Here are the study notes from Ephesians 2:
Here at the beginning of the chapter, I must pause to remind everyone that Ephesians 2 comes in the context of immediately after chapter 1 with all of its lofty ideas about predestination for a purpose, how we are Christ’s body the church, and that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit (God Himself). Remember, the chapter divisions came during the 1300s and the verse divisions came in the 1600s, and they are NOT divinely inspired, only the original letter was. These are just conveniences for the sake of ease of reference for us.
1: And what is the very first verse? “And you were dead in trespasses and sins.” First, notice the verb tense – it is in the past. If you have been “born from above” as it says in John 3, then your spirit was literally made alive when you were justified by faith in Jesus. This will be confirmed in verse 2, about the verb tense. What does it say we were? “Dead.” [nekros, dead, corpse]. In trespasses [paraptoma, transgressions] and sins [hamartia, offense].
2: “…in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world…” Paul is not hiding the truth, nor is he glossing over the manner of life which we all had in former times. Paul himself was a dread persecutor of the church, and was responsible for the torture and death of followers of Jesus. And God FORGAVE him, and called him to Himself to be an apostle to the Gentiles! (See Acts 9:1-31). But Paul is not talking about or to himself. Who is he writing to here? YOU. And the “you” here is plural, so everyone reading or hearing the letter. US! You see, we “formerly walked,” and the Greek implies behaviour, not the physical activity of walking. “According to the age [aion, time period] of this world [kosmos, order, by impl., world]”. “…according to the prince of the power of the air…” Prince [archon, ruler], power [exsousia, power to act, authority], air [aeros, the lower, denser atmosphere as opposed to the higher, rarer air] – clearly a reference to the enemy, a created being as opposed to our great uncreated God. “…of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Spirit [pneumatos, the spirit, breath, wind that fills the sails]. Working [energeo, to operate, to effect, to be active]. Sons [huios, mature offspring] – the Lord is not the only one seeking to grow and mature children. Much of the narrative of Scripture talks about the two seeds, starting in Genesis. Those “children” mature in their lineage just like we do in our Father’s.
3: Paul admits that we all lived under that energeo, that operating force, being driven and steered by that pneumatos just as they do now. “Among them we too all formerly lived.” As such, it is my belief that we should have compassion on them all. [I’ve had a very difficult week because of this. You may not know this, but in 1997, a very close friend of mine named Angela Tong was murdered by another close friend of mine named Steven Bugden. In 1999, Steve plead down to 2nd-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison. Well, this past Wednesday evening, Steve escaped from prison. There were a lot of things that arose from that escape, but what it did for friends of Angela (who I named my oldest daughter after) was to open some very painful old wounds, me included. However, I found that because I have been processing my own grief and rage before the Lord for the last 21 years, I could respond in controlled and measured fashion. I couldn’t have done that (and did not do that) in 1997. I found myself praying for Steve’s safe recovery. I was given the opportunity as a former friend of his that doesn’t hate him to plead with him on CBC television to turn himself in before he or anyone else could get hurt. I found compassion for him, because he is simply, well…lost! I am also happy to report that the one that was lost was found by the RCMP, Canada’s national police force and taken back into custody without incident. It made me wonder – am I so different? Was I not just as lost before Christ found me? In Jesus’ definition of murder in Matthew 5, I am just as guilty of the crime. Are not all of us still “created in the image of God?” Does that not include Steve? It does. I am not saying there should not be consequences to his actions, but those consequences should always be tempered by our compassion and love. Or does Steve not deserve salvation? I think he does, and so does Paul in this passage.] How did we live? “…in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind…” Whatever pleased us, whatever we wanted to try, whatever each of us could imagine, as it says over and over in the book of Judges, each of us did “that which was right in our own eyes,” but was not right in God’s sight. That made us all “…by nature children of wrath, even as the rest [of them].” [Children = tekna, the immature children, cf. huios; Wrath = orgee, impulse, by impl., wrath]
4: But God, rich in mercy, because of His great love [agape, divine self-giving] with which He loved us (Ger’s tranlation: He saw us in our lost condition and knew we couldn’t help ourselves, but because he loved us in His self-giving divine way…)
5: …even when we were dead in our trespasses [transgressions], MADE US ALIVE together in/with Christ. Paul includes the mechanism, too – by GRACE you have been saved. Wait was that Sola Gratia? Oh yeah! But we already knew this part, right? Hang on to your seat cushions and other flotation devices, there’s more!
