Ephesians 2:2

Here is my commentary on Ephesians2:2. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 2:2

“ … in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is still at work in those who are disobedient.”

We used to live in “sins and transgressions” until Christ set us free. We all have a history “Before Christ”, and when we are tempted to judge others from a position of self-righteousness, it is good to remember that we, too, once lived in sin.

Sin is so all-encompassing that it is no exaggeration to say that we once lived in it. Sin is like the air around us. It is always there even if we are not aware of it.

Sin is living for ourselves without reference to God’s will. In parts of the Bible it is described as lawlessness, rebellion, and witchcraft. When we live for ourselves without reference to the Lord, we are truly living in sin.

We used to follow the ways of the world before Christ came in.

Those who live in the world have their ways, just as christians have their ways. Whereas christians leave to serve Christ, the people of the world live to serve themselves. Vices are renamed virtues. Sins are redefined to make them more palatable.

The word “world” is not the physical planet on which we live, but the masses of humanity who go their own way, ignorant or rebellious against God.

God loves the world so much that He sent his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God loves the world, but the world does not love God. The world sets up its systems which deliberately exclude God.

The people who follow the ways of the world live for themselves. They work for money that does not last; their priorities can be summed up in the proverb, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Their attitude is to live life to the fullest because they see no prospect for eternity.

The people of the world think that they are being wise in their own ways, walking in their own freedom. Yet they are directed by the” ruler of the kingdom of the air.” The kingdom of the air is satan’s realm. It is the second heaven according to some people, the first being the celestial realm of the sun, moon and stars.

When people live for themselves, they are living for Satan. Despite their claims to be free, they are in the deepest of bondage. Having abandoned any sense of duty to their Creator, they have fallen into captivity to the devil.

That is why the world always sets itself in opposition to Christians. This is why so many Christians around the world face severe persecution. This is why society loves all manner of perversion and decadence, and they hate the church.

Those who walk in the ways of the world are really being directed by satan who is the ruler of the kingdom of the air. We cannot ever expect anything different. Sinful people, unredeemed people, sin because they are separated from God and in fellowship with Satan.

Many Christians are unaware of the spiritual war that they are fighting. This will be discussed in Ephesians 6 where the nature of the war is elaborated. For now we must recognise that the war is being waged, and humans are the prize on both sides.

There is no neutrality in this war. Satan will destroy everyone regardless of whether they are fighting for him or ignorant of him. He leaves alone those who are already on the path to hell. He takes great delight in causing suffering and distress to those whom he considers his enemies.

Those who are disobedient to God are those who allow the spirits of evil to work in their lives. The more determined people are to oppose God, the more they have allowed the spirits to work in them and through them.

People indulge in all kinds of evil acts including violence, sexual perversion, lust, theft, fraud, blasphemy and so on. They argue that anything is justified as long as nobody gets hurt. They overlook the fact that any act of disobedience causes hurt to someone even if it is only the disobedient person.

Human beings were created in the image of God. We are created for his purposes and any disobedience to God is a denial of our reason for being. We mar that image that is in our hearts whenever we indulge our selfish desires.

Acts of disobedience amongst christians are acts of surrender to the evil one. We deny our Creator and Redeemer. We turn away from the path of separation to God and back to the ways of the world which lead to bondage and captivity.

Key points in this verse:

  • We were once Sinners but have been set free by Christ.
  • Sin is following the ways of the world
  • Whether by intent or in ignorance, the world sets itself in opposition to God
  • God loves the world but the world does not love God
  • Those who live in the world are really in bondage to satan who is the ruler of the kingdom of the air
  • We are in spiritual war and need to be aware of this
  • Following the ways of the world leads to disobedience
  • We are created for God’s purposes and must obey him

Ephesians 2:1

Here is my commentary on Ephesians2:1. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 2:1

As for you, you were once dead in your transgressions and sins.

The gospel is deeply personal. It is not a theory or a general culture. You are either in or out. You either believe in Christ and receive his forgiveness, or you do not believe t and consequently remain on the outside of the Kingdom.

We have many opinions on issues that do not directly affect us, but the gospel is different. “As for you,” Paul says. We saw in the very first verse of chapter one that this letter is directed “to the saints,” that he is those who have responded to the gospel and now are God’s holy, or set apart, people.

This is me, and you, (assuming you are born again). It is us, the church, the ones called out and sanctified by Christ .

We all need to make a decision to follow Christ if we are to be saved and be a part of God’s kingdom.

It affects people who hear the gospel and respond to it as individuals, but are then counted as part of the organic body of Christ.

“You were once dead in your sins & transgressions.”

We were once dead. I was dead in my sins, but now I am alive in Christ. I was the condemned man on the way to the execution chamber, a dead man walking.

But then I stopped being dead. Christ came into my life and moved me from the “dead” column to the “alive” column. The condemned man is set free, declared innocent. Now instead of being dead, on a relentless conveyor belt to hell, I am alive, rescued by Christ.

Countless millions of people are dead men and women walking. Their hearts beat and their bodies move, but they are dead in their sins.

So we used to be! But now I am alive in Christ. The sins that hung around my neck, pulling me inexorably into the depths have been cut off and carried away by Christ.

We were once dead in our transgressions and sins.

The word for transgressions here suggests an accidental breaking of the law- stumbling aside, a false step.

When I am driving, sometimes I don’t notice that I’m going down hill and my speed has increased above the speed limit. Someone coming into the country doesn’t recognise that we have strict laws about what may be brought in. They might have some food product that is prohibited and forget to declare it on the card.

In both cases the law has been broken, but not intentionally.

It is these transgressions that Paul says have kept us in death. I did not know God’s requirements, so I failed. I tried to live a good life, but I am not perfect.

Intentions are not what matters. I have broken God’s holy law, falling short of his glory. I have failed to live up to His standards.

The cumulative effect of my transgressions has made me dead spiritually. I was estranged from God by my breaching of His law.

The word for sins means to miss the mark or to fall short. This is more serious because it suggests wilfulness. We know what we should do but we refuse to do it. It is rebellion against God’s will.

We are all born in sin. We all have that sinful nature handed down from Adam and Eve. We refused to do what God wants us to do.

This outright rebellion moves us away from God, the source of all life, and so we die.

In the previous analogy of driving, sin is when I decide to recklessly ignore the speed limit. I know I should drive at less than 60 km per hour, but I choose to drive at 100 kilometres per hour. My action is a total disregard for the law, and now renders me likely to have a crash.

Sin is when we know what we should do and wilfully do the opposite. It kills us and those around us.

I was once dead in my sins and transgressions, but now, thank God, I am alive because of what Christ has done.

This Is a miracle. It is only God who can turn death into life. It is only God who can raise up the dead person and breathe into them the breath of life.

Key points in this verse:
The gospel is personal and we must have apply it to our own lives.

We were once dead but we are now alive in Christ.

We can accidentally transgress God’s laws or deliberately break them but the result either way is the same – death.

Ephesians 1:21

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:21. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:21

[Christ is] far above all rule and authority and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, humbled Himself and became a human being. He subjected himself to a fleshly body and lived amongst us as a normal person.

Then He willingly offered himself as a sacrifice to be crucified as atonement for every sin ever committed throughout human history.

He lowered himself, submitting to the authority of people- parents, priests, religious leaders, teachers, even to the corrupt and illegitimate civil leaders such as King Herod and Pontius Pilate.

He was beneath the rulers and dominions, authority and powers, both human and demonic. Those who condemned and crucified Christ were not acting on their own volition. Each was encouraged, motivated and directed by spiritual powers aiming to get rid of Christ before he could inaugurate His kingdom.

There is the irony of the crucifixion . it was God’s plan from the beginning, but satan thought he was destroying the Messiahs mission.

On the cross, Christ had no power. He was utterly humiliated, “under” the rulers and authorities.

Then came the resurrection. Where satan had tried to kill Christ, the resurrection proved that sin and death were what was killed.

Now Christ is exalted, lifted high above the powers, the lords, the rulers, and dominions. He sits at the right hand of the Father and reigns over all creation.

His name is higher than every name that is named. Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords, and every mouth will confess him.

He is the highest name in all Creation, and it is no surprise that since satan can no longer destroy Christ, he takes out his venom on the name of Christ.

Blasphemy, the use of the name of the Lord as a curse, is increasing and is more acceptable in public life. You may demean the name of Christ without repercussion, but to demean the name of Mohamed will call down the wrath of the state and its cohorts such as media personalities etc.

Satan is also attacking those who carry the name of Christ. The exact form that persecution takes varies from place to place. In the West we have various formal and informal ways of ensuring that christians keep their faith out of the public square.

In some countries, the government is the cause of all kinds of suffering for christians. In Muslim countries, persecution comes at the hands of civil and religious leaders, and often from families.

In all of these ways, satan seeks to destroy the name of Christ wherever it is lifted up.

Paul says that Christ’s name is higher than any name in this age and in the age to come.

We might fear that satan will continue to hold some kind of influence in the resurrection age. The scriptures make it clear that satan will have no influence in the age to come. He will be consigned to the Lake of Fire, with all his followers, never to be allowed to wreak havoc again.

Those who will rise in the coming age will be those who follow Jesus in this age. If the citizens of the new Kingdom are submitted to the King, then there is no name that can rival his name, in heaven or on earth.

For eternity Christ will reign over all things- although it does say later that Christ will hand all things over to the Father. No name will come near to the name of Christ. No created being, earthly or heavenly, will seek to seize power in the Kingdom in the way that satan once did full stop

Key points in this verse:

  • Jesus humbled himself, being subject to all authority
  • Now Christ is exalted over every ruler and authority
  • No created thing will be able to place itself above Christ
  • satan seeks to remove the highest name, the name of Christ, by turning it into a curse, and by destroying those who bear the name of Christ.

Ephesians 1:20

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:20. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:20

[… The working of His great strength] which he exerted in Christ when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.

Verse 19 was a continuation of Paul’s prayer that our eyes would be enlightened to see God’s great power for us who believe.

He now goes on to say this mighty power that God has placed in us is like the power that he exerted In Christ when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.

God has placed in us the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

The resurrection was an incomparable event in the history of the world. There has never been anything like it.

Jesus was beaten, scourged, and crucified. He was dead, and His body was thoroughly broken. Yet in the space of 36 hours, he came back to life- not just reanimated in the old body that had died on the cross, but with a new body that was strong and healthy.

Whether we think of God’s power in the physical sense or as a spiritual force pressing into the natural realm, this is mighty strength.

Bur this is nothing to the God who created the world with a few words. God’s power is strong and mighty beyond our ability to imagine.

Some people try to explain away the resurrection in various ways. To do this is to miss the point. Nothing is too hard for God, not even death itself.

The resurrection was not just a physical miracle, impressive as that is. Jesus died because of our sin. The cross could not kill Him, but when he took the weight of our sins, the death penalty for everyone, that was the cause of death.

The resurrection stripped away the burden of sin and death, and made them of no effect. satan sought to hold Christ captive, but he was no match for the Lord.

Resurrection power was God’s strength to destroy both sin and death.

Having raised Jesus from the dead, God executed a different kind of power when he lifted Jesus to Heaven. Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven.

Physically, the ascension was not a great deal to the Father. It was just a transportation issue.

The ascension of Jesus to heaven and His sitting at the right hand of the Father is a massive spiritual victory.

Firstly, it represents satan’s total defeat. satan sought to take for himself the place of highest honour. Denied that, he took the role of accuser. Now he is just a thief and destroyer.

