THE DOCTRINE OF

SALVATION BY GRACE

 

Although Paulís correspondence with the churches at Rome and Galatia emphasized justification, the second chapter of his letter to the Ephesians focuses on salvation. While justification has to do with our standing before God, and the fact that it is faith in Christ that makes us righteous in His sight; salvation has to do with our final state, and "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (verse 7, Romans 3:28, Galatians 3:6, John 3:16).

Ephesians 2:

1 ∂ And he has given you life, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 In which you formerly walked according to the way of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:

3 Among whom we all likewise formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

4 ∂ But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love for us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And has raised us up together with him, and made us sit with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

[Comment: In these verses Paul reminds us that even though we were spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (verse 1), and "by nature the children of wrath" (verse 3), we have been "raised" from spiritual death to new life in Christ, solely by Godís grace (verses 5-6). (Godís "grace" is His mercy and love, compare verses 4 and 5).]

[Note: Verse 6 The spiritual transformation, from being dead in sin to new life in Christ, is the first resurrection (See Colossians 2:12 and 3:1, Revelation 20:5-6).]

8 For you are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

  1. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that God determined in advance that we should do.
  2. [Comment: These verses tell us that we are saved by grace, that we receive that grace through faith (verse 8, Galatians 3:6), that it is the gift of God not something we earn (verses 8-9, Romans 6:23), and that the good works that follow salvation are a fruit of faith, not something that we do to be saved (verse 10, Ephesians 5:9).]

  3. ∂ Therefore remember, that formerly you being Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcised by those who call themselves the Circumcision (that in the flesh made by hands);
  4. 12 Remember that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

  5. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away are made near by the blood of Christ.

[Comment: Again Paul reminds his readers that even though they were Gentiles who were totally unworthy of any blessing, without hope, "and without God" (verses 11-12), they were reconciled to God by the blood of Christ (verse 13).]

14 ∂ For he is our peace, who has made both Jew and Gentile one, and has broken down the wall of hostility that separated us;

15 Having abolished in his flesh the law of commandments contained in ordinances; in order to make of the two one new body in him, so making peace;

16 And that he might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having thereby put the hostility to death:

17 And came and preached peace to you that were far away, and to them who were near.

  1. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

[Comment: Through Christís sacrifice we have peace with God and are no longer cut off from His kingdom (verse 14), for He has abolished the hostility (enmity) caused by the law (verse 15), so that both Jew and Gentile might be reconciled to God by His death on the cross (verse 16). Through faith in Him, we both have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit (verse 18).]

19 For that reason you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and the household of God;

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

21 In whom the entire building fitly bound together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord:

  1. In whom you are also built together as a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.

[Comment: Therefore, being reconciled to God by the blood of Christ, we are no longer "strangers and foreigners" [i.e. Gentiles], "but fellow citizens" of Godís kingdom (the spiritual Israel, Romans 2:28-29, verse 19). For we are all "built together" as living stones (verse 21, 1Peter 2:5), Jesus Christ being the "chief corner stone" (verse 20), that all believers together (the spiritual Israel, Luke 17:21), might be a "holy temple" (dwelling place) of God (verse 22).]

CONCLUSION

Paul begins by reminding the Ephesians of their background, and the fact that they were in no way worthy of salvation, in order to remind them that God saved them solely by His grace, which they received through faith in Christ, not works. He then goes on to make it clear that even though the law separated gentiles from Israel in the past; because it is not the law, but faith in Christ, that makes us acceptable to God, Jewish and Gentile believers now both have equal status as citizens of Godís heavenly kingdom (the true Israel, verse 19, Romans 2:28-29, Luke 17:21).

Gary Ray Branscome