SSL 3 - Eph. 2:1-10
LAST WEEK: In Eph. 1:15-23, Paul focused our attention on the purpose of God and the power of God, which assures the believer of the blessings that God has provided in Christ. The final verses of the chapter concerned the vast power of God which He has vested in Jesus Christ through His resurrection and ascension. Even though Christ died for the sins of the world, God raised Him from the dead, taking Him back into heaven where He seated Him at His right hand. God then invested Him with power and authority greater than any and all other authorities, in this age and the age to come. Along with this power and authority, Christ was appointed head of the church which is the early manifestation of His presence and fills up that remains of His ministry and work on earth before His second coming. This is bedrock Christian theology that we need to have down cold.
THIS WEEK: In Eph. 2:1-10, Paul continues to outline the significance of Christ's work. The lesson contains three main segments: (1) vv. 1-3 focus on fallen man and his hopeless condition (i.e., dead) as a result of his sin; (2) vv. 4-6 focus on God and on His mercy and grace in making provision for man's salvation in Christ; and (3) vv. 7-10 focus on the purpose of salvation and to the praise of the glory of His grace. Taken together, they spell out the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Read Eph. 2:1-3 - MAN'S PROBLEM: DEAD IN SIN
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
v. 1: "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins" - This and the following two verses tell these people (and us) where they came from. In this verse, Paul explicitly informs these Christians that their sin resulted in their spiritual death. When someone dies physically, he/she is separated from loved ones who are still alive, and there is a great chasm between the dead and the living that cannot be bridged-they are completely cut off from one other. In a similar manner, a person who is spiritually dead is separated from God. Moreover, a person who leaves this life spiritually dead is helpless and can take no action to change his/her situation-destination. Death holds people in a very firm grip.
v. 2: "in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" - The Greek word for "you walked" (periepatēsate) literally means how you live your life, and since you walked "according to the course (Gk. aion = age) of this world," you were spiritually dead in your sins. The course of this world is controlled by Satan, "the prince of the power of the air," and unsaved people, by definition followers of satanic rule, are the "sons of disobedience"-those who are disobedient to God's will in their lives. All of us were formerly in this category-life without hope, helpless.
v. 3: "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" - When Paul says "we too all," he is saying that Jews and Gentiles both have the same problem-dead in their sins. In the NT, the word "flesh" (Gk. sarx) in used in different ways: Jesus took upon Himself human sarx to dwell among us, and the bread that Jesus gives us for the life of the word is His flesh (Jn. 6:51). But applied to man, flesh is used in the NT as a symbol of weakness or as a contrast to that which is spiritual. In Paul's context, the "lusts of the flesh" do not lead us toward God but away from Him, and it forms the tool that Satan uses to misguide and destroy us. When Paul says, "the desires (Gk. dianoia = the rational, analytical part of the mind) of the flesh and the mind," he isn't speaking of our senses-i.e., sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which relate to sensual pleasures-but to those things that grow out of our minds and intellects-our thoughts and beliefs. The point is that a person's beliefs are important, because beliefs lead to action. e.g., the Nazi belief system led not only to the extermination of over 6 million Jews but to a world war that cost 50 million people their lives. As a result of these lusts, we "were by nature children of wrath." The word "wrath" (Gk. orgé) lit. means an internal disposition that steadfastly opposes someone or something. The final phrase "even as the rest," again, means that Jews and Gentiles are alike, both in the same boat.
TRUTH 1: In our fallen condition, we were enslaved by our own fleshy desires and under the control of a world dominated by Satan. Paul's descriptions in vv. 1-3, above, sharply illustrates the very depths of our former fallen condition, which was powerless, lifeless, and without hope. We were by our nature "children of wrath"-i.e., steadfastly opposed to God-and, ironically, didn't even realize the true depravity of our condition until we were saved.
Read Eph. 2:4-7 - BUT GOD MAD US ALIVE BY GRACE
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might
show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
v. 4: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us" - This verse and the next three highlight God's remedy for our sins. "But God," is the greatest short verse in the history of human speech. God's "rich mercy" (Gk. eleos) lit. kindness and good will toward the afflict-ed and "His great love" (Gk. agapé) lit unconditional, unselfish love, which, taken together, form the impetus for His actions. In brief, God's mercy on His helpless and hopeless enemies-sinful humanity-flows from His own loving heart, not from anything we have done to deserve it.
v. 5: "even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" - Comes back to the thought of v. 1, Paul states "we were dead" in our "transgressions" (Gk. parabasis) lit. stepping over the line, denotes deliberate, conscious sins. The statement, "made us alive together with Christ," is a present tense position, as of right now. Paul's emphasis on "by grace you have been saved" is central to his writings. The word "grace" (Gk. charis) is kindness given with undeserved favor. Greeks often used this word in connection with patronage (political or financial). To Greeks, charis signified generosity-generosity that expects loyalty on the part of the recipient. Christian charis is God's free gift of salvation to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord-God is our patron (giver) and we are the recipients. And just like a recipient of a large financial gift who could never repay his patron in kind, we can never repay God for the inestimable value of our salvation.
v. 6a: "and raised us up with Him" - The words "raised...up (Gk. sunegeiró) translate raised together and with this statement, Paul is telling us that because of Christ's resurrection, those who believe in Him are given new life spiritually in this age, which we call regeneration, and in the age to come, we will receive renewed physical bodies (future resurrection) when Christ returns.