Jesus overcame satan at every turn. When satan tempted Him in the wilderness, Jesus won by the word. When tempted in the garden of Gethsemane to pull back from the cross, He persevered faithfully.

Having been faithful to the cross, God raised Him to the highest place so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:8-11).

Jesus reigns over the world, especially the church. He will remain in this place of authority until the last enemy is conquered, and He will give it all back to the Father.

The power of the ascension, then, is a spiritual power and authority of cosmic governance in which satan is put in his rightful place forever.

The power of the resurrection and ascension dwell in us who believe. As stated previously, it is not a power for personal use alone, but a representative power to be used on behalf of, and in subjection to, Christ.

This power is given to us to enable us to

  • Preach the gospel
  • Heal the sick
  • Raise the dead
  • Decree spiritual truth
  • Pull down strongholds
  • Do all that Christ has commanded us to

This power, mediated by the Holy Spirit, gives us all the power, grace, and authority we need to live in God’s kingdom and to extend the light into the darkness of satan’s strongholds.

Key points in this verse

  • God has placed the power of the resurrection in us
  • The resurrection is a sign of Christ’s victory over our sin
  • Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realm
  • satan’s attempt to usurp the throne of Christ has been defeated
  • The power that is in us enables us to fully obey Christ commands

Ephesians 1:19

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:19. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:19

[ that you may know]… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us to believe according to the workings of his great might.

Paul continues his prayer that we might know the hope to which Christ has called us. He is not talking about theology in these prayers but a heart-level knowledge, and transforming conviction that directs our lives.

Now he prays hat we might know the immeasurable greatness of his power.

In physics, power is defined as the rate at which reproduce or use energy to do work a 200 megawatt Power Station produces 200 megajoules of electricity every second. This is greatness of power.

Power in political terms is defined as the ability to influence others so that you can enact a political agenda. Some rulers exert great power, either for good or evil.

God’s power is immeasurable. He created the whole universe and everything that is seen and everything that is unseen. All of this was with the command of his voice. He spoke and it came to be.

It is possible to estimate the mass of the Universe and therefore calculate the energy of the whole of creation. Divide that by the few seconds that it took to speak the words, and that is huge, unimaginable power. But it is still measurable.

The greatness of God’s power is even greater – it is immeasurable. We can’t even guesstimate his power, because it will always be greater.

And the God who has that much physical power also has immeasurable political power. He could bend every king and president, in fact every person, to obey his will and follow his agenda for the nations.

But he does not want to do that. Instead, he uses the power of love, providing and enacting an agenda based on his love for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

For all the power at His command, He lays it all down in order to love His people

Then He places this immeasurable power in us – the creative, restorative, reconciling power of the Holy Spirit is placed in people who simply choose to lay down their own lives and to follow him.

We see glimpses of this immeasurable power in us when miracles happen. Miracles are actions that seem to contradict the law of nature. A house is saved in an earthquake because people pray. A person is healed of a rare and incurable cancer because people pray.

This immeasurable power in us is meant to be poured out to others as a sign of Gods love.

The power of love placed in our hearts also transforms the world. As we receive God’s love we learn to love the poor, serve the needy, console the hurting, and accept the rejected. The healing power of love turns these people, who were once far off, back to the kingdom of God, spreading this unstoppable movement of immeasurable power right through the world.

All of this is “ according to the workings of his great might.”

In all of this, God remains sovereign. There are times when there is no healing, no miracles. There are times when our best attempts at love are thrown back in our face .

Should we conclude that God’s immeasurable power is not so great? Of course not! It remains God’s power and is released according to His greatness.

Should we give up on praying for the sick, ministering to the poor, or preaching the gospel because things don’t turn out the way we think?

No! The power is God’s and remains subject to His will. The power is in us, but not ours to use as we wish. We are containers for the power of God’s might and His love, not the operators or owners of it.

We can make ourselves available to God for Him to work in the world. We cannot determine what He should do with that power. It remains “according to the working of his great power.”

The activity of God’s power remains a mystery, and out of our ability to control. We pray for this one, serve that one, and sometimes miracles occur. Sometimes they do not.

We should thank God that it is this way. Imagine the mess we would generate by being able to channel that “immeasurable power” to meet our own selfish purposes.

Key points in this verse:

  • God’s power is immeasurable, beyond our ability to even imagine
  • God’s power is physical and can restore, heal or destroy
  • God’s power is also persuasive through the power of His great love
  • God’s power is in us, but subject to his own control

Ephesians 1:18

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:18. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:18

“… having the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.”

This is a continuation of Paul’s prayer that we receive a revelation in the knowledge of God. Being such a long sentence it is very hard to keep track of all the relationships between the various parts of the prayer.

Paul prays that we may have the eyes of our hearts enlightened The gospel is a matter of the heart. Our relationship with God is a matter of the heart.

When people try to turn faith into a matter of knowledge, they turn the gospel into religion and strip it of all its power to transform the heart. When it becomes legalistic, the outward person is changed but not the inward person. When discipleship is turned into hierarchic power structures or other forms of power, the gospel is perverted.

It is the hear that must be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not measured by Bible knowledge or church attendance.

To be free form religion and to enter into a relationship with Christ, the eyes of our heart need to be enlightened. We need a revelation of God’s great love for us.

This is not something that we can work ourselves into. We cannot convince ourselves that God is love. The enlightening of the eyes of the heart comes as a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a self-revelation by the Father.

Our eyes need to be opened to see what is clearly before us. Paul tells us us in Romans 1 that the majesty of God is seen in creation. Sin has closed our eyes so we are blind to this, but the Holy Spirit can open our eyes so that we are receptive to the Father’s self-revelation.

We may know all the words of faith, we may even be able to perform miracles in the name of Jesus, but if our spiritual eyes are blind none of it makes sense to us; it is all a foreign language that we are yet to learn.

The purpose of the enlightenment of the eyes of our heart is so that we can know the hope to which God has called us.

Many people live with no hope because they do not know they are called. All they see is a meaningless life that ends with death.

But those who know Jesus have a hope. They have a hope for eternity, a life that doesn’t end. Existence finds its meaning only in the light of eternity.

Our hope is this- in the gospel we are reconciled to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ His Son. If we live with Christ we will rise with Him and live for ever with Him.

This is the hope to which we have been called.

In fact, the whole of humanity has been called to this hope. Sin separates us from God and blinds us to this calling. So many people fail to respond to God’s call, and consequently will not experience joy, either in this life or in the life to come.

How tragic it is to live a life that falls short in meaning, that is apart from the knowledge of the grace of God, and then to spend eternity separated from Him.

We are all called to this hope, but we don’t all respond to the call.

The third part of this prayer is that we might know what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.

The Passion Translation puts it this way. “The wealth of God’s glorious inheritance that He finds in us the holy ones.”

We are God’s inheritance. We are the chosen ones, the delight of the Lord.

Christians often focus on the fact that we are heirs of the kingdom. This says that it is also the other way around, that God is looking to us as His inheritance.

We are the gifts that God is seeking.

This often seems hard to understand as we can be so aware of our sin and weaknesses. All of that is covered over by the Blood of Christ. Now the Father is eagerly anticipating us as His gift to be received.

This applies to each one of us personally. I am the wealth of God’s inheritance, and so are you.

It also applies corporately. The whole church is God’s inheritance. We have a responsibility to honour the church, the collection of God’s people, as His inheritance. That is, if God sees the people who comprise the church as a valuable inheritance, then we should value it also.

Every saint is a treasure, even those we find it hard to get along with.

So we must not just honour our brothers and sisters. We must value them also.

