Ephesians – Chapter 2, Part 4
God’s Way of Salvation
Ephesians 2 ~ Vs. 10 – 13
Chapter 2 – Outline: Positional Relocation.
- The New Position in the Heavenlies, the new life in Christ. God has spiritually regenerated sinners, transforming them from death to life, vs. 1-10.
- The New Position in the Household, unity in Christ. He reconciled Jews and Gentiles, moving them from alienation to oneness, vs. 11-18.
- The New Position in the Habitat, the Church is a Temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit. Gentiles are no longer aliens but fellow citizens of heaven being formed into a Holy temple for God’s dwelling, vs. 19-22.
Chapter 2 – Theme: God’s Grace:
The great theme of this chapter is God’s grace towards man as Paul discusses how sinners who deserve nothing but God’s wrath can become trophies of His grace.
- Vs. 1-10, speak of the grace panorama regarding our regeneration, from death to life, and our new position individually.
- Vs. 11-17, speak of grace and the barrier regarding our reconciliation, Jews and Gentiles as one.
- Vs. 18-22, speak of grace and the Church regarding being fashioned into the Temple of God.
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Vs. 10, We are created workman in Christ Jesus for Divine Good Production.
Eph 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Here Paul is explaining the previous two verses where he has said that we have been saved by grace through faith, apart from any works on our part. All of that is the gift of God, so that He alone gets all the glory. Now Paul further explains that genuine salvation is entirely of God and it results in a new life that was designed to inevitably result in a life of good works, using the Conjunction GAR, “for.” That is, we have been given grace for salvation “for” Divine Good Production.
Sometimes it is said that there is a conflict between Paul and James over the matter of justification by faith versus works, cf. Rom 3:24, 28; James 2:18-26. But both men are saying the same thing from different angles to address different issues. Paul was attacking the Pharisaic idea that our good works will commend us to God whereby we will be saved. He argues that no one can ever be good enough to earn salvation. God justifies the guilty sinner through faith in Christ alone. But James was attacking the view that saving faith was sometimes used as an excuse to not produce Divine Good, i.e., “the fruit of the Spirit.”
In our verse Paul is reminding that God did not give us salvation for salvation’s sake only. No! We are saved to also produce for God. In addition, while salvation is entirely of God, so are the good works that follow salvation. God has ordained the entire process. Just as we cannot claim any glory for ourselves in our initial salvation, even so, we cannot claim any glory in our subsequent good works we produce. God is behind the entirety of our salvation and our spiritual life from start to finish. As such, He gets all the glory.
“For we are His workmanship,” in the Greek is AUTOS GAR EIMI POIEMA. “We are” is the Present, Active, Indicative of EIMI which is ESMEN that is used for our current position and stance inside the plan of God. Our position is that we are “His (God’s) workmanship.” Workmanship is the noun POIEMA that means, “something made, done, or created; a deed or act.” In Greek mythology this noun or its verb POIEO was used to speak of the activity of gods. So Paul uses this word to speak of the activity of the one and true God in creating our new life in Christ using language of accommodation. It is used only here and in Rom 1:20.
Rom 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
As Rom 1:20 tells us, creation displays God’s power, authority and deity, His essence and attributes, so that when people reject Him and suppress knowledge about Him that is available through the created order, they are without excuse when He judges them for it. As you know, men can see the attributes of God in His creation. Now in Eph 2:10 they can also see His person in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, through the believer’s Divine Good Production.
Therefore, POIEMA in the N.T. refers to the created universe and to Christians as those “made” by God. As such, both the acts of creation and of redemption are God’s “work,” His handiwork. And all of our “riches in Christ” are based on His workmanship in us.
God’s handiwork “created” us, the Aorist, Passive, Participle of KTIZO that means, “create, form, shape, or found.” It is only used in the NT to speak about God and His creative activity, cf. Mark 13:19; Col 1:16; Rev 10:6. All of the creative usages are designed to point out that there was nothing in existence before God created it, just like BARA of the Hebrew. In addition, Paul made it clear that the creative activity of God was due to His spoken word by which He created something out of nothing, Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 4:6. This word conveys things both conceived of in the mind and actually brought into being. So God’s creation of the believer as a new creation, a new spiritual species, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15, was thought about in eternity past and brought to fruition in time, cf. Eph 4:24.
Our creation as a new spiritual species is because we are created “in Christ Jesus,” CHRISTOS IESOUS. “In Christ Jesus,” cf. Eph 2:6-7, shows that everything God has done for us comes through Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, we have nothing. In Him, we have every blessing in the heavenly places, Eph 1:3. He gets all the glory.
