God's Love and Grace in Quickening Us,
Once Dead, through Christ. His Purpose in Doing So: Exhortation Based on Our Privileges as Built Together, an
Holy Temple, in Christ, through the Spirit.
1. And you—"You also," among those who
have experienced His mighty power in enabling them to believe (Eph
hath he quickened—supplied from
the Greek (Eph 2:5).
dead—spiritually. (Col 2:13). A living corpse: without the gracious
presence of God's Spirit in the soul, and so unable to think, will, or
do aught that is holy.
in trespasses … sins—in
them, as the element in which the unbeliever is, and through which he
is dead to the true life. Sin is the death of the soul. Isa 9:2; Joh
5:25, "dead" (spiritually),
1Ti 5:6. "Alienated from the life
of God" (Eph 4:18).
Translate, as Greek, "in your trespasses," &c. "Trespass" in
Greek, expresses a FALL or LAPSE, such as the transgression of Adam
whereby he fell. "Sin." (Greek, "hamartia") implies
innate corruption and ALIENATION
from God (literally, erring of the mind from the rule of truth),
exhibited in acts of sin (Greek, "hamartemata").
Bengel, refers "trespasses" to the Jews
who had the law, and yet revolted from it; "sins," to the Gentiles who
know not God.
2. the course of this world—the career
(literally, "the age," compare Ga 1:4), or present system of this world
(1Co 2:6, 12; 3:18, 19, as opposed to "the world to come"):
alien from God, and lying in the wicked one (1Jo 5:19). "The age" (which is something more
external and ethical) regulates "the world" (which is something more
the prince of the power of the air—the
unseen God who lies underneath guiding "the course of this world"
4:4); ranging through the
air around us: compare Mr 4:4, "fowls of the air" (Greek,
"heaven") that is, (Eph 2:15),
"Satan" and his demons. Compare Eph 6:12; Joh 12:31. Christ's ascension seems to have cast
Satan out of heaven (Re 12:5, 9, 10, 12, 13), where he had been heretofore the
accuser of the brethren (Job 1:6-11). No longer able to accuse in
heaven those justified by Christ, the ascended Saviour (Ro 8:33,
34), he assails them on earth
with all trials and temptations; and "we live in an atmosphere
poisonous and impregnated with deadly elements. But a mighty
purification of the air will be effected by Christ's coming" [Auberlen], for Satan shall be bound (Re 12:12, 13, 15, 17; 20:2, 3). "The power" is here used
collectively for the "powers of the air"; in apposition with which
"powers" stand the "spirits," comprehended in the singular, "the
spirit," taken also collectively: the aggregate of the "seducing
spirits" (1Ti 4:1) which
"work now (still; not merely, as in your case, 'in time
past') in the sons of disobedience" (a Hebraism: men who are not
merely by accident disobedient, but who are essentially sons of
disobedience itself: compare Mt 3:7), and of which Satan is here declared to
be "the prince." The Greek does not allow "the spirit" to refer
to Satan, "the prince" himself, but to "the powers of the
air" of which he is prince. The powers of the air are the
embodiment of that evil "spirit" which is the ruling principle of
unbelievers, especially the heathen (Ac 26:18), as opposed to the spirit of the
children of God (Lu 4:33). The
potency of that "spirit" is shown in the "disobedience" of the former.
32:20, "children in whom is
no faith" (Isa 30:9; 57:4). They disobey the Gospel both in faith
and practice (2Th 1:8; 2Co 2:12).
3. also we—that is, we also. Paul
here joins himself in the same category with them, passing from the
second person (Eph 2:1, 2)
to the first person here.
all—Jews and Gentiles.
our conversation—"our way of life"
(2Co 1:12; 1Pe 1:18). This expression implies an outwardly
more decorous course, than the open "walk" in gross sins
on the part of the majority of Ephesians in times past, the Gentile
portion of whom may be specially referred to in Eph 2:2. Paul and his Jewish countrymen, though
outwardly more seemly than the Gentiles (Ac 26:4, 5, 18), had been essentially like them in
living to the unrenewed flesh, without the Spirit of God.
mind—Greek, "our thoughts."
Mental suggestions and purposes (independent of God), as distinguished
from the blind impulses of "the flesh."
and were by nature—He intentionally
breaks off the construction, substituting "and we were" for "and
being," to mark emphatically his and their past state by nature,
as contrasted with their present state by grace. Not merely is it, we
had our way of life fulfilling our fleshly desires, and so being
children of wrath; but we were by nature originally "children of
wrath," and so consequently had our way of life fulfilling our fleshly
desires. "Nature," in Greek, implies that which has grown
in us as the peculiarity of our being, growing with our growth, and
strengthening with our strength, as distinguished from that which has
been wrought on us by mere external influences: what is inherent, not
acquired (Job 14:4; Ps 51:5). An incidental proof of the doctrine of
children of wrath—not merely "sons,"
as in the Greek, "sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:2), but "children" by generation;
not merely by adoption, as "sons" might be. The Greek
order more emphatically marks this innate corruption: "Those who in
their (very) nature are children of wrath"; Eph 2:5, "grace" is opposed to "nature" here;
and salvation (implied in Eph 2:5, 8, "saved") to "wrath." Compare Article
IX, Church of England Common Prayer Book. "Original sin
(birth-sin), standeth not in the following of Adam, but is the fault
and corruption of the nature of every man, naturally engendered of Adam
[Christ was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Ghost of the
Virgin], whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and
is of his own nature inclined to evil; and therefore, in every person
born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." Paul
shows that even the Jews, who boasted of their birth from Abraham, were
by natural birth equally children of wrath as the Gentiles, whom the
Jews despised on account of their birth from idolaters (Ro 3:9;
abideth" on all who disobey the Gospel in faith and practice (Joh 3:36). The phrase, "children of wrath,"
is a Hebraism, that is, objects of God's wrath from childhood, in our
natural state, as being born in the sin which God hates. So "son of
12:5, Margin); "son of
perdition" (Joh 17:12; 2Th 2:3).
as others—Greek, "as the rest"
of mankind are (1Th 4:13).
4. God, who is rich—Greek "(as)
being rich in mercy."
for—that is, "because of His
great love." This was the special ground of God's saving us; as
"rich in mercy" (compare Eph 2:7; Eph 1:7; Ro 2:4;
10:12) was the general
ground. "Mercy takes away misery; love confers salvation"
5. dead in sins—The best reading is in
the Greek, "dead in our (literally, 'the')
quickened—"vivified" spiritually, and
consequences hereafter, corporally. There must be a spiritual
resurrection of the soul before there can be a comfortable resurrection
of the body [Pearson] (Joh 11:25,
26; Ro 8:11).
together with Christ—The Head being
seated at God's right hand, the body also sits there with Him [Chrysostom]. We are already seated there IN Him ("in Christ Jesus," Eph 2:6), and hereafter shall be seated
by Him; IN Him already as in our
Head, which is the ground of our hope; by Him hereafter, as by
the conferring cause, when hope shall be swallowed up in fruition
[Pearson]. What God wrought in Christ,
He wrought (by the very fact) in all united to Christ, and one with
by grace ye are saved—Greek,
"Ye are in a saved state." Not merely "ye are being saved," but ye "are
passed from death unto life" (Joh 5:24). Salvation is to the Christian not a
thing to be waited for hereafter, but already realized (1Jo 3:14). The parenthetic introduction of this
clause here (compare Eph 2:8) is a
burst of Paul's feeling, and in order to make the Ephesians feel that
grace from first to last is the sole source of salvation; hence,
too, he says "ye," not "we."
6. raised us up together—with Christ.
