Ephesians, Chapter 2: The Wondrous Grace of Jesus Christ
By Dr. Donald Whitchard
(ICB) Before we delve further into this letter, I want to stop a moment and explain the change in format and presentation I am using now as compared to the style I have been using. I have noticed in going over my past commentaries and studies of the Scriptures that I tend to cover and repeat certain opinions and ideas along with objective interpretations of Scripture. I want to put less of what I think in future posts and allow the Word of God to speak for itself using as few comments as possible. All I want to do is give the reader a basic but solid examination of God’s Word with the purpose of strengthening the faith and belief in all the brethren wherever this post is read, both here in America and around the world.
It is going to get harder to find sound doctrinal teaching as the days grow evil and many who confess faith in Christ are in fact apostates (2 Timothy 3:1-8, 4:1-5; Hebrews 6:4-6). I want to preach the truth about He who is the Truth, the Way, and the Life (John 14:6) and I want to approach Him on the day where we must all stand before His judgment seat and give and accounting of what we have done for Him (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10) with a clear conscience and clean hands. I pray that this is the goal of every teacher and member of the body of Christ who wants to do what is right for His glory and grace (Matthew 25:21). With that in mind, let us continue to read and learn from the Apostle Paul on the joy and mercy we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.
“And you He made alive, who were dead in sins and trespasses, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh and fulfilling the desires of the mind. We were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
– Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV)
Looking at the Past: Our life Before Christ (vv.1-3)
The Lord Jesus Christ brought life to our dead souls that had been corrupted with trespasses and sins. We in no way, shape, or form can EVER come to Christ save by the call of the Father through the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). A corpse cannot do anything except stay dead and rot. Without Christ, we are truly the “walking dead”, existing but not living. Before Christ came to live in us, we walked and acted like everyone else in the world. We did the will of the devil, who is the “prince of the power of the air” who works his plans here on the earth. We were led by the lusts of the flesh, such as self-satisfaction and self-gratification to satisfy and fulfill the lusts of the body and our corrupt minds (Romans 3:10-18). We were the heirs of wrath deserving the justice and rightful punishment from God as a result of our sins. All the “self-esteem” or “self-worth” that this world offers is worthless and rubbish. Without Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, we can try to excuse or justify ourselves, but it does no good – period.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:4-7, NKJV).
See What God Has Done (vv.4-7)
God has demonstrated His love and great mercy by desiring to save us from death and sin (v.4). He has made us alive in Christ even though we were spiritually dead (v.5). How can a dead person on their own receive life? I have yet to see a corpse get up on its own apart from the day of resurrection, which is only possible by the power of God in the first place! He has not only raised up from death through the living Christ but has also given us the privilege (which we do not deserve) of being in the heavenly places with Him when all things will be made new (v.6). For all ages the Father will show us His grace, mercy, and eternal love. How this will be demonstrated is the wonder to come (The equivalent of a surprise party from God. Pretty awesome!) (v.7).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in Him.” (2:8-10, NKJV).
A Subtle Reminder of Who Saves Us (vv.8-10)
We are saved by the grace of God through faith. No priests, chants, charities, pilgrimages – nothing but God’s work alone. We add nothing to what He has already done for us. We cannot add to what Jesus did for us on the cross by dying for our sins. When He proclaimed, “IT IS FINSHED!” (John 19:30), it settled the issue for all time. What more could He do that we can somehow improve or modify on our own? It is because we ARE fallen and hopeless sinners that Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-11). He will not allow our pride to dictate the terms of how we approach Him. Our righteousness is no better than a rag used by a leper or by a woman on her monthly cycle (Isaiah 64:6). We are the workmanship of the LORD and Him alone. He created and redeemed us, giving us the ability to do those things that please Him (1 John 3:22). Any real improvement we face comes from the will of God to form us into the likeness of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh – who are called uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision made in the flesh by hands – that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (2:11-13, NKJV).
Circumcision of the Heart (vv.11-13)
Circumcision was the physical sign of the covenant between God and His chosen people. It is the cutting away of the foreskin performed on all Jewish males eight days after birth and first mentioned in Genesis, Chapter 17. This covenant was not given to the Gentiles, yet God has reached out to them throughout history. The mission of the reluctant prophet Jonah to the Ninevites, the witness and faith of Daniel in the court of the Babylonian despot Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus’ compassion towards the sick and dying servant of the Roman centurion, His deliverance of a demon–possessed man in the territories of the Greeks, and the woman from Phoenicia whose daughter was delivered from demons by Jesus are all examples of God’ outreach and care for all peoples including His chosen people of Israel (Jonah 1; Daniel 4:28-37; Mark 5:1-20, 7:26; Luke 7:1-10). Paul tells his readers that they now possess a different type of circumcision, that of the heart. Jesus Christ has taken them into His family by changing their hearts and lives (Jeremiah 31:31-34), which is the new covenant that applies to both Jew and Gentile who come to faith in Him.
This promise of forgiveness and a changed heart is yours if you will but ask Jesus to make that so in your own life today. We will conclude the rest of the chapter in the next study.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.