Click here for study notes: Ephesians 2 1-10 Study Notes 2
Ephesians 2:1-10, Alive by Grace:
- How We Are Saved:
- For it is by grace you have been saved (2:8). The Greek word for “grace” is charis, which has a range of meaning including: “graciousness, charm, favor, goodwill.”
– A better understanding of this word is “favor.” It means the stronger coming to the help of the weaker. Therefore, we are saved by grace because we cannot help ourselves. Only God has the ability to save us, because salvation does not depend on our worthiness or effort.
– Grace is God’s unmerited favor, his undeserved kindness. In addition, this grace doesn’t leave us untouched: it leads to new creation, new community, and a whole new way of living as we’ll see in verse 10.
– How can we know for sure you have no say in salvation? The verb “you have been saved” is a perfect passive participle. It tells us that something has happened in the past that has a continuing effect in the present.
– We know that salvation can be past, present, or future in reference. Such as justification – sanctification – glorification. But the use of the perfect tense combines these senses. Meaning, God has done all of this work, therefore when Paul says “you have been saved” it reveals that our salvation is not something we do for ourselves but rather is something given to us. But it is not just grace… it is:
- Through faith (2:8). Verse 8 adds “through faith.” It would seem obvious that this faith refers to our faith. So traditionally, it has understood as referring to our faith through which we accept the gift of salvation.
– However, the Greek word pistis, translated here as “faith,” can also mean “faithfulness.” It can mean “through the faithfulness [of God].” And would be consistent with the overall story of Ephesians.
– But we need to approach this verse both ways. We are saved by the faithfulness of God. pistis also translates as “trust”: therefore we are saved by grace when we put our trust in God to save us in Christ. Why interpret it both ways, Paul continues…
- And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (2:8). The gift of God is being saved by God’s grace received in faith. Not anything on your part. Paul turns this into a double negative in verse 9!
- Not by works, so that no one can boast (2:9). In Ephesians, Paul is talking to Gentiles and not Jews. When Paul speaks to the Jews, he refers to works of “the [Jewish] law.”
– But Greco-Roman world was filled with religions that required certain things to be done in order to receive blessings from the gods. The belief was that the god would in response to the human effort, grant your desire.
– Paul says our works will not save us. Our hope is based on God’s gracious work in Jesus Christ. This is why there is no way of self-boasting, but rather praise!
- The Purpose We’re Saved For:
- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus (2:10). This is probably one of the most over looked verses, but it explains the purpose of our salvation.
– Salvation is not only deliverance from death into life. It also involves being newly created in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.”
– The word translated as “handiwork” means “something made by someone,” a “work” of someone’s hands. The ESV translates “workmanship.” The NRSV has “we are what he has made us.” The purpose of salvation is to make us how God intends us to be! But it is a creation is Jesus.
- Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (2:10). First we are told that works do not save! Now we are made aware that the works come after salvation.
– This is because our salvation should lead us to a life of good works, works God has prepared “for us to do.”
– The Greek reads, “in order that we might walk in them,” which indicates a new way of living! Therefore, the purpose of salvation is more than saving us from a life apart from God’s grace.
– It is anew creation in Christ for a new way of living, a way alive in good works. This takes us back to 1:3, God chose us to be holy so that we might belong to him and be devoted to his purposes.
– It takes us to 1:12 & 14, God determined that we should exist “for the praise of his glory.” Therefore, our good works are an expression of the work God has already done in us.
- Question 1:
- Grace is not a once off act of God toward us, it is the ongoing undeserved favour He pours on us. How can this help you grow in humility toward your relationship with God?
- Question 2:
- What are some of the good works Christians are to be doing? Use Biblical examples throughout Scripture.
- Question 3:
- Discuss how good works should be a result of the ongoing devotional relationship a Christian has with Christ? E.g. I evangelize because Jesus commands me to go out (Matt 28:19-20).