Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
“Hath he quickened” is not in the original. It was added by the early English versions to clarify the Greek. Yet, taken in context, the complete passage clarifies the Greek without adding additional words. Of course the words mean “He has made alive.” Paul stated that in verse 5, therefore there was no need of it in verse 1. Let us proceed without the added words.
Eph 2:1 And you who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Referring to the Ephesians, he refers to all Gentiles. Each and every one of us was one time dead in our sins, at least after gaining the ability to understand right from wrong. Paul said where there is no law there is no sin because without law, sin was not imputed and without law, no one can be charged with violating it (Romans 4:15 & 5:13). Yet, through the sin of Adam, which was disobeying God, all humans will die. Even though the Law of Moses was not ye written, death entered the world. I personally believe that with babies and children, because of their inability to understand the law, there is no law that they can be charged with. That is why I believe that babies and children who die still go to Heaven even though the may not have necessarily believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Note that they still die because of Adam’s sin. Adolescence is different. Most adolescents can understand the law; therefore my belief only applies to babies and children. With that exception, we were all dead in our trespasses and sins before we had faith in Christ.
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time 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 who were all dead in our sins (all of us were) followed sinful lifestyles. The course of this world is the worldly lifestyle in which we followed the dictates of the flesh, always wanting to please the world and have what the world has. We were always seeking the world’s ways— its temptations, desires, and cares, which manifested themselves is many ways, for example, materialism, uninhibited sexual mores, power, etc.
The prince of the power of the air is none other than Satan. One definition of the Greek word translated air is the “domain of transcendent beings or powers” (BDAG). We see from the very next words, that Paul is talking about the spiritual realm. This being that Paul refers to as the prince of the powers of the air is a spirit that works in sinful people (children of disobedience), that is, he is Satan the deceiver. When we were dead in our sins, we were under his influence as well.
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past 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.
We were among those children of disobedience. We, too, conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh and mind. Those lusts are anything that comes between God and us. The lusts of the flesh and mind always take our minds off of God. Those lusts are anything this world has to offer, money, power, sex, food, things, etc. Not all of the things we make into lusts are originally so. For example, we all need money to live daily lives. As long as we don’t make an idol of money it is not a lust. Food is also that way, as are sex, and the things we need to live daily lives. It is only when we use them unlawfully or unethically, or immorally or put them before God in our lives that they become lusts. Then we were just like the children of wrath because we were children of wrath.
Eph 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for 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;)
God’s mercy is richer than our sinfulness. His love is greater than our lack of love for others. Even though our sins were abhorrent to God, and even though He had the right to destroy us all, because of His great love and rich mercy, he gave us life through Christ. It was nothing we did, all the work and all the mercy, grace, and care that was done on our behalf was done by Christ and His work alone. We are saved only because God loved us, abhorrent as we were, and sent His Son to die for us. There is nothing else that can be added; no lighting candles, no doing penance, no abstaining from certain foods, no prayer of salvation, no doing enough work of any kind to please God. It was all God and none of us.
Eph 2:6-7 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
When Christ was raised from the dead, so were we. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and because Christ was raised from the dead, so we are raised to life when we put our faith and trust in Him. After we leave this present life, we will be lifted up with Christ in Heaven. Note that this passage is written in the present tense. Even though he is explaining future things, Paul uses present tense. That is to show that in God’s timing this has already happened. That means it is a definite thing; it is a promise; it will happen; it is guaranteed.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This is one of the great truths of the Faith that God’s grace and that alone can save us. When saved we can only boast of Christ’s role in our salvation. We cannot go around claiming some superiority because we did something that allowed us to save ourselves.
Many people have the notion that if they just do enough good deeds or good works, or if they deem themselves good persons, then they expect to go to heaven when they die. Some people list all of their deeds in their minds, and believe if their good deeds exceed their bad deeds, then God will accept them into heaven. Books have been written with this in mind. Movies have been filmed that make the point that if a person is good enough then he or she will go to heaven. Televisions series have been predicated on people doing enough good works to please God. None of these things are true. In fact these ideas are deadly because they lead people into a false sense of security that will ultimately send them into the lake of fire at judgment day.
No, just as Paul wrote here, we humans can never do enough good works to get into heaven. Only one sin is all it takes to be kept out of heaven. All the works in the world cannot remit even one sin. So do not make the mistake of believing that you can work your way to heaven. That is impossible. Only through the grace of God and the work of Jesus on the Cross can your sins be forgiven.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14); God made us that way (Psalm 100:3). Yet, before our faith in Christ, we could only say our lives were unusable by God. Now, as Children of the Light, we were made to do good works. We do not do good works in order to be saved; we do good works because we are saved. Prior to our salvation all our works were worthless; they were as filthy rags (Isa 64:6 KJV). Once we are saved, Christ’s righteousness is credited to us (Rom 4:22-24), and then our works are acceptable to God. See James 2:1-26.
