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From Death to Life

 2

You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.


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Eph 2:1-22. God's Love and Grace in Quickening Us, Once Dead, through Christ. His Purpose in Doing So: Exhortation Based on Our Privileges as Built Together, an Holy Temple, in Christ, through the Spirit.

1. And you—"You also," among those who have experienced His mighty power in enabling them to believe (Eph 1:19-23).

hath he quickened—supplied from the Greek (Eph 2:5).

dead—spiritually. (Col 2:13). A living corpse: without the gracious presence of God's Spirit in the soul, and so unable to think, will, or do aught that is holy.

in trespasses … sinsin them, as the element in which the unbeliever is, and through which he is dead to the true life. Sin is the death of the soul. Isa 9:2; Joh 5:25, "dead" (spiritually), 1Ti 5:6. "Alienated from the life of God" (Eph 4:18). Translate, as Greek, "in your trespasses," &c. "Trespass" in Greek, expresses a FALL or LAPSE, such as the transgression of Adam whereby he fell. "Sin." (Greek, "hamartia") implies innate corruption and ALIENATION from God (literally, erring of the mind from the rule of truth), exhibited in acts of sin (Greek, "hamartemata"). Bengel, refers "trespasses" to the Jews who had the law, and yet revolted from it; "sins," to the Gentiles who know not God.

2. the course of this world—the career (literally, "the age," compare Ga 1:4), or present system of this world (1Co 2:6, 12; 3:18, 19, as opposed to "the world to come"): alien from God, and lying in the wicked one (1Jo 5:19). "The age" (which is something more external and ethical) regulates "the world" (which is something more external).

the prince of the power of the air—the unseen God who lies underneath guiding "the course of this world" (2Co 4:4); ranging through the air around us: compare Mr 4:4, "fowls of the air" (Greek, "heaven") that is, (Eph 2:15), "Satan" and his demons. Compare Eph 6:12; Joh 12:31. Christ's ascension seems to have cast Satan out of heaven (Re 12:5, 9, 10, 12, 13), where he had been heretofore the accuser of the brethren (Job 1:6-11). No longer able to accuse in heaven those justified by Christ, the ascended Saviour (Ro 8:33, 34), he assails them on earth with all trials and temptations; and "we live in an atmosphere poisonous and impregnated with deadly elements. But a mighty purification of the air will be effected by Christ's coming" [Auberlen], for Satan shall be bound (Re 12:12, 13, 15, 17; 20:2, 3). "The power" is here used collectively for the "powers of the air"; in apposition with which "powers" stand the "spirits," comprehended in the singular, "the spirit," taken also collectively: the aggregate of the "seducing spirits" (1Ti 4:1) which "work now (still; not merely, as in your case, 'in time past') in the sons of disobedience" (a Hebraism: men who are not merely by accident disobedient, but who are essentially sons of disobedience itself: compare Mt 3:7), and of which Satan is here declared to be "the prince." The Greek does not allow "the spirit" to refer to Satan, "the prince" himself, but to "the powers of the air" of which he is prince. The powers of the air are the embodiment of that evil "spirit" which is the ruling principle of unbelievers, especially the heathen (Ac 26:18), as opposed to the spirit of the children of God (Lu 4:33). The potency of that "spirit" is shown in the "disobedience" of the former. Compare De 32:20, "children in whom is no faith" (Isa 30:9; 57:4). They disobey the Gospel both in faith and practice (2Th 1:8; 2Co 2:12).

3. also we—that is, we also. Paul here joins himself in the same category with them, passing from the second person (Eph 2:1, 2) to the first person here.

all—Jews and Gentiles.

our conversation—"our way of life" (2Co 1:12; 1Pe 1:18). This expression implies an outwardly more decorous course, than the open "walk" in gross sins on the part of the majority of Ephesians in times past, the Gentile portion of whom may be specially referred to in Eph 2:2. Paul and his Jewish countrymen, though outwardly more seemly than the Gentiles (Ac 26:4, 5, 18), had been essentially like them in living to the unrenewed flesh, without the Spirit of God.

fulfillingGreek, doing.

mindGreek, "our thoughts." Mental suggestions and purposes (independent of God), as distinguished from the blind impulses of "the flesh."

and were by nature—He intentionally breaks off the construction, substituting "and we were" for "and being," to mark emphatically his and their past state by nature, as contrasted with their present state by grace. Not merely is it, we had our way of life fulfilling our fleshly desires, and so being children of wrath; but we were by nature originally "children of wrath," and so consequently had our way of life fulfilling our fleshly desires. "Nature," in Greek, implies that which has grown in us as the peculiarity of our being, growing with our growth, and strengthening with our strength, as distinguished from that which has been wrought on us by mere external influences: what is inherent, not acquired (Job 14:4; Ps 51:5). An incidental proof of the doctrine of original sin.

children of wrath—not merely "sons," as in the Greek, "sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:2), but "children" by generation; not merely by adoption, as "sons" might be. The Greek order more emphatically marks this innate corruption: "Those who in their (very) nature are children of wrath"; Eph 2:5, "grace" is opposed to "nature" here; and salvation (implied in Eph 2:5, 8, "saved") to "wrath." Compare Article IX, Church of England Common Prayer Book. "Original sin (birth-sin), standeth not in the following of Adam, but is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, naturally engendered of Adam [Christ was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin], whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil; and therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." Paul shows that even the Jews, who boasted of their birth from Abraham, were by natural birth equally children of wrath as the Gentiles, whom the Jews despised on account of their birth from idolaters (Ro 3:9; 5:12-14). "Wrath abideth" on all who disobey the Gospel in faith and practice (Joh 3:36). The phrase, "children of wrath," is a Hebraism, that is, objects of God's wrath from childhood, in our natural state, as being born in the sin which God hates. So "son of death" (2Sa 12:5, Margin); "son of perdition" (Joh 17:12; 2Th 2:3).

as othersGreek, "as the rest" of mankind are (1Th 4:13).

