Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:4. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy …
God loves us with great love (a more literal rendering of this phrase) and is rich in mercy.
We need to always bear in mind that it is God who is the subject of our salvation. It is God who takes the decisive action to put to rights our terrible predicament regarding sin.
The previous verse talks about how we once lived in our sins and transgressions. We were objects of wrath.
God intervenes to deal with sin. We might expect that his intervention to fix sin and to deal with the objects of his wrath wold be to pour and judgement and punishment on these sinners .
But God acts first out of his great love and his rich mercy .
The Lord takes the initiative and God the Son becomes a human being. Jesus comes into the world to effect salvation for all who put their trust in him.
God acts from love and mercy, not from judgement or vengeance. This is not to say that there is no judgement for those who remain in sin. God’s love at this time does not mean that he’s gone soft on sin. Far from it! He took the fall; He paid the price; He gave up everything in the hope of rescuing some.
God loves us with great love.
The love that God shows us is, in Greek, agape. This is love that is poured out for the sake of the person who is loved. God’s love does not wax or wane depending on our response to him. He loves the greatest sinner just as much as he loves the greatest saint.
Agape love is love that says, “ I love you regardless of what you do or do not do for me.” Agape love is the reckless love of the father in the parable of the prodigal son.
Some people infer that because God’s love is unwavering and independent of the response of its object, that this agape love is unemotional. Gods love is not subject to ups and downs in the ways human love may be, but that does not make it unemotional. God’s love Is love, not a rational, intellectual, dispassionate exercise of good thoughts to us.
The Old Testament reveals the Lord as a God whose love for his people is passionate and emotional. He describes himself as a husband who is jealous for his wife Israel .
God loves us with a great love. His love is not stingy or doled out by the teaspoonful. God’s love is lavish, immense, never ending. Nobody can tell how high or deep or wide or long is God’s love for us. The cross gives us a picture of His love in that God has laid down his own life for us.
God loves his creation, especially people whom he made in his own image. He has an abundance of love for us, love that never runs out. Even when he judges people, it will be from a position first of love.
God is rich in mercy.
We deserve to be punished for our many sins and transgressions. At one time we lived in sin. It was our lifestyle; we were unrepentant and just didn’t care. Perhaps we did not know we were sinners.
God’s mercy is seen in the way he defers punishment. He did not strike us down immediately after our first sin, not even after our first thousand sins. Although our first sin was enough to condemn us, he gave us chance after chance after chance to turn away from our wickedness. In fact, he gives every person their entire lifetime to come to a place of recognising that they are a sinner.
Gods mercy is seeing also in that the defers final judgement so that as many people as possible may be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Judgement against the world’s wickedness will come, but the Lord holds back, waiting for the fullness of his kingdom to be filled .
God’s mercy is seen also in the fact that he freely welcomes us into his family. When we repent and turn to him, the record of sin is deleted instantly. There is no qualifying period, no need to meet certain standards of behaviour.
Sometimes law courts give a suspended sentence. A person may be sentenced to prison, but it is suspended for a time period. If the criminal commits no further crimes in that suspension period, his prison term is revoked. But if any offence is committed, the full prison sentence must be served.
But God wipes away our sins immediately. We don’t have to be perfect for a year before we qualify. God’s mercy is instant and covers all of our sins, past and future.
God is rich in mercy. He has so much mercy to give away, there is more than enough to go around. When Jesus fed the 5000 people, the abundance or richness of the miracle was seen in the fact that everybody had enough to eat and there was much more left over than was present to start off with.
God has more than enough mercy to go around. Because he loves us with great love, he is prepared to forgive our sins and failures repeatedly and often. The only requirement is that we seek his grace.
Gods mercy is so rich that he forgives the sins we forget to confess. Some people obsess about ”keeping short accounts with God”, that is looking for every misdemeanour and offence they might have committed, so they can confess it all to God. We must not be afraid of overlooking something that God might hold against us.
God is rich in mercy, rich enough to forgive the greatest and least of sins, those we confess and those we forget to confess. He loves us with great love.
Key points in this verse
- God loves us with great love
- God initiates our salvation; we respond to him.
- God deals with sin by paying for it Himself
- God’s love, agape love, flows to us whether we respond or not.
- God is passionately in love with us
- God is rich in mercy
- God delights to welcome sinners into his family
- God has more than enough mercy to go around