Eph 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
We are again warned not to forget that in the past the Jews called the Gentiles the Uncircumcision, while they called themselves the Circumcision. The Jews’ circumcision was that of the flesh, not of the heart. Calling the Gentiles the Uncircumcision meant that they did not share in the inheritance of God.
Eph 2:12 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 without God in the world:
In times past, the Israelites were God’s chosen people. The Gentiles, unless they proselytized, were excluded from this group. Gentiles did not know of the Scriptures thus they were without God and had no hope . . .
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Now we are no longer outside of God’s people; our faith in Christ has brought us nigh, or near, to God. We are now included in that group known as God’s people; we are His children. That is our hope, which is an assured thing. Therefore we will receive the inheritance of God.
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Remember from verses 1 and 2 that Gentiles were considered outsiders by the Jews and this excluded them from fellowship with Jews. There was enmity between them. But Christ, by His work at Calvary, made us all equal as children of God. There was a real, as well as figurative wall erected between Jews and Gentiles keeping them apart. In the Synagogue there was and is today a wall separating the men from the women. Men and women are separated in a Synagogue service by a wall built in the facility. In Herod’s temple there was a stone wall that kept the Gentiles out. There was a court of Gentiles where they could congregate, but there was a wall of separation that kept the Gentiles out of the Jewish areas. For ” there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus ” (Gal 3:28).
Aside from those physical barriers, there was also a figurative wall separating the Jews and Gentiles. This wall was erected in the heart or the mind and was instituted by Jewish law. A Jew was not to associate with a Gentile. Acts 10:28, ” Peter told them, ‘You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.’ (NLT)” Gentiles living in Israel were patently aware of that situation, and human nature being what it is, there were some Gentiles who were jealous of this. In fact, when the Romans attacked Jerusalem in the spring of AD 70, their troops were largely made up of Middle Eastern Gentiles. According to Josephus (Book V, Chapter I, Section 6), the armies that marched against Jerusalem were made up mostly with Syrians from the Euphrates area, Egyptians from Alexandria, and other locals. The legions were not made up mainly from Italians, though Italian soldiers were in the company. Those Middle Easterners had a ferocious hatred toward the Jews (much like today).
In fact, General Titus Vespasian tried to stop the troops from burning down the Temple, but could not contain them because of the stark anger they had for the Jews. Ray Stedman wrote, in What’s This World Coming To?: “When at last the walls were breached Titus tried to preserve the Temple by giving orders to his soldiers not to destroy or burn it. But the anger of the soldiers against the Jews was so intense that, maddened by the resistance they encountered, they disobeyed the order of their general and set fire to the Temple.” From Josephus’ Wars, Book 6, Chapter 4, Section 6: “and when they [the commanders of the troops] were come near the holy house, they made as if they did not so much as hear [Titus] Caesar’s orders to the contrary; but they encouraged those that were before them to set it on fire.”
Then enmity between Jews and Gentiles, symbolized by the walls of separation between Jews and Gentiles and between men and women (Gal 3:28), was demolished by Christ’s work at Calvary. In Him, we are all become one body living in peace. The peace He brought is the cessation of hostilities and enmity between Jews and Gentiles. In effect, because of Christ, Gentiles are no longer separated but can now join the Jewish people and be one with them as God’s people through faith in Christ. They (Jews) do not become a part of us (Christians); we become a part of them (Romans 11:17). I am not saying that we become one with Jews who are unsaved, but with saved Jews (Romans 9:6-8). Nor am I saying we need obey all the Jewish ordinances, for we are no longer obligated to certain of them which Paul lists in Col 2:13-17. They are: physical circumcision, the food laws (clean and unclean foods), the yearly festivals, the new moon (monthly) festivals, the yearly Sabbaths, the weekly Sabbaths, and the clean and unclean ordinances (touching dead bodies, the diseased, unclean people or things, etc.). All these were a shadow of things to come, which were fulfilled in Christ.
I must state that many Messianic Jewish congregations still hold to these rules, though not for their salvation. They consider them to be good works. Additionally, the first Jerusalem Council allowed the Gentile Christians to not participate in these things, while implicitly allowing Jewish believers to continue in them. Here is what the Council (with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) told the Gentile believers they had to continue to do: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well (Acts 15:29 NLT). The letter then says “farewell.” This is not a Goodbye conclusion; it is an exhortation to do these things thus doing well. This would allow them to keep congenial relations with Jewish Christians. It is like saying “fare thee well in all thy endeavors.”
