How are you walking? Does your life look similar to the lives of those who belong to the world? Or does your life reflect the beauty of one called out of darkness and into marvelous light? As we begin this summary of Ephesians chapter 2, these are the questions I want us to consider.
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What is the Main Point of Ephesians 2?
Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to explain how the Gentiles and Jews had become one through Christ.
In Ephesians chapter 1, we learned about the different spiritual blessings that belong to each believer. We also saw how Paul prayed for these Gentile believers in Ephesus, that they would grow in their understanding of these blessings they received in Christ.
Ephesians 2 Meaning
Now, in the second chapter of Ephesians, we see Paul compare their former life to who they had become in Christ.
He also discussed the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith and how the Gentiles have been included in the commonwealth of God’s chosen people.
Ephesians 2 is divided into seven sections, so let’s walk through this chapter verse by verse.
Dead in Sins
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in your offenses and sins, 2 in which you previously 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 previously lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the rest.
Two words/phrases that we want to pay close attention to in this chapter are “formerly” and “but now”.
Ephesians 2 contrasts who we were before Christ, and who we have become in Him.
These first three verses tell us that formerly we were:
- Dead in our trespasses
- Lived according to the influence of Satan
- Lived according to the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind
- By nature, children of wrath
The term “prince” shows that Satan does have some authority over those who are disobedient to faith in Christ. The “power of the air” is referring to the spiritual realm.
This tells us that Satan does have some power in the heavenly places.
However, let’s not forget what we learned in chapter 1.
seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:20-21
Christ is seated above the rule and dominion of Satan.
As we will see in verse 4, we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places. If we have been raised up with Christ, the enemy no longer has any authority over our lives.
Alive In Christ
Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, 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
This verse shows us the depth of God’s love. I once was asked how I would define the love of God. At first, I thought that question was really deep and I had to think about it for a sec. Then, I realized that the answer was actually quite simple.
The love of God is defined by the cross.
God demonstrated His great love for us by sending His Son to die for you and me.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8
This act of God has been the proof of His love throughout the ages.
Ephesians 2:7 so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Salvation By Grace Through Faith
Ephesians 2:8-9 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.
This verse is crucial for us to get right in our understanding because it is the basis for our salvation.
There are some different ideas as to what the word “that” (in bold) is referring to. Is it God’s grace that is not of ourselves? Salvation? Faith?
Here is some more insight from commentator, David Guzik:
“For by grace you have been saved: Paul cannot speak of this glorious work God does without reminding us that it is a gift of grace, given to the undeserving. We are not even saved by our faith (though faith itself is not a work), but by grace through faith.”
“The work of salvation is God’s gift. Paul’s grammar here indicates that the words apply to the gift of salvation mentioned in Ephesians 2:4-8, and not directly to the faith mentioned in this verse.”
The “that” is referring to our salvation by grace through faith.
Created for Good Works
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
While works do not save us, they do give evidence to the new life and identity we have been given in Christ Jesus.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Remember, that these christians in Ephesus had formerly walked in the lust of their flesh and according the the influence of our spiritual enemy. Paul is telling them that they not only died to their old self, but also their old way of living.
In Christ, we are created to walk in works that bring glory and honor to God.
Brought Near By the Blood of Christ
Ephesians 2:11-13 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
It seems as though this verse is connected to what Paul just finished saying in verse 10. He had just said that they had been given a new life and a new way to walk within that newness. They were created in Christ for good works.
He is encouraging them to not continue walking according to the ways of the Gentiles. They had died to their old life and needed to start walking according to their identity in Christ.
This still applies to us today. Before placing our faith in Christ for salvation, you and I were in a similar condition to these Ephesians. We were once separated from God…
… but by the blood of Christ, we have been brought near. Praise God!
I know, for many of us, that may seem like a simple, elementary part of the Christian life, but I hope and pray that the simple message of the gospel never fails to leave our hearts in a posture of praise.
One In Christ
Ephesians 2:14-18 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
Word Studies: (learn more about how to do a word study)
- Abolished – made void “cause to come to an end”
- Enmity – hostility
- Two into one new – of a new kind, previously unknown
- Reconciled – bring back to a former state of harmony – Jew, and Gentile in one body to God
Just in case you aren’t familiar with the details of the Old Covenant, here is a quick snippet. The law was established by God in the Old Testament through Moses to the nation of Israel. This law (covenant) gave God’s people the rules and regulations for how they were to live as God’s people.
It became clear very quickly that they could not keep the law. They offered continual animal sacrifices to temporarily cleanse them from their sins and transgressions.
The law also separated all people into two groups, Jews and Gentiles.
The purpose of the law was to show God’s people their need for a better covenant. God gave that new and better covenant through the sacrifice of the body of Christ.
10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God… – Hebrews 10:10-12
The sacrifice of Jesus abolished the law because there was no longer any need for continual animal sacrifice. Jesus’ body was the atoning sacrifice for sin.
Not only did his sacrifice abolish the Old Covenant, but it also broke down the barrier between the Jews and Gentiles. All people, of every nation, was welcome to partake of the New Covenant of God’s grace, receive the seal of the Holy Spirit, and gain access to God through Him.
Jesus the Cornerstone
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
If we look at another verse in Matthew 21:41-44, we can get some more insight into this passage.
Jesus *said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” – Matthew 21:42-44
Jesus was a stumbling block to the Jewish leaders during His time because He wasn’t the Messiah they wanted.
They wanted a Savior who would free them from the physical and political rule of Rome. They didn’t realize that Jesus came to save them from a much greater power – death.
God’s household is the church. The apostles and prophets laid the foundation through their enduring revelation written in the New Testament and their ministry in building the early church. This is the foundation that we must also build on.
As believers, you and I are living stones being built up to offer sacrifices to God.
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10
Ephesians 2 Final Thoughts
This chapter is packed full of gems!
We must never forget what we have been saved from. Let me encourage you to take a moment, right now, and consider who you were without Christ, and who you have become now, in Him.
We are a chosen race.
A royal priesthood.
A holy nation.
A people for God’s own possession.
A people called out of darkness and into marvelous light.
Ephesians 2 Commentaries
Here are a couple of commentaries of Ephesians 2 that I recommend:
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