Here we have answers to several questions, the “who, what, where, when, and why,” of our spiritual birth becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus.
What did God create our new life for? Our creation was for the expressed purpose of performing “good works,” EPI AGATHOS ERGON. “Good works” means, “Divine Good Production,” a.k.a., the Fruit of the Spirit, which we will note below.
Who created us to perform Divine Good? “God,” THEOS!
When was this creation thought of and put into motion, i.e., “prepared beforehand,” PROETOIMAZO, that tells us in eternity past.
PROETOIMAZO is a compound word from “PRO” meaning, “before” and HETOIMAZO that means, “prepare.” It is in the Aorist, Active, Indicate, speaking of the overall process of God’s creative act and plan for the believer’s life as a snap shot in time, i.e., eternity past. It is used here and Rom 9:23. Both times it refers to the good works of God in preparing blessings for His people. So it can mean “before ordained, i.e., “prepared in advance.”
Rom 9:23, “And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”
The “where” of our creation is by default in heaven; God’s throne room. This is the place where God conceived and designed our new creation.
Why were believers created as new creatures? “So that we should walk in them, (Divine Good Production).”
“We should walk” is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of PERIPATEO, that means, “go about, walk around, walk, live, or conduct oneself.” Not only is this word used literally in Scripture, but also metaphorically as one of the many terms for describing the spiritual lifestyle of the individual believer, John 11:10; 12:35;1 John 1:6f.; 2:6ff.; 2 John 1:4, 6; 3 John 1:3, 4, i.e., “walking in the light.”
All of this goes back to God’s foreknowledge of man’s fall into sin and to God’s decision to send His Son to become man’s Savior.
Five Aspects of Being Created for Divine Good Production:
- Salvation involves a new creation that is entirely God’s doing.
Paul says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus….” “His” is emphatic in the Greek, underscoring the point that Paul has been making throughout Chapters 1 and 2, that our salvation was ordained by God from eternity and that we had nothing to do with it. We were dead in our sins, but God raised us from the dead, Eph 2:1, 5. Just as God created the universe out of nothing by the word of His power, so God created us in Christ Jesus by His mighty power.
Just as God powerfully brought creation into existence for His purpose and glory, Rom 1:20, so it is when He saves a soul. 2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
If you think that I have been emphasizing this point too much in the past few weeks, it is only because Paul emphasizes it repeatedly in these first two chapters. He knows how prone we are to take some of the credit for our salvation. If we cannot claim any reason to boast in our salvation, then we will try to boast in our good deeds after salvation.
But Paul is saying that the entire process is from God. It comes from His eternal, sovereign choice to save us and from His mighty creative power. Just as the physical creation cannot claim any grounds for boasting in its beauty, so neither can we who are God’s new creation “in Christ” claim any grounds for boasting in our salvation or in our Divine good works.
Everyone who is saved receives Christ and decides to trust in Him. When God saves someone, that person becomes a new creation in Christ. Now he is able to follow Christ and through growth by the Word, perform Divine Good, Rom 6:17-18; 8:1-13.
- Salvation inevitably results in a life of good works.
Spurgeon, said (All Round Ministry, Banner of Truth, p. 310), “We have been clear upon the fact that good works are not the cause of salvation; let us be equally clear upon the truth that they are the necessary fruit of it.”
We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. Those different prepositions make all the difference in the world! Good works are the evidence of salvation, not the cause of it.
Paul shows the relationship between saving grace and good deeds. He explains in Titus 2:11-12 that God’s grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. Then he adds in vs. 13-15, that Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
What are these good works for which we were created? Spurgeon summarizes them as, works of obedience, works of love, works of faith, and acts of common life, (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 31:152-153). By works of obedience, he means obeying the commands of Scripture. Works of love includes both AGAPE love for God and AGAPE love for our fellow man, with an eye to God’s glory. Works of faith refers to all that we do in reliance upon God and His promises. By acts of common life, he meant whatever we do at home, at work, or traveling that we do all to the glory of God. In other words, the entire focus of our lives after we have been saved by God’s grace should be lived with a God-ward focus, to please Him. Thus, salvation involves a new creation that is entirely God’s doing; made for good works.
- God prepared these works before He saved us.
Concerning these good works, Paul adds, “which God prepared beforehand….” The only other use of this verb is in Rom 9:23, where after writing that God prepared vessels of wrath for destruction, Paul states, “And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.” Paul taught that God not only predestined our salvation, but also the works that follow. We already saw in Eph 1:4 that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless….” So this continues the same idea, that God’s sovereign plan does not stop with salvation, but also includes a life of godliness, leading to final glorification, Rom 8:29-30; 2 Thes 2:13-14. So we have our Positional, Experiential and Ultimate sanctification and glorification.
When you understand it properly, there is no more humbling doctrine than that of predestination. Likewise, when we understand the aspects of our predestination, it gives all the glory to God and none to us. It causes us to understand how much we are obliged to God, while at the same time it is our grounds for assurance. So when we recognize that God predestined both our salvation and Divine Good Production, our positional and experiential sanctification, it humbles our pride.
The fact that God has prepared our Divine Good Production, shows that we are not to “engage” in our projects and good deeds, but rather to “seek God” for what He wants us to do. Some of the false teachers in our day tell people to dream their own big dreams. They promise that God will help you succeed in whatever you want to do. But that puts us in control of our lives and God merely becomes our helper to achieve our goals. That is completely backwards! Rather, we should never engage in any service for the Lord without first waiting on Him as to what He wants. If He is directing, then we should follow. He is the Lord and we are only His servants, seeking to do His sovereign will.
And do not think that the doctrine of predestination says to just sit back and do nothing, because God has ordained it and it will happen whether we do anything or not. This is deception, because God not only foreordains the ends, He also foreordains the means to those ends.
- Although God sovereignly ordained these good works before time began, we are responsible to walk in them.
When you walk by faith, God has prepared a path of good works for you which He performs in and through you. This does not mean doing a work for God; instead, it is God performing His work in and through the believer. Phil 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Walking in these good works which God has prepared for us implies a consistent and lifelong process. Once we are saved, the direction of our lives should be to walk on the path of obedience to God in everything.
Walking in good works does not mean that we dabble in them in our spare time, when we do not have anything better to do. The “new creature” is not a “volunteer to serve” God when he gets a little extra time on his hands. Rather, serving God becomes the priority of our lives every day in every situation, whether you are at work, at home, at church, at leisure, or traveling, Col 3:18-24. We all should be seeking to serve the Lord in accordance with our gifts and desires in every situation of life.
The application is, if God has saved you by His grace, He has saved you for a life of good works. If you are not engaging in these works, you need to confess your self-centered lifestyle to the Lord and seek Him for how He wants you to serve Him. He does not save anyone so that they can live for themselves. He wants everyone who has tasted His grace to engage in a life of good works.
- The Divine Good that we walk in should be done in a corporate context.
Our American culture inclines us toward independence. We tend to idolize the “self-made man,” who goes it alone. But Scripture teaches that when God saves us, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the one body of Christ, 1 Cor 12:13. We are individually members of this body, each with a role to perform based on the gift God has given to us. But we must work in coordination and cooperation with other members of the body. Paul uses three words in vs. 10 that point us towards this corporate aspect of these good works:
“We,” meaning collectively both Jews and Gentiles who make up the body of Christ in a local assembly and the overall Body of Christ. This sets the stage for vs. 11-22, where Paul shows the blessings that have been poured out on us corporately as members of this new entity, the Church.
“Workmanship,” POIEMA where we get our English word “poem” from, which means, “something that is created or made.” A poem consists of words carefully crafted to fit together so that the whole presents a beautiful picture that the individual words cannot convey in isolation. Likewise, the Church as God’s poem or new creation shows forth His nature and glory as the various parts work together in harmony.
“Created,” This points us to the Church as the “one new man”, vs. 15. We are the body of which Christ is the head. What was lost by the first created man, Adam, God is recovering through the new man, Christ and the Church.
The practical application is that we need to learn to work together more closely in the local church. As members of the body, we need to think and work interdependently. Many times I hear of people who launch new ministries or mission endeavors independently of the local church, usually without any coordination or cooperation from a local body of believers. They say it is easier and they do not want the hassles. But God’s program for this age is the local church. Together, we can reflect Christ to our community in a way that we cannot if we act independently of one another.
Note that the walk in good works closes the paragraph that began with our formerly walking in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world, vs. 1-2. The contrast is stark and deliberate. Either you are walking in sin in accordance with this evil world, or you are walking in Divine Good Production in accordance with God’s work of salvation in your heart. In vs. 3, Paul mentions Satan’s working in the sons of disobedience. But here it is God working His good works that He has ordained in His sons of obedience.
