As you read Ephesians 2:1-22, seek to answer this question: What has God done for us through His Son Jesus Christ?
“But God … .” Those two words must be the most hope-filled ones known to humankind. In Ephesians 2:1-10,
Paul describes the grim past of his audience. Sharing the plight of all humanity, they were bent toward rebellion against God, their lives dominated by sin and Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3). “But God, who is rich in mercy … . ” And what did God do for them and for us? 1. He made us alive with Christ — Christ’s resurrection is our own. 2. He raised us up with Christ — Christ’s ascension is our own. 3. In heaven, he seated us with Christ — Christ’s coronation is our own (Ephesians 2:4-7). We are not just bystanders to the cosmos-shifting events of Christ’s life! God takes these remarkable actions, not because of any merit in us, but because of His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), and He intends believers to live in solidarity with Jesus and practice “good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
If Ephesians 2:1-10 teaches that we live in solidarity with Jesus, Ephesians 2:11-22 teaches that we live in solidarity with others as part of His church. Jesus’ death has both vertical benefits, establishing the believer’s relationship with God (Ephesians 2:1-10), and horizontal ones, cementing our relationships with others (Ephesians 2:11-22). Through His cross, Jesus demolishes all that divides Gentile believers from Jewish ones, including the misuse of the Law to widen the gulf (Ephesians 2:11-18). Jesus also builds something — an amazing, new temple composed of believers. Gentiles, once excluded from worship in sacred places of the temple, now join Jewish believers in becoming one. We too become part of God’s church, a “holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Through the grace of God, you have the privilege of living this day in solidarity with Jesus and your fellow believers.
Ephesians 2:8-10 has played a role in the conversion of many. Martin Luther found in these verses a grace that won his heart, and he discovered as well some central affirmations of the Reformation: salvation comes by faith alone, through grace alone, by Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone. In 1738, eighteen days after experiencing conversion in London’s Aldersgate Street, John Wesley preached at Oxford University, offering “a cry from the heart” and “the manifesto of a new movement.” His text? Ephesians 2:8. (See A. Skevington Wood, “Strangely Warmed: The Wesleys and the Evangelical Awakening,” Christian History [magazine], vol. 5, no. 1 ).