Eph 2:15-16 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; (16) And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Paul better explains this ending of the old Jewish system. Paul does NOT say that the entire law is completely abolished, which the KJV seems to say. The “commandments contained in ordinances” refers to the rules of the old sacrificial system. Jesus Himself said in Mat 5:17-18, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (18) For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” The old Jewish system consisted of the things we discussed in the last verse, taken from Colossians 2:13-17. Again, those things are, physical circumcision, the food laws (clean and unclean foods), the yearly festivals, the new moon (monthly) festivals, the yearly Sabbaths, the weekly Sabbaths, and the clean and unclean ordinances (touching dead bodies, the diseased, unclean people or things, etc.). In other words, these are the liturgies of the old sacrificial system. They are done away with. Even the law of the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ. Each of those things was done to observe the sacrificial system. When Christ was sacrificed as the perfect sacrifice that ended all other sacrifice, the old sacrificial system was no longer necessary, thus neither were its components. That is why the Temple was destroyed in AD 73; God had it destroyed to end that system.
Speaking of the Temple, Josephus wrote, “But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come” (Wars, B. 6, ch. 4, sect. 5). So even Josephus the Jewish historian who observed this battle, understood that God was finished with the Temple and all its liturgies because all was fulfilled in Christ.
An aside, Josephus is an extra-Biblical historical source that records that Jesus was indeed a real person and He was indeed crucified by the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate in Antiquites, B. 18, ch. 3, sect. 3. According to Josephus this was shortly after Tiberius came to power in Rome (the Caesar Augustus of the Bible—Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus) and when Cyrenius was governor (Luke 2:1-2). It is amazing how accurate the Bible is! Here I quote the entire section:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
God’s people once consisted only of the children of Israel, that is, of Jacob. God chose them not because of anything they did or anything they were, but because of His own sovereign grace (Deut 7:7-9). They were once His people. But now, with the Sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb of God, believing Gentiles are also include in His people. As God said in Hosea, ” And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. ” (Paul in Rom 9:23, quoting Hosea 2:23, Septuagint). According to Paul in Romans 10:12-13, ” For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved .” Hence, true Israel is the remnant of Jews that are saved by the blood of Christ (Rom 11:5) along with the Gentiles that are saved by the blood of Christ. They are one people, God’s people, which are those that believe in Christ as Savior. There is no longer hostility between saved Jews and saved Gentiles. We are now one in Christ. As I said before, Gentiles were adopted as children of God into God’s people, Israel. We Gentile Christians have not replaced Israel but have become a part of Israel. Paul uses the metaphor of an olive tree in (Rom 11:6-23). We are like wild olive branches grafted into the root stock of the cultivated tree. We Gentiles are wild branches, Israel is the cultivated root, and the branches that were broken off are the unbelieving Israelites. Paul states in the passage that if the unbelieving Jews become believers they will be grafted back in to the root stock. In other words, they too will be saved and become a part of true believing Israel. Let me state here and now, that national Israel is still a people that God loves and his promises were made to them. They still partake in the land covenant and still have a part in history. In fact all you see in the Middle East today is God working to redeem all of His people Israel. As bad as it seems there, that is His plan.
Eph 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Jesus came in the flesh only to the Jews (Mat 15:21). He preached to them, who were nigh, or near Him. In the flesh, He could not have preached to the Gentiles, those who were far off, so Paul was speaking of Jesus preaching to the Gentiles through the Apostles, specifically Paul, and other disciples like Stephen via the Holy Spirit. However, we know from history there were other Apostles and disciples who preached to the Gentiles. Peter is an example; he preached the Gospel to Cornelius, the Centurion, who was a God-fearing Gentle. So Christ came and preached the Gospel to the Gentiles through His servants the apostles and disciples. Naturally we know that Jesus did preach to some Gentiles e.g. the Canaanite woman of Mat 15:21, the Centurion with the ill servant of Mat 8:5, the wife of Pilate (Mat 27:19), and the Centurion at the cross (Mat 27:54), who were influenced by Jesus at the time of His death—He preached to them by His actions. In the multitudes that usually surrounded Jesus there were certainly other Gentiles not mentioned who heard His preaching.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Verses 16 and 17 need to be read together, for this verse explains the last. Jesus has come and preached peace to the world, which includes Jews and Gentiles, through His Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables folks to preach Christ and His peace, He enables people to understand their need for Christ, and He baptizes people into the family of God. The Spirit does other things as well. For example, term papers, theses, dissertations, whole books, etc. have been written on this subject.
