Scriptures

Ephesians 2

Introduction

‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.’ Ephesians 2:1-3

This chapter begins by Paul reminding us of four things.
1. They were spiritually death.
2. They were subject to Satan, although this doesn’t have to be a conscious experience.
3. Bound by fleshly passions.
4. Being under condemnation.

The word transgressions in Greek is ‘paraptoma’ and it means a false step, a step aside. The word sins in Greek is the word, ‘harmatia’. There were ruled by Satan, used to live, ‘peripates’, the walking, how they behaved.

The word world is ‘kosmos’ in Greek, normally used to speak about the present sinful order, John 8:38 / John 9:39 / John 12:25 / John 12:31 / John 17:11 John 18:36.

Prince or ruler is the Greek word, ‘archon’, ruler of the world, John 14:13 / John 14:16. ‘The ruler of the kingdom of the air’ is speaking of ruling, appearing to be ruling in the heavenly realms. But God will always have the upper hand.

He will allow them to operate under His authority as long as He wants. ‘Sons of disobedience’ refer to those who are walking in the ways of the world unlike the Christian way of walking.

The Greek word, ‘Epithumia’ means a strong desire, more often in a bad sense, but it can also be used good in the good sense. Flesh is the Greek word, ‘sarx’. We used to live this, it felt good, so we did it. Our behaviour starts in our mind and we shouldn’t live our lives with sinful thoughts.

‘Orge’ is the Greek word for wrath, Ephesians 5:6 / Colossians 3:6 / 1 Thessalonians 1:10 / John 3:36. We are by nature objects of wrath describes our state before we were born new. There is no reference to a birth of to the parenthood. Some people use this verse to say that we inherit the sins from Adam, but it’s our decision what we do and if we want to be sinful and let ourselves be ruled by Satan or God.

‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.’ Ephesians 2:4-7

Here’s the difference God makes.
1. He made us alive together with Christ, Colossians 2:13.
2. He raised us up with Him. Romans 6:3-4, buried and raised up with Him.
3. He has placed us in the heavenly places and seated us with Him.
4. He will show the riches of His grace.

‘But God’ E.S.V. means He changed everything. They laid Him in a tomb, ‘but God’ did this, Acts 13:29. They did this, but God did that. All people who aren’t in Christ are in the same situation, they are in the same boat, but because we’ve obeyed the Gospel, we died like Him, were buried like Him and raised to a new life like Him, Romans 6:3-4.

The word death is ‘nekros’ in Greek, the body without the spirit is dead. Physical bodies die and rot, from dust to dust. Death is the separation of our spirit from God, we die spiritually.

God’s grace is like the sea, try to empty the sea, its impossible, Romans 2:4 / Romans 11:22 / Titus 3:4. In Christ, we have a demonstration of His kindness. The justice of God demonstrates that He has stretched His mercy to all those who seek Him by faith, Romans 9:23 / Romans 11:31-32 / Romans 15:9ff / 1 Peter 1:3 / Titus 3:3-7.

Why has he stretched His mercy out to all who seek Him? Simply because of His great love for us, John 3:16 / Romans 5:8 / Romans 8:39 / 2 Peter 3:9 / 1 John 4:9-10.

Mercy isn’t given to us because of debt, but out of love and mercy, His mercy isn’t something that we merit according to law, it’s given out of love. When we truly understand what God has done to bring us out of sin and how hopeless we were, it’s then we begin to understand how much He loves us, John 3:16.

He didn’t wait until we were kind of righteous to show us how much He loves us, He loved us even when we were still sinners, Romans 5:8. We’ve been made alive with Christ because of God’s grace, not because any of us deserve His grace or have earned it, Romans 5:6-10.

How does He make us alive together with Christ? When we simply obey the Gospel in response to God’s loving act of grace, we’re raised with Christ to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:3-6 / Colossians 2:12 / Galatians 3:26-27. It’s God who makes us alive.

We must remember grace, in and of itself doesn’t save anyone, grace opens the way up for us to be saved but we need other things, here Paul mentions faith. If I was to ask you if you repented of your sins before you became a Christian, what would you say? If you said yes, then you clearly weren’t saved by grace alone, were you? If I were to ask you if you confessed Christ as your Lord, what would you say? If you said yes, then you clearly weren’t saved by grace alone, were you?

Time and time again I hear people say that we’re not saved by our works, and I totally agree with that, Titus 3:5, but this doesn’t mean, as some suggest that all works, of every kind are excluded from the salvation process.

Now here’s a question, is faith a work? Yes, yes and yes again, John 6:29. Notice that ‘believe is a work of God,’ not man. The expression ‘work of God’ means the works required and approved by God.

Now here’s another question, is baptism a work? Yes, yes and yes again, Colossians 2:12. Notice again, that ‘believe is a work of God,’ not man. You see, baptism isn’t a work of human merit, it’s an act that has been commanded by God, Acts 10:48 / Acts 2:38. The resurrection which happens when we come up out of the waters of baptism is a work of God, not man’s, Romans 6:4

I find it interesting that people claim that baptism is some kind of work of merit, when I look at the salvation ‘process’ found within the Scriptures. I see that ‘believe’ is something a person has to do on their own because nobody else can believe for them, Mark 16:16.

I see that ‘repentance’ is something that a person has to do on their own because nobody else can repent for them, Acts 2:38. I see that ‘confessing Jesus as the Christ’ is something that a person has to do on their own because nobody else can confess for them, Romans 10:9. And yet, when it comes to ‘baptism’, this is something which has to be done for you! 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Are we saved by grace alone? Yes, yes and yes again! Are we saved by human merit? No, no and no again! Did we do anything to save ourselves? Well yes and no! Yes, because Peter said,

‘Save yourselves.’ Acts 2:41

Well how did we save ourselves? We go back to the question the Jews asked Peter,

‘Brothers what shall we do?’ Acts 2:37

In Acts 16 we find the Philippians jailer asking the same question.

‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:30

Surely the word ‘do’ implies an action, something to be done. So, we did do something to ‘save ourselves’ but at the same time we didn’t do anything to ‘save ourselves’ because Jesus did it all for us. In other words, because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, He made it possible for us to save ourselves.

That’s what grace does, grace opens the door for us to enter so that we can be saved, the question is, will we enter through that door to receive salvation?

Now if I were to tell you I had a brand-new house built for you in London, it’s my free gift to you but in order for you to own it, you must go to London. But as you make your way to London, you must to get on three trains, one bus and a taxi, or I can’t give you this gift. Now imagine you accepted my free gift and you got on three trains, one bus and a taxi to London.

Did you earn that gift? No, it was my free gift to give. Did you have to do anything to receive that gift? Yes, you had to get on three trains, one bus and a taxi to London. Would I have given you the free gift if you only used two trains, one bus and a taxi? No! Why? Because my instructions were for you to use three trains, one bus and a taxi.

We were ‘raised up’ when we were raised from the grave of baptism to reign with Christ, Romans 5:17 / Romans 6:3-6 / Colossians 2:12-13. Without a burial, there can be no resurrection. Since the arrival of Jesus, God’s expression of love to mankind through Jesus will be a continual witness of His kindness and grace, Titus 3:4.

‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Ephesians 2:8-10

Salvation can never be merited, it can never be earned, and it can never be deserved. There are those that say we’re saved through grace only, but this simply isn’t true as God demands obedience too, James 2:14-26.

In 2 Kings 5:9-14 we see that Naaman has to immerse himself seven times in the river Jordan in order to be healed of his leprosy. God promised him, when he immerses himself seven times in the Jordan, he will be healed. It had nothing to do with earning his healing, Romans 5:5-8.

There’s nothing we can do which will provide salvation. What we do enables us to receive salvation, but we don’t earn it. If you fall off the boat and almost drown and somebody throws you a rope and says take the rope and he pulls you in, you didn’t earn your be salvation. You had to believe in the rope, that it will save you. Why grab the rope if you don’t believe it could save you?

In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul reminds us of who we were and what we deserved and in Ephesians 2:4-10 Paul reminds us of everything God has done for us, He makes us alive, He raises us up, He seats us with Christ, He saves us and He has good works for us to do.

