Translations: Chinese 简体中文 繁體中文

Ephesians 2:1-2:10 (web)

The Transition into God's Family

From Death to Life

2:1 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins,
2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the powers of the air,
the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience;
2:3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh,
doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
2:4 But God, being rich in mercy,
for his great love with which he loved us,
2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ
(by grace you have been saved),
2:6 and raised us up with him,
and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
2:7 that in the ages to come he might show
the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus;
2:8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
2:9 not of works, that no one would boast.

2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared before that we would walk in them.

Discussion Questions


  • What sort of behavior and lifestyle does Paul propose characterized our condition before we become Christians?
  • Notice the parallel between 2:6 and 1:20
  • What other sigificant word or words does he carry over from the previous section?
  • How might you summarize or categorize what God has done versus what we have done according to this section?
  • Interpretation

  • In view of the phrase used to live(2:2) being in past tense, how we might expect Christian's lives to be different than non-Christians?
  • What does it mean made us alive with Christ and saved in 2:5?(pretty basic!)
  • What is the significance of being raised and seated with Christ in 2:6?
  • And what is God's purpose in doing so?(2:7)
  • Is our salvation dependent upon our performance?(2:8,9) xref(Rom 4:1-8)
  • What is the relationship between faith and works?(2:10)
  • Application

    (If there's no application, there's no relevance)

  • What changes have you noticed or that you would expect in the lifestyle of a person who becomes a Christian?
  • What might you do today to assure that you will go to heaven?
  • Given the statement that God has already prepared good works for you to do in advance, how does this affect your view towards your particular ministry? How might you discover what these good works are?

  • Comments

    Although salvation is the theme of this section, in particular the emphasis is not upon justification, but rather salvation from sinful behavior unto righteous behavior. Often today there are those who emphasize one's position in Christ while neglecting the effect salvation has on one's behavior. And there are even those today who present salvation as simply a fire insurance policy which while saving one from hell speaks nothing of changing the person's behavior.

    You were Dead

    Eph 2:1-3 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

    Being dead in sin is not simply a person's position, but speaks of his behavior. The behavior of one who is dead in sin is a life of conforming oneself to the sinful desires  and cravings of the flesh. Satan influences through our flesh and through the flesh of others. Those who conform their lives to their fleshly desires are followers of Satan and they listen to those who preach messages consistent with their fleshly desires. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature (the flesh) with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24

    Those who are presently the "chosen", namely Christians, were formerly objects of wrath. "Like the rest" indicates that there was no difference between us and all those who are presently unsaved. Like Paul said to the Corinthians, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were." 1Cor 6:9-11a

    These verses in Ephesians help to clear up misconceptions some have concerning Rom 9:22,23 which says, "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath-- prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--" "Objects" here refer to categories. On an individual basis what category people are in can change. So while you were formerly objects of wrath on your way to hell, you became objects of mercy.

    Made alive

    Eph 2:4,5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved.

    Salvation is not earned through perfect behavior. Rom 5:6 "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Salvation is not like a loan in which the loan officer demands you yourself provide an equal amount of collateral to cover your loan. You've got nothing to offer. God pays it all. God justifies the wicked, as it is written: "to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Rom 4:5 God doesn't justify people as long as they are good, for they are never "really" good. The only qualification is faith in Christ as evidenced by their works of faith.

    Raised and Seated

    Eph 2:6,7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

    These verses speak of our status. Notice the reference back to Ephesians 1:20 "raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms" And notice also the past tense being used, or the aorist in particular which speaks of historic past here. With these in mind, Christians as a category are identified with Christ in his death and resurrection and being seated with him in the heavenly realms. Although we look forward to the experience of our physical resurrection from the dead and being seated with Christ in the future, yet realize also that even now aspects of this have already come to pass for us. Christ was raised, so we are raised with Christ. Christ was seated at his right hand, so we in Christ are seated at his right hand. Our being raised speaks of a living relationship with God. Our being seated speaks of our security in Christ, having been justified by faith, and also our authority as ambassadors to carry out God's work on earth. And  we have authority also with Christ in prayer to enter into God's presence to obtain the grace needed to fulfill our responsibilities.

    This verse also implies an answer to the question as to what is our purpose in life. The meaning and purpose of life is to glorify God's graciousness by being objects of his grace.

    Saved by Grace

    Eph 2:8,9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.

    Some have been led astray reading into these verses meaning which Paul didn't intend. So lets us carefully analyze the original language to clear up misconceptions and get at the intended meaning.

    "By grace you have been saved" had already been mentioned in Ephesians 2:5 "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved." (niv) But there a translational issue here. The phrase "by grace" in Greek (the original language of authorship) is simply the word "grace" in the dative. At issue is whether Paul intended the dative of means (by means of grace) or the dative of manner (with grace, or graciously). I would argue that Paul intended the latter. For graciously describes the manner in which he saves us, as he has an attitude of graciousness. "by faith", on the other hand, is using the preposition "dia" in the genitive which exlusively indicates instrument or mechanism of salvation. "Faith" is the means, "Gracious" is the manner. God grabs hold of our faith and pulls us to safety. He does so graciously. But those without faith are not saved. Or as Robertson puts it in Robertson's NT Word Pictures, "Grace" is God’s part, "faith" ours.

