Ephesians 2 -
Chapter 1 introduced use to the big picture of God plan for the world through the Church. Chapter 2 begins to provide the details of what is happening. Chapter 1 was the why and chapter 2 is the how.
This chapter could easily be divided into two parts. The first part describes salvation offered while an enemy with God. The second part describes salvation offered to man who was outside God’s covenant. Because of the ethnic makeup of the church in Ephesus, there was some tension between Jew and Greek. Each of these parts are somewhat directed to each group respectively, in order to show that all are in need of salvation regardless of ethnic or cultural background.
I. Saved while enemies with God (1-10) This portion of the chapter seems more directed to Jews than the Gentiles. Not that it does not apply to Gentiles, but it is a reminder to the Jews that their ethnicity did not guarantee salvation.
A. What you were (1-3)
2. Walked with the Devil
3. Walked in the Flesh
-This is a hopeless situation. Nothing could be worse than being dead, and not just dead but dead in your sins. Your continual actions are keeping you dead. Paul calls them children of wrath, and is saying that just like the Gentiles they were shown to be at odds with God. This is not a description of an angry God, but men who were opposed to God. Man had the problem, not God, but God has the solution.
B. What God did (4-6)
-But God! This is an amazing phrase. The situation was so hopeless and that the solution could only come from God. Because He is the one who loves mankind; He reaches in love while we are dead, and He does several things for man.
1. Co-quickened us
4. Future riches
-By using the prefix “co” (the Greek prefix sun-), Paul makes clear that through our baptismal union we become united with Christ; we share in His life and experience. Thus we are seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father. Since what happens at baptism was not earned but freely given; we are being saved by grace.
C. What you are (7-10)
1. Salvation through faith
-In the previous chapter we discussed power and energy. Power is just potential and must be energized by something to activate it. So what activates the power of God in our life. It is faith.
-What is faith? Farley defines it as “our repentant response to God and our discipleship to Jesus”
-What is your response to God’s grace that has been given?
-This passage is aimed somewhat at the Jews. The Pharisees understanding of our relationship with God was based on works. It was the acquiring and piling up of various commandments.
-Think through this what have you done to deserve what you received at baptism? Nothing.....there is no ground to boast. It is this element of humility that is essential to the life of faith.
2. God’s workmanship
-Farley “good works are not the ground of our salvation but they are what the Christian life is all about.”
These works are part of the plan that God has had for us. The foundation for these works is humility and response to God’s grace. Faith, works, obedience, prayers, fastings, almsgivings, asceticisms, etc all open our hearts to the grace of God. The grace of God transforms us, and activates the power of God within us given at Baptism shaping us into the likeness of God.
II. Saved while strangers (11-22)
- This portion is more directed to the Gentile population of the Ephesian church. Paul is clear to point our that the difference between Jew and Gentile is external.
A. What you were (11-12)
1. Separated from Christ
2. Alienated from Israel
3. Strangers to the promise
4. No hope - no access
- Gentiles were separated from the people of God. At least being part of Israel, they had the promise of Christ. Yet the Gentiles had none of this. Just like the first part of the chapter, this ends with no hope as well.
B. What Christ did (13-18)
1. Brought near
-Because of being in Christ we are brought near to God. They would understand this because this is the language of sacrifice. Even the Gentiles would know the OT because this was their Bible. This is what was read during services and studied in catechism. They would know that in the OT a blood sacrifice was needed to have access to God. They would also understand this from the Liturgy; because as we participate in Christ’s sacrifice we are brought near to God.
2. He is our peace (Is 57:19)
Paul is referring to the peace offering in Lev. 3:1-17. There were multiple sacrifices in the OT. It is often called the fellowship offering. This offering was unlike the others. The other sacrifices were offered for the forgiveness of sins. The peace offering was offered as an act of thanksgiving to God. It was a voluntary act of worship. Just like the others it was the offering of an unblemished animal. It usually would follow another of the sacrifices. The peace offering was different in that it was offered to God, but not fully consumed by the fire. Part of the sacrifice was burned and the rest was eaten by the offered and his family. The typology of the Eucharist is clear. We bring the unblemished sacrifice of Christ to God in thanksgiving, and this as a family we partake together and commune with God.
3. Restored Jew & Gentile
- The Gentiles who were “far off” and the Jews who were “near” are both transformed and given access to the Father (Gal. 6:15). There is no longer Jew or Gentile, there is a new man in Christ. Farley says that “One Spirit” refers to the Eucharistic assembly.
C. What you are (19-22)
1. Co-citizens with the saints
-Who were the saints? The OT saints. The history and heritage of Israel is now the Gentiles heritage
2. Dwelling place for God.
Conclusion: Chapter 2 gives us a huge understanding of life without God outside of the Church. It showed us what God has done for us. It also shows us who we are now. The wonderful gifts God has given--what are we doing with those gifts? Are we living to the potential of what God has given us?