, I think, to be more grateful to God for his wrath, and to worship Him because His righteousness is perfect He always reacts to evil in the same unchanging, predictable, uncompromising way . Without His moral constancy we would enjoy no peace” (Stott p. 76). This verse should forever settle the issue that God is not going to change His mind concerning any sin ( Rev_21:8 ; 1Co_6:9-11 ; Eph_5:5-6 ; Gal_5:19-21 ). “Even as the rest”: The Jews found themselves in sin, just like the Gentiles ( Rom_3:9-23 ).
Eph_2:4 “but God, being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us”
“But God”: God took the initiative. Many people remain optimistic that man can deliver himself. A common belief is that mankind with his technology, education, and resources will one day solve all his social problems. Such is naive optimism, the same type of attitude that motivates the devil to keep on working, even though he is involved in a hopeless cause. “Neither education nor legislation can rescue human beings from spiritual death, captivity, or condemnation” (Stott p. 79). “Being rich in mercy”: Enough mercy exists for all and forgiveness is available for every sin that man will forake. This view of God is frequent in the Old Testament where it is said that He "abounds in mercy" ( Exo_34:6 ; Psa_103:8 ; Jon_4:2 ). “The fact that we became the victims of our own bad choices does not prevent God from having mercy” (Boles p. 223). “For His great love wherewith He loved us”: “Because of His great love” (NASV). “With what an excess of love He loved us!” (Knox). God has no hidden motives for sending Jesus to die for our sins ( 1Jn_1:5 ). God's motive in offering mankind salvation is completely pure ( Joh_3:16 ). God's love is great because it extends to all mankind, was extended to the undeserving ( Rom_5:6-8 ), and He was willing to pay the greatest price for the salvation of the ungrateful. It has even been extended to people who will never appreciate it, because of their own selfishness. Love for the sinner cannot exist without an equal wrath directed towards sin. This same God who will condemn with everlasting fury every unrepentant sinner, also paid the ultimate price for the salvation of those who will repent ( 2Pe_3:9-10 ). “Us”: Jews as well as Gentiles. All Christians need to work at destroying the popular idea that God is unfair, cruel, and unjust. Or that God hinders and stands between one and finding true happiness. Or even that believing in the God of the Bible places a "negative" mood on everything. Away with such a shallow view of God! ( Rom_8:32 ; 1Jn_3:1-3 )
Eph_2:5 “even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved)”
“Even when we were dead”: Such love was demonstrated while we were yet sinners ( Rom_5:8 ). “It is astounding that God would love mankind while every individual human being has rebelled against Him” (Caldwell p. 76). “Through our”: Once again, the sins that condemned us were our own. “Made us alive together”: Notice the statement "alive together with Christ". This is the language associated with baptism ( Rom_6:3-5 ; Rom_11:1-36 ; Col_2:12-13 ). Spiritual life is impossible for sinners outside of Christ. Believing in Christ includes being baptized. Compare this statement with Joh_5:24 . “By grace have ye been saved: This will be further mentioned in 2:8. Being saved by grace inherently involves faith and baptism. Many people like the term “grace” but they do not like the verses that mention people perishing or God’s wrath. What they forget is that grace is only meaningful if we are being saved from something horrible. Every time we see the word “saved” in the Bible we need to realize that God has saved us from something!
Eph_2:6 “and raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus”
“And raised us up with Him”: Here is another phrase that is used in reference to baptism ( Rom_6:3-5 ; Col_2:12-13 “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him”). In a context that talks about being saved by grace through faith, Paul introduces the language which is associated with baptism. Therefore, baptism is an essential part of being saved by grace through faith. Of course if we had accepted what Jesus had said about baptism, we would have already known such a simple truth ( Mar_16:16 ). Paul does the same thing here that he does in the Galatian letter. In Galatians chapter three Paul presents two systems, justification by the works of the Law and justification based on faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is mentioned and Paul places it on the side of faith (3:26-27). In this chapter ( Eph_2:1-22 ), Paul contrasts saved by grace through faith and saved by works of human merit (8-9). On which side does Paul place baptism? So where did people ever get the idea that baptism is a work of human merit? Or, that it does not belong in God's plan of salvation? To say that baptism is not essential to salvation is just as false as saying that faith or grace is not essential, for Paul places all three side by side in this chapter. For all practical purposes, Jesus did the exact same thing in Mar_16:16 . “And made us to sit with Him”: Since Christ is "seated" then He is presently reigning as King (1:20-22; Act_2:30-31 ; Act_2:34-36 ), and since He is reigning as King, that means that He rules over a kingdom. The kingdom of God has been established on this earth since the ascension of Christ ( Mar_9:1 ; Col_1:13-14 ). In a certain sense, we share that reign. We have been allowed in share in Christ's victory ( 1Co_15:57 ). We have experienced the victories of deliverance from a selfish sinful lifestyle, from the fear and dread of death ( Heb_2:14-15 ), and from other forms of bondage such as superstition, arrogance, secular thinking, and human traditions. We have been enlisted as a soldier of Christ, and in so doing we have been given access to the most powerful weapon ever known to man, the gospel message ( Rom_1:16 ).
