Ephesians 2

2:1 As for you, you were [note Paul’s terrible description of humanity outside of Christ…] dead [spiritually dead and unresponsive; alienated from God; those who are spiritually dead have no communication with God] in your transgressions [Gr. paraptoma: to fall aside or beside] and sins [Gr. hamartia: to miss the mark of the divine command; “transgressions and sins” separate us from God who is the source of life],

2:2 in which you used to live [walk; describes the conduct or direction of one’s life] when you followed [reminder that every person serves or follows some master] the ways of this world [refers to humanity in revolt against God] and of the ruler [refers to Satan’s control] of the kingdom of the air [the realm or sphere of the demonic; perhaps indicates nature of the demonic powers (that is, they are spiritual beings that do not have bodies)], the spirit [refers to Satan] who is now [a real and present threat; Satan always working his agenda: “to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10a)] at work in those who are disobedient [disobedient are not free (as they might think) but in bondage to Satan].

2:3 All [Jews and Gentiles alike] of us [prior to salvation all people abide in the “dominion of darkness” (Col. 1:13)] also lived among them at one time [cf. Rom. 3:23], gratifying [doing what feels natural] the cravings of our sinful nature [Gr. sarkos: flesh; everything human apart from God; cf. Gal. 5:19-21 re: sins of the flesh] and following its [sinful nature] desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath [Jewish idiom for those who deserve God’s punishment].

2:4 But [conjunction introduces difference that God makes in the lives of those who place their faith in Christ] because of his great love [Gr. agape: selfless love that seeks the best for others; defines God’s very nature and being (1 Jn. 4:8,16)] for us [God’s love directed to Jews and Gentiles alike], God, who is rich [God’s mercy overflows from an inexhaustible storehouse] in mercy [lovingkindness or compassion (cf. Hebrew word “hesed”],

2:5 [note three acts accomplished by God…] [1] made us alive [means that we are saved] with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions [cf. 2:1]—it is by grace [God’s undeserved favor] you have been saved [completed (past) action with present and ongoing results].

2:6 And God [2] raised us up with Christ and [3] seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

2:7 in order that in the coming ages [future ages on earth on through to eternity] he might show [to demonstrate, to prove] the incomparable [to exceed, to surpass] riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved [cf. 2:5], through faith [the channel or means through which we receive the gift of God’s salvation offered “by grace”]—and this [the entire process of salvation] not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Note: “The only thing that a man can contribute to his redemption is the sin from which he needs to be redeemed.” (William Temple)

2:9 not by works [not on the basis of anything we do; good works (however good) cannot bring about or contribute to our salvation], so that no one can boast.

2:10 For we are God’s workmanship [that which is made; a work of art, a poem, a masterpiece], created [believers are “new creatures” (2 Cor. 5:17) – the masterpiece of God’s creation] in [by virtue of our faith relationship with] Christ Jesus to do [Gr. peripateo: to walk about in; not to obtain or maintain salvation but to demonstrate the new life one has in Christ] good works [a goal and result of our salvation; the evidence of salvation (cf. Jas. 1:22; 2:14-26); cf. Matt. 5:16], which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Note: List some of the good works you know God has prepared for you to do.

2:11 Therefore [cf. 2:1-10 (one sentence in the Greek text) re: former moral condition of Gentiles who had become Christians], remember [a call to action on the basis of the memory; we should never forget what life was like before Jesus] that formerly you who are Gentiles [pagan/heathen] by birth and called “uncircumcised” [derisive term used by Jews to draw physical distinctions between themselves and others] by those who call themselves “the circumcision” [eventually became a mark of prideful exclusion] (that done in the body by the hands of men [outward cutting: not circumcision of the heart; cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11])—

2:12 remember that at that time you were [1] separate from Christ [no expectation of a Messiah to save them], [2] excluded [estranged] from citizenship in Israel and [3] foreigners [they had no share or part in promises] to the covenants [plural; probably refers to the many reaffirmations of covenant to Abraham and his descendants] of the promise, [4] without hope [no confident expectation concerning life or life after death] and [5] without God [from Gr. word from which we get our word atheist; had many gods but without the one true God] in the world.

2:13 But now [two words introduce difference made by God’s intervention; shifts focus from past to present; contrasts with “formerly” (v.1)] in Christ Jesus [contrasts with “separate from Christ” (v. 2)] you who once were far away [Jews considered Gentiles far away from God’s promises/covenants; cf. Isa. 57:19] have been brought near through the blood [Heb. 9:22] of Christ.

2:14 For he himself [Christ is the One who has solved the problems of our relationship with God and others] is our peace [well-being, wholeness, security; cf. Isa. 9:6; Christ is also our Peacemaker], who has made the two [Jews and Gentiles] one [the church] and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall [religious, cultural, attitude barriers; perhaps Paul thinking of actual wall that divided Court of the Gentiles from the rest of temple; a sign on wall restricted Gentiles to a specific area; cf. Acts 21:28-29] of hostility,

2:15 by abolishing [to wipe out; to make ineffective; to nullify] in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations [as a means of seeking to be right with God; thousands of Jewish rules and regulations were in existence at the time of Christ]. His purpose [in abolishing “the law with its commandment and regulations”] was [1] to create in himself one new man [does not mean that Jews became Gentiles or that Gentiles became Jews; instead, Jews and Gentiles became Christians, a new kind of people/race (cf. Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11); the church] out of the two [Jews and Gentiles], thus making peace [Christ brings peace between those who were separated],

2:16 and in this one body [the church] [2] to reconcile [“to change thoroughly” or to change from one condition to another; to remove barriers to peace; to bring two parties together who were at odds with one another; God does not need to be reconciled to us, we need to be reconciled to God] both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility [between people and between people and God].

2:17 He came and preached peace [peace with God and peace between Jews and Gentiles] to you who were far away [Gentiles: knew little or nothing about God] and peace to those who were near [Jews].

2:18 For [reason Christ preached peace to both Jews and Gentiles] through him [Christ; cf. Acts 4:12] we both [Jews and Gentiles] have access [pictures being presented to a king in his throne room] to the Father by one Spirit.

2:19 Consequently [because of death of Jesus on the cross], you [Gentiles] are no longer foreigners and aliens [people without status], but [contrasts old status/condition with new status/condition] fellow citizens [with all rights and privileges] with God’s people [the saints] and members [suggests intimate status] of God’s household,

2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone [Christ holds the building together; cf. Ps. 118:22].

2:21 In him [Christ] the whole building is joined together [signifies function of cornerstone] and rises [grows; conveys idea of a dynamic church in process of growth] to become a holy temple [word refers to what was the Most Holy Place in the Jewish temple] in the Lord.

2:22 And in him [Christ] you too [Gentile believers joined with Jewish believers] are being built together to become a dwelling [an entirely new kind of dwelling: the whole body of believers, the church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles; God’s abode is in the church, not in the Jerusalem temple] in which God lives [in us corporately and individually] by his Spirit.

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