In our study of Ephesians chapter two, we will look at how God has joined Jew and Gentile to build His new temple. We will look at how God has done this and what it means to us today.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
By "you", Paul means all of us and we were dead spiritually (separated from God). The ruler of the air that he is talking about is Satan and it reminds us that there really is only two options; you follow Satan or Jesus and there is no middle ground. There are many that have taken passages like this and put all of their effort into ensuring that they do not commit one sin or another but what "followed the ways" means is a thing of the heart. We may not commit one sin or another but would you like to? The only way we overcome any sin is through a change of heart and not by our own will power.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Paul includes himself in this and says that we were following the cravings of our flesh. James also described this condition in chapter two of his letter contained in the Bible. It is easy for us, as people, to put some Christian leaders up on a pedestal and forget that they were once in this same condition. The really great leaders, like Paul, humble themselves and point out that they are a part of the "all of us" that he describes here.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.
This passage gives us three very important terms that we must understand to really appreciate God and what He has done for us. The first is love and we see that it is giving the ultimate gift to one that is your enemy. We throw the term around these days and its meaning has been diminished in our culture but that is the standard for love. The second term is mercy and it simply means that a punishment that is deserved is not given. The penalty for sin is and always was death but God's mercy is that He does not kill us. The third term is grace and that describes how God gives us what we do not deserve (a gift). Instead of the death that we deserve, God gives us life and that demonstrates His grace.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Christ was resurrected from the dead and raised up as the firstfruits of the earth. We, too, are raised up with and through Him and have access to the Father.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. The standard for salvation is and was perfect obedience and none of us meet that standard. Therefore, we do not have any reason to boast about what we have done. Instead, we accept the gift of God which is salvation through His Son, Jesus.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
After accepting that gift of salvation, we all have work to do. Many are looking for a purpose to their lives and the simple answer is that we were "created in Christ Jesus to do good works". Paul tells us here that God has already prepared things for us to do even before we have accepted His grace. It is tough to wrap your mind around but God knew you and I from the beginning of creation. He knew that we would become His children and He prepared things for us to do throughout our time here on earth as well as in eternity. This was even demonstrated in the meaning of the gates to the city of Jerusalem (see our study of Nehemiah 3).
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Paul is reminding the Ephesians (and us as well) that because of God's grace we have righteousness and the ability to enter into God's presence. Paul reminds us that because of our natural birth we were separate from God's people (the Jews) and we were excluded from the promises that were made to them by God. We were not even allowed in His temple to worship Him (see Acts 22 for a look at what happened when Paul was accused of taking a Gentile into the temple). But, because of the blood of Jesus, we have been made a party to his New Covenant and promises.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
Under the law it was impossible to reconcile Jews and Gentiles but through Jesus it was accomplished. He destroyed the barrier and has made us all a part of His family. There is constantly one peace plan or another being offered today between Israel and the Palestinians but, as we see here, the only way to have peace is through Jesus Christ.
by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, made it possible for there to be peace between Jews and Gentiles. By keeping the Law perfectly, He became the perfect sacrifice and made a way for all of us to have a right relationship with God. That relationship is one of Father and children and allows us to call each other brother and treat each other as such.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Paul reminds the Ephesians, and us as well, that Jesus shared His message with both Jews and Gentiles. He went into the temple and shared the news as well as meeting with Gentiles on the way. The message was the same no matter who He spoke to and always pointed the way to the Father and how everyone could have peace with God.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Both Jews and Gentiles can become children of God. As children of God, we have the same access to the Father. That access is through the gift of the Holy Spirit which is our Counselor and Comforter.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
Since there is only one God, then, we are all His and members of the same house (family). Jews and Gentiles alike are a part of that same family as we all come into His house in the same way.
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Every house has some type of foundation which supports the weight of the rest of the home. Here, we are told that the House of God is built on the apostles, prophets, and Jesus. The thing that all of them have in common is that they all proclaimed the Word of God which always pointed to the Chief Cornerstone which is Jesus.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Through Jesus, all believers are joined together to form the temple called the Body of Christ. Individually, we each are also a dwelling where God lives through the Holy Spirit. There can be so much comfort in the fact that God is with you and inside you through His Spirit. The question that you must ask yourself is: Got the Spirit? If you do, then you are a temple and a part of the complete temple of God here on earth.