Christians can lose sight of the right perspective. Many of us forget that we are on the "winning side". Nothing can stop the spread of the gospel, except our own refusal to share it. We compose an army that cannot be stopped. Our message can penetrate any stronghold of unbelief and evil ( 2Co_10:4-5 ; 2Ti_2:9 ). One day we will completely share that victory ( 2Ti_2:11-13 ; Rev_3:21 ).
“In the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus”: Compare with 1:3. Consider how "high" God has raised you! You have actually been allowed to share in His resurrection, ascension and exaltation! Christians who really realize and appreciate their undeserved exalted state, will live like people raised to sit with Christ. To live in the "heavenly places", is to have your mind set on the spiritual realm ( Col_3:1 ), and to live like an eternal reality exists. This heavenly realm is described as being "in Christ", and how does one get "in Christ"? Faith and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 )! Therefore baptism stands between one and reigning with Christ.
Eph_2:7 “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”
“In the ages to come”: “Lit., the ages, those which are coming on” (Vincent p. 376). “The timeless eons of eternity have come” (Lenski p. 420). “He would have all future ages see” (Knox). “He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness”: “The boundless wealth of His loving-kindness” (TCNT). “The tremendous generosity of the grace” (Phi). “How immense are the resources of His grace” (NEB). Bruce put it well when he said, “It implies one age supervening on another like successive waves of the sea, as far into the future as thought can reach. Throughout time and in eternity, the church, this society of pardoned rebels, is designed by God to be the masterpiece of His goodness” (p. 288). Our present salvation is just the tip of the iceberg. God, in the ages to come, desires to demonstrate the generosity of His kindness. God will never tire of us. Even in heaven Christians will continue to experience the wealth of God's kindness. “While manmade religions have men trying to appease the wrath of their angry gods, this text shows how eager God is to display His lovingkindness. It must be noted, however, that God's eternal kindness is available only in Christ Jesus” (Boles pp. 225-226). We need to remember that God's kindness has always been conditional ( Gen_6:8-9 ; Lam_3:25 ; Isa_64:4 ). “It excels men's kindness. Men tend to sulk and withdraw from those who violate their trust, but God offers grace out of His kindness” (Caldwell p. 80). “Toward us in Christ Jesus”: Yet this tremendous mercy is only available to Christians.
Eph_2:8 “for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”
“For”: Such kindness is proof of God's unmerited favor. “God would have to be kind to offer pardon to one who openly violates His expressed word” (Caldwell p. 80). “By grace have ye been saved”: “More exactly by the grace, that is by this grace, the grace already mentioned” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 289). While grace is unmerited and undeserved, such grace is also conditional. At least one condition is mentioned in this passage, that being faith. In the previous verse we learned that God's kindness (which logically includes His grace), is only available in "Christ Jesus". Therefore, baptism stands between one and the grace of God. Or, in other words, seeing that baptism stands between one and salvation ( Mar_16:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 ), the above phrase demands that we conclude that baptism also stands between one and God’s mercy. Note, the text does not say, “For ye are saved by grace only”.
“Through faith”: God does not have any problem in attaching conditions to grace. Grace is undeserved but it still has conditions. Jesus equally attached conditions to salvation ( Mar_16:16 ; Luk_24:47 ), and so did the apostles ( Act_2:38 ; 1Pe_3:21 ). Salvation by grace must have conditions, seeing that the grace of God has appeared to all men ( Tit_2:11 ), and yet all men are not automatically and unconditionally saved ( Mat_7:13-14 ). The faith in this passage is not faith only, because faith by itself has never saved anyone ( Joh_12:42-43 ). This faith includes repentance ( Act_2:38 ); confession ( Rom_10:9-10 ) and baptism ( Act_22:16 ). In addition, it also includes a life of faithfulness following the initial conversion experience ( 2Ti_2:11-13 ). “And that not of yourselves”: “Is not due to yourselves” (TCNT). “It is not your own doing” (NEB). “It is the gift of God”: “The gift is God’s” (TCNT).
Some have erroneously concluded that "faith" is the gift of God in this verse, and that man is so sinful that God must give him the faith in the first place, but that would contradict other passages. "Faith" involves human effort. One must listen to God's word ( Rom_10:17 ), and must then be honest and humble ( Jam_1:21 ). Instead of getting mad at the truth or resenting the preacher ( Act_7:54 ), one needs to be convicted of their own sins ( Act_2:37 ). Calvinism needs to be seriously opposed, because it makes God look dishonest and hypocritical. God clearly condemns the unbeliever ( Mar_16:14 ; Mar_16:16 ; 2Th_1:8-9 ), but at the same time Calvinism asserts that God gives the faith. Calvinism presents a picture of a God who desires all men to be saved ( 2Pe_3:9 ), and yet at the same time refuses to give all men the faith they need to gain salvation. Calvinism must logically say that the only reason people remain unbelievers, is because God refuses to help them. Even the translators of the NASV understood the "gift" to be salvation. Notice the side reference "i.e. that salvation". [Note: _ New American Standard. Wide Margin Edition, Holman.] If you are interested in grammar, Boles argues, “Since faith is a word of feminine gender, and this and it are neuter gender, normal grammar disallows referring back to faith” (p. 226).
“ We shall not be able to strut round heaven like peacocks. Heaven will be filled with the exploits of Christ and the praises of God. There will indeed be display in heaven. Not self-display but rather of the incomparable wealth of God's grace, mercy and kindness through Jesus Christ” (Stott pp. 83-84).
Eph_2:9 “not of works, that no man should glory”
“Not of works”: “Not won by works” (Con). “It has not been earned” (Gspd).
“No amount of good works can make up for our evil works. Keeping the law most of the time does not remove the guilt of breaking the law some of the time” (Boles p. 227). Even the conditions of salvation (faith, repentance, confession and baptism) are never to be viewed as something we did to earn my salvation. People who look at the above verse and then declare that there is nothing one can do to be saved, have it all wrong. Of course something stands between one and salvation, for if nothing stands between mankind and salvation, then all men would be saved! The point is, regardless of what conditions I must fulfill to obtain the forgiveness of my sins, I still do not deserve forgiveness. The apostles preached that we have to do something ( Act_2:37-38 ; Act_16:30 ff). Even Jesus taught that the sinner had to do something to be saved ( Act_9:6 ). "Doing good" can never make up for not obeying Christ. Morality by itself cannot save one. “That no man should glory”: “So that it may be impossible for any one to boast” (Wey). “Or there would be room for pride” (Knox). “When men do try to work their way into God's favor, one of two things will happen. Sincere, honest men will despair of ever succeeding; smug, ignorant men will boast” (Boles p. 227). Since human merit is excluded, so is human boasting. Other passages stress that we need to "boast", that is proclaim how great God is ( 1Co_1:29 ; 1Co_1:31 ).
Eph_2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them”
“We”: Those in Christ Jesus. “His workmanship”: “His handiwork” (Alf). “For He has made us what we are” (Wms). Christians are not self-made individuals. Without God's instruction for how to live everyone one of us would be a real jerk. Children (and adults) completely left to themselves, without any discipline or moral instruction make absolute fools of themselves. God has told us how to live ( Eph_4:1 ff), He has given us many incentives concerning why we should even try ( 1Pe_1:4 ; 1Pe_3:8 ff; Rev_21:4 ; Rev_21:7 ). He has even given us the chance to start over ( Rom_6:3-5 ). Every Christian needs to realize that "by the grace of God I am what I am" ( 1Co_15:10 ). “Created in Christ Jesus”: The "new creation" only takes place "in Christ Jesus". Hence baptism stands between one and being a new creation ( Rom_6:3-5 ). “For good works”:
Christians are saved to serve ( Tit_2:14 “zealous for good deeds”; 3:14; 2Ti_3:16-17 ). There is no such thing as sideline Christianity, for there are to be no spectators in the church. Every member is expected to bear fruit and to be involved in some sort of good work ( Eph_4:16 ; Joh_15:2 ).
“Which God afore prepared”: Made ready beforehand. Every "work" outlined in the New Testament for Christians, whether individual "work" or congregational work, had been completely researched and thought out by God Himself. Hence God's way to do something is always the best way. “Walk”: “That we should spend our lives” (TCNT). “To make our daily way of life” (Mon). “To be the employment of our lives” (Knox). "Good works" should characterize our lives and not be the exception in our lives ( 1Ti_5:10 ). One writer said that if good works do not characterize our lives then how can one claim to be saved by grace?
Eph_2:11 “Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands”
“Wherefore remember”: “Paul was asking them to apply the truths he had presented (2:1-10) to their own personal circumstances. It is good for men to recollect what it was like to be in sin. Such meditation produces humility, penitence, gratitude, and love. All these qualities are essential to every Christian” (Caldwell pp. 87-88). “Gentiles are to remember with gratitude that they are no longer the despised people they used to be” (Boles p. 229). “That once”: This had been their past condition. “Gentiles in the flesh”: “Born Gentiles” (Phi). “Gentiles, according to all outward reckoning” (Knox). Keeping in mind an accurate picture of the past can be a very profitable exercise ( Rom_6:21 ; 1Ti_1:13-15 ). We tend to get into trouble when we start "rewriting" our own past. Often people will start romanticizing the "old life" ( Num_11:5 ). Pride and selfishness creeps in and claims "I wasn't that bad”. As a result preachers are often commanded to "remind" the brethren ( 1Ti_4:6 ; 2Ti_2:14 ; Tit_3:1-3 ). “The Gentile Christians are to remember (present, durative imperative)” (Lenski p. 430).
“Who are called”: There was no love lost between Jews and Gentiles. Each group "called" or used reproachful language and terms when mentioning the other group. “Uncircumcision”: “The Jew's name for the Gentiles was not as polite as it appears in English. For the Jews this was a mark of terrible shame, to be regarded with contempt” (Boles p. 229). “Called circumcision”: The Gentiles threw the name back. “The irony of this situation is that Greek men were proud of their foreskin and thought that Jewish circumcision was a disgusting mutilation” (Boles p. 229). Life for the Gentile had not always been easy, especially when they lived around Jewish people. “They thought of a pagan, perhaps a little more than animal in nature, who was not worthy of concern much less affection” (Caldwell p. 88). “The pious Jew was ever conscious of the privileges which he had inherited: daily he thanked God that he had not been made a Gentile” (Bruce p. 292). “The Jew had an immense contempt for the Gentile. They said that the Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of Hell; that God loved only Israel of all the nations that He had made; that the best of the serpents crushed, the best of the Gentiles killed. It was not even lawful to render help to a Gentile woman in childbirth, for that would be to bring another Gentile into the world. The barrier between Jew and Gentile was absolute. If a Jew married a Gentile, the funeral of that Jew was carried out. Such contact with a Gentile was equivalent of death” (Barclay p. 107). “Made by hands”: “Which is performed in the flesh by human hands” (NASV). Which indicates that a "greater" circumcision existed, that is, the cutting away the selfishness and pride which can surround the human heart. This circumcision is performed when a heart is receptive to the will of God ( Col_2:11 ; Rom_2:28-29 ; Deu_30:6 ).
Eph_2:12 “that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
“Gentile Christians needed to remember five major conditions in which they formerly lived. They were Christ-less, stateless, homeless, hopeless, and Godless” (Caldwell p. 90). “In Romans he had listed Jewish privileges (9:3-5); here he lists Gentiles disabilities” (Stott p. 95). “At that time”: Before they became Christians. “Separate from Christ”: Hence cut off from "all spiritual blessings" (1:3). Which also means that being "in Christ" is conditioned upon man doing something. Christ would die for all men, but that didn't mean that everyone was automatically saved in Christ.
While the Jews had the hope of a Messiah to sustain them, even during the most trying times, the Gentiles did not have any such hope. While it was God's plan to bless all the families of the earth through Christ, the Gentiles either knew little or cared little about all of this. “Alienated”: To be estranged, an alien, or a non-participant. “From the common wealth of Israel”: “Shut out from the citizenship of Israel” (TCNT). “Utter strangers to God's chosen community, Israel” (Phi). Israel constituted God's chosen people ( Exo_6:7 ; Exo_19:5-6 ; Psa_147:20 ; Amo_3:2 ). From this relationship other nations were excluded ( Deu_7:1-4 ). “Gentiles were specifically prohibited from joining that society and enjoying those privileges except through proselytization” (Caldwell p. 91). Even the God-fearing and respected Cornelius ( Act_10:1-2 ; Act_10:22 ), found himself excluded from Jewish circles (10:28). “Strangers from the covenants”: “The several renewals of God's covenant with the patriarchs” (Vincent p. 377). “Of the promise”: That being the promise given to Abraham ( Gen_12:1-3 ). Even though the promise to Abraham included the "nations", the Gentiles did not know that and really didn't seem too interested in learning about it ( Rom_1:18 ff). Most Jews would have rejected such an interpretation. “Having no hope”: “You had nothing to look forward to” (Phi). “Having no real hope, no objective basis of hope. Whatever the Gentiles subjectively hoped for after death had no reality, rested on air, would never be realized” (Lenski p. 434).
“The Jewish view of history was essentially optimistic. On the other hand, for the Gentile history was going nowhere. To the Stoics history was cyclic. They believed that it went on for three thousand years; then came a conflagration in which the whole universe was consumed in flames; then the whole process began all over again, and the same events and the same people exactly repeated themselves” (Barclay p. 108). “The absence of hope in the face of death is amply attested in the literature and epigraphy of the Graeco-Roman world of that day” (Bruce p. 294). People do not like the term, but the truth is that people outside of Christ are "hopeless". There is no hope for the person who dies outside of Christ ( 1Th_4:13 ). A while back I ran into the following article which mentions some of the dying words of people who tried to live without acknowledging God: “Ingersoll: ‘O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell’. Caesar Borgia: ‘While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die and am unprovided to die’. Voltaire: ‘I am abandoned by God and man; I will give you half of what I am worth, if you will give me six month's life’, he said to the doctor treating him. When told it could not be done, he continued, ‘Then I shall die and go to hell’. Sir Thomas Scott: ‘Until this moment I thought there was neither a God nor a hell. Now I know and feel there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty’” [Note: _ 'Dying Words of Atheists'. Wallace H. Little. Gospel Anchor.]
“And without God in the world”: The Greek word rendered "without God", is where we get the English word "atheist". “And no God to whom you could turn” (Phi). The Gentiles had many gods in which they professed belief but they were all false. The city of Athens was full of idols ( Act_17:16 ). Hence a powerful truth is taught here, being religious is not the same as being "with God". The ancient world was full of religious people ( 1Co_8:5 ), religious people who were "without the one true God". No other God exists, except the God who authored the Bible. Caldwell makes a good point when he says, “Not all their former condition was due to Jewish pride and exclusion. They were not a part of God's chosen people, that is true, but the nations had excluded themselves by their own determination to turn their backs on the one true God through lack of faith” (pp. 92-93). Compare with Rom_1:18-32 . This same condition is basically true of all non-Christians in our time: “And we ourselves in our pre-Christian days, it is necessary to add, were in exactly the same plight. Now the Apostle says ‘Therefore remember’ (verse 11), and again ‘remember’ (verse 12). There are some things which Scripture tells us to forget, but there is one thing in particular which we are commanded to remember and never to forget. This is what we were before God's love reached down and found us . For only if we remember our former alienation (distasteful as some of it may be to us), shall we be able to remember the greatness of the grace which forgave and is transforming us” (Stott p. 96).
Christ made the difference
Eph_2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ”
“In Christ Jesus”: Where all the spiritual blessings are found (1:3). Which was the result of faith and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 ). “Once were far off”: “In William Hendriksen's summary they were ‘Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless’. In Paul's single phrase they were ‘far off’” (Stott p. 96). The Gentiles are spoken of those who are far off in other passages as well ( Isa_57:19 ; Act_2:39 ; Act_22:21 ). Coffman points out that our English word "profane", derives from the Latin "procul a fano", which is literally "far from the temple" (p. 156). “Made night in the blood of Christ”: Rom_5:10 ; Eph_1:7 ; Col_1:20 ; 1Pe_1:18-19 . Everything else had failed to bring the Gentile "nigh". Education, philosophy, good intentions, idolatry, man-made religion (which contained some tremendous personal sacrifices, Col_2:20-23 ), and technology had all failed erase the barrier of sin ( Isa_59:1-2 ). This should once and for all settle the issue. You cannot come to God apart from Jesus Christ ( Joh_14:6 ). Being "in Christ Jesus" brings you into contact with the blood of Christ. Hence baptism stands between one and being made "nigh" ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Apart from baptism, one is still "without hope and God".
Only Christians are "near" to God. Apart from the blood of Christ, absolutely no one has the right or privilege to approach God. Being made "nigh" by the blood gives the Christian confidence to approach God ( Heb_10:19-22 ).
Eph_2:14 “For He is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition”
“For”: “ He is strongly emphatic. It is He, Christ Jesus, who shed His blood on the cross” (Stott p. 98). “In a two-fold sense--not only has He reconciled His people to God through His death but He has reconciled them to each other; in particular, He has reconciled those of Jewish birth to those of Gentile birth” (Bruce p. 295). “He”: He and no other. “Our”: Both Jews and Gentiles needed peace with God ( Rom_3:23 ). “Peace”: Christ enables us to have peace with God and peace with each other, even peace with former enemies. “From the time when individuals were first distinguished by heritage or genealogy, racial and ethnic problems have plagued mankind. Trying to assess the sources of these problems is usually futile and attempting to fix blame for them is only to erect greater walls” (Caldwell p. 95). True peace is only possible when people become Christians, all other man-made foundations for peace are destined to fail or fall far short of real peace. “Divisiveness is a constant characteristic of every community without Christ” (Stott p. 96) ( Tit_3:3 ). The common myth of the 60's was that "peace" happens when we remove all the rules and allow people to do anything they want to. What a naive idea. When people put self first "peace" is never the result ( Gal_5:19-21 ). “Who made both one”: Jesus made believing Jews and Gentiles into one people.
To the surprise of many Jews, God did not demand that Gentiles become Jews to be saved, and neither did God demand that Jews become Gentiles. Rather, God demanded that both groups become Christians. This is the thrust of the Great Commission preach the gospel to all because all need to change ( Mar_16:15-16 ; Act_17:30 ). Early Christians spoke of themselves as a "third race" or a "new race", no longer Jewish, and no longer Gentile (Bruce p. 296) ( Gal_3:28 ). “He has not brought Gentiles into a society of Jews, nor Jews into a society of Gentiles. He has made of the two a new body” (Erdman p. 59). “And brake down”: To destroy, loosen, or dissolve. “The middle wall of partition”: “The barrier of the dividing wall” (NASV). “The wall which parted us” (Con).
It seems clear from the next verse that the middle wall under consideration was the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was a law for a nation ( Deu_5:3 ). Many of the commands in the law are completely unworkable if one does not have the support of the civil authorities ( Exo_21:12-13 ; Exo_21:15-16 ; Exo_22:1 ff). The Law was designed to keep the nation of Israel from being assimilated into other cultures before the Messiah came. In addition, many of the surrounding cultures were flat out dangerous to the moral and spiritual life of any nation (Leviticus chapter 18). Always remember that the Law of Moses was good ( Rom_7:12 ), that is served a very necessary purpose ( Gal_3:21-24 ). Unfortunately, the Jews often hid behind the Law, and used it to defend their own prejudices. God wanted the surrounding cultures to be impressed with the moral code that Israel lived by ( Deu_4:6-8 ), and provisions for convicted Gentiles were made ( Jos_2:8-14 ). One cannot read the Old Testament without being impressed by the truth that Gentiles could believe in and serve God as well as any one of Jewish blood.
Eph_2:15 “having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that He might create in Himself of the two one new man, so making peace”
“Having abolished”: To bring to nought, put away, make void, or render idle. “For He annulled the law with its rules and regulations” (NEB). “To put out of commission, make ineffective, i.e. to abolish or wipe out” (Lenski p. 439). “In the flesh”: “In His flesh” (NASV). Which is the same as saying that "He has taken it (the Law of Moses) out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" ( Col_2:14 ). “The enmity”: Hostility, hatred or a reason for opposition. “Even the law of commandments contained in ordinances”: “Which is the Law of commandments” (NASV). Again, we see that the Law of Moses was a package deal. Jesus removed every aspect or every ordinance in this law, including such things as the ordinances pertaining to the Sabbath Day. See Heb_8:13 ; Heb_9:1-4 ; Heb_10:9 . In its place Christ brought a universal system, which still includes laws and ordinances ( Jam_1:25 ; Gal_5:19-21 ). The Law of Moses created "hostility" between Jews and Gentiles, but before we jump to the conclusion that God is the author of hatred (for He gave the Law), we need to realize that this enmity can be traced back to wrong attitudes towards the Law . The Jews tried to twist the Law into saying that all Gentiles were bad (which it never said). “Uncompromising rabbis spoke derogatorily even of the proselytes” (Lenski p. 440). In fact the Pharisees tried to exclude their own people with the Law ( Joh_7:49 ). And when the Law mentioned the depravity of the cultures surrounding Israel, such a picture was all too true. In the Colossian letter, Paul points out that the "hostility" existed in the mind of men (1:21). Gentiles may have resented the "exclusive" nature of Judaism, but honesty would have demanded them to admit, that such exclusiveness had existed for good reason ( Rom_1:18-32 ). The Gentile world really couldn't complain about Jewish smugness, because the Jew's may have perverted the Law into saying that all Gentiles are immoral and godless, but many Gentiles only reinforced this misinterpretation by their own immoral lives.
A concrete example of this separation existed in Jerusalem: “This fence (surrounding the Temple) which prevented any Gentiles from proceeding into the inner courts or the temple included warnings posted prominently along this barricade were large signs, chiseled into stone, with red paint to make the warning more bold: ‘No Gentile may enter inside the enclosing screen around the Temple. Whoever is caught is alone responsible for the death which follows’ (Boles p. 233) ( Act_21:28 ).
“That He might create in Himself of the two one new man”: “In order to create” (TCNT. “His design was to unite the two sections of humanity in Himself” (Wey).
Both Jews and Gentiles needed to become "new creatures". Race or ethnic background never has been a "sure ticket" to heaven ( Mat_3:9 ; Act_10:34-35 ). Everyone needs to become a Christian ( Mar_16:15-16 ; Act_26:29 ). This new creation is only possible "in Him" ( 2Co_5:17 ; Col_3:10-11 ), therefore baptism stands between one and being the "new man". This "new man" is a "new" thinking and acting man (4:22-32). The phrase "of the two", encompasses all cultures. We need to remember that Jew and Gentile were terms that included everyone. Unfortunately, denominationalism is found guilty of trying to undue what Christ wants. Christ wanted a church big enough to include Christians from all cultures. And yet, denominationalism creates and approves churches based on racial and ethnic lines.
Eph_2:16 “and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby”
“Reconcile”: To reconcile fully. “Them both”: “Might reconcile back to God, back to Him where both belonged” (Lenski p. 443). Seeing that God created mankind in the first place, it is only logical that man's most pressing need is reconciliation to His Creator. “It is of interest that in Scripture God is not reconciled to man, but man to God ( Rom_5:10 ; 1Co_7:11 ; 2Co_5:18-20 ; Col_1:20-22 )” (Boles p. 235). “In one body”: Which is the church ( Col_1:20 ; 1Co_10:17 ; Eph_4:4 ; Col_3:15 ; Eph_1:22-23 ; Eph_3:6 ; Eph_5:23-30 ). “He was able to reconcile them in the one body because of the cross” (Caldwell p. 99). “Unto God through the cross”: Without the death of Christ, none could be reconciled. “It is the cross which makes it possible for God to accept sinful men as righteous; it is the cross which makes it possible for sinful men to approach God which confidence and trust” (Erdman p. 60). The benefits of the cross are only realized to those who are members of the "one body", the church (1:22-23). The church is the body of the saved (5:23). The church is purchased with the blood of Christ Act_20:28 ). Baptism, stands between one and being a member of the one body ( 1Co_12:13 ). Therefore, no one can be saved, without being a member of the one body. “Having slain the enmity thereby”: “Thereby bringing the hostility to an end” (RSV).
The enmity or hostility slain includes the cross says to Jew and Gentile, “Both of you are sinners, both of you are in trouble, so abandon your arrogant attitudes towards each other”. The cross enabled us to find a place of refuge from the wrath of God, which our sins deserved ( Rom_5:9-10 ). The cross also brought many of us back to our senses, that is, we don't have any right to be mad at God ( Col_1:20-21 ). It takes a hard heart to remain hostile towards God in face of the cross.
Eph_2:17 “and He came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh”
“He came and preached peace”: This appears to be preaching which followed His cross, for it includes preaching to the Gentiles. “First He achieved it; then He announced it” (Stott p. 103).
This was the fulfillment of Isa_57:19 . Jesus preached the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles through His messengers the Apostles ( Joh_14:26 ; Joh_16:13 ; Act_26:23 ; 2Co_5:18-21 ). Just as Jesus had preached through Noah ( 1Pe_3:18-20 ) and the Old Testament prophets ( 1Pe_1:10-12 ). To listen to the message and writings of the Apostles, is to listen to Christ ( Mat_10:40 ; Joh_13:20 ). The gospel is a message of "peace". It offers us peace with others, because it challenges us to change (4:25-32). It offers us peace with God, for it commands us to repent and acknowledge that we are in the wrong ( Act_17:30 ). It also offers us peace with ourselves, because it offers us freedom from our own selfishness and arrogance.
“Far off”: The Gentiles (2:13). “Though Israel probably did not realize it at the time, when this peace was preached to those ‘who were far away’, it would not be just to the exiled Jews, but also to the Gentiles” (Boles p. 236). "Nigh": Did not mean "locked in". The Jewish person still had to believe in Christ, repent, confess that Jesus was the Son of God and submit to baptism ( Act_2:38 ). Special privileges does not guarantee salvation. A lesson that many children who are raised in "Christian" homes need to hear.
