VERSE OF THE DAY
Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
We are the art of God his temple and masterpiece. He has made us new in his image for us to we can work for good in his plan he planned for us long before we were in our mother’s womb
Ephesians 2:10 Meaning of We Are God’s Workmanship
Jul 15, 2020 by Editor in Chief
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Explanation and Commentary of Ephesians 2:10
This powerful verse shows the interplay between our good and free will to do things, especially good things, and the role God plays behind our will. We are created by God, for God, and in God. We are created for the purpose of action. The action we should take is the action that God had in mind for us to take when he designed and built us. When we are embarking on a good work, it will certainly be an act of will, but we should pray for God’s blessing in it and that it is what he wants us to do. That is, it aligns with not only his ways and his Word, but that it is one of the things written for us to do. When we have done the good work, we should then thank God in heaven that we were able to accomplish it, not only that we were successful, but that we had the energy to attempt it in the first place.
We are not saved by “good works.” We are saved by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. We are saved by his good work before we are called to our own good works. This life is a free gift by grace from God is both just and the justifier (Ro 3:26) of those who will be saved. But this does not mean that we are not called to do good works in Christ. Indeed we are called to it and we will be rewarded, sometimes in this life, but certainly in the next (Mt 25:21).
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Ephesians 2:10
This comes as a result of what was stated in verse 8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” The good works he is about to tell us we are saved for, are not what we are saved by.
#2 “…we are God’s handiwork, created…”
God made us fearfully and wonderfully (Ps 139:14) according to his design for us. He is an expert craftsman who makes no mistakes of design or build.
#3 “…in Christ Jesus…”
This was the case at our creation. Christ was there at the beginning. Through him, all things were made, and in him was life (Jn 1:3,4). But not only that, when we were made new, that is, by the Holy Spirit and our regeneration in Christ we were created anew, new creations (2 Cor 5:17). This is only accomplished in Christ, in his finished work.
#4 “…to do good works,”
We don’t just pray a prayer and wait to die so we can go to heaven. We are saved for a purpose. Jesus came to restore what was lost in the garden. This means that we will now, as new creations, saved by Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, be able to function as man was intended to function; as a thinking, reasoning, living, being, pursuing life for the glory of God and doing the good things he calls us to for the good of the world, the sake of his glory, and expansion of his kingdom. This has nothing to do with earning salvation, which was given freely, but is part of the privilege of the life eternal and being bearers of the divine image.
#5 “which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
This speaks to the mysterious interplay between our free will and his sovereignty.
What Does Ephesians 2:10 Mean? ►
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
We are God’s masterpiece, God’s workmanship, God’s handiwork, God’s creatures – we are God’s new creation in Christ Jesus. We were born spiritually dead in our sins. In God’s eyes, we were a rotting corpse, the putrefying remains of a fallen creation with no beauty that God should desire us; with no hope, help, comfort, or peace in the world.
We were products of a fallen creation, estranged from our Creator, and antagonistic towards our God, with all the carnal lusts and aspiration of fallen humanity, and under the power of this world system – slaves to Satan.
But being so rich in mercy, in His gracious loving-kindness, God loved us, and even though we were in the pitiable state of death because of our sins, He gave us life in Christ. Our present condition is irredeemable, for a fallen creature can never change, but when He raised Christ from the dead, God exchanged our old life in Adam for our new life in Christ, for when HE died WE died and when Christ was risen, we too were raised from our state of death into newness of life.
We must never forget that it is only by God’s grace that we have been saved. It is only by God’s grace that we have salvation and we access that salvation through faith. For by grace we are saved, through faith, and not of ourselves, lest we boast, for salvation is a gift of God’s grace.
But we have not been raised to newness of life for no purpose. We are God’s masterpiece, made in Christ Jesus in order that we may be able to perform the good acts and good works, which God prepared for us to do before we were even born.
These actions and works cannot be performed by the old putrefying person we were before salvation (the old man which was governed by the old sin nature).
These actions and works can only be carried out through our new abundant life in Christ, which is to be governed and guided by the Holy Spirit working in and through us, so that the works that I do are not of me (my old self), but my new nature in Him.
How wonderful that we truly are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Loving Father, praise Your wonderful name that I am Your handiwork. Thank You that I was not saved by good works, but by grace through faith in Jesus. But thank You that I was saved unto good works, and so I pray my life would be lived to serve You wholeheartedly in the works You have prepared for me to do, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
Ephesians Chapter 2
Ephesians 2 – God’s Way of Reconciliation
A. The need for reconciliation.
1. (1) Christians are alive from the dead.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
a. And you He made alive: The words He made alive are in italics, which indicates that they are added to the text but implied from the context. Paul wrote to believers who were made alive by God’s work.
i. Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.
b. Who were dead in trespasses and sins: Though Christians are now alive, they must never forget where they came from. They were dead in trespasses and sins.
i. There are many kinds of life: vegetable life, animal life, mental life, moral life, and spiritual life. A being might be alive in one sense but dead in another. To be spiritually dead does not mean that we are physically dead, socially dead, or psychologically dead. Yet it is a real death, a “dead death” nonetheless. “The most vital part of man’s personality – the spirit – is dead to the most important factor in life – God.” (Wood) “Not in a moral sense, nor a mental sense, but in a spiritual sense, poor humanity is dead, and so the word of God again and again most positively describes it.” (Spurgeon)
ii. This touches on one of the most controversial areas in theology – in what manner, and to what extent, is a person dead before conversion? Must a person be converted before he can believe, or can there be a prior work of God to instill faith that is still short of conversion? Those who argue that man must be regenerated before he can believe like to say that a dead man cannot believe. This takes this particular description further than intended, to say that unredeemed man is exactly like a dead man, because a dead man also cannot sin.
iii. We err if we think that dead in trespasses and sins says everything about man’s lost condition. It is an err because the Bible uses many different pictures to describe the state of the unsaved man, saying he is:
· Blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
· A slave to sin (Romans 6:17).
· A lover of darkness (John 3:19-20).
· Sick (Mark 2:17).
· Lost (Luke 15).
· An alien, a stranger, a foreigner (Ephesians 2:12, 2:19).
· A child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
· Under the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13).
iv. Therefore, in some ways the unregenerate man is dead; in other ways he is not. Therefore, it is valid to appeal to all men to believe. We need not look for evidence of regeneration before we tell men to believe and be saved. As the Puritan John Trapp wrote, “Howbeit, the natural man, though he be theologically dead, yet is ethically alive, being to be wrought upon by arguments; hence Hosea 11:4, ‘I drew them by the cords of a man,’ that is, by reason and motives of love, befitting the nature of a man. So the Spirit and Word work upon us still as men by rational motives, setting before us life and good, death and evil.”
c. In trespasses and sins: The idea behind the word trespasses is that we have crossed a line, challenging God’s boundaries. The idea behind the word sins is that we have missed a mark, the perfect standards of God.
i. Trespasses speaks of man as a rebel, sins speaks of man as a failure. “Before God we are both rebels and failures.” (Stott)
2. (2-3) The life of death.
In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
a. In which you once walked: At one time we lived in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world, which is orchestrated by Satan. Satan (the prince of the power of the air) is still very much active among those in rebellion against God – the sons of disobedience.
b. You once walked: The self that once walked was the old man, now crucified with Jesus at the time of conversion. The sin nature inherited from Adam influenced the old man, but the world system and Satan do also. One might say that the influence of the old man lives on in what the New Testament calls the flesh.
i. Once walked means it should be different for those who are made alive by Jesus Christ. A dead man feels comfortable in his coffin; but if he were to be made alive again, he would instantly feel suffocated and uncomfortable. There would be a strong urge to escape the coffin and leave it behind. In the same way, when we were spiritually dead we felt comfortable in trespasses and sins; but having come to new life we feel we must escape that coffin and leave it behind.
c. Who now works in the sons of disobedience: In sin we respond to Satan’s “guidance.” The same ancient Greek verb is used in Ephesians 2:2 for the work of Satan in unbelievers as is used in Ephesians 3:20 for the power of God that works in believers.
d. The prince of the power of the air: This unique title for Satan speaks of his authority (prince) and his realm (the air, a way of referring to Satan’s “environment”).
i. “The domain of the air, in fact, is another way of indicating the heavenly realm, which, according to Ephesians 6:12, is the abode of those principalities and powers, world-rulers of this darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness against which the people of Christ wage war.” (Bruce)
ii. Satan is not the ultimate ruler, but he is a prince in the sense that “Evil men set him up for their sovereign, and are wholly at his beck and obedience.” (Trapp)
e. We all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh: We once were among the sons of disobedience, proven by our conduct. We embraced the lusts of the flesh, which are primarily perversions of the legitimate desires of human nature.
i. “The converts are to be reminded what they have been delivered from, as well as what they have been lifted into. They must be led to look down again into the pit, into the grave, from which grace called them out and set them free.” (Moule)
f. And were by nature children of wrath: Because of our surrender to the old man, the world, and the devil, we were by nature children of wrath. We rightfully deserved God’s wrath, and deserved it because of who we were by our heritage.
i. The Bible knows nothing of the idea that all men are “children of God,” except in the sense that He is our common creator (Acts 17:28). Here Paul says that there is a “family” of wrath that has its children, and Jesus called the Pharisees “a family of snakes” (brood of vipers in Matthew 3:7, 12:34, and 23:33) and said that their father was the Devil (John 8:44).
B. The process of personal reconciliation to God.
1. (4) God’s motive in reconciliation.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
a. But God… because of His great love: With but and because, Paul explained God’s reason behind reconciling man to Himself, and these reasons are found totally in God. The reasons are His rich mercy and His great love, which He focuses on us.
i. “As they were corrupt in their nature, and sinful in their practice, they could possess no merit, nor have any claim upon God; and it required much mercy to remove so much misery, and to pardon such transgressions.” (Clarke)
b. With which He loved us: We might imagine a God of rich mercy and great love who did not focus that mercy and love upon us. But behind the good news of God’s salvation offered in Jesus is the fact that this mercy and love is extended to us.
c. His great love with which He loved us: Some warp the idea of God’s great mercy and love into something that justifies our pride. Some imagine that God loves us because we are so lovable. Instead, God’s love is so great that it extends even to the unlovely – to the children of wrath mentioned in the previous verse.
i. Every reason for God’s mercy and love is found in Him. We give Him no reason to love us, yet in the greatness of His love, He loves us with that great love anyway.
ii. Therefore, we must stop trying to make ourselves lovable to God, and simply receive His great love while recognizing that we are unworthy of it. This is the grace secret of the Christian life.
2. (5-7) The past, present, and future of God’s work of individual reconciliation.
Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
a. When we were dead: This is when God started loving us. He did not wait until we were lovable. He loved us even when we were dead in trespasses, providing nothing lovable to Him.
i. This is the requirement for being saved. You must first be dead, dead to every attempt to justify yourself before God. He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me… has passed from death into life (John 5:24).
b. Made us alive together with Christ: This is what God did to those who were dead in sin. He shared in our death so that we could share in His resurrection life. The old man is crucified and we are new creations in Jesus with the old things passing away and all things becoming new.
i. By grace you have been saved: Paul is compelled to add here that this is the work of God’s grace, in no way involving man’s merit. Our salvation – our rescue – from spiritual death is God’s work done for the undeserving.
c. Sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus: This is the present position of the Christian. We have a new place for living, a new arena of existence – we are not those who dwell on the earth (as Revelation often calls them), but our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
i. We don’t sit in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, or at least not yet. Instead, we sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Since our life and identity is in Christ, as He sits in heavenly places, so do we.
ii. “And now we sit in heavenly places – we have a right to the kingdom of God, anticipate this glory, and are indescribably happy in the possession of this salvation, and in our fellowship with Christ Jesus.” (Clarke)
d. In the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace: In the future, God will continue to show the exceeding riches of His grace to us. God will never stop dealing with us on the basis of grace, and will forever continue to unfold its riches to us through eternity.
i. He might show: “The original implies, that the exhibition is for His own purpose, for his own glory.” (Alford) This work in us reflects infinitely more on the glory of God than on our own glory, and God will use His work in the Church to display His glory throughout the ages.
ii. “From this verse it is clear that Paul fully expected the gospel of the grace of God to be preached in the ages to come. He had no notion of a temporary gospel to develop into a better, but he was assured that the same gospel would be preached to the end of the dispensation. Nor this alone; for as I take it, he looked to the perpetuity of the gospel, not only through the ages which have already elapsed since the first advent of our blessed Lord, but throughout the ages after he shall have come a second time. Eternity itself will not improve upon the gospel.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “When all the saints shall be gathered home they shall still talk and speak of the wonders of Jehovah’s love in Christ Jesus, and in the golden streets they shall stand up and tell what the Lord has done for them to listening crowds of angels, and principalities, and powers.” (Spurgeon)
iv. The exceeding riches of His grace: “So is it with the grace of God: he has as much grace as you want, and he has a great deal more than that. The Lord has as much grace as a whole universe will require, but he has vastly more. He overflows: all the demands that can ever be made on the grace of God will never impoverish him, or even diminish his store of mercy; there will remain an incalculably precious mine of mercy as full as when he first began to bless the sons of men.” (Spurgeon)
v. One way to see the greatness of the grace of God is to see how He begs man to receive it. When we offer a gift to someone and they refuse it, we are likely to allow them to refuse and leave them alone. God does not do this with us; even when we refuse His mercy He reaches into His storehouse of grace and persists with us, begging us to receive the free gift.
3. (8-10) A summing up of God’s work of individual reconciliation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
a. For by grace you have been saved: Paul cannot speak of this glorious work God does without reminding us that it is a gift of grace, given to the undeserving. We are not even saved by our faith (though faith itself is not a work), but by grace through faith.
i. We can think of water flowing through a hose. The water is the important part, but it is communicated through the hose. The hose does not quench your thirst; the water does. But the hose brings water to the place you can benefit from it.
ii. “The precise form of words here stresses two things. As consistently emphasized by Paul, it is entirely of His grace, His free, undeserved favour to mankind. Then also this salvation is presented as an accomplished fact.” (Foulkes)
b. And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: The work of salvation is God’s gift. Paul’s grammar here indicates that the words apply to the gift of salvation mentioned in Ephesians 2:4-8, and not directly to the faith mentioned in this verse.
i. Clarke emphatically states that the original Greek is clear in noting that when it says it is the gift of God, the it referred to is salvation, not faith. The great Greek scholar Dean Alford also clearly pointed out that the this not of yourselves referred to salvation, not to faith in this passage.
ii. Yet, even our faith is a gift of God. We cannot believe in Jesus unless God does a prior work in us, for we are blinded by our own deadness and by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).
iii. “But it may be asked: Is not faith the gift of God? Yes, as to the grace by which it is produced; but the grace or power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different things. Without the grace or power to believe no man ever did or can believe; but with that power the act of faith is a man’s own. God never believes for any man, no more than he repents for him; the penitent, through this grace enabling him, believes for himself.” (Clarke)
iv. This shows us the essential place of prayer in evangelism. Since God initiates salvation, we should begin our evangelism with asking God to do the initiating, and granting the ability to believe to those we want to see saved.
c. Not of works, lest anyone should boast: God did it not of works simply so that no one could boast. If salvation was the accomplishment of man in any way, we could boast about it. But under God’s plan of salvation, God alone receives the glory.
i. “I thought Napoleon did a good thing, when, on the day of his coronation, he took his crown, and put it on his own head. Why should he not take the symbol that was his due? And if you get to heaven, one half by grace and one half by works, you will say, ‘Atonement profited me a little, but integrity profited me much more.’ ” (Spurgeon)
d. For we are His workmanship: God saves us not merely to save us from the wrath we rightly deserve, but also to make something beautiful of us. We are His workmanship, which translates the ancient Greek word poiema. The idea is that we are His beautiful poem. The Jerusalem Bible translates workmanship as “work of art.”
i. God’s love is a transforming love. It meets us right where we are at, but when we receive this love it always takes us where we should be going. The love of God that saves my soul will also change my life.
ii. We are His workmanship, His creation – something new He has made of us in Jesus Christ. “The spiritual life cannot come to us by development from our old nature. I have heard a great deal about evolution and development, but I am afraid that if any one of us were to be developed to our utmost, apart from the grace of God, we should come out worse than before the development began.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Our new life is as truly created out of nothing as were the first heavens, and the first earth. This ought to be particularly noticed, for there are some who think that the grace of God improves the old nature into the new. It does nothing of the sort.” (Spurgeon)
e. Created in Christ Jesus for good works: That beautiful thing God is making of us is active in good works. These are just as much a part of God’s predestined plan as anything else is. These good works are valid evidence that someone is walking as one of God’s chosen.
i. “Works play no part at all in securing salvation. But afterwards Christians will prove their faith by their works. Here Paul shows himself at one with James.” (Wood)
C. The reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles in Jesus.
1. (11-12) The need for the reconciliation of Gentile and Jew.