“Having been saved,” the focus of your life should be, “Lord, what will You have me to do?” Paul asked God that question after his experience on the Damascus Road. The Lord answered, Acts 22:10, “Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.” God had already prepared beforehand Paul’s future ministry! Paul had to learn God’s plan and walk in it. So do you!
As noted above, “Workmanship,” is the Greek word POIEMA where we get our English word “poem” from, which means, “something that is created or made.” A poem consists of words carefully crafted to fit together so that the whole presents a beautiful picture that the individual words cannot convey in isolation. Likewise, we as individual believers are being knit together by God to form His Church which is God’s poem or new creation, to show forth His nature and glory, as the various parts work together in harmony to produce AGATHOS ERGON, good works, i.e., Divine Good / The Fruit of the Spirit, cf. Eph 4:14-17.
Eph 4:14-17, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. 17This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.”
To be the poem that God has designed us to be, we must “walk in,” PERIPATEO, the Divine Good that God has designed for our lives from eternity past, Eph 5:8-11, 15-21.
Eph 5:8-11, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the light (Spirit in the KJV) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10Proving what is acceptable to the Lord. 11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
Eph 5:15-21, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
The production of Divine Good in the human race is impossible. Therefore, God has provided the means of producing it. The only way this can be accomplished is for a person to be born again into the family of God and to utilize God’s grace provisions to execute the spiritual life.
There are three spheres of the believer’s walk that are necessary in order to produce Divine Good.
- In the sphere of the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Cf. Rom 8:4 w/ Eph 5:18.
Eph 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
We are filled with the Spirit through the confession of our sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:5-9, (Rebound), and then we are able to Produce Divine Good, 2 Tim 2:21, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
- In the sphere of Faith, 2 Cor 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
- In the sphere of His Word / Bible doctrine, 3 John 3, “For I was very glad when brethren came and bore witness to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.”
Next we need to understand that “good” is not always good in God’s eyes, i.e., Divine Good. When we have wrong motivation regarding life, it changes good into evil. Good may be dead works or the function of good deeds. Good may be Christian service, which is Divine Good or dead works. Everything depends on the relationship of that good to the first three keys above; in the sphere of the Spirit, Faith and the Word.
Christian service can be fulfilled in the power of your own ability, your human energy, and your personality, rather than the power of God. Anything done with wrong motivation or while not under the filling of the Holy Spirit is not Divine Good.
We also understand from Scripture that there must be spiritual growth before there can be the production of Divine Good. All production must come from within the boundary of Bible doctrine. It is the will of God that you learn doctrine before you produce Divine Good. You do not put baby believers to work doing anything, you teach them. When the baby grows up, it will work and produce naturally as a result of all the training it received.
Therefore, the right mental attitude plus the filling of the Holy Spirit results in being in the will of God that equals the production of Divine Good. The believer is only a fruit bearer when he has consistent post-salvation renewing of the mind, resultant spiritual growth, and correct mental attitude, Rom 12:2.
Rom 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
To produce Divine Good, you must have right priorities. Right priorities are consistent Divine viewpoint of life, James 4:13-15, which originates from perception, metabolization, and application of God’s Word / Bible doctrine through the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that”.”
In John 15 we have three stages of Divine Good Production that correspond to the three stages of spiritual growth in adulthood; Spiritual Self Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy and Spiritual Maturity. In John they are described as producing, “fruit, more fruit and much fruit,” John 15:1, 5, 8.
Divine Good includes not only the actions that we perform through the power of the Word and Holy Spirit within us, but also the things that we say and think, Gal 5:22; 2 Thes 2:16‑17. Every good word and production comes from the heart / right lobe of your soul.
Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
2 Thes 2:16-17, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Your heart, right lobe of your soul, is strengthened every time you produce Divine Good, whether it is physical, verbal, or mental Divine Good production.
As we noted in Eph 2:9, human good / works are rejected for salvation, cf. 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5, likewise they are rejected post salvation in the believer, as they are called “dead works” in Heb 6:1.
2 Tim 1:9, “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our (human)works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”
Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”
Heb 6:1, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
Human good is not acceptable to God at any time, Isa 64:6a, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our (human) righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.”
The believer’s human good, also called “wood, hay and straw,” is revealed and destroyed at the BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ, 1 Cor 3:11-16; 2 Cor 5:10.
2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
The “good” in this verse is Divine Good Production, the Fruit of the Spirit, while the “bad” is human good produced from man’s relative righteousness which is always rejected by God.