When we think about our identity, we’re not only identified as Christians, we’re also identified as ‘God’s handiwork’. The KJV uses the word, ‘workmanship’ which in Greek is the word, ‘poiema’, in other words as Christians, we are God’s poetry in motion.

Everyone Is God’s Handiwork

Think about what being God’s handiwork means! Allow those words to sink into your heart and mind! Imagine, the God who created the heavens and the earth and everything within them, also created you!

The God who created the mountains and rivers, the God who created the whales and the ants, took special care to create you! He made us with His own hands and oversaw every detail, Psalm 139:13 / Psalm 139:15.

Unlike what the evolutionists teach us, God says we’re no accident, He purposely created every one of us. He did so because He loves us and wants us to have a relationship with Him, He created us so that we will be obedient to Him, praise Him for creating us and thank Him for everything He has done and continues to do for us.

In the art world, many people call their finished work a ‘masterpiece’, they go on to sign it, so that everyone knows who the artist was. In a sense God calls us His ‘masterpiece’, and He proudly puts His signature on our lives. It’s true that you can buy certain copies of that masterpiece, but the truth is, there’s only one original.

In the same way, when God created us, He created us as originals, there’s only one of you, your absolutely unique from everyone else. We all have different personalities, we all have different abilities, we have different gifts and desires. God has constructed you to be something so useful and valuable to Him.

Only Christians Are God’s Handiwork

Although we recognise that God wonderfully created human beings, we need to remember that the text we’re dealing with is addressing Christians. Only a Christian can do the good things that He has planned for them to do, only those who’ve been renewed in Christ, can fulfil His purpose. The question is what is His purpose for Christians?

Good Works

Please remember we’ve been created not BY good works, but FOR good works, Ephesians 2:10. We’re not saved by works of merit, we’re not saved just to enjoy our salvation, we’re saved because God has work for us to do, He wants to work through us in order to achieve His purposes.

We don’t work for our salvation, we work because of our salvation, 1 Corinthians 15:10, motivated along out of thankfulness for God’s grace, 2 Corinthians 4:15. Doing good works are every important to God, they not only reflect what’s in our hearts but it’s also the basis for which a Christian will be judged on the Day of Judgment, Matthew 7:20-23 / Matthew 25:31-36 / 2 Corinthians 5:10 / Titus 2:14.

The Good Works God Has Prepared In Advance For Us

As Christians we have been created anew in Christ through our obedience to the Gospel, Romans 6:4-5. We recognise that we owe all that we are to God who gives us a reason for transforming our thinking and lives, Romans 12:1-2. It’s by God’s grace and through faith in Christ Jesus that we want to live our lives in accordance with God’s will, Romans 3:31.

God prepared in advance that those who are saved should be addicted to good works. Remember we were created not only with skill but for His purpose. Good works don’t give us salvation, but they are the result of our salvation.

Notice that God prepared these good works for us to do, way in advance, He’s already planned what He wants us to do with our lives.

What Are Those Good Works?

The good works are all those things we practice and do as Christians, this would be things like regularly attending worship, praying regularly, studying His Word, giving of our money, material goods or time. It would also include things like mission work, outreach, taking care of the needy in our society, the orphans, widows, homeless and oppressed, loving our neighbour, etc.

But there’s more to it than those good works listed above, the original text literally says this,

‘which God prepared in advance, so that we might walk in them.’

Paul is saying that Christians must walk and live a lifestyle which reflects Whose handiwork we are. The good works involve the whole of the Christian, all that we do by God’s grace for God’s purposes, Romans 12:1 / Colossians 3:17. It’s important to get involved in all the good works I mentioned earlier but Paul is indicating that our good works must also be reflected in our workplace, our classrooms, our homes, our hobbies and interests, etc.

What a wonderful thought it is to remind ourselves that we are indeed God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus. The next time you feel down or discouraged just remember who you are and Who your Creator is. You are indeed God’s handiwork, created uniquely and purposely for doing all those good deeds He prepared for you long before you were born or even born again, John 9:4.

‘Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.’ Ephesians 2:11-12

Paul encourages them to remember, which points back to their old life. They were formerly far off, spiritually they are now one new man, no longer Jew or Gentile. Some Jews thought that Gentiles were just fuel for hell, Acts 10:28, / John 18:28.

The Jews had to be circumcised by law, Genesis 17:9-11, but Jesus demands a different kind of circumcision, circumcision which is from the heart, Romans 2:25-29 / 1 Corinthians 7:19 / Galatians 5:6 / Galatians 6:15.

They were foreigners, they had nothing to do with the covenant, they were outside the covenant and the promises of God and they had no hope.

‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.’ Ephesians 2:13

Near to what?

To that which we were separated. We now have hope and the promises apply to us, but we’re still not Jewish. The good news was first preached to the Jews, Romans 1:16, everything in the preparations for the Gospel to come was Jewish. Our spiritual roots go back to Israel. We are also children of Abraham because we are his seed we would be blessed, Genesis 12:1-3. If you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s offspring.

All this is possible because of the blood of Christ, Matthew 26:28 / Romans 5:9 / 1 Peter 1:18-19 / Revelation 1:15. There are no longer any differences, He made the two into one man. He didn’t make Jews into Gentiles or Gentiles into Jews, He made one new creature.

The word new is ‘kainos’ or ‘neos’ of which implies something which has recently come into existence. ‘Neos’ is used for just new, something which formerly existed and ‘kainos’ is used for something new in terms of something which never existing before.

‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:14-18

Destroying the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility refers to the stone partition within the temple. It was a stone wall which divided the court of the Gentiles with the other courts of the Temple. It had inscriptions written on it which forbade forbidding foreigners to pass. The Gentiles weren’t allowed to pass this wall.

Jesus brought Gentiles in the temple, Acts 21:27-29 and Paul was preaching everywhere to everyone. He abolished the law, commandments and regulations and as a result we aren’t bound by the Mosaic law. This doesn’t mean that God is no longer concerned about these laws, because all the important things are repeated later by Jesus and are still binding within the New Testament.

Now we live under Christ authority and law, Romans 7:12 / Matthew 5:17-20 / Romans 3:31. The barrier divided the Jews from the Gentiles, now this has gone, now there is no division anymore. We no longer have to become Jews to be reconciled with God and the Jews, we now find our unity in Christ.

We are now one man and the enmity are put to death, we are now in one body, Christ’s body. He came and preached peace to you were far away and peace to those who were near. As Jesus lived on earth, He preached peace, and we also preach now to people and Christ speaks now through us to others.

The word access is ‘prosagoge’. We can’t just go and visit the queen and expect to have a meeting with her, we first need an invitation to go to the Queen, in Christ we now have an invitation to meet and speak with God in Christ, Hebrews 4:14-16.

‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

We are no longer strangers, ‘xenoi’ but members of God’s household. The Gentiles were no longer afar off, Ephesians 2:12-13, they are now fellow citizens with God’s people, the church, Galatians 6:10 / 1 Timothy 3:15 / Hebrews 3:6 / 1 Peter 4:17, they are joint members of the body of Christ.

The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets because of the work of inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Through inspiration of the apostles, all truth was revealed, Ephesians 3:1-5 / John 14:25-26 / John 16:13 / 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 / Revelation 21:14. It was through the inspired teaching of the prophets, the truth was taught to all the churches.

When people constructed buildings in the past the first thing which was laid was the cornerstone and it was from that stone that everything else was measured and aligned. In the church today Christ is that cornerstone, we focus on Him and align our lives with His words, Psalm 118:22 / Matthew 21:42 / Mark 12:10 / Luke 20:17 / Romans 9:33 / 1 Peter 2:6.

The whole church is continually being fitted together according to the spiritual measurements that come from Jesus, John 15:1-9 / 1 Peter 2:5. We are being continuously being built up in the Spirit to be homes of God. The apostles and prophets revealed and preached the truth but the foundation upon which the church stands is Jesus, without Christ there can be no Christianity. It’s in Him that the members grow into the holy temple.

The word temple, ‘naos’, speaks about the inner sanctuary, the whole temple. We are a dwelling place for God, we are a holy temple in which God resides, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

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DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me"

2 Corinthians 12:9

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