Ephesians 2:1-6

Chapter 1 concludes with Paul’s beautiful prayer for the saints in Ephesus praying that they would know the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To know God means to have an intimate relationship with Him so that we might see Him, know Him, feel His love, discover His wisdom, draw on His strength, and rely on His power.

As we begin chapter 2 we are resting together in confidence of our salvation, in the love of the Father who saved us by grace. Then Paul uses an incomplete sentence that leaves the readers in suspense while they wait for the solution to their spiritual dilemma. “And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins…..” The readers are being reminded of their former pagan existence before they received new life in Christ. The truth revealed about the life of unbelievers is that it is marked by sin, “you were dead in your transgressions and sins”. They are under the influence of the world, ruled by Satan who continuously spawns rebellion against God and the things of God.

“And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest…”

Notice the plural of these words, “transgressions” and “sins”; this indicates repetitive involvement in sin and deliberate acts of rebellion against God. Paul attributes a life marked by sin to two factors: the influence of the fallen world and the forces of Satan in our culture. Paul refers to Satan as the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” and those under his influence as “the sons of disobedience”. From Genesis through Revelation we have many description of Satan and his activities. He is the one who holds the power of death, the devil; he is the one who practices sin from the beginning from the past and continuing to his present actions still in progress; he is the ancient dragon who deceives the world with his minions and he is currently energizing the sons of disobedience. Paul is clear, before we believed we, all of us, “lived our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest”.

“So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. You also lived your lives in this way at one time, when you used to live among them. But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices”. Colossians 3:5-9

Remember that the letter to the Colossians was written at same time as Ephesians, it supplies a good list to explain the “sinful nature” that dominates our life before we believe. It is important to note, that we are too often focused on what is acceptable or defined as sin in light of our current cultural beliefs rather than on what God has declared about these actions. We need to be aware of the efforts and directions in our world by “the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience” that is in direct contradiction to what God has declared as sin. Often we think our opinion about what is sin and what is not sin has more value that what God has declared as sin. Paul is building his argument for our hopeless condition: we lived in sin and we lived among sinful people. This is as true today as it was in the first century; nothing has changed about the world’s path or the sons of disobedience.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!” Paul moves from our gloomy, hopeless condition of mankind to the two most welcome words in all of scripture: “but God. God could have left us spiritually dead, in rebellion against him and in bondage to our sins. But he didn’t. He did not save us because of, but rather in spite of, what he saw in us.” It is all about God, it is God that acts on our behalf because of His great love, it is God who is rich in mercy, it is God who made us alive in Christ – by grace you are saved! We have a new position, we are now “alive in God”, in contrast to the dark doom of being “dead in our transgressions”.

Now that we are “alive to God” we are “dead to sin” which means being “set free from sin”. From Romans 6:12-14 – Paul says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.”

Ephesians 1:15-23

This next section begins Paul’s prayer for the saints, once again verses 15-23 is one long sentence in Greek. “For this reason I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints”. This phrase “for this reason” points us back to the preceding section, Paul knows that the Ephesians are true believers and they have received the “spiritual blessings” from the previous paragraph. The blessings are election, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the mystery of His will, the sealing of the Holy Spirit and their inheritance. Now Paul prays that the readers will know God personally and intimately.

Paul praises the Ephesians for “their love for all the saints”; this concept can be quite confusing in our current culture. What does it mean to love your brother or sister in Christ? 1 John 2:6 declares, “the one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked. So our example of how to love our brothers and sisters is Jesus’ life and ministry. 1 John 4:20-21 follows up with stating that “if anyone says ‘I love God’ and yet hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar, because the one who does not love his fellow Christian whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And the commandment we have from him is this: that the one who loves God should love his fellow Christian too.”

1 Corinthians 13 gives us a good list of how to love. “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends….and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.

“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, –since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened–so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength”. (17-20)

Paul prays for “spiritual wisdom and revelation” for the Ephesians, wisdom gives insight into the true nature of things and revelation is the unveiling of things of God Himself. The purpose in having this wisdom and revelation is that you may know Him, God, better. This request is not for special information, but for a deeper perception and knowledge of God as he is revealed in Christ. The “knowing” related here is not an abstract knowledge of God or objective facts about God, but knowing Him personally and intimately. It includes the intimate awareness of God’s character and will.

“Paul prayed for the believers to know God better. How do you get to know someone? By reading biographical information or historical data about him? That will help you know a lot about that person, but it won’t enable you to actually know him. If you want to get to know someone, you have to spend time with that person; there is no shortcut. The same holds true with God. Reading the Bible, great works of theology, and devotional material is wonderful, but there is no substitute for knowing God personally. What about you? Do you really know God, or do you just know about him? The difference is in spending time with him. Study Jesus’ life in the Gospels to see what he was like on earth two thousand years ago, and get to know him in prayer now. Personal knowledge of Christ will change your life”. LIFE Application Bible

From 2 Peter 1:1-2; 3:18 we learn that “God’s divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence”. And that we are called to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. We are to grow in grace and knowledge so that we will understand three things, the hope of His calling, and the wealth of His glorious inheritance and the extraordinary greatness of His power.

This paraphrase from The Message helps me to understand these concepts. “But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1:17-19

One of the things we are to know about God is “the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe as displayed in the exercise of His immense strength”. Paul continues by explaining “This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come”. The point we are to understand is that the power to live a life pleasing to God is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. That same power is already at work in the lives of believers, we need to remember that God is always at work, even when we don’t “see or recognize” God’s work.

“The world fears the power of the atom, yet we belong to the God of the universe, who not only created that atomic power but also raised Jesus Christ from the dead. God’ incomparably great power is available to help you. There is nothing too difficult for him”. LIFE Application Bible

“And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (20-21). This picture of all things being under Christ’s feet conveys that the work of Christ is completely finished, all things are now under Christ’s rule and dominion: death, resurrection, every ruler, all authority, power and dominion and every person forever. The work completed God gave Jesus Christ the church, as head over all things. “Head over everything” means that Jesus is the ruler and master of everything that exists, including the church. “Him who fills all in all” means that Jesus is present, active and has influence in the church and the world.

“Having been raised from the dead, Christ is now the head of the church, the ultimate authority over the world. Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed one, the one Israel longed for, the one who would set their broken world right. As Christians we can be confident that God has won the final victory and is in control of everything. We need not fear any dictator or nation or even death or Satan himself. The contract has been signed and sealed; we are waiting just a short while for delivery”. LIFE Application Bible

“No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 8:37-39