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Paulís Letter To The Ephesians

Chapters  2

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ch. 2:1-10     ch. 2:11-22

Made Alive In Christ (ch. 2:1Ė 10)  

Paul opens this chapter by telling the Ephesians they were once dead.  Why were they dead? Death came to them because of their "trespasses and sin". The Greek word "paraptoma" is translated as "trespass". This Greek word means "to take a false step, to fall away, or make a blunder. The Greek word "hamrita" is translated as "sin", which means "to miss the mark".  When thinking of the word the "trespass" and the word "sin", according to the Greek definition, they are similar, but not exactly the same. They both have to do with the direction that one takes for his life.

We were all once dead because we have missed the mark and have stepped away from the truth. Paul says we missed the mark because "we followed the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient". Paul mentions two worlds here. The first world is manís system in which we live which is corrupt and depraved. It is clear from a study of Romans that man without Christ is altogether depraved and good for nothing. If that is the case with man, then all of man's systems is depraved and corrupt as well.

Paul goes one step beyond talking about the system of the world. He also says that in our disobedience we follow "the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit that now works in those who are disobedient". Paul can only be talking about Satan and his demonic host which is in a spiritual dimension that surrounds us. This is why Paul mentions the word "air". Around us is another world. It is a spiritual world, where the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness exist.

Jesus told us that satan is the prince of this world.  He is the prince of the power of the air.  According to Paul in this passage, if we don't serve Jesus we serve the devil, whether we know it or not. 

Paul includes himself in verse 3 with those who lived "by the cravings of their sinful nature". We see three things at work in people here. There is the sinful nature of a man which means that man is capable of sin without any outside help.  There is also the world around us encouraging us to sin. There is also the demonic world around us that influences us to sin as well. Because of this Paul says that we have become "objects of Godís wrath". It appears clear then that all three influences are working in the non Christian, including the influence of the devil.

There is a difference between wrath and anger. Anger is something that is more of the mind and can be controlled. Wrath is an emotional outburst of anger that has immediate actions, and is somewhat uncontrollable. God does get angry at fallen man, and he will pour out His great wrath on those who reject Him as seen in the book of Revelation. This is a fact and cannot be overlooked.

Because of these verses we do have to admit to the existence of a dark spiritual kingdom led by Satan himself. It is not clear from these particular verses the extent of this kingdom. We do know that before Paul and the Ephesians became Christians they were influenced by this dark kingdom, yet it does appear from these verses that this influence is a thing of the past. Paul doesnít seem to be saying that the devil still has a hold on him or the Ephesians in their post conversion life. 

Concerning Satan, Jesus calls him the "prince of this world" in John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11. Paul himself calls Satan, the "god of this age" in 2 Corinthians 4:4. You can see how Satan is the ruler of the air. Over the last 30 years in the Charismatic movement there has been a great debate of what kind of influence Satan can have over a Christian. We need to be clear on this and state only what the Bible says. Paul is saying that Satan works in the unbeliever, and that he is also the prince of this age. He is not the King of the universe.

It is my thinking that a Christian cannot possess a demon.  That is to say, a demon can't live in a Christian.  However, I think a Christian can be influenced by a demon if he so chooses to give into one.

Paul goes on to say in verse 4 that Godís love causes Him to have mercy on us. This means that God has pity on us. In our deadness He has saved us and has raised us up into heavenly places with Christ Jesus. This is a place in which we live. We can only live in this spiritual place if we have Godís Spirit living within us. The Holy Spirit elevates our lives into a spiritual world where Jesus Himself lives.

The Holy Spirit is vital to the life of Christians.  That might well be an understatement.  In Romans 8:9 Paul says that if you don't have the Spirit of God you do not belong to God.  That is a very powerful and fundamental statement. 

Paul goes on to say why we are seated with Christ in these heavenly places. It is because at some future point we will experience "his incomparable riches of His grace". What all this means is speculation. We do know that our future will be so good that it is beyond our imagination.  I see the fulfillment of what Paul is saying in Revelation 20 and 21 when this present heaven and earth flee from the presence of God and a new heaven and earth replaces the old heaven and earth. 

Paul uses the word "ages" (plural form) in reference to this future time. Maybe the plural use of the word ages suggests an eternity without end. Maybe Paul is suggesting that in eternity there will be different ages of time, different time periods with different meanings. Our God is a creative God and it is not likely that things will ever get stagnant and old with Him. Maybe there is an eternity of many ages to come. Each age having its own significance and meaning.

Ephesians 2:8 is one of the most famous evangelical verses that are often quoted. Paul tells us that it is "by faith (trusting Jesus alone) we are saved. It is Godís grace towards us that saves us. It is not by works, not by anything we can do. We are saved by grace and not by good works. We also stay saved by grace and not by good works. The result of this is that we cannot boast about anything when it comes to our salvation, because it is all because of Jesus.

