As was previously outlined in Chapter One, we saw much in the way of doctrinal truth expounded upon by the apostle Paul. These scriptures spoke of our being born into God's family (vs. 3 "in Christ"; vs. 4 "in Him"; "accepted in the Beloved" vs. 6); as well as receiving a "predestined inheritance" (vs. 11, 14, 18).
It was stated that the Holy Spirit is "the earnest" (down payment) of our redemption and that the fullness of this redemptive plan will ultimately be realized by the LORD Himself (vs. 13, 14) and also that we as Christ's church are enabled to receive spiritual enlightenment and understanding, not through secretive, hidden knowledge and wisdom carefully guarded by esoteric societies, such as the Gnostics or through any sort of scholastic 'higher' education from the minds of mere humans but by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, the LORD Jesus and our heavenly Father (vs. 17-18).
The chapter closes with an examination of the power that we, as the body of Christ, His church possesses, in and through Him who was raised from the dead (vs. 19-23).
We now continue in Chapter Two by similarly outlining its content:
EPHESIANS.2:1-6 - God's plan provides for a spiritual resurrection from sin and the exaltation of the believer into "heavenly places".
EPHESIANS 2:7-10 - salvation is wholly of grace and not of works.
EPHESIANS 2:11-13 - this grace and the church established thereupon embraces the Gentiles who were far from God, but were "brought near by the blood of Christ".
EPHESIANS 2:14-22 - The grace of GOD removes all barriers between Jews and Gentiles and unites them into one body for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of chapter One, Paul speaks of that spiritual institution created by none other than the LORD Jesus Christ as He mentioned in:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Greek word petros used for 'Peter' meaning stone, small rock), and upon this rock (Greek word petra used here for 'rock') I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
This is a new creation, apart from the work that God began in creating the nation of Israel, which He began in GENESIS 12 with the calling of Abram. The church is a new nation and a "holy nation" as mentioned in 1 PETER 2:9.
These two, Israel and the Church, are distinct and yet the Church itself is comprised, in part of Jews, as well as Gentiles, but both lose their previous identity and become a "new man" by way of the new covenant (JER 31:31; HEB 8:8,13; and HEB 12:24): members of the ekklesia, the church, those called out of the world and in Christ Jesus. This is elaborated on later in this 2nd chapter of Ephesians.
Its important to realize that the chapter divisions as well as the verse numbers were added to the scriptures in the 13th and 14th centuries respectively, and this was done for ease of referencing. However, they are not inspired; there are times when the beginning of a new chapter does not elicit a new subject, and at such times it behooves the careful student of scripture to maintain the continuity of thought from the previous chapter.
Such is the case here: previously Paul was speaking to, and about the church, and its in this context we must examine the following verses.
We the church, not the Jewish nation of Israel, not the world at large, but the church (as discussed in Ch. 1) is in view here when Paul declares:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (emph. added):
Quickened, or "made alive" as it states in:
(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Abraham was a saint who believed God by faith, and this was then accounted to him for righteousness (ROMANS 4). It was no ritual or expression of his own self-worth, but his faith in that he simply believed God (not, "believed in God", because even the demons believe in God, and tremble - JAMES 2:19).
He believed God in that he believed the Word spoken to him by God; thus he becomes the model for all those who come to God by faith, believing in His Word: an example both to believing Israel, and to the church. In this sense (among others) he is indeed the "father of many nations". That belief was ratified when he willingly offered up his son Isaac to the LORD. This is what's meant in JAMES:
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
JOHN 5:21 states that both the Father and the Son quicken (or bring to life) those whom They will, and in vs. 24 the LORD declares that those who hear His Word and believes Him Who sent Him, has everlasting life. The word "hear" in the Greek, can mean actually "to hear", but also "to understand" and "to perceive". We use "hear" today in much the same way, any time someone explains something, and we say in response, "I hear ya!"
To perceive the Truth of God's Word can only occur when the Spirit gives understanding, and when this happens, and we receive the Truth of the gospel into our lives, it results in a life generating action by the Holy Spirit of the spiritual kind. We are quickened, spiritually resurrected and become God's children.
In JOHN 6:63 it states that its the Spirit that brings to life (quickeneth). The words that the LORD Jesus speaks to us are spirit and life. In JOHN 6:67-69 the LORD asks His disciples if they will also abandon Him (as many just did in JOHN 6:66) and Peter shines in this moment with a tremendous, heart-felt response:
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. Right on, Peter!!
In 1 COR 15:22-45 Paul speaks of this "quickening" and in 2 COR 3:6, he makes it clear that the letter alone will kill, but that in conjunction with the same Spirit that inspired the written Word, life is imparted to those who exercise faith in GOD's truth.
Just as Paul addressed redemption early on in chapter one, he likewise deals with this spiritual quickening at the start of chapter two. Both are foundational to the Christian faith, and the walk (life) of the believer.
The fact that we . . . 'were dead in trespasses and sins' reveals our utter helplessness to save ourselves or to live righteously before God. Thus redemption has been provided for us, to pay the insurmountable debt of our sin and trespasses to God the Eternal One, and the spiritual resurrection likewise has been provided so that we could live righteously before God!
In regards to our spiritual death due to sin, consider the garden of Eden, when God warned Adam,
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (emphasis mine).
Yet when Adam trespassed and sinned by eating of that forbidden fruit, he didn't keel over dead, nor did he die any time that entire day, but God specifically warned him that the DAY that you eat of it, you shall die!
In the Hebrew, its an interesting phrase: "thou shalt surely die" is translated - "dying, you shall die".
Once Adam had sinned, his spirit indeed experienced a kind of death (that very day), but of course his mind and body were still alive, and remained so for hundreds of years, but eventually his body died as well. Having experienced spiritual death, this would have led to eternal death if repentance hadn't become evident.
So when the scriptures speak of how we who are now Christians were once "dead in trespasses and sins" this refers to our heritage through Adam and the fall of man into sin.
Think of it like this: we have all seen those labyrinths of domino's standing in long processions with convoluted twists and turns. Once that first domino is knocked over, they all go down. Adam was the first man, and once he fell into sin, that began the depravity of domino 'down-falling' for the human race; none were exempted, save one: the one born of the virgin Mary, whose father was not Joseph, but God, thus Jesus Christ did not carry the Adamic (original) sin and its subsequent Adamic (sinful) nature.
In which in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;
Here we see how the church is distinguished from the world, because even the term for church, that is in the Greek, ekklesia, means "a called out assembly". Thus, we are called out of this world which we lived in, of which we were once a part, and become saints (sanctified, set apart from the world and for the LORD in special relationship and purposes) and members of the body of Christ.
We once conducted ourselves according to the prince of the power of the air, that is Satan, that spirit that works in the children of disobedience. This would be the spirit of anti-Christ, for there is no greater rebellion than that of this spirit which will one day climax in its audacity to presume to take up arms and rally an assault against God Almighty (PSALM 2:1-3)!
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Note that this verse speaks not only of the desires of the flesh (sinful tendencies) but also the desires of the mind (likewise, sinful tendencies). This demonstrates that we are in need of redemption, not only of our carnality, but also of our mental faculties which are no less committed to sin as our bodies are.
The Christian must be yielded to God in regards to our justification from sin; we must also be yielded to God in regards to our sanctification from sin. Justification is salvation from the penalty of sin, that is, hell. Sanctification is likewise salvation from the power of sin, so that sin no longer reigns (has a dominating effect) in our being, and we become more like Jesus Christ as we mature in the faith.
Conclusively we witness a further distinction between two groups of people: there are those who are the children of wrath (EPH 2:3), and also those who are accepted in the beloved, and the adoption of sons (EPH 1:5-6).
Here in these next two verses we behold the intervening hand of God, in His mercy and tender kindness, found in these two words:
"But God . . ." In these two words the hopes of mankind have sparked to new life -
See here the Divine intervention that lovingly interferes with the certainty of the utter doom and destruction of mankind. Witness the scene, which when "it came to pass" that the virgin would conceive . . . that the Son of God, the Word, arose from His palatial setting in the gloriously holy environment that is heaven, and stepped into the encapsulated domain known as space/time: our physical universe, where God became a babe, born in a manger!
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
God's resources in mercy are not paltry but magnificently, lavishly abundant. His mercies are new every morning (LAM 3:23). Christ, in His heavenly state of eternal riches beyond human imagining, let alone human reckoning, became poor for our sakes, so that we might be rich!
2 CORINTHIANS 8:9
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
In the Psalms its declared:
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
God extends His mercies towards us in accordance to the level of love, His "great love" for us, and the measure of His love is the breadth between the one nailed hand of the Savior, to the other. This He did for us, while we were rebels who would use His name as a curse, who would affront His Holiness daily with our lies, fornication (sexually and spiritually), deceits, malice, with our selfishness and coldness of heart towards the very One who created us.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Restoring us to spiritual life, by spiritual birth, which was itself enabled by the atonement of Jesus Christ, His shed blood on the cross, and so His noble, holy, pure Spirit comfortably finds a dwelling in our new hearts, freshly created by God, just as directly as He accomplished the creation in Genesis! . . . restoring this life to those of us who were spiritual dead, thoroughly corrupted with the stench and putrefaction of sin. This is grace, this is "unmerited favor" which brought us to life (quickened)!
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Note that in vs. 5 and 6 the word "together" is used three times. Such is the unity expressed in scripture in reference to the body of Christ, and testifies to the miraculous power of Christ Jesus, particularly when one considers that this body is comprised of two very divergent groups: Jews and Gentiles. This speaks of the love and peace that all true saints harbor within as a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit and results in total unity among us!
In a very real, spiritual way we are, as the church, at this very moment, seated with Jesus Christ in heavenly places or literally "in the heavenlies". We are recognized by God, who inhabits eternity (ISAIAH 57:15), as being there already, complete in Christ Jesus, and seated with Him.