The "raising up" presupposes previous quickening of Jesus in the tomb,
and of us in the grave of our sins.
made us sit together—with Christ,
namely, in His ascension. Believers are bodily in heaven in point of
right, and virtually so in spirit, and have each their own place
assigned there, which in due time they shall take possession of (Php 3:20,
21). He does not say, "on
the right hand of God"; a prerogative reserved to Christ
peculiarly; though they shall share His throne (Re 3:21).
in Christ Jesus—Our union with Him is
the ground of our present spiritual, and future bodily, resurrection
and ascension. "Christ Jesus" is the phrase mostly used in this
Epistle, in which the office of the Christ, the Anointed
Prophet, Priest and King, is the prominent thought; when the Person is
prominent, "Jesus Christ" is the phrase used.
7. Greek, "That He might show forth
(middle reflexive voice; for His own glory, Eph 1:6, 12,
14) in the ages which are
coming on," that is, the blessed ages of the Gospel which
supersede "the age (Greek, for 'course') of this world"
2:2), and the past "ages"
from which the mystery was hidden (Col 1:26, 27). These good ages, though beginning with
the first preaching of the Gospel, and thenceforth continually
succeeding one another, are not consummated till the Lord's coming
again (compare Eph 1:21; Heb 6:5). The words, "coming on," do not exclude
the time then present, but imply simply the ages
following upon Christ's "raising them up together" spiritually
through Christ—rather, as
Greek, "in Christ"; the same expression as is so often repeated,
to mark that all our blessings center "IN
8. For—illustrating "the exceeding
riches of His grace in kindness." Translate as in Eph 2:5, "Ye are in a saved state."
through faith—the effect of the power
of Christ's resurrection (Eph 1:19, 20; Php 3:10) whereby we are "raised together" with
Him (Eph 2:6; Col 2:12). Some of the oldest manuscripts read,
"through your (literally, 'the') faith." The instrument or mean
of salvation on the part of the person saved; Christ alone is the
and that—namely, the act of
believing, or "faith." "Of yourselves" stands in opposition to, "it
is the gift of God" (Php 1:29).
"That which I have said, 'through faith,' I do not wish to be
understood so as if I excepted faith itself from grace"
[Estius]. "God justifies the believing
man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of
Him in whom he believes" [Hooker]. The
initiation, as well as the increase, of faith, is from the Spirit of
God, not only by an external proposal of the word, but by internal
illumination in the soul [Pearson]. Yet
"faith" cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely,
"hearing the word of God" (Ro 10:17),
and prayer (Lu 11:13),
though the blessing is wholly of God (1Co 3:6, 7).
9. Not of works—This clause stands in
contrast to "by grace," as is confirmed by Ro 4:4, 5;
lest—rather, as Greek, "that no
man should boast" (Ro 3:27; 4:2).
10. workmanship—literally, "a thing of
His making"; "handiwork." Here the spiritual creation, not the
physical, is referred to (Eph 2:8, 9).
created—having been created (Eph 4:24; Ps 102:18; Isa 43:21; 2Co 5:5, 17).
unto good works—"for good
works." "Good works" cannot be performed until we are new "created
unto" them. Paul never calls the works of the law "good works." We are
not saved by, but created unto, good works.
before ordained—Greek, "before
made ready" (compare Joh 5:36).
God marks out for each in His purposes beforehand, the particular good
works, and the time and way which tie sees best. God both makes ready
by His providence the opportunities for the works, and makes us
ready for their performance (Joh 15:16; 2Ti 2:21).
that we should walk in them—not "be
saved" by them. Works do not justify, but the justified man works
11. The Greek order in the oldest
manuscripts is, "That in time past (literally, once) ye,"
&c. Such remembrance sharpens gratitude and strengthens faith
Gentiles in the flesh—that is,
Gentiles in respect to circumcision.
called Uncircumcision—The Gentiles
were called (in contempt), and were, the Uncircumcision; the
Jews were called, but were not truly, the Circumcision [Ellicott].
in the flesh made by hands—as opposed
to the true "circumcision of the heart in the Spirit, and not the
2:29), "made without the
hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the
circumcision of Christ" (Col 2:11).
