The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ephesians 2

Eph 2:2

SPIRIT WHICH IS NOW AT WORK: "Deceptive philosophy" (Col 2:8), of this world (Joh 8:23). The prince of this world (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Cp Eph 6:12; Elp 95-99.

Eph 2:3

WRATH: God's deep, steady, lasting anger.

Eph 2:4

Vv 4-6: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Rom 5:8-11).

Eph 2:5

MADE US ALIVE: Having "crossed over" from death to life: Joh 5:24,25.

Eph 2:6

Sitting: for rest (Luk 8:35); for communion (Song 2:3), as disciples (Deu 33:3), in worship (2Sa 7:18-27), in resurrection (Eph 2:6), in glory (Rev 3:21).

IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS: A present situation -- having access with God (cp Eph 2:4,5,7,18). Our heavenly calling (Heb 3:1), by a heavenly Father (Mat 18:35), through a heavenly word (Joh 3:12), presents to us a heavenly status (Eph 2:6), as we await a heavenly image (1Co 15:48,49), to be a heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22), in a heavenly country (Heb 11:16), within a heavenly kingdom (2Ti 4:18). All this constitutes Christ's brethren as a heavenly people of God!

Eph 2:8

GRACE: The word "grace" (Gr "chares") means, most literally, a gift. In Biblical terms, it is commonly associated with the gift of mercy, or the forgiveness of sins, which God has provided for believers in His Son. None of us can earn salvation; we are saved by "grace", which is "the gift of God", and not by our own works (Eph 2:8,9).

Being saved by God's grace, we are God's "workmanship" (Eph 2:10). He has made us all that we are; we have not made ourselves. Nevertheless, He has "created (us) in Christ Jesus" for a purpose -- to do good works (v 10). And so, with God working in us in a mysterious sort of partnership we can scarcely comprehend, we do good works -- not to earn or merit eternal life, but in gratitude for the grace or gift already conferred upon us.

YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED: What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22).

"The question as to which single characteristic saves the man is an abstraction. An illustration is helpful. A man who has fallen into the river screams for help. A man on the bank runs with a rope and throws it to the man in the river. He catches hold and is pulled to safety. What saved him? Was it his scream? Was it the rope? Was it the man on the bank? Did he save himself? Or was it all these working together?" (WS).

"There are two sides to salvation. The divine side which is grace and the human side which is obedient faith. Evangelicals argue that if one 'works' for salvation then the reward is paid in wages rather than a gift. This is an over-simplification. God gives us food, but we must work for it. God gave Joshua the city of Jericho, but he was still commanded to march around the walls for seven days (Jos 6:2,4). Likewise salvation is the free gift of God, but man must comply with the conditions" (WS).

Eph 2:9

Vv 9,10: According to Paul, salvation is not of works (Eph 2:9), but it is UNTO works (v 10) -- which makes a world of difference. Works are not the means by which we are saved -- that is grace! But works are (and must be) the results of the salvation brought to us by Christ. We must not just obey God as slaves who expect to earn eternal life. Rather, we must obey Him as loving children, offering the only reasonable response of hearts motivated by thankfulness. We love Him because He first loved us (Jo 4:19).

Eph 2:10

FOR WE ARE GOD'S WORKMANSHIP, CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS TO DO GOOD WORKS, WHICH GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR US TO DO: We are indeed saved by the grace of God, through faith. But the result of such salvation is not just the same old creature with a new name -- it is God's "workmanship... created... to do good works." Hence the strong connection and interaction between faith / grace, on one hand, and works, on the other -- whilst not implying that we are in any degree saved by our works!

Notice the order in Paul's words: we do not do good works so that we may be saved -- rather, we are saved so that we may do good works!

"I am not what I ought to be. How imperfect and deficient I am! I am not what I wish to be, although I abhor that which is evil and would cleave to what is good. I am not what I hope to be, but soon I shall put off mortality, and with it all sin. Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor yet what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was: a slave to sin... I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am!" (John Newton).

CREATED: // Col 3:10; 2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15.

See Lesson, Wayne and the free cheese.

Eph 2:12

SEPARATE FROM CHRIST: Without Christ; without Truth (1Ti 6:5), without the Spirit (Jdg 1:19), without strength (Rom 5:6), without excuse (Rom 1:20).

