In chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we continue with a look at doctrinal and theological issues. This chapter will focus specifically on salvation by grace through faith and the unity of believers in Christ.
In the first ten verses Paul presents the past, present, and future of the Christian: what he was (vv. 1-3), what he is (vv. 4-6, 8-9), and what he will be (vv. 7, 10). Within this framework he gives six aspects of salvation: it is from sin (vv. 1-3), by love (v. 4), into life (v. 5), with a purpose (vv. 6-7), through faith (vv. 8-9), and unto good works (v. 10). The first aspect is in the past, the next four aspects (except for the second part of “purpose,” v.7) pertain to the present, and the last aspect (including v. 7) is in the future.
* The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Ephesians
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ephesians 2:1 KJV
Verse one sets the tone for our lives before coming to faith in Christ. Our spirits were in need of an infusion of life by the touch of God. We could not clearly perceive or understand things of a spiritual nature for we were dead.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:15 KJV
Also, it was the plan of our enemy, the devil who wants dominion, to keep us ignorant of the truth and blind to the ways of God. He set up the ways for this fallen world to operate and we were living it out.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Ephesians 2:2 KJV
We wanted a life that we perceived as good, easy, and satisfying. The deception of the devil and his demonic cohorts completely distorted things for us and we selfishly sought to satisfy our own lusts and desires. Our father (of that time) was not loving, and his demands were not for our good. We were trapped in a system that required more than we could give. A deliverer, a savior, was required if we were to be rescued from such slavery.
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Ephesians 2:3 KJV
As we saw in chapter one, God had made a plan for our deliverance and He did it before the creation of the world. The true loving Father in heaven knew of our need and provided a way of escape from the dreadful system. For we were seeking to fulfill our selfish desires as we lived in the world alongside every evil rather than loving one another and living for something bigger than our own desires.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:4 KJV
Though we had no spiritual life to perceive spiritual things, God took it upon Himself to save us from the one who looked to destroy us. The Father made a way for us to be linked to His Son, in heavenly places, that we may have restored unto us the life He intended for us.
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:5-7 KJV
God is the one that made this possible and we will have no place to boast of saving ourselves. The Father draws us to the Son and we simply need to have faith, that is, to believe what God is telling us to be truth and trust in Him.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 KJV
Here the reward for such faith is deliverance from the oppressor and our adoption into the family of God. God not only provides for our deliverance, but He also provides us with the faith to believe – all by the gift of His grace freely given to us.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV
Again, there is no ground on which we can boast of our own escape from the enemy as it was all provided for by God. We simply needed to receive the gift and trust in God and His word. God created us to do good works, not the evil that the enemy would have us do.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 KJV
We were created “in Christ Jesus” by God, the master artisan. He created us to do good works, which interestingly, He prepared in advance for us to do. Our Creator “ordained that we should walk in them.” This tells me that I do not need to go seek good works to do, rather, I need to be alert to what is in my path and remain sensitive to the direction of God, so I do not miss the opportunities He has for me.
That is the story of our creation and salvation by grace through faith. This is the point at which chapter two turns to the unity in the Body of Christ. The Gentiles are joined in unity with the Israelites as children of God. The Israelites were chosen by God to show forth the glory of God and draw the world to Him. However, there became a divide, a segregation, and the Gentiles were referred to as the Uncircumcision, a term that led people to focus on the differences which drove a wedge between the people rather than unifying the people under the Creator of all. Paul clearly places this division in the past.
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Ephesians 2:11-12 KJV
The Gentiles were without hope and without God or His promises. Paul goes on to inform the Ephesians, and all believers, that the story of division was in the past, but now there is hope and access to God and His promises through Christ Jesus. We are brought near because of the work of Jesus on the cross and the shedding of His blood.
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Ephesians 2:13-14 KJV
Christ removed the partition that separated us from one another and from God. He is the Prince of Peace.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 KJV
He reconciled mankind to God, giving all the opportunity to become children of God. He removed religious regulation that prevented Gentiles from entering into fellowship with God, all as “one new man” rather than segregated groups. Christ Jesus reconciled mankind, one to another. He brought us all into Himself, the Body of Christ, Jesus being the Head.
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Ephesians 2:15-17 KJV
Jesus brought those who were near and those who were far off together as one. The emphasis remains on Himself, as He is the one making this possible, that we become one body in Christ. We are now one Body by one Spirit, through which we have access to the Father.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ephesians 2:18 KJV
And we have such access because of our salvation in Christ and submission to Him as Lord. Do we understand the value of how great this access is?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6 KJV
While it is only through Christ that we have access to the Father, it is interesting that we are drawn to Christ only by the love of the Father.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:44 KJV
The love of God, Father and Son, bring us into unity, so it is no surprise that the enemy continues through the ages to attempt to separate us by any means necessary: sex, class, race, religion, age, etc. But those in Christ have overcome these attacks of the enemy of righteousness.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Ephesians 2:19-20 KJV
Jesus has made us one family, the “household of God.” He demonstrates how we are tied together with one another in the present and the past. We continue to build upon the work and lives of those who went before us, the apostles and prophets, and most importantly, Christ Himself. He fits us all together as one; one body, one family of God, and the temple, or habitation of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:21-22 KJV
This concludes Chapter 2.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV
To glorify God is to not sin, especially with one’s body. God’s only standard is perfect holiness.
*Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Ephesians
John F. MacArthur
1986 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago