Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
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(10) We are his workmanship.—This verse, on the contrary, is unique and remarkable, characteristic of the idea with which this Epistle starts—the election and predestination of God, making us what we are—and applying it very strikingly, not only to the first regeneration, but even to the good works which follow it. The word rendered “workmanship” is only used elsewhere in Romans 1:20, where it is applied to the “works” of God in creation. Probably here also it does not exclude our first creation. We are His wholly and absolutely. But the next clause shows that St. Paul refers especially to the “new creation” in Christ Jesus.

Created in Christ Jesus.—This creation, when spoken of distinctively, is the “new creation” (2Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15); as, indeed, is the case below (Ephesians 2:15), “to create in Himself . . . one new man.” In this passage, however, St. Paul dwells, not on distinction from the old creation, but rather on analogy to it; in both we are simply God’s creatures.

Unto good works.—Properly, on the basis (or, condition) of good works (as in Galatians 5:13; 1Thessalonians 4:17; 2Timothy 2:14). The good works, in themselves future, being (as the next clause shows) contemplated as already existent in God’s foreknowledge, and as an inseparable characteristic of the regenerate life.

Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.—There is, perhaps, in all Scripture, no stronger expression of the great mystery of God’s predestination; for it is here declared in reference, not only to the original call and justification and regeneration of the soul, but also to the actual good works, in which the free-will and energy of man are most plainly exercised; and in which even here we are said not to be moved, but “to walk” by our own act. In much the same sense St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Philippians (Ephesians 3:12-13), uses the well-known paradox, “Work out your own salvation . . . , for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Both truths—God’s preordination and man’s responsible freedom—are emphasised. For the reconcilement of the two we must wait till we “know even as we are known.”

(2 a.) Ephesians 2:11-13, resuming the thread of argument from Ephesians 2:7, dwell on the drawing of the Gentiles into a personal unity with God in Christ-not, however (as before), out of the deadness of sin and bondage of Satan, but rather out of the condition of alienation from God, from His covenant and His promise, in which they stood contrasted with His chosen people.



Ephesians 2:10The metal is molten as it runs out of the blast furnace, but it soon cools and hardens. Paul’s teaching about salvation by grace and by faith came in a hot stream from his heart, but to this generation his words are apt to sound coldly, and hardly theological. But they only need to be reflected upon in connection with our own experience, to become vivid and vital again. The belief that a man may work towards salvation is a universal heresy. And the Apostle, in the context, summons all his force to destroy that error, and to substitute the great truth that we have to begin with an act of God’s, and only after that can think about our acts. To work up towards salvation is, in the strict sense of the words, preposterous; it is inverting the order of things. It is beginning at the wrong end. It is saying X Y Z before you have learnt to say A B C. We are to work downwards from salvation because we have it, not that we may get it. And whatever ‘good works’ may mean, they are the consequences, not the causes, of ‘salvation,’ whatever that may mean. But they are consequences, and they are the very purpose of it. So says Paul in the archaic language of my text-which only wants a little steadfast looking at to be turned into up-to-date gospel-’We are His workmanship, created unto good works’; and the fact that we are is one great reason for the assertion which he brings it in to buttress, that we are saved by grace, not by works. Now, I wish, in the simplest possible way, to deal with these great words, and take them as they lie before us.

I. We have, first, then, this as the root of everything, the divine creation.

Now, you will find that in this profound letter of the Apostle there are two ideas cropping up over and over again, both of them representing the facts of the Christian life and of the transition from the unchristian to the Christian; and the one is Resurrection and the other is Creation. They have this in common, that they suggest the idea that the great gift which Christianity brings to men-no, do not let me use the abstract word ‘Christianity’-the great gift which Christ brings to men-is a new life. The low popular notion that salvation means mainly and primarily immunity from the ultimate, most lasting future consequences of transgression, a change of place or of condition, infects us all, and is far too dominant in our popular notions of Christianity and of salvation. And it is because people have such an unworthy, narrow, selfish idea of what ‘salvation’ is that they fall into the bog of misconception as to how it is to be attained. The ordinary man’s way of looking at the whole matter is summed up in a sentence which I heard not long since about a recently deceased friend of the speaker’s, and the like of which you have no doubt often heard and perhaps said, ‘He is sure to be saved because he has lived so straight.’ And at the foundation of that confident epitaph lay a tragical, profound misapprehension of what salvation was.

For it is something done in you; it is not something that you get, but it is something that you become. The teaching of this letter, and of the whole New Testament, is that the profoundest and most precious of all the gifts which come to us in Jesus Christ, and which in their totality are summed up in the one word that has so little power over us, because we understand it so little, and know it so well-’salvation’-is a change in a man’s nature so deep, radical, vital, as that it may fairly be paralleled with a resurrection from the dead.

