About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Paulís Letter To The Ephesians
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
interesting to note that at the Great White Throne judgment as seen in
Revelation 20, men and women are sent to the
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.
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
list, it is interesting to note that before these Gentile Ephesians met Jesus
they were outside the "citizenship of
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
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
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
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
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
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.