As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
I. MARK THE EXPRESSIVENESS OF THE TERM. It is strange to find it applied to living men. But there are certain suggestive points of similarity between natural and spiritual death.
1. The dealt have all the organs of sense, but no sensibility. As the psalmist said of the idols of the heathen, so are the dead: "Eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not" (Psalm 115:5, 6). So the spiritually dead have no susceptibility in regard to the things of God; they see not the beauties of holiness; they see not God or Christ.
2. The dead drove all the machinery of motion, but the machine is at rest. So the spiritually dead have all the natural faculties of life - judgment, memory, imagination, feeling, conscience - but they are unable to renew themselves into spiritual life. The inability is not natural, but moral, and therefore sinners are responsible for it. They cannot, because they will not. "Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life" (John 5:40).
3. The dead are cold to the touch. The living body retains its heat very much in the same manner as a fire retains its heat, and, in a very true sense, we are all literally burning out like the fuel that is consumed in our fires. The dead are cold as the grave that covers them. So are the spiritually dead; they have no warmth of Christian love going out either to God or man. Though intellectually alive to all purely worldly interests, they are coldly indifferent, or even hostile, to the interests of the kingdom of grace.
4. The dead go onward to corruption. The process of corruption may be arrested for a time by the skill of man, but it will prevail in the end, and man returns to the dust whence he came, as the spirit has returned to the God who gave it. So the spiritually dead are corrupt, constitutionally, in virtue of the sin of Adam, and they are still more corrupt through temptation to actual transgression. The absence of love to God interposes no check to the progress of corruption in a human heart. What a terrific picture is that of a dead soul!
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OR CONDITIONS OF SPIRITUAL DEATH. We see our dead surrounded successively by the shroud, the coffin, the hearse, the grave. So likewise the spiritually dead are surrounded by "trespasses and sins." These two expressive terms indicate, not simply the cause of death, but its conditions and circumstances.
1. Trespasses. This term is exceedingly expressive as embodying what is involved in the original term.
(1) It suggests the idea of a landmark fixed by God, which he has commanded us not to pass. Yet who can say that he has not passed the landmark? Who can say that he has not trespassed upon God's preserves? For what God had reserved for himself out of all the trees of the garden of Eden, cur first parents trespassed upon; and who among ourselves has not again and again trespassed upon that reserved territory of love wherewith God has surrounded himself and surrounded each one of our neighbors?
(2) The word suggests the further idea of a barrier which God has placed in our way, and told us that we are not to force it or pass it. There is the barrier of his Law, which he has strengthened by terrible penalties, and upon which he has inscribed his own fearful curse: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them" (Galatians 3:10). Yet who can say that he has not passed this barrier, though God's curse was inscribed upon it? There is the barrier of conscience which God has built up strongly in every man; and who can say that he has not again and again passed this barrier, often bringing the artillery of worldly advantage or pleasure to bear against it and break it down?
2. Sins. This term points to the sinful movements of the soul - sins of thought and purpose, as trespasses seem to point to the various developments of a sinful nature. The sins are the fruit of moral corruption which has its seat in the heart, and radiates thence to every department of human conduct. The principle of sin is not merely negative, for it is a positive negation of the Divine will, putting something else in its place. The term "sins would, more exactly than the other, include sins of omission, which are necessarily much more numerous than sins of commission. It is a solemn thought that men are dead in sin" by every duty they omit, by every opportunity they neglect, by every blessing they despise, as well as by every positive transgression of the Divine Law. The radical significance of both terms implies a real hostility to God, which is only brought into prominence the moment the sinful spirit comes into sharp and painful collision with the pure Law of God. This dark picture of the sinner's state suggests that
(1) we ought to mourn for the dead, as we mourn for our dear ones who are carried forth to burial;
(2) that we ought to pray for the dead, that God may grant them "a quickening together with Christ;"
(3) that we ought to warn the dead that, if they die in their trespasses and sins, they will be buried in their trespasses and sins. - T.C.
I. THE CHANGE HERE NOTICED IS OF A REMARKABLY DECIDED NATURE. A change of the whole human character, by which the dispositions of men become thoroughly altered from that which is evil to that which is good, and by which there are implanted and formed within them those spiritual graces which are essentially connected with the bestowment of the Divine favour and the restoration of the Divine image.
And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.
I. UPON WHOM IS IT EXERTED?
1. The spiritually dead.
2. The bondslaves of Satan.
3. The subjects of Divine wrath.
II. THROUGH WHOM DOES IT OPERATE? Christ, the manifested Son of God, is the Alpha and Omega of its proclamations.
1. Through faith men are united to Him.
2. Share in His resurrection.
III. IN WHOM IS ITS SOURCE? It is God who ordained the means of salvation, sent His Son into the world to die for sinners, and raising Him from the dead raised also all those who were united to Him by faith by a spiritual resurrection, that they might "walk in newness of life." This gracious work is due —
1. To His nature. "Being rich in mercy."
2. To His affection for men. "For His great love wherewith He loved us."
(A. F. Muir, M. A.)
II. THIS CHANGE IS ACCOMPLISHED PURELY BY DIVINE AGENCY.
1. The agency of the Spirit of God in the work of renovation is sovereign.
2. The agency of the Spirit is mysterious.
3. The agency of the Spirit is connected with the instrumentality of the Word.
III. THIS CHANGE IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR THE SALVATION OF THE IMMORTAL SOUL.
1. This is evident, if you consider the occupation, society, and enjoyments of heaven.
2. It is also evident by considering the express testimony of God on the subject.
(J. Parsons.)I. THE SCRIPTURE PHRASES BY WHICH THE SINFUL STATE OF MAN IS DESCRIBED. Sleep. "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others," etc. (1 Thessalonians 5:6, etc.). "Wherefore he saith, 'Awake thou that sleepest,'" etc. (Ephesians 5:14). Death in trespasses (see text). "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh," etc. (Colossians 2:13). A corrupt tree. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit," etc. (Matthew 7:18). "For he shall be like the heath in the desert," etc. (Jeremiah 17:6). Darkness. "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness," etc. (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Led captive, etc. (Ephesians 2:3). Enmity (Romans 8:7).
II. HOW THE SCRIPTURES DESCRIBE THE CHANGE THAT IS WROUGHT IN THOSE THAT SHALL BE SAVED AND STATE GOD AS THE AUTHOR OF IT. Being quickened — by God (see text). Born again — by God (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3). Washed and sprinkled — by God (Ezekiel 16:8, 9; Ezekiel 36:25). Writing the law in the heart — by God (Jeremiah 31:33). Grafting — by God (Romans 11:23-25). Creating light to shine where was darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6).
III. NO MEANS SHORT OF GOD CAN QUICKEN AND CONVERT SUCH A SINNER. Let us consider everything that is likely.
3. Will prosperity? No (Psalm 73:3).
4. Will adversity? No (Proverbs 27:22).
5. Will preaching the gospel? No (1 Corinthians 1:23).
6. Will one rising from the dead? No (Luke 16:31). The necessity of a Divine agent in the Church of God.
IV. EVIDENCES OF BEING QUICKENED.
3. An appetite for the means of grace (1 John 2:3).
4. Love to the brethren as such (1 John 3:13, 14).
(H. Foster, M. A.)
1. The dead have no motion; they cannot come to God; they are helpless as was Lazarus till the voice of Jesus reached him; grace alone can quicken the dead soul.
2. The dead have no sensation; they are past feeling; all the fountains of passion and emotion are sealed (Ephesians 4:19); so that before they can love God or hate sin they must get a new life.
3. The dead have no enjoyment; food satisfies, beauty pleases, and music charms no more. It is even so. Sin has perverted the moral sense, and shut up the heart against the enjoyment of God Himself. His character and His love please us no more. All the wonders of grace, as well as the excellencies of the Divine character, which the Cross reveals, fall upon us like sunbeams on the eyes of the dead.
4. The dead have no restorative power. Life, that mysterious, incomprehensible principle, which, though ever present with us and filling all things, eludes research and baffles reason, has a wonderful restorative power. Indeed, life is a sort of miracle, for it reverses, suspends, and modifies most of the laws of nature. In every plant, in every living creature, you see life assimilating and incorporating most heterogeneous elements, counteracting the law of gravity, nullifying the most potent chemical agencies, and resisting the mechanical laws. The dead are destitute of all these mysterious powers; they remain as they are, or they become more and more corrupt. There is no healing process going on in the dead soul by which, in the course of nature, it can become pure and healthy and happy in the enjoyment of God.
