Ephesians 2

 

 

                        SPIRITUAL HISTORY OF THE EPHESIANS – (vs. 1-10)

 

This passage corresponds to Genesis 1. It is a history of creation, and we note the same

great stages.

 

  • Chaos  or Original State (vs. 1-3).

     

ü      It is a state of death, implying previous life, but present insensibility and

                        helplessness. The element of death is “trespasses and sins “ — their killing

                        power.

           

ü       Yet a state of unholy activity,

 

Ø      in respect of the objects pursued — “the course of this world;”

Ø      the authority obeyed — “prince of the power of the air;”

Ø      the companions accepted — “the sons of disobedience.”

 

ü      A state of unholy indulgence; seeking the fulfillment

 

Ø      of the lusts of the flesh, the lowest part of our nature;

Ø      the lusts of the mind, a little higher, but still most unworthy to

                                    be the chief aim.

 

ü      A state of condemnation; “by nature,” by our very constitution, we are

                        children of wrath. And this true of all.

 

 

  • The Dawn the Spirit of God moving on the face of the waters (v.4; Genesis 1:2). 

      “But.” Force of contrast. “The darkest hour precedes the dawn.”

 

ü      Gods work. God says, “Let there be light, and there is light.”  (Genesis 1:3)

 

Ø      The source of light and order — God, not man.

Ø      The attributes giving birth to the new creation:

 

o       God’s mercy;

o       God’s love.

o       The fullness and intensity of these attributes: He is “rich” in

      mercy and His love is “great.”

o       Our condition when visited by mercy and love: “even when

      dead in sins.”

 

ü      Results of Gods interposition.

 

Ø      “He hath quickened us with Christ.”

Ø      “Raised us up together.”

Ø      Seated us with Christ in heavenly places.

 

ü      Purpose of God in this process — to “show the exceeding riches of his

                        grace.”

 

 

  • The Work of Creation (The New Creation – Salvation by Grace) — in successive

      stages (vs. 4-10).

 

ü      The Great Change. “Ye are saved.”

 

ü      How Effected.

 

Ø      On the part of God, salvation is “by grace.”

Ø      On the part of man, salvation is “through faith.” God offers it,

                                    and faith receives it, as a free gift.

 

ü      Relation of Salvation to Works.

 

Ø      Works do not procure salvation; for then boasting would come in.

Ø      Works are the product of God working in us; “We are his

                                    workmanship.”

Ø      Works are the result of a Divine foreordination.

Ø      We are not only to do good works, but walk (habitually) in

                                    them.

 

ü      Grandeur of this Work. Creation was grand; new creation is grander. To

                        bring a world out of nothing was great; to restore a world from chaos is

                        greater. At the first creation, God saw all that He had made, and it was

                        good. At the new creation, He experiences even a deeper emotion of joy.

                       

ü      Imperfection of the New Creation in this Life in Human Souls. Let us

      seek that in us it may become continually more complete and more glorious.

      It is not that we are called to work, but rather to allow God to work — to

                        have all within us open and unobstructed for the full and free exercise of

                        God’s almighty renewing power.

 

 

1 – “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  The

apostle returns from his digression, (ch. 1:19-23) in which he had shown the marvelous

working of the Divine power on Christ, to show the working of the same power on the

Ephesian converts themselves. The uJmajv - hoo-mas’ – “you” - is not governed by any

verb going before; it manifestly depends on the sunezwopoi>hsen - sunezoopoieo –

“hath quickened” of v. 5, but it is separated from it by a new digression (vs. 2-3), on

which the apostle immediately starts. While the same quickening power of God was exerted

on Christ and on the Ephesians, it was exerted to very different effects: in the case of Christ,

raising Him literally from the dead and exalting Him to heavenly glory; in the case of

the Ephesians, raising them from spiritual death and exalting them to high spiritual

 privileges. We may observe the change from the second to the first person, and vice

versa, in this chapter as in ch. 1. Second person (vs. 1, 8, 11); first (vs. 3, 10, 14); and

the two streams brought together (v. 18). The chapter closes beautifully with an emblem

of the Church as the one temple of which all believers are parts. The death ascribed to

the Ephesians in their natural state is evidently spiritual death, and “trespasses and sins,”

being in the dative (nekrou<v toi~v paraptw>masi kai< tai~v aJmarti>aiv), seems to

indicate the cause of death — “dead through your trespasses and your sins” (R.V.);

“dead of your trespasses,” etc., is suggested by Alford. It is not easy to assign a

different meaning to the two nouns here; some suggest acts of transgression for the one,

and sinful tendencies or principles for the other, but this distinction cannot be carried out in

all other passages. The KILLING EFFECT of SIN is indicated. As sins of sensuality

kill truthfulness, industry, integrity, and all virtue, so sin generally, affecting as it does our

whole nature, kills, or does not suffer to live, the affections and movements of the

spiritual life. A state of “death” implies previous life — the race lived before; it implies

also a state of insensibility, of utter powerlessness and helplessness.

 

In this verse the apostle sets forth the greatness of Divine power in man’s salvation by

setting forth the greatness of his sin and misery, represented under the aspect of spiritual

death. Let us understand the nature of this death.

 

  • MARK THE EXPRESSIVENESS OF THE TERM. It is strange to find it applied

      to living men. But there are certain suggestive points of similarity between natural and

      spiritual death.

 

ü      The dead have all the organs of sense, but no sensibility. As the

                        psalmist said of the idols of the heathen, so are the dead: “Eyes have they,

                        but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not” (Psalm 115:5-6).

                        So the spiritually dead have no susceptibility in regard to the things of

                        God; they see not the beauties of holiness; they see not God or Christ.

 

ü      The dead have all the machinery of motion, but the machine is at rest.

                        So the spiritually dead have all the natural faculties of life — judgment,

                        memory, imagination, feeling, conscience — but they are unable to renew

                        themselves into spiritual life. The inability is not natural, but moral, and

                        therefore sinners are responsible for it. They cannot, because they will not.

                        Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life” (John 5:40).

 

ü      The dead are cold to the touch. The living body retains its heat very

                        much in the same manner as a fire retains its heat, and, in a very true sense,

                        we are all literally burning out like the fuel that is consumed in our fires.

                        The dead are cold as the grave that covers them. So are the spiritually

                        dead; they have no warmth of Christian love going out either to God or

                        man. Though intellectually alive to all purely worldly interests, they are

                        coldly indifferent, or even hostile, to the interests of the kingdom of grace.

 

ü      The dead go onward to corruption. The process of corruption may be

                        arrested for a time by the skill of man, but it will prevail in the end, and

                        man returns to the dust whence he came, as the spirit has returned to the

                        God who gave it. So the spiritually dead are corrupt, constitutionally, in

                        virtue of the sin of Adam, and they are still more corrupt through

                        temptation to actual transgression. The absence of love to God interposes

                        no check to the progress of corruption in a human heart. What a terrific

                        picture is that of a dead soul!

 

  • THE CIRCUMSTANCES OR CONDITIONS OF SPIRITUAL DEATH. We see

      our dead surrounded successively by the shroud, the coffin, the hearse, the grave. So

      likewise the spiritually dead are surrounded by trespasses and sins.” These two

      expressive terms indicate, not simply the cause of death, but its conditions and

      circumstances.

 

ü      Trespasses. This term is exceedingly expressive as embodying what is

                        involved in the original term.

 

Ø      It suggests the idea of a landmark fixed by God, which He has

                                    commanded us not to pass. Yet who can say that he has not passed

                                    the landmark? Who can say that he has not trespassed upon God’s

                                    preserves?  For what God had reserved for Himself out of all the trees

                                    of the garden of Eden, our first parents trespassed upon; and who

                                    among ourselves has not again and again trespassed upon that reserved

                                    territory of love wherewith God has surrounded Himself and surrounded

                                    each one of our neighbors?

 

(2) The word suggests the further idea of a barrier which God has placed in

our way, and told us that we are not to force it or pass it. There is the

barrier of his Law, which he has strengthened by terrible penalties, and

upon which he has inscribed his own fearful curse: “Cursed is every one

that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to

do them” (<480310>Galatians 3:10). Yet who can say that he has not passed this

barrier, though God’s curse was inscribed upon it? There is the barrier of

conscience which God has built up strongly in every man; and who can say

that he has not again and again passed this barrier, often bringing the

artillery of worldly advantage or pleasure to bear against it and break it

down?

2. Sins. This term points to the sinful movements of the soul — sins of

thought and purpose, as trespasses seem to point to the various

developments of a sinful nature. The sins are the fruit of moral corruption

which has its seat in the heart, and radiates thence to every department of

human conduct. The principle of sin is not merely negative, for it is a

positive negation of the Divine will, putting something else in its place. The

term “sins” would, more exactly than the other, include sins of omission,

which are necessarily much more numerous than sins of commission. It is a

solemn thought that men are “dead in sin” by every duty they omit, by

every opportunity they neglect, by every blessing they despise, as well as

by every positive transgression of the Divine Law. The radical significance

of both terms implies a real hostility to God, which is only brought into

prominence the moment the sinful spirit comes into sharp and painful

collision with the pure Law of God. This dark picture of the sinner’s state

suggests that

(1) we ought to mourn for the dead, as we mourn for our dear ones who

are carried forth to burial;

(2) that we ought to pray for the dead, that God may grant them “a

quickening together with Christ;”

(3) that we ought to warn the dead that, if they die in their trespasses and

sins, they will be buried in their trespasses and sins.

 

 

2  “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world” - The

idea of a dead creature walking is not altogether incongruous.  It implies that a kind of life

remained sufficient for walking; but not the true, full, normal life; rather the life of a

galvanized corpse, or of one walking in sleep. The figurative use of walking for living, or

carrying on our life, is frequent in this Epistle (Ephesians 4:1; 5:2, etc.). (“Enoch walked

with God; and he was not; for God took him [translated him”]) - “The course of this

world,” elsewhere “the world,” denotes the present system of things, as conducted by

those who have regard only to things seen and temporal, and no regard to God or to the

future life. Where there is spiritual death there is insensibility to these things -  “according

to the prince of the power of the air.”  It is obvious that this is equivalent to “the

god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4), but the explanation of the term is difficult. Allusion

is made to a corporate body, “the power [or, ‘government’] (ejxousi>a – exousia –

“power”) of the air,” and to one who is “prince” of this government. There is no difficulty

in identifying the evil one and his host, of whom Milton gives such graphic pictures. But

why should they be specially connected with the air? The notion, entertained by some of the

Fathers and others, that storms and disturbances of the atmosphere are caused by them, is

preposterous; it is unscriptural (Psalm 148:8) and quite unscientific. The term seems to

denote that evil spirits, who have some power of influencing us by their temptations, have

their abode in the atmosphere, or at least haunt it, being invisible like it, yet exercising a real

influence on human souls, and drawing them in worldly directions, and contrary to the will

of God. (Once again, I recommend The Spirit World by Clarence Larkin – CY – 2010) -

“the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  The fact that this spirit

is still working in others makes the escape of the Ephesians from him the more striking. He

is not destroyed, but vigorously at work even yet. Though Jesus beheld him fall from heaven

as lightning, (Luke 10:18) and though He said that the prince of this world had been judged,

(John 16:11) these expressions denote a prophetic rather than an actual condition. This spirit

energizes in the “sons of disobedience.” This designation is striking; it denotes persons

born of disobedience, bred by disobedience, having disobedience in their very nature; comp.

Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God,” and passages where fallen

man is called a rebel (Isaiah 1:2; 63:10; Psalm 68:6; Jeremiah 5:23). It denotes the essential

antagonism of man’s will to God’s, arising from man’s devotion to this world and its interests,

and God’s regard to what is higher and holier — an antagonism often held in check

and suppressed — but bursting out wildly at times in fierce opposition, as at the tower of

Babel or the crucifixion of Jesus. The devil inflames man’s inherent dislike to God’s will,

and encourages outbreaks of it.

 

3  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our

flesh,” - The apostle here brings Jews and Gentiles together. “We also,” as well as you —

we were all in the same condemnation, all in a miserable plight, not merely occasionally

dipping into sin, but spending our very lives in the lusts or desires of our flesh, living for

 no noble ends, but in an element of carnal desire, as if there were nothing higher

 than to please the carnal nature -  “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”

Desires of the flesh, the grosser and more animal propensities (the flesh, in Scripture, has

often a wider sense; see Galatians 5:19-21); and of the mind or thoughts, dianoiw~n, -

dee-an’-oy-oon – “mind, understanding” -  the objects that we thought about, whatever

they might be, — the waywardness of our thoughts seems to be denoted, the random

roaming of the mind hither and thither, towards this pleasure and that, sometimes serious,

sometimes frivolous, but all marked by the absence of any controlling regard to the

will of God. The life indicated is a life of indulgence in whatever natural feelings may

arise in us, be they right or be they wrong – “and were by nature the children of wrath,

even as others.”  This is a substantive clause, standing on its own basis, a separate

fact, not merely an inference from the previous statements. The life described would have

exposed us to wrath; but beyond and before this we were by nature children of wrath.

“By nature” denotes something in our constitution, in our very being; and “even as the

 rest” denotes that this was universal, not a peculiarity affecting some, but a general feature

applicable to all. “Children of wrath” denotes that we belonged to a race which had

incurred the wrath of God; our individuality was so far absorbed by the social body that

we shared the lot under which it had come. (This is the antithesis of Barak Obama’s

“collective salvation” of which there is no doubt,  a doctrine of “the prince of the

power of the air” mentioned in v. 2 – CY – 2010)   If there be something in this that

seems contrary to justice, that seems to condemn men for the sins of others, we remark

 

  • that in actual life we constantly find individuals suffering for the sin of

            the corporation, domestic, social, or national, with which they are

            identified;

 

  • that apart from this altogether, our individual offenses would expose us

            to God’s wrath; and

 

  • that the moral and legal relations of the individual to the corporation is

            a subject of difficulty, and in this case makes a strong demand on our faith.

            We should accept the teaching of the Word of God upon it, and leave our

            righteous Judge to vindicate Himself. “Wrath,” as applied to God, must be

            regarded as essentially different from the same word when used of man. In

            the latter case it usually indicates a disorderly, excited, passionate feeling,

            as of one who has lost self-control; when used of God, it denotes the holy,

            calm, deep opposition of His nature to sin, compelling Him to inflict the

            appropriate punishment.

 

4  “But God, who is rich in mercy,” - The preceding verses convey the idea of a

rushing towards inevitable ruin — towards some frightful cataract, when all help from

man is hopeless. Man’s extremity becomes God’s opportunity. The “but” is very

emphatic, and WONDERFULLY REVERSES THE PICTURE!   The sovereignty of

God is very apparent, on its gracious side.  It interposes to rescue those who would

otherwise plunge into irretrievable ruin. We have here the filling up of that Divine saying,

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help.” (Hosea 13:9)

The genesis of salvation is declared to be in two of God’s attributes, of which the

first is “mercy,” or compassion. God has a tender, yearning feeling towards men brought

to misery by their own sins. And this feeling is not shallow or spare — He is rich in

mercy. It is an exuberant, full-flowing feeling in God (“Thy mercy ...is in the heavens,”

Psalm 36:5), and may therefore be appealed to trustfully – “for His great love wherewith

He loved us.”  The other attribute from which the plan of salvation sprang is

God’s love! Love is more than compassion. Compassion may be confined to the breast,

but love goes forth in active beneficence. It makes common cause with its object. It

cannot rest till its object is put right. Two expressions are used intensifying this Divine love:

 

  • His great love;
  • Love with which He loved us;

 

the verb of love governing the noun of love makes the idea rich and strong.  This view of the

exuberance of the Divine attributes from which salvation has its rise is in harmony with

the whole character of the Epistle.

 

5  Even when we were dead in sins,”  Repeated from v. 1, in order to set in its true light

the declaration that follows of what God did for us to make more emphatic the free and

sovereign mercy of God!  Though sin is the abominable thing which He hates, loathsome to

Him in the last degree, He did not turn from us when we were immersed in it; nor did

He wait till we began to move towards Him: He began to influence us even when we were

DEAD!  “hath quickened us together with Christ,” - Made us alive together with Christ

(sunezwopoi>hsen tw~| Cristw~|). [same word as in v. 1]  A parallel is run between the way

in which God’s power operated on the body of Christ, and the way in which it operates on

the souls of believers in him in respect of

 

  • the quickening;
  • the raising up from the grave;
  • the seating of them in heavenly places.

 

The Father, having “given to the Son to have life in himself,” and “the Son quickening

 whom He will” (John 5:21, 26), by God’s decree we were first quickened by Him, made

partakers of Christ’s life (John 11:25; comp. John 14:19; 15:5; Colossians 3:4; Galatians

2:20).  All the life we had lost was restored the life forfeited by transgression, the life of

a calm and well-ordered heart, the sublime life of fellowship with God – (by grace ye are

saved).  “by grace have ye been saved” - This is a parenthetical clause, more fully dwelt

on in v. 8, thrown in here abruptly by the apostle in the fullness of his heart, to throw light

on this great wonder — that Christ should impart His own life to souls dead in sin.

Grace in opposition to human merit is at the root of the whole arrangement; free,

 undeserved mercy. It is not anything that God is bound to by the necessity of His

nature. It is the result of His will, not of his nature. Had it not been for His

good pleasure, SALVATION HAD NEVER BEEN!   “Saved” is the past participle

(seswsme>noi), from sw>zwsozo – “save” - denoting, not the act of being saved, but

the fact of having been saved.  Salvation in a real sense is a present possession.

When we are one with Christ we are justified freely by God’s grace, our trespasses are

all forgiven. The spirit of new moral life has been given to us; we are made alive to God.

But while salvation is a present attainment in a real sense, its full realization is future,

for that includes perfect holiness, and also the glorification of the body. In this sense

salvation is to come (Romans 8:24; 13:11).

 

 

6  “And hath raised us up together” (comp. Philippians 3:10); so that we no longer walk

“according to the course of this world,” but according to the life of Christ; we walk

“in newness of life.” – “and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

 As God placed Jesus at His right hand in heaven, so He has placed His people with Him

(Christ) in heavenly places; i.e. places where the privileges of heaven are dispensed, where

the air of heaven is breathed, where the fellowship and the enjoyment of heaven are known,

where an elevation of spirit is experienced as if heaven were begun. Such was the case of the

three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration; of the two on the way to Emmaus, when

their heart burned within them; of the beloved disciple when he was “in the Spirit on the

Lord’s day;” (Revelation 1:10) - of many at the Holy Supper, or in fervent communion

with brother and sister believers, when they seem at the very gate of heaven. This is

sometimes the experience at conversion, but the vividness of the feeling does not always

abide. The repetition of “in Christ Jesus” in this connection emphasizes the fact that this

gracious proceeding of God towards us is in immediate connection with the work and

person of Christ. It is as being one with Christ Jesus that all this raising up comes to us.

 

7  “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace” –

 A special purpose served by God’s free grace bestowed on such persons as the Ephesians.

It was intended as a lesson for future ages. “The ages to come” denotes eras to begin from

that time, running on now, and to continue hereafter. It would be a profitable lesson for the

people of these ages to think of the Ephesians, far as they were by nature from God,

receiving His blessing so abundantly. From this they would learn how great are the riches

of God’s grace“in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.  The particular

channel in which the riches of His grace flows is kindness shown to us in Christ Jesus.

Kindness in the matter of the blessing, forgiving us freely, and accepting and adopting us in

Him; kindness in the manner of the blessing, dealing with us as Jesus dealt with the woman

that was a sinner, or with the thief on the cross, or with Peter after he had fallen, or with

Saul of Tarsus; kindness in the extent of the blessing, providing amply for every want;

kindness in the duration of the blessing — for evermore. But again, the Medium or

Mediator of blessing is specified — “in Christ Jesus.” It is not the kindness of

providence, not the natural bountifulness of God, but that kindness and bountifulness

which are specially connected with the atoning work of Christ: “God was in Christ,

reconciling the world unto Himself.”  (II Corinthians 5:19)

 

8  “For by grace are ye saved through faith;” - Paul repeats what he had said

parenthetically (v. 5), in order to open the subject up more fully. On the part of God,

salvation is by grace; on the part of man, it is through faith. It does not come to us by an

involuntary act, as light falls on our eyes, sounds on our ears, or air enters our lungs.

When we are so far enlightened as to understand about it, there must be a personal

reception of salvation by us, and that is by faith. Faith at once believes the good news

of a free salvation through Christ, and accepts Christ as the Savior. We commit ourselves

to Him, trust ourselves to Him for that salvation of which He is the Author. In the act of

thus entrusting ourselves to Him for His salvation, we receive the benefit, and are saved.

It is not that faith is accepted by God in place of works, but because faith indicates that

attitude of men towards Christ in which it pleases God to save them, transferring to Him

all their guilt, imputing to them all His merit – “and that not of yourselves: it is the gift

of God.”  Which of the two things is meant — salvation or faith? The grammatical structure

and the analogy of the passage favor the former view, “Your salvation is not of yourselves,”

though many able men have taken the latter. The apostle is so anxious to bring out the great

distinguishing doctrine of grace that he puts it in all lights, affirms it positively, contrasts it with

its opposite, and emphasizes it by repetition. It is a gift, not a purchase; a free gift, without

money and without price (Isaiah 55:1);  what would never have been yours, but for the

generosity of God. It is very usual in the New Testament thus to represent salvation; cf.

our Lord’s words to Nicodemus (John 3:16); to the woman of Samaria (John 4:14);

Paul’s “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15); “The gift

 of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23); and I John 5:11,

“God gave unto us eternal life, and the life is in His Son.” This usage confirms the view

that it is not merely faith, but the whole work and person of Christ which faith receives,

that is meant here as the “gift of God.”

 

9  “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Exegetical of the last clause, “Not of

yourselves; certainly not of your works.” The suppression of boasting was a purpose

of God in His scheme of salvation; not the chief or final purpose, any more than the

manifestation of His grace in coming ages was His chief or final purpose in showing mercy

to the Ephesians, but inseparable from the nature of His plan. The spirit of glorying is

essentially unsuited to the relations between the creature and the Creator, between the

Redeemer and the redeemed. It is the very opposite of the spirit, “Not unto us, O Lord,

not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and thy truth’s sake”

(Psalm 115:1) — the spirit that casts its crown before the throne, and that breathes in the

songs of heaven, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own

blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory

and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6).

 

10  “For we are His workmanship,” - Another illustration and evidence of grace. We

have to be fashioned anew by God before we can do anything aright (see II Corinthians

5:17). Anything right in us is not the cause of grace, but its fruit. There seems to be no

special reason for the change from the second to the first person – “created in

Christ Jesus unto good works,” -  So little inward capacity had we for such works,

that we required to be created in Christ Jesus in order that we might do them. The

inward new birth of the soul is indicated. When good works were required, this

gracious change had to be wrought to secure them. The purpose of the new creation

is to produce them. Christ “gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity,

and purify unto Himself a people of His own, zealous of good works.” It is not

good works first, and grace after; but grace first, and good works after (see

Titus 2:11, 14) – “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

A further proof of the true origin of good works. They are the subjects of a Divine decree.

Before the foundation of the world it was ordained that whoever should be saved by

grace should walk in good works. The term “walk,” here denotes the habitual tenor

of the life; it is to be spent in an atmosphere of good works. Here we have one of the

Divine safeguards against the abuse of the doctrine of salvation by grace. When men

hear of salvation irrespective of works, they are apt to fancy that works are of little use,

and do not need to be carefully attended to. On the contrary, they are part of the Divine

decree, and if we are not living a life of good works, we have no reason to believe that

we have been saved by grace.

 

 

            Contrast Between the Past and the Present (vs. 11-13)

 

The Ephesians are here called to look back, to remember what they were; not, however,

with the feeling of a man who has raised himself in the world, (self –made man – CY –

2010) and whom such retrospect usually fills with pride, but with the feeling of those whom

God has raised, a feeling that ought to produce the deepest humility and gratitude.

 

11  Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh” –

The Ephesians are to “remember” the change between the past and the present — what

they were by nature, and what they had become by grace. First, the old condition. They

were “Gentiles in respect of the flesh” — not bearing on their bodies the mark of the

Israel of God, therefore not marked out for blessing, nor apparently near it – “who are

called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by

hands.”   Nicknamed, as it were, Uncircumcision by those who in a fleshly or mechanical,

but not always in the true spiritual sense (comp. Romans 2:28-29; “circumcision of the

heart” - Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11), were called Circumcision; they had a name

which denoted the very opposite of that given to God’s people.

 

THE PAST is presented under two aspects – one having respect chiefly  to their outward

condition, the other chiefly to their inward.

 

  • Outward condition. They were Gentiles — the Uncircumcision” (v.11).

 

  • Inward condition, denoted by five negatives:

 

Ø      without Christ;

Ø       without a country;

Ø      without promises;

Ø      without hope;

Ø      without God (v.12).

 

12  That at that time ye were without Christ” -  a very comprehensive description,

having no knowledge of Christ, no interest in Him, no life or blessing from Him.

being aliens (or, alienated) from the commonwealth of Israel; the politei>a, -

politeia - or citizenship condition, including a country, a constitution, a divinely appointed

and divinely administered economy, rich in blessing – “and strangers from the covenants

of the promise” -  The promise of Christ, of which circumcision was the seal.  The

covenants” (plural) substantially the same, but renewed to various persons and at various

times in which God promised Abraham, “I will bless him that blesseth thee, and curse him

 that curseth thee; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be

blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)  In respect of these they were strangers, not embraced in their

provisions, nor in a state of encouragement to expect a great blessing - “having no hope” –

(those who are “Christless” are “hopeless”) -  no ground for looking forward to

better times, no reasonable expectation of improvement in your religious condition –

“and without God in the world:   a]qeoi, atheos - atheists; but not in the active sense

of denying God, rather in the passive sense of unconnected with God; without any

friendly and beneficial relation to Him, without any vital nexus that would bring into their

soul the fullness of God. The words “in the world” intensify  without God.” It were

bad enough to be without God (without His holy fellowship and blessed influence)

anywhere, but it is worse to be without Him in the world, in “this present evil world”

(Galatians 1:4), in a world dominated by so subtle and evil a god (v. 2 and II Corinthians 4:4).

The fivefold negative description of this verse has a cumulative effect; the situation

becomes graver and more terrible, and the last clause is the climax.

 

What an accumulation of miseries! Yet men are often ignorant of their misery and

without desire for change. We have a great need of the Holy Spirit to convince us of

our sin and misery.

 

This is the picture of the heathen world given by the apostle — without Christ, without

Church, without covenant, without hope, without God. At the period to which he

refers, religion had outlived itself, unbelief mocked at the superstitions of the

 vulgar, and skepticism gradually became the sole wisdom of the cultured classes.

Along with the power of truth the power of morality was IRRECOVERABLY

LOST  and yet there was a deep yearning at the heart of paganism for the God unknown

(Acts 17:23) whom it was the high destiny of Christianity to make known to the Gentiles.

They were without God, yet were not outcast from His favor, for those Ephesian Gentiles

were in due time called by His grace.

 

13  But now” - antithesis to pote< - pote – “once upon a time” - in ver. 11, and tw~|

kairw~| ejkei>nw|  Toe kairo ekinoo – “at that time” in v. 12. Another of the very powerful

buts” of this Epistle, completely reversing the picture going before (see v. 4) – “in Christ

Jesus” -  This expression is the pivot of the Epistle, denoting, not only that Christ

Jesus is the Source of blessing, but also that we get the blessing, i.e. by vital union and

fellowship with, Him. The “without Christ” of v. 12 contrasts powerfully with in

Christ Jesus” of this verse; and the addition of “Jesus” to the name is significant, denoting

His saving power, denoting One who is not merely an official Savior, but to whom we get

linked by all manner of endearing qualities and personal attractions, whose human name is

Jesus, because He saves His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) – “ye who sometimes

were far off are made nigh” - that once were far off are become near. The apostle has

slidden into a new figure; formerly the contrast was between death and life, now it is between

distance and nearness. Not merely geographical distance, or remoteness in respect of outward

position, but moral distance too: ye were far off from God, i.e. from His favor, His

fellowship, His gracious pardoning and renewing grace. In this sense too ye are now

brought near. God is become your God and Father. Your orbit is changed to a near and

blessed position, where the light of God’s countenance falls upon you – “by the blood of

Christ.”  - in the blood of Christ” - This is the particular instrument of the change; not

merely Christ manifesting the Father’s readiness to receive you, but shedding His blood to

make atonement for you (ch. 1:7). The preposition ejn - en – in,  -  (not merely dia< - dia –

by) is again significant, denoting more than the instrumentality, viz. personal connection with

the blood, as if sprinkled on us, so that we are symbolically in it. Cleansing us from all sin,

it brings us nigh. (I John 1:7) – There is no divider like sin!  It is the blood of Christ

that has obliterated the interval between the Gentiles and God.  (The world seems to be

not only in a mess, but close to a hell of its own making.  The blood of Jesus Christ is

the only help or hope for the world today it too will obliterate the difference between

Jews, Muslims and Christiansotherwise, if His blood is ignored or rejected, Christ

has warned that there is a time coming that will be so bad that if God did not intervene,

ALL FLESH WOULD PERISH!  [Matthew 24:21-22]  - Thank God, that for the elect’s

sake, He will come and those days will be shorted.   ONE OF THE THEME’S OF THIS

WEB SITE IS:  THE TIME IS SHORT!  - CY – 2010)

 

V. 13 is one of the brightest verses in the Bible, as v. 12 is one of the darkest. From being

far off,” they are “brought nigh.”

 

  • Brought nigh in justification;
  • in adoption;
  • in sanctification;

 

to be finally brought nigh in glory.  To be nigh or near to God is to be in a blessed relation

to Him, to be restored to an orbit in which we get all the blessed influences of His

presence, so that the light of His countenance falls richly upon us, and we become

 changed into the same image, from glory to glory. (II Corinthians 3:18)

 

May we all hail  THE POWER OF JESUS’ NAME”!

 

 

                        Christ and His Work of Reconciliation (vs. 14-19)

 

14  For He is our peace” -  Explanatory of the preceding verse — of the way by which

we are brought nigh. Christ is not only our Peacemaker, but our Peace, and that in the

fullest sense, the very substance and living spring of it, establishing it at the beginning, keeping

it up to the end; and the complex notion of peace is here not only peace between Jew and

Gentile, but between God and both. Consult Old Testament predictions of peace in connection

with Messiah (Isaiah 9:5-6; Micah 5:5; Zechariah 9:10) – “who hath  made both one” - 

literally, both things, both elements; so that there is now no ground for separating between a

Jewish element and a Gentile; they are unified -  and hath broken down the middle wall

of the partition between us:” -  The general idea is obvious; the particular allusion is less

easily seen. Some think it is to the veil that separated the holy of holies from the holy place

(Hebrews 10:20); but that could hardly be called a wall. Others the wall that separated

the court of the Jew from that of the Gentiles; but that wall was literally standing when the

apostle wrote, and besides, the Ephesians could not be supposed to be so familiar with it

as to make it a suitable illustration for them. In the absence of any specific allusion, it is

best to understand the words generally, “broke down that which served as a middle wall

 of partition” — what is mentioned immediately in the following verse.

 

15  Having abolished in His flesh the enmity,” - It is a moot point whether th<n

e]cqrantaen echthran – “the enmity” - is to be taken as governed by lu>sav -

loo’sas – “loosen” translated “broken” in v. 14, or by katargh>sav - katargaesas –

abolished in this verse. Both A.V. and R.V. adopt the latter; but the former is more

textual and natural. Another question is — What enmity? Some say between Jews and

Gentiles; others, between both and God. The latter seems right; where “the enmity” is so

emphatically referred to, it must be the great or fundamental enmity, and the whole tenor

of the passage is to the effect that in the removal of the enmity of the sinner to God, the

abolition of the enmity between Jew and Gentile was provided for – “in His flesh.”

 These words are not to be connected with the enmity, for then they would require th<n

before them, but with lu>sav (ver. 14) or katargh>sav (ver. 15). In His flesh, crucified,

broken, for our sins, Christ virtually broke down the enmity (comp.Colossians 1:22) –

 even the law of commandments contained in ordinances” -  Some think that

in ordinances” (ejn do>gmasin, dog-mah-sin – “ordinances”) denotes the means by

which the Law was abolished — by means of doctrines, i.e. the doctrines of Christianity.

But New Testament do>gma – dogma -  is not equal to “doctrine.” “In ordinances” limits

the law of commandments. The law abolished or superseded by Christ was the law

of positive requirements embodied in things decreed, evidently the ceremonial law of

the Jews; certainly not the moral law (see Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 3:31). By removing

this, Jesus removed that which had become the occasion of bitter feelings between Jew and

Gentile; the Jew looking down proudly on the Gentile, and the Gentile despising what he

deemed the fantastic rites of the Jews – “for to make in Himself of twain one new man.”

 The idea of a corporate body comes here into view.  Christ’s object was not merely to

restore individuals, but to rear a Church, composed of many units incorporated into one

body. This idea is prominent in the rest of the Epistle. Hence the strong word ktish|, -

ktisaecreate” – here translated “make”; not only is every believer a new creation,

but the corporate organization into which they are built is also a creation. The two are

made “one new man;” the Gentile is not turned into a Jew, nor the Jew into a Gentile,

but both into one new man, thus removing all grounds of jealousy. This transformation is

in Himself;” in vital union to Christ they are formed into one body. No Church

connection of man with man is the true connection, unless it is founded on a mutual

connection with Christ – “so making peace;” - that is, between Jew and Gentile.

The peacemaking with God, as we have seen, is referred to in the first words of the

verse; this at the end is the subordinate peacemaking, the result of the other.

 

16  And that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross” - 

Exegetical of preceding statements, and making emphatic the fact of reconciliation to God

on the same footing and by the same means; both were to be reconciled in, one body

 (see ch. 4:4) and “by the cross” - No preference was to be given to the Jew

facilitating his union to Christ: the Gentile was to be taken into Christ’s body as readily as

the Jew.  In reference to the sense in which reconciliation was effected by the cross

of Jesus, some say it was only as the cross demonstrated to men the love of God and His

willingness to bless them; while others maintain very strongly that it was as providing a

satisfaction to God’s justice for their guilt, and thus enabling Him to receive and bless the

sinner. Not only the analogy of other passages of Scripture as well as of this Epistle justifies

the latter view, but preeminently the words, “by the cross.” If Christ had only to

proclaim God’s friendship toward sinners, why should He have suffered on the cross?

The cross as a mere pulpit is hideous; as an altar it is glorious.  The love of God is ill

revealed, if it subjected Jesus to unnecessary agony.  The love of both Father and Son

is indeed commended, if the agony was voluntarily borne by the Son, and permitted by

the Father, as being indispensable for the pardon of the sinner. ‘Apokatalla>xh –-

apokatallazae“to reconcile fully” - denotes the whole process of reconciliation -

 having slain the enmity thereby” -  (or, thereon). “The enmity” is the same

as at the beginning of v.15 — the enmity of man to God. The destruction of this enmity is

one of the effects of the cross, though not the only effect; it is necessary to root

out the enmity of the carnal mind. That this is the meaning here seems plain from Romans

5:10, “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.”

The apostle there makes no allusion to the enmity of Jew and Gentile to each other, but to

this wider fact — to< fro>nhma th~v sarko<v e]cqra eijv Qeo>n“the carnal mind is

enmity against God” – (Ibid. 8:7) - If any words can denote the result of a propitiatory

sacrifice, it is surely “RECONCILED TO GOD BY THE DEATH OF HIS SON!”

 

17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that

were nigh.” The coming denoted by ejlqw<n -  is subsequent to the transactions of the

cross. It cannot denote what Christ did personally, but what He did by sending His Spirit

to the apostles and other early preachers. It was only after the cross and after the

resurrection that peace could be proclaimed on the footing of faith in a Savior who had

died and was alive. And only in the sense of having sent His preachers and given them

His Spirit could Jesus be said to have preached to the Ephesians. The repetition of the

word “peace” in the R.V. is expressive; if the subject had been merely peace between

the two classes of men, we should not have had the repetition; the repetition denotes

peace between each of the two classes and a third party, viz. God. It is remarkable that

the Gentiles, “those that were far off,” are mentioned here before the Jews,

those that were nigh.” In point of chronology, the Jews came first; but the order is

here transposed, probably to emphasize the offer of the gospel to the Gentries, (Ponder

“and they will hear it” - Acts 28:24-28 – CY – 2010) and to show that spiritually

they were as near as the Jews.

 

 Observe the several statements  in vers. 14-17 – CHRIST IS OUR PEACE:

 

  • He made both Jew and Gentile one.
  • He broke down the middle wall of partition.
  • He abolished the cause of enmity between Jew and Gentile — the Law

            of commandments in ordinances.

  • He constituted Himself a new Man, to which both Jew and Gentile belong.
  • He thereby reconciled both to God.
  • All this He effected by His cross.
  • He not only effected it, but came and preached peace to the far off and

            the nigh.

 

The idea conveyed is that no single thing was left undone that could contribute to the

great double result of reconciling Jew and Gentile, first to God, and thereby to each

other. (Compare God’s work in the Old Testament – see Isaiah 5:1-7, especially v. 4)

Thus reconciliation to God effects reconciliation between man and man, as sometimes

a child, mutually beloved, may effect reconciliation of parents after a difference.  The

apostle says elsewhere that God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ”

(II Corinthians 5:18), and that it pleased “the Father, having made peace through

the blood of the cross, to reconcile all things unto Himself” (Colossians 1:20).

If you take away the cross, you dry up the stream of blessing which has flowed down

through all Christian ages!

 

To a world obsessed with “finding peace” but which also is obsessed with sin and

anti-God  we give this advice!  There is nothing in the world discovered, NOR

CAN BE DISCOVERED  that will unite man to man save the GOSPEL OF JESUS

CHRIST, with its doctrine of ATONEMENT THROUGH THE BLOOD OF

JESUS CHRIST!  When Christ came into this world, the angels annunciation was,

“Peace on earth.”  (Luke 2:14) – This peace comes through the righteousness of

Christ:  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our

Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

 

18  For through Him  we both have our access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Further illustration of identity of position of Jews and Gentiles, and of the work of Christ

in bringing it about. Subject of this verse, access to the Father; predicate, this access effected

through Christ by the one Spirit. Our having access to the Father is assumed as a matter of

spiritual experience; the converted Ephesians knew that in their prayers and other exercises

they did really stand before God, and felt as children to a Father. How came this to pass?

“Through Him.” Sinful men have not this privilege by nature; “Your iniquities have

separated between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2). They need a Mediator; Jesus is

that Mediator; (I Timothy 2:5) and through Him, both Jews and Gentiles enjoy the privilege.

But right of access is not enough; in approaching God and holding fellowship with Him

there must be some congeniality of soul, a fellow-feeling between God and the worshipper;

(My son, give me thy heart” – Proverbs 23:26 – CY – 2010)  this is effected through

the same Spirit. Some render “in the same spirit, or disposition of mind.” This is true, but

not all the truth; for the question arises — How do we get this suitable disposition? And the

answer is — It is wrought by the Holy Spirit. As the state of the soul in true intercourse with

God is substantially the same in all, so it is brought by the same Holy Spirit. In fact, this verse

is one of the characteristic texts of Ephesians, in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are

brought together.

 

CHRIST AS OUR PEACE BRINGING US NIGH (v.18.)

 

  • True Christians have “access to the Father.”
  • This is secured meritoriously “through Christ.”
  • And efficaciously “by the one Spirit.”

 

How much is implied in having access to the Father! Access to His love, His wisdom,

His transforming influence, His capacity of satisfying the soul in all its lawful propensities,

and blessing it forever!

 

19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners “ - “Sojourners” is

nearer pa>roikoi – par-oy-koi  - “sojourning as strangers” - than “foreigners;” it denotes

persons dwelling in a place, but without citizen rights and privileges; but as such

persons are usually foreigners, it is immaterial which term is used -  “but fellow-citizens

with the saints” -  The saints are the chosen ones of all time (comp. Hebrews 12:22,

“But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly

Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels”). “Their names are engraven on

the same civic roll with all whom “the Lord shall count when be reckoneth up the people

that this man was born there.”  (Psalm 87:6)  It is as if they who had dwelt in the waste

and howling wilderness, scattered defenseless and in melancholy isolation, had been

transplanted, not only into Palestine, but had been appointed to domiciles on Mount Zion,

and were located in the metropolis, not to admire its architecture, or gaze upon its

battlements, or envy the tribes who had come up to worship in the city which is compact

together; (Ibid. 122:3) but to claim its municipal immunities, experience its protection,

obey its laws, live and love in its happy society, and hold communion with its glorious

Founder and Guardian” (Eadie) – “and (members) of the household of God.”  A

nearer relation to God and a higher privilege is denoted here. You are not guests or

occasional visitors, but permanent dwellers in the house and members of the family.

Compare the Queen of Sheba’s words to Solomon. (1 Kings 10:8).

 

This relation established with God is not a temporary or occasional one, but

close, abiding, indestructible. The reconciliation is effected, not for a day, but for

evermore (Romans 8:35-39).

 

20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” - A new figure,

the third here introduced to denote the change — that of a temple, of which Christians are

stones. There is no contrast in form in this figure, as in the other two; it just expresses directly

the privilege attained.  There is a real contrast, however, between the first three and the last

three verses of the chapter — the lowest degradation expressed in the one, the highest

elevation in the other. Observe, the apostle passes, by association of ideas, from the household

(v. 19) to the house (. 20), from the domestics to the stones; but by a bold figure he gives life to

the stones, otherwise we might be in the same region of lifelessness as in yore. (vs.1-3).

 

Two questions arise here:

 

  • About this foundation — In what sense is it “of the apostles and prophets”?

       Certainly not in the sense that they constituted the foundation; for, though this

      might be warranted grammatically, it would be untrue:  Other foundation can

      no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” – (I Corinthians 3:11).

           

  • Who are the prophets? We might naturally suppose the Old Testament prophets, but

      in that case they would probably have been mentioned before the apostles. In other

      passages of this Epistle “apostles and prophets” denote New Testament officers

      (Ephesians 3:5; 4:11), and it is most suitable to regard that as the meaning. It was

      the privilege of the Ephesians to use the foundation on which stood the two highest

      bodies of officers in the new dispensation — the apostles and prophets; nothing better

      could be found – “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone.” Not as

            opposed to the foundation, but in addition thereto. Jesus is really both, but there is a

            reason for specifying Him as the chief Cornerstone; comp.Psalm 118:22, “The stone

            which the builders rejected is become the headstone of the corner;” i.e. the stone

            which, being placed in the corner, determined the lines of the whole building. The idea

            of foundation is that of support; the idea of the chief cornerstone is that of regulation,

            pattern, producing assimilation. Jesus is not only the Origin, Foundation,

            Support of the Church, but He gives it its shape and form, He determines the place

            and the office of each stone, He gives life and character to each member.

 

21  In whom all the building” - Not even the figure of a building can keep the apostle

from his favorite idea of vital fellowship with Christ as the soul of all Christianity —

in whom.” Pa~sa oijkodomh< - pasa oikodome – “all the building” is rendered in

R.V. “each several building.” But surely the want of the article does not make imperative a

rendering which is out of keeping with the apostle’s object, viz. to illustrate the organic unity

of believers, Jewish and Gentile, as one great body (comp. ch. 4:4, “There is one body”).

If there had been many several or separate buildings in the apostle’s view, why not

a Jewish building and a Gentile building? Or how could the separate buildings have their lines

directed by the one chief Cornerstone? In Acts 2:36 pa~v oi+kov Israh>l is not “every house

of Israel,” but “all the house of Israel.”fitly framed together” -  There is a jointing

and joining of the various parts to each other, forming a symmetrical, compact, well-ordered

building. The Church has many members in one body, and all members have not the same

office. It is a co-operative body, each aiding in his own way and with his own talent. The

Church is not a collection of loose stones and timbers; its members are in vital union with

Christ, and ought to be in living and loving and considerate fellowship with each other -

groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:”  Increase is an essential property of the

Church; wherever there is life there is growth. But the growth of the Church is not mere

increase of members or size; the growth is towards a temple, of which the character is holy,

and it is in the Lord. The world-famed temple of Diana at Ephesus may have been in the

apostle’s mind —its symmetry, its glory, the relation of each several part to the rest and to

the whole, as a suitable external emblem of the spiritual body which is being built up in Christ;

but the Christian Church is a holy temple, dedicated to God, purified by His Spirit, entirely

foreign to those defilements which disgraced the temple of Diana. The ejn w+| - “in whom” –

at the beginning of the verse is followed by ejn Kuri>w| - “in the Lord” - at the end, as if

the union of the Church to Christ could not be too often brought out. In Him we are born

into it; in Him we grow in it; in Him the whole temple grows towards the final

consummation, when the topstone shall be brought out with shouts of “Grace, grace

unto it.” (Zechariah 4:7)

 

22  In whom ye also are builded together” - Once more the vitalizing element —

in whom;” for this is better than “in which,” inasmuch as this verse is substantially a

reduplication of the preceding one, making special application of the same subject to the

Ephesians. The person changes from the third to the second, to make emphatic that the

Ephesians shared this great privilege. Their relations towards believing Jews and other

believers in the Church were not accidental; they were “builded together,” compacted

into each other, and ought to work together towards God’s great ends – “for a

habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Not many habitations, but one. The Church

as a temple is the dwelling-place of God. Here He bestows His fullness, so that when the

temple is completed it will exhibit, as fully as a created thing can, the manifold glory of God.

“In the Spirit” in this verse corresponds to “in the Lord” in the previous one.  The actual

communication of Divine properties to finite beings is the work of the Third Person. In

this verse, again, we find the three Persons of the Trinity: the temple is the habitation of

the First Person; the source of its life and growth and symmetry is the Son; the actual

up-building and glorifying of it is by the Spirit. This is the climax of privilege, and no

contrast could be greater than that between the death in trespasses and sins with which

the chapter begins, and this sublime temple, where God dwells and bestows his

fullness, with which it ends.

 

The three persons of the Godhead are concerned in this work of building.

 

  • The temple is the habitation of God the Father;
  • Its Foundation and Cornerstone are the Son;
  • The luster and glory of the temple are due to the Holy Spirit.

 

The three are brought together in v. 22. Glorious threefold cord, securing the salvation and

final glory of the Church! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the

communion of the Holy Ghost are with her forever. While all the three are connected with

the building, Christ is so pre-eminently. This connection appears in five particulars.

 

ü      Christ is the Foundation of the temple; His Name, the only name given

                        under heaven whereby we must be saved; (Acts 4:12) He the tried and sure

                        Foundationstone, elect, precious. (Isaiah 28:16; I Peter 2:6)  

                        Are we resting on Him?

 

ü      Christ  is the chief Cornerstone, determines the lie and direction of other

                        stones. We must be in harmony with Christ, our wills, notions, taste,

                        habits. There may be secondary cornerstones; comp. Psalm 144:12,

                        “That our daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude

                        of a palace.” Reference here to the high polish as well as true position of a

                        temple cornerstone. Records of Christian Church present many such

                        women. From the Marys of the Gospels, the Priscillas and Lydias of the

                        Acts, the Phoebes and elect ladies of the Epistles, through all the trials and

                        struggles of the Church, down to the present day, in all which none have

                        shown more of the true polish of corner-stones, more sympathy for the

                        lost, more zeal and self-denial and devotion to God and man, than earnest

                        Christian women. Blessed ambition for all young women, to be placed in

                        such a relation to Christ, and vital communion with Him, as to help to

                        square and polish others, and thus make their lives likewise beautiful and

                        blessed!

 

ü      In Christ, the whole building is fitly framed together. Every one gets

                        stability and adaptation to his neighbors — angles rubbed off; each gets

                        and gives support. Stones are not all alike; not a brick building. Different

                        talents, gifts, and graces: some Christians excel as speakers, some in

                        prayer, some in praise, others in visiting sick, or in teaching the young, or

                        in collecting contributions, or in speaking to strangers; some can write

                        books, others can translate; some can guide the Church at home, others go

                        to the heathen. In Christ, all work together to a common end. Out of

                        Christ, strifes and divisions arise, ending in schisms and ruptures. Let each

                        try to ascertain his part, and patiently and conscientiously to fulfill it.

 

ü      In the Lord, the building grows to a holy temple. Two ideas:

 

Ø      Growth. Christian Church a growing Church. Where there is life

      there is growth.

 

Ø      Towards a temple which is holy, or consecrated to God. All its

                                    members are thus consecrated; let each realize this. It is by each

                                    carrying out his own consecration that the building grows toward

                                    the dimensions of a complete temple.

 

ü      It is a habitation of God through the Spirit. Its collective qualities serve

                        to indicate the presence of the living Spirit; it is a kind of incarnation.

                        Historically this is a delightful view. Bring together all the holy qualities of

                        the Church from first to last — the simple trust of the hundred and twenty

                        in the upper chamber: the warm brotherly love of the Pentecostal converts;

                        the missionary ardor of Paul and his companions; the faith and constancy of

                        the noble army of the martyrs; the seraphic spirit of many a man and

                        woman who has dwelt at the gate of heaven; the steadfast devotion of

                        Waldenses and Culdees, of Lollards and Wickliffites and Hussites, of

                        reformers and Huguenots and confessors of every clime; the consistent

                        godliness of many a humble cottager; the brilliant service of the Christian

                        philanthropists and the glorious struggles of all the champions of freedom

                        who have fought the battle of the cross in evil times; — in all this we have

                        a vision of the glory of the Church as the habitation of God through the

                        Spirit. Alas! there have been so many corruptions that this glory has been

                        sadly tarnished. Let each one resolve by God’s grace to fulfill his part, and.

                        so to live that, so far as his life and character are concerned, they may

                        show the result of God dwelling in them through the Spirit.

 

 

Each believer is a living stone, dug out of the quarry of nature, hewn by the Word and ministry,

laid in the foundation, and built into the heavenly structure. The Church is God’s building, not

man’s. There are four things observable in the apostle’s account of this blessed structure.

 

  • It has a Good Foundation.  Jesus Christ is called “the chief Cornerstone,’ which

      has its true supporting-place in the foundation, because it is the binding-stone of the

      building, holding two walls because it is built into both. Perhaps there is a reference

      to the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ, who has made both one, and thus builds

      the whole number of believers into the glorious temple, and bears the weight of the

            whole structure.

 

  • It is Fitly Framed Together.  All the members of the Church must first be joined to

      Christ as the Foundation, and then cemented to one another by love. Thus their unity

      gives beauty as well as strength to the structure. “Happy, indeed, the stones that God

      chooses to be living stones in this spiritual temple; though they be hammered and hewed

      to be polished for it by afflictions and the inward work of mortification and repentance.”

 

  • It is Imperfect but Still Growing.  It is growing by the accession of new stones, or

      by the addition of new members, and by the addition of new graces in the individual

      members. Provision is made for a vast increase in its size and height, but as it is fitly

      framed together in its growing dimensions, it will lose nothing in symmetry and strength

      by its continuous elevation.

 

  • The End or Design of the Building.  For a habitation of God.” When we build

      houses, it is that men may dwell in them. Thus the Church is the temple of God.

      “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God

      dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16). “I will dwell in them, and walk in them”

      (II Corinthians 6:16). Thus “we will be filled with all the fullness of God”

      (ch. 3:19). Thus we have the true temple of the Father, built in the Son, inhabited in

      the Holy Spirit, the offices of the three blessed Persons being distinctly pointed out:

      God the Father in all His fullness dwells in, fills the Church; that Church is constituted

      to Him a holy temple in the Son; is inhabited by Him in the ever-present indwelling of

      the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Think of the raw material out of which the spiritual temple is to be built.  These are

Gentiles and Jews, the Uncircumcision and the Circumcision, those far off from God and

those that were nigh.  Both were under sin, both had to be redeemed from evil, taken out

of the quarry of nature and fitted by Divine grace for their place in the building!

 

Think of both as under sin, needing an atoning Savior; but only one Savior and one blood

were provided.  The Savior of the Jews was the Savior of the Gentiles also!

 

Think of the safety and glory of the church. Christ is its Foundation. All the stones are knit

to the Cornerstone. It is well proportioned, because the Holy Spirit is the Architect; it is

vast in its proportions, for it is spread over the earth; and it is inviolable, for it is devoted to

the Lord.

 

Think of God dwelling in the Church. The Christian is an epitome of the Church. He is

himself a temple of the Holy Ghost.

 

  • What condescension in God to dwell in human hearts! “It is a marvel

            that the habitation He has chosen for Himself is an impure one.”

 

  • What a fearful thing it would be to be in collision with such a God!

 

  • How careful we ought to be not to defile this temple! We ought to live

            purer lives, to breathe a sweeter air, to open our hearts to all that is

            heavenly.

 

  • What an awful thought, that the holy God dwells in our unholy hearts,

            watching us in our secret moments, and reading our very thoughts!

 

  • Yet let us remember with gratitude and love that “the high and lofty

            One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy,” selects His dwelling-

            placewith him that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”  (Isaiah 57:15)

 

Now, this temple, whose stones are the souls of religious men, and whose unity is

realized in religious exercises, is meant to be the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost.

All classes of men are here united, and those who once were furthest from God,

publicans, Samaritans, Gentiles, heathen, the neglected, the ignorant, and the

base are brought into Christ!  God does not dwell in temples made with hands,

(Acts 7:48-50; I Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1-2) but He dwells in those temples

which are made without hands. The real presence of God is in the Church. He

does not only bless His children, He visits them and abides with them. He

does not confine His presence to a select few — inspired prophets, ordained

priests, etc. He fills the whole Church with His presence as the incense

spreads through every quarter of the temple.

 

  • Herein is the true glory of the Church — not in outward magnificence,

            but in the spiritual presence.

 

  • From this arises the responsibility of the Church, not to defile the temple

            of the Holy Ghost, but to let the glory of God shine out through every

            door and window unsullied by any cloud of sin.

 

The personalities of saintly men become His glorious  home, and He condescends

 to dwell within us richly and to fill us with His  fullness. It is the

unifying power of His presence that molds ALL INTO ONE!

 

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

This material can be found at:

http://www.adultbibleclass.com