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Tuesday, July 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 2

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Verse 1

Ephesians 2:1

I. What We Were - v. 1-3 (Dead to God)

II. What We Are - v. 4-7 (Alive with Christ)

III. Thanks Be to God For This Change - v.8-10

2:1–10 Paul’s prayer (Eph 1:15–23) refers to Gentiles (non-Jews) becoming part of God’s family. In this chapter, Paul discusses how that happens: Christ’s victory over evil powers makes reconciliation with God possible. This discussion has two parts: vv. 1–10 and 2:11–22. In this first part, Paul writes about humanity’s reconciliation with God. Paul begins by reminding his readers that they lived in alienation from God (vv. 1–3). He then describes the blessings that believers receive as a result of being reconciled to God through Christ (vv. 4–10). - FSB

2:1-10 Saved By Grace

And you -- God is referring to the non-Jews reading the letter.

dead -- Refers to being separated from God and under the rule of the evil one (see v. 2 and note). Paul’s use of the metaphor of death is significant, as it allows for no middle ground; a person is either dead or alive. - FSB

who were dead -- Another demonstration of God’s power illustrated (Ephesians 1:19) is illustrated in the resurrection of the Ephesians from the dead! They were dead in sins, but now alive in Christ.

Paul seems to allow no middle ground, a person is either dead or alive.

trespasses and sins -- The Greek words used here, paraptōma and hamartia, describe the evil that controls and characterizes human life apart from God. They are both the cause of death and the evidence of death.

trespasses and sins --. Caused spiritual death. Isaiah 59:1-2. Death is a separation, physical death is a separation of the spirit from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of the spirit from God. James 2:26 Verse 2 begins a description of Spiritual death.

This is a sobering reminder of the total sinfulness and lostness from which believers have been redeemed.

in -- indicates the realm or sphere in which lost sinners exist. They are dead because of sinful acts that they themselves have committed (cf. Matthew 12:35; Matthew 15:18-19), and not because of sins of other (Ezekiel 18:20).

In the NIV vs. 1-7, three additional verbs not in the Greek.

Verse 2

Ephesians 2:2

Verse 2 begins a description of Spiritual death.

you once walked -- The Gentiles before they obey the gospel of Christ.

walked -- “Walk” is a biblical metaphor for lifestyle cf. Romans 1:18

Seven Walks in Ephesians

1. Ephesians 1:1 Not according to the world

2. Ephesians 1:1 Walk in good works

3. Ephesians 1:1 Walk worthy of your calling

4. Ephesians 1:1 Not as other Gentiles

5. Ephesians 1:1 Walk in love

6. Ephesians 1:1 Walk as children of light

7. Ephesians 1:1 Walk wisely, redeeming the time

course of this world -- The Greek word used here, aiōn, may refer to the mindset, customs, and practices of those who are estranged from God. Alternatively, it could indicate a hostile force in opposition to God and his people (i.e., the devil) - FSB

ruler of the authority of the air -- Refers to the devil (compare John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4) or the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). Many people in the ancient Near East believed that the air (aēr)—the sphere between heaven and earth—was the residence of evil spirits. Before the Ephesian believers were in Christ, they lived under the influence of the world and the evil one

prince -- = Satan, ruler of Darkness, John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4

air -- = There are two words in Greek, here the word for "misty, gloom foul air"

The Previous Condition of the Ephesians

Dead; Degraded (Depraved); Devilish; Disobedient; Doomed

Verse 2 -- Who the lost followed:

Verse 3 -- In whom the lost conducted their the sphere of their lives.

Sources of possible information are focusing on (1) Job 1–2 where Satan is one of the “sons of God” (i.e. angels) or (2) Isa. 14; Ezek. 28 where prideful near eastern kings (Babylon and Tyre) are used to illustrate the pride of Satan (cf. 1 Timothy 3:6). I have mixed emotions about this approach. Ezekiel uses Garden of Eden metaphors not only of the king of Tyre as Satan (cf. Ezekiel 28:12-16), but also for the king of Egypt as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Ezekiel 31:1). However, Isaiah 14:12-14, particularly vv. 12–14, seems to describe an angelic revolt through pride. If God wanted to reveal to us the specific nature and origin of Satan this is a very oblique way and place to do it. We must guard against the trend of systematic theology of taking small, ambiguous parts of different testaments, authors, books, and genres and combining them as pieces of one divine puzzle. - Utley

[Utley’s "Special Topic: Personal Evil" located at Eph 2.2]

Man, being created in the "image of God" has come to the knowledge of good and evil, and is personally responsible of his/her choices. - WG

sons [children] of disobedience -- Men who are characterized by a particular trait, as here of moral resistance to the Holy God. (cf. Colossians 3:6)

This is an example of the frequent oriental thought of one being "son of" "child of" in the sense of close connection, to a principle, motive, or disposition, etc. See the next verse "children of wrath" as well.

See the note at Acts 4:36.

Verse 3

Ephesians 2:3

Carnal -- Corrupt -- Condemned

we all -- v. 2-3, Paul being a Jew, puts himself (and all Jews) also into this catagory alike with Gentiles who in the past lived the ways he now speaks of, Romans 1:18.

once live -- Their past conduct of life.

nature [passions, selfish desires; lust of our flesh;] -- Greek "phusis" (foo’-sis) = a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature.

This refers to the selfish part of our human nature when we choose to put own desires ahead of everything else. Compare Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:24.

Paul uses the term “flesh” in two distinct ways. Only context can determine the distinction. In Ephesians 2:11, Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 5:29, Ephesians 5:31; Ephesians 6:5 and Ephesians 6:12 it means “the human person,” not “the sinful nature of man” giving in to his passions as here.

carrying out the desires of the body and the mind -- Living selfish, sinful lives, in opposition to God’s will for the way one should live.

were by nature -- The natural consequence of one’s actions.

children of wrath -- This is an Hebraic idiomatic phrase for a person’s character. God is opposed to sin and rebellion in His creation. The wrath of God pictures his justment in both temporal time and his judgment at the end of time.

wrath -- Refers to God’s righteous judgment upon evil.

Verse 4

Ephesians 2:4

What We Are v.4-7 (Alive in Christ)

riches -- Riches of God’s Mercy cf note on Ephesians 1:7

Four Elements of God’s Rich Mercy

1) He loved us - v. 4 Romans 5:8

2) He quicked us - v. 5

3) He exhaulted is - v. 6

4) He keeps us - v. 7-9

God -- The subject of this long sentence. Three main verbs:

1) v.5 made alive

2) v.6 raised us

3) v.6 seated us

his great love -- God’s natural disposition, 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16; John 3:16.

rich in mercy -- God’s abundant mercy, which characterizes Him throughout the Bible (Exodus 34:6-7), is epitomized by His willingness not to punish “children of wrath” but instead ready to forgive pentient mankind through His grace (Ephesians 2:5).

Verse 5

Ephesians 2:5

when we were dead -- A spiritually dead person need to be made alive by God. Salvation bring spritual life to the dead. The power that raises believers out of death and makes them alive (cf. Romans 6:1-7) is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. (cf. Romans 6:11-13).

quickened -- made alive. Through union with Christ, obedient believers receive new life that reverses the effects of death (compare Romans 6:4-11; John 3:16-17). Those who believe in Christ participate in His death and resurrection. Consequently, believers share in Christ’s resurrected life

saved -- In this context, the Greek word used here, sōzō, refers to God delivering people from death and giving them life. - FSB

saved by Grace -- Out of God’s grace (unmerited favor toward mankind) He has provided the Means (a Savior) and the Method (the plan = faith/trust that obeys) of our salvation.

Verse 6

Ephesians 2:6

raised -- God raising up Christ, made it possible for God’s raising of them. Romans 4:25

raised us up together, and made us sit together -- The tense of “raised” and “made” indicates that these are immediate and direct results of salvation.

Believers have already been raised with Christ. Believers were buried with Him in baptism (cf. Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:3-11) and raised with Him by the Father (cf. Colossians 2:13; Romans 6:4-5) who raised Jesus (raised by the Spirit in Romans 8:11). These are special redemptive analogies. Believers spiritually participate in the major events of Jesus’ experience: crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and enthronement! Believers share His life and suffering; they will also share His glory (cf. Romans 8:17)! - Utley

seated us -- Seated in the heavenly realm - the church. (The church is God’s heavenly realm on earth.)

This is the third of the aorist compounds with syn. Our position in Him is one of present, as well as future, victory (cf. Romans 8:37)! The concept of sitting down with Him meant reigning with Him. Jesus is the King of Kings sitting on the throne of God the Father and believers are even now co-reigning with Him (cf. Matthew 19:28; Romans 5:17; Colossians 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:21). - Utley

heavenly realms--- see note and list on Ephesians 1:3

This locative (of sphere) neuter plural adjective, "in the heavenly places," is only used in Ephesians (cf. Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12). From the context of all of its usages, it must mean the spiritual realm in which believers live here and now, not heaven. - Utley

in Christ -- Raised in Christ, Romans 6:3-5 ff. A reference to baptism, cf Colossians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:1-2

Verse 7

Ephesians 2:7

so that -- Reason why God made them alive. NIV - "in order that"

The Jews believed in two ages, the current evil age (gal 1.4) and the coming righteous age ruled over by the Messiah. This would be the Christian age, and it is in this age that God shows us the immeasurable riches of his grace in Christ Jesus.

coming ages -- In Ephesians 1:21 "age" is singular, here it is plural (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3). The "ages" to come then means to all future times, this Christian age now and the age of heaven itself.

This use of the plural in a symbolic sense can be seen in the passages that refer to the past "ages" (cf. Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2).

Some scholars believe this was simply a metaphor for eternity because of the way the phrase was used in secular Koine Greek and in several places in the NT (cf. Luke 1:33; Luke 1:55; John 12:34; Romans 9:5; Galatians 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:17). - Utley

shew -- Show, NET=demonstrate. This term means "to publicly display" (cf. Romans 9:17; Romans 9:22). God’s mercy and purpose in Christ are clearly manifested to the angels by His treatment of mankind (cf. Ephesians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 4:9; Hebrews 1:13-14).

exceeding riches of His grace -- cf. Ephesians 1:7 Ephesians 2:4; The “abounding, overflowing” riches of grace; compare the notes, Ephesians 1:7. This is Paul’s favorite expression - an expression so beautiful and so full of meaning that it will bear often to be repeated. - BN

in Christ -- This speaks our our vital union with the Lord which is the never silent key-note of the passage. (CBSC)

Verse 8

Ephesians 2:8

Section v. 8-10 III. Thanks Be To God For This Change

grace -- cf. Titus 2:11 Salvation is by the "grace" of God (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14). The character of God is revealed through His mercy (cf. Ephesians 2:4-6). Grace is best defined as the unmerited, undeserved love of God. It flows from God’s nature through Christ and is irrespective of the worth or merit of the one loved. (BN)

"Grace" charis is feminine,

"Faith" pistis is feminine

"that" touto is neuter.

saved -- Salvation is the gift of God, it’s grounds is God’s grace. Salvation’s source is not in man. This is a perfect passive periphrastic participle which is a repeat of Ephesians 2:5 (see note there). Its thrust is that "believers have been and continue to be" saved by God.

In the OT the term "save" spoke of "physical deliverance" (cf. ). In the NT this meaning has taken on a spiritual dimension. God delivers believers from the consequences of their sins and gives them eternal life. (Isaiah 59:2) He restores their fellowship with God again.

through faith -- Mankind must respond to God’s offer of grace and forgiveness in Christ (cf. John 1:12; John 3:16-17; John 3:36; John 6:40; John 11:25-26; Romans 10:9-13), and this is done through a faith that "trusts and obeys." Salvation by faith means we trust in God’s trustworthy promises and yeild oursleves to him as our Lord, which means then that we keep is commandments. (John 14;15; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6)

and that -- This is the Greek demonstrative pronoun (touto), which is neuter in gender. The closest nouns, "grace" and "faith," are both feminine in gender. Therefore, this must refer to the whole process of salvation as completed in Christ. (Utley)

“That” refers to the entire previous statement of salvation. FSB

not of yourselves -- This is the first of three phrases which clearly show that salvation is not based on human performance: (1) "not of yourselves" Ephesians 2:8; (2) "gift of God" Ephesians 2:8; and (3) "not as a result of works (either OT works or one’s own merit) " Ephesians 2:9.

gift -- Also see Hebrews 6:4 -- Heavenly gifts -- forgivness of sins, salvaion. The paradox of salvation as both a free gift and a mandated covenant response are difficult to grasp. Yet both are true! Salvation is truly free, yet costs everything. (Utley).

Verse 9

Ephesians 2:9

works -- Paul stressed that salvation did not come by keeping the works of the Mosais Lawt (cf. Romans 3:20; Romans 3:27-28; Romans 9:11; Romans 9:16; Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). This was in direct contrast to the false teachers he had to oppose. We learn from it that man’s own merits, or self-righteousness, cannot earn salvation.

(Faith is called a work in John 6:29, that is, a work (something) ordained by God.

so that no one may boast -- Salvation is by God’s grace, not human effort, so there is no room for human glorying (cf. Romans 3:27; Romans 4:2). If believers boast, let them boast in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:31, which is a quote from Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Verse 10

Ephesians 2:10

his -- His is emphatic. His workmanship are we.

workmanship -- The product of a master. The word denotes a piece of art or a masterpiece. The English word "poem" comes from this Greek term (ποίημα, poiema). This word is only used two times in the NT, here and Romans 1:20. - BKC

For we are his workmanship - We are his “making” - poiema. That is, we are “created or formed” by him, not only in the general sense in which all things are made by him, but in that special sense which is denoted by the new creation; see the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:17. Barnes

created in Christ Jesus -- This is an aorist passive participle. This act of a new spiritual creation is described in the same terms used of the initial creation in Genesis (cf. Genesis 3:9; Colossians 1:16).

good works -- Different from the works of v. 9. Here Paul is talking about acts of faithfulness and service to God. Compare Colossians 1:10. - FSB

good works -- This speaks to the Christian’s lifestyle. They are saved by grace through faith to do good works! They are saved to serve! Faith without works is dead, as are works without faith (cf. Matthew 7:21-23 and James 2:14-26). The goal of the Father is that believers be "holy and blameless" and doing good. (cf. Ephesians 1:4). Romans 2:6-9 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10

which God prepared beforehand -- This strong term (pro + hetoimos, " to prepare before") relates to the theological concept of predestination (cf. Ephesians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:11) and is used only here and in Romans 9:23. God chose beforehand that those He saved must reflect His character. God give all men the opportunity to choose this way of life (2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17) but the decision is man’s.

that we should walk in them -- God has a life-style planned for those who will be saved. They must reflect the character of their Father and will be called "sons of God."

Verse 11

Ephesians 2:11

Therefore -- Paul often uses this word to start a new literary unit by building on the combined truths of previous units (cf. Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1; Romans 12:1). "Therefore" because of what Paul has just said.

This is the third major truth of Paul’s doctrinal section (Ephesians 1-3). 1) The first was God’s eternal choice based on His gracious character, 2) the second was the hopelessness of sinful humanity, saved by God’s gracious acts through Christ which must be received and lived out by faith. 3) Now the third, God’s will has always been the salvation of all humans (cf. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5), both Jew and Gentile (cf. Ephesians 2:11 to Ephesians 3:13). No human intellect (i.e., Gnostics) understood these revealed truths. (Utley)

remember -- These Gentiles are commanded to continue to remember their previous alienation from God, Ephesians 2:11-12 (Pres. Act. Imp.)

Paul urges the Gentile believers to recall their life before Christ, just as the Israelites were often told to remember what God had done for them (see Exodus 13:3). - FSB

formerly you, Gentiles in the flesh -- This is literally "nations" (ethnos). It refers to all peoples who are not of the line of Israel (Jacob). In the OT the term "nations" (go’im) was a way (often even a derogatory way) of referring to all non-Jews.

time past Gentiles -- The Gentiles ... Past and Present, Ephesians 2:11-22

1) Without Christ vs In Christ -- v.12

2) Aliens or Foreigners vs. Fellow Citizens - v. 12, v.19

3) Strangers from the covenant vs. no longer strangers - of household v. 12, v.19

4) No hope vs New man v.12, (v.14 peace)

5) Without God vs access to the Father , vs 12, 13, 18

6) Far off vs Made nigh - vs 13, 18

7) Enmity vs. Reconciliation - v. 14-18

uncircumcision -- "uncircumcised" Gentiles vs Jews. The "Judaizers" of Galatians claimed that this was still God’s will and was indispensable for salvation (cf. Acts 15:1 ff; Galatians 2:11-12). This was probably a term of derision.

uncircumcision -- A derogatory term emphasizing that non-Jewish people are outsiders in relation to God’s covenant with Israel. This category includes most members of the churches planted or empowered by Paul. - FSB

made by hands -- The Greek word used here, cheiropoiētos, portrays circumcision as a human rite. In the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the ot), this word is used to refer to idols (e.g., Leviticus 26:1; Isaiah 2:18; Isaiah 10:11; Daniel 5:4). - FSB

Verse 12

Ephesians 2:12

separated from -- This is literally "on separate foundations." These next few phrases (like Ephesians 2:1-3) show the helplessness and hopelessness of the Gentiles without Christ.

alienated -- This is a perfect passive participle meaning "have been and continued to be excluded." In the OT this term referred to resident non-citizens with limited rights (aliens). The Gentiles had been and continued to be separated, alienated from the Covenant of YHWH.

commonwealth of Israel -- The theocracy of divine government. Aliens, not citizens of God’s nation of Israel. NIV-"excluded from citizenship in Israel".

This is literally "citizenship" (politeia). This word came into English as "politics." It refers to the chosen descendants of Abraham. Their benefits are enumerated in Romans 9:4-5.

covenants of promise -- The NT can refer to the OT as one covenant or as several covenants, plural, as here. The principle covenant which the Jews had lived under was 1) the covenant mediated by Moses at Mt. Sinai. But the OT also speaks of covenants made with 2) Adam in the garden; 2) Noah ; and 3) Abraham.

hope -- confident expectation.

having no hope and without God in the world -- In speaking of the Gentiles’ past condition, Paul says without God, they were cut off without any hope, lost in idolatry and paganism (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and Romans 1:18 to Romans 2:16).

Verse 13

Ephesians 2:13


For our learning- Romans 15:4

Changed- Hebrews 7:12 & Hebrews 8:7-8 & Hebrews 8:13 & Hebrews 10:9, Ephesians 2:13-15, Colossians 2:14,

Ended at the death of Christ-

Hebrews 9:15-17, Galatians 3:19 & Galatians 3:16 & Galatians 3:24-25, Galatians 5:4 & Galatians 5:18.

Sabbath to Jews - Deuteronomy 5:2-3 & Deuteronomy 5:15.

Made known at Sinai- Nehemiah 9:13-14.

But now -- There is a contrast between the hopeless past of the Gentiles, Ephesians 2:11-12, and their great hope in the gospel, Ephesians 2:13-22.

far off -- A common term in rabbinical writings used to describe Gentiles, those who were apart from the true God (cf. Isaiah 57:19; Acts 2:39). - MSB

you who formerly were far off have been brought near -- This same concept is repeated in Ephesians 2:17, where Isaiah 57:19 is quoted. In Isaiah this text referred to Jewish exiles but here in Ephesians it refers to Gentiles.

This is one example of Paul’s typological use of OT passages. The NT Apostles have universalized the OT hope. As the exiled Jews were apart from God, so too, the Gentiles were alienated from God.

by the blood of Christ. -- This referred to the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:25; Romans 5:6-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 1:5). God’s family is no longer national, but spiritual (cf. Romans 2:28-29; Romans 4:16-25).

The blood of Christ was a sacrificial metaphor (cf. Leviticus 1-2) for the death of the Messiah (cf. TEV). John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (cf. John 1:29). Jesus came to die (cf. Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45).

It also was a way to assert the true humanity of Jesus, (cf. Ephesians 2:15) which the Gnostics denied.

Verse 14

Ephesians 2:14

The literary unit of Ephesians 2:11 to Ephesians 3:13 focuses on peace between Jew and Gentile. This was the mystery of the gospel’s plan which was hidden in ages page. The term "peace" refers to:

1. peace between God and mankind (cf. John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 5:1-11; Philippians 4:7; Philippians 4:9)

2. peace between Jew and Gentile, Ephesians 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:17 (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11)

See note at Ephesians 2:15.

he himself is our peace -- "He Himself" (autos) is emphasized (cf. Ephesians 2:15). The term "peace" means to "restore that which was broken" (reconciliation). Jesus the Messiah is called the Prince of Peace ( cf. Isaiah 9:6 and Zechariah 6:12-13). God’s peace in Christ has several aspects. For he is our peace; i.e. Peace-maker, or Mediator of peace, both between God and man, and between Jew and Gentile.

peace -- v.14 Reconciliation - between Jew and Gentile

(Note: see diagram of how and where two people are woven into one. Ephesians 2:13-19)

made both one -- Believers are no longer Jew or Gentile, but Christian (cf. Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 2:15; Ephesians 4:4; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). This was the mystery of God as revealed in Ephesians. This has always been God’s plan (Genesis 3:15). God chose Abraham to choose a people, to choose a world (Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6). This is the unifying theme of the Old and New Covenants


Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (emphasis mine, WG).

Both” and “one” are neuters in the Greek. The idea is rather of positions and relations than of persons (Monod).—“One:”—“one thing,” one community, or rather, one organism. - CBSC

dividing wall of hostility -- This is literally "the middle wall of partition." In context this obviously refers to the Mosaic law (cf. Ephesians 2:15). Some commentators have asserted that it was an allusion to the wall in Herod’s Temple between the court of the Gentiles and the court of the Women which separated Jewish and Gentile worshipers. This same symbolism of the removal of barriers is seen in the veil of the Temple rent from top to bottom at Jesus’ death (cf. Matthew 27:51). Unity is now possible. Unity is now the will of God (cf. Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 4:1-10). (Utley)

- - - - -

Sermon: on Ephesians 2:11-22 The Great Peacemaker

(Int. 1938 Sir Neville Chamberlain - "Peace in our time" - not so!!)

1. Separation - vs. 11-12 What Gentiles were (5 points)

1) Without Christ - v.12

2) Without citizenship (aliens) v.12

3) Without covenant (strangers) v.12

4) Without hope

5) Without God

2. Reconciliation p v. 13-18 What God did for the Gentiles (9 points)

1) "made nigh" v.13

2)"wall broken down" -v.14

3) abolished enmity (how) p.v15

4) Both in one body - v.16

5) Peace preached to those far and near - v.17

6) Both have same access - v.18

7) Fellow citizens - v.19

8) Fellow members of same household (family)

9) One Holy Temple - v.20-22

3. Unification - what Jew and Gentile are in Christ

1) One nation - v.19

2) One family - v.19

3) One Holy Temple - v.20-22

Verse 15

Ephesians 2:15

abolished -- cf. Colossians 2:14 ; Romans 7:6; Jesus said He had come not to destroy the law (of Moses), but to fulfil Matthew 5:17. The Law stood as a wall between the Jew and Gentile. In the temple there was a literal wall that blocked Gentiles from proceeding any further while Jews could enter the inner court.

The term "abolish" is a favorite of Paul’s (cf. Romans 3:31; Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:14). It literally means "to make null and void" or "to bring to no effect." It is an aorist active participle. Jesus has totally eliminated the death sentence of the OT Law (cf. Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:13).

This does not mean to imply that the OT is not inspired and important revelation for the NT believer (cf. Matthew 5:17-19). It does mean that the Law is not the means of salvation (cf. Acts 15; Romans 4; Galatians 3; Hebrews).

in his flesh -- [NIV; NKJV; etc.) -- This refutes the Gnostic doctrine that Christ did not come in the flesh, but was only spirit.

This emphasizes Jesus’ humanity (cf. Colossians 1:22) as well as His Incarnational ministry (cf. Ephesians 4:8-10). The Gnostic false teachers would have denied both because of their ontological dualism between spirit, which they saw as good, and matter, which they saw as evil.

the enmity -- Between the Jew and the Gentile. Tyndale renders this, “the cause of hatred, that is to say, the law of commandments contained in the law written.” This is expressive of the true sense. The idea is, that the ceremonial law of the Jews, on which they so much prided themselves, was the cause of the hostility existing between them. -BN

commandments and ordinances -- "The commandments in decrees” are, doubtless, in part, the “touch not, taste not,” of ceremonial restrictions; but not these only. They are the whole system of positive edict, moral as well as ceremonial. -CBSC

to create in Himself one new man -- Theme of the book of Ephesians.This Greek term means "new" in kind, not time. The people of God are not Jews, not Gentiles, but Christians! The Church is a new entity, in and through and for Christ (cf. Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 2:10).

The phrase “new man” occurs only here and Ephesians 4:24, (where see note.) Here the great organism of the saints, Jew and Gentile, is viewed as, so to speak, one Person; a view closely akin to that of the “One Body” of Christ; 1 Corinthians 12:13.

making [establishing] peace -- This is a favorite term for Paul. It is used eleven times in Romans and seven times in Ephesians (cf. Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:17; Ephesians 4:3; Ephesians 6:15; Ephesians 6:23). He uses it to speak 1) of peace between God and mankind, Colossians 1:20; 2) of peace between peoples, Ephesians 2:11 to Ephesians 3:13.

This is a present passive participle, and Christ continues to make peace for those who will respond by faith and obedience to God’s will; this peace is not automatic (aorist subjunctive of Philippians 2:16) but it is available to all (cf. Romans 5:12-21).

Verse 16

Ephesians 2:16

might reconcile -- They who are reconciled to God will be at peace with each other. They will feel that they are of the same family, and are all brethren. (On the subject of reconciliation, see the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:18.)

us both -- As Jews and Gentiles are brought to God through Christ Jesus, they are brought together with each other. This was accomplished by the cross. FSB

in one body -- the church; see the notes at Ephesians 1:23. The reuniting of Jews and Gentiles through Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:7) is one beautiful example of God’s unifying work in our world.

by the cross - By the atonement which Christ made on the cross; see Colossians 1:20; compare the notes at Romans 3:25. It is by the atonement only that men ever become reconciled to God. The Jewish leaders meant Christ’s cross to be a curse (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23). God used it as a means of redemption (cf. Isaiah 53).

having slain the enmity [killing the hostility] -- Not only the enmity, or hostility, between Jews and Gentiles, but the enmity between the sinner and God. He has by that death removed all the obstacles to reconciliation on the part of God and on the part of man.

The English translations show that this phrase can be understood in two ways. This is because the singular pronoun can be a dative masculine (TEV, NJB) or dative neuter (NASB, NRSV). In context either is possible. The emphasis of the larger context is on Christ’s finished redemptive work. - Utley

Verse 17

Ephesians 2:17

preached -- The Greek word for “preached” literaly means “to bring or announce good news,” and in the NT is almost always used of proclaiming the good news that sinners can be reconciled to God by the salvation which is through Jesus Christ. - MSB

preached peace -- far off ... near -- This is an allusion to Isaiah 57:19 or possibly Isaiah 52:7. Paul, by typological exegesis, applied OT texts to exiled Jews to Gentiles. Even the rabbis, going back to Isaiah 56:6, used this phrase to refer to Gentile proselytes. - Utley

And came and preached peace -- The good news Christ brought was intended to produce peace with God. This he preached personally to those who “were nigh,” that is, the Jews; to those who were “afar off “ - the Gentiles - he preached it by his apostles. He was the author of the system which proclaimed salvation to both. The word “peace” here refers to reconciliation with God.

to you which were afar off, -- see the notes at Ephesians 2:13; compare Acts 2:39.

Verse 18

Ephesians 2:18

In this verse we see Christ, the one Spirit, and the Father.

access -- approach. Both Jew and Gentile came in thru the same door into Christ.

we both have access -- "This is a present active indicative meaning "we continue to have access." Both Jews and Gentiles; see the notes at Romans 5:2. We are permitted to approach God through him, or in his name. The Greek word here - προσαγωγή prosagōgē - relates properly to the introduction to, or audience which we are permitted to have with a prince or other person of high rank. This must be effected through an officer of court to whom the duty is entrusted.

This is the concept of Jesus personally bringing believers into the presence of God and giving them a personal introduction (cf. Romans 5:2; it is also used in the sense of confidence in Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:35).

one Spirit -- The same Spirit pointed them to the same door. This is also emphasized in Ephesians 4:4. The false teachers were causing disunity, but the Spirit brings unity.

unto the Father -- We are permitted to come and address God as our Father; see the Romans 8:15.

Verse 19

Ephesians 2:19

no longer strangers -- The Gentiles who were estranged (Ephesians 2:11-12) are now fully included. This is clearly stated by the use of four common biblical metaphors.

1. fellow citizens (city)

2. saints (holy nation set apart for God)

3. God’s household (family members)

4. a spiritual building (temple, Ephesians 2:20-22)

fellow citizzens -- Belonging to the same community with the people of God. Galatians 4:26; Philippians 3:20 (Greek); Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 3:12, &c

saints -- “Not angels, nor Jews, but called to be holy saints of God, members of the spiritual body of Christ” See Ephesians 1:1.

household -- Of the same family. Entitled to the same privileges, and regarded by him as his children; see Ephesians 3:15.

Ephesians 2:19 -- household of God NCV God’s family

Galatians 6:10 -- household of faith NIV family of believers

1 Timothy 3:15 -- house of God NCV family of God

Hebrews 10:21 -- house of God NCV God’s house

1 Peter 4:17 -- house of God NIV family of God

Consider also Ephesians 3:15

Verse 20

Ephesians 2:20

built -- Better, Having been built; once built (aorist), by your Redeemer. The metaphor here boldly changes, from the inmates of city and house, to the structure. Possibly the element “house” in “household” suggested this. - CBSC

the foundation of the apostles and prophets -- Jesus laid the foundation of the gospel (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11). Jesus is the new temple (cf. John 2:19-22). The OT prophesied the coming Kingdom of God, Jesus’ Spirit-led life, death, and resurrection accomplished it, and the Apostles preached its reality. The only question is, to whom does the term "prophets" refer? Are they OT prophets or NT prophets (cf. Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:1)? The order of the terms implies NT prophets (cf. Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 4:11), but the OT Messianic allusion to the "cornerstone" implies OT prophecy. - Utley

The comparison of the church with a building, is common in the Scriptures: compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 3:9-10. The comparison was probably taken from the temple, and as that was an edifice of great beauty, expense, and sacredness, it was natural to compare the church with it. Besides, the temple was the sacred place where God dwelt on the earth; and as the church was the place where he delighted now to abide, it became natural to speak of his church as the temple, or the residence of God. - BN

apostles and prophets -- Refers to the early leaders of the Church who imparted God’s message to the people. The apostles include the twelve apostles who knew Jesus during His earthly ministry (with Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot; see Acts 1:15-26) as well as Paul, and perhaps others (see Acts 14:14). The prophets were other influential leaders who were outside of the circle of apostles but who were teachers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (compare Acts 13:1; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11)

Christ Jesus himself being -- It is possible to render “the chief corner stone of it (the foundation) being Christ Jesus;” but far less probable. The “Himself” is almost demanded by the separation and contrast of the supreme position of the Lord.

the cornerstone -- This is an OT Messianic metaphor (cf. Isaiah 28:16; Psalms 118:22; 1 Peter 2:4-8). In the OT God’s stability, strength and perseverance are often visualized in "Rock" as a title (cf. Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:18; Deuteronomy 32:30; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 18:31; Psalms 18:46; Psalms 28:1; Psalms 31:3; Psalms 42:9; Psalms 71:3; Psalms 78:15).

The metaphor of Jesus as a stone.

1. a rejected stone - Psalms 118:22

2. a building stone - Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16

3. a stone to stumble over - Isaiah 8:14-15

4. an overcoming and conquering stone (kingdom) - Daniel 2:45

5. Jesus used these passages to describe Himself (cf. Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17)

He was the key construction item who was ignored in OT ritualism and legalism (cf. Isaiah 8:14). - Utley

Verse 21

Ephesians 2:21

the whole structure [ESV] -- all the building] R. V., “each several building;” as if the great Temple were viewed for the moment in its multiplicity of porches, courts, and towers; each connected with the great bond of the substructure, in and on which the whole architecture was rising.—An interesting grammatical question arises over the reading here and this rendering, and will occur again Ephesians 3:15: - CBSC

The concept of the church as a temple is expressed in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

being joined together -- fitly framed together; One word, a present participle, in the Greek. The same occurs below, Ephesians 4:16 (“fitly joined together”), and nowhere else in N. T. The idea is not of a completed but of a progressive work, a “framing together” of the structure ever more closely and firmly.

The verbs in Ephesians 2:21-22 have the compound syn which means "joint participation with." They are both present passive. God is continuing to build/add to His church.

The Point: Both Jewish and Gentile believers are being "joined together" into this one organism labeled "a holy temple."

grows -- with the perpetual addition of new “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) and the resulting new connexions. - CBSC

* See Utley here for a Greek MSS problem connected with the phrase "the whole building."

into -- The phrase, “unto,” “into,” suggests (like that in the next verse) a sanctuary not yet complete and ready for the Presence. - CBSC

holy temple in the Lord -- an holy sanctuary. See 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; The word for temple (naos) always refers to the sanctuary within the physical structure in Jerusalem, not to the entire temple area with its open courts (hieron).

Verse 22

Ephesians 2:22

In whom [him] -- In Christ, or on Christ, as the solid and precious foundation.

you also -- Paul reminds them of the joyful fact that they are examples of the truth that "the Gentiles are fellow-heirs."

are being built -- A present tense in the Greek; are building, being builded. It is a process; carried on to new acquisition of more souls, and new and deeper "framing togher" with those already redeemed.

a dwelling place for God -- For a habitation; The word rendered "habitation" (elsewhere only Revelation 18:2) means by its form, emphatically a permanent abode. The idea of the church (the people) being the dwelling place of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/ephesians-2.html. 2021.
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