Bible Book: Ephesus 2

The beginning as a sinner and the consequence of his being in Christ. 

 1 And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. We now have to point out a difference between the epistle to the Romans and this one to the Ephesians. In both has been written about the death of a sinner. In the one to the Romans death is the only suitable destination for a sinner, for what would God do with a sinner but put him into death? How could a sinful one exist before the holy God? Impossible. Therefore Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-4: 3 Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. In those verses death (with Christ) is presented as something a sinner must reach and confirm with baptism. In the epistle to the Ephesians however is said, that a sinner is lying in death and must be raised up with Christ. In Romans 6:4 the resurrection of Christ is mentioned, but it is avoided to say of the sinner that he has been raised. In this epistle tot the Ephesians it is different. Because not the death with Christ, but the being raised with Christ is lighted up, the continuation is brought up as well, the fact that God has made the Christians sit together in heavenly places in Christ. That means that this epistle has a parallel in the book of Joshua in which is described, that Israel came up out of the river Jordan and entered the promised land. It is remarkable that for Israel fighting started, not in order to enter, but because they had entered. So this epistle describes the war a Christian has to fight against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, because he has been placed there. So in this second chapter someone who has not yet believed is seen as dead, which was evident by a walk in sin and unrighteousness, after the pattern of the world and the guidance of satan. 3 Among these also we all in times past had our manner of living in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Desires and lusts governed us and we followed our own will. We therefore were children of Gods wrath. That our desires and lusts play an important role we all know and that our thoughts often are not suitable for publication as well. Much that rises up out of our heart cannot bear the light of God. If a Christian is governed by his old sinful nature, nothing good will come out of it, for the flesh lusts against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), 6 and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, For natural men the situation would be without hope if the “But” of God would not be true. A dead man cannot quicken himself from death, BUT God! He has quickened the believer with Christ. How can that be? By the fact that Christ united Himself with us in his death, taking our place and bearing our sins, so dying our death. In his resurrection we, being united with Him, have been raised with Him and quickened, though belonging to death by our sin and transgressions. Grace decided different and saved us. So we have been raised with Christ and sit together “in Him” in heavenly places.
  In heavenly places in Christ.  That God has made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus does not mean that in due course we’ll be there with Him, a future thing. Those words tell us, what God has done, not what he will do in time. A Christian is united with Christ, Christ even in Him, being his life, which means that in Him we are seated now where He is (Colossians 3:4). The consequence is that a Christian, though temporary being on earth, has a heavenly position, is a citizen of heaven and is sitting there in Christ. That would not be true if we would not be “in Christ”. But being “in Christ” indeed we are blessed if He has been blessed, have been quickened with Him if He has risen from death, are heirs if He is Gods Heir, have in Him been chosen if He has been chosen and are sitting in heaven because He is sitting there. 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Some speak of a cruel and hard God. They obviously do not know Him. I future the overwhelming goodness of God toward us and the place He has given us will be seen, when we will appear with Christ in glory. Amazing it is and it will astonish men that not holy angels but sinners, enemies of God, have been brought into the most close relation with Christ and shall be like Him, appearing with Him in glory (1 John 3:2). Than will be seen how great Gods grace and love toward us has been. That will be to the glory of God. 
 Saved by grace, a gift of Godnot deserved by our works.  8 For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, lest any man should boast. O, sure, it is not by works. The role of faith in it is, that by believing in Christ and believing the gospel, we have got hold of that grace, or, the reverse, that God could show us grace once we had believed in Christ. Faith is not meritorious. Not our works nor our faith were meritorious, giving us any right. But speaking of grace it is absurdity to speak of a right. Salvation is a gift of God. Faith is the step that puts us on the ground of grace (Romans 5:2). The gospel invites the sinner to take that step. And God shows mercy for free, without any merit on our side, even not the merit of faith, which verse 9 confirms. The verses 8 and 9 do not say that faith is a gift of God, but that salvation by grace is a gift of God, in which works of us have no part. The word “that” in the sentence “that not of yourselves” does not refer to the word faith, but to salvation by faith. Verse 9 says that it is not by works. Now it is evident that nobody will think that faith can be by works. So verse 9 is the continuation or working out of the remark in verse 8 “that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”. That gift is not faith, but salvation by grace. (In German the sentence in verse 8 is:Denn durch die Gnade seid ihr errettet, mittelst des Glaubens; und das nicht aus euch, Gottes Gabe ist es. If is meant that faith (in German der Glaube) is a gift of God, the end would have been: Gottes Gabe ist ER (der Glaube) and not „ist ES“, for the word „es“ can only be used for a neuter word and Glaube is masculine. The German translation is conform the Greek text.) Faith comes by hearing, says Romans 10:17. There can only be faith where the Word of God has been heard. Whosoever is convinced by that word and believes it, is henceforth is a believer (Acts 2:41). There are still preachers who enlarge on what God has to do in order a sinner be saved. The hearers consequently are inclined to ask whether God does or has done his work on them. It is a disastrous teaching with a fatal result. Nobody has to tell men what God has to do, nor to tell God what he has to do, for He knows better than we do. The gospel tells what God has done and what a sinner has to do: repent and believe the gospel. We can fully leave it to God to do what He alone can do by his Word and Spirit, to open a human heart and soften an hardened and closed heart. A sinner should not get the impression that he has to ask himself earnestly whether God is working on him or not. When he is hearing or reading the gospel God is working indeed. He rather should ask himself whether he has confessed that he is a lost sinner and whether he has accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour.)
 In Christ a new creation.  10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath beforehand ordained, that we should walk in them. Whosoever has been born again by the Word of God, is a new creation:18 Of His own will, He begot us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:18) 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently, 23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:22, 23). 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17). A Christian is a new creation because He has been united with Christ by faith (what the Word of God achieved) and has received new life. That life is Christ, for He is our life. Therefore it can be said here that we have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works. To that new creation belong new works, that is good works, not the wicked works of the flesh, the old nature. Those good works we find in Christ Jesus. By following Him, we walk in the works that God has ordained beforehand.  
What we were before that.  11 Therefore, remember that ye, being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by those who are called the Circumcision in the flesh so made by hands— 12 remember that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and being without God in the world. The apostle here writes about the position they had been in, Gentiles and not Jews. That has been our position before we had believed. Without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, outsiders as to the law and the promises, without hope and without God. To the Gentile believers in Galatia Paul has written: And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (3:29). Anyone who has not been born of Jewish parents cannot be called Abraham’s seed, unless he has believed in Jesus Christ and consequently is “in Christ”. If not in Christ, he still is alien from that commonwealth of Israel and is a stranger from the covenants of promise. By natural birth a child of non Jewish parents will not be on the ground of the covenant. Rebirth is necessary for that. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, ye who once were far off have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. No hope said verse 12. What then can be said more? If it would depend on men nothing more. There is however a Redeemer, one who opened a future for the hopeless. Thanks to Him there is a “But”. For they who were far off, have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ, that washes the sins away of anyone who believes in Him. That blood witnesses that the judgment has been executed, so that no judgment will come again; it speaks of love till death and of the price Jesus paid as a ransom for us. He died our death and gave to us his life. All who belong to Him are “in Him”, united to Him, so that He could say “My God and your God and my Father and your Father”. Would not a son be with his Father? A son is not far off as a servant is.
In Christ peace and unity between Jew and Gentile.  14 For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, Jews were nearer than the Gentiles, but in Christ believing Jews and believers of the gentiles have been brought nigh in the same way and the same measure and more nigh than Israel has ever been. A gentile believer need not suppose that his Jewish brother is nearer tot the Father than he is. The Lord broke away that wall of partition that separated gentiles from Jews. He made them one. All difference and hostility has gone. Christ is the Peace of both and between the two. 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that He might make in Himself one new man out of the two, so making peace, The law Israel received at Sinai made a difference between Jews and gentiles by its institutions and regulations (laws). But hanging on the cross, what the Jews required of Pilate, He abolished the law, for there Israel in the rejection and crucifixion of Christ sinned more than any gentile people had ever done, whereas He in that sacrifice did far more than all God commanded in his law. By keeping the law of Sinai no gentile, Jew or Christian can add even a little bit of value to the obedience of Christ or improve it. Moreover the crucifixion of Christ made clear, that the just law of God could not prevent that they even crucified the Son of God. What then was the use of separation of the Jews from gentile people? Had not the Jews proved themselves more godless than the gentiles? No, Christ made peace between them and made them in Himself to one new man. It therefore was of no use to seek righteousness by keeping the law; It was wrong also to pretend that gentile believers stood some lower than Jewish believers as long as they did not keep the law. Would the law be able to bring them further than the position “in Christ”? Surely not. It had been shown that he zeal of Jewish zealots to bring their gentile brethren under the law was wrong and that it was wrong as well if non Jewish believers accepted their view and started to keep Jewish ordinances of the law. Of the struggle of Paul against the endeavours to combine the gospel with the law, we find traces in several epistles of the apostle. In 1 Timothy 1:6-9 he wrote about sound doctrine and the Jewish teachers: 6 from which some have swerved and have turned aside unto vain jangling. 7 They desire to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayer. He wrote that of the activity of Jewish teachers in Ephesus. The law has been given by God indeed and therefore some could get the impression that it could not be wrong to bring believers under it. It is however a wrong attempt of the wicked one to undermine the gospel of “grace alone” by mixing it with the principle of the law. Unfortunately the influence of that mixing of the gospel and the law can still be seen in Christianity till now. 16 and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby. The two, Jew and gentile, united in one body with the Lord, have been reconciled with God by the cross, the cross by which He also the enmity, that is the law, has brought into death. The law is destined for natural and unconverted men (1 Timothy 1:8-10). But on the cross natural man, the flesh, has been judged and brought into death by the body of Christ, and with that the law applying to natural men.The opinion that that doctrine gives the Christian a licence for a life of sin, is wrong and has been contradicted sufficiently by verse 10 we considered already. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were nigh;Every Christian will gratefully recognize that his peace is by Christ, his peace with God and the peace in his heart. And if someone, speaking of that, cites this verse, nobody can condemn that. But I think that here is meant the peace between Jew and Gentile, about which the preceding verses spoke and of which the following verses let us think also.  
Believing Jew and believing gentile both are housemates of God.  18 for through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore, ye are strangers and foreigners no more, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Verse 18 does not say that we have access, but that both Jews and gentiles, have access. Verse 19 says that the readers (the saints in Ephesus), are no longer strangers and foreigners, but are fellow citizens with the saints.One can ask “fellow citizens of what saints?” They themselves were saints. I think the answer is, that they were saints indeed, but not Jewish saints. Paul made clear that they did not have a position more or less inferior to their Jewish fellow believers, being less privileged, but that they had the same position and had access unto the Father in the same way and measure, housemates of God. We have access unto the Father. Israel knew access into the sanctuary, but the priests only and with restriction. We however have access to THE FATHER, being Gods children indeed. But that access is in or by the Spirit of God. God is a Spirit and our going to the Father is not a matter of our feet, like the priests in Israel, but is a spiritual thing. 
Jews and gentile together built upon the corner stone Jesus Christ for a holy temple in the Lord.  20 Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, Here is not spoken of the old prophets of Israel, but of the work of apostles and of them that worked after them for the spiritual education of the church, the new Testament prophets meant in 1 Corinthians 14:1. (Their prophesying has not been the constant predicting of future things, but the speaking of the Word of God according to the purpose of the Spirit and the need of the church. It is evident that the apostle did not wish that the Corinthians would always preach future things.) In the foundation the apostles laid, Christ is the corner stone, the stone holding two sides and the upper structure firmly connected. Elsewhere Christ Himself is called the foundation. 21 in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord.The church is a temple, an habitation of God. In it God is dwelling by the Spirit and He is Lord in it. That excludes all human authority about the order and procedure in that temple. Unfortunately many see the decisions of the church counsel and the synod of more importance and authority than the Word of Him whose house it is.

22 In Him ye also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

In that temple of God not only Jewish believers are involved, but believers of the gentiles are involved and added in the same way. This verse again confirms, that between Jewish believers and those of other nations there is no difference in Christ.   

J. Ph. Buddingh