It is possible for any of us to get sucked into a system, religious or secular, that appears to be good. We think we are doing something for God when in reality we are fighting against God’s plan. This is often true of Christian activism.
Just as human good is judged for the believer, human good is the basis for the unbeliever’s indictment at the last judgment, the Great White Throne Judgement, Rev 20:12-15.
Therefore, we see that human good is rejected for salvation and as Divine Good Production. Only deeds accomplished through the filling of the Holy Spirit are considered “Divine Good” that is rewardable for the believer at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ, Gal 5:22-23; 1 Cor 3:10-15.
Divine Good is primarily the production of the mature believer, but it can also be the production of the growing believer. It is the maximum and most effective production a believer can have in his life. The production of Divine Good comes from the source of God directly and mechanically it is produced by the Balance of Residency between the Filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible Doctrine applied from the soul, also called operating inside of God’s Power System, (GPS), Heb 13:10, 15-16.
The only production which counts as Divine Good is production based on something in your soul which is there as a result of grace. The filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine exist in your soul as a result of grace.
As we have also noted, in eternity past God knew how much Bible doctrine you would have at any moment in your life, and as such He predesigned all the Divine Good you would produce and entered it into His plan for your life, as part of His Divine decree with your name on it.
In addition, the production of Divine Good is related to God’s logistical grace blessings in your life. In 2 Cor 9:8, “all sufficiency” refers to God providing everything necessary to keep you alive and to take in Bible doctrine, “so that you can have an abundance of every production of Divine good.”
2 Cor 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Therefore, we never have an excuse for not producing Divine Good, as God has provided us with everything we need to produce it, that is, “to walk in it.”
2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The production of Divine Good is an issue in the Angelic Conflict, as Satan tries to hinder you from advancing spiritually in God’s Plan and producing Divine Good, Rom 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Summary: Therefore, there are four keys to the production of Divine Good and being a part of God’s poem for the Church.
Status quo. This means being in the directive will of God, which is synonymous to the filling of the Spirit or residence inside of God’s Power System under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, cf. 1 John 1:5-10. Whatever counts for good in our lives must be related to the filling of the Spirit. There is no effective function of good in our lives or effective Christian service apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:22f; Eph 5:18f.
Momentum. This means that God’s Word is important in everything. Momentum is understanding and applying God’s Word /Bible doctrine to our lives as we advance from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood.
Attainment. This is advancing to and maintaining spiritual maturity through the execution of the Plan of God. Bible doctrine must be learned before Divine Good can be produced.
Impact. This is the function of the mature believer as an invisible hero in the Church Age, (i.e., being part of the poem), as a star witness for the prosecution, God, during the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.
Therefore, through the reception of God’s grace provisions including; your salvation by grace, the filling of the Holy Spirit, Bible Doctrine resident within your soul, and your logistical grace support, you can advance from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity and have Divine Good Production, (the Fruit of the Spirit), in your life that will be rewarded for all of eternity at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ.
Eph 2:11-13, “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands – 12rememberthat you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
These words were written to Gentile Christians who had been brought out of the darkness of paganism and into the light of God’s grace and love. And as is the case with all man made religions, they were steeped in various kinds of human rituals and works. As such, it was easy for the Judaizers to come along and influence the early church into thinking they needed to keep the rituals of the Law in order to be saved, with circumcision as its main sign. So once again, Paul is writing to the early Church to exhort them to stay the course and not give over to the temptations of legalism and approbation lust, by reminding them of the depraved and hopeless state from whence they came, and how they got to the place and status they now enjoy.
This passage begins with Paul exhorting the Gentile believers to recall from memory the true doctrine of salvation, and the spiritual and physical depravity we once had, which he previously taught them and just noted in verses 8-9. Paul begins by saying, “remember,” which is the Present, Active, Imperative of MNEMONEUO, μνημονεύω that means, “to remember, recollect, recall, or be mindful.” It comes from a Present, Imperative Greek verb MNEMONEUETE, and could be translated, “keep on remembering.”
Principle: When you recall the doctrines you have been previously taught by your Pastor-Teacher, it will solve a lot of problems in your life.
In recalling the Doctrine of Salvation by grace through faith, and that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, and that we are one body in Christ, he wanted them to also recall the first three verses of this chapter, that they were formerly:
- Spiritually dead and living totaling in their sins.
- Under the total influence of Satan and his cosmic system.
- Under the total control of the Old Sin Nature.
- Destined for the Eternal Lake of Fire.
This is the state that all people are brought into this world under, yet by God’s love, mercy, and grace He saved us from those things.
Paul then uses the imagery of circumcision to remind them of the Judaizers’ false doctrine of salvation by works, as some of the Jewish believers in the early Church believed that you had to not only believe in Jesus Christ, but also be circumcised and keep the Law, in order to be saved, Acts 15:1, 5. The Jerusalem Council settled this issue in Acts 15:6-31, but some did not follow this and wanted to hang onto the Law.
“Uncircumcision” is the noun AKROBUSTIA, ἀκροβυστία that literally means, “foreskin” and was used to denote those that were “uncircumcised, pagan in their beliefs, or a Gentile.” It was a derogatory remark used by the Jews towards Gentiles, cf. 1 Sam 17:26 that uses the Hebrew word ARYIL, while other O.T. passages use ORLAH. It meant that they were not of or from the privileged Jews. During the early Church, it was used by the Jewish Christians, i.e., Judaizers, towards the Gentile Christians. These Judaizers did not think the Gentiles were saved unless they also received circumcision.
“Circumcision” is the noun PERITOME, περιτομή that means, “circumcision or those who are circumcised.” It was used literally and as a representation of the Jews. It also has other figurative usages in the New Testament, including being Born Again.
Circumcision was instituted by God in Gen 17:10-14, as an external sign of the covenant He made with Abraham. This important rite signified externally what had happened to Abraham internally. However, by Paul’s time, this physical sign had become more of a sign of the difference between Jew and Gentile, than of a person’s relationship to God. Circumcision had become a status symbol, which gave the Jews a false confidence based on ritual.
The ritual of circumcision has no significance in the Church. It only intrudes as a false standard of salvation,1 Cor 7:18-19; Gal 5:2-3; Eph 2:11. So Paul is reminding them of the false doctrine of the Judaizers and that circumcision and keeping the Law were nothing but human good works, i.e., “performed in the flesh by human hands,” and not according to Scripture, Col 3:11; Gal 5:2-6; 6:15; Rom 3:30.
The Greek uses the Noun SARX in the Dative Case that means, “flesh, human, mortal nature, or physical life,” and the Genitive Singular of the Adjective CHEIROPOIETOS that is a compound word from the noun CHEIR that means, “hand” and the verb POIEO that means, “to make.” Combined this word means, “made by human hands.”
Paul is reminding them that their salvation was provided by the grace of God and not by human hands, i.e., the works of the flesh, which means not by “human good works.” “Salvation is not by human works so that no one could boast,” Eph 2:9.
Circumcision and uncircumcision are nothing but superficial and outward distinctions, which in no way reveal the inner soul relationship to God, cf. Isa 55:7-9; 1 Sam 16:6-7. Therefore, believers are warned to not bring into the Christian life the false and superficial standards of the pre-salvation days, as these false standards victimize other believers, as they are contrary to Divine standards of evaluation. So Paul is reminding them and us that internal, not external, circumcision is what really matters, Gal 5:6; Col 2:11-14.
Gal 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
Col 2:11, “And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. 12having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us andwhich was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
Paul continues bringing them down memory lane when he states, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
Here he is reminding the Gentiles of their actual hopeless condition before they became united with Christ, i.e., “you were at that time,” EIMI HO KAIROS. EIMI meaning here “were,” is in the Imperfect Tense for ongoing past action. This was the state in which the unbelieving Gentile was in.
These following conditions go beyond what he has already told them in vs. 1-3. Their additional formerly depraved condition is summarized by a series of five descriptive statements.
- They previously were without Christ, “separated from Christ,” CHORIS CHRISTOS. CHORIS, χωρίς means, “separately, without, or apart from.” The one word that best describes the Gentiles’ former life is “without.” It is in the Ablative case construction which in itself normally indicates separation. It means that they were not in union with Christ as they are now, and that they had no hope of a Messiah. It is the best definition of a lost man.
The Ephesians worshiped the goddess, Diana, and before the coming of the Gospel, knew nothing about Christ and had no relationship with Him whatsoever, which also means condemnation.
This is the first true standard and the most universal standard for all people who are unbelievers. All unbelievers are separated from Christ. This tells us that circumcision is a false issue; Christ is the real issue.
- They were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel.”
“Excluded” is the Verb APALLOTRIOO, ἀπαλλοτριόω that means, “to estrange or alienate,” in the Perfect, Passive, Participle that means, “having been alienated from.”