In verse 8 Paul says we are saved by grace through faith and this is not of our own doing.  We need to ask, "What is not of our own doing?"  Is grace not of our own doing or is faith not of our own doing?"  For me, it's obvious that God's grace extended to us is not of our doing.  If it were, then grace would not be unmerited favour as we should understand it in this verse.  Besides this, the Greek grammatical construction of this verse tells us that it's the faith that is not of our own doing.  This means that we are saved by God's grace when He creates faith or trust in Him that we are unable to muster up on our own.  In fact, what theologians call "saving faith", the faith that saves us, is a gift from God.  We do not have the ability to manufacture this saving grace. Romans 12:3 and 6 clearly tell us that faith is a gift from God.    

In verse 10 Paul lets us know where good works fit into the scheme of things. He says that we are "Godís workmanship in Christ". When we become Christians, we become Godís recreation. Because God has recreated us, we will do good works. Yet it is important to know that good works prior to salvation, for the purpose of salvation means nothing. Also goods works to maintain our salvation means nothing. Good works that are a result of our faith, our trust in Jesus mean a lot. They mean a lot to others and a lot to God Himself, who has made us to do good things. It is imperative to know that no good work can save us, or keep us saved. Any real good work we do is a result of God recreating us. Our good works are a result of our trust in Jesus. Our good works are also a means to mature us as Christians. The more we grow in faith based good works, the more we grow as Christians.

Evangelicals over the years have stressed salvation by faith in God's grace, and for good reason.  That being said, we should never underestimate good works once we are saved.  God calls us to do good works.  He wants us to do good works.  As a matter of fact, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3 says that our works will be judged.  Those works that have been based on real trust in Jesus will be rewarded for and those that aren't based on trust in Jesus will be thrown into the scrap pile. 

It is interesting to note that at the Great White Throne judgment as seen in Revelation 20, men and women are sent to the Lake of Fire because of their bad works of sin.  A number of sins are listed there, that is, except for the number one bad work of sin, that being rejecting Jesus and His provision of grace as seen in the cross.  I believe that for the Christian, we have entered the world of grace and therefore our salvation, our eternal destiny, does not depend on our good works or our bad works of sin.  For those who reject Jesus and the provision He made on the cross, they live in the world of works, and that is why their salvation is based on their works, including works of sin.  I see a sin as being a bad work.  So, man has a choice.  He can live in the world of grace or live in the world of works. 

The simple fact is that if you reject God's grace and fail to live in God's grace you will be judged according to His wrath as seen in Revelation 20.     

One In Christ (ch. 2:11 Ė 22)  

Here in verses 11 through 13 Paul lists a number of things about these Gentiles that were true about them before they came to Christ. They were called the uncircumcised. They were separated from Christ. They were not apart of the citizenship of Israel . They were foreigners to the covenants of promise. They were also without hope and without God in the world.

Concerning this list, it is interesting to note that before these Gentile Ephesians met Jesus they were outside the "citizenship of Israel . This implies that after coming to Christ they became part of Israel in terms of the age of grace.   This new Israel is those who have come to Christ, and who have been circumcised in the heart and not the flesh. See Romans 2:28 Ė 29.  By the blood of Jesus these people have been "brought near", or included in with all the promises God made to Abraham.

Jesus Himself brought the Gentiles and the Jews into one body, and broke down the wall that separated the two groups. How did Jesus do this? In verse 15 Paul says, "Jesus abolished in His flesh the Law, with its commands and regulations. Paul, in Colossians 2:14, says that Jesus nailed the Law to the cross. This is what the phrase, "in His flesh" means. Jesusí life fulfilled all of the demands of the Law and therefore while on the cross abolished the Law as it applies to getting saved and staying saved forever. This allows the Gentiles into the family of God. This also means the Law does not apply to us any longer. This is one of the main topics of Paulís teaching throughout all of his writings.

All of the above being said, and this is dispensational thinking, once this age of grace is over and the last Gentile is saved, the time will come when Israel will be asked to obey the Law of Moses again.  They have failed to do this in Old Testament days, but the remnant of Israelis who find repentance through the tribulation will keep the Law as they once promised both God.  At that point, every last prophetic aspect of the Law will be fulfilled and it will no longer exist, and at that point the thousand year rule of Christ on earth will end and be replaced by the new heaven and new earth.  That's why Jesus said that the Law would not be destroyed until all of it was fulfilled.  It will be fulfilled during the thousand year rule of Christ on earth when Jesus rules both Israel and the world from Jerusalem .  

In this age of grace there is no longer any division between Jew and Gentile. Both groups have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit, Paul says in verse 18. Concerning salvation, there is no special significance for the Jewish people. Concerning prophetic history Israel still has a role to play as can be seen in Romans 9 through 11. 

In verse 19 Paul confirms the fact once again that the Gentiles are "no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with Godís people". We as Gentile believers are part of this new Israel , the new people of God.

This new people of God is referred to as a building in verse 20. The New Testament apostles and prophets are the foundation stones of this building. Jesus Himself is the "chief cornerstone".

Because Jesus is the chief cornerstone we have been built into a temple where God can dwell. No longer does God dwell in a temple made by hands. God does not live in a building. He lives in His people.  This is what I believe Jesus meant when He said that He would build His church, or, more accurately translated, "His community of people".   Jesus' community of believers in this age of grace consists of both Jews and Gentiles.  There is no distinction between the two.  However, once the age of grace is over, there will be a distinction.  That is during the thousand year rule of Jesus on earth. 

 

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