    Now there are those who interpret the phrase "And this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God," to be referring to faith being a gift. But such an idea cannot be support by this passage. According to Greek grammar the gender of "this" must match what it's referring to. "this" is neuter, while "faith" is feminine, and therefore "it is" is not referring to faith. Furthermore "this" is in the nominative case and therefore the subject of the sentence and "gift" is a predicate nominative. Much like in English if I said "This is a gift", "This" is the subject and "gift" is the predicate nominative. The meaning is clearer if we write it this way, "This is a gift of God, being saved by grace through faith".

    Concerning the word "gift", there are two words most commonly used for "gift" in the New Testament. "dorea" emphasizes the freeness of a gift, while "doron" is used for sacrificial offerings. It is this second that Paul is using, alluding to the sacrificial offering God made through Christ's atoning work on the cross. Salvation is the sacrificial offering of God, as opposed to being obtained by one's own works.  He speaks extensively of this in Romans and Galatians, contrasting the righteousness obtained through faith in Christ as opposed to the righteousness of the law which is obtained through one's works, being a performance-based salvation concept.

    Romans 3:20-24 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
    Thus we have "for graciously you have been saved through faith, and that sacrificial offering  is not from yourselves, but from God, not of works, that no one would boast."

    Thus if "faith" is the gift, then it is faith and not the atoning work of Christ on the cross which is the sacrificial offering made to God. Furthermore is the issue of boasting. Is it true that if God does not give us faith as a gift that there would be reason to boast? Not according to the Bible. "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God.  For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" Rom 4:2,3 Here the contrast is between works and faith. It is not between faith being a gift versus faith not being a gift. And the same contrast is drawn in the Ephesian's passage as well. Yet Paul mentions nothing here in Romans about the necessity of "faith" being a gift. He simply states that since it is by faith and not by works therefore there's nothing to boast about.

    Faith is like a drowning man reaching his hand up to be pulled up by someone else. But doesn't that make faith a work? Not according to the Bible. For it is written, "Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as debt. But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." Rom 4:4,5 Thus the Bible does not categorize faith as a work, but neither does it categorize it as a gift in the sense of being given in a monergistic fashion. The Bible would not view the drowning man holding up his hand as trying to work for his salvation. And God is under no obligation to save the man. It is purely out of grace that he does so. But God does help to develop our faith in a synergistic fashion. And it is quite easy to understand. Supposed the raised hand represents faith. The man would have no reason to raise his hand if there were no hope. But through the Word God gives hope, for faith comes from hearing the messsage. The message is like a boat which pulls up along side the drowning man. It encourages him to reach out in faith. If he believes and reaches out, he is saved. Yes there are other religions that others try to reach out to and put their faith in. But such religions are themselves like sinking ships. But as for the issue of faith being a gift, the Bible does not portray faith in a manner in which people are just drowning puppets and God as a puppet master arbitrarily forces some to raise their arms, completely apart from any choice on their own part.

    And another illustration, which I mentioned previously, is that if I hand a free gift to someone with only the requirement that they reach out and take it, their reaching out and taking it is not viewed as work that they do to earn the gift, as if by reaching out they are paying for it. They cannot say, "You are not really gracious and the gift is not really free, for I had to do all that work in reaching out and taking it!" That would be foolish. Our faith is our reaching out to God. True that God helps us to develop saving faith and that He takes the initiative in this, but such is accomplished in cooperation with Him.

    Created for Good Works

    Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    We are not saved by works, but this is not to say that works have no place in the Christian life. For he also explains in Titus 2:11-14 "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

    But Ephesians goes further to say that it is God who makes us into people eager to do good works.

    "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
    which God prepared in advance for us to do."
    Remember where it says in 2Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"It is not simply that Christians, having been saved, should strive to eagerly do good works, but rather that God not only justifies Christians, but also transforms us into people who are naturally eager to do good works. Thus we find also in 1John 5:3,4 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."

    These are effects of being born of God. And notice also the theme all the way from the beginning of Ephesians of the security the believer has in Christ in view of the fact that God secures his destiny, not only in terms of where he will go in the future, but what he becomes even now in this life. For salvation from sin is not earned through making oneself into a "good" person, but rather there are inevitable effects of putting one's faith in Christ. If these effects are not evident in your life, then there is reason to doubt that you have been born of God and I would recommend 2Cor 13:5 be applied.

    But for those born of God, not only have we been created as people who naturally do good works, but also God has prepared good works for us to do. Walk as Jesus did. God prepared good works for him to do, his atoning work on the cross being the ultimate example, but also throughout his ministry he said things like,

  • "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me." John 9:4
  • "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." John 5:19
  • "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." John 8:28
  • "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." John 4:34
  • What is the work which God has given you to do? Let the Holy Spirit lead you into God's work. "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Rom 8:14

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Sep 03,2020