Main point summary
We are saved by grace: although we were dead, enslaved and destined for wrath, God, in Christ, made us alive, enthroned us and destined us for an eternity of infinite grace.
j And you were k dead in the trespasses and sins
l in which you once walked,
following the course of this world,
following m the prince of the power of the air,
[the prince of] the spirit that is now at work in n the sons of disobedience —
among whom we all once lived in o the passions of our flesh,
carrying out the desires of the flesh [body] 1 and the mind,
and p were by nature q children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 2
But 1 God, being r rich in mercy,
s because of the great love with which he loved us,
even t when we were dead in our trespasses,
u made us alive together with Christ—
v by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him
and w seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages
he might show the immeasurable x riches of his grace in y kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For z by grace you have been saved a through faith.
And this is b not your own doing;
c it is the gift of God,
d not a result of works,
e so that no one may boast.
For f we are his workmanship,
g created in Christ Jesus
h for good works,
i which God prepared beforehand,
j that we should walk in them.
Trespass = crossing a threshold/deviating from a path Sins = falling short of a mark Together they include both active and passive wrongdoing —commission and omission
Gk. Being dead...
'Once' is critical - it is past. Do we still follow the world, the flesh and the devil?
Apart from Christ: 1. mankind is dead to God —insensitive to him just as a corpse is. And it is walking in sin that is deadness vivified and personified.
This following is the same idea as 'according to'. We walked according to: the world the devil the flesh This walking is a walk of slavery. This idea of enslavement is seen more clearly in the vivid contrast Paul makes with Eph 1:19-21 and Eph 2:6. This 'walking according to' is directly opposed to being 'seated at his right hand...above all rule and authority and power and dominion'. So if we are seated with Christ on God's throne (2:6), ruling, as opposed to 'walking according to' the world, flesh and the devil, then the latter is the opposite of ruling, i.e. slavery.
Apart from Christ: 2. mankind is enslaved to the world, the devil and the flesh
NET Study Note The ruler of the kingdom of the air is also the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience . Although several translations regard the ruler to be the same as the spirit , this is unlikely since the cases in Greek are different ( ruler is accusative and spirit is genitive). To get around this, some have suggested that the genitive for spirit is a genitive of apposition. However, the semantics of the genitive of apposition are against such an interpretation (cf. ExSyn 100).
i.e. disobedient people. It could also be referring to the sweep of mankind descended from Adam.
There is a sweep of all mankind being indicated in this verse, apart from Christ: ver 3a we all once lived among the sons of disobedience, in whom the devil is working ver 3c we were by nature, inherently destined for wrath ver 3c the rest of mankind is by nature destined for wrath So either we are in Christ or apart from Christ, the latter being described in ver 1-3
following the age of this world This age is opposed to 'the age to come' (1:21) and the 'coming ages' (2:7) inaugurated by Jesus This world is essentially society organised apart from God Together the age of this world indicates a system of values alien to God.
Following the cravings of our self-centredness as opposed to following the will of God
Inherently destined for wrath
Verses 8b and ver 9 explain and amplify what it means to be saved by grace through faith. To do this, Paul uses a chiastic arrangement that includes two negative statements with a positive statement in the middle: “this is not your own doing” (A), “it is the gift of God” (B), “not a result of works” (A'). Salvation does not originate with us; it is a gift of God.
cf. Rom. 3:27; Gal. 6:13; Phil. 3:3
The first word of the sentence is autou , ‘his’.
Both 'workmanship' (poiema) and 'created' (ktisthentes) refer to creating and forming. So far we are seen to be saved in that we are resurrected from the dead, ruling instead of being enslaved and rescued from condemnation. Each of thos changes could only be wrought by God. Paul now goes beyond that and says that Salvation is the Creator God creating us anew. Self-creation is impossible. Yet, we are not passive - we are created for doing the good works that we were created for. But then the living God is the God of resurrection. He is even more than that: he is the God of creation. Both metaphors indicate the indispensable necessity of divine grace. For resurrection is out of death, and creation is out of nothing. That is the true meaning of ‘salvation’. Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (p. 86). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Good works are indispensable to salvation—not as its ground or means, however, but as its consequence and evidence. We are not saved because of works (verses 8–9), but we are created in Christ Jesus for good works (verse 10), good works which God prepared beforehand, which he designed in a past eternity and for which he has fashioned us, so that we should continuously walk in them. Thus the paragraph ends as it began with our human ‘walk’, a Hebrew idiom for our manner of life. Formerly we walked in trespasses and sins in which the devil had trapped us; now we walk in good works which God has eternally planned for us to do. The contrast is complete. It is a contrast between two lifestyles (evil and good), and behind them two masters (the devil and God). What could possibly have effected such a change? Just this: a new creation by the grace and power of God. The key expressions of the paragraph are surely but God (verse 4) and by grace (verses 5, 8). Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (pp. 84-86). IVP. Kindle Edition.