v. 6b: "and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" - By God's grace, our relation-ship to Christ has not only allowed us in the "heavenly places," but since we will be "seated...with Him," we will share a measure of His authority and honor since He is seated at God's right hand.
v. 7: "so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" - The word "surpassing" (Gk. huperballó) means to throw beyond, so that the "riches of His [God's] grace in kindness" in store for us is literally something beyond human imagination. In our human interactions, we simply don't have a frame of reference for God's level of grace or kindness. With people, we experience grace in dribs and drabs. Someone might forgive us if we haven't sinned too grievously or someone might forgive us if our repentance is sufficiently sincere. But God doesn't measure grace that way: His grace is sufficient to cover even the most grievous of sins and requires only that we repent and receive the mercy offered through the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. His grace is clearly beyond measure. And it has two purposes: (1) to make us fit for life in His kingdom; but also (2) once we have experienced the full measure His grace, our lives then can demonstrate to others the promise of grace that is available to them through salvation in Jesus Christ. Our lives, therefore, are intended to serve as a beacon to others-to draw them to Christ so that they, too, might experience His grace firsthand...that they may be saved.
TRUTH 2: God's mercy is not prompted by our potential or by any qualities we think we possess, but by our own pathetic condition. Divine grace was not granted to us because we were so worthy, or because God found anything good in us, but because of the goodness which is in God Himself. The goodness is all in the giver, not the recipient. God sent Jesus into the world to suffer and die for us because we were in such terrible condition. God did this so that He could demonstrate His grace and His power of transforming a "dead" man or woman into a living testimony of His grace and power.
Read Eph. 2:8-10 - FOR BY GRACED YOU HAVE SAVED THROUGH FAITH.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
v. 8a: "For by grace you have been saved through faith;" - "For" connects this with v. 7 telling us about the sheer enormity of God's grace, with this verse describing the sheer power of God's grace, for God's grace not only offers salvation but secures it.-the "have been" denoting a completed rather than a future action. The word for "saved" (Gk. sṓzō), lit. to rescue from destruction, in terms of Christian theology, is defined as deliverance from God's wrath at the final judgment (Rom. 5:9). The term, "through faith" (Gk. pistis) lit. the conviction of the truth of anything, carries a two-part definition in Christian theology: (1) the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, and provider of eternal salvation through Christ; together with (2) the strong and welcome belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.
v. 8b: "and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" - This simply means what it says: that salvation (1) cannot be earned and (2) is not deserved-but comes only as a gift of God. Knowing this, we must remember that the primary purpose of God sending His Son to die in the sinner's place, was not to produce the happiness of the sinner (although it's a wonderful side-benefit), but the demonstration of God's grace
for all eternity-to His glory.
v. 9: "not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" - In his writings, Paul dealt at length with the idea of works as related to salvation. The word for "works" (Gk. erga) means human accomplishments that are positive-worship, tithing, serving, helping the needy, etc.-but Paul underscores that we can never be saved by works no matter how good they are. We should remember that Paul was raised in a strict Pharisee environment that emphasized the importance of works, but after meeting the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, soon realized the utter futility of trying to live the perfect life in obedience to the Law. The last statement, "so that no one may boast," concludes with the truth that our salvation is not the result of anything we have done at any time. This salvation is God's gift, and not compensation for our efforts. All the credit and glory goes to God. In her book, The Hiding Place, Christian writer Corrie ten Boom said "we bring nothing to God but empty hands."
v. 10a: "For we are His workmanship," - We are God's "workmanship" (Gk. poiéma), lit. a thing made, in two senses: (1) God created us-breathed into us the breath of life; and (2) through the work of Jesus Christ, God has recreated (regenerated) us-made us into new creatures.
v. 10b: "created in Christ Jesus for good works," - Although we didn't achieve salvation by "good works" (Gk. agathoergeó = work that is intrinsically good), God has made us into new men and women with the intention that we might do good works. Good works of this kind are a natural outgrowth of our faith in Christ and devotion to Him.
v. 10c: "which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" - We could paraphrase this to say that God prepared certain things ahead of time so that our lives would be directed towards them. The idea here is that God has set things up to give us the opportunities to do good works. We're already saved (past tense-no need to be re-saved), but once we're redeemed, God expects us to begin living a new way-a new "walk," and expects us to seize the ministry opportunities He places in front of us. If you are "called" according to God's purpose, He will certainly confirm it.
TRUTH 3: The primary purpose of God sending His Son to die in our place was not to bring about the happiness of the sinner, saved by grace (which it does), but to demonstrate His grace for all eternity. God's purposes are not merely temporal or earthly, they are eternal. God's purpose in saving sinners is not just to make them happy, to provide blessings, or to simply enable them to escape the torment of hell, though that does happen. The fact is that God is just as glorified (by vindication) by the punishment of the wicked as He is the salvation of those He makes righteous (Rom. 9:14-23; 1 Pet. 2:12; Rev. 16:4-7). Whether it's the punishment of the wicked or the salvation of sinners by grace, God is working out all things to His glory. We should understand that the salvation of sinners is subordinate to God's ultimate purpose of bringing glory to Himself. In the case of the salvation of sinner, it is the grace of God which is on display and, conversely, in the case of the judgment of the wicked, it is God's holiness and justice which is demonstrated.