6: “…and raised us up with Him…” Raised us [synegeo, to raise together with] up together with Him. Think about that. We were dead – and God raised us to life in Christ! Literally! Spiritually! To die no more! And even better, “…and has seated us in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus…” Anyone here ever spend time working on a farm? When do you get to sit down? When the work is finished. He sat us down with Him! The work is finished!
7: Why has he done this? “…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Friends, we are a witness, a testimony to Him and the surpassing riches of His grace! What he’s going to make us rich? Yes! In His kindness as a currency. What? You thought this was about something as paltry as money? Oh, friends, open your eyes! Money, or wages is something we EARN. But what does Paul say?
8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Wait – what part of that was the gift of God? The grace? The faith? The saving? All of it! And it did not come from us…we did not EARN it! See? V.9:
9: …”not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” There is NOTHING, repeat NOTHING we can do to earn this. Why? Because God knows that we have issues with pride, and that we would just boast about how good we were, given half a chance. No, instead we are indeed wretched. Our works gain us not a thing – as regards our justification, they are worthless. Remember, Isaiah said that all our righteous deeds are worth about the same as “menstrual rags.” And who wants to keep those things around? In fact, to work for your own justification is cart-before-horse thinking.
10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” So God creates us, makes us alive in Christ, for a purpose – to “do good works.” We do not do the good works so that God will make us alive.
11: Because of all this, Paul calls us – to remember. 1. Remember where we came from. We were formerly sinners. We were called “uncircumcision” by the circumcised. Even though that circumcision is a work of human hands…again…works are of no salvific value.
12: 2. Remember that we were apart from Christ. Excluded from the commonwealth [politeia, citizenship] of Israel, the people of God’s choosing. We were strangers to the covenants of promise (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic), and without hope in the world, without God or any hope of getting near Him.
13: 3. Remember that now, those of us who were far from God have been brought near – by the blood of Christ. By the shedding of His blood on our behalf. By his death and resurrection. He has reconciled us to God.
14: Paul explains that because of these things he has asked us to remember, or call to mind, that Christ Himself is our peace, our welfare. He continues on to say that this Christ “made both groups into one (the church).” You know how we like to say that Jesus concluded the law by completing it, so that its usefulness has ended? So has the enmity between Jew and Gentile. We are one in Christ. How?
15: By abolishing the enmity in His own flesh. What was the enmity specifically? The Law of commandments and ordinances. That long list of rules that was intended to regulate and govern our behaviour. He abolished [rendered inoperative] the penalties for disobedience to the Law by taking those penalties onto Himself on the cross. Why? To make both groups into “one new humankind [anthropos].” God did something new and fresh. He made a new human race. One that was not bound under the penalty of sin any longer…”thus establishing peace [welfare].”
16: How is this even possible? The cross. The same sacrifice He made on the cross was good for the Jew and for the Gentile. He put the enmity to death – in Himself! – v.17, “And HE came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;” What? He preached [euaggelizō, He EVANGELIZED!] He spoke the good news – that He was here to do these very things! And what was this good news? Peace. Welfare before God.
18: Jews and Gentiles now both pray to God through the same Spirit – the Holy Spirit. We now have the same access to the Father through Christ by the working of the Spirit. And THAT has some blessed implications.
19: 1. We are no longer strangers and aliens. Instead, we are “fellow citizens with the saints.” We are, according to Paul, saints. In fact, we are of God’s own household.
20: Paul explains how God’s house was built – Foundation: Apostles and Prophets. Cornerstone: Christ Jesus Himself.
21, 22: The building blocks: US. What building are we talking about? The church! And it is being built into a “holy temple [naos, sanctuary – the place of worship]” in the Lord – a dwelling of God (just like the old temple) – in the Spirit.