Now, I venture to believe that it is something more than a strong rhetorical figure when that change is described as being the creation of a new man within us. The resurrection symbol for the same fact may be treated as but a symbol. You cannot treat the teaching of a new life in Christ as being a mere figure. It is something a great deal more than that, and when once a man’s eye is opened to look for it in the New Testament it is wonderful how it flashes out from every page and underlies the whole teaching. The Gospel of John, for example, is but one long symphony which has for its dominant theme ‘I am come that they might have life.’ And that great teaching-which has been so vulgarised, narrowed, and mishandled by sacerdotal pretensions and sacramentarian superstitions-that great teaching of Regeneration, or the new birth, rests upon this as its very basis, that what takes place when a man turns to Jesus Christ, and is saved by Him, is that there is communicated to him not in symbol but in spiritual fact {and spiritual facts are far more true than external ones which are called real} a spark of Christ’s own life, something of ‘that spirit of life which was in Christ Jesus,’ and by which, and by which alone, being transfused into us, we become ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ I beseech you, brethren, see that, in your perspective of Christian truth, the thought of a new life imparted to us has as prominent and as dominant a place as it obviously has in the teaching of the New Testament. It is not so dominant in the current notions of Christianity that prevail amongst average people, but it is so in all men who let themselves be guided by the plain teaching of Christ Himself and of all His servants. Salvation? Yes! And the very essence of the salvation is the breathing into me of a divine life, so that I become partaker of ‘the divine nature.’

Now, there is another step to be taken, and that is that this new life is realised in Christ Jesus. Now, this letter of the Apostle is distinguished even amongst his letters by the extraordinary frequency and emphasis with which he uses that expression ‘in Christ Jesus.’ If you will take up the epistle, and run your eye over it at your leisure, I think you will be surprised to find how, in all connections, and linked with every sort of blessing and good as its condition, there recurs that phrase. It is ‘in Christ’ that we obtain the inheritance; it is ‘in Christ’ that we receive ‘redemption, even the forgiveness of sins’; it is in Him that we are ‘builded together for a habitation of God’; it is in Him that all fulness of divine gifts, and all blessedness of spiritual capacities, is communicated to us; and unless, in our perspective of the Christian life, that expression has the same prominence as it has in this letter, we have yet to learn the sweetest sweetness, and have yet to receive the most mighty power, of the Gospel that we profess. ‘In Christ’-a union which leaves the individuality of the Saviour and of the saint unimpaired, because without such individuality sweet love were slain, and there were no communion possible, but which is so close, so real, so vital, as that only the separating wall of personality and individual consciousness comes in between-that is the New Testament teaching of the relation of the Christian to Christ. Is it your experience, dear brother? Do not be frightened by talking about mysticism. If a Christianity has no mysticism it has no life. There is a wholesome mysticism and there is a morbid one, and the wholesome one is the very nerve of the Gospel as it is presented by Jesus Himself: ‘I am the Vine, ye are the branches. Abide in Me, and I in you.’ If our nineteenth century busy Christianity could only get hold of that truth as firmly as it grasps the representative and sacrificial character of Christ’s work, I believe it would come like a breath of spring over ‘the winter of our discontent,’ and would change profoundly and blessedly the whole contexture of modern Christianity.

And now there is another step to take, and that is that this union with Christ, which results in the communication of a new life, or, as my text puts it, a new creation, depends upon our faith. We are not passive in the matter. There is the condition on which the entrance of the life into our spirits is made possible. You must open the door, you must fling wide the casement, and the blessed warm morning air of the sun of righteousness, with healing in its beams, will rush in, scatter the darkness and raise the temperature. ‘Faith’ by which we simply mean the act of the mind in accepting and of the will and heart in casting one’s self upon Christ as the Saviour-that act is the condition of this new life. And so each Christian is ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.’

And now, says Paul-and here some of us will hesitate to follow him-that new creation has to go before what you call ‘good works.’ Now, do not let us exaggerate. There has seldom been a more disastrous and untrue thing said than what one of the Fathers dared to say, that the virtues of godless men were ‘splendid vices.’ That is not so, and that is not the New Testament teaching. Good is good, whoever does it. But, then, no man will say that actions, however they may meet the human conception of excellence, however bright, pure, lofty in motive and in aim they may be, reach their highest possible radiance and are as good as they ought to be, if they are done without any reference to God and His love. Dear brethren, we surely do not need to have the alphabet of morality repeated to us, that the worth of an action depends upon its motive, that no motive is correspondent to our capacities and our relation to God and our consequent responsibilities, except the motive of loving obedience to Him. Unless that be present, the brightest of human acts must be convicted of having dark shadows in it, and all the darker because of the brightness that may stream from it. And so I venture to assert that since the noblest systems of morality, apart from religion, will all coincide in saying that to be is more than to do, and that the worth of an action depends upon its motive, we are brought straight up to the ‘narrow, bigoted’ teaching of the New Testament, that unless a man is swayed by the love of God in what he does, you cannot, in the most searching analysis, say that his deed is as good as it ought to be, and as it might be. To be good is the first thing, to do good is the second. Make the tree good and its fruit good. And since, as we have made ourselves we are evil, there must come a re-creation before we can do the good deeds which our relation to God requires at our hands.

II. I ask you to look at the purpose of this new creation brought out in our text.

‘Created in Christ Jesus unto good works.’ That is what life is given to you for. That is why you are saved, says Paul. Instead of working upwards from works to salvation, take your stand at the received salvation, and understand what it is for, and work downwards from it.

Now, do not let us take that phrase, ‘good works,’ which I have already said came hot from the Apostle’s heart, and is now cold as a bar of iron, in the limited sense which it has come to bear in modern religious phraseology. It means something a great deal more than that. It covers the whole ground of what the Apostle, in another of his letters, speaks of when he says, ‘Whatsoever things are lovely and of good report, if there be any virtue’-to use for a moment the world’s word, which has such power to conjure in Greek ethics-’or if there be any praise’-to use for a moment the world’s low motive, which has such power to sway men-’think of these things,’ and these things do. That is the width of the conception of ‘good works’; everything that is ‘lovely and of good report.’ That is what you receive the new life for.

Contrast that with other notions of the purpose of revelation and redemption. Contrast it with what I have already referred to, and so need not enlarge upon now, the miserably inadequate and low notions of the essentials of salvation which one hears perpetually, and which many of us cherish. It is no mere immunity from a future hell. It is no mere entrance into a vague heaven. It is not escaping the penalty of the inexorable law, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap,’ that is meant by ‘salvation,’ any more than it is putting away the rod, which the child would be all the better for having administered to him, that is meant by ‘forgiveness.’ But just as forgiveness, in its essence, means not suspension nor abolition of penalty, but the uninterrupted flow of the Father’s love, so salvation in its essence means, not the deliverance from any external evil or the alteration of anything in the external position, but the revolution and the re-creation of the man’s nature. And the purpose of it is that the saved man may live in conformity with the will of God, and that on his character there may be embroidered all the fair things which God desires to see on His child’s vesture.

Contrast it with the notion that an orthodox belief is the purpose of revelation. I remember hearing once of a man that ‘he was a very shady character, but sound on the Atonement.’ What is the use of being ‘sound on the Atonement’ if the Atonement does not make you live the Christ life? And what is the good of all your orthodoxy unless the orthodoxy of creed issues in orthopraxy of conduct? There are far too many of us who half-consciously do still hold by the notion that if a man believes rightly then that makes him a Christian. My text shatters to pieces any such conception. You are saved that you may be good, and do good continually; and unless you are so doing you may be steeped to the eyebrows in the correctest of creeds, and it will only drown you.

Contrast this conception of the purpose of Christianity with the far too common notion that we are saved, mainly in order that we may indulge in devout emotions, and in the outgoing of affection and confidence to Jesus Christ. Emotional Christianity is necessary, but Christianity, which is mainly or exclusively emotional, lives next door to hypocrisy, and there is a door of communication between them. For there is nothing more certain and more often illustrated in experience than that there is a strange underground connection between a Christianity which is mainly fervid and a very shady life. One sees it over and over again. And the cure of that is to apprehend the great truth of my text, that we are saved, not in order that we may know aright, nor in order that we may feel aright, but in order that we may be good and do ‘good works.’ In the order of things, right thought touches the springs of right feeling, and right feeling sets going the wheels of right action. Do not let the steam all go roaring out of the waste-pipe in however sacred and blessed emotions. See that it is guided so as to drive the spindles and the shuttles and make the web.

III. And now, lastly, and only a word-here we have the field provided for the exercise of the ‘good works.’

‘Created unto good works which God has before prepared’-before the re-creation-’that we should walk in them.’ That is to say, the true way to look at the life is to regard it as the exercising-ground which God has prepared for the development of the life that, through Christ, is implanted in us. He cuts the channels that the stream may flow. That is the way to look at tasks, at difficulties. Difficulty is the parent of power, and God arranges our circumstances in order that, by wrestling with obstacles, we may gain the ‘thews that throw the world,’ and in order that in sorrows and in joys, in the rough places and the smooth, we may find occasions for the exercise of the goodness which is lodged potentially in us, when He creates us in Christ Jesus. So be sure that the path and the power will always correspond. God does not lead us on roads that are too steep for our weakness, and too long for our strength. What He bids us do He fits us for; what He fits us for He thereby bids us do.

And so, dear brother, take heed that you are fulfilling the purpose for which you receive this new life. And let us all remember the order in which being and doing come. We must be good first, and then, and only then, shall we do good. We must have Christ for us first, our sacrifice and our means of receiving that new life, and then, Christ in us, the soul of our souls, the Life of our lives, the source of all our goodness.

‘If any power we have, it is to ill,

And all the power is Thine to do and eke to will.’

Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship — As if he had said, And it appears that it is not by any works or ability of our own that we are saved, or possess the faith whereby salvation is received, because all the ability we have in spiritual things is from God, and is the consequence of his creating us anew; for as all acts of acceptable obedience must proceed from faith, and this faith is wrought in our hearts by the gracious influence of the Divine Spirit, it is most certain that we must acknowledge ourselves to be his workmanship, so far as there is any thing in us agreeable to the nature and will of God; being created in and through Christ Jesus unto good works — In order that we may have inclination and power both to perform them, and to delight in so doing; and may give ourselves up to this, and be continually engaged therein, as far as we have ability and opportunity. This creation of believers through Christ Jesus unto good works, Dr. Taylor, in his Key to the Romans, understands of the formation of believers into one body or church, under the government of Christ, because in the Christian Church believers enjoy the greatest advantages for performing good works, and because this formation of the church is termed (Ephesians 2:15) a creation of Jews and Gentiles into one new man under Christ. The same account he gives of the making men alive, mentioned Ephesians 2:5. “Others, however, with more reason,” says Dr. Macknight, “think that a person’s enjoying, in the Christian Church, great advantages for becoming alive and for doing good works, is not the whole” (and is it any part?) “of what the apostle means” by these expressions, but that they “denote the operation of the Holy Spirit in making men alive, and enabling them to do good works by means of the advantages that they enjoy.” Which God hath before ordained — Or appointed in his eternal counsels, and in the declarations of his word; it being his will and pleasure, that they who have believed on him through his Son, and are thereby made new creatures, should be careful to maintain good works, Titus 3:8. But the apostle’s expression, οις προητοιμασεν ο Θεος, rather signifies, which God hath before prepared; that is, hath prepared the occasions of good works, and the means and opportunities of doing them. Or, as some render the clause, for which God hath prepared us, namely, by the knowledge of the gospel, and the influences of his Spirit: that we should walk in them — Should live in the constant performance of them, though not be justified by them. In other words, He hath purified the fountain, that the streams may be pure; hath made the tree good, that the fruit may be good; hath made us new creatures, that we may live new lives; one grand and important end certainly of our regeneration. So that we must still ascribe the whole glory of all the good that is in us, or is done by us, to God.

2:1-10 Sin is the death of the soul. A man dead in trespasses and sins has no desire for spiritual pleasures. When we look upon a corpse, it gives an awful feeling. A never-dying spirit is now fled, and has left nothing but the ruins of a man. But if we viewed things aright, we should be far more affected by the thought of a dead soul, a lost, fallen spirit. A state of sin is a state of conformity to this world. Wicked men are slaves to Satan. Satan is the author of that proud, carnal disposition which there is in ungodly men; he rules in the hearts of men. From Scripture it is clear, that whether men have been most prone to sensual or to spiritual wickedness, all men, being naturally children of disobedience, are also by nature children of wrath. What reason have sinners, then, to seek earnestly for that grace which will make them, of children of wrath, children of God and heirs of glory! God's eternal love or good-will toward his creatures, is the fountain whence all his mercies flow to us; and that love of God is great love, and that mercy is rich mercy. And every converted sinner is a saved sinner; delivered from sin and wrath. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favour of God; and he saves, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus. Grace in the soul is a new life in the soul. A regenerated sinner becomes a living soul; he lives a life of holiness, being born of God: he lives, being delivered from the guilt of sin, by pardoning and justifying grace. Sinners roll themselves in the dust; sanctified souls sit in heavenly places, are raised above this world, by Christ's grace. The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners heretofore, encourages others in after-time, to hope in his grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out. All is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by his power. It was his purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of his will, and his Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our good conversation, and perseverance in holiness. None can from Scripture abuse this doctrine, or accuse it of any tendency to evil. All who do so, are without excuse.For we are his workmanship - We are his "making" - ποίημα poiēma. That is, we are "created or formed" by him, not only in the general sense in which all things are made by him, but in that special sense which is denoted by the new creation; see the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:17. Whatever of peace, or hope, or purity we have, has been produced by his agency on the soul. There cannot be conceived to be a stronger expression to denote the agency of God in the conversion of people, or the fact that salvation is wholly of grace.

Created in Christ Jesus - On the word "created," see the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Unto good works - With reference to a holy life; or, the design for which we have been created in Christ is, that we should lead a holy life. The primary object was not to bring us to heaven. It was that we should be "holy." Paul held perhaps more firmly than any other man, to the position that people are saved by the mere grace of God, and by a divine agency on the soul; but it is certain that no man ever held more firmly that people must lead holy lives, or they could have no evidence that they were the children of God.

Which God hath before ordained - Margin, "prepared." The word here used means to "prepare beforehand," then to predestinate, or appoint before. The proper meaning of this passage is, "to which οἷς hois good works God has predestinated us, or appointed us beforehand, that we should walk in them." The word used here - προετοιμάζω proetoimazō - occurs in the New Testament nowhere else except in Romans 9:23, where it is rendered "had afore prepared." It involves the idea of a previous determination, or an arrangement beforehand for securing a certain result. The previous preparation here referred to was, the divine intention; and the meaning is, that God had predetermined that we should lead holy lives. It accords, therefore, with the declaration in Ephesians 1:4, that he had chosen his people before the foundation of the world that they should be holy: see the notes at that verse.

That we should walk in them - That we should live holy lives. The word "walk" is often used in the Scriptures to denote the course of life; notes on Romans 6:4.