12. without Christ—Greek,
"separate from Christ"; having no part in Him; far from Him. A
different Greek word (aneu) would be required to express,
"Christ was not present with you" [Tittmann].
aliens—Greek, "alienated from,"
not merely "separated from." The Israelites were cut off from the
commonwealth of God, but it was as being self-righteous, indolent, and
unworthy, not as aliens and strangers [Chrysostom]. The expression, "alienated from," takes
it for granted that the Gentiles, before they had apostatized from the
primitive truth, had been sharers in light and life (compare Eph 4:18,
23). The hope of redemption
through the Messiah, on their subsequent apostasy, was embodied into a
definite "commonwealth" or polity, namely, that "of Israel,"
from which the Gentiles were alienated. Contrast Eph 2:13; Eph 3:6; 4:4, 5, with Ps 147:20.
covenants of promise—rather, "…
of the promise," namely, "to thee and thy seed will I give this
land" (Ro 9:4; Ga 3:16). The plural implies the several
renewals of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with the
whole people at Sinai [Alford]. "The
promise" is singular, to signify that the covenant, in reality, and
substantially, is one and the same at all times, but only different in
its accidents and external circumstances (compare Heb 1:1, "at sundry times and in divers
having no … hope—beyond this
15:19). The CONJECTURES of heathen philosophers as to a future
life were at best vague and utterly unsatisfactory. They had no divine
"promise," and therefore no sure ground of "hope." Epicurus and
Aristotle did not believe in it at all. The Platonists believed the
soul passed through perpetual changes, now happy, and then again
miserable; the Stoics, that it existed no longer than till the time of
the general burning up of all things.
without God—Greek, "atheists,"
that is, they had not "God" in the sense we use the word, the Eternal
Being who made and governs all things (compare Ac 14:15, "Turn from these vanities unto the
living God who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things
therein"), whereas the Jews had distinct ideas of God and immortality.
Compare also Ga 4:8, "Ye
knew not God … ye did service unto them which are no gods" (1Th 4:5). So also pantheists are atheists,
for an impersonal God is NO God, and an
ideal immortality no immortality [Tholuck].
in the world—in contrast to belonging
to "the commonwealth of Israel." Having their portion and their all in
this godless vain world (Ps 17:14),
from which Christ delivers His people (Joh 15:19; 17:14; Ga
13. now—in contrast to "at that time"
in Christ Jesus—"Jesus" is here added,
whereas the expression before (Eph 2:12) had been merely "Christ," to mark that
they know Christ as the personal Saviour, "Jesus."
far off—the Jewish description of the
Gentiles. Far off from God and from the people of God (Eph
2:17; Isa 57:19; Ac 2:39).
are—Greek, "have been."
by—Greek, "in." Thus "the blood
of Christ" is made the seal of a covenant IN which their nearness to
God consists. In Eph 1:7, where
the blood is more directly spoken of as the instrument, it is
"through His blood" [Alford].
14. he—Greek, "Himself" alone,
pre-eminently, and none else. Emphatical.
our peace—not merely "Peacemaker," but
"Himself" the price of our (Jews' and Gentiles' alike) peace with God,
and so the bond of union between "both" in God. He took both into
Himself, and reconciled them, united, to God, by His assuming our
nature and our penal and legal liabilities (Eph 2:15; Isa 9:5, 6; 53:5; Mic 5:5; Col 1:20). His title, "Shiloh," means the
the middle wall of
partition—Greek, "… of the partition" or
"fence"; the middle wall which parted Jew and Gentile.
There was a balustrade of stone which separated the court of the
Gentiles from the holy place, which it was death for a Gentile to pass.
