In my last blog, we began unpacking the Book of Ephesians with chapter 1. The central focus in this chapter was the purpose and power of God which concentrated the blessings God gave us through Christ with his resurrection and ascension. Today we continue to chapter 2 where we find the main theme of having mercy as God does His work in us.
When God raised Jesus from the dead, bringing Him back to His side, He was appointed head of the church. He was the beginning, or the source and origin of His body He was establishing on earth. He was the ultimate authority and power. This Body will remain until He comes to remove it, along with the Holy Spirit sealing it.
Contrasts of Christ and Man
The first thoughts of chapter 2 reveal Paul’s intention to contrast the risen, ascended Savior against the human condition of lost men. Here they are:
- Christ is alive because of His righteousness, but we are dead, because of our sin.
- Christ is exalted and seated next to God, but we are on the earth.
- Christ has been given the ultimate power and authority, we are subject to the powers and authorities.
Part of man’s dilemma is that he won’t even see his condition until after he is saved. People living and governed by Satan are deceived, living in a world of darkness. While they believe they are enjoying life to the fullest, or spending every effort physically and financially trying to, in reality they are dead. Their condition is one so corrupted by the enemy, they have the inclination they are free, but they are actually enslaved. In fact, we all are. Everyone is a slave to someone. The good news is, though, God has given us free will to decide whom it will be that we serve.
Very strikingly, without softening the blow, Paul makes his point, using one word to describe those enslaved to Satan. Dead. To be dead is to be lifeless. To be powerless.
Jews and Gentiles Together in Ephesus
In James we saw the author addressing a primarily Jewish congregation. But here in Ephesus, the church is mostly Gentile converts, with a few Jews. What is most interesting is that it is here that Paul chooses to unite the Jews and the Gentiles in the common condition of sin and death. It is one thing for Paul to have said these words concerning the Gentiles. No Jew would disagree with him on that point. But Paul says these things about the Jews. The Jews thought that they were born “special,” that they were, because of their physical descent from Abraham, better than the Gentiles:
Paul writes, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
This would have been shocking to the Jews, and the Gentiles, too! The Gentiles were grafted onto the tree by Christ. No longer would the Jews by a special class. All had become equal because salvation was offered to all by Christ. It is here we must come to the complete understanding that it is through Christ, and Christ alone, that we are set free from sin that forces eternal death.
God’s Love and Our Gratitude
What we ought to be feeling at this point is deep gratitude toward God. His love for us should ignite something within us so deep that loving Him in return is our only response. In truth, God’s love is a cause, not a response. And this love covers us with mercy and grace, not because of any goodness on our part, to be sure!
This leads us to understand Ephesians 1: 8 and 9. Salvation comes as a gift, not as compensation for any good deed. Even while we were His enemies, He saved us! Who does that? Who do you know that we die for an enemy? This gospel makes it unique, setting it apart from other religions. This is God’s glory, His grace. It also lays upon us a God-centered worldview, because our salvation is all about God’s work, His effort, His ability.
The Ignorance of the Gentiles
I want to make a point. Before Paul’s teaching, before the apostles went into the world, what did the Gentiles know about Christ? Nothing! Zero! They had no resources to draw from as we do today.
By the circumcised Jews, they were referred to as the Uncircumcised. They were in total ignorance of the covenants and promises of Yahweh. Even so, through Christ, they were able to draw near to God. This was remarkable. This, too, was always the intent of God. It was not an afterthought to bring the Gentiles to salvation.
Until Christ, Mosaic Law divided them. Both Jew and Gentile had become united through their connection in Christ. We have transitioned from Mosaic Law into the Age of Grace. God reconciled the whole world to Himself through the Cross.
In verses 19-22, Paul talks about Jesus drawing us near to Him. In a great compelling, He draws us as close as possible. Once we take those steps, we shift from being strangers and enemies to being family. He is uniting us and building a spiritual house. He is the foundation. The prophets and apostles are built on top of Him, and each one of us will be positioned accordingly next. This house isn’t just spiritual, this house is organic. The churches in the Age of Grace formed the invisible body of Christ. To each other, we are family, on one term. On another, however, according to this illustration of the spiritual house, we are closer than family. We are one with Him, comprising His body, and He is the Head!
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…