by Rolaant L. McKenzie
Apart from Christ, we were
spiritually "dead" because of our sinful nature.
That is, we stood guilty before God because we continued to
miss the mark, or fall short of the standards God requires
of us to live by. The use of the Greek word nekros
("dead") conveys the message that we were separated
from the life-giving grace of God; our souls separated from
the quickening of His divine influence, with no hope of eternal
The verb peripateo used here means "'to walk about', implying a habitual conduct." (Word Meanings in the New Testament, by Ralph Earle) Before coming to Christ we habitually conducted our lives according to the present world system, which is evil and in opposition to God.
The reason this present world system is in opposition to the divine will of God is because demonic powers and principalities influence and control it.
This influence can be seen
at work in those who exhibit apeitheia ("disobedience").
That is, a continual stubborn refusal to acknowledge God and
submit to His divine will.
Before Christ, we lived to
gratify the sinful propensities of our corrupt natures, fulfilling
the desires of a depraved mind. Because we lived in this state
of total depravity, we were by nature under the condemnation
God is perfect in His judgment
and has every right to justly condemn the ungodly. But in
His great love for us He has taken into account the miserable
state in which we placed ourselves as a result of our sins
and has shown richness in mercy (eleos) toward us.
This, in order to alleviate the consequences of sin, which
is eternal, spiritual death.
Though we were dead in sin, living in rebellion against God, He gave us life and hope due to His great love. "His love springs from Himself, not being called forth by anything in us, for He loved us in our spiritual ruin. The new life He gives us is not a thing apart; it is a participation in Christ's life. God made us 'alive together with Christ' so that we may share in His risen life ..." (The International Bible Commentary, edited by F.F. Bruce)
It is by God's gift of grace
that we have been and are presently in a perpetual state of
God has raised us up and made
us alive in Christ, and seated us with Him on high. Because
of Jesus' substitutionary death for our sins, His resurrection,
and His imparted righteousness to us, we are assured of eternal
life will reign with Him in His glorious kingdom.
Here is God's grand design
in giving us a new life in Christ, so that He can forever
show evidence of His goodness and mercy. (Matthew Henry's
Commentary on the Whole Bible, Ephesians)
The grace of God is the source of salvation. Grace comes from word charis. Charis means "a favor done without expectation of return; absolute freeness of the loving-kindness of God to men, finding its only motive in the bounty and freeheartedness of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor. Charis stands in opposition to works, the two being mutually exclusive. God's grace affects man's sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him." (The Complete Word Study New Testament)
While the source of salvation is the grace of God, this grace becomes efficacious "through faith" (dia pisteuo). Pisteuo is derived from the word pistis, which means to have faith, belief, total trust, confidence, in something or someone. (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd. Ed.)In the context of this passage, this faith is in Jesus Christ. It is not the kind faith that is mere intellectual assent, but faith that causes the believer to confess Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. This also means to be fully persuaded in and acknowledge the truth that all he is and has is through what God has done in Jesus Christ. Pisteuo is the kind of faith a child exhibits in his mother while being cradled in her arms.
The phrase theou to doron
("gift of God") conveys the message that salvation
and the faith needed to believe in Christ proceeds not from
ourselves, but is the gift of God. For every perfect gift
comes from God. (James 1:17) And one of those gifts is faith.
Jonah 2:9 teaches that "salvation is of the Lord."
This is further emphasized by the fact that no one can come
to Jesus Christ unless the Father draws him. (John 6:44)
"Works" comes from the word ergon, which means to by one's own performance seek to attain some matter, thing, or object. Ouk ex ergon ("not as a result of works") relates the clear message that salvation is not something we can obtain through our own performance of good works. (Titus 3:5)
According to Vine's Complete
Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,
kauchaomai means "to glory or to boast."
Because salvation is the gift of God, no one can boast about
his works or performance attaining salvation. A gift that
is earned is not a gift. If salvation could be attained via
one's good works then salvation is not of the Lord, but according
to one's works. And if according to one's works, then it is
not of grace. (Romans 11:6)
The meaning of poiema according to Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament is something "that is made", or "workmanship." When we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we become His workmanship, His masterpiece.
"Created" is derived from word ktizo, which in this sense means to form in a spiritual sense, to regenerate, to renew. (The Complete Word Study New Testament) When one is saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, he becomes a new creation in a spiritual sense. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Believers become a new creation "in Christ Jesus for good works." This refers to God's design to set them apart to live a holy life.
Proetoimazo means to "prepare beforehand". This expresses the idea of a previous determination, or an arrangement beforehand to secure a certain result. The previous preparation here refers to God's predetermination that believers are to lead holy lives. This is consistent with Paul's teaching in 1:4, which states that God has chosen His people before the foundation of the world in order that they may be holy. (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament)