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The Condition of the Lost
At the close of chapter 1, Paul told at least three ways God's power could be seen in Jesus. Through the same power he has made alive those who were spiritually dead, or separated from God, in trespasses and sins ( Isa_59:1-2 ). That making alive is accomplished through the gospel by our being buried with Christ by baptism and raised up to walk in a new life ( Rom_1:16 ; Rom_6:3-4 ). All those who have been regenerated once lived as the worldly do, controlled by the devil, who is the ruler over all the evil forces that surround the earth like a dark mist. Satan works his evil through those who allow worldly thinking to control them (2:1-2; compare 2Co_4:4 ; Joh_14:30 ; Joh_16:11 ).
Prior to yielding to Christ, all men lived according to their fleshly desires and thoughts. Wicked ways were followed until they became second nature. Such living for self makes one a child of the devil, because he takes on his characteristics, and calls for God's wrath ( Rom_3:10 ; Rom_3:23 ; Rom_6:23 ; Rom_1:18-32 ). Sinful man, then, faces inevitable destruction if his position is not altered (2:3).
In Christ Jesus
Just as God's justice and righteousness called for wrath upon sinful man, his abundant mercy flowing out of his multi-faceted love caused him to make provision for lost mankind. He made that provision while Jew and Gentile were dead in sin, or spiritually separated from God. Those made alive through baptism have had God's unmerited favor bestowed upon them and been saved through one action which was completed in the watery grave (2:4-5). Scripturally speaking, salvation can be in the future, based upon one's obedience to the Lord's will; in the present because of an act recently completed; or in heaven, the final home of the redeemed ( Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:47 ; 1Th_5:8-10 ; Heb_9:28 ). Thus, one can be spoken of as being a part of those who have been saved from their past sins yet still needing to act in a manner necessary to their ultimate salvation in heaven ( 1Co_5:1-5 ; Act_8:18-24 ).
Everyone who has been buried with Christ and come up out of the waters of baptism has been raised from spiritual death ( Colossians 1:1213 ). Remember, the church is God's heavenly kingdom on earth ( Eph_1:3 ). When one is raised from the waters of baptism, he is placed in Christ Jesus, or in heavenly places, which is the church. God's ultimate design for those "in Christ Jesus" is to show them clearly the great wealth of his grace in heaven. The "ages to come" appear to this writer to refer to the eons we will spend in heaven. Throughout that unending span of time we will be constantly reminded of God's great unmerited favor for us by the joys which will surround us (2:6-7).
Saved By Grace
Notice salvation is not by grace, nor faith alone. There is no way man could earn his salvation, so it is said here to be by the unmerited favor of God. God's grace is extended to all men who will accept that which is offered ( Tit_2:11 ; 2Pe_3:9 ; Rev_22:17 ). Man's acceptance comes through faith. Coffman suggests this actually may be "the faith". Since "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," we conclude that faith is God's gift to man whether it is the sum of all that is believed or it is the response to what God has said ( Rom_10:17 ).
Therefore, it is not by works of merit that we are saved and we have no reason for a feeling of personal accomplishment in our salvation. Our salvation was procured by the death of God's Son on Calvary and we must do God's will to receive it. God outlined the works we are to perform to receive his great gift. Clearly, we do not act so as to save ourselves but to satisfy the Father's requirements (2:8-9).
It is through God's working that we become Christians. We are made new creatures in Christ to perform the good works he has designed for us to do. He prepared works for Christians to do even before the first Christian was created in Christ. If we want to be what God intended for us to be, we must do his bidding. ( Ecc_12:13-14 ). A living faith is a faith that works (2:10; Gal_5:6 ; Jam_2:17-18 ).
The Gentiles' Condition Without Christ
Anyone who has been converted as an adult, especially if he lived a very wicked life, would do well from time to time to think back to the life he led prior to becoming a Christian. Such will give great cause for thankfulness for all God has done for us. The Gentiles of Ephesus naturally did not bear the physical mark of the covenant made with the Jews. Because of this, they were called the uncircumcision by those who bore the physical mark. Of course, the cutting away of the physical flesh was accomplished with human hands (2:11).
A thought provoking description of the Gentiles' condition prior to Christ's coming is presented in 2:12. As Paul has already shown, all spiritual blessings are in Christ ( Eph_1:3 ), so to be separated from him is to live in spiritual deprivation. In the commonwealth of Israel, God was the ruler and the Jews were his subjects. Certain privileges were theirs as God's people.
An alien is a stranger or foreigner who has no right to the privileges of citizenship. God made great promises to Abraham of which the Gentiles did not know, much less enjoy ( Gen_12:13 ). How sad to face this life's suffering, pain, sorrow, sickness and eventual death with nothing more to look forward to, yet such was the state of the Gentiles outside of Christ. The world, of course, cannot exist without God ( Col_1:16-17 ). However, it can so spurn him as to be without all the rich blessings he provides (2:12).
Made Nigh By the Blood of Christ
Like stepping into the light of midday from a room with no windows, the Gentiles who obeyed the gospel drew nigh to God. This also brought near all the blessings they once so greatly lacked. This could only be accomplished through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ (2:13; Heb_9:22 ; 1Pe_1:18-19 ).
Christ made peace between man and the God against whom he had rebelled. This was accomplished through the blood of Christ that cleansed man from sin and allowed him once more to draw nigh to God. Thereby, peace was also achieved between man (Jew) and man (Gentile). The wall that once stood between them was circumcision and the ordinances for which it stood. They were taken out of the way in Christ's death on the cross (2:14; Col_2:8-15 ; Heb_9:14-17 ).
Unity In Christ
Jesus became a man so that the law of Moses with all its commands and ordinances could be put out of the way. This was done by causing it to cease being a law in force. Thus, where there had been two bodies of people, Jew and Gentile, there would now be only one. The two were able to be at peace (2:15).
Man's sin stood between him and God, actually making him an enemy of the Father ( Isa_59:1-2 ). Jesus came to make an offering for sin so that Jew and Gentile would have a way to again be friends with God, or reconciled ( 2Co_5:19 ). This reconciliation takes place in the one body, which Paul has already identified as the church, by Christ's death and blood shed on the cross ( Act_20:28 ). Christ's resurrection was the means of destroying the reason for man's being an enemy, sin, and ridding him of its consequences, death (2:16; 1Co_15:55-57 ).
Peace Proclaimed By Christ
Christ proclaimed his fervent desire for peace in his death on the cross. Then, he sent the apostles into all the world with the message of peace ( Luk_24:45-48 ). Just as the Holy Spirit was to speak the message he heard instead of words of his own, so the apostles proclaimed the message of Christ ( Joh_16:13 ; 1Co_2:15 ). We might well say Jesus preached the message of peace through the apostles (2:17; Hebrews 2:34 .)
Our means of approach, or access, to the Father is through the Son. The Holy Spirit directs us in that approach through the words of the Bible. The same approach is open to Jew and Gentile, which shows there is no more division (2:18; Act_10:34-35 ; Act_15:7-9 ; Gal_3:28-29 ; Rom_1:14-17 ).
Foreigners who are just passing through do not have the same privileges as citizens. This was especially true during Rome's dominance of the world. Paul says in Christ Jew and Gentile are fellow citizens. All of the sanctified therefore enjoy the attendant blessings of citizenship in heaven's kingdom, the church. The church is also here called God's family, which brings forth a number of beautiful images of loving relationships (2:19).
The church is a building with individual Christians laid as its stones on the foundation of Christ ( 1Pe_2:5 ). The apostles and prophets of the first century were the ones who proclaimed Jesus as the foundation ( 1Co_3:11 ; Mat_16:13-20 ). There are two different thoughts on the cornerstone. Lipscomb describes it as a massive stone off of which two lines of the building are formed. It being perfectly square would be imperative to a well-formed structure. However, others believed it to refer to the stone which holds together the roof or a supporting arch. In any case, this stone is a key part of the structure without which the building could not take form. Such a stone perfectly represents Christ (2:20).
Christians must be united to form a dwelling place for God. Also, they must be united "in the Lord" to be acceptable for God to inhabit. In Christ, Christians are built together to form a suitable dwelling place for God. Evidently, God occupies this dwelling in the form of the Holy Spirit. Knowing we are God's dwelling place should make us very careful to have proper associations and keep ourselves free from sin's defilement (2:21-22; 2Co_6:14-18 ; 2Co_7:1 ; 1Co_6:19-20 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14