Eph_2:18 “for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father”
“Through Him”: Jesus Christ ( Joh_14:6 ; Act_4:12 ; Eph_2:13 ; Eph_2:15-16 ). “Access”: Admission. “It was used in Greek society for the right to approach, as when a person received an introduction to the king” (Boles p. 236). “It is the word used for introducing a speaker or an ambassador into a national assembly; and above all it is the word used for introducing a person into the presence of a king” (Barclay p. 117). “In one Spirit”: Note how every person in the Godhead is part of this process. The Father desires and planned the reconciliation, the Son sacrificed Himself for it and the Spirit guided the apostles and prophets to proclaim the good news of it to the world (3:3-5). Hence access to God can only be found by obeying the message delivered by the Spirit, and the Spirit only delivered one message (4:5 “one faith”). This access is not mysterious but rather the one Spirit reveals the terms of this admission.
What we now have become
Eph_2:19 “So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God”
“So then”: “Paul begins his summing up---what is the result of Christ's achievement and announcement of peace?” (Stott p. 104). “No more”: Too often we complain about what we do not have, yet we forget about all the bad things that we do not have! “Strangers and sojourners”: “Aliens in a foreign land” (NEB). “Visitors without legal rights” (Stott p. 104). “Without rights of citizenship” (Vincent p. 379). “No longer outsiders” (Phi). “In every Greek city there were ‘foreigners’ and their life was not easy. The foreigner was always regarded with suspicion and dislike. The ‘sojourner’ was one step further on. He was a resident alien, a man who had taken up residence in a place but who had never become a naturalized citizen; he paid a tax for the privilege of existing in a land which was not his own. Both were always on the fringe. A.B. Davidson tells how he was in lodgings in a strange city. He was lonely. He used to walk the streets at evening time. Sometimes through an uncurtained window he would see a family sitting around the table or a fire in happy fellowship; then the curtain would be drawn and he would feel shut out, and lonely in the dark” (Barclay p. 118). What good news for the person who feels like they "never belong". “Ye are fellow-citizens with the saints”: “But fellow citizens with every other Christian” (Phi).
“The first Gentile believers who were admitted to a church comprising Jewish Christians could well felt ill at ease; it was desirable that they should be made to feel completely at home . Gentile Christians are not adherents or visitors or second-rate citizens in the believing community; they are full members” (Bruce p. 302). The word "fellow-citizen" implies a government that one submits to, that is the Kingdom of God, and very Christian is a citizen in this kingdom ( Col_1:13-14 ). The Jehovah Witnesses are wrong, this kingdom was in existence and upon this earth long before 1914. A King who rules that being Jesus (1:20-23). Citizenship not only brings "rights", but it also brings responsibilities, such as the Christian is expected to walk in a manner worthy of a "citizen" of the kingdom of God (4:1). Being a citizen means that you are always willing to fight to defend this kingdom (6:11-18). All Christians are "full citizens", there are no second-class citizens in the church.
Stott had some good observations when he said, “he sees another kingdom, neither Jewish nor Roman but international and interracial, as something more splendid and more enduring than any earthly empire. And he rejoices in its citizenship more even than in his Roman citizenship. Citizens emphasize the contrast between the rootlessness of life outside of Christ and the stability of being a part of God's new society. ‘We no longer live on a passport (or visa), but we really have our birth certificates, we really do belong’” (p. 105).
“And of the household of God”: Which is the church ( 1Ti_3:15 ).
Notice how Paul combines illustrations. These "citizens" are members of God's household. Therefore the kingdom of God and the Church are the same relationship ( Act_20:28 ; Rev_1:5-6 ). Not only is every Christian a "citizen", but every member is also a brother or sister. Becoming a Christian means that you assume some "family obligations" and one of those obligations is to treat other Christians like family ( 1Pe_1:22 ). “And in Christ Jesus Jews and Gentiles find themselves more than fellow citizens under his rule; they are together children in His family” (Stott p. 105). “Brotherly love, should always be a special characteristic of God's new society” (Stott p. 106) ( 2Pe_1:5-11 ).
Eph_2:20 “being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone”
“Being built upon”: “You are a building which has been reared on the foundation” (Wey). “Firmly beneath you is the foundation” (Phi). “If the community is viewed as a building, the Gentile believers are integral parts of the structure” (Bruce p. 303). Other passages mention the fact that each Christian composes a part of this structure ( 1Co_3:9 ; 1Pe_2:5 “living stones”). Therefore the church can only be as strong and active as the individuals who compose it (4:16). Weak, inactive or unfaithful members will weaken the whole structure. When you pull a stone out, usually another falls also, in like manner, the unfaithfulness of one member will probably effect others as well. Closeness and unity in a congregation are essential, because unattached "stones" only fall, and structure that is unattached to it's foundation is destined to fail. Hence the church will only be strong as long as it remains loyal to Christ. “The foundation of the apostles and prophets”: “The foundation laid by the apostles and prophets” (TCNT). Paul pointed out that Christ is the foundation He laid through his preaching ( 1Co_3:10-11 ). “Since apostles and prophets were both groups with a teaching role, it seems clear that what constitutes the church's foundation is neither their person nor their office but their instruction. In practical terms this means that the church is built on the New Testament Scriptures” (Stott pp. 106-107). The above statement explodes a number of myths: First that the church must always have living apostles (the argument of Mormonism). Second, that the New Testament is a product of the church. The New Testament is the foundation of the church. This verse also reveals that any church that departs from the teaching of the apostles has ceased to be the Lord's church.
“Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone”: “The actual foundation-stone being Christ Jesus Himself” (Phi). The chief corner stone was: “The primary foundation-stone at the angle of the structure by which the architect fixes a standard for the bearings of the walls and cross-walls throughout” (Robertson pp. 528-529). “It is He who supports and holds together both the foundation and the walls. It is faith in Him which gives to every believer a place in the building, and it is Christ who gives to the structure its unity and its strength” (Erdman pp. 62-63). “ There was not one single line or angle of the building which was not determined by and adjusted to the perfect symmetry of that stone” (Caldwell p. 103). “The angle of the cornerstone governs all the lines and all the other angles of the building” (Lenski p. 454).
Jesus Christ is the most important aspect of Christianity ( Mat_16:16-18 ). Remove Him and Christianity becomes useless ( 1Co_15:17 ), yet this is exactly what many denominations have done. They deny His virgin birth, His literal resurrection or the truthfulness of His message through His apostles. For all practical purposes such religious bodies are nothing more than non-profit human organizations. Very busy, but completely powerless to bring their members to salvation. Jesus Christ determines everything that Christians believe in and practice. Every aspect of the church from worship, to organization, work, and terms of entrance take their cue from Jesus Christ ( 1Ti_6:3 ). The world can never destroy the church, because it will never be able to successfully destroy its foundation. Jesus is called a "corner-stone" in other passages as well ( Isa_28:16 ; Mat_21:42-44 ; 1Pe_2:6-8 ). Jesus is the "great test" for all men. Some cannot bring themselves to be completely honest when dealing with Jesus, and hence they stumble, fail the test, and end up eternally lost. Others encounter Jesus and are crushed by how selfish they have lived, and become Christians .
Eph_2:21 “in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord”
“In whom”: In Christ. Each several building”: “The whole building” (NASV). “Every part of the building” (TCNT). “Through Him every part of the building is closely united” (Gspd). “Fitly framed together”: “Being fitted together” (NASV). “Comes from a root word (harmonized together), used especially of fitting planks together in a ship, or fitting stones together in a building” (Boles p. 239).
Christ is indispensible to the unity of the church. Which means, that when congregations divide someone is no longer is listening to Christ. Only Jesus Christ can bring us altogether, even if we are from diverse backgrounds (like Jew and Gentile). If we can all agree that Jesus has the final say in all religious matters ( Mat_28:18 ), that He is the sole Head of the Church ( Eph_1:22-23 ) and that the Church must be subject to Him in everything (5:24), then we can be united. What unites Christians is not some humanly devised system of "how we can agree to disagree". What unites Christians is a mindset that says Christ is in charge and we all agree to obey Him ( 1Co_1:10 ). If we can have the attitudes which Christ commanded us (4:1-3), and if we can believe the truths that Christ has commanded us (4:4-6), then we will have unity.
“Groweth”: True Church growth isn't merely numbers. The Church really grows when each member is remaining loyal to Christ (4:14-16). “Into a holy temple in the Lord”: The Church is God's Temple, which means that the Tabernacle and Temple in the Old Testament were mere types of the Church. Both structures were built according to a Divine pattern ( Exo_25:9 ; 1Ch_28:19 ), and the church is also built according to a Divine pattern ( 1Ti_3:15 ). A pattern exists for its terms of entrance, it's work, worship, and organization ( 1Ti_3:1-16 ). If the church is the temple of God ( 1Co_3:16 ) then its members are priests ( 1Pe_2:5 ). Hence every member must have something to sacrifice to God ( Rom_12:1-2 ), and every member is expected to be involved. Therefore, every member is expected to treat God with respect, such as sing from the heart, pray sincerely, examine themselves prior to the Lord's Supper, give as they have been prospered, and meet to worship God with other Christians ( Heb_10:24-25 ). Before the priests in the Old Testament were allowed to enter the Tabernacle, they had to wash in the laver ( Exo_30:18-20 ). Likewise, before we can enter the temple of God, we must submit to baptism ( Tit_3:3-5 ). Therefore, baptism stands between one and being a true worshipper of God. Since we are priests, then let us live like people who serve God continually ( Eph_5:3 ). As in the Old Testament only one temple existed. The same is true today. Only one Church exists which contains all Christians.
Eph_2:22 “in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit”
“In whom”: Again notice the emphasis upon the three persons of the Godhead. Being "in Christ" is the same as being in the church, in the family of God, in the household of God, in the temple of God, in the kingdom of God, all refer to the exact same relationship . “No privilege is bestowed on the people of God in which Gentiles do not enjoy an equal share” (Bruce p. 307). “Ye also”: Christians from a Gentile past have the full benefits of membership. Compare these privileges with Eph_2:11 . “Builded together”: “Present passive indicative (continuous process” (Robertson p. 529). “For a habitation of God in the Spirit”: These are the people with whom God has a relationship.
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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent