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Ephesians 2

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

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Verses 3-10

A. Individual calling 1:3-2:10

Paul began the body of his letter by revealing the spiritual blessings that God has planned for believers in His Son.

"The opening section of Ephesians (Ephesians 1:3 to Ephesians 2:10), which describes the new life God has given us in Christ, divides itself naturally into two halves, the first consisting of praise and the second of prayer. In the ’praise’ half Paul blesses God that he has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3-14), while in the ’prayer’ half he asks that God will open our eyes to grasp the fullness of this blessing (Ephesians 1:15 to Ephesians 2:10)." [Note: Stott, p. 31.]

Verse 1

Before their regeneration, believers were spiritually dead, separated from God, and unable to have fellowship with Him (cf. Ephesians 4:18; John 17:3). We were living in the sphere of rebellion against God (cf. Ephesians 2:2). Transgressions (false steps, cf. Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:5) and sins (acts of missing the mark) describe deliberate offenses against God.

"There are three outstanding schools of moral pathology traceable throughout the centuries. Pelagianism asserts the convalescence of human nature. Man merely needs teaching. Semi-pelagianism admits his ill-health, but affirms that the symptoms will yield to proper treatment, to a course of tonic drugs and a scrupulous regimen. But Biblical Christianity probes the patient to the quick. Its searching diagnosis pronounces that mortification has set in and that nothing less than infusion of fresh lifeblood can work a cure. Nostrums and palliatives aggravate rather than allay the disease. Sin is an organic epidemical malady, a slow devitalizing poison issuing in moral necrosis; not a stage of arrested or incomplete development, but a seed-plot of impending ruin." [Note: Simpson, p. 46.]

"The unbeliever is not sick; he is dead! He does not need resuscitation; he needs resurrection. All lost sinners are dead, and the only difference between one sinner and another is the state of decay." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:18.]

Verses 1-3

Once dead to God 2:1-3

These verses are really preliminary to Paul’s main point. They describe the Christian’s condition as an unbeliever before God justified him or her. In the Greek text Ephesians 2:1-7 are one sentence. The subject of this sentence is God (Ephesians 2:4). The three main verbs are "made alive" (Ephesians 2:5), "raised up" (Ephesians 2:6), and "seated" (Ephesians 2:6). The object is "us," and the prepositional phrase "with Christ" describes "us." The main point then is that God has made believers alive, raised us up, and seated us with Christ. Everything else in Ephesians 2:1-7 is of subordinate importance.

Verses 1-10

3. The motive: grace 2:1-10

Paul proceeded to conclude his revelation of the Christian’s individual calling in Christ (Ephesians 1:3 to Ephesians 2:10). He began this section of the epistle by explaining the purpose of our calling (i.e., the glory of God, Ephesians 1:3-14). He then expounded the means whereby we appreciate our calling (i.e., knowledge given by the Holy Spirit through God’s revelation, Ephesians 1:15-23). Finally, He enunciated the motive for our calling (i.e., the unmerited grace of God, Ephesians 2:1-10).

These verses continue the theme of redemption (Ephesians 1:7). This pericope is a condensation of Paul’s exposition of redemption in Romans. Whereas we were once dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-3), we are now alive in God (Ephesians 2:4-10).

". . . what Paul does in this passage is to paint a vivid contrast between what man is by nature and what he can become by grace." [Note: Stott, p. 69.]

"Having described our spiritual possessions in Christ, Paul turns to a complementary truth: our spiritual position in Christ. First he explains what God has done for all sinners in general; then he explains what God did for the Gentiles in particular." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:17.]

Verse 2

The apostle further described the sphere in which unbelievers live in three ways. First, it is a lifestyle in which people follow the ways of the world. The philosophy that seeks to eliminate God from every aspect of life dominates this lifestyle (cf. John 15:18; John 15:23).

"The Jews called their laws of conduct Halachah, which means ’Walking’ (cf. Mk. vii. 5; Acts xxi. 21; Heb. xiii. 9, RV mg.)." [Note: Foulkes, p. 69.]

Second, the unsaved follow the person who is promoting this philosophy, namely, Satan. As prince of the power of the air Satan received temporary freedom to lead this rebellion against God (cf. 1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). The "spirit" now working probably refers to the "power" or "kingdom" (lit. authority) of the air since that word is its nearest antecedent.

". . . by speaking of the devil’s authority as ’in the air’, Paul was not necessarily accepting the current notion of the air being the abode and realm of evil spirits. Basically his thought was of an evil power with control in the world (see on vi. 12), but whose existence was not material but spiritual." [Note: Ibid.]

"Sons of disobedience" is a way of saying people characterized by disobedience, as a son bears the traits of his parent. Unbelievers resemble Satan in their rebellion.

Verse 3

Third, not only do the philosophy of the world guide unbelievers and Satan control them, but they also indulge the flesh. The term "flesh" (NASB, Gr. sarkos), when used metaphorically as here, refers to the sinful nature that everyone possesses. It is our human nature that is sinful. The unbeliever characteristically gives in to his or her fleshly desires and thoughts whereas the believer should not and need not do so (cf. Romans 7-8).

"Children of wrath" and "sons of disobedience" are both phrases that describe unbelievers. "Children" (Gr. tekna) highlights the close relationship between a child and his or her parents. "Sons" (Gr. huioi) stresses the distinctive characteristics of the parents that the child displays. Unbelievers have a close relationship to God’s wrath because of their rebellion against Him (cf. Romans 1:18 to Romans 2:29; John 3:36).

These verses (1-3) picture the hopeless unbeliever as a part of the world system, controlled by Satan, indulging the flesh, and destined to experience God’s wrath. When an unbeliever trusts Jesus Christ, the world, the devil, and the flesh become his or her three-fold enemy.

Verse 4

Paul introduced the contrast between the condition of the unbeliever and that of the believer with "But." God, the subject of this passage (Ephesians 2:1-7), makes all the difference. "Mercy" (Gr. eleos, the word the Septuagint translators used to render the Hebrew hesed, loyal love) means undeserved kindness. God’s great love (Gr. agape) sought the highest good in the objects of His choice even though we were rebellious sinners.

Verses 4-10

Now alive in God 2:4-10

The wrath of God on the unbeliever (Ephesians 2:3) contrasts with the grace of God on the believer (Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:7-8). God’s special grace toward some unbelievers gives them life (Ephesians 2:4-5), raises them up (Ephesians 2:6), and seats them in heavenly realms with Christ (Ephesians 2:6-10).

Verse 5

Unbelievers are spiritually dead in their sins (cf. Ephesians 2:1). However, God has given new life to believers. The only way a dead person can have any fellowship with the living God is for God to give him or her new life (cf. Romans 4:17). Regeneration is an act of God in grace. Regeneration results in the commencement and continuation of new life. "Have been saved" is in the perfect tense in Greek indicating an ongoing permanent condition.

Verse 6

God has, second, raised up believers with Christ. This describes our spiritual, not physical experience. He will yet raise us physically, but spiritually He has already raised us to a new type of life (cf. Colossians 3:1-2). Like our Lord’s resurrection life, ours is also powerful and eternal.

Third, God