Ephesians 2 - Grace who's she?
Get this, and you get the gospel
This has got to be one of my favourite passages of scripture (and honestly, I’m not just saying that!). Read it. My words alone won’t do it justice, but I hope they may help you to grasp and treasure what Paul said in this letter.
It ultimately all comes down to one word: Grace.
The unmerited, unearned generosity of a God who is rich in mercy and who loves us tremendously.
Get this, and you get the gospel.
Paul writes that “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked”. The severity of our condition is what made the deliverance all the more glorious. We didn’t just make mistakes, say some mean things, do some things wrong. We were spiritually dead and Paul writes we were by nature “children of wrath”. These are Paul’s words not mine! That might sound a bit harsh to you, and I don’t find it easy to say, but Paul is telling us, even if we didn’t realise it, before we came to know God, the reality is we were spiritually dead. And if we are dead, we can’t make ourselves alive. If you are dead, you are dead, you have no power or strength to raise yourself. That is why it follows that in verse five Paul tells us God made us alive.
We have done nothing to earn it, we have done nothing to deserve it, God in his love for us, brought us to Him
In this passage, Paul is telling us something profoundly important about how we came to faith and find salvation. “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” We are saved by grace alone, through faith. We have done nothing to earn it, we have done nothing to deserve it, God in his love for us, brought us to Him, and we are saved because of his loving kindness and bountiful generosity.
In the second half of the chapter, Paul underlines what is means to be saved by grace, in reminding the Ephesians what barriers stood in the way. The chances are, if you are reading this, you are what the Bible would call a Gentile: someone who is not Jewish. And before Jesus came, the only way to God was through the covenant to the Jewish people, built upon the law, sealed in circumcision. This meant that Gentiles had in Paul’s words “no hope” (verse 12) of knowing God and his love. But Paul tells the Ephesians and indeed us that no longer the law and commandments are a barrier to God and only because of Jesus. This was Paul’s mission in life, to share this open way to God with the world. So much so that Paul was willing to give up all his Jewish heritage and keeping of the law for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:2-11).
our salvation is not the result of our works, our deeds, the things we do. It is a gift, a gift given in grace.
No longer did we have to keep the law (an impossible task – Romans 3:23). No longer did we have to do anything to be saved. Paul tells us, our salvation is not the result of our works, our deeds, the things we do. It is a gift, a gift given in grace. That might sound perhaps unfair, but Paul writes that it is “so that no one may boast”. None of us can claim we are better than any other, Christian or not. For we didn’t save ourselves, or raise ourselves from our spiritual slumber, God did it, “because of the great love with which he loved us”. And perhaps that gives us the perfect sense of worth and peace of mind, the fact we don’t have to depend on ourselves but trust in God’s unchanging love.
Some people don’t like the idea of depending on somebody else, the prospect of becoming dependent can sometimes seem frightening. But this is what God offered us with his son Jesus. Rather than being trapped by our own efforts and attempts to justify ourselves, God offers us freedom. We don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus was perfect for us. We were saved by unmerited grace alone.
Get this, and you get the gospel.