Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 2:4 - 2:10

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 2:4 - 2:10


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

God's grace manifested toward the sinners:

v. 4. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love where with he loved us,

v. 5. even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved,)

v. 6. and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

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

v. 8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God;

v. 9. not of works, lest any man should boast.

v. 10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Paul now introduces the subject of the sentence begun in v. 1. His thought is: God gave to us, who are now Christians, while we were still dead with reference to our trespasses, spiritual life. The reason for this is given: God, however, being rich in mercy, on account of the great love wherewith He loved us. In the entire passage there is not a word of merit on the part of man, the entire process of regeneration or conversion is ascribed to God alone. Because He was rich, is rich to this day, rich beyond all human understanding, in mercy, in free favor and benevolence toward fallen mankind, and by reason of the great love, a love entirely unmerited on our part, with which He loved us, therefore He showed us mercy. The same God who is angry, who must be angry with sin, is the God of grace, of a mercy that is so rich as to be exhaustless, Joh_3:16.

Now comes the great contrast: Even when we were dead by reason of transgressions, He made us alive with Christ,—by grace you are saved. When we were in that terrible condition of spiritual death, as shown in our transgression of God's holy Law, when we were without the faintest bit of saving knowledge of God, without fear, love, and trust in Him, when there was in us nothing but a total inability with regard to the things which pertain to our salvation, then God gave us life together with Christ. As Christ, by the life which He received in the grave, did not return to the former mode of living on earth, but entered into a new manner of existence, as He is now in a new, transfigured, spiritual, state and life, so we were made partakers of this life according to our spirit, when God quickened us from our spiritual death. The new life of regeneration is life out of the life of Christ. By this act of God salvation has been given to us, by the free grace in Christ, as Paul is careful to remark by way of parenthesis. Note the sharp and absolute contrast between death and life: one moment a person is dead, without the slightest evidence of life in any form, the next moment he is alive, with at least some show of life, even if that be expressed merely as a desire for salvation. One thing is clear: there is no intermediate stage, no neutral ground; the change from spiritual death to spiritual life is one step, and that step is the work of God alone.

So wonderful is this process that the apostle expatiates upon it: And He has raised us with Him and placed us with Him in the heavenly regions in Christ Jesus. Just as Christ, as true man, was raised from the dead and placed at the right hand of God, where He now leads a heavenly mode of existence, 1Co_15:48, so we, by our conversion, have become partakers of the same essence. Our mind is now set, inclined, toward heavenly things. The exalted Christ has elevated our spirit into the spiritual, divine, heavenly life, all by means of the Gospel of our salvation, chap. 1:13.

God's purpose in working regeneration in us in this manner is finally stated: That He might show in the ages that are coming the superabundant wealth of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Our salvation here in time is an advance payment, earnest-money, assuring us of the last and most perfect manifestation of God's grace, which lies beyond the present age and world. When the ages of this world come to an end and the period of eternity dawns upon us, then we, who were by nature children of wrath, but now partakers of God's grace in Christ, shall experience the full riches of the grace of God. In Christ Jesus, our Redeemer and Mediator, we shall then receive the full benevolence and kindness of God in all eternity, we shall see the face of our heavenly Father and taste and see the beauty of the Lord, world without end.

All these wonderful blessings are gifts of God's free grace: For by the grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, God's is the gift, not of works, that no. one should glory. By and in our regeneration and conversion we have been made partakers of the salvation gained by Christ; by being awakened from spiritual death and given the life in and with Christ, we have become justified before God. All this is a work of God's free grace, transmitted to us through the hand of faith; we are thus regenerated, justified, by faith. In our heart, which was spiritually dead, God has enkindled the flame of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And this flame, just as soon as it sent up the first spark and began to glow, spread life throughout the formerly dead and cold members. Thus faith is the beginning of the new spiritual life. In this work of spiritual regeneration, of quickening to new life, all cooperation on the part of man is expressly and emphatically excluded. God's free gift and gracious present it is, not a reward for works performed by man by which he might have made himself worthy of being regenerated in the sight of God; no merit in us was considered, even had there been anything to point to in this respect, all boasting on the part of man is cut off absolutely. On our part we have not contributed even the slightest part toward our conversion, neither was it occasioned by any doing or conduct on our part. "That the glory of that salvation belongs wholly to God and in no degree to man, and that it has been so planned and so effected as to take from us all ground for boasting, is enforced on Paul's hearers again and again, in different connections, with anxious concern and utmost plainness of expression, Rom_3:17; 1Co_1:29; 1Co_4:7; Gal_6:14; Php_3:3."

And another fact is adduced by Paul to show that we Christians have no reason to make the advantages which we enjoy before others a matter of boasting: For His handiwork we are, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we should walk in them. The emphasis again is on the side of God; it is God who gave us the position which we hold as Christians. It is God, also, who performed the work of the new creation in us, so that we are in the fullest sense of the word the work of His hands, fashioned by Him in Christ Jesus, through whose redemption and life we have received the new spiritual life. By virtue of this new life, which is here again, in its totality, ascribed to the creative power of God, we are prepared for good works, we are able and ready to perform such deeds as are pleasing to our heavenly Father. These good works, which are the evidence of the new creature in us, by which our Christianity is tested and approved, have been made ready and set forth by God before we ever thought of performing them. God is the unseen Source from which the good works spring, His creative power is their final explanation. And by and through our fellowship with Christ these good works are performed in us; Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being, makes us partakers of His gifts and virtues, is expressed in our life and conduct; Christ's holiness, purity, humility, meekness, benevolence, and kindness appear in the lives of the Christians. And so all glorying on the part of the believers is excluded, as a matter of fact is never indulged in. A true Christian does not even boast of the good works which it is his privilege to perform, knowing that it is the power of Christ and God in him that enables him to follow the example of Christ.