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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Ephesians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-10

Ephesians 2:1-10. Christians are Raised and Exalted in the Risen and Exalted Christ by God's Free Grace and Gift.—The recipients of the letter, like other people, had been (spiritually) dead by reason of the sins and trespasses in which they formerly "walked" in accordance with the course of the existing world-order, as subjects of the ruler who has power over the air and over the spirit operating in disobedient hearts (Ephesians 2:1 f.); the writer in like manner, and those for whom he speaks, had all lived formerly in the lusts of their flesh, following the impulses of the flesh and of the mind, and were in themselves as much the objects of Divine wrath as other people (Ephesians 2:3); the wealth, however, of the Divine mercy and the greatness of the Divine love had brought them to life with the bringing to life of Christ, dead though they were in sins ("and your salvation is of God's free grace"), had raised them with His resurrection, and had seated them with His session in the heavenly sphere in Him (Ephesians 2:4-6), a manifestation to all future ages of the extraordinary wealth of His kindness and goodness towards them (Ephesians 2:7). Salvation, it must be repeated, is wholly the outcome of God's free kindness; though requiring the response of human faith it is not of human initiation; the gift is from God; human merit does not enter into it; and therefore human boasting is excluded (Ephesians 2:8 f.). Christians are the handiwork of God, products of a creative act in Christ Jesus; "good works" are indeed involved, but it is as the purposed end of this creative act, the prepared course marked out for Christians to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Ephesians 2:2. The ruler of the evil powers that dwell in the air is ruler also of the spirit that energizes in the wicked. It was the common belief of late Judaism that the air was full of evil spirits; and Christians living in the corrupt cities of Asia Minor (Revelation 2 f.) were exposed to a veritable "atmosphere of evil," which such language aptly personifies.

Ephesians 2:3. by nature: i.e. in ourselves, in our natural condition, apart from the Divine grace.—children of wrath: objects of the Divine displeasure. The phrase is a Hebraism—cf. Zechariah 4:14, "sons of oil" (= "anointed personages"), and Ephesians 2:2, "sons of disobedience" (= "disobedient persons")—and has no direct bearing upon the dogma of "original sin."

Ephesians 2:5 f. The processes of death, resurrection, and ascension, through which Christ passed, are in the Christian mystically reproduced as a death to sin, a resurrection to new life, and a participation in the heavenly life of Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-10. The summing up of former controversies about "faith" and "works." "The Divine purpose is not achieved apart from the ‘good works' of men: only it does not begin from them, but leads to them" (Robinson).


Verses 11-22

Ephesians 2:11-22. The Gentile is now One with the Jew in God's New Man, and an Integral Part of God's Temple.—Those who, like the readers, were once Gentiles, are especially bound to remember the condition from which they were rescued (Ephesians 2:11): at that time without Messiah, they were aliens in relation to the commonwealth of God's people, foreigners in relation to the covenants of promise, lacking in that hope of the future which the Jew had always possessed, and living in ignorance of God; such had been their condition in the world (Ephesians 2:12); but now that they are in Christ Jesus, the far-off peoples are become nigh in Messiah's blood (Ephesians 2:13); it is Messiah who is the peace both of Jew and of Gentile, He who made the two things one and broke down the enmity—the dividing barrier that separated them—in His own flesh by annulling the Law with its injunctions and decrees (Ephesians 2:14 f.): so that He made peace (a) by a creative blending of the two (Jew and Gentile) in Himself into a single New Man; (b) by a reconciliation of both, in the one body thus formed, to God through the Cross whereby He slew "the enmity" (Ephesians 2:16). His coming was thus a preaching of peace both to Gentiles who were "far off" and to Jews who were "nigh" (Ephesians 2:17): for the access of both in one Spirit to the Father is through Him (Ephesians 2:18). Christian Gentiles have therefore ceased to be foreigners, alien residents in the Divine city; they are sharers in the citizenship of God's chosen people, members of the Divine household, stones built in on the apostolic and prophetic foundation in that building whose corner-stone is Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:19 f.); it is in Him that all building work upon that edifice, as it is progressively accomplished, is so morticed together as to grow into a holy shrine in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21); it is in Him that the readers also are built to form (part of) God's dwelling-place in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).

Ephesians 2:11. Gentiles in the flesh: physically Gentiles.—called: i.e. in current Jewish terminology; for those who hold (with the writer) that circumcision and uncircumcision are matters of the heart (Romans 2:28 f.), having nothing to do with the physical rite, "uncircumcision" is no more necessarily the badge of the Gentile than "circumcision" of the Jew.

Ephesians 2:12. A comma should be inserted before "in the world," which stands in emphatic contrast to what follows.

Ephesians 2:13. Cf. Isaiah 57:19.

Ephesians 2:14. Christ is the author of peace between Jew and Gentile, for in reconciling them both to God He has reconciled them to one another and thus "made the two things one thing."—the middle Wall of partition: in Herod's Temple at Jerusalem, a barrier marked the point beyond which a Gentile might not penetrate under penalty of death (Revelation 11:2*).

Ephesians 2:15. in his flesh: i.e. by His physical death.—the enmity: this expression is in apposition with "middle wall of partition," and should be connected with the words "and brake down," the phrase "law of commandments in ordinances" (i.e. the Law, which consisted of injunctions in the form of decrees) alone being governed by the participle "having abolished."—that he might create: the literal translation is "create in Himself the two unto one New Man."

Ephesians 2:16. in one body: i.e. the Church; the mystical, not the physical, body of Christ is meant.

Ephesians 2:17. Isaiah 57:19 combined with Isaiah 52:7 (LXX). The reference is either to Christ's preaching in His earthly ministry or to the gospel as proclaimed by the risen and exalted Lord. But the two need not here be distinguished; the mission of the Saviour as a whole constituted a proclamation of peace.

Ephesians 2:20. Probably "the foundation consisting of the apostles and prophets" rather than the foundation laid by them. The "prophets" are those of the Christian Church, not those of OT. The metaphor of the "corner-stone" is from Isaiah 28:16; cf. Psalms 118:22.

Ephesians 2:21. each several building: read, "all building-work that is done." The idea of a plurality of buildings does not suit the context either in thought or in language. The Temple at Jerusalem included a variety of buildings, but the word here translated "temple" properly means "shrine" and refers to the Holy of Holies.

Ephesians 2:22. The ancient shrine was not a "place of worship" but a dwelling-place of the Deity. Christians are to be "built into" a spiritual whole, in which the Divine Presence is to be enshrined here upon earth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ephesians 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ephesians-2.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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