4. God, who is richGreek "(as) being rich in mercy."

for—that is, "because of His great love." This was the special ground of God's saving us; as "rich in mercy" (compare Eph 2:7; Eph 1:7; Ro 2:4; 10:12) was the general ground. "Mercy takes away misery; love confers salvation" [Bengel].

5. dead in sins—The best reading is in the Greek, "dead in our (literally, 'the') trespasses."

quickened—"vivified" spiritually, and consequences hereafter, corporally. There must be a spiritual resurrection of the soul before there can be a comfortable resurrection of the body [Pearson] (Joh 11:25, 26; Ro 8:11).

together with Christ—The Head being seated at God's right hand, the body also sits there with Him [Chrysostom]. We are already seated there IN Him ("in Christ Jesus," Eph 2:6), and hereafter shall be seated by Him; IN Him already as in our Head, which is the ground of our hope; by Him hereafter, as by the conferring cause, when hope shall be swallowed up in fruition [Pearson]. What God wrought in Christ, He wrought (by the very fact) in all united to Christ, and one with Him.

by grace ye are savedGreek, "Ye are in a saved state." Not merely "ye are being saved," but ye "are passed from death unto life" (Joh 5:24). Salvation is to the Christian not a thing to be waited for hereafter, but already realized (1Jo 3:14). The parenthetic introduction of this clause here (compare Eph 2:8) is a burst of Paul's feeling, and in order to make the Ephesians feel that grace from first to last is the sole source of salvation; hence, too, he says "ye," not "we."

6. raised us up together—with Christ. The "raising up" presupposes previous quickening of Jesus in the tomb, and of us in the grave of our sins.

made us sit together—with Christ, namely, in His ascension. Believers are bodily in heaven in point of right, and virtually so in spirit, and have each their own place assigned there, which in due time they shall take possession of (Php 3:20, 21). He does not say, "on the right hand of God"; a prerogative reserved to Christ peculiarly; though they shall share His throne (Re 3:21).

in Christ Jesus—Our union with Him is the ground of our present spiritual, and future bodily, resurrection and ascension. "Christ Jesus" is the phrase mostly used in this Epistle, in which the office of the Christ, the Anointed Prophet, Priest and King, is the prominent thought; when the Person is prominent, "Jesus Christ" is the phrase used.

7. Greek, "That He might show forth (middle reflexive voice; for His own glory, Eph 1:6, 12, 14) in the ages which are coming on," that is, the blessed ages of the Gospel which supersede "the age (Greek, for 'course') of this world" (Eph 2:2), and the past "ages" from which the mystery was hidden (Col 1:26, 27). These good ages, though beginning with the first preaching of the Gospel, and thenceforth continually succeeding one another, are not consummated till the Lord's coming again (compare Eph 1:21; Heb 6:5). The words, "coming on," do not exclude the time then present, but imply simply the ages following upon Christ's "raising them up together" spiritually (Eph 2:6).

kindness—"benignity."

through Christ—rather, as Greek, "in Christ"; the same expression as is so often repeated, to mark that all our blessings center "IN Him."

8. For—illustrating "the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness." Translate as in Eph 2:5, "Ye are in a saved state."

through faith—the effect of the power of Christ's resurrection (Eph 1:19, 20; Php 3:10) whereby we are "raised together" with Him (Eph 2:6; Col 2:12). Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "through your (literally, 'the') faith." The instrument or mean of salvation on the part of the person saved; Christ alone is the meritorious agent.

and that—namely, the act of believing, or "faith." "Of yourselves" stands in opposition to, "it is the gift of God" (Php 1:29). "That which I have said, 'through faith,' I do not wish to be understood so as if I excepted faith itself from grace" [Estius]. "God justifies the believing man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him in whom he believes" [Hooker]. The initiation, as well as the increase, of faith, is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal of the word, but by internal illumination in the soul [Pearson]. Yet "faith" cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely, "hearing the word of God" (Ro 10:17), and prayer (Lu 11:13), though the blessing is wholly of God (1Co 3:6, 7).

9. Not of works—This clause stands in contrast to "by grace," as is confirmed by Ro 4:4, 5; 11:6.

lest—rather, as Greek, "that no man should boast" (Ro 3:27; 4:2).

10. workmanship—literally, "a thing of His making"; "handiwork." Here the spiritual creation, not the physical, is referred to (Eph 2:8, 9).

created—having been created (Eph 4:24; Ps 102:18; Isa 43:21; 2Co 5:5, 17).

unto good works—"for good works." "Good works" cannot be performed until we are new "created unto" them. Paul never calls the works of the law "good works." We are not saved by, but created unto, good works.

before ordainedGreek, "before made ready" (compare Joh 5:36). God marks out for each in His purposes beforehand, the particular good works, and the time and way which tie sees best. God both makes ready by His providence the opportunities for the works, and makes us ready for their performance (Joh 15:16; 2Ti 2:21).

that we should walk in them—not "be saved" by them. Works do not justify, but the justified man works (Ga 5:22-25).




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