Such a place would insinuate rather boldly that any who resides there has tremendous spiritual clout; we are the bride of Christ, and are adorned by His Spirit, and with His authority, both to be utilized in the nature and will of our LORD the Bridegroom Himself.
These are the birthrights of all the citizens of heaven, which we are; though we now reside on this wayward Earth, we are only pilgrims. This is not our home, but we long for our home (where we have never even been to!) and to reside as its rightful citizens, thanks be to God and His grace!
Just as our LORD stepped out of eternity and into the space/time domain of our physical reality, one day, the church will step out of this physical universe and into eternity, there to witness the indescribable joys and wonders of heaven!
In those ages to come, we will witness first hand the "exceeding riches of His grace" which He will reveal to us. I dare say, it will take nothing less than eternity for Him to reveal all of these graces and kindnesses to us, His well beloved! Words are lame and too crippled to bear up under the load of this insurmountable "weight of glory" which shall be revealed in us!
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Salvation by grace: this is what separates the Christian faith from the world's religions. Its been said, "all religions are basically the same". In the most vital aspect of each of them, I would agree.
Each religion, even 'religionized' Christianity (a perversion from its original intent) depends on the adherent gaining 'salvation (whatever that may mean to each)' by their own works. The very word "religion" comes from the Latin word meaning "to bind" and that is certainly the case. Each religion binds onto their followers such burdens of rules, regulations, rituals, and other obligations in order, through much effort and striving, to hopefully obtain that which is necessary in order to procure their desire of paradise and acceptance with 'God'.
The Christian faith stands alone in this regard. While other deities in other religions may express a gracious act, God alone in the person of the LORD Jesus Christ extends salvation, not by works, but by His grace (unmerited favor). Here we have the contrast of works vs. a gift. Salvation is not by works but freely received as a gift! A gift freely offered and of course at no charge to the recipient! The Giver, God Almighty, has paid the price with His own blood (see ACTS 20:28)!
Once in eternity, the one Name that will be glorified, worshipped, honored and extolled will be the name of THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!
NO ONE WILL BOAST or brag or exalt themselves by declaring how, by their own might, and power, and spiritual integrity and virtue obtained the glories of heaven (and all religions have as their basis, the motivation of pride in order to achieve such a celestially lofty goal). NO ONE will be able to acquire this tremendous gift by any other means!
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Note that it says that we, the saints, are His "workmanship", that is, in the Greek: poema or a work of art, particularly that of weaving. Child of God, YOU ARE A WORK OF ART, by none other than the Master Artist Himself, the LORD God!
Look at this world, at the Earth in all of its beauty (keeping in mind that we are seeing it in its fallen state!) and just stand in awesome wonder at the magnificence of God's creation! Just by way of example, check out these two clips and for the next 11 minutes, sit back and enjoy the scenic beauty of this world that God created!
That same Artist is at work in YOUR life, to create beauty from ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, as its written:
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
How great is our GOD, that He is creating in us, our character, our nature, even our personality, . . . our minds such beauty, that it rightly and accurately reflects the beauteous nature of the LORD Jesus Himself!
Such a transformational beauty is not for 'eye-candy' either! It has a useful purpose! Such a beauty and glory is to be engaged in the work, the good works of the Gospel and reaching the lost of this world, to declare the good news to all who would hear, that the LORD Jesus has come to seek out and to save that which was lost!
Someone would say, 'You see what it says? Its says that we're to do good works! So Christianity IS just like any other religion! We work for salvation!'
Certainly not. We are saved first, and then engage in good works, not the other way around. Its because we are saved, we are enabled to perform good works, otherwise, without that salvation, without the indwelling Spirit of God, all we can manufacture is 'works' or even 'dead works' (see TITUS 3:5; HEB 6:1 and HEB 9:13-14).
Just as He is the Vine and we are the branches, unless we abide in Him, we can do . . . what does it say? . . . NOTHING!
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
And lastly, in EPHESIANS 2:10 it says that we are ordained of God that we should walk in (live, partake) those works; God saved your soul and He has a plan for you! He has given you His Spirit, He has given you His Word, He has given you the Mind of Christ, He has given you various gifts to employ in the good work for His Kingdom. God will never call you to any work that He hasn't already prepared and equipped you for in the way of character development, giftings, and knowledge.
Seek the LORD; seek His face ever more! If you lack any wisdom, GOD is a generous provider of such! Inquire of Him what He would have you to do in working for the Kingdom, these good works which He has ordained, just for you!
He loves you and desires to bless you by using you for His glory and the eternal consequences of His Kingdom can be effected by your simple yielding and obedience to the Good Shepherd, the glorious and gentle, the loving and lordly, magnificent and most holy KING of Kings, and LORD of Lords: Jesus Christ, our Head and Savior!
This study will continue in God's timing where we will pick up by starting at EPHESIANS 2:11! Until then, may the LORD JESUS bless you abundantly WAY TOO MUCH!