Replace a Trash Bag with a Suitcase for a Foster Kid

Ephesians 2




Made Alive in Christ (2:1-10)

1 Here Paul reminds the Ephesians that they had once been dead in [their] trangressions and sins. In what way were they dead? They were spiritually dead; that is, they were separated from God (see Ephesians 4:18). Our sins separate us from God; it is impossible for sinful man to have fellowship with God. To remain apart from God is spiritual death.

2 Before they believed in Christ, these Ephesians had been in a wicked and miserable state. Their entire nature was evil. They followed the ways of the world. That means they lived according to their own will and for their own glory (see Ephesians 1:14 and comment). Worldly men live to please themselves; but God says that man must live to please Him. Therefore, if we walk according to the ways of the world, we shall be disobeying God. We shall be God’s enemies.

The ruler of the kingdom of the air which Paul mentions here is Satan, who is the chief of all the evil spirits. Jesus calls Satan the prince of this world (John 12:31), because Satan rules in the lives of those who follow the ways of the world and do not obey God.

3 We Christians, too, lived in sin like this before we believed in Christ. We, too, were by nature objects of wrath—that is, we were deserving of God’s wrath and punishment. God’s wrath is not like man’s anger. God does not get angry with sin one day and forget it the next. God is completely holy; He cannot tolerate unholiness. Therefore, He is determined to destroy evil and all those who persist in doing evil.

From this we can understand that the situation of natural10 and worldly men who refuse to accept Christ is very dangerous and frightening indeed. All our friends and neighbors and relatives who have not accepted Christ are spiritually dead, separated from God, deserving of God’s wrath. Yes, they appear alive and their bodies are active, but spiritually they are dead. They will not receive eternal life in heaven. And yet, to become alive and to obtain eternal life, all they have to do is hear the word of truth, the gospel of … salvation (Ephesians 1:13), and having heard it, believe. We who already believe need to do all we can to give them the chance to hear!

A question arises here: Are non-believers and those who follow the ways of the world completely evil? Is man by nature completely bad? The answer is no. All men are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Many people seek after God diligently and strive to please Him. But the main point is this: Without putting faith in Christ, who died on the cross to take away man’s sins, no man can please God (see John 3:18,36; 14:6; Acts 4:12 and comments).

4-5 We have seen how evil and corrupt man is by nature (Romans 3:10-12). We have seen how “sick” he is spiritually—indeed, he is already dead! No ordinary medicine or ordinary doctor is going to help such a hopeless patient. There is only one “doctor” who can help a dead patient, and that is God. And God’s medicine is love. Because of His great love, He is ready to pour out His grace and mercy upon sinful men. These three words—love, grace, and mercy—always go together; they are like one great work of God’s love. How different is the one true God from the gods and goddesses of other religions! God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to earth to die for us (see John 3:16 and comment).

6 God not only makes us alive here on earth, but He also seats us with Christ in heaven. And if we are sitting with Christ in heaven, what are we sitting on? Thrones! (see Revelation 3:21). Paul is so confident of the believer’s place in heaven that he writes here in the past tense. He says that God seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms, as if we had already been seated there (see Romans 8:30 and comment).

7 Why does God raise us up with Christ and seat us with Him in the heavenly realms? He does it to show future generations in the coming ages His great love—to show them the riches of his grace.

8 Here we come to one of the most important verses in the entire Bible. In this verse there are two main words: grace and FAITH. To put it in simple terms, grace is God’s free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ; faith is receiving that gift. Faith is not “doing”; it is “receiving.” Faith itself is a gift of God, and it comes from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). Therefore, we can see from this that salvation is totally a gift of God. We can do nothing to earn it; we can do nothing to make ourselves worthy of it.

We can also see from this how different Christianity is from other religions. Other religions teach that in order to be saved man must earn merit by doing good works. They teach that man’s sinful nature can be “purified” by following certain rules and rituals. But these teachings are not true. Our inner being cannot be purified by outward works. And no matter how many good works we do, until our inner being has been purified or made righteous, we cannot please God or obtain salvation (see Galatians 2:15-16 and comment; General Article: Way of Salvation).

9 Paul again repeats here that we cannot obtain salvation by our own work or effort. No one can ever say: “I have got to heaven by my own work.” Only through faith in Christ can one obtain salvation; Christ alone is our Savior. He saved us by receiving the death penalty for our sins; He died in our place. By believing in Christ, we can receive forgiveness for our sins and be declared righteous in God’s sight (see Romans 3:22-24; 8:1 and comments). It is only when we have been cleansed and made holy that God will accept us as His children. And how are we cleansed and made holy? Through faith in Jesus Christ.

10 In this verse we see the second purpose God has in saving us. (The first purpose, mentioned in verse 7, is to demonstrate His grace to future generations.) The second purpose for our salvation is that, once saved, we might do good works. Notice here that we don’t do good works in order to be saved. Rather, we are saved in order to do good works. We are not saved because of our good works; rather, we do good works because we have been saved.

God has prepared in advance good works for every Christian to do. Let no Christian think: “I have been saved by grace; therefore I don’t need to do any good works.” Yes, salvation comes first; but after salvation there must be good works. First, we obtain new life in Christ; then we must begin to live a new life (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:1 and comments).

