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2. Made Alive in Christ
1And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, 2wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; 3among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:-- 4but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), 6and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: 7that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: 8for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not of works, that no man should glory. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them. 11Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: 18for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. 19So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; 21in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
12. That at that time ye were without Christ. He now declares that the Ephesians had been excluded, not only from the outward badge, but from everything necessary to the salvation and happiness of men. As Christ is the foundation of hope and of all the promises, he mentions, first of all, that they were without Christ. But for him that is without Christ, there remains nothing but destruction. On Him the commonwealth of Israel was founded; and in whom, but in Himself, could the people of God be collected into one holy society?
A similar observation might be made as to the tables of the promise On one great promise made to Abraham all the others hang, and without it they lose all their value:
“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
Hence our apostle says elsewhere,
“All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.”
(2 Corinthians 1:20.)
Take away the covenant of salvation, and there remains no hope. I have translated τῶν διαθηκῶν by the tables, or, in ordinary legal phrase, the instruments. By solemn ritual did God sanction His covenant with Abraham and his posterity, that he would be their God for ever and ever. (Genesis 15:9.) Tables of this covenant were ratified by the hand of Moses, and intrusted, as a peculiar treasure, to the people of Israel, to whom, and not to the Gentiles, “pertain the covenants.” (Romans 9:4.)
And without God in the world. But at no period were the Ephesians, or any other Gentiles, destitute of all religion. Why, then, are they styled (ἄθεοι) Atheists? for (ἄθεος) an Atheist, strictly speaking, is one who does not believe, and who absolutely ridicules, the being of a God. That appellation, certainly, is not usually given to superstitious persons, but to those who have no feeling of religion, and who desire to see it utterly destroyed. I answer, Paul was right in giving them this name, for he treated all the notions entertained respecting false gods as nothing; and with the utmost propriety do godly persons regard all idols as “nothing in the world.” (1 Corinthians 8:4.) Those who do not worship the true God, whatever may be the variety of their worship, or the multitude of laborious ceremonies which they perform, are without God: they adore what they know not. (Acts 17:23.) Let it be carefully observed, that the Ephesians are not charged with (ἀθεϊσμὸς) Atheism, in the same degree as Diagoras, and others of the same stamp, who were subjected to that reproach. Persons who imagined themselves to be very religious are charged with that crime; for an idol is a forgery, an imposition, not a Divinity.
From what has been said, the conclusion will be easily drawn, that out of Christ there are none but idols. Those who were formerly declared to be without Christ, are now declared to be without God; 125125 “They either knew him not, or did not worship him as God; they had not avouched, or solemnly owned, or taken him for their God; and, in consequence, were not avouched, were not owned, and blessed, and accepted by him as his peculiar people. This was their condition as Gentiles born.” — Chandler. as John says,
“Whosoever hath not the Son, hath not the Father,”
(1 John 2:23;)
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.”
(2 John 1:9.)
Let us know, therefore, that all who do not keep this way wander from the true God. We shall next be asked, Did God never reveal himself to any of the Gentiles? I answer, no manifestation of God without Christ was ever made among the Gentiles, any more than among the Jews. It is not to one age only, or to one nation, that the saying of our Lord applies,
“I am the way;” for he adds, “no man cometh
unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6.)