God’s Work of Forming the Church
Ephesians 2
Ephesians 2. The same power which raised up Christ and set Him at the right hand of God (ch.1) “from the graveyard to the glory” is now put forth on behalf of (and working in) those that believe in Him (ch.2). It is amazing that only in this epistle that gives us the highest Christian position do we get the darkest picture of man’s depravity. Generally speaking, the subject of ch.2 is the steps God has taken to form the Church.
Three great obstacles had to be overcome in order for God to form the Church (which is part of His counsels). The grace of God and power of God are enough to overcome every obstacle! These three obstacles provide a natural outline of the chapter:
  1. Man’s condition of spiritual death (vv.1-10)
  2. The Gentiles’ moral distance from God (vv.11-13)
  3. The racial dissension between Jew and Gentile (vv.14-22)
The Godhead. It is more the work of God quickening and creating in vv.1-10, the work of Christ in redeeming and reconciling us in vv.11-17, and the work of the Spirit in giving us access and making us the habitation of God in vv.18-22.
Solomon’s temple. A picture of this chapter can be seen in 1 Kings 5. The chief materials used to build the house of God in Israel were cedars of Lebanon and great stones. The stones had to be cut out of the quarry, pictured by vv.1-3, man’s condition as dead in sins and offenses. They had to be hoisted up out of the ground (quickened, raised) and brought to the temple (seated in the heavenlies), pictured by vv.4-10. The stones also had to be trimmed so as to fit together perfectly, which speaks of the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile (vv.11-18). The cedars picture man alive in his sins, full of pride (Romans truth) who have to be cut down and floated across the waters (death with Christ – Rom. 6). These all were brought together to the site. Then they are built together into a temple (v.21) and a habitation of God (v.22).

God’s Work in Us: Quickening and Creating Us in Christ (1:1-10)

Man’s Lost Condition (vv.1-3)

and *you* [Gentiles], being dead in your offences and sins — v.1 Our lost condition as spiritually dead. In Romans, man is seen as “without strength”, but here he is spiritually “dead” or completely unresponsive to God, with no power or capacity to apprehend God. Death in scripture always speaks of separation; there are at least seven types of death mentioned in scripture, but here it is spiritual death. The expression “in sins and offenses” describes man’s fallen state. It does not say “trespasses” (as wrong translations say) because the Gentiles didn’t have a law to trespass against!
vv.2-3 Three opposing forces that fallen man is under keep people in this condition and would prevent God from using them as material to build His Church. The three opposing forces are: the world (v.2a), the Devil (v.2b), and the flesh (v.3).
2a in which ye [Gentiles] once walked according to the age of this world, v.2a(#1) The World is a system set up by Satan to oppose the interests of God. The “age of this world” refers to the universal condition of the world, trending downward morally. It is the same time period as “this age” (see notes on ages) which is characterized by evil prevailing. The Gentiles walked right along with that downward trend, without a thought or care for the things of God. Notice it doesn’t say “by nature”… nature has to do with the flesh (v.3), but here it is the influence of the world-system that is being considered.
2b according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience: v.2b (#2) The Devil is here referred to under the title “Prince of the power of the air”. That title illustrates his all-permeating influence. As the physical air we breathe, so the Devil spreads his influence through the material universe. His primary field of battle is the hearts and souls of men; he is working “in the sons of disobedience”. The word “sons” speaks of what is characteristic. For example, “sons of God” in Matt. 5 are those who reflect the character of God. The “sons of disobedience” are those who are characterized by disobedience to God. Men like to think they have a free will, but they show that they are under Satan’s power by their disobedience to God.
3 among whom *we* also all [Jews added] once had our conversation in the lusts of our flesh, doing what the flesh and the thoughts willed to do, and were children, by nature, of wrath, even as the rest [Gentiles]v.3 (#3) The flesh – he brings in the Jews to show that all together had a history of slavery to the flesh. The desires of the flesh” are the grosser tendencies (fornication, rape, murder, etc.). The desires of the mind are the more refined, intellectual sins (ecclesiastical, scientific, and philosophical infidelity). The children of wrath” are those heirs by nature of the wrath of God; this is true of every fallen man. This is a different expression than “children of the Devil” which is not true of every sinner, but refers to a special class who are apostates. In this most basic level, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile; all are children of wrath. This would be a hard truth for a Jew to hear.