(W. Graham, D. D.)I. St. Paul reminds the Ephesians of their former condition. Contraries give lustre one to another. It magnifies grace marvellously to consider the opposite condition. It should also stir up our thankfulness when we consider from what we are delivered. Now to come to the words themselves. What is death? Death is nothing else but a separation from the cause of life, from that from whence life springs. The body having a communicated life from the soul, when the soul is departed it must needs be dead. Now death, take it in a spiritual sense, it is either the death of law, our sentence — as we say of a man when he is condemned, he is a dead man — or death in regard of disposition; and then the execution of that death of sentence in bodily death and in eternal death afterward. Now naturally we are dead in all these senses.
1. First, by the sin of Adam, in whose loins we were, we were all damned. And then there is corruption of nature as a punishment of that first sin, that is a death, as we shall see afterward, a death of all the powers; we cannot act and move according to that life that we had at the first; we cannot think, we cannot will, we cannot affect, we cannot do anything [that] savours of spiritual life.
2. Hereupon comes a death of sentence upon us, being damned both in Adam's loins and in original sin, and likewise adding actual sins of our own. If we had no actual sin it were enough for the sentence of death to pass upon us, but this aggravates the sentence.
3. We are dead in law as well as in disposition. This death in law is called guilt, a binding over to eternal death. Now what is the reason of it why we are dead? First of all, the ground of it is; by sin we are separated from the fountain of life; therefore we are all dead. Secondly, by sin we lost that first original righteousness which was co-produced with Adam's soul. When Adam's soul was infused it was clothed with all graces, with original righteousness. The stamp of God was on his soul. It was co-natural to that estate and condition to have that excellent gracious disposition that he had. Now, because we all lost that primitive image and glory of our souls, we are dead. Nay, sin itself, it is not only a cause of death — of temporal death as it is a curse, and so of eternal death; of that bitter sentence and adjudging of us too, both that we feel in terrors of conscience and expect after — but sin itself is an intrinsical death. Why? Because it is nothing but a separation of the soul from the chic! good, which is God, and a cleaving to some creature; for there is no sin but it carries the soul to the changeable creature in delight and affection to its pride and vanity, one thing or other. Sin is a turning from God to the creature, and that very turning of the soul is death; every sinful soul is dead. In these and the like considerations you may conceive we are all dead. Let us consider a little what a condition this is, to be "dead in trespasses and sins." And what doth death work upon the body?
1. Unactiveness, stiffness; so when the Spirit of God is severed from the soul it is cold, and unactive, and stiff. Therefore those that find no life to that that is good, no, nor no power nor strength, it is a sign that they have not yet felt the power of the quickening Spirit; when they hear coldly and receive the sacrament coldly, as if it were a dead piece of work and business; when they do anything that is spiritually good coldly and forced, not from an inward principle of love to God, that might heat and warm their hearts, but they go about it as a thing that must be done, and think to satisfy God with an outward dead action.
2. Again, death makes the body unlovely.
4. We sever dead persons from the rest.
5. Death deprives of the use of the senses. He that is spiritually dead can speak nothing that is good of spiritual things. And as he is speechless, so he hath no spiritual eyes to see God in His works. There is nothing that we see with our bodily eyes, but our souls should have an eye to see somewhat of God in it, His mercy and goodness and power, etc. And so he hath no relish to taste of God in His creatures and mercies. When a man tastes of the creatures, he should have a spiritual taste of God and of the mercy in him. Oh, how sweet is God! A wicked man hath no taste of God. And he cannot hear what the Spirit saith in the Word. He hears the voice of man, but not of the Spirit when the trumpet of the Word sounds never so loud in his ears.
6. As there is no sense nor moving to outward things, so no outward thing can move a dead body. Offer him colours to the eye, food to the taste, or anything to the feeling, nothing moves him. So a dead soul, as it cannot move to good, so it is moved with nothing. That affects a child of God and makes him tremble and quake, it affects not a carnal man at all.
7. And as in bodily death, the longer it is dead, the more noisome and offensive it is every day more than other, so sin makes the soul more loathsome and noisome daily, till they have filled up the measure of their sins, till the earth can bear them no longer.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)I. TO WHAT SINS THIS REPRESENTATION IS TO BE APPLIED, AND TO WHAT DESCRIPTION OF PERSONS IT BELONGS.
1. The apostle expressly includes himself among those whose former state he had been considering.
2. The same expression is applied generally to those who never were heathens (Matthew 8:22).
3. It is the declared intention of Jesus Christ, by His appearance in our world, to give life to the world by exhibiting Himself as the Bread of Life. "I am come that they might have life."
4. True Christians, without any exception, are described as persons who have "passed from death unto life."
II. EXPLAIN THE IMPORT OF THIS REPRESENTATION.
1. It implies a privation, or withdrawment, of a principle, which properly belongs, and once did belong, to the subject of which it is affirmed. The withdrawment of God is, with respect to the soul, what the withdrawment of the soul is in relation to the body. In each case the necessary effect is death; and as that which occasioned that withdrawment is sin, it is very properly denominated a "death in trespasses and sins." Now this view of the subject ought surely to fill us with the deepest concern. Had man never possessed a principle of Divine life, there would have been less to lament in his condition. We are less affected at the consideration of what we never had, than by the loss of advantages which we once possessed. We look at a stone, or a piece of earth, without the least emotion, because, though it be destitute of life, we are conscious it was never possessed. But, when we look upon a corpse, it excites an awful feeling.
2. To be dead in trespasses and sins, intimates the total, the universal prevalence of corruption. Life admits of innumerable degrees and kinds. There is one sort of vegetative life, as in plants, another subsists in animals, and in man a rational, which is still a superior principle of life. Where life is of the same sort it is susceptible of different degrees. It is much more perfect in the larger sorts of animals than in reptiles. The vital principle in different men exists with various degrees of vigour, so that some are far more animated, alert, and vigorous than others. But there are no degrees in death. All things, of which it can be truly said that they are dead, are equally dead.
(R. Hall, M. A.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Rowland Hill, M. A.)
I. Consider the excellency of the Divine Being, the sum total, the great Original of all perfections. How infinitely worthy is He of the adoration of all His creatures! how deserving of their most intense thoughts and most ardent affections! Yet how insensible are we and all men to His perfections and majesty. The sun, moon, and stars have bad more worshippers than the uncreated Fountain of Light from which they derive their lustre. Kings and ministers of state have more punctual homage and more frequent applications made to them than the King of kings and Lord of lords. Created enjoyments are more eagerly pursued than the Supreme Good. Search all the world over, and you will find but very little motions of heart towards God; little love, little desire, little searching after Him. The reason is, men are dead in trespasses and sins.
II. The august and endearing relations the great and blessed God. sustains to us, and the many ways He has taken to make dutiful and grateful impressions upon our hearts. What tender endearments are there contained in the relation of a Father! Now the name of a father is wont to carry some endearment and authority. Children, especially in their young and helpless years, are fond of their father; their little hearts beat with a thousand grateful passions towards him; and they fly to him upon every appearance of danger: but if God be a father, where is His honour? here, alas! the filial passions are senseless and immoveable. And is not a state of death a very proper representation of such sullen, incorrigible stupidity? Living souls have very tender sensations; one touch of their heavenly Father's hand makes deep impressions upon them. Concluding reflections:
1. What a strange, affecting view does this subject give us of this assembly!
2. Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, that Christ may give thee light. The principle of reason is still alive in you; you are also sensible of your own interest, and feel the workings of self-love. It is God alone that can quicken you, but He effects this by a power that does not exclude, but attends rational instructions and persuasions to your understanding.
3. Let the children of God be sensible of their great happiness in being made spiritually alive. Life is a principle, a capacity necessary for enjoyments of any kind.
4. Let us all be sensible of this important truth, that it is entirely by grace we are saved. If we were once dead in sin, certainly it is owing to the freest grace that we have been quickened; therefore, when we survey the change, let us cry, "Grace, grace unto it."
(President Davies, M. A.)
1. Previous life. Death is but the cessation of life. The spirit of life fled from Adam's disobedient heart, and it died, for it was severed from God.
2. It implies insensibility. The dead, which are as insusceptible as their kindred clay, can be neither wooed nor won back to existence. The beauties of holiness do not attract man in his spiritual insensibility, nor do the miseries of hell deter him.
3. It implies inability. The corpse cannot raise itself from the tomb and come back to the scenes and society of the living world. The peal of the last trump alone can start it from its dark and dreamless sleep. Inability characterizes fallen man. And this is not natural but moral inability, such inability as not only is no palliation, but oven forms the very aggravation of his crime. It is inability not of mind but of will. He cannot, simply because he will not, and therefore he is justly responsible.
(J. Eadie, D. D.)
1. It is not sufficient that the servants of Jesus Christ do only preach privileges, and hold forth unto believers that happy estate unto which they are lifted up through Christ; it is necessary also that jointly herewith they be calling them to mind their woeful, miserable, and lost estate by nature: for the apostle, in the preceding chapter, having spoken much of those high privileges unto which the Ephesians were advanced by Christ, he doth here mind them of that miserable state wherein God found them; "And you who were dead in trespasses and sins."
2. There is nothing contributeth more to commend the doctrine of free grace to people's consciences, and so to commend it as to make them closely adhere unto it, both in possession and practice, than the serious perpending of man's woeful and altogether hopeless estate by nature: this alone would do much to scatter all that mist whereby human reason doth obscure the beauty of this truth, by extolling man's free will as a co-worker with grace (Romans 3:19, 20).
3. Believers in Jesus Christ are not to look upon their lost and miserable estate by nature separately, and apart from, but jointly with God's free grace and mercy, which hath delivered them from that misery; for otherwise the thoughts of sin and misery may, if God should give way, swallow them up (Matthew 27:4, 5). Hence is it the apostle hath so contrived his discourse here, that all along, while he speaketh of their misery in the first three verses, the mind of the reader is kept in suspense without coming to the perfect close of a sentence, until God's mercy in their delivery from this misery be mentioned (ver. 5); for the original hath not these words, "He hath quickened," in this verse: but the translators have taken them from ver. 5, to make up the sense, without suspending the reader so long until he should find them in their own proper place, "And you who were dead," etc.
4. Every man by nature, and before conversion, is dead, not to sin (for that is proper to the regenerate only; see Romans 6:2, where the grammatical construction is the same in the original with that which is here; only the sense is much different), but in sin, whereby he is wholly deprived of all ability and power to convert himself (Romans 9:16), or to do anything which is spiritually good (Romans 8:7).
(James Fergusson.)1 Timothy 5:6). A fearful estate, if we had spiritual eyes to see it and think of it.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)
(R. South, D. D.)
(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)dead soul. In states of disease and injury we sometimes find something analogous, in one part of the body being full of life, and another part of it palsied and dead. I have seen a person after injury of the lower part of the neck surviving for a time; the head perfectly alive and well, but the body and limbs perfectly motionless. In the last fatal duel fought near Edinburgh a bullet struck the spine of the challenger. I have often heard this unhappy man's physician tell that when he first visited him, some hours afterwards, and asked him how he felt, "I feel," he replied, "exactly what I am — a man with a living head and a dead body mysteriously joined together." Every unbelieving man consists of a dead soul mysteriously joined to a living body.
(Sir James Simpson.)
(H. G. Salter.)
(Legend of St. John.)I. THE ORIGINAL CONDITION OF THE EPHESIANS. They were deaden trespasses and sins. The two words, "trespasses and sins," have almost the same meaning. They imply the breaking, not keeping, or offending against the moral law of God. The negative symptoms of spiritual death are —
1. The want of spiritual perception. As a dead body has not the five bodily senses, so a dead soul has not the spiritual senses. It neither sees nor hears, nor tastes, nor perceives the perfume, nor feels the reality of the spiritual world. The glory of God shineth forth in the gospel of Christ, but dead souls are blind and cannot see it (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). God speaketh by His providence and by His inspired word in loudest tones of reproof, admonition, invitation, and love, warning, and terror; but the dead soul is deaf, like the adder that heareth not the voice of the charmer, charm he never so sweetly. The dead soul cannot taste and see that God is gracious.
2. No spiritual understanding. "There is none that understandeth." "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned" (Romans 3:2).
3. Want of spiritual desires. "Depart from us, we desire not knowledge of Thy ways." "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
4. The dead soul has no spiritual strength. The natural man is, in spiritual exertion, absolutely helpless and powerless.
5. The dead soul has no capacity of spiritual enjoyment. Dead in trespasses and sins, it can have no true or permanent happiness.Having thus enumerated five qualities in which the spiritually dead soul is deficient, we may now mention those which such a soul has.
1. It has entire corruption and depravity.
2. From entire depravity proceeds the second positive quality in the dead soul — it is constantly committing actual sin.
3. A third property of a spiritually dead soul is, that it is under the wrath and curse of God (Galatians 3:8).
4. The fourth and last property which we shall mention is, that the soul in this state is deserving of and prepared for eternal death. "The soul that sinneth shall die" is the unchangeable word of the inflexibly just God. "The wages of sin is death."
II. THE CHANGE WHICH THE EPHESIANS UNDERWENT, SO AS TO BRING THEM INTO THE STATE IN WHICH THEY WERE WHEN THE APOSTLE TRANSMITTED TO THEIR CHURCH THIS EPISTLE — "You hath He quickened." Under this head we might direct your attention to the five following particulars: The nature, author, qualities, effects, and subjects of this change.