There are several contrasts to be observed that make this passage beautiful: Saved from vs. Saved to Past vs present Dead vs Alive in Christ Slavery vs Rule in Christ Our active walking in sin vs God's active working to create us for good works By nature vs by grace Wrath vs immeasurable riches of grace in kindness Gift vs works/own doing Our works vs God's workmanship/creation All of this pivots around But God...by grace
Ephesians 2:1-4a List 3 ways in which Paul describes the human condition. If Paul says 'you were dead', how can he also say 'you...walked/lived'? In what sense were the readers dead, and in what sense were they living/walking? List the 3 things that influence our walking in deadness? Why does Paul use the word 'once' repeatedly? Eph 2:2 is translated best by the NET and NASB (the ESV translation can lead to some confusion): "in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience," (Ephesians 2:2 NET). What is the ruler/prince commonly known as? What does Paul mean by 'flesh'? To understand this term here, it might help to read Romans 7-8. What does Paul conclude about mankind's nature? What does the expression "children of wrath" mean? Describe God's wrath. How do we know that God's wrath is not opposed to God's love, based on Eph 2:1-10? Considering the default human condition described by Paul (ref. Q1 for the summary). What is man able to do, in this condition, to totally reverse his condition? Look back at Ephesians 1. What is the relationship between Ephesians 1:19-23 and Ephesians 2:1-3? (Hint: look for parallels and contrasts) Ephesians 2:4-10 With what 2 words does Eph 2:4 begin? Considering all that we have looked at in Eph 2:1-3, what is the significance of those two words? Just like Paul uses 3 ways to describe humanity apart from Christ, he uses 3 means that God did/does for those who have faith in Christ. What are they? (Hint: perhaps Q5-7 will help) What is the basis of God saving us in the passage (not the condition, but the ground)? What does us being 'alive' contrast with from Ephesians 2:1-3? What does being alive mean, here? What does our being 'seated with him' in the heavenlies contrast with from Ephesians 2:1-3? Where have we come across the language of being 'seated' before, in Ephesians? What did/does it imply? What was our destiny apart from Christ? What is our destiny now? Based on this passage, what is God's purpose in salvation? Quantify: (a) God's grace and (b) How long it will take God to demonstrate his grace in kindness toward us. What does this tell us about the quality of eternity? What role does our union with Christ play in all of this? Why does Paul keep repeating "by grace you have been saved"? What is he contrasting this with? What purpose for salvation by grace does Paul mention? How does Ephesians 2:10 relate to the previous verse? How does Paul explain "we are his workmanship"? What does it mean to be created? What is God's purpose in creating us in Christ Jesus? If God prepared our good works beforehand, what role do we play, according to the text? What does our not doing good works indicate? Where have we come across the word 'walk' before. What is Paul trying to do and say through this? What is the main point of Ephesians 2:4-10, based on the context?
FROM DEATH TO LIFE IN CHRIST! (2:1-10) Saved from: Man, by nature (outside Christ) (2:1-3) 2:1 Paul, keeping the last point of his prayer for the Ephesians in mind — that they might know God's immeasurable life-giving power toward them, explains why that power is so crucial with 3 reasons — because (1) they were dead in their trespasses and sins 2:2-3a Being dead was the first indictment. The second is that they (2) walked in these trespasses and sins described as: a. following the course/age of the world b. following the ruler of the kingdom of the air —the ruler of the spirit now at work in those that are disobedient —i.e. the devil c. this walking is also seen as 'living among' the disobedient by following the cravings of the flesh (in Paul's writings, usually sinful nature) If walking is opposed to the idea of being seated (cf. 1:19-21, 2:6), then this following of the world, devil and the flesh is them being enslaved 2:3b The final nail in their coffin of life apart from Christ is that they (3) were inherently children of wrath, just like the rest of mankind (cf. Rom 5:12-14) —i.e. they (in Adam) were deserving and destined for wrath. In other words, they were condemned Outside Christ man is dead because of trespasses and sins, enslaved by the world, the flesh and the devil, and condemned under the wrath of God...A radical disease requires a radical remedy. Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (p. 79). IVP. 1. How does the radical view of man's depravity change the way I look at myself and others? 2. Does this view lead to a radical shift toward evangelism? Saved to: Man, by grace (in Christ) (2:4-10) 2:4 The radical remedy is God. Although the readers (and by extension, we) were dead, enslaved and condemned, God showed mercy, grounded in his love for them to save them by grace (ver 5,8) 2:5 Although we were dead in our trespasses and sins, (1) God made us alive with Christ , which Paul explicitly mentions as us being saved by grace. 2:6 Although we were enslaved to the world, the flesh and the devil, (2) in Christ, God raised us up and seated us with Christ in the heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (1:21). We are no longer enslaved, but ruling over all authority and power and dominion in Christ. 2:7 And while we were by nature, destined for wrath —condemned, Paul explains God's purposes and our destiny in salvation: (3) in Christ, God displays and we enjoy his infinite grace in kindness toward us, progressively now and forevermore. 2:8-9 Paul then explains that all of this is a gift of God —salvation by grace, accessible by means of faith— as opposed to 'works' that deserve wages. One cannot radically move from death to life, slavery to reign and wrath to glory apart from God. Therefore there is no room for self-exaltation 2:10 To explain that salvation is not of works, but by grace, Paul then points that salvation involves us becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus —a masterpiece of God, the Creator, made with a specific purpose —that we should actively walk in the good works (as opposed to ver 2) that God prepared beforehand. 1. What can change in my life, knowing that in Christ, I am no longer enslaved, but I reign over the world, flesh and the devil? 2. If God's purposes for me are glory and good works, what in my living reflects that? Are my purposes aligned with God's? 3. Do I tangibly see and find joy in God's grace in kindness toward me? How might I see and enjoy better? 4. Does seeing this radical transformation God wrought in my soul through Christ increase my dependence on him and his power? 5. From Ephesians 1:19-21 and this passage, if these explain the extent of God's power at work right now, can I bank on him? Can I think of moments when I should I do so? 6. In what ways do I try to merit salvation?