God’s Love in Quickening Us and Creating Us in Christ Jesus (vv.4-10)

vv.4-5 In the previous two verses we had three opposing forces (the world, the flesh, and the devil) but here in the next two verses we have three Divine forces (mercy, love, and grace) which God uses to overcome those obstacles.
4 but God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love wherewith he loved us, v.4 God intervenes. It is when the total depravity of man has been laid out to its full extent, that God intervenes on behalf of the sinner. In v.4 we are told the cause of God’s intervention, and in vv.5-10 we are told what He did. But first the cause; what was it? What would make God stoop from His place on high to come to the aid of a dead sinner? Love. That unending, unstoppable, unconditional stream that flows from the heart of God. His love was manifested in showing mercy. He was “rich in mercy” and needed those riches to save the likes of us. In v.4 we find that mercy is the means and love is the motive. Next in v.5 we will see that grace is the method.
5 (we too [Jews] being dead in offences,) has quickened us [Jews + Gentiles] with the Christ, (ye are saved by grace,) v.5 Impartation of a New Life. The first thing God does in the process of saving a person is to give them a new life. The first thing a dead man needs in order to be restored is life. The Kelly translation is: “even us [Jew and Gentile] being dead in our offences, he quickened with the Christ (by grace are ye saved)”. Old Testament saints were also quickened, but not “quickened together with Christ”Note: here the emphasis is on the word “saved” (c.p. with v.8), we are saved from the old condition. From the eternal viewpoint of God, it is finished! A new life (“quickened with Christ”) is the first step. The new life has a new nature with new desires, and a new “faith frequency”. That life is communicated by the water of the Word and the Spirit of God (John 3:5). It is unasked for, it is uncalled for. It is the sovereign grace of God to quicken a dead sinner.
Was Christ quickened? It says that we were “quickened with him, but note it never says that God quickened Christ absolutely. It is always qualified somehow, because Christ was life Himself (John 14:6). In the grave He was dead, and needed to be “made alive”, yet He never needed to be “given life” in the same sense that we need it. Instead, He is called “the last Adam, a quickening spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45), He has the power to quicken (John 5:25)! His body could not decay (Psa. 16:10). Death could not hold him (Acts 2:24). He was, however, raised, by His own power (John 10:17, Rom. 1:4), by the Spirit (1 Pet. 3:18), and by the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4).
6 and has raised us up together, and has made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, v.6 A new sphere and a new position. The “together” used twice here refers to “us” and “Christ”. We have followed His pattern in Eph. 1:20! The “us” is Jew and Gentile. We have been brought into a new sphere (“the heavenlies”), the sphere of a more abundant, resurrection life in the power of the Spirit of God (John 10, 20), now a new creation, now in communion with the Father and Son. We are also given a new position (“in Christ”). Association with Christ has made our place to be where He is, in the glorified state. At the rapture, our bodies will follow the path our spirits have already taken.
7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness towards us [the Church] in Christ Jesus. v.7 God’s purpose. The purpose of God in showing us such grace is higher than merely to supply our need. It is to display who He is! He will forever display to the world, to angelic hosts, etc. His grace by “showing us off”. They will see us, taken from the lowest pit (dead) and brought up to the highest place (sonship) and that will teach them His grace. This is the glory that is reflected by the city-bride (Rev. 21:2, 9).
8 For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God’s gift: v.8 Who gets the credit for this work of salvation? God gets all the credit. Notice that in “saved by grace” the emphasis in v.5 is on “saved” but in v.8 is on “grace”. The principle by which we receive salvation is by faith. Even that” – referring to faith – was a gift from God! We can’t take credit for anything. However, this is not a verse we would use in evangelism because it brings out the side of God’s sovereignty.
9 not on the principle of works, that no one might boast. v.9 Not only is it impossible to work for salvation, but salvation isn’t even offered by God on that principle. e.g. like trying to pick up copper with a magnet (see Rom. 3:27-28). If it were by works, some glory would go to man… but it all belongs to God (v.10).
10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them. v.10 New Creation. We have been created again, which is more than being born again. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The old creation was created by Christ in Adam, the new creation is by God in Christ. The old creation was spoiled by man’s sin, but when Christ rose from the dead He did so as the head of a New Creation. God is so pleased with His Son that He wants to make many more sons just like Him! When we believe the gospel and are sealed with the Spirit we are created anew in Christ Jesus. Our purpose now is good works… works do have a place in the Christian life, but we can’t even take the credit for those works, because God has prepared them ahead of time for us to “walk in” them. The expression “walk in” has the thought that these good works become our way of life!