1. As to the nature of this change. It was to the souls of the Ephesians what the resurrection of Lazarus was to his body, the actual communication of life to what was previously dead.
2. Who was the author of this mighty transformation? Not the apostle; he utterly disclaims the power, as well as the honour, of effecting it (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). Not the Ephesians themselves. Can the dead quicken the dead? "You hath He quickened."
3. As to the qualities of this change. If our time permitted, we might describe it as being supernatural in its origin, nature, and effects; immediate, abiding (1 John 2:19), saving, transforming, and a most glorious and happy change, giving glory to God, and conferring happiness on men.
4. The effects of this change of being quickened from spiritual death were two-fold — inestimable privilege and holy fruit.
5. The subjects of this change. "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
III. LET US NOW ENDEAVOUR TO APPLY TO OUR OWN USE WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED RESPECTING THE EPHESIANS. Should anyone be saying, "I greatly fear that I am dead, but oh that I knew how I may be quickened!" Be of good courage, my brother, and despair not, for the mercy of God is unsearchable, and may reach even to you. If anyone in this assembly be quickened from his death in sins, to him I would say, You have been quickened in order that God in Christ may be glorified in you and by you. You are a monument of the marvellous grace of God, therefore glorify the grace of God by ascribing your salvation to sovereign grace as its origin, depending on efficacious grace as its means, and living to the praise of redeeming grace as its end.
I. In the first three verses THE STATE AND CHARACTER OF THE EPHESIANS BEFORE THEIR CONVERSION IS DESCRIBED. As to their state, they "were dead in trespasses and sins." This death may be viewed as two-fold, namely, legal and spiritual. The former consisted in the condemning sentence of the Divine law, under which they lay, as its transgressors; the latter consisted in the moral pollution of their natures, in consequence of which they were utterly incapable of any holy obedience to God. As to their character, or external deportment, the Ephesians are described in verses second and third, They "walked in sins." The term "walk" is expressive of a regular habitual course. Their whole life was sin. The sinful life which the Ephesians led was more particularly distinguished by conformity to the world, and compliance with the devil. They walked in sins "according to the course of this world," "according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
II. We come, secondly, to consider THE GREAT CHANGE WHICH HAD TAKEN PLACE IN THE WRETCHED CONDITION OF THE EPHESIANS THROUGH DIVINE GRACE.
1. This blessed change is explained in verses 1, 4, 5, and 6. In verse 1 we are informed in what the change consisted "You hath He quickened." To quicken is to implant holy principles in the soul, so that it becomes alive to God and righteousness.
2. We have next the author of this gracious change, in verses 4 and 5 — "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)." To quicken dead souls is a Divine work, as much so as is the resuscitation of a dead body to life. The new birth is as far above the effort of nature as the rearing of a world.
3. We have next the formal or meritorious cause of this change — "He hath quickened us together with Christ" (verse 4). Christ was quickened by the mighty power of God when He rose from the dead; end His resurrection was the Father's testimony to the perfection and acceptance of that glorious work, which is the foundation of all the grace which flows from heaven to poor sinners.
4. "And hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Jesus not only rose from the dead, to which His people are conformed in regeneration, but also ascended into heaven, and "sat down at the right hand of the throne of God"; and this He did as the Head, so that in Him His people sat down in heavenly places; and His exaltation there is the assurance that they shall personally appear in heaven, and share in the glory the Father hath bestowed on Him.
5. We have, finally, the moving cause of the grace shown to the Ephesians, in verse 4 — "But God, who is rich in mercy," etc. The cause of the grace manifested to Jews and Gentiles lay in God alone, not in any measure in them. It was love residing in the bosom of the Eternal Himself which moved Him to quicken these wretched sinners.
III. We come, thirdly and lastly, to THE ULTIMATE OBJECT OF GOD'S GRACE TO SINNERS OF THE JEWS AND GENTILES. It is mentioned in the seventh verse — "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." This was a noble end, in all respects worthy of our gracious God. These poor idolaters, quickened to a heavenly and endless life, are patterns of Divine grace to every age, and to every sinner of every age, till time has run its course. Let me shortly improve this subject by urging on you the lessons it inculcates. Learn, first, from this subject, the guilt and wretchedness of our spiritual condition by nature. We learn, secondly, from this subject, how great is the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
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