“Commonwealth of Israel” uses the Noun POLITEIA that means, “citizenship or commonwealth,” and is also used in Acts 22:28 where it refers to Paul’s Roman citizenship. Here it stands for the superiority of Israel historically in God’s plan. It speaks to the privileges and blessings Israel was given that the Gentiles were not given. A Gentile could enter the nation of Israel as a proselyte, but he was not born into that very special nation. Even more important is that these unbelieving Gentiles had no rights of citizenship in “spiritual Israel,” Rom 9:6-7; 11:1-5, and they had no heavenly POLITEUMA privileges of Phil 3:20.
This is a reference to the previous Dispensation of Israel in which the citizenship with Israel was based on regeneration, e.g., Abraham, rather than physical birth. The pattern for the citizenship with Israel is found in Rom 4:2-25; 9:6-8. Only born again Jews were the true citizens of Israel. So this phrase once again emphasizes lack of regeneration; being on the wrong side of the Cross.
- These Gentiles were “strangers from the covenants of promise.”
“Strangers,” is the Adjective XENOS that means, “strange, foreign, or alien.” It also means, “to be estranged, unacquainted with, or not operating under.” In other words, once again they were aliens in the sense of no citizenship. All of this means that they were foreigners to what grace was all about. It meant that the Gentiles were not owners or partakers of something. That something is:
“Covenants,” DIATHEKE, διαθήκη that means, “last will and testament, covenant, will, contract, or disposition.” It refers to God’s promises to Abraham, the unconditional covenants of Israel, Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-5; 17:1-22; 22:15-18. The unconditional covenants all involve eternal life. So once again it is the same thing: they did not have salvation so they did not have anything. Until they and we believed in Jesus Christ, they and we were nothing. This is the Abrahamic, Palestinian, and Davidic covenants. They are unconditional covenants, they are grace covenants, they have grace provision, they all have eternal life provision, and they are all for the Jews.
“Of Promise,” EPANGELIA, ἐπαγγελία or literally “the promise.” It is used here for the unconditional promises of grace and blessing; the Divine promises and gracious gifts of God. Israel’s “covenants” include the Abrahamic Covenant, Gen 12:1-3; 15:18-21; 17:1-8, the Palestinian Covenant, Deut 28-30, the Davidic Covenant, 2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:1-4, and the New Covenant, Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:24-30. It is a reminder that all the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stemmed from that one great promise of the coming Messiah, Gen 3:15. These covenants all pointed to “the promise” of the Messiah and of blessings through Him that assured Israel of a national existence, a land, a King, and spiritual blessings. A promise is an assurance that something will be done, happen, and turn out well. The covenant promise is God’s guarantee to mankind that through faith in Christ, they will receive eternal blessings in heaven.
So Paul is saying that these Gentile unbelievers were deprived of direct participation in God’s covenants and thus had no hope of future glory and blessing as Israel did. The believer’s promise from Christ is found inJohn 14:2-3, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself: that where I am, there you may be also.”
- They were in a state of “having no hope,” ME ECHO ELPIS. They had no confident expectation of anything good pertaining to the future and the afterlife, which is the natural consequence of being without Christ, 1 Thes 4:13.
1 Thes 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.”
They had no expectation of a personal Messiah-Deliverer and Messianic Age. Any hopes or gods they did have were all false and powerless.
- They had been “without God in the world,” ATHEOS EN HO KOSMOS. This means that even in this present life, they had no relationship whatsoever with a benevolent God, Gal 4:8. They were “godless.” They had no true god to trust and rely upon while here inside of Satan’s cosmic system. That means that they had no advocate in heaven and were completely helpless against the “prince of the power of the air,” 2, i.e., Satan and his cosmic system. Therefore, they had no meaning, hope, purpose, or direction in life. They were in the darkness, wandering about with the rest of lost humanity.
It is worth noting here that the spiritual plight of the world and Gentiles was not caused by God, but by their own willful sin. Paul said the Gentiles knew the true God, but deliberately refused to honor Him, Rom 1:18-23. Religious history is not a record of man starting with many gods, idolatry, and gradually discovering the one true God. Rather, it is the sad story of man knowing the truth about God and deliberately turning away from it! It is a story of devolution, not evolution!
Is it any wonder that those in the world today who are without Christ are without hope, and the only thing they do is try to squeeze out whatever they can from this life, as they seek after the materialism of this world for their happiness? That is what it is like to be without hope and without God. If I too had nothing to look forward to, I would do the same.
Therefore, Paul reminds the Gentile believers of their past plight and hopelessness, so they might better understand their present blessings in Christ Jesus. This is a terrible, awful condition that Paul describes. But now notice in vs. 13 that something has happened to change it all.