God’s Work with Us: A Double Reconciliation of the Gentiles (2:11-18)

The Gentiles’ Double Condition of Misery (vv.11-12)

¶ 11 Wherefore remember that *ye*, once nations in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that called circumcision in the flesh done with the hand; v.11 We are to “remember” our past condition… because it will keep us humble and thankful. It doesn’t say to be occupied with it, but simply to remember it. Self-judgment is different from self-occupation. This verse gives us two aspects of the Gentiles’ position:
  1. “Gentiles in the flesh. The position of being “in the flesh” means that they were far from God.
  2. Called uncircumcision by Jews. They were estranged from the people of God on earth, and from anything that was a testimony for Him.
12 that ye were at that time (1) without Christ, (2) aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and (3) strangers to the covenants of promise, (4) having no hope, and (5) without God in the world: v.12 Paul summarizes their state as a result of this double condition:
  1. Christ-less – they were without the One Person who alone can bring salvation, satisfy the hungry soul, and fill the heart with joy.
  2. Friend-less – they had no ties to the privileged people who were providentially showered with earthly blessings (hence “commonwealth”).
  3. Home-less – they were without the covenants of promise ties exclusively to the rightful inhabitants of Palestine. By birth they had no right to call it home, or share in the blessing.
  4. Hope-less – they were in a condition of total despair, having no knowledge of God.
  5. God-less – they were without any recognition of God whatsoever.

Alienation from God. This goes beyond God’s hatred for sin and His separation from us. There were bad feelings on our part toward God! Man in his natural state treats God as an enemy. Reconciliation is the glorious remedy for man’s alienation from God.

The Gentile Reconciled to God by the Blood of Christ (v.13)

13 but now in Christ Jesus *ye* who once were afar off are become nigh by the blood of the Christ. v.13 God intervenes again. We had God’s intervention in v.4 in connection with man’s depravity, now we get His intervention again in connection with the Gentiles’ alienation. The Jew had a place of outward nearness to God, while the Gentile was outwardly afar off. The new standing “in Christ” is what makes us near to God. The work of Christ (blood) makes it possible. Thenigh in v.13 (what former Gentiles enjoy now in Christianity) is much closer than the nigh in v.17 (what the Jews enjoyed in the Old Testament).

Seven Ways God has Removed Enmity Between Jew & Gentile (vv.14-18)

Way #1: He has Made both One

14a For (1) *he* is our peace, who has made both one, v.14a Christ as made both” (Jew and Gentile) “one” by putting believers from both into the new standing “in Christ”. He Christ is our peace. He is the only one who could bring the two together.

Way #2: He has Broken Down the Middle Wall

14b and (2) has broken down the middle wall of enclosure, v.14b Christ has eliminated all differences in approach to God. This is an allusion to the temple precincts where the Jews were separated by a middle wall. In his lifetime the Lord was a fruitful bough reaching over the wall (Gen. 49:22), but in His death He broke down the wall completely!

Way #3: He has Set Aside the Jewish religion

15a having (3) annulled the enmity in his flesh, the law of commandments in ordinances, v.15a The Jew was distinguished by these ordinances which separated them from the Gentiles. The Jewish religion, which puffed the Jews up in the flesh and fueled the enmity between Jew and Gentile, was graciously set aside.

Way #4: He has Made One New Man

15b that (4) he might form the two in himself into one new man, making peace; v.15b This is the “mystical man”, Christ the head and the members of His body on earth. The one new man is the body + the head. A person does not fight against himself, and therefore that making of the one new man has made peace between Jew and Gentile. The body of Christ is neither Jew nor Gentile, it is a new thing; the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32).

Way #5: He has Reconciled both to God in One Body

16 and might (5) reconcile both in one body to God by the cross, having by it slain the enmity; v.16 Another thing that has “slain the enmity” is the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile to God as a joint thing, by the cross. The fact that we had to be reconciled together should remove any thought of superiority. Also, the fact that we have been brought to God (reconciled) on equal, new ground (one body) removes all enmity between believers. The oneness of the body and the body’s nearness to God are wrapped up together in this verse.

Way #6: He has Preached to both the Same Gospel

17 and, coming, (6) he has preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off, and the glad tidings of peace to those who were nigh. v.17 Christ, through His servants, have preached the same Gospel of God’s grace to Jew and Gentile. There being no difference in the way of entrance into the Church, there can exist no dissension between the members.

Way #7: He has Provided to both the same Free Access to the Father

18 For (7) through him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father. v.18 Jew and Gentile enjoy the same privilege of coming into the Father’s presence by the Spirit of God. We are united by our common privileges, and by the “one Spirit” that pervades the Father’s presence.
vv.16-18 The cross gives us our title to positionally “draw nigh” (vv.16-17); the Spirit enables us to use our title and practically draw near to the Father (v.18).