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
To conclude his topic, Paul succinctly sums up his argument. The entire treatise has been that, through Christ, Jews and Gentiles are brought into one family, which is composed of the saints of God. In this particular instance, Paul refers to godly Jews as saints. However, it is obvious from the Scriptures that all Jews considered themselves saints simply because they were members of God’s Chosen People and were the Children of Abraham John (8:33-44). The word translated saint, αγιος, hagios, refers to the person who is a morally pure, upright, blameless in heart and life, virtuous, holy 1 person. There is no such person. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; there is none righteous; no not one (Rom 3:10 & 23). With this in mind, there is only one type of person who could be a saint. That is the person to whom God imputes or credits His own righteousness (Rom 4:22-25). Who is that person? It is the one who has faith in Jesus Christ. Only believers in Christ, which are Christians, have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. They are blameless in God’s eyes because Christ justified us, that is, He found us not guilty, by his death and resurrection. So the saints are Christians. Before Christ’s death and resurrection, godly Jews were saints if they trusted God to remove their sins through the old sacrificial system. So we Gentiles are fellow citizens of the household of God. That means we are all brethren in the family of God. There is no Jew, Gentile, male or female, all are one in Christ (Gal 3:28)
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;.
Paul now turns his attention to the family of God, using a building as a metaphor of that. Here are some particulars:
Chief corner stone: Stone is an added word. Greek: ακρογωνιαιος, akrogoniaios, which literally means “extreme corner.” It was used of the extreme or most important corner of a building foundation; therefore in English the chief cornerstone is quite correct.
1. a stone uniting two masonry walls at an intersection.
2. a stone representing the nominal starting place in the construction of a monumental building, usually carved with the date and laid with appropriate ceremonies.
3. something that is essential, indispensable, or basic: The cornerstone of democratic government is a free press.
4. the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed: The cornerstone of his argument was that all people are created equal.
Encyclopedia Reference (Reference.com):
The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone? In ancient building practices, the cornerstone was the principal stone placed at the corner of the edifice. The cornerstone was usually one of the largest, the most solid, and the most carefully constructed of any in the edifice. Jesus describes Himself as the Cornerstone that His church would be built upon, a unified body of believers, both Jew and Gentile. Peter used the same metaphor in his First Epistle.
1Pet 2:4-7 (NKJV) Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by god and precious, (5) you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to god through Jesus Christ. (6) Therefore it is also contained in the scripture, “behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame.” [Isa 28:16] (7) Therefore, to you who believe, he is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” (Ps 118: 22-23).
Peter quoted several passages, but let us direct our attention to Psalm 118:22 (NKJV): ” The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.” This was quoted by Jesus in several places: Mat 21:42; Mar 12:10-11; Luk 20:17. Quoted by Peter: Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7
The explanation of all those verses is that Jesus Christ came to earth to present the Gospel to the Jews. They rejected Him but God chose Him to be our Savior. We who believe on Christ are metaphorically living stones, or as living people each of us is a building block of the house of God. Christ is our foundation, our Rock, the chief cornerstone of the building made up of us believers. Paul clarifies that the Chief Cornerstone is Christ, and the apostles and prophets are the foundation. The spiritual house built upon that foundation is made up of the saints, or the lively stones.
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Here the church is compared to the temple. We, the saints, are the temple of God. The tabernacle and the two temples, Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s (which was improved by Herod), were constructed of a courtyard, a holy place and a most holy place. The temples had other parts but these three will aid in our understanding of the metaphor. The people could enter the courtyard; the priests could enter the Holy Place; only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place only once a year. The Levites that moved the tabernacle were allowed in the most holy place to obtain the Ark and to disassemble the tabernacle when they were told by God to move. In Herod’s temple there was an area set aside that all, including both Jews and Gentiles could enter, but the remainder of the court was off limits to Gentiles. In the Jewish part of the courtyard was a place where only Jewish men could enter that was off limits to both Jewish women and to all Gentiles. God’s abode on earth was in the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was located. The temple was destroyed completely in 73 AD and thus ended the old sacrificial system.
The abode of God today is still in the temple, though not in a temple of stone, but in the spiritual temple which is comprised of the children of God. We, the children of God, the church, the called out assembly (ekklesia) of God, are properly fitted together to become the holy temple of God.
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
God still lives in His temple through His Holy Spirit. We are the temple of God; Whose Spirit dwells in each of our hearts. 1 Cor 3:16 states, ” Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ” We are fitted together in such a way that all the church’s functions operate smoothly. How? Because the Sprit gives each of us gifts, which we are to use to maintain the body of Christ. They are called Spiritual Gifts. If each person in a local church uses his or her Spiritual gift(s), then the church will function properly and all its needs will be met. You can see lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14:1-33; Ephesians 4:11-12; and 1 Peter 4:10-11.
For more information about the church being the temple of God, see also 2 Cor 6:16; Heb 3:6; 1 Pet 2:5.
- The Complete Word Study Dictionary, © 1992 By AMG International, Inc. ↩