Also, keep in mind that God called the Jews, beginning with Abraham, that through them He might reveal Himself as the one true God and Messiah. God deposited His Word with the Jews, and through the Jews He gave the world the Savior, Rom 9:1-5. Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles that they too might be saved. But sad to say, Israel became like the Gentiles, and the light burned dimly in them.
This fact is a warning to the Church today. It it is a reminder to avoid getting caught up in the world and involved in superficial rituals, post-salvation. In fact, when the Church is least like the world, it does the most for the world.
Vs. 13, We have been brought near to God through the Blood of Jesus Christ!
Eph 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Here we have the means of our reconciliation that gives us entrance into God’s blessings for time and eternity. Beginning here in vs. 13, and running through to the end of the chapter, vs. 22, we are shown the great contrast to vs. 1-3, 11-12. We are shown the contrast between the wrong and the right side of the Cross; the wrong and right side of the barrier noted in vs. 14. We are shown our relocation from spiritual death to spiritual life and many of the blessings it entails.
“But now,” is the Adversative Conjunction DE with the Adverb of present time NUN giving us a change in scenery. It is a sharp contrast between the former estate of these Gentiles and their new position in Christ. You see, you were spiritually dead living in your sins, Satan, and Old Sin Nature, along with absence of Divine blessings noted in vs. 12 with the phrase, “at that time.” “But now,” you are alive and have the blessings of God because of your union, “in Christ Jesus,” the Dative of EN CHRISTOS IESOUS. This is your new position that gives you a new life and new outlook on life that was absent before. In vs. 12, in your former unbelieving state, you were “in the world,” but here we see the believer is now, “in Christ Jesus.” It relates us to the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict that was won on the Cross.
Our former state is then once again noted to remind us of the contrast in our lives, “you who formerly were far off,” HUMEIS HO POTE EIMI MAKROS. POTE EIMI actually mean, “once being.” So we should translate this, “you who were once (at one time) far off.”
Then in contrast, our present state as believers in Jesus Christ is given, “have been brought near,” which is the verb GINOMAI in the Aorist, Passive, Indicative with the Adverb ENGUS. So the contrast continues, we were far from God as unbelievers, but now we are near to Him as believers in Jesus Christ, because of “His blood.” To be near to God is one of the exalted positions into which each believer is brought at the moment he is saved.
This verse is closely related to vs. 17, cf. Isa 57:19. In vs. 12 only Gentiles are in view, but in this verse and the ones following, both Jews and Gentiles are seen. The Gentiles are identified as those who, because of no former covenant relation to God, were “far off,” while the Jews, because of their covenants, were “near.” Yet, the Jews were not “near” to the same degree in which the saved Jew and the saved Gentile are now because of being in Christ and redeemed through His precious blood.
Note too that this phrase refers to the commonwealth or the citizenship of Israel of vs. 12. It relates that the Gentile believers are not in the commonwealth of spiritual Israel, cf. Rom 9:16, but are near to it, in the sense of being born again. They cannot be in it because this is the Church Age, not the dispensation of Israel.
Next we have the Dative of Means/Instrument that relocated us from spiritual death to spiritual life, “by the blood of Christ,” EN HO HAIMA HO CHRISTOS, translated, “by the means or instrument of the blood of the Christ.”
This phrase is symbolic of what Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we would have the forgiveness of our sins. That invisible act of God judging our sins in the person of Jesus Christ, is made manifest for us through the image of His shed blood. The blood relates back to the Old Testament, to the sacrifices that were made to portray the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in the phrase “the blood of Christ”, we understand the judgement He received on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins through which we receive the forgiveness of our sins.
This phrase was also used to identify the humanity of Jesus Christ in hypostatic union, as some denied the humanity of Christ in the early church. “Because the docetic Gnostics denied the humanity of Christ, Paul was very careful to specify that He was a real human with genuine blood. Redemption came through the death of Christ, and the means of cleansing was His shed blood. It was not an ordinary death.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.) It was the humanity of Christ that paid the penalty for our sins. Therefore, the judgment of Jesus Christ on the Cross means reconciliation to all who believe in Him. And His judgment is related to the Levitical sacrifices by the use of the word “blood”.
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Next in Ephesians 2 – Part 5, we will study:
The Doctrine of the Blood
Vs. 14 – 17, The Peace Jesus Won for Us at the Cross
The New Covenant vs. The Old Covenant