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
ü It is a state of death, implying previous life, but present insensibility and
helplessness. The element of death is “trespasses and sins “ — their
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.
“But.” Force of contrast. “The darkest hour precedes the dawn.”
ü God’s 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 God’s 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
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
Ø Works are the result of a Divine foreordination.
Ø We are not only to do good works, but walk (habitually) in
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 ὑμἀς – humas - you - is not governed by any
verb going before; it manifestly depends on the συνεζωοποίησεν - sunezoopoiaesen –
hath quickened; He makes together live - 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 (νεκροὺς τοῖς
παραπτώμασι καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις – nekrous tois paraptomasi kai tais hamartiais – dead
to the offenses and the sins), seems to indicate the cause of death — “dead through
your trespasses and your sins” (Revised Version); “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.
Spiritual Death (v. 1)
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.
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!
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?
Ø 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.
o 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” (Deuteronomy 27:26;Galatians 3:10).
Yet who can say that he has not passed this barrier,
though God’s curse was inscribed upon it?
o 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?
ü 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
Ø we ought to mourn for the dead, as we mourn for our dear ones
who are carried forth to burial;
Ø that we ought to pray for the dead, that God may grant them “a
quickening together with Christ;” (v. 5)
Ø that we ought to warn the dead that, if they die in their
trespasses and sins, they will be buried in their trespasses
2 “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according
to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience:” 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 (ch. 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’] ἐξουσία – 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
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; compare 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 will, 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, like as:
o at the
o the crucifixion of Jesus.
The devil inflames man’s inherent dislike to God’s will, and encourages outbreaks
The Walk of the Dead (v. 2)
The expression is very significant, “In which ye walked.” Superstition tells
us that the dead walk in the shades of night. This is mere folly. Yet, day by
day, we are really surrounded by the dead — not by spirits of the (lead,
walking their hour in the darkness of night, but by living men like
ourselves, pursuing their courses of worldly activity with all their wonted
energy and zeal, yet “dead while they live,” and unconscious of their death.
The term “walking” implies the habitual course and tendency of life. Men
were dead in sin just as they lived in sin, for the apostle says of the same
sins, “In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them”‘
(Colossians 3:7). The direction of their walking is — away from God,
with their backs turned upon Him, for unbelief is a departure from the living
God; and the end of their walking is death, as it is all through, for “it is the
way of death” (Proverbs 2:18), and “their steps take hold on death”
(ibid. ch. 5:5). Well may we pray with David, ”Lord, search me and
know my heart: ... see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the
way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Three Fatal Guides in This Walk (v.2)
They are represented as the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are
inextricably linked in the common death of men, for “the whole world lieth
in the wicked one” (I John 5:19), and it includes, as its totality of possession,
“the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.” (ibid. ch. 2:16)
There is no schism in this dread conspiracy against man’s life.
· THE WORLD. Sinners walk “according to the course of this world.” (v. 2)
ü The world is here to be distinguished from worldly objects and
pleasures, or mere “things of the world,” which are more definitely
included in “the lusts of the flesh” (v. 3). It refers to men of the world,
as where it is said, “The whole world lieth in the wicked one” (I John
5:19), and, “The world will love its own” (John 15:19). These are “the
children of the world,” who are “wiser in their generation than the
children of light” (Luke 16:8). The world is a great creator of opinion,
sentiment, and habit, and thus becomes an immense obstacle to the
ü The course of the world. “Every age hath almost a new dress, though it
is the same world, and still carnal men live according to it” Though
no age is independent of the ages which go before it, each age has its
own-peculiar drift or tendency, which makes it influential for good or
evil. We hear of the spirit of the age — the zeitgeist — the defining spirit
or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs
of the time - which is supposed to shape the thought and the action of
men; but it cannot command Christian homage, except so far as it works
in the line of truth and righteousness. The Ephesians were neither before
their time nor after their time, but in their time, living like other Gentiles,
in the same:
Ø delusions, and
above all, being specially attached to the worship of Diana.
ü It is the duty of Christian people to oppose the course of this world. The
apostle solemnly commands us, “Be ye not conformed to this world”
(Romans 12:2), and. the reason is because “we have not received the
spirit of this world, but we have received the Spirit which is of God”
(I Corinthians 2:12). Let the world be ever so refined, it cannot divest
itself of carnal principles and ideas, and the saying of our Lord will
always be true, “The things that are in great esteem with men are
an abomination unto God” (Luke 16:15). His own mission was
“to deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). Therefore,
while we use this world, with all its lawful callings and occupations,
so as not to abuse it, and honor every true principle that is held by
“them that are without” (I Corinthians 5:13), let us resolutely
stem the tide of the world’s evil tendencies in the strength of that faith
which will yet give us the complete conquest of the world (I John 5:4).
· THE DEVIL. This enemy, older than the world, has a vast influence in
controling its tendencies and movements.
ü He is described by two names — “the prince of the power of the air,”
which seems to point to his headship over the fallen angels; and “the spirit
that now worketh in the children of disobedience,” in relation to his power
as the “prince of this world.” (John 12:31) The moral nature of his influence
may be inferred from the character ascribed to him in Scripture: as a sinner
from the beginning; as a homicide from the beginning; as an arch-liar —
“the father of liars” (John 8:44) — as a renegade, who, with the angels
under him, fell from his first estate, probably through pride, as the
principal cause of his fatal fall. His name is expressly identified with:
Ø the sin of Adam, the murder of Abel,
Ø the treachery of Judas, and
with a constant opposition to the
He is an accuser, tempter, corrupter, and has, in virtue of
sin, a certain power even in death (Hebrews 2:14). The existence of
such a being is no more a difficulty than the existence of wicked men, who
live to corrupt and destroy their fellow-men.
ü It is not easy to understand the mode in which he acts upon the minds
and hearts of men, nor to distinguish a direct temptation of Satan from
those which spring from the world or from our own hearts. He works in
and through these two things. An evil man or an evil woman can inject an
evil thought and suggestion into the nature of another, either by word or by
glance. If God, who is a Spirit, can have access to our minds so as to
influence us supremely for good, why may not Satan, as an evil spirit, have
a similar access for evil? Accordingly:
Ø he is represented as putting it “into the heart of Judas to betray
Christ” (John 13:2).
Ø He can, like a bird, pick up the good seed out of the heart
(Matthew 13:4; Luke 8:12);
Ø he can fill a man’s heart so as to instigate falsehood (Acts 5:3); and
Ø he can dwell in a man’s heart, like a strong man in a castle (Luke 11.).
His action is, indeed, “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness”
(II Thessalonians 2:10), as if he were bent upon destroying the moral order
of the universe. (The Progressive Movement in American Politics and
around the world have this characteristic today! CY – 2019)
ü Though Satan is the tempter of men, the sins of men are not the less
their own sins. If the tempter were human, there would be no question
about responsibility. They are called “the children of disobedience,”
because they refuse to obey God, and therefore “the wrath of God” is said
to come upon them (ch. 5:6). These are they who are “carried
away captive by the devil at his will” (II Timothy 2:26). Believers are
therefore warned not “to give place to the devil” (ch. 4:27); “to
resist the devil” (James 4:7), as they are led to glorify that grace which
translated them out of the
of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13).
· THE FLESH. The spiritually dead find an instigation to sin in “the
lusts of the flesh,” as well as in the suggestions of Satan and the
temptations of the world. The flesh is a large term, which covers more than
mere sins of the body, for it includes “hatred, variance, emulation, wrath,
strifes, seditions, heresies,” as well as “adultery, fornication, murder,
drunkenness, and revellings” (Galatians 5:19-20). There is a “spiritual
wickedness” that cannot be traced to the body of man. The reason of the
term being thus applied is probably, first, to distinguish it from the spirit;
then because “the things of the flesh” are the supreme objects of desire to
worldly men, or, as they are differently phrased, “earthly things”
(Colossians 3:2); and, thirdly because it comes by birth: “That which is
born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6). Thus the lusts of the flesh have
their outlet in the desires at once of the flesh and of the mind. They are
described as “ungodly lusts” (Jude 1:18), because they are based on a
disregard for or on an enmity to God; “worldly lusts” (Titus 2:12),
because, in the absence of God, they “run out to all things in the world;”
“foolish and hurtful lusts” (I Timothy 6:9), because they end in shame,
disappointment, and ruin; “deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22), because
they fail to answer all a sinner’s expectations. Therefore we see the glory
and fitness of the gospel, which leads us “to cleanse ourselves from all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
(II Corinthians 7:1). The Apostle Paul suggests the danger of the flesh
in setting forth the grand principle of his life — “The life I now live in the
flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” (Galatians 2:20) All life is in
this world exposed to risk of some sort. Spiritual life exists in a body with
passions prone to evil, as well as in a world with many seductions and cares.
Christians must strike the true mean between the sensualism which dishonors
the body, and the asceticism which, regarding it as an enemy, denies it
those innocent enjoyments which Scripture and nature equally sanction.
(a la Genesis 2:15-16 – “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying,
OF EVERY TREE OF THE GARDEN THOU MAYEST FREELY EAT.
BUT OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL, THOU
SHALT NOT EAT OF IT, FOR IN THE DAY THAT THOU EATEST
THEREOF THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.” – CY – 2019) It is not the body
of flesh, but the body of sin in the flesh, that is the real trouble of the
Christian. We must learn, by God’s grace, to honor the body as the temple
of the Holy Ghost; to make it the servant, not the master, of the soul; to
dedicate it as a vessel unto honor sanctified and “meet for the Master’s
use.” (II Timothy 2:21)
3 “Among whom also we all had our conversaation in times past in the lust of our
flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the
children of wrath, even as others.” 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, διανοιῶν -
diamoion - through minds; comprehension; 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. (For comparison note the word incontinent,
ἀκρατεῖς – akrateis – uncontrolable; without self control; powerless; impotent; as
applied to controlling oneself sexually – in II Timothy 3:3, a sign of the last times and
instrumental in bringing back Jesus Christ to the earth prior to THE JUDGMENT –
CY – 2019) 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 (others)” 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
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; nothing has
changed for the better; this being August 30, 2019 - CY) If there be something in this
that seems contrary to justice, that seems to condemn men for the sins of others,
the corporation, domestic, social, or national, with which they are
to God’s wrath; and
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
The True Fountain of Spiritual Death (v. 3)
“And were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” The apostle traces
the pedigree of all the elements that enter into this spiritual death up to our
birth itself. He does not say that it is on account of “nature” or natural
depravity that we are children of wrath, but “by nature;” that is, we are
simply born in a state of condemnation. There is no express reference here
to Adam or to our relation to his sin, though it is certainly implied that we
had our probation in Adam, and are therefore born in a state of
condemnation. To say that we are condemned on account of our hereditary
depravity is to say that we are condemned without a probation. The
doctrine of original sin is one of the “deep things of God.” (I Corinthians 2:10)
Pascal well says, “Original sin is folly in the sight of man, but this folly is wiser
than all the wisdom of man. For without it who could have said what man is? His
whole condition depends upon this imperceptible point.” The recognition
of the doctrine is the starting-point of the doctrines of special revelation:
ü of redemption through Christ’s blood,
ü of regeneration through the Holy Spirit.
This passage implies:
· THAT WE NEED REDEMPTION FROM THE MOMENT OF OUR
BIRTH The sacrament of baptism is meaningless on any other theory. “The
wicked are estranged from the womb.” (Psalm 58:3) Why do all men
certainly sin from the beginning?
· THAT ALL MEN, JEWS AND GENTILES, ARE BORN IN THIS
(I Corinthians 15:22).
· THAT GOD’S WRATH IS A REALITY. It is grounded in His
essential holiness, as appears from the fact that God swears in His wrath
(Hebrews 3:11), and it belongs to the idea of the personal God as He
acts in history, who cannot look with equal indifference or equal
satisfaction upon virtue and vice, piety and impiety, wisdom and folly. It is
not to be regarded as a mere modification of Divine love, as either
love/sorrow or the anger of love. It is not Biblical to say that a God who has
wrath is not a God of love. The objective reality of Divine wrath on
account of sin is an axiom of natural theology (Romans 1:32) as well as
of revealed; it is presupposed in the atonement, and must be carried into
any conception we may form of future retribution.
4 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,”
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
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. (“....sin, when it is finished bringeth forth
death.” James 1:15) And this feeling of God is not shallow or miserly —
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:
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.
The True Origin of Salvation (v. 4)
It is interesting to observe the variety of terms here employed to describe
the source of all the blessings of salvation. It is no longer a question of
power, as it was in the first chapter (ch. 1:19-20), but of love,
mercy, grace, and kindness.
· OUR SALVATION IS OF GOD’S MERCY. “God who is rich in mercy.”
(v. 4) There is a distinction between mercy and love, for love is the foundation
of mercy. God is called the “Father of mercies” (II Corinthians 1:3); mercy is
His delight, for “He delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18); He betrotheth us to
Himself in mercies (Hosea 2:19); He begets us again “according to His
abundant mercy” (I Peter 1:3); and we are led to pray, “Lord, according
to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions”
(Psalm 51:1). Believers are therefore well described as “vessels of mercy”
· OUR SALVATION IS OF LOVE. “According to the great love
wherewith He hath loved us.” The apostolic saying, “GOD IS LOVE”
(I John 4:8), supplies us with the best Christian idea of God, as well as
with the right key to explain all His actions. God’s love is more than kindness,
which is, indeed, one of His attributes, but LOVE is, properly speaking, the
nature of Him who unites all these attributes in Himself. The incarnation
of the only begotten Son is the greatest fact of the Divine love, but is not
disjoined from the deep humiliation and suffering to which it enabled Him
to descend. The love of God to sinners is:
Ø a great love (ch. 2:4), “a love strong as death” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7);
Ø an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3);
Ø an unchanging love (Malachi 3:6);
Ø an invincible love (Romans 8:39);
Ø it is like the Father’s love to the Son, “As thou hast loved me”
· OUR SALVATION IS OF GRACE. “By grace ye are saved.”
Ø It is not of works, but of grace (v. 8). It is “of faith, that it
might be of grace” (Romans 4:16).
Ø We are accepted by grace (ch. 1:6); our calling is by grace
(II Timothy 1:9).
Ø We have a good hope THROUGH GRACE!
Ø Our election is of grace (Romans 11:5).
Ø The grace of God abounds in faith and love (I Timothy 1:14).
Ø We are under a reign of grace (Romans 6:14); we have our standing
in grace (ibid. ch. 5:2).
Ø It is the greatest of all concerns to establish men’s hearts in “the true
grace of God” (I Peter 5:12).
· OUR SALVATION IS OF GOD’S KINDNESS. (v. 7.) “The word
here,” says an old writer, “implies all sweetness, and all candidness, and all
friendliness, and all heartiness, and all goodness, and goodness of nature.”
Scripture speaks of GOD AS KIND! (Psalm 36:5; Luke 6:35), and of
His “loving-kindnesses” (Psalm 63:3; Isaiah 63:7). It is made the root
of mercy in God (Titus 3:4); for the apostle here speaks of His kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus. Thus our salvation, first and last, is attributed
to nothing in ourselves, BUT TO:
Ø grace, and
Ø kindness IN GOD!
5 “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved:)” 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: (“....while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8) He began to influence us even when we were DEAD! Hath
quickened us together with Christ. (συνεζωοποίησε τῷ Ξριστῷ - sunezoopoiaese
to Christo – vivifies [enlivens; animates] together, quickens with the Christ).
sunezoopoiaese is the 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 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; compare 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 (σεσωσμένοι – sesosmenoi - ), from σώσω –
sozo – to 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:
Ø perfect holiness, and
Ø also the glorification of the body.
In this sense salvation is to come (Romans 8:24; 13:11).
The apostle teaches that, in virtue of the union between Christ and His
people, His death was their death, His life their life, His exaltation their
exaltation. It is the familiar doctrine of Romans 6:4, “Therefore we are
buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life.” These words indicate a bond of connection between the
spiritual life of the believer and the resurrection of Christ. The new life is,
in fact, a participation in the risen life of the Savior.
· QUICKENED TOGETHER WITH CHRIST.
Ø Consider the nature of this quickening. It implies a previous
identification with Christ in His death. “We are buried with Christ by
baptism into death.” We have, in fact, died unto sin exactly as Christ died
unto sin; for “in that He died, He died unto sin once” (Romans 6:10).
Christ died unto sin when He underwent death as the wages of sin and
exhausted all the woe that sin entails as its punishment. He died for sin that
He might become dead to sin; the parties having become dead to each
other, taking their own path henceforth, never to meet or cross each other
unto eternity again. And we are dead unto sin in precisely the same sense in
which Christ is dead unto sin; for the apostle says, “Likewise reckon ye
also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (ibid. v. 11) because we are
exempted from all its curse on the ground of its curse being already executed.
How can this be, as we never suffered the curse of sin? Because we have been
baptized into Christ. Mere water-baptism cannot accomplish this blessed
result. It is the Holy Spirit who is the Baptist, for he engrafts us into Christ
and makes us one body with Him (I Corinthians 12:12-13). We are
united to Christ by faith.
Ø Consider the effects of this quickening. This new position involves our
seeing what the dead can never see. When we are quickened by the Spirit
o We see God: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
(Matthew 5:8) We see Him as a Father, because we have seen Christ,
for “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) We see
a Father’s power, love, and compassion.
o We see Christ in His person and in His work, as a:
§ sufficient Savior,
§ willing Savior,
§ loving Savior,
with a work accomplished on the ground of which we shall be
accepted and saved.
o We see the sin that is in ourselves and the sin that is in the world.
The dead see nothing. “They have no speculation in their eyes.” Men
of the world do not see sin as sin, but often as a source of profit or
amusement. “Fools make a mock at sin.” (Proverbs 14:9) But the
quickened sinner sees the sin of the world as he sees the sin of his
own heart, and mourns over it.
o He sees heaven and hell. The eye of man sees many stars in the sky
on a dark night, but there are many blank spaces in which no twinkling
glories can be seen. Men of the world see heaven and hell as blank
spaces, or, at best, as dim and shadowy. But the quickened see them
as supreme and transcendent realities.
§ They see heaven as the home of Jesus and the saints;
§ they see hell as the place prepared for the devil
and his angels.
o He sees the world in its true character. How different the view of the
same city from two opposite standpoints! Not more different is the view
of the world from the standpoint of eternity, for the saint sees it as a
doomed world at enmity with God, and is thus led to place his
citizenship on high, “setting his affections on things above,
not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
· RAISED TOGETHER WITH CHRIST. For as Christ was raised from
the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of
life. The connection between the believer’s life and the Redeemer’s
resurrection is one not merely of certainty and similarity, but of
participation, and thus we come to know the power of His resurrection
(Philippians 3:10). There was a change in Christ’s own relation to God
established by His resurrection; “for in that He died, He died unto sin once:
but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God” (Romans 6:10) - in an entirely
new relation to God, WHICH SHALL ENDURE FOR EVER, for when
He shall appear the second time, it will be without sin unto salvation.
(Hebrews 9:28) Formerly He was condemned, now is He justified in the
Spirit; He liveth now to God with:
Ø no curse to bear,
Ø no sacrifice to offer,
Ø no suffering to endure,
Ø no service to achieve; and
therefore the God of peace, in token of the acceptance of the Surety,
brings again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the
blood of the everlasting covenant. (ibid. ch. 9:28) So likewise we are to
count ourselves “alive unto God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:11) in that
same relation of irreversible acceptance into which Jesus has entered. The
apostle here not only represents believers as ideally raised in Christ, but as
actually raised just as Christ actually came forth from His sepulcher, leaving
His grave-clothes behind Him. Similarly we are not to be as “the living among
the dead” (Luke 24:5) we are to cast from us our grave-clothes, which only
impede the free movements of our spiritual life.
· THE SESSION WITH CHRIST IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES.
We are enthroned with Christ. Christ is already represented as “set at
God’s own right hand in the heavenly places” (ch. 1:20). We sit
there representatively, because our Head is there, and therefore we are,
though still on earth as to our practical calling and life, citizens of heaven
(Philippians 3:20). We are guided by the laws of heaven; our hearts are
cheered by the hope which, as an anchor, is fastened within the veil, and
we now by faith enter the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews
6:18-19) We are even now “kings and priests”(Revelation 1:6). We are
justified in regarding our future glorification as only a continuation of
our present spiritual life. The guarantee of both is alike in Christ.
Meanwhile, though representatively in heaven, we are personally and
actually here. SIN IS HERE; we are to watch and fight against it; but
“our life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), only hereafter to
be MANIFESTED IN FULL GLORY!
6 “And hath raised us up together” (compare 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. (We are to place our trust on what the Word says and not what we feel anyway!
CY – 2019) 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 in
His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” 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”
Ø the woman that was a sinner, or
Ø with the thief on the cross, or
Ø with Peter after he had fallen, or
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)
The Resurrection and Ascension of the Soul (vs. 1-7)
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was, as we have seen, that they might appreciate
the mighty power of God to usward who believe. This power was first manifested:
ü in the person and experience of Christ in raising Him from the dead,
ü in exalting Him to the Father’s right hand,
ü in putting all things under his feet, and
ü in constituting Him Head of His Church.
We are now to notice a parallel experience of power in the case of the believer.
· CONSIDER THE RESURRECTION OF THE SOUL. (vs. 1-5.) In
these verses the apostle represents our souls as by nature dead like Christ’s
body in the tomb. They are not sick through sin, but dead. And the death
of the soul is manifested in the corruption of the nature, so that we live as
the world lives, according to the devil’s desires, fulfilling the desires of the
flesh and of the mind, and becoming most deservedly the “children of
wrath” (v. 3) like others. All this corruption of the nature is the manifestation
of the death in sin. But the Spirit, who raised up Christ’s body from the
tomb, comes to quicken our dead souls. We are quickened together with
Christ. The Father in His wondrous love works this miracle within us, so
that we are raised out of death into a new life. Now, just as Jesus entered by
resurrection into a new immortal life, so we by resurrection enter
into a new and immortal existence. We feel assured that we cannot die,
since we have been raised into the new life with Christ. This idea of the
death of the soul is found in the ancient and in the modern classics. In such
authors as Plutarch, Cicero, Heraclitus, and Persius, as well as in such a
modern as the poet Gautier, it may be found; but in them IT IS AN
UTTERANCE OF DESPAIR. It is only Paul who can take it and show
how the death can be terminated in the victory of resurrection.