God’s Final Product: Three Concentric Circles of Blessing (2:19-22)

vv.19-22 The apostle is contrasting the Gentiles’ old condition with their new condition:
Old Condition New Condition
Far from God’s people (1) Fellow-citizens with the saints
Without God (2) Of the household of God
Without Christ (3a) Part of the eternal temple built upon Christ
Without a purpose (3b) Part of God’s very habitation
19a So then ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, v.19a To see the height of our blessings we need to recall what was our old condition, but is ours no longer. We Gentiles had a legacy of being strangers (no relationship) and foreigners (no settled home). Human beings have two basic needs; to be loved and to be understood. We Gentiles had neither a relationship nor a home. But now, we have been brought into so much more! 
19b but ye (1) are fellow-citizens of the saints, and (2) of the household of God, v.19b But now we have been brought into new relationships and given a new home:
Circle #1: in the City – we are fellow-city-zens with all the heavenly saints from Old and New Testaments. Our future portion is the heavenly city (Heb. 11:16,  Luke 10:20). We will be “in the city” but it does not say “we are the city”, although the Church will be the City (a different city) in a coming day (Rev. 21).
Circle #2: of the Household of God – the household is a closer relationship than the city. It has the thought of communion with God and fellowship with one another concerning God’s Son.
20 being (3) built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone, 21 in whom all the building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom *ye* also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Circle #3: the House of God in two aspects:
  1. Progressive Aspect of God’s Building (Temple) – in this aspect, the House of God is “under construction”, increasing as each stone is put in place by the builder, Jesus Christ. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it because it is founded on the truth of the Person of Christ (Matt. 16:16). There are no imperfections seen in it. The first course of stones were the New Testament apostles and prophets (see Eph. 4:11). There are no more of these apostles and prophets today because God isn’t building the foundation today. Christ is the builder, and it is fitly framed together, so there is no false professors in this aspect. The way this is worded in the Greek it draws attention to the components rather than the building. The emphasis is on us being part of this great building. It is growing” or increasing as each new believer is sealed. The rapture will take place when it is complete!
  2. Present Aspect of God’s Building (Habitation) – in this aspect, the House of God is complete at any one instance of time. We are the habitation of God collectively! In this sense the Spirit of God is “with us” (John 14:17), not “in us”… by indwelling the Church. With this “present” aspect of the House of God (v.22), no Divine builder is mentioned (c.p. vv.20-21). This is because the House as the dwelling place of God is usually connected with man’s responsibility in building (1 Cor. 3:9), and not every person in the house may be truly saved (2 Tim. 2:20, 1 Pet. 4:17). And yet, it is the Spirit of God that pervades the house, and thus all should be done according to His mind. Therefore, our behavior is important (1 Tim. 3:15). It is important to note that man’s responsibility is not specifically mentioned. Note: there is one place in Darby’s writings (Readings on 1 Corinthians, ch.3) that he says this verse is not man’s responsibility. “In Ephesians 2:22 it is not man’s building; there is nothing of man in Ephesians, but just the counsels of God.” This is commendable to me. There is no mention of man’s responsibility anywhere, so why infer it? It is entirely possible that the present aspect of the House is sometimes viewed in God’s sovereignty.
After the parenthesis of ch. 3, the subject of the House is taken up again in ch.4. We are exhorted to use “diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” That is, we are to maintain the unity that the Spirit has formed by submitting ourselves to the Word of God at every turn. By doing this we will be practically obedient to the Spirit of the House, and will also display the unity of the Body. 
The Church as the House of God.
Metaphors for the Church in Ephesians:
  1. Body – carries the thought of unity, the expression of the desires of the Head. (Eph. 1:22-23, 2:14-18, 3:6, 4:4)
  2. House – carries the thought of a public witness and the importance of order. (Eph. 2:19-22)
  3. Bride – carries the thought of affection and subjection to the Head (Eph. 5:24-32)

Two additional metaphors used in Revelation:

  1. Candlestick – carries the thought of a responsible witness to the world.
  2. City – carries the thought of an administration and a display of glory.
On Christ Salvation Rests Secure
by Samuel Medley, 1785
In Him it is ordained to raise
A temple to the Father’s praise,
Composed of all the saints who own
No Saviour but the “Living Stone”.
View the vast building, see it rise;
The work how great, the plan how wise!
Oh, wondrous fabric, power unknown
That rears it on the “Living Stone”!

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