But this, though incidentally alluded to, was but a symbol of the
partition itself, namely, "the enmity" between "both"
and God (Eph 2:15),
the real cause of separation from God, and so the mediate cause of
their separation from one another. Hence there was a twofold wall of
partition, one the inner wall, severing the Jewish people from entrance
to the holy part of the temple where the priests officiated, the other
the outer wall, separating the Gentile proselytes from access to the
court of the Jews (compare Eze 44:7; Ac 21:28). Thus this twofold wall represented the
Sinaitic law, which both severed all men, even the Jews, from
access to God (through sin, which is the violation of the law), and
also separated the Gentiles from the Jews. As the term "wall" implies
the strength of the partition, so "fence" implies that it was
easily removed by God when the due time came.
15. Rather, make "enmity" an apposition to
"the middle wall of partition"; "Hath broken down the middle wall of
partition (not merely as English Version, 'between us,'
but also between all men and God), to wit, the enmity (Ro 8:7) by His flesh" (compare Eph 2:16; Ro
the law of commandments contained
in—Greek, "the law of the commandments (consisting) in
ordinances." This law was "the partition" or "fence," which embodied
the expression of the "enmity" (the "wrath" of God against our sin, and
our enmity to Him, Eph 2:3)
(Ro 4:15; 5:20; 7:10, 11; 8:7). Christ has in, or by, His
crucified flesh, abolished it, so far as its condemning and
enmity-creating power is concerned (Col 2:14), substituting for it the law of love,
which is the everlasting spirit of the law, and which flows from the
realization in the soul of His love in His death for us. Translate what
follows, "that He might make the two (Jews and Gentiles) into one new
man." Not that He might merely reconcile the two to each other, but
incorporate the two, reconciled in Him to God, into one new man; the
old man to which both belonged, the enemy of God, having been slain in
His flesh on the cross. Observe, too, ONE new man; we are all in God's
sight but one in Christ, as we are but one in Adam [Alford].
making peace—primarily between all and
God, secondarily between Jews and Gentiles; He being "our peace." This
"peace-making" precedes its publication (Eph 2:17).
16. Translate, "might altogether reconcile
them both in one body (the Church, Col 3:15) unto God through His cross." The
Greek for "reconcile" (apocatalaxe), found only here and
1:20, expresses not only a
return to favor with one (catallage), but so to lay aside enmity
that complete amity follows; to pass from enmity to complete
slain the enmity—namely, that had been
between man and God; and so that between Jew and Gentile which had
resulted from it. By His being slain, He slew it (compare
thereby—Greek, "therein"; "in"
or "by the cross," that is, His crucifixion (Col 2:15).
17. Translate, "He came and announced glad
tidings of peace." "He came" of His own free love, and "announced
peace" with His own mouth to the apostles (Lu
24:36; Joh 20:19, 21, 26);
and by them to others, through His Spirit present in His Church (Joh 14:18). Ac 26:23 is strictly parallel; after His
resurrection "He showed light to the people ('them that were nigh') and
to the Gentiles ('you that were afar off')," by His Spirit in His
ministers (compare 1Pe 3:19).
and to them—The oldest manuscripts
insert "peace" again: "And peace to them." The repetition implies the
joy with which both alike would dwell again and again upon the welcome
word "peace." So Isa 57:19.
18. Translate, "For it is through Him (Joh 14:6; Heb 10:19) that we have our access (Eph 3:12;
Ro 5:2), both of us, in (that
is, united in, that is, "by," 1Co 12:13, Greek) one Spirit to the
Father," namely, as our common Father, reconciled to both alike; whence
flows the removal of all separation between Jew and Gentile. The
oneness of "the Spirit," through which we both have our access,
is necessarily followed by oneness of the body, the Church
2:16). The distinctness of
persons in the Divine Trinity appears in this verse. It is also fatal
to the theory of sacerdotal priests in the Gospel through whom alone
the people can approach God. All alike, people and ministers, can draw
nigh to God through Christ, their ever living Priest.