One in Christ (2:11-22)

11  GENTILES are all those people who are not Jews. In Paul’s time, the Jews called Gentiles uncircumcised, because they didn’t undergo the ceremony of CIRCUMCISION, as the Jews did. According to God’s command, on the eighth day of life every Jewish male has the excess skin at the end of his penis cut off: this is called circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14). Circumcision is the outward sign of being a Jew; thus the Jews of Paul’s day called themselves the circumcision.

12 In this verse, Paul reminds the Ephesians of their former state. First of all, they had not heard of Christ. Second, they were not citizens of ISRAEL, that is, the Jewish nation. Third, they had no part in the COVENANTS of promise that God had made with the Jews. The greatest promise that God made to the Jews was that He would send them a Savior. For these three reasons, therefore, in the Jews’ sight these Ephesian Gentiles were without hope and without God. They did not know the one true God. They were far away (verse 13).

13 But Jesus Christ, even though He was Himself a Jew, came to save not only Jews but also Gentiles. Jesus came into the world to be the Savior of all people—both Jew and Gentile. Through the blood of Christ (through Christ’s sacrificial death) all believers are brought near—that is, they are brought into the family of God. Thus both Jews and Gentiles, once they have believed in Jesus, become joined together in one spiritual family (see Galatians 3:24 and comment).

14 Christ is our peace. Christ makes peace between man and God, and also between man and man. He makes peace between Jew and Gentile. He has broken down the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility11—the division, prejudice, and enmity—between Jew and Gentile, between high caste and low caste, between rich and poor, between different races, and between different nations. In this verse, of course, Paul is thinking mainly of the hostility between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews considered themselves to be superior to Gentiles. The Jews didn’t even associate with Gentiles, because in their sight the Gentiles were unclean.

15 The Jews obeyed many commandments and regulations, which were contained in the Jewish law. The Jews thought that by obeying the law they could find salvation. The Jewish law had two main parts: first, the “moral law,” in particular the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17); and second, the “ceremonial law,” which consisted of all the regulations about eating and washing, and about offering sacrifices. By the standard of the ceremonial law, the Gentiles were unclean; thus they were not permitted to enter the inner part of the Jewish temple, lest they defile it. For this reason, the Jewish law itself was like a barrier, or dividing wall of hostility (verse 14).

Christ destroyed that barrier by abolishing … the (ceremonial) law.12 Christ taught that man is saved, not through obeying the law, but only through faith in Him (see Galatians 2:15-16 and comment). Therefore, by abolishing the ceremonial law and destroying the barrier between Jew and Gentile, Christ created in himself one new man out of two. That is, He created one new people (believers) out of two peoples (Jews and Gentiles). All who believe in Christ—whether Jew or Gentile, high caste or low caste, male or female—all are now one in Him (see Galatians 3:28). They are all members of one body (verse 16), whose head is Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:13,27; Ephesians 5:23).

16 Christ didn’t only make peace between Jew and Gentile; He also made peace between both of them and God (see Romans 1:18-20; 5:1 and comments). Christ, through the CROSS (through His death on the cross), has brought all believers into God’s family, the church. God treats all of His children equally; He shows no partiality toward one over another. And He wants no barrier, no dividing wall of hostility to arise among them.

Therefore, let us make sure that no “dividing walls of hostility” arise in our church. And if they do arise, let us quickly tear them down! If we are not watchful, such dividing walls can easily arise between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, men and women, foreigner and national, high caste and low caste. Let this not happen!

17-18 Those who were far away (Gentiles) and those who were near (Jews) are now equally able to draw near to God; they have equal access to God.

In verse 18, Paul mentions the three forms or modes of existence of God: For through him (Christ, God the Son) we both have access to the Father (God the Father) by one Spirit (God the Holy Spirit). But even though God has three forms—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—He is one God. Christians refer to these three forms of God together as the “Trinity.”

19 Here Paul tells the Ephesian Gentiles that they are now fellow citizens with God’s people (the Jews) and members of God’s household (the church). And Paul is saying the same thing to us today. We too were once foreigners and aliens. We too did not know Christ. But now, through faith in Him, we have become members of God’s family and citizens in His kingdom (Luke 12:32).

20 In this verse, Paul says some important things about God’s household, the church. It is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets—that is, the New Testament apostles and the Old Testament PROPHETS. In other words, the church is built upon the foundation of the Old and New Testaments—the Bible. In simplest terms, the foundation of the church is God’s word. And this word (foundation) has been written down for us by the apostles and prophets.

Then Paul says that the chief corner-stone13 of the church is Jesus Christ Himself. Without such a cornerstone, a building will fall down.

21 The Jewish temple in Jerusalem no longer exists; the church is now God’s holy temple. And this temple is joined together in Christ; it is held together by Him. Christ is not only the church’s “cornerstone”; He is its head.

22 We believers are like stones, from which God has built His temple. We have been built together into one building, one church. We are united with each other. And God’s Holy Spirit lives in this temple, of which we are the stones (see 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Peter 2:5 and comments). God has built His temple so that He can dwell in it! Today what is our church like? Are its members joined together in unity? Is there peace in our church? Are we living together in love as in one family? When other people look at our church, what do they see? What does God see?