Click here for study notes: Ephesians 2 1-10 Study Notes
Ephesians 2:1-10, Alive by Grace:
- The final two verses of Ephesians 1 introduced the church as Christ’s “body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:23). So you might expect Ephesians 2 to say more about the church.
- It does, but not right away. Before showing how the death of Christ brings the church into existence, Ephesians 2 begins by telling the story of how man can be saved by God’s grace.
- Chapter 2 is divided into two equal parts. The first half (2:1–10) focuses on the salvation of all believers. The second half of the chapter (2:11–22) reveals that the cross of Christ accomplishes not just individual salvation but also the reconciliation of communities, such as mending the breach between Jews and Gentiles.
- Interestingly, both portions begin with a strong statement of bad news, which sets up the good news of God’s work through Christ and its multifaceted consequences.
- Part one, Ephesians 2:1–10 begins with a problem: the terrible state of man separated from Christ (2:1–3). The good news is that God makes us alive with Christ (2:4–7). Then it ends with how we’re saved (8-9) and the purpose of God’s saving grace (2:10).
- Ephesians 2:1–10 tells the story of our salvation, showing:
- 1) what we are saved from, v1-3
- 2) what enables us to be saved, v4-7
- 3) how we are saved, v8-9
- 4) what purpose we are saved for, v10
- What We Are Saved From:
- Verses 1-3,
- 1) Death, “You were dead” (2:1). This is not to be taken literally, it is a dramatic metaphor for man’s existence apart from God.
– It refers to the death that first appeared in Genesis 2:17. Adams death does not comes instantly, but he begins to live apart from God in a death-saturated existence.
– Sin leads to death in various senses, meaning spiritually and physically. Our verse teaches that this death means we are cut off from the God of life because of our “transgressions and sins.”
- 2) Sins. ‘In which you used to live’ (2:2). Secondly were saved from our sins, a lifestyle we used to live in. “To live” literally translates from the Greek, which means “to walk.”
- – In Ephesians it is used again and again to describe the way of how we live. Therefore, apart from Christ, transgression and sin characterized our way of walking/living.
- 3) The Ways of the World, ‘When you followed the ways of this world’ (2:2). A synonym for ways can be “course.” The aiōn way in which we lived is dominated by demonic powers.
– Read 1 John 2:15-17. The desires of the flesh / the desires of the eyes / the pride of life (pride in possessions). Were saved from these desires.
- 4) The Ruler of this World’s power. ‘And of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient’ (2:2). Note, those outside of Christ, are influenced by the power of Satan, therefore, we’re not saved from Satan, but from his influential powers.
– This means, when we were dead because of our own sins, we were also in bondage to the spiritual power of evil (6:11–12).
– Now the rest of verse 2-3 the past, but very real, fallen nature. We lived as sons of disobedience. Did God not predestine us for adoption? He did, but outside of Christ, our inheritance is God’s wrath.
– The fact that we lived among them, means we were also caught in sin and its consequences.
– How? By “carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.” Firstly, we sin with our bodily members, we commit physical sin; against ourselves, God, and others. But sadly, there are many, like the Gnostics, who believe that sin with your body is on the outside, and therefore, does not affect you.
– Paul adds, “and the mind.” Sin also infects our thoughts. Apart from Christ, even our thinking is corrupted by sin and is in bondage to the spirit of this age. Sin in our thoughts are still as sinful as deeds with our body (Mark 7:20-23).
- And so, because of this condition; ‘we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind’ (2:3). 5) This is what we are ultimately saved from, God’s wrath!
– “Wrath” doesn’t just refer to God’s anger but also to his righteous judgment of sin (Rom 3:5–7). Thus to the Romans Paul wrote, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people” (Rom 1:18).
– As it says in Psalm 7:11, “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.” Therefore, by default, anyone outside of Christ, is in the position to rightly receive God’s righteous punishment.
- This is the bad news. Before JC, we were spiritually dead, following the corrupted spirit of this age, and all of us were once in this state, driven by the desires of our fleshly cravings and deserving God’s judgment.
- What Enables Our Salvation:
- We turn to the good news, the main verb only appears in verse. And so, to built up to that point, Paul hits us with at contrasting conjunction;
- But … God (2:4). God intervenes with our natural state! We were dead … but God! We were in bondage … but God! We were under God’s judgment … but God! Therefore, we are saved from God’s wrath, by God!
- Which leads us to the question, why does God enable our salvation?
- 1) Because God is ‘Rich in mercy’ (2:4). God saved us because he is “rich in mercy.” In the Hebrew context, God’s mercy is often associated with His care for His people.
– Notice that God is “rich” in mercy. Here’s a preview of God’s wealth, Ephesians 1:7, “the riches of God’s grace,” and 1:18, “the riches of his glorious inheritance”; “incomparable riches of his grace” (2:7), “boundless riches of Christ” (3:8), and “glorious riches” (3:16).
– God’s mercy is an outflow and an expression of His great love for us.
- 2) ‘Because of his great love for us’ (2:4). In the OT, God’s love for his people is central to his identity, Ex 34:6-7 explains it, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
– In the NT, God’s love is revealed through His Son (1 John 4:9–10). This is why we love to hear the words of John 3:16, but not the words of v18-19.
- 3) Because ‘even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ’ (2:5). Finally, we come to the main verb, “made us alive.” Dead people cannot be saved, when the doctor says; ‘I’m calling it, time of death…’ then it is over!
– The good news is that God makes us alive even though we were dead in our sin. This is only because of God’s rich mercy, therefore, ‘It is by grace you have been saved’ (2:5).
- Then 4), our salvation is enabled because God ‘raised us up with [Christ] and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:6).
– When God brought Christ back to life through his resurrection, this was not just Christ’s personal experience of defeating death and returning to life.
– Because we are in Christ, in a sense we participated with him in his resurrection. And in addition, God also “seated us with him” (2:6). This is an extra bonus.
– Since we are not physically “up there”, in what sense are we seated with Christ now? Ephesians 1:20, shows us the connection between the resurrection and the enthronement of Christ.
– In one mighty act, God “raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” So if we share in Christ’s resurrection, we also share in his enthronement as part of the same act of God.
– And the additional “in Christ Jesus”, shows that we are seated in the heavenlies now, not because we are physically present there but because Christ is there and we are in Christ.
– Which raise the final question before we move to point number 3, why are reigning with Christ?
- “So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:7).
– Earlier we identified two reasons why God saved us from death into life: love and mercy (2:4). Verse 7 offers a third reason: God saved us so that “he might show the incomparable riches of his grace.”
– This statement raises some more curious questions. To whom is God wanting to show the riches of his grace? When? And why?
- 1) God wants to show his grace to human beings.
- 2) God also intends to make known to “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” his “manifold wisdom,” his “eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:10–11).
– When will God demonstrate his grace? Verse 7 answers, “in the coming ages!” Why does God want to show the incomparable riches of his grace? By showing his grace, God enables people to respond to it.
– and the reason for this is so that God’s kindness comes to us by Jesus Christ. It might also suggest that when we are in Christ Jesus, we receive God’s kindness again and again. However we parse the nuances of the phrase, the point is clear: God’s kindness for us is in Christ.