When those saints come together in worship, what a treasure we have! Even if the musicians are not the top performers, the congregation all sing off-key and the preacher gives a mediocre message, still this is an immensely valuable treasure in the eyes of God.

Key points from this verse:

  • We must have the eyes of our heart enlightened.
  • Sin has closed our eyes to God’s self-revelation.
  • We have a living hope that sustains us
  • We are God’s inheritance
  • We must value other christians who are also God’s inheritance

Ephesians 1:17

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:17. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:17

… my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.

This is part of a much longer sentence in Greek that goes from verse 15 right through to verse 19.

Paul is saying that he prays constantly for the church at Ephesus, the saints. Part of that prayer is that God will give us a Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in our knowledge of Him.

Paul here affirms the christian doctrine of the Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned together here. All through the New Testament we see these statements about God’s three-fold nature- one God revealed in three “persons.” This is a mystery that is easy to state, but very difficult to understand.

This God is first of all the”God of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus speaks of God or the Father it is this God, the God of the Bible, that He refers to.

This God is not Allah, the god of the Muslims, nor is he one of the countless gods revered by Hindus, or any so-called god or goddess worshipped by pagans.

This God is the God revealed in the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Yahweh, the great “I AM.”

He is the Father of glory or “glorious Father.” The majesty or glory of God can only be imagined by the human mind. There are clues given to us in creation, but we need a revelation, an understanding that comes from the Holy Spirit and is planted into our spirit.

He is the Father because He brings all things into being. This is His nature- to create and relate. The Father is not distant as some imagine, but is always right near us,

The Father’s heart is for relationship with His creation, particularly with human beings. Like any earthly father, He is devastated by the sinfulness and waywardness of people, who prefer to go their own way rather than walking with Him in His love.

Jesus is given the title “the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord is, of course, the title of Yahweh in the Old Testament. To say “Jesus is Lord” is to confess that He is the one true God, that He is Yahweh.

To say that Jesus is Lord is to confess that I am not Lord, that Jesus has a claim to authority over me, that I recognise His right to direct me.

To call Jesus Christ the Lord is also to deny that any other person or ideology has the right to call themselves Lord. They might think they are like God, but in reality they are not.

So Paul’s prayer now is that we receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.

All wisdom ultimately comes from God. Wisdom is about applying our knowledge of God and of the world in such a way that God is glorified, and our lives reach their true potential in Him.

Human wisdom is not true wisdom unless it proceeds from the Holy Spirit. Human wisdom is concerned with making our lives effective in achieving our goals,

Human wisdom is about self- self-motivation, self-actualisation, self-esteem, self improvement- self, self, self.

The wisdom that comes from God puts its focus on the Lordship of Christ. Our lives achieve their true purpose as they are submitted to His Lordship.
Godly wisdom recognises that a kite flies best when it is tethered. Human wisdom seeks to achieve its selfish goals by cutting the string and flying free of constraints.

The Spirit also gives a revelation of God. There are many who claim to have a “revelation” of God, gods and spirits. Unless they are revealed by the Spirit of God, they are revelations of satan and come to bring deception not enlightenment.

Revelation that is from God comes through the Spirit of God. This is the same Spirit who inspired the writers of the Scriptures. No so-called revelation will contradict Scripture. No so-called revelation will encourage people to dishonour God by sinning.

The Spirit of revelation is also needed when we read the Bible. Many have read the Bible in a spirit of rebellion, and consequently they see just words from an ancient culture that has no connection today. But when we read the same words with the Holy Spirit guiding us, we find the words of eternal life.

We need the Spirit of revelation, the Holy Spirit, revealing the truth of God as we seek Him.

Key points from this verse:

  • God has revealed Himself as three in one- Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Jesus is Lord of all things because He is God
  • The Father brings all things into existence and desires relationship with us
  • If Jesus is Lord, then the claims of all other things to be “lords” are false claims
  • The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, revelation, and knowledge of God