· CONSIDER THE ASCENSION OF THE SOUL. (v. 6.) Not only is
the soul raised together with Christ, but it is “made to sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” In other words, we are made to have an
ascension experience as well as a resurrection experience. Now, when
Christ ascended far above all principality and power, He must have entered
a joyful experience such as this world could never afford. He would never
have enjoyed such a delight had He lingered in a limited world like this. In
the same way the risen soul is enabled to ascend into a seraphic experience,
a joy in the Lord such as was never dreamed of. (“Eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that
God hath prepared for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9) It is to be
feared that many have experienced the spiritual resurrection who have not
gone on to the experience of the ascension; in other words, they are living
lives comparatively joyless. They do not live as if they were already within
the golden gates and rejoicing always in the Lord. But the thing is not only
possible, it is pre-eminently desirable. The world would be vastly the better
of souls that had realized the ascension.
· CONSIDER THE BELIEVER’S CONSEQUENT REIGN. (v. 6.)
For Jesus ascended that He might occupy a throne. And we ascend in spirit
that we may be kings of men. It is Christ’s purpose that we should be kings
and priests unto God and His Father (Revelation 1:5-6). Now, joyful
Christians cannot but influence others for good. They come to their
kingdom, and others are glad to submit to their sway. They hold men by
the heart and assert a proper sovereignty over others. The reign of Christ is
carried out in some measure when we have learned lovingly to reign.
· THE PURPOSE OF SUCH SPIRITUAL GIFTS IS THAT THE
EXCEEDING RICHES OF GOD’S GRACE MIGHT BE REVEALED.
(v. 7.) For if we had never died in sin, God’s mighty power in raising us
would never have been appreciated. If the creatures had never fallen, who
would have known the wealth of God’s love and power in lifting them up
again? The physical universe can only illustrate a small part of the power
and love of God. It requires the moral universe as a background to set off
the brightness of His redeeming mercy. It is out of a sinful world the
greatest examples of Divine power shall be forthcoming. GOD IS RICH IN
MERCY, how rich only sinners can illustrate and with some fullness
appreciate. Every risen, ascended, and reigning soul is intended to be a
fresh example of THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF GOD’S GRACE!
From Death to Life (vs. 1-7)
The process. This is a history of spiritual life. It reverses the order of
natural history. Instead of “funeral marches to the grave,” we have a
resurrection gladness, as the soul grows upward from death to life eternal.
not a future penalty, but the past condition of many men and the present
state of all others.
ü There is a spiritual death in the midst of natural life. The body is flushed
with the glow of health; the intellect is keen in worldly affairs; but the
spirit is dead. The busy life of the lower nature may hide the scene of
death, but it cannot destroy it, and to right-minded observers this noisy
energy is painful and revolting like the revelry of a wake. Spiritual
death bears all the hideous marks of real death:
Ø a failing of spiritual strength;
Ø a loss of faculties of spiritual discernment — Divine truth fades from
the darkened vision, the ear of conscience grows deaf to the voices of
Ø an unconsciousness of its own mournful condition — the spiritually
dead give no more evidence of realizing their condition than we can
see in the mute, immobile countenance of a corpse;
Ø the commencement of corruption — the dead soul rots and
spreads a miasma of sin.
ü Spiritual death is caused by sin. There are positive “trespasses,” in
which men go beyond the bounds of the lawful and commit what is
forbidden; and negative “sins,” in which people miss the mark, fail
of their duty, and omit what they ought to do. Both have fatal
consequences — the one killing with the poison of bad thoughts,
imaginations, and affections; and the other with an atrophy of
spiritual organs that waste away for want of exercise.
ü Innumerable influences provoke to sin:
Ø from without, in the general customs of the times, “the course of this
world,” and. indirect temptations, “the prince of the power of the air;”
Ø from within, in bodily appetites, “lusts of the flesh,” and in mental
propensities, “desires of the mind.” The resulting condition of death
becomes a second nature, normal and chronic; yet it is not the less
odious in the sight of God, but rather the more so, treasuring up
wrath against the day of wrath.
ü A past quickening. “He quickened us.” This is accomplished in the
Christian. It is what Christ calls being “born from above” (John 3:3),
and Paul, a “new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17).
Ø It is not an external change, such as the removal of penalties, the gift
of blessings, and the entrance to a place called heaven, but an internal
change in the soul of the redeemed.
Ø It is not the soothing of a troubled conscience nor the endowment of
mere comfort and happiness, but life — energy, Fewer, activity —
life that begins with painful cries and the awakening of sad repentance
rather than with peace and comfort. The other blessings may be added,
but this is first and most essential. It is useless to load the grave with
treasures. The dead soul must come out of the tomb before it can be
loosed from its cerements and enjoy its inheritance.
ü A present exaltation. “Raised us up;” “Made us sit with Him in heavenly
places.” Lazarus comes forth from the tomb. The Christian does not linger
long among the scenes of his miserable past. He is not forever sitting on
the stool of the penitents. In his new life he walks in God’s sunlight, he
breathes the free air of heaven, he is called to a high vocation and endued
with glorious privileges.
ü A future blessedness. The Divine life is but in the germ on earth. Its
fairest flowers will bloom on a happier shore and its sweetest fruits ripen
in a sunnier climate. There are “exceeding riches” of grace to be
revealed in “the ages to come.” The life for which they are preparing
Ø No disease will blight it,
Ø no age bring it decrepitude,
Ø no death lay it low.
As it develops eternality, so will the riches of Divine love fill it in an
ever increasing abundance.
From Death to Life (vs. 1-7)
The secret. What is the secret of the wonderful reversal of the order of nature that is
seen in the spiritual transformation from death to life? The power is put forth by
the grace of God, and the method of its influence is through union with Christ.
THE GRACE OF GOD.
ü The power is Divine.
Ø Men cannot quicken themselves. The dead can never rise from their
graves. Silent, stiff, and cold, dead souls will never shake off their
lethargy and begin a new spiritual life.
Ø Men cannot quicken one another. Before life is extinct, by chafing the
chill limbs, by giving cordials and other remedies, the fast-ebbing
vitality may be restored to the dying man. But when the last breath
is breathed, and the heart has ceased to beat, and the patient is
really dead, science and love are both baffled. We can galvanize
the corpse into a shocking mockery of life, but that is worse than
useless. Now, nothing short of death has come upon those who are
under the power of sin. They are too far gone for human restoratives
o social influence,
o reward and punishment,
o exhortation and rebuke.
Ø GOD ALONE CAN AND DOES effect the great transformation,
because He is the Source of all life, and because this return from
death to life is a pure miracle.
ü The power is put forth by the grace of God. He might leave the dead to
bury their dead, and concern Himself only with fresh new lives. But He
has infinite pity even for the dead. Nothing but grace could inspire such
pity. For we have no claim upon God after we have become “by nature
children of wrath.” We must look for the motive in the love of God
alone. But that love is so great that it is a very treasure-house of
mercy. God is “rich in mercy.” Then our very helplessness appeals
to His compassion. The more dead we are the more will God desire
to quicken us.
FROM’ DEATH TO LIFE IS
ü All through the history of the wonderful process, Paul traces, step by
step, the progress of the Christian, in the very experience through which
Ø We begin in death as Christ stooped to die for us.
Ø We are “quickened together with Christ,” and have fellowship with the
resurrection of Christ.
Ø We are exalted in the likeness of Christ’s ascension (v. 5).
Ø And we look forward to sharing in His future glory. Thus we are not
merely to receive the benefits of the death and resurrection of our Lord;
we have to enter into His very experience and pass through it ourselves
spiritually. Then His life and His victory become ours.
ü This experience is realized by our union, with Christ in faith. It is vain
and hopeless to attempt to follow Christ by painfully attempting an
exact imitation while we are going alone and in our own strength. The
way is too dark, too steep, too rough. And this is not what is expected
of us. But if we trust Christ our faith unites us to Him, and by the
influence He puts forth over us He carries us along with Him; so that
THROUGH HIM we receive the gift of life from the grace of God.
The Design of the Dispensation of Mercy (v. 7)
The salvation of these Ephesians was to stand out as a remarkable
monument of “the exceeding riches of God’s grace” to all succeeding
generations. It was in this sense that the apostle regarded himself “as a
pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting”
(I Timothy 1:16).
· IT WAS TO ENCOURAGE THE GREATEST SINNERS TO HOPE
IN GOD’S MERCY THROUGH CHRIST. Sinners often, when pressed
with the urgent calls of the gospel plead that they are too wicked to be
reached by it. Note the examples of salvation in the Scriptures, those of:
Ø the Ephesians,
Ø the dying thief,
Ø the Philippian jailor,
Ø the Apostle Paul himself,
are all designed to meet the difficulties that men interpose in the
way of their receiving Christ, as if any worthiness could attach to the
persons thus described. It is a great comfort THAT WHAT GOD DID
THEN HE DOES NOW AND WILL DO TILL THE END OF THE
WORLD! His mercy and grace are not exhausted.
· IT IS IMPLIED THAT SALVATION IS NOT OF WORKS, BUT BY
GRACE. This fact cuts up by the roots all theological systems which imply
that man has any power to save himself.
· IT IS IMPLIED THAT THERE WILL BE A CHURCH ON EARTH
THROUGH “ALL THE AGES TO COME,” in spite of all:
Ø the malignity,
Ø the ungodliness, and
Ø the unbelief of men.
· IT IS IMPLIED THAT THE SCRIPTURES ARE TO CONVEY
THE RECORDS OF GOD’S GRACE DOWN TO THE LATEST
GENERATIONS. (Think of the great error of modern thought that
the Bible, God’s Word, is outdated? CY – 2019) We could not know
of God’s gracious work at
ought to prize such records!
· THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH SINCE THE DAYS OF THE
APOSTLES proves how God has fulfilled the design involved in the
dispensation of mercy. The stream of grace has flowed more or less freely
and fully IN EVERY AGE!
· MARK THE TRUE SUBJECT OF PREACHING. Not mere moral
counsels, not mere philosophizing, but “the exceeding riches of His grace
in his kindness to us in Jesus Christ.” A noble text for THE PULPIT
OF ALL AGES!
· THE ULTIMATE DESIGN OF GOD IS TO MANIFEST HIS
OWN GLORY. Not the mere glory of His power and wisdom, but of
His abounding grace and mercy.
· IT IS IMPLIED IN THE TEXT THAT THE APOSTLE DID NOT
EXPECT, AS SOME AFFIRM, THAT THE END OF THE WORLD
WAS AT HAND. There were ages to come in which the exceeding riches
of His grace could be shown forth in the salvation of sinners. (Now that
the world seems to be gravitating towards a one world, global system,
with no intention of God being a part of it, but a government built
on anti-christian principles and worship of THE ANTI-CHRIST,
I think the position of God can be explained by a planned removal of
all things antagonistic to Him along the lines of the parable found in
Luke 13:6-10, “Then said he unto the dresser of the vineyard, Behold,
these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none:
cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” - CY – 2019)
8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the
gift of God:” 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; compare:
· our Lord’s
words to Nicodemus (John 3:16); to the woman of
· 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.”
Grace and Faith (v. 8)
These two, grace and faith, are the sheet anchors of the Pauline gospel.
The former was preserved in the Augustinian theology, and the latter
restored to the Church by the Reformation. In his earlier Epistles, Paul
establishes their claims by argument. Now, he considers those claims to be
settled, and appeals to the doctrines of faith and grace as axioms, quoting
the phrase, “By grace have ye been saved,” as a sort of proverb. It is plain
that the apostle regarded the truths as practically self-evident, though it
was not long since they were the mysteries of a new revelation and the
conclusions of an original argument. There is no paradox in its changed
position, for it is the function of revelation so to open our eyes that we may
see for ourselves what was before hidden. Then, having once thus beheld
the truth, we may retain it on its own account. So that revelation is most
successful when it teaches us how to dispense with itself. But this is only
possible on the condition that there is an inherent fitness and
reasonableness in the truths it declares. If, therefore, we are to see the
axiomatic truth of the doctrines of grace and faith, they must not be an
arbitrary association of ideas; they must be truths of inherent
reasonableness. In other words, the relation of salvation to grace and faith
must not be treated as accidental, and fixed only by the sovereign will of
God, but as natural and necessary.
reasonableness of this axiom, we must first understand in what salvation
consists. In the Bible the word “salvation” is not a technical theological
term. It means deliverance generally. Any special import in a particular
passage must depend on the context. In the present instance the context
clearly shows what kind of salvation Paul is thinking of. This is not
rescue from earthly poverty and pain — the lower old Jewish salvation,
nor escape from future torment — the lower Christian salvation. It is
deliverance from a present spiritual death (vs. 4-5). The soul is saved
from itself. Such a salvation must be by grace, because we cannot escape
from ourselves; because the evil of spiritual death involves the loss of
power in spiritual things; because God only can create life; and because the
death results from sin, and therefore implies an ill desert that can only
appeal to the mercy of God. The facts of the work of Christ and the
recovery of dead souls to life by the gospel prove that this salvation exists
and is accomplished by grace.
must be also natural and reasonable. We must not think of faith as a mere
assent to the doctrine of grace. Faith is the soul opening out to God. As the
flower cannot be quickened into fertility while the bud is closed, the soul’
that is self-contained can by no means receive the grace of God. The door
is barred, and. Christ will not force an entrance. Faith is a capitulation of
the proud soul. It means flinging wide the gates in submissive receptivity,
and yielding to the voice of Divine love in obedient activity. When the soul
has faith in God, the grace of God streams in with life and healing. As
distrust severs souls, faith unites them. Thus faith is like the wire joining
earth to heaven, while grace is like the electric current which waits, but
only waits, such a connection to hasten to us with light and fire and life.
God.” Faith is a spiritual act and habit, and therefore it would be
impossible in a soul quite dead spiritually. But He who provides the
salvation provides the means wherewith to enjoy it. (“But as many as
received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even
to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12) If faith be ever so feeble
we may cry, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
with the assurance that there is no prayer more certain of an answer!
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, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 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 2:14). 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.
Association with Christ (vs. 1-10)
The concluding thought of the first chapter was the resurrection and
exaltation of Christ. In order now to bring out how they were benefited
thereby, he calls up to them their original condition. He shows them the pit
out of which they have been dug, the rock out of which they have been hewn.
(Isaiah 51:1-3) In the first and second verses he has special reference to Gentile
Christians, in the third verse he includes Jewish Christians in his
· GENTILE CHRISTIANS.
ü They were dead. “And you did He quicken, when ye were dead.” It is a
comprehensive word for the evil of their condition. There is a natural
condition for plants, which they lose in their decay. There is a natural
condition for animals, which they lose in their death. So there is a natural
condition for rational beings, which they lose in what we call spiritual
death. And, as there is nothing higher in kind than spiritual life, so there is
nothing more dreadful than spiritual death. It is not extinction, but it is a
condition against nature, on the ground of an immortal existence. It is not
loving God with our whole soul and strength and mind, but living at enmity
with Him; and how wearing out to contend with our Maker! It is not loving
our neighbor as ourselves, but seeking our own selfish ends; and how
narrowing is this to our souls!
ü Their deadness was caused by themselves. “Through your trespasses
and sins.” If there is any difference between these two words, it is that the
former refers more to overt transgressions, while the latter is inclusive of
evil thoughts that have only been entertained in the heart. When Adam and
Eve overtly transgressed in eating of the fruit, death at once passed upon
them in the loss of confidence in God, of unconsciousness, of
ingenuousness, of devotedness to each other. And the act was not long in
bearing bitter fruit in the hate, which led Cain to take a brother’s life. Overt
transgression makes matters worse, in the evil that is wrought on others in
the entanglements to which it leads. At the same time, it is true that evil
imaginations that never find expression in words or acts have a deadening
effect on the soul. They may indicate daring rebellion against God; and,
even though they are only vain thoughts that lodge in the mind, they are
not there without the spreading of a baneful influence over the life.
ü They were only causes of deadness. “Wherein aforetime ye walked.” In
trespasses and sins THEY WALKED! Their life was one continual trespassing
and sinning. Their fountain was constantly sending forth bitter water. Their
tree only brought forth evil fruit. And how could it be otherwise, seeing
that they were corrupted at the very center of their being? There were
some of their acts that were better than others, but none that were
thoroughly right in principle or motive. All their acts had a fatal defect, and
many of them, as the first chapter of Romans shows – vs. 20-32, had
a positive vileness.
ü They stood related to this world. “According to the course of this
world.” This world is opposed to the world as it should be, or the kingdom
of God among men. It is the world content with itself, and seeking to be
independent of God. And as the
holy development, so this world, it is implied here, has an age for its unholy
development. For the word translated “course” is properly “age.” In the
mysterious providence of God evil has scope for its development. “The
mystery of iniquity doth already work.” (II Thessalonians 2:7) And when
it is said here that they once walked according to the course of this world,
the meaning is that their characters had not the normal form of the kingdom,
but had one or other of those abnormal forms which belong to the world.
ü They stood related to the head of evil. “According to the prince of the
power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of
disobedience.” He is here called the prince of the power of the air. He is a
prince with other evil spirits under him. (See Revelation 9) Evil is divisive;
his then must be a mighty, prince-like influence that he keeps them united
under him for evil ends. He is dependent on God, a mere instrument in His
hand, at His absolute disposal, as it is with every creature; but he is allowed,
through his emissaries, to have great power upon earth. The singular epithet
is applied to him here in allusion to his surrounding us with temptation as the
atmosphere surrounds the earth. As the air borders on the earth, so there is
a sphere bordering on our spirits, subtle, invisible like air, through which
evil suggestions can readily be conveyed to us. Or it may be that the evil
spirits have an affinity to air, which they do not have to grosser matter, so
that it is their haunt within this region. There is here what we cannot
understand; but we can understand this — temptation being skillfully
presented to our minds, against which we must invoke the skill of another,
else we are taken in the tempter’s meshes. (The Bible calls it “taken
captive by his will.” II Timothy 2:26 – CY – 2019) He is further called
the prince of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience.
(v. 2) It is not usual to connect a spirit, or principle, with its prince. But he
is undoubtedly the principal representative of the spirit of disobedience.
In him disobedience takes its most virulent form. The object on which he
is bent is to spite God, to thwart His holy ends. This is the spirit which
he as its original source breathes into his subordinates, and which they
in turn under his direction seek to breathe into men. And those in whom
it finds a sphere of operation are called the children of disobedience.
They stand related to the evil principle as its unclean progeny. It was from
heathendom that the description here was taken. It was very much MAN
LEFT TO HIMSELF! (This is what is meant when God said before
the Flood “My Spirit will not always strive with man” – Genesis 6:3
and the depiction in II Thessalonians 2:7 concerning the mystery of iniquity
when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way of evil! CY – 2019) It was
the truest representation of what “this world” is. It was Satan having his
own way. It was rampant disobedience. For though the heathen world was
under the Divine providence, yet it was without special helps, without
special checks. Depraved human nature was allowed to bring out:
Ø its own ignorance of God,
Ø its own profanity,
Ø its own licentiousness.
It was from that heathen world that these Gentile Christians had been taken.
(“...and such were some of you” - I Corinthians 6:11) There they
could see what they once had been. But, lest the Jewish Christians might
think that it had been better with them, he proceeds to bring them under
the same description in respect of their original condition.
· JEWISH CHRISTIANS ALSO. (v. 3.) “Among whom we also all
once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the
mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Especially
are they classed with Gentile Christians, as having originally been children
of disobedience. Among whom we also all once lived. Their disobedience
appeared in their living in the lusts of the flesh. Those lusts that had their
root in the flesh, or unrenewed nature, they ought to have brought into
subjection to reason or the will of God; but, instead of that, they lived in
them. This is further described as “doing the desires of the flesh and of the
mind.” Evil wishes spring from the flesh; but in order to be gratified they
require the consent of the mind, and so they become desires, not only of
the flesh, but of the mind. And were by nature the children of wrath, even
as the rest. “By nature” is a qualifying clause. The Jews could not be
spoken of in the same terms as the Gentiles without qualification. For they
were different in having a covenant position, in having Divine helps
vouchsafed to them, in being placed under special training. And though
they did testify to depravity in their frequent rebellions, yet was there
alongside a work of grace, which showed itself conspicuously in some. It
could only be said, then, that by nature, that is, apart from covenant grace,
they were the children of wrath, even as the rest. What a testimony is there
here to UNIIVERSAL DEPRAVITY! All have the Divine displeasure
imprinted on their nature. In the condemning voice of conscience there
is an echo, often very faint, of the condemnation of God. Our evil tendencies,
which we so soon exhibit, are tokens that God is angry with us. His righteous
sentence has gone forth upon us, even in our present condition. This is
unpalatable truth, but it agrees with the facts. It is well that we should keep
it in mind, in order that we may be humbled by it, and in order that we may
realize the forces against which we have to struggle. (AND THEY ARE
SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES!” – ch. 6:12 – CY –
· OUR SALVATION.
ü Its explanation. “But God, being rich in mercy, for His great love
wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses.”
The MERCY is mentioned first, as standing in closest connection with the
miserable state which has been described. And as their former state was
described in strong terms, so now is there set over against it the superlative
quality of the mercy. He is not content with the expression, “God in his
mercy.” That language is too bare in view of what they once were. So he
applies his common epithet, “rich.” “God, being rich in mercy.” The mercy
is a particular outgoing of the Divine love, viz. toward sinners. So he traces
it up to the more general feeling, which leads Him to seek the good, and
nothing but the good, of all His creatures whatsoever. And to this in turn he
applies another common epithet,”great.” “The great love wherewith He
loved us.” And the greatness of the Divine love is here presented under a
special aspect. In Romans 5:8 it is said, “God commendeth His love
towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The thought is very similar here. “Even when we were dead through our
trespasses He quickened us.” Stress is laid upon the moment of the Divine
movement. When we were dead and could do nothing for ourselves, that
was the time for the going forth of the great love of God in rich mercy
toward us. And it is in this connection that we are to bring in the words
within brackets, “By grace have ye been saved.” For, though he has it in his
mind to magnify the Divine grace further on, yet now, having the
opportunity to make a point, he cannot let it pass. And the incidental way
in which he brings it in shows the great importance which he attached to
ü Its nature. “Quickened us together with Christ (by grace have ye been
saved), and raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the
heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” It is set forth in relation to our previous
deadness. And it will be observed that the description here is connected
with a certain historical point. The idea is that we were dead up to the time
when Christ was quickened. We were dead, even as Christ was dead in the
tomb. Nay, more, we were dead with Christ in the tomb. For it was as our
Representative that He was lying there. And when He was quickened, it was
as our Representative too. He was quickened, not for Himself, but for us
whom He represented. And therefore it can be said that, when the lifegiving
power went forth upon Him in the grave, we were quickened with
Him. And it did not stop there; but when He was raised up we were raised
up with Him, in the whole breadth that language can bear. And not only so,
but the consummation applies to us too. It is not indeed said that we were
made to sit at the right hand of God, as is said of Christ in ch. 1:20. But it is
said that we were made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places. Even here
on earth we are sitting with Christ in the heavenly places. We are sitting
there in Him as our Head. That is no fancy, but the actual language which
is applied to us by an inspired apostle. Oh, what a glorious privilege is
conferred on us! How does it become us to be thankful, and to be humbled!
Let us, in our life, rise to the height of our position. Let us not be as creeping
on the earth, but as sitters with Christ in the heavenly places.
ü A purpose served by our salvation. “That in the ages to come He might
show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus.” The language is applicable to after ages on earth. There is
encouragement to us, even now, in the fact that such kindness was shown
to Ephesians who had been dead through trespasses and sins. But the
language is also applicable to the eons of which the Scripture speaks
beyond this life. For if there is not room there for sinners being
encouraged, there certainly is room for the demonstration, the more
complete realization, of THE DIVINE GRACE! It will be one of the
lessons of those ages to learn how much in our history on earth we were
INDIVIDUALLY INDEBTED TO GRACE! Here again, in the fullness
of emotion, he gives an ample characterization of the grace, the exceeding
riches of his grace, in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. The latter
expression has reference to benefits conferred, viz. our quickening.
Ø The exceeding riches of His grace appears in the complete exclusion
of human merit. “For by grace have ye been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, that
no man should glory.” Our salvation is given to the subjective
disposition of faith. It is when we believe, that the union between
our souls and Christ takes place, and the first, not the completed,
quickening goes forth upon us. But this believing does not make us
the authors, or give us the merit, of our salvation. It, that is to say,
our salvation, IS THE GIFT OF GOD! And believing is just taking
it as a Divine gift, taking it as that for which we have given nothing.
CHRIST HAS PAID THE FULL PRICE FOR IT; He has paid
the uttermost farthing, and so we can receive it as a free gift. But
works are out of the question; for it is just as impossible for a dead
man to rise and do the works which he was wont to do, as it is for the
dead through trespasses and sins to work out their salvation. Divine
help is the plainest necessity, and to such an extent that there is no
room for boasting.
Ø The exceeding riches of His grace appears in good works following
on the Divine workmanship. “For we are His workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we
should walk in them.”
An honest man’s the noblest work of God.
A Christian is certainly the noblest work of God. “For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” We are the result of all
the means that God has used. It may be seen in us, as saved persons,
what Christ has done by His blood. And we are not His workmanship
because of works which we were afterwards to do; but we were created
“for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in
them.” It may be said of a tree that it is afore prepared for the fruit
which it is to bear. It may be said of a vessel that it is afore prepared
for the uses which it is to serve. But as the fruit is not the cause of the
tree, nor the uses served by a vessel the cause of the vessel, so neither
can it be said that the works we perform are the cause of the Divine
workmanship that has gone before. Our salvation, then,
IS WHOLLY OF GRACE!
Gospel Reformation Great and Gracious (vs. 1-10)
“And you hath He quickened,” etc. This passage, though its language is
somewhat obscure, sets forth most manifestly the greatness and
graciousness of gospel reformation. The gospel is a reformative system; it
is revolutionary in its spirit and its aim.
· It uproots the noxious in life, and plants the wholesome.
· It pulls down the corrupt and builds up the holy.
· It burns up man’s old moral heavens and creates new ones,
“wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Peter 3:13)
· It reforms society by reforming the individual man;
· It reforms the individual by regenerating his spirit, and making him
a new creature in Christ Jesus.
· It works from the center to the circumference.
the change it effects in mankind will be seen if we consider two things
which are so prominently set forth in this passage.
ü The state of man preceding its work. There are several striking
expressions in this passage indicating the original depraved condition
of sinners, their condition before the gospel touches them.
Ø They are morally dead. “Dead in [through] trespasses and sins.”
(v. 1) What is moral death? Not insensibility, for sinners feel; not
inactivity, for sinners act. What, then? Destitution of the true principle
of moral life. What is that? Supreme love to God. He is the true Life
of the soul. Humanity has lost it, and it is dead. Corporeal death is
a separation of the soul from the body, moral death is the separation
of the soul from godly love.
Ø They are practically worldly. “They walked according to the course of
this world.” What is the “course of this world”? Carnal, selfish, devilish.
The spirit of the world is their inspiration, the maxims of the world their
Ø They are Satanically ruled. “The prince of the power of the air”
works in them. He rules and fashions them to his purpose.
Ø They are wickedly associated. “Among whom also we all had our
conversation in times past.” Their social natures are so perverted
that they are linked with the corrupt; all their social alliances
are false and impure.
Ø They are carnally debased. “In the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the
desires of the flesh.” The body with its gross impulses dominates over
the soul; they are “carnally sold under sin.” (Romans 7:14) Their
souls are animalized. (II Peter 2:12
Ø They are perilously situated. “Children of wrath.” Where is the wrath?
It is of their own creation. “They treasure up wrath.” (Romans 2:5)
From the eternal law of retribution their sins must bring on their ruin.
ü The state of man succeeding its work. The passage teaches that they are
brought by the gospel into the most vital connection with Him who is the
embodiment, the standard, and the medium of all human excellence, “the
Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ø His life is theirs. “Quickened us together with Christ.” That
love which is the life of the soul has been imparted. This life is His
life. “Together with Him.” They are quickened by His ideas, with
His Spirit, with His aim.
Ø His resurrection is theirs. They are “raised “ — raised from the grave
of carnality, worldliness, and moral corruption, and their resurrection is
with Him. “Raised us up together.” Christ’s resurrection is not merely
the instrumental cause of their spiritual resurrection, but its inspiration
and its type.
Ø His exaltation is theirs. They are made to “sit together in heavenly
places in Christ Jesus.” They are morally exalted — exalted in their
power over themselves and over circumstances; exalted in their
sympathies, ideas, and aims; exalted in their fellowship. They are in
“heavenly places” now, their “citizenship is in heaven.” All this
exaltation is enjoyed together with Christ.
Ø His character is theirs. “They are created in Christ Jesus unto good
works.” God has recast their character; He has molded it after the
ideal embodied in Jesus Christ. The general meaning of all these
expressions is thorough Christianization. Man, after the gospel
reformation has been effected, is like Christ in spirit and character.
“He is conformed to the image of Christ.” How great the change!
how thorough! how sublime! How infinitely transcending all the
reformations of men! This is the reformation that is wanted; this is
the reformation that every true philanthropist should strenuously
advocate and zealously promote.
great, originating, efficient cause of this glorious moral reformation? The
text answers the question. “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love
wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us
together with Christ.” Instrumental causes, such as the Word of God,
gospel ministry, Christian example and influence, are many, but eternal
grace is the cause which originates all and blesses all. The passage indicates
four things concerning this Divine grace.
ü It is great. It is ascribed to the richness of mercy and the greatness of
love. “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love,” etc. God’s love
is the spring of all His activities; it is as deep as His own heart; it is
as infinite as Himself. “It passeth knowledge.”
“O Love! the one sun! O Love! the one sea!
What life has begun that breathes not in thee?
Thy rays have no limit, thy waves have no shore;
Thou giv’st without merit to worlds evermore.”
ü It is mighty. It quickens, raises, exalts, recreates human souls. It is as
mighty as the power that raised Christ from the dead. How mighty is
that power that thoroughly Christianizes even one soul! No power
but the power of God can do that. “Not by might, nor by power, but
by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
ü It is manifestable. “In the ages to come He might show the exceeding
riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The conversion of every one is designed to manifest it. The conversion
of the sinner, though a good in itself, is not an ultimate end; the event
has remote issues, ulterior points, bearings and relations interminable.
“Ages to come;” intelligences that will rise thousands of years in the
future will study and adore the infinite grace of God in the spiritual
reformation of mankind. “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for
a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life
everlasting” (I Timothy 1:16).
ü It is unmeritorious. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works.” The expression,
“not of works,” does not mean, of course, that men are to do nothing.
This would be contrary to the general teaching of Scripture, contrary
also to the constitution of the soul and the nature of the work. Man is
so constituted that no moral change can be effected in him irrespective
of his own efforts. He must work. All that the expression means is that
man’s works are not the cause. “By grace are ye saved through faith.”
But if faith is required, and it is an undoubted necessity, where is the
freeness of the grace? Elsewhere Paul says that “it is of faith, that it
may be of grace.” (Romans 4:16) Two remarks will explain this.
Ø Faith is essentially an unmeritorious act. Because it is the simplest act
of the mind, and an act for which man has a strong propensity; he has
never taken credit for it; he never can. There is no virtue in believing.
Ø This essentially unmeritorious act IS ITSELF THE GIFT OF GOD!
Not a gift in the sense in which existence is a gift, but in the sense in
which knowledge is a gift. It is a gift, because God;
o gives the mental capacity for it,
o reveals the true objects for it, and
o furnishes the opportunities for studying the evidence
essential to produce it.
Salvation in Its Completeness: the Place of Faith and Works
One thought runs through these two verses like a thread of gold. We are
not saved by works, but unto works.
· THE PRIVILEGE OF BELIEVERS. “Ye are saved.”
Ø It is implied that the salvation is a present reality. It is not, “Ye shall be
saved.” They were already in an actual state of salvation; they had passed
from death unto life; and the life was EVERLASTING!
Ø The salvation was more than a deliverance from the guilt of sin, so as to
exempt sinners from future punishment. This is, indeed, the first step in
salvation. There must be likewise a deliverance from the power of sin. To
be saved from sin is the climax, the consummation, the essence of
salvation. Holiness is the most essential thing in salvation. Therefore, while
believers may rejoice that they have received pardon through the blood of
Christ, let them still more rejoice that Jesus “saves them from their sins”
by a continuous supply of His living grace.
· POWER FOR GOOD WORKS IS INCLUDED IN SALVATION.
(“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the
sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12)
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”
We are saved because we are thus created. This was the Divine purpose in
the mission of the Son; God sent Christ to bless us “by turning every one of
us away from our iniquities” (Acts 3:26). We have learned to believe that
our works have nothing to do with our pardon:
Ø our evil works have not hindered it,
Ø our good works have not helped it;
Ø our pardon IS OF PURE GRACE!
But the apostle teaches, in the tenth verse, that what is true of
pardon through the death of Christ is equally true of power by His life —
that if we are delivered from the punishment of sin by the atoning death of
Christ, we are also delivered from the power of sin by the loving grace that
streams from the fountain of the cross. Salvation, if it be salvation at all, is
“unto good works;” good works not being the root on which salvation
grows, but the fruit which grows upon the tree of life.
· HOW IS THIS FULL SALVATION TO BE OBTAINED? “By grace
are ye saved, through faith.” You are “God’s workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus unto good works.”
Ø Grace is the fountain at once of pardon and of holiness. The purpose of
God is of grace, for “He hath saved us according to His own purpose and
grace” (II Timothy 1:9); the atonement is of grace, for “ye know the
grace of ... Christ, that, though He was rich, for your sakes He became
poor” (II Corinthians 8:9); the application of it is of grace, for it is
“grace that bringeth salvation” (Titus 2:11); and it is according to this
grace “we are called with an holy calling” (II Timothy 1:9). Now, we
have learned to say of pardon that it is “not of works;” equally true is it of
our purification that it is not of works — that is, not of our working — for
we are “his workmanship, created… unto good works.” The old man
cannot work. The new man receives the power in the very structure of his
spiritual being; for, having died with Christ, he is risen with Him that he
should walk in NEWNESS OF LIFE!
Ø Faith is the instrumental cause of our salvation. “By grace are ye saved,
through faith;” and thus the gospel becomes “the power of God unto
salvation to every one that believeth.” (Romans 1:16) Power as well as
pardon flows forth from Christ to every one that believeth. We are not to
suppose, however, that salvation is given as a kind of reward of faith, for,
in a true sense, faith is part of the salvation itself. But the apostle uniformly
represents faith as that which apprehends the salvation. It is in no sense
the ground of salvation; “the righteousness of God which is by faith of
Christ Jesus” is the only ground of it, (ibid. 3:22) and it is therefore
called “the gift of righteousness” (ibid. 5:17); but faith is the hand by
which it is received. There is thus no merit in faith any more than there is
in the hand of the beggar who receives an alms.
Ø Good works are the predestined way along which the saved walk.
“Which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them.” This
might be true in a double sense: either that, by the revelation of the moral
law, He has fixed the firm and unalterable pathway of the believer’s
obedience — prepared, as it were, the sphere of our moral action; or that,
by creating us in Christ Jesus, He has preordained our disposition and
aptitude for this obedience. It is evident from the apostle’s doctrine that:
o good works are not necessary to qualify us for believing in Christ, nor
o are the ground of our expecting a future inheritance in glory.
But they are necessary, notwithstanding, on the following grounds:
o We are elected unto holiness (ch. 1:4); and we are “called
unto holiness” (I Thessalonians 4:7).
o They are necessary as acts of obedience to the Lord’s commands
o as acts of gratitude for all His goodness to us;
o as evidences of the sincerity of our faith in Christ;
o as tending to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, and to glorify his
Name; (Titus 2:10)
o as contributory to our inward peace and comfort.
Salvation, Its Root and Its Fruit (vs. 8-10)
Paul now proceeds to put the gospel in a nutshell when he tells us that:
· we are saved by grace,
· through faith, and
· unto good works.
We have in these three terms the whole plan brought out. Let us look at them in
· GRACE IS THE ROOT OR CAUSE OF SALVATION. (v. 8.) By
“grace” is meant the free, undeserved favor of God. It is etymologically the
same as “gratis” and “gratuitous;” it occurs in the business phrase, “three
days of grace” given in connection with the payment of a bill; it signifies
therefore a Divine manifestation to which man has no title. In other words,
we do not deserve salvation. We can never deserve it. No works of ours
could entitle us to it. Yet we are saved by grace, by the free and sovereign
favor of the Lord. It is most important that we should have clear views of
the cause of salvation. Its cause is the gracious love of God. Its cause is
outside of us, and. we have no part or lot in causing salvation. IT IS
ENTIRELY OF GRACE!
· FAITH IS THE HAND OF THE HEART WHICH RECEIVES
SALVATION. (v. 8.) God might conceivably save men without asking
us to trust Him. But would it be worth our while to get emancipated from
deserved punishment to live on in perpetual suspicion? The fact is that to
have any comfort in our relations with GOD, WE MUST TRUST HIM!
But there is no merit in trusting Him. If we refuse Him our trust we do
Him grievous wrong. This shows that trusting God is only giving Him
His due. Besides, the more we know ourselves the more we realize that
faith just as well a