FOREIGNERS TO THE COVENANTS OF THE PROMISE: "The Breaking of Bread is a meeting for the expression of thanks to God. In all the NT records of its institution, the attitude of Jesus is one of mingled blessing and thanksgiving; the invocation of the blessing of his Father on the bread and the wine, and all it signified and was to signify for so many generations of believers; the offering of thanks that so great a provision for men had been made. As for believers themselves, of whatever age or nation, they may reflect before the Table that without that life, death and resurrection, they would be in the condition described by Paul as aliens from the commonwealth of God's people, strangers from the covenants of promise, without God, and in the presence of death sorrowing without hope" (FCE 168).

WITHOUT HOPE: "In Hellas... epoch of Alexander... current saying... even by best men... Best thing of all: not to be born, and next best thing: to die" (CEph 57).

WITHOUT HOPE AND WITHOUT GOD: Cp Gen 1:2: "tohu-bohu": "formless" (without hope) and "void" (empty of, or without, God).

Eph 2:13

FAR AWAY: Isa 57:19.


Eph 2:14

HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE: "Love of God is the difference between happiness and unhappiness, peace and unpeace, joy and unjoy. If we love God enough -- which, of course, means actually thinking about Him enough, we just cannot be unhappy, or lack joy and peace. Love of God is our natural condition: that is our intended natural condition, before the introduction of sin, and the development of the mind of the flesh. The mind of the flesh is the great barrier to happiness. We do not have to suffer that barrier. God in Christ has shown us how to put it away, and move back permanently into happiness, joy and peace. This must be at our inner core, unassailable by any outward circumstances -- the deep root from which all our actions spring" (GVG).

THE BARRIER, THE DIVIDING WALL: On Temple wall: "No alien to pass within the balustrade around the temple and the enclosure. Whoever shall be caught must blame himself for the death which shall ensue" (CEph 58).

THE DIVIDING WALL OF HOSTILITY: When Paul wrote this letter, the middle wall of partition was still standing in the Temple, and the veil between the Holy and Host Holy was still hanging. The one signified the separation of Gentiles from fullness of worship, but the other signified -- just as vividly for those with humility to see -- the separation of even the Jews from the greatest possible fellowship with God. Paul is telling the Ephesian believers, both Jew and Gentile, that the same perfect sacrifice which opened the way into the Most Holy -- both literally (Mat 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45) and figuratively (Eph 1:3,9; 2:6) -- had also removed any barrier, real or imagined, between the two bodies of believers. Now they were, or should be, "one body in Christ" (Eph 2:16; 4:4)!

For each class -- Jews no less than Gentiles -- Jesus had, on the cross, slain the enmity between the serpent and the woman's seed (Gen 3:15). He had become the "serpent" lifted up (Num 21:9; John 3:14,15), rendered incapable of "bruising" again. He had also "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances" that was against the Jew (Col 2:14). In his death sin was vanquished, the righteousness of God honored, and the flesh "of sin" destroyed -- the perfect sacrifice; Even the pious Jew, who devoted his life to the keeping of the Law of Moses, could never "slay the enmity", since even one lapse invalidated all his efforts. So the "righteous" Jew as well as the "alien" Gentile (Eph 2:12) stood on the same ground: lost, without Christ!

Eph 2:15

BY ABOLISHING IN HIS FLESH THE LAW WITH ITS COMMANDMENTS: The enemy that is destroyed by this process is surely sin and therefore death, which exist as a result of the law which in itself was, and still is, unable to save. Jesus has broken down the middle wall of partition (v 14) in order to bring about a situation by which we can be reconciled to God (2Co 5:17; Col 2:14; Heb 10:19-22).

Eph 2:16

HOSTILITY: Or enmity (Gen 3:15).

Eph 2:17

Peace: made (Col 1:20), preached (Eph 2:17), enjoyed (Rom 5:1), filling hearts (Rom 15:13), given (John 14:27), keeping (Phi 4:7), and ruling (Col 3:15).

Eph 2:19

The aspects of fellowship: fellow-heirs (Eph 3:6); fellow-soldiers (Phi 2:25); fellow-helpers (3Jo 1:8); fellow-workers (Col 4:11); fellow-servants (Rev 6:11); fellow-prisoners (Rom 16:7); fellow-laborers (Phi 4:3); fellow-citizens (Eph 2:19).

Eph 2:21

The Jews left Temple at Jerusalem. The Ephesians left Diana's temple at Ephesus. Together, they formed a new temple in Christ.

A HOLY TEMPLE: Eph 4:16; Isa 28:16; Psa 118:22,23.

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