10. workmanship—literally, "a thing of His making"; "handiwork." Here the spiritual creation, not the physical, is referred to (Eph 2:8, 9).

created—having been created (Eph 4:24; Ps 102:18; Isa 43:21; 2Co 5:5, 17).

unto good works—"for good works." "Good works" cannot be performed until we are new "created unto" them. Paul never calls the works of the law "good works." We are not saved by, but created unto, good works.

before ordained—Greek, "before made ready" (compare Joh 5:36). God marks out for each in His purposes beforehand, the particular good works, and the time and way which tie sees best. God both makes ready by His providence the opportunities for the works, and makes us ready for their performance (Joh 15:16; 2Ti 2:21).

that we should walk in them—not "be saved" by them. Works do not justify, but the justified man works (Ga 5:22-25).

For we, we believers, both Jews and Gentiles, are his workmanship; not only as men, but especially as saints, which is the proper meaning here. The Israelitish people formerly were God’s work, Deu 32:6 Isaiah 43:21 44:21; so are believers under the gospel, being new creatures, Galatians 6:15. The apostle confirms what he said before, that by grace we are saved, and not of works, in that we are God’s workmanship, and are formed by him ere we can do any good work; and his forming us in our regeneration is a part of the salvation mentioned Ephesians 2:8.

Created in Christ Jesus; who, as our Head, enlivens us, as members united to him by faith. As the first creation was by Christ as the Second Person in the Trinity, John 1:3, so the second creation is by the same Christ as Mediator, the Lord and Head of the new creation, in whom we live, and move, and have our new being, and not in ourselves, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Unto good works: as the immediate end for which we are new-created. We receive our new being that we may bring forth new works, and have a carriage suitable to our new principle.

Which God hath before ordained; or rather, as the margin, prepared, i.e. prepared and fitted us for them, by enlightening our minds to know his will, disposing and inclining our wills, purging our affections, &c.

That we should walk in them; i.e. that we should glorify God in a holy conversation, agreeable to that Divine nature, whereof we are made partakers in our new creation.

For we are his workmanship,.... Not as men only, but as Christians; not as creatures merely, but as new creatures; the work of grace upon the soul seems chiefly designed, which like a poem, as the word may be rendered, is a very curious work; the king's daughter is all glorious within, for this is an internal work, and is a good and excellent one; it is not indeed perfected at once, but is gradually carried on, till the finishing stroke is given to it by that hand which begun it; the author of it is God, it is not man's work; nor is it the work of ministers, no, nor of angels, but it is God's work: sometimes it is ascribed to the Spirit, who regenerates and sanctifies; and sometimes to the Son of God, who quickens whom he will; and sometimes to the Father, who reveals his Son, and draws men to him, and who seems to be meant here: the subjects of this divine operation, are the persons described in Ephesians 2:1 and include both Jews and Gentiles; and express the distinguishing grace of God, that they and not others, and who were by nature children of wrath as others, should be his workmanship: and this is mentioned to show, that salvation can not be by any works of men, since all their works are either wrought for them, or in them, by God; salvation is a work wrought for them without them; and sanctification is a work wrought in them by God, of his good pleasure; and all their good works are fruits of his grace, as follows:

created in Christ Jesus unto good works; the work of grace is a creation, or a creature, a new creature; not a new vamp of old Adam's principles, but; an infusion of new ones, and is a work of almighty power; and such who have it wrought in them, are said to be created in Christ; because as soon as a man becomes a new creature, he is openly and visibly in Christ; and by these new principles of grace which are created in him, he is fit and ready, and in a capacity to perform good works; the new man formed in him, is formed for righteousness and true holiness; the internal principle of grace both excites unto, and qualifies for, the performance of righteous and holy actions:

which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them, or has "before prepared"; for the preparation of good works to be performed by saints, and the preparation of them for the performance of them; are both from the Lord; God has appointed good works to be done by his people and in his word he has declared what they are he would have done; and it is his will not only that they should do them, but continue to do them; not only that they should do a single act or more, but walk in them; their conversation and course of life should be one continued series of good works; but the intention is not that they should be saved by them, but that they should walk in them; and this being the pre-ordination of God, as it shows that predestination is not according to good works, since good works are the fruits and effects of it, so likewise that it is no licentious doctrine; seeing it provides for the performance of good works, as well as secures grace and glory.

For we are {i} his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

(i) He speaks here of grace, and not of nature: therefore if the works are ever so good, see what they are, and know that they are that way because of grace.

Ephesians 2:10. Reason assigned for the previous οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶνκαυχήσ. If, namely, we are God’s ποίημα, our Messianic salvation cannot be of our own acquiring, but only God’s gift; and if we are created in Christ unto good works, how could merit of works (which would need to have been already acquired in the time anterior to this our creation) be the cause of our salvation, and subject of our own boasting? The argumentative stress lies consequently (1) on αὐτοῦ, and (2) on κτισθέντες; and then οἷς προητοίμασεν κ.τ.λ. is an elucidation significantly bearing on κτισθέντες ἐν Χ. . ἐπὶ ἔργ. ἀγ., which makes the impossibility of pre-Christian merit of works thoroughly palpable.

αὐτοῦ] with emphasis: His, just His work, and no other’s, are we. Comp. Hom. Od. x. 27: αὐτῶν γὰρ ἀπωλόμεθʼ ἀφραδίησιν. Winer, p. 140 [E. T. 193].

ποίημα, thing made (comp. Romans 1:20), refers to the ethical creation (that of the new spiritual state of life), which the Christian as such has experienced (παλιγγενεσία, Titus 3:5), not, as Tert. c. Marc. v. 17, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil, and Photius would have it, to the physical creation (the spiritual being only introduced by κτισθέντες κ.τ.λ.), which is opposed to the context, as is also the combination of the two creations by Pelagius, Erasmus, Matthies, and Rückert: “as Christians we … are God’s work just as well, as in respect of our being men at all.” Only the form, in which the constituting of the new condition of life is expressed, is derived from the physical creation.

κτισθέντες] by God at our conversion.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ] for εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15. Christ is the specific element of life, within which the ethical ποίημα Θεοῦ has come to pass, but apart from which this creative process has not taken place.

ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς] moral aim. On the thing itself, comp. Romans 8. That, by which God prepares what is created by Him in Christ for this moral end, is the Holy Spirit, Romans 8; Galatians 3:2; John 3:5 f. Good works (not ἔργα νόμου) are fruits of regeneration, different from ἔργων, Ephesians 2:9.

οἷς προητοίμ. ὁ Θεός] οἷς is to be taken, according to the usual attraction (see Winer, p. 147 f. [E. T. 203]), for (Syriac, Gothic, Vulgate, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Estius, Grotius, and others, including Harless, Matthies, Holzhausen, Olshausen, de Wette, Lamping, p. 87 f.; Bleek): which God hath before (previously to the κτισθένες) placed in readiness, in order that we might walk in them, that they might be the element in which our life-walk should take place (τὴν ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς ἄπαυστον σχέσιν δηλοῖ, Oecumenius). The prefixed προητ. has in the circumstances significant emphasis. Paul conceives, namely, of the morally good works in which the walk of the Christian moves, as being already, even before his conversion, placed in readiness (Plut. Mor. p. 230 E; Joseph. Antt. xvii. 5, 6; LXX. Isaiah 28:24; Wis 9:8) by God, namely, in His decree. And this could not but be the case, if God would create unto good works. For, if the converted man is God’s creature, then the moral activity of life, in which the specific nature of the καινὴ κτίσις is to manifest itself, and without which he would not be God’s ποίημα and κτίσις, must likewise proceed from God; consequently, when the moral creative act (the regeneration) is accomplished, must already in God’s counsel and will be in such wise prepared and held ready for communication, that it has to receive the new creature from its Creator, and in this way to work the works of God. Thus these good works following regeneration are as it were outflowings from a divine treasure beforehand placed in readiness, from which the regenerate man has received them, when he does them and walks in them.[144] The sense of the word προετοιμάξειν is changed, if it is explained only as to predestine (Augustine and others, including Harless, Lamping), which would be expressed by προορίξειν (see Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 339); and it is rationalized away, when Olshausen says that the circumstances and relations, under which it is possible to men to perform good works, are ordained by God. It is not of the circumstances which render the works possible, but of the works themselves, that Paul affirms that God has before placed them in readiness; as accordingly, when they are accomplished, it is God who works the willing and working (Php 2:13). According to Hofmann, Sehriftbew. II. 1, p. 365, II. 2, p. 294, the good works are once for all present in Christ, so that they need not to be brought forth first by us the individuals, but are produced beforehand, in order that our fellowship with Christ may be also a fellowship of His conduct—that our walk in Him may be a walk in them. But in this way Paul would have left the very point of the thought in προητοίμ. (namely, in Christ) unexpressed. Others take οἷς as dative of the destination: wnto which God hath prepared us (Luther, Clericus, Semler, Michaelis, Zachariae, Morus, Flatt, Meier, Schenkel, and others). In this case, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπ. would by no means be a redundant and feeble tautology, as Harless supposes, but an emphatic epexegesis of οἷς. But against this view it may be urged that Paul must necessarily, because the verb would be quite objectless, have added ἡμᾶς,[145] the omission of which, considering the frequency of the attraction of οἷς for , could only have led the reader astray; moreover, ΠΡΟ would receive no emphasis accordant with the prefixing of ΠΡΟΗΤΟΊΜ., inasmuch as the time of the ΠΡΟΕΤΟΙΜΆΖΕΙΝ would coincide with that of the ΚΤΊΖΕΙΝ. Valla and Erasmus take ΟἿς as masculine: for whom He hath before appointed, that we, etc., to which also Rückert, although hesitating between this and the preceding explanation, is inclined. But how arbitrarily in this way is οἷς referred to what is more remote and different from ΑὐΤΟῖς! and how changed is the literal sense of ΠΡΟΕΤΟΙΜΆΖΕΙΝ! Quite arbitrary and erroneous, finally, is the view of Bengel, Koppe, and Rosenmüller, as also of Baumgarten-Crusius, that it is to be explained per Hebraismum (see, on the other hand, Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 139) for ἐν οἷς ἵνα περιπατήσωμεν προητ. ὁ Θεός, in which case Koppe and Rosenmüller make ΠΡΟΕΤΟΙΜΆΖΕΙΝ equivalent to velle, jubere!

According to Schwegler, in Zeller’s Jahrb. 1844, p. 391; Baur, Paulus, p. 453, and de Wette, there is to be discovered in our passage the post-apostolic tendency to combine the doctrine of Paul (οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων) with the Jewish-Christian view (that of James) concerning good works. As though the works were not in our passage too, as in all Pauline Epistles, based upon faith (observe, withal, ἘΝ Χ. .)!

The Pauline faith has always moral practice as its necessary vital activity, and this is consequently always the aim (not: ultimate aim) of the new creation wrought through faith by means of the Spirit. We may add that the good works, even at our passage,—where, moreover, they are traced back wholly to God as the author,—are so far from being the condition of justification, that, on the contrary, the dogmatic canon here receives full confirmation: “Bona opera non praecedunt justificandum, sed sequuntur justificatum.” Comp. Calovius. Aptly does Bengel remark on περιπατ.: “ambularemus, non salvaremur aut viveremus.” The assertion, that here (and in Colossians) much greater importance is ascribed to good works than in the other letters of the apostle (Baur, neut. Theol. p. 270), is, looking even to Ephesians 2:7-9, incorrect.

[144] Explanations like that of Grotius; “praeparavit turn praeseribendo formam operum tum dando Spiritum,” etc., fail of doing justice to the case by making προ in πρεητ. synchronous with κτισθέντες.

[145] This also in opposition to Calovius, who takes οἷς in the ablative sense: “quibus, sc. hactenus dictis … per justificationem et renovationem, praeparavit vel disposuit (nos), ut in operibus bonis ambulemus.”

Ephesians 2:10. αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα: for we are His workmanship (or, handiwork). The αὐτοῦ is emphatic—“His handiwork are we”. The word ποίημα occurs only once again in the NT (Romans 1:20, with reference to the works of nature). Here, as the following clause shows, it expresses not appointment to something, but an actual making. The clause gives the reason for the statement that our salvation is not of works. We ourselves are a work, the handiwork of God, made anew by Him, and our salvation, therefore, is due to Him, not to ourselves.—κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς: created in Christ Jesus for good works. Further definition of the ποίημα αὐτοῦ. We are God’s spiritual handiwork, in the sense that we were created by Him, made a new spiritual creature by Him when His grace made us Christians. This new creation was in Christ, so that except by union between Him and us it could not have taken place (Ephesians 2:15; Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:10). Also it was with a view to good works, ἐπί being used here (much as in Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:14) to express object; cf. Win.-Moult., p. 492. We ourselves then having been created anew by God, and good works being the object to which that new creation looked, not the cause that led to it, all must be of grace not of deeds (ἔργων), and there can be no room for boasting.—οἶς προητοίμασεν ὁ Θεὸς: which God afore prepared. The οἶς cannot with any propriety be construed as a masc., “for whom He before appointed” (Erasm.); nor can it well be taken as the dat. of destination, “unto which God prepared us” (Luth., Schenkel, etc.); for that would require the insertion of a ἡμᾶς. Nor, again, can it be taken in the intrans. sense, so as to give the idea “for which God made previous preparation” (Stier); for while ἑτοιμάζειν may be used intransitively (Luke 9:52), the compound verb does not appear to be so used. It is best taken (with the Syr., Goth. and Vulg. Versions and the best exegetes) as a case of attraction—οἵς for . The προετοιμάζειν is not quite the same as προορίζειν. It means to prepare or place in readiness before, not specifically to foreordain (Aug., Harl.). The προ- describes the preparation as prior to the creation (κτισθέντες). The subjects of the preparation also are the good works themselves, not the ways in which they are to be done. In relation to the question of human merit or glorying, therefore, good works are viewed in two distinct aspects. They are the goal to which God’s new creation of us looked; they are also in God’s eternal plan. Before He created us in Christ by our conversion He had destined these good works and made them ready for us in His purpose and decree. There is the unseen source from which they spring, and there is their final explanation.—ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν: that we should walk in them. God’s purpose in the place which He gave to good works in His decree was that they should actually and habitually be done by us. His final object was to make good works the very element of our life, the domain in which our action should move. That this should be the nature of our walk is implied in our being His handiwork, made anew by Him in Christ; that the good works which form the Divine aim of our life shall be realised is implied in their being designed and made ready for us in God’s decree; and that they are of God’s originating, and not of our own action and merit, is implied in the fact that we had ourselves to be made a new creation in Christ with a view to them.

10. For, &c.] The connexion is, “works are not the antecedent, but the consequent, of your acceptance in Christ; for the true statement of the case is, that you were re-made, re-born, in order to work the will of God.”

his] Strongly emphatic. “It is He that made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3).

workmanship] Better, making. The Gr. word (poiêma) is not akin to that rendered “works” (erga) in the passage, so that there is no intended antithesis.—“Making:”—i.e., He has made us what we are, members of His Son. The noun does not necessarily give the precise idea of a new “creation;” it may mean only an appointment to position. But the two, as a fact, coincide in this matter.—In Romans 1:20 (its only other place in N.T.) the word is used of God’s handiworks in nature.

created] A frequent word, in spiritual connexions, with St Paul. Cp. Ephesians 2:15, Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:10. As in the sphere of nature, so in that of grace, it means essentially the making of a new state of things, whether in a Universe or a personality; implying indeed the omnipotence which originally willed the very material into existence, but not necessarily dwelling on this; rather giving the thought of first, or new, arrangement.—In practice, the thought of the sovereignty of the Worker’s will lies in the use of the word.

in Christ Jesus] The third occurrence of these words within five verses.—The Church was “created in” Him, in that its very existence as such depends on vital union with Him.

unto good works] Lit., “upon good works,” i.e., as interpreted by usage, “with a view to them.” The same construction and meaning appear Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (A.V., “unto uncleanness); 2 Timothy 2:14 (A.V., “to the subverting”).

hath before ordained] Lit., and better, did prepare beforehand; on the ideal occasion of His planning the salvation and the function of His true Church. The phrase does not state, but surely implies, the happy truth that the Divine pre-arrangement so maps out, as it were, the duties and the sufferings of the saint that his truest wisdom and deepest peace is to “do the next thing” in the daily path, in the persuasion that it is part of a consistent plan for him. There are some admirable remarks in this direction in Monod’s Adieux à ses amis et à l’ Église, no. 14; “Le secret d’une vie sainte, active et paisible[33]”.

[33] The book has been translated, as A. Monod’s Farewell.

Ephesians 2:10. Αὐτοῦ, of Him) of God.—γὰρ, for) He proves, that salvation is by faith, not of works, and that faith itself is entirely of the gift of God.—ποίημα, workmanship) The word rarely occurs in this sense, and its force is increased by the κτισθέντες, created; comp. Ephesians 2:15, [“to make,” or “create, in Himself of twain one new man”], made spiritually out of nothing. We are elsewhere said to be regenerated. Nothing produces nothing. Believers of after ages are not only עם נולד, a people born, Ps. 22:32 (Psalm 22:31), but also נברא, a people created, Psalm 102:19 (Psalm 102:18).—ἐπὶ) for the sake of good works; so that thenceforth at last we should devote ourselves to them.[24] On that ground, Paul never calls the works of the law good.—οἷς) ΟἿςἘΝ ΑὐΤΟῖς, אשר בהם, for ἘΝ ΟἿς, in which.—προητοίμασεν) The πρὸ ascribes the whole matter to God. ἡτοίμασεν is used as a neuter verb with great force, LXX., 2 Chronicles 1:4, ὅτι ἡτοίμασεν αὐτῇ Δαυίδ, because David made preparation for it. So ὭΣΤΕ ἙΤΟΙΜΆΣΑΙ ΑὐΤῷ, so as to make ready for Him, Luke 9:52. God hath so prepared.[25] [Grace, therefore, with (as well as) salvation, precedes works.—V. g.]—περιπατήσωμεν, that we should walk) not, that we should be saved, or, we should live.

[24] Postea demum, i.e. After we have been created anew in Christ, and not till then.—ED.

[25] Thus Beng. does not take προητοίμασεν actively and governing α, implied in οἷς (attracted to ἔργοις): but intransitively, “Created unto good works, in which (οἷςἐν αὐτοῖς) God hath so prepared and ordered the matter, that we should walk.”—ED.

Verse 10. - For we are his workmanship. Another illustration and evidence of grace. We have to be fashioned anew by God before we can do anything aright (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Anything right in us is not the cause of grace, but its fruit. There seems to be no special reason for the change from the second to the first person. Created in Christ Jesus for good works. So little inward capacity had we for such works, that we required to be created in Christ Jesus in order that we might do them. The inward new birth of the soul is indicated. When good works were required, this gracious change had to be wrought to secure them. The purpose of the new creation is to produce them. Christ "gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people of his own, zealous of good works." It is not good works first, and grace after; but grace first, and good works after (see Titus 2:11, 14). Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. A further proof of the true origin of good works. They are the subjects of a Divine decree. Before the foundation of the world it was ordained that whoever should be saved by grace should walk in good works. The term "walk," here denotes the habitual tenor of the life; it is to be spent in an atmosphere of good works. Here we have one of the Divine safeguards against the abuse of the doctrine of salvation by grace. When men hear of salvation irrespective of works, they are apt to fancy that works are of little use, and do not need to be carefully attended to. On the contrary, they are part of the Divine decree, and if we are not living a life of good works, we have no reason to believe that we have been saved by grace. Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship

A reason why no man should glory. If we are God's workmanship, our salvation cannot be of ourselves. His is emphatic. His workmanship are we.

Created (κτισθέντες)

See on John 1:3. The verb originally means to make habitable, to people. Hence to found. God is called κτίστης creator, 1 Peter 4:19, and ὁ κτίσας he that created, Romans 1:25. Compare Revelation 4:11. Κτίσις is used of the whole sum of created things, Mark 10:6; Romans 8:22.

Afore prepared (προητοίμασεν)

Rev, more correctly, prepared. Made ready beforehand. God prearranged a sphere of moral action for us to walk in. Not only are works the necessary outcome of faith, but the character and direction of the works are made ready by God.

That we should walk

In order that; to the end that.

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