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
a. You, once Gentiles in the flesh: God’s work of reconciliation is not only between God and the individual, though it must begin there. It is also between groups of people that are at odds, such as Jews and Gentiles were in the days of Paul.
b. Who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision: Gentiles were in a desperate place, being aliens, strangers, having no hope and being without God. This shows that they were not only spiritually dead, but they also did not have the access to God that the Jews enjoyed.
i. Before coming to Jesus, Gentiles were “Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless.” (Stott quoting Hendriksen)
ii. Having no hope: “The absence of hope in the face of death is amply attested in the literature and epigraphy of the Gaeco-Roman world of that day.” (Bruce)
iii. Without God in the world: Some people believe in God, but they believe He lives in heaven and has nothing to do with this world. In that way, a person can still believe in God and be without God in the world.
c. Without Christ: These are terrible words, and the implications of them are the sum of the woeful condition of the lost man or woman. To be without Christ means to be:
· Without spiritual blessings.
· Without light.
· Without peace.
· Without rest.
· Without safety.
· Without hope.
· Without a Prophet, Priest, or King.
i. “Without Christ! If this be the description of some of you, we need not talk to you about the fires of hell; let this be enough to startle you, that you are in such a desperate state as to be without Christ. Oh! What terrible evils lie clustering thick within these two words!” (Spurgeon)
d. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel: This likely includes separated Jews as well as Gentiles. “For there were also Israelites who were outside the commonwealth, not only as foreigners but as lax Jews, and lost their part in the covenants, not as foreigners, but as unworthy.” (Alford)
2. (13) Gentiles brought near to God.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
a. But now in Christ Jesus: Those Gentiles who are now in Christ Jesus are no longer far off. They are made near to the things of God, and the blood of Christ accomplishes this, by His sacrificial death.
i. This coming near happens only by the blood of Christ. Gentiles who are not in Christ Jesus are just as far off as they ever were. This reconciliation only happens in Jesus.
ii. It is important that Paul connects the ideas of the great love of Jesus and His sacrificial death. Many people think that preaching Christ crucified is all about a bloody, gory Jesus. But the point of Christ crucified is not gore, but love. Preaching Christ crucified means we preach Jesus full of love – sacrificial, giving, saving love.
b. By the blood of Christ: Many people suggest different ways to come near to God. Some think you can come by keeping the law or by belonging to a group (such as Israel or even the church). But the only way to be brought near to God is by the blood of Christ. What Jesus did on the cross, suffering as a guilty sinner in the place of guilty sinners, brings us near to God.
3. (14-16) Jew and Gentile brought together in the Church.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
a. For He Himself is our peace: Jesus Himself is our peace; He hasn’t simply made peace between God and man and Jew and Gentile; He is our peace.
b. Who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation: The work of Jesus on the cross is the common ground of salvation for both Jew and Gentile. Therefore, there is no longer any dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. Jesus broke that wall down.
i. In the temple, in between the court of the Gentiles and the court of the women, there was a physical barrier, an actual wall of separation between Jew and Gentile.
ii. Paul was, at the time of this writing, under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial because he was falsely accused by the Jews of taking a Gentile into the temple past the literal wall of separation dividing Jew and Gentile. Paul made it clear that in Jesus, the wall is gone.
iii. The wall of separation is gone because the common Lordship is greater than any previous division. If the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not greater than any difference you have with others – be it political, racial, economic, language, geography or whatever, then you have not fully understood what it means to be under the Lordship of Jesus.
c. Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances: The source of contention between Jew and Gentile was the fact that the Gentiles did not keep the law. But since Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf, and since He bore the penalty for our failure to keep the law, we are reconciled through His work on the cross – putting to death the source of contention.
i. “The enmity of which the apostle speaks was reciprocal among the Jews and Gentiles. The former detested the Gentiles, and could hardly allow them the denomination of men; the latter had the Jews in the most sovereign contempt, because of the peculiarity of their religious rites and ceremonies, which were different from those of all the other nations of the earth.” (Clarke)
ii. “And the separation was intensified and emphasized by those institutions which were, in part, designed to isolate Israel from the world, until the fit time for the wider blessing. And He ‘annulled’ them by fulfilling them, in His sacrificial work; thus at once reconciling man to God and man to man.” (Moule)
iii. The law as a source of righteousness is no longer an issue. That source of enmity between Jew and Gentile is dead.
d. That He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross: Gentiles and Jews are brought together into one body, the Church, where our unity in Jesus is far greater than our previous differences.
i. So as to create in Himself one new man from the two: Early Christians called themselves a “third race” or a “new race.” Early Christians recognized that they were not Jews, not Gentiles, but one new man embracing all who are in Jesus.
ii. “As Chrysostom explained, it is not that Christ has brought one up to the level of the other, but that he has produced a greater: ‘as if one should melt down one statue of silver and another of lead, and the two together should come out gold.’ ” (Wood)
e. Through the cross: We see the emphasis Paul places on the work of Jesus on the cross. He repeats the idea several times: made near by the blood… having abolished in His flesh the enmity… in one body through the cross. This unity didn’t just happen, it was the hard-fought accomplishment of Jesus.
i. This means that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 (that they all may be one) wasn’t “just” a prayer. It was a prayer Jesus prayed knowing that His work of the cross would accomplish the answer, and a prayer He was willing to pray knowing that His agony would be used to answer.
ii. This bringing together of Jew and Gentile in Jesus is a partial fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose as stated in Ephesians 1:10: that… He might gather together in one all things in Christ. God uses the bringing together Jew and Gentile into the Church as a preview of His ultimate work of summing up all things into Jesus Christ. Since He can do this, He can also do that.
4. (17-18) How Jews and Gentiles are brought together.
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
a. He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near: As they respond to the same gospel, the same peace that is preached to those afar off (Gentiles) and those near (Jews).
b. Through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father: They enjoy the same access to God, access that comes by one Spirit to the Father. Not only are Jews and Gentiles saved by the same gospel, but they also have the same essential walk with God and access to Him. One group does not have a greater access than the other does.
i. “Access is probably the best translation of prosagoge, though it could be ‘introduction.’ In oriental courts there was a prosagoges who brought a person into the presence of the king.” (Foulkes)
ii. When conflict arises among Christian groups of different backgrounds, you can be sure that they forget that they were saved by the same gospel and that they have the same access to God. One or both groups usually feel they have superior access to God.
iii. “This text is a plain proof of the holy Trinity. Jews and Gentiles are to be presented unto God the FATHER; the SPIRIT of God works in their hearts, and prepares them for this presentation; and JESUS CHRIST himself introduces them.” (Clarke)
5. (19-22) A picture of God’s work of reconciliation, both individual and among groups.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
a. You are no longer strangers and foreigners: Paul refers to Christians of Gentile background. They should not regard themselves as “second-class citizens” in God’s kingdom in any regard. They are not only full citizens, but also full and equal members of God’s household.
b. Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets: Because we are one body and have the same access to God, it also follows that we are all built upon a common foundation. That foundation is the original apostles and prophets, and their enduring revelation, recorded in the New Testament. May no one ever lay any other foundation.
i. Though Chrysostom, Jerome, Calvin and others saw the prophets mentioned as Old Testament prophets, it is better to see them as New Testament prophets, perhaps New Testament authors who were not strictly members of the core apostolic group.
ii. “Those who ranked next to the Apostles in the government of the church… They were not in every case distinct from the Apostles: the apostleship probably always including the gift of prophecy: so that all the Apostles themselves might likewise have been prophets.” (Alford)
iii. In this sense of laying a foundation of supremely authoritative revelation for all God’s people, there are no more apostles or prophets today. The foundation is already set. In a lesser sense there may be apostles and prophets today, but not in the sense Paul means here.
c. Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone: This corner stone “literally means at the tip of the angle. It refers to the capstone or binding stone that holds the whole structure together… often the royal name was inscribed on it. In the East it was considered to be even more important than the foundation.” (Wood)
i. Salmond on corner stone: “It denotes the stone placed at the extreme corner, so as to bind the other stones in the building together – the most important stone in the structure, the one on which its stability depended.”
