Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 2:1-7

Kαὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἀμαρτίαις ὑμῶν ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κὀσμου τοὐτου κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσἰας τοῦ ἀέρος τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας· ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί· ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ἥν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ – χαριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι – καὶ συνήγειρεν καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αὦσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. And you being dead in wrongdoings and in your sins, in which you formerly lived according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit who is now working in the sons of disbelief, in which also we all formerly behaved in the lusts of our flesh, doing the will of the flesh and of the negative impulses, and we were children of wrath by nature as also the rest, but God being rich in mercy according to his great love, which he loved us and he made alive together with Christ us being dead in wrongdoings–you are being saved by grace–and he raised us up with Christ and caused us to sit down in the heavenly realms with Christ, in order that he might reveal in the coming ages the over-passing wealth of his grace in generosity for us.

It is likely that Paul is still in the same sentence from 1:20-23. The vocabulary and syntax at least permits it. It is obvious that the two belong together–he is still going on about the work of God. Thus, this sentence is linked with Ephesians 1:20-23 and also the contents preceding that verse. But this present part now explains more about what God has done in terms of his chosen ones through and with his Chosen One.

Paul said his readers were dead. He said they were dead in wrongdoings and in their sins. They were dead in the sense that they had fallen away from accepted standards of conduct (in God’s eyes) and they had departed from standards of uprightness (which are God’s). Paul uses a sort of parallelism here between four dative case words. The first two are dative plural articles (first masculine, then feminine), and the second two are dative plural relative pronouns attached to ἐν. The first and last correspond to each other while the second and third are related. This inverted parallel structure seems to simply be a way that Paul was explaining what he meant by his readers being dead. The first, τοῖς παραπτώμασιν, and the last, ἐν οἷς . . ., seem to be connected in the sense that the falling away from accepted standards of conduct was expressed by living according to the lusts of the flesh, doing the will of the flesh and of the negative impulses, being children of wrath or anger by nature as everyone else. “Formerly,” ποτε, indicates that the state of being dead according to living in alignment with the desires of the flesh is no longer a present reality; it was true of the past but is no longer true for the present. Likewise, in the other prepositional phrase, it indicates that the state of being dead according to living in alignment with the world is no longer a present reality. The second, ταῖς ἀμαρτίαις, and the third, ἐν αἷς . . ., seem to be related in the sense that the departure from Gods standards of uprightness was demonstrated in living according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit who is now working in the sons of disobedience. It seems in this case that while being dead in sin the readers had veered from God’s standards of uprightness to take on a different divine perspective on living, one that is in contrast to God’s.

Paul then contrasts the readers with God. The readers were dead in wrongdoings and sin, but God is rich in mercy. Indeed, God showed love to us according to his great love. He made us alive together with Christ, us who were dead in wrongdoings. Paul adds in a quick sentence that is hard to place, because it does not fit the flow of his argument and it does not match or connect with anything surround it in terms of vocabulary and syntax, but contextually it matches. Paul is talking about God’s work in the chosen ones. This work is God’s act of grace. He introduces the grace act of God briefly and eventually will return to it in the next sentence of chapter 2. Paul says that the readers are being saved by grace. “Being saved,” σεσῳσμένοι, is a perfect participle. It indicates an action that has taken place in the past but the effects of which are still being felt today. God’s saving act, his grace act, is something that has happened in the past (“You are saved”) but it continues to be in effect (“You are being saved”). It is not easy to get this understanding across in english without being redundant (“You are saved and you are being saved by grace”). At any rate, σεσῳσμένοι indicates that God’s grace act is a process. But Paul moves on quickly and picks up this idea again later. God showed his love to us, making us alive with Christ even though we were dead, and he raised us up and sat us down with Christ in the heavenly realms. Earlier we saw that God sat Christ down in the heavenly realms after having raised him up from the dead. Now Paul declares the same is true for the chosen ones. We have been raised up from the dead and caused to sit down in the heavenly realms with Christ. Therefore, we share in the activity of Christ. He is in authority over all things, and we take part in that authority too. It is both God’s purpose and result that he might demonstrate his over-passing wealth of his grace in generosity for us. The subjunctive marker, ἵνα, indicates in this case that purpose is given to the previous aorist verbs and also result. God showed love on us, made us alive, raised us up, and sat us down in the heavenly realms with Christ for the purpose that he might reveal the great riches of his grace. Yet, God’s actions also yield the result that his love, life giving, raising, and causing to sit demonstrates the great riches of his grace. God set out to demonstrate his grace, and he succeeded.

And you being dead in the fallen state of accepted standards of conduct, in your departure from God’s standards of uprightness, in which you formerly conducted yourselves according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit who is now working in the sons of disbelief, in which also we all formerly behaved in the lusts of our flesh, doing the will of the flesh and of the negative impulses, and we were children of anger by nature as is everyone else, but God being rich in mercy according to his great love, which he showed us and he made us alive with Christ, us who are dead in wrongdoings–you are being saved by grace–and he raised us up from death with Christ and caused us to sit down in the heavenly realms with Christ, in order that he might reveal in the coming ages the over-passing wealth of his grace in generosity for us.

We need to recognize that God has worked in Jesus Christ, but also in us. He has raised us to life out of our death, he has raised us up and sat us down in the heavenly realms with Christ. As a result, we share in the authority of Christ. God did all of this work in us so that he might reveal his grace, which he is abundantly rich in and generous with for us. Furthermore, God is still in the process of saving us. We are helpless, but God has given us a most generous gift, the gift of being saved. Thus, God has worked in our lives but he continues to work in our lives, strengthening us to live accoring to his standards of conduct and uprightness.

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  1. Pingback: Post and Verse Indices for Ephesians Sentence by Sentence « The Letter to the Ephesians

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