19. Now, therefore—rather, "So then"
opposed to "members of the household," as "strangers" is to "fellow
citizens." Php 3:19, 20, "conversation," Greek,
but—The oldest manuscripts add,
with the saints—"the commonwealth of
(spiritual) Israel" (Eph 2:12).
Father; as Jesus Christ appears
2:20, and THE Spirit in Eph 2:22.
20. Translate as Greek, "Built up
upon," &c. (participle; having been built up upon; omit,
therefore, "and are"). Compare 1Co 3:11, 12. The same image in Eph 3:18, recurs in his address to the Ephesian
20:32), and in his Epistle to
Timothy at Ephesus (1Ti 3:15; 2Ti 2:19), naturally suggested by the splendid
architecture of Diana's temple; the glory of the Christian temple is
eternal and real, not mere idolatrous gaud. The image of a building is
appropriate also to the Jew-Christians; as the temple at Jerusalem was
the stronghold of Judaism; as Diana's temple, of paganism.
foundation of the apostles,
&c.—that is, upon their ministry and living example (compare
16:18). Christ Himself, the
only true Foundation, was the grand subject of their ministry, and
spring of their life. As one with Him and His fellow workers, they,
too, in a secondary sense, are called "foundations" (Re 21:14). The "prophets" are joined with them
closely; for the expression is here not "foundations of the
apostles and the prophets," but "foundations of the
apostles and prophets." For the doctrine of both was essentially
one (1Pe 1:10, 11; Re 19:10). The apostles take the precedency
10:24). Thus he appropriately
shows regard to the claims of the Jews and Gentiles: "the prophets"
representing the old Jewish dispensation, "the apostles" the new. The
"prophets" of the new also are included. Bengel and Alford
refer the meaning solely to these (Eph 3:5; 4:11). These passages imply, I think, that
the New Testament prophets are not excluded; but the apostle's plain
reference to Ps 118:22,
"the head stone of the corner," proves that the Old Testament prophets
are a prominent thought. David is called a "prophet" in Ac 2:30. Compare also Isa 28:16; another prophet present to the mind of
Paul, which prophecy leans on the earlier one of Jacob (Ge 49:24). The sense of the context, too, suits
this: Ye were once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (in
the time of her Old Testament prophets), but now ye are members
of the true Israel, built upon the foundation of her New Testament
apostles and Old Testament prophets. Paul continually identifies his
teaching with that of Israel's old prophets (Ac 26:22;
28:23). The costly
foundation-stones of the temple (1Ki 5:17) typified the same truth (compare Jer 51:26). The same stone is at once the
corner-stone and the foundation-stone on which the whole building
rests. Paul supposes a stone or rock so large and so fashioned as to be
both at once; supporting the whole as the foundation, and in part
rising up at the extremities, so as to admit of the side walls meeting
in it, and being united in it as the corner-stone [Zanchius]. As the corner-stone, it is conspicuous,
as was Christ (1Pe 2:6), and
coming in men's way may be stumbled over, as the Jews did at Christ
21:42; 1Pe 2:7).
21. In whom—as holding together the
fitly framed—so as exactly to fit
groweth—"is growing" continually. Here
an additional thought is added to the image; the Church has the
growth of a living organism, not the mere increase of a
building. Compare 1Pe 2:5;
"lively stones … built up a spiritual house." Compare
Eph 4:16; Zec 6:12, "The Branch shall build the
temple of the Lord," where similarly the growth of a branch, and
the building of a temple, are joined.
holy—as being the "habitation of
God" (Eph 2:22). So
"in the Lord" (Christ) answers to "through the Spirit" (Eph 2:22; compare Eph 3:16, 17). "Christ is the inclusive Head of all
the building, the element in which it has its being and now its growth"
22. are builded together—Translate, "are
being builded together."
through—Greek, "in the
Spirit." God, by His Spirit in believers, has them for His
habitation (1Co 3:16, 17; 6:19; 2Co 6:16).