Exposition of Ephesians (02) - Humanity’s Fall and Future

Date: 7/22/2018
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Ephesians 2:1–22 (GS translation) - And you [Ephesian Gentiles] were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, according this world’s [present] age, according to the magistrate of the authority of the atmosphere, the spirit that now is working in the sons of rebellious unbelief, 3 in which all we [Jews] conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, making fruitful the desires of flesh and our mental intentions, and we were by nature children of wrath, like all of humanity. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, symbiotically gave us life through the King—by grace you have been saved— 6 and symbiotically resurrected us with him and seated us with him in heaven’s [throne room] in King Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come he might exhibit the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in King Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; [this salvation is] the gift of God— 9 not out of works, in order that no one can boast. 10 For we are His work of art, [His new] creation in Christ Jesus for the [purpose] of good works [or more likely on the basis of good works of God], which God prepared ahead of time in order that we will walk in them. 11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles in flesh, named “the uncircumcision” by those who are so-named “the circumcision”—a man-made/hand-made circumcision in the flesh— 12 remember that you were at that time without [the] King, alienated from the privileged community of Israel, and outsiders to all the covenants of the one promise, having no hope [without the true God], godless in the world. 13 But now in King Jesus you who once were far off have been begotten near through the blood of the King. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has created both [Jews and Gentiles] into one [new people] and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the state of being enemies which stood between us, 15 [that is] the law of commandments in judgments, which He has made null and void in his flesh that he might create one New Adam, [a new humanity] in himself, in place of the two [kinds of humanity], making peace, 16 and will reconcile both peoples to God in one body through the cross, having killed the state of hostility [between us] through [the cross]. 17 So he came and proclaimed “peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” ( Is. 57:19, 52:7; Zech. 6:15); 18 for through him all [of us] have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer outsiders and strangers, but you are fellow citizens with the ones given sanctuary access [to the true God], even members of God’s household, 20 [which is] built upon the foundation of the [New Covenant] apostles and prophets, with King Jesus himself being the very cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is being bound together, growing into into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being constructed together in the Spirit into a dwelling place for God.

The Fall of Humanity (2:1-3) - The previous chapter of Ephesians ends with an anthem of praise to Jesus, Head of the Church. This leads to verses that express the Ephesians’ state before being in Christ and His Church — “dead in your trespasses and sins,” following “the course of this world,” etc. He emphasizes the fallenness of Gentiles (in 2:1-2) which is both fleshly and cosmic who followed the “course (aion) of this world (cosmos),” and “the prince of the power of the air,” but “we” [Jews] also lived in “the desires of the flesh and of the mind,”etc. Not unlike Romans 1-2, condemnation is on all the fallen, Gentiles and Jews, apart from Christ.

The Redemption of Humanity (2:4-9) - “But God” is what John Stott called “a mighty adversative.” “Set against ‘the desperate condition of fallen mankind, we have ‘the gracious initiative and sovereign action of God’” (Foulkes, Tyndale). It was “because of His great love with which He loved us” — Paul’s  John 3:16. God’s love broke through while we were dead to God relationally bringing sin-death in human nature (“in the day you eat of it dying you shall die” Gen. 3:17). Three terms are used for this redemption: he made us alive, raised us, and seated us with Christ. Each of these terms starts with “syn” (e.g, synthesis, synopsis, synergy) to emphasize “together with Christ.” We are identified with Christ in life from death, resurrection, and (strikingly) ascension to show His grace in ages to come (2:7). Paul could hardly express a brighter future for those who are in Christ! It is by grace (2:5 &

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more