ii. “That structure and cohesion may have for its scaffolding the sacred order of the Church in her visible aspect. But the cement is not of these things; it is wholly divine; it is the Spirit, possessing each saint for God, and binding them all together by articulating them all to their Head.” (Moule)
d. In whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord: As we keep to our common foundation, the whole building of God’s people grows together in a beautiful way, as a holy temple where God dwells in beauty and glory.
i. This tells us that the Church is a building, perfectly designed by the Great Architect. It is not a haphazard pile of stones, randomly dumped in a field. God arranges the Church for His own glory and purposes.
ii. This tells us that the Church is a dwelling place, a place where God lives. It is never to be an empty house that is virtually a museum, with no one living inside. The Church is to be both the living place of God and His people.
iii. This tells us that the Church is a temple, holy and set apart to God. We serve there as priests, offering the spiritual sacrifices of our lips and hearts, our praises to God (Hebrews 13:15).
e. You also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit: When Solomon’s temple was built, the stones were prepared at a place far from the temple building site. It was said that you couldn’t hear the sound of a hammer or axe or other iron tools at the site (1 Kings 6:7). In the same way, God prepares us first, and then He fits us into His building.
i. “The Father makes choice of this house, the Son purchaseth it, the Holy Ghost taketh possession of it.” (Trapp)
ii. “And the everlasting FATHER will perfectly reveal Himself, to all the watchers of all the regions of the eternal world, not anyhow but thus – in His glorified Church, in the Race, the Nature, once wrecked and ruined, but rebuilt into this splendour by His grace.” (Moule)
iii. Adam Clarke explained how God’s work in the Church gave glory to the wisdom, power, and love of God. See all this, we should praise God for His glorious Church.
· There is nothing as noble as the Church, seeing that it is the temple of God.
· There is nothing so worthy of reverence, seeing God who dwells in it.
· There is nothing so ancient, since the patriarchs and prophets worked to building it.
· There is nothing so solid, since Jesus Christ is the foundation of it.
· There is nothing so high, since it reaches as high as to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
· There is nothing so perfect and well proportioned, since the Holy Spirit is the architect.
· There is nothing more beautiful, because it is adorned with building stones of every age, every place, every people; from the highest kings to the lowest peasants; with the most brilliant scientists and the simplest believers.
· There is nothing more spacious, since it is spread over the whole earth, and takes in all who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
· There is nothing so Divine, since it is a living building, animated and inhabited by the Holy Spirit.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Categories: New Testament Paul’s Letters
What does Ephesians 2:10 mean?
Ephesians 2:8–9 is an extremely popular passage of Scripture. Since those two verses are so often quoted, many miss out on verse 10 when seeking to understand God’s salvation by grace through faith. However, this important statement offers tremendous insight into what God desires after salvation. God calls us His workmanship or His artwork, from the Greek word poiēma. We are something crafted, with skill and a purpose, by God, for His purposes. Specifically, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Good works do not give us salvation, but they are absolutely meant to be the result of salvation.
Interestingly, God prepared what He wanted us to do for Him long ago. He has already planned what He wants us to do with our lives. We do not need to copy what someone else has done or is doing. He has a unique plan for each of us to serve Him in this world. This includes certain spiritual gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to lead us in service to Him.
Ephesians 2:1–10 clearly explains the relationship between our lack of obedience, the grace of God, and our salvation. Those who are saved by Christ do not deserve this salvation. It is only by mercy, and by grace, that God chooses to forgive. In this section, Paul will repeat the claim that human effort has no impact on salvation whatsoever. No Christian can brag about their ”goodness,” since we are saved entirely by the grace of God, not by our own good deeds.
Paul repeatedly emphasizes that salvation is accomplished on the basis of grace, through faith. Good works, human effort, and our best intentions will never be enough to earn salvation. Every person is marked with sin, both deliberate and accidental, and for this reason we deserve to be separated from God. Only through His mercy and grace can we be saved, leaving no room for bragging. This also means that all who are saved, Jew and Gentile alike, are part of the same spiritual family. There is no cause for hostility between believers; we are all unworthy, and all saved by the same kindness of God