Thursday, April 11, 2013

On the Run - Ephesians 2 (part 1)

Click the banner to read Ephesians 2
Ephesians chapter two begins abruptly with a statement about us, the readers. Immediately after an overwhelming affirmation of praise for the ultimate supremacy and transcendence of Christ, Paul immediately turns to us, calling us dead in our trespasses. Though we may not be literally dead in the sense of our physical bodies, it is no exaggeration to compare our (lack of) justice, peace, and prosperity to Jesus in this way. But the comparison is not meant to condemn. On the contrary, the writer immediately erupts with the excited proclamation that we have been made acceptable because of Jesus' grace and authority, and not our own. Because Jesus is supreme, and because he has conquered death, we are seated with him, by his will and power. This reconciliation and redemption is entirely by his grace, and is not dependent on our performance or worthiness in any way. This is awesome, and only serves to reinforce the freedom, grace, and justice of the king, and the kingdom in which we now hold citizenship.

In regarding and discussing the Gentile heritage of the readers, two things are emphasized. First, we are further reminded that there is nothing in ourselves that has made us worthy of redemption in our own strength. We are not descendants of Abraham by religion or birth. In the kingdom of God, this no longer matters. In Christ we are all adopted as full sons and daughters into the family of God, regardless of race, gender, or class.

Secondly, by reinforcing the reality of our adoption into a new family, one that had previously been closed and locked to outsiders, the writer reminds us that the reconciliation between peoples, the equality of humanity, and the redemption of all relationships is a demonstration of this good news on earth. We have been reconciled to God. We can now minister reconciliation between people. If peace can be made between humanity and the divine through Christ, the road to peace and reconciliation between peoples has also been opened. We can now speak peace and justice even to people once hostile and alien to one another. This is the beautiful new reality of the Kingdom of God.

Ephesians 2:1-2
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

It is not the deadness of our transgressions that is the subject, but the great love and riches of mercy of God who makes us alive. This is good news. This is grace.

Ephesians 2:4-7
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

He seated us with Jesus in the heavenly realms at the resurrection. When Jesus was raised from the dead, we were as well. This is the good news. As dead in transgressions as we were, Christ became. He died. He died a sinner. But he rose again, and all death that was once ours was also shed when we rose with him. This is grace because it was done for us while we were yet sinners. We were loved while in a state of unloveliness.

But he made us lovely.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called children of God.

It is no longer correct to view oneself as depraved or sick or unworthy. You and I are not perverse. We are legally exactly as God intends us to be. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. He has redeemed you and seated you in the kingdom of God. He has called you his own. He has loved you, and it is the love within his eternal being that makes this sure.

Nothing that you can do, nowhere you can go, nothing you can say will reduce this love. It is not of yourself. It is of God. He loves you.

He loves you.

A being so infinitely powerful and mighty and transcendent as a Creator loves you. No matter how changing or uncertain you may be, he is not. There is no shifting shadow in the Father of lights. He remains the same, and how he remains is in love with you.

Where you came from is of no concern. Some come to the cross with a background of near-perfect religious morality. Some come to the cross without any prior knowledge of faith. Both are redeemed.

The previous covenant required obedience and genealogy. Before Christ, the people of God were a specifically chosen nation, set apart by strict laws that identified them as different and holy. All of this has been fulfilled in the perfect Jewish man, Jesus Christ. He lived every piece of the story of God's people, and his resurrected life offered is now offered to all.

In Christ we are grafted into the family of God. Our adoption in Christ nullifies anything that would previously separate us. Anything in our background that we've done or has been done to us is void. Our family and heritage, such as it is, will not make us worthy or unworthy of the love of God. His love consumes it all. His adoption is entirely in himself. We have nothing to bring, and everything to gain.

We are not strangers to anyone in this new body of Christ, this new family of God. Born into resurrection life, we are all made family.

And it is within this family, alive on Earth, that God himself dwells and through it he makes himself known to the world.


vv8-11 - though we were completely undeserving and in fact unable to do anything to save ourselves, God's gift of grace has rescued us. We receive this grace by believing in God's promises in Christ, and are set free to live the real living life that he intended for us to begin with.

v16 - through Jesus, there should be no hostility between us and Jewish people.

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