1 You were dead in your transgressions and sins 2 in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so no one may boast. 10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

11 Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands, 12 were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, 15 abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. 21 Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; 22 in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.



  • Iin Ephesians, as is typical for Paul's letters, the theology comes first, then the specific direction. Thus the letter can be divided simply:
    • Theology (chapters 1-3). This lays the foundation. It is not optional, but vital. Not understanding the foundation, or spiritual lives will not be stable!
    • Direction (chapters 4-5). Building on the foundation -- in light of the great truths presented -- the second part tells us how we should be living.
  • Chapter 1 detailed many wonder things the Lord has done for us. Chapter 2 continues the emphasis, with special focus on the fact that God has brought the Gentiles (this includes most of the Christians in Ephesus / other cities that received the letter) into his covenant people.
  • Before we were Christians, we were in deep trouble!
    • We were dead in transgressions. This is a metaphor.
    • We were following the path of Satan.
    • We did what our flesh desired. The flesh is not a "sinful nature" (NIV), but our desire for personal autonomy, our rebellious tendency.
    • We were objects of God's wrath -- by consistently rejecting God's way.
  • But the God of mercy and grace raised us from death to life (vv.4-7)!
    • God blessed us not because we were good, but because he is good.
    • The good things we experience now are just the appetizer. In the coming ages he will give us much more.
  • What is the gift of God (v.8): grace? faith?
    • In the context of Ephesians 2, it is salvation. This is nothing we could obtain for ourselves (v.9). Salvation, in this sense, is unconditional.
    • And yet, in another sense there are conditions.
      • The Lord expects a lifestyle change (v.10). We are to live for him, doing the works that please him: Romans 13:11; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Philippians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
      • And of course, without repentance, baptism, and perseverance (Hebrews 3:14), we will not be saved at the Last Day.
  • Paul reminds them of their Gentile past (v.11ff).
    • (Not that the Jews were always necessarily circumcised with the true circumcision. See Romans 2:25-29; Jeremiah 4:4; etc).
    • The Gentiles were once Christless, godless, hopeless.
    • But through Christ's redeeming blood they have come into the presence of God. Christ's death obliterated the distinction between Jew and Gentile. See Matthew 27:51; Colossians 2:13-14.
    • They used to be in a state of enmity with God, not just towards the Jews.
    • No longer is the law the basis of our approach to God (v.15).
    • There is now one body of Christ, not a Jewish body and a Gentile body. There is unity.
    • The Gentile's salvation is possible only because of the cross.
  • Jesus "preached peace to you who were far off [the Gentiles] and peace to those who were near [the Jews]" (v.17). How do we have access to the father?
    • Through the Spirit (v.18). No longer does any man need to come to God through priests, sacrifices, or rituals.
      • These are all features of the old law.
      • And yet many denominations have brought them back in! (Priesthood, altars, sacrifices, elaborate ceremonies, and manmade rules.)
    • Peace means that relations between Gentiles and Jews have been fundamentally altered.
      • There is no more animosity. By the first century AD there was enormous ill will on the part of many Jews towards Gentiles and Samaritans!
      • No longer are Gentiles aliens.
      • The relationship is even more intimate: they are members of the same spiritual family.
  • There is no access to God except by the Spirit of God (v.18). That is why it is so important to receive the Spirit (Acts 5:32, 2:38) and live by the Spirit (Romans 8).
  • There is a new household of God.
    • It is built on the foundation of the NT apostles and the New Testament prophets (see 3:5, 4:11).
    • Christ Jesus is the capstone (cornerstone).
    • It is a temple, though not a physical building.
    • It "grows." It is an organic and dynamic building, not a static entity.
  • Ephesians centers on the church of Christ, his universal and spiritual body. This is the grand theme of this epistle.


  • "Children of wrath" (v.3) is a Hebraic way  of saying that we belonged to the category of those under the wrath of God. It is somewhat like Jesus calling some of the Jews "children of the devil" (John 8).
  • "By nature" (v.3) has two possibilities.
    • We were born damned -- innately deserving punishment even before we had done anything right or wrong. This was the position of Augustine and Calvin, and is a doctrine of Reform Theology.
    • Our sinful ways became "second nature" to us, and thus corrupted, we deserved punishment. The Greek can support either view, though the second view is strongly to be preferred (in light of God's justice).
  • On the theme of grace, some reading recommendations:
    • Strong in the Grace, by Thomas Jones.
    • What's So Amazing About Grace, by Philip Yancey.
    • The Guilty Soul's Guide to Grace, by Samuel Laing.
  • "Far off" (v.13) and "brought near" refer to the Gentile's theological distance from God. See Acts 2:39 -- "for all who are far off." See also verse 17.
  • The dividing wall of enmity was not just a theological barrier. There was a literal barrier in the Jerusalem Temple, with some 10 warning notices posted, to keep the Gentiles out of the Court of the Israelites -- under pain of death!
  • The area of theology centered on the church is ecclesiology, from the Greek ekklesia, meaning "assembly."

Thought questions:

  • How clearly do I remember what it was like to be an outsider to the family of God
  • How much do I appreciate God's grace? Does it motivate me to try to discover the good works that God has prepared for me?
  • Do I feel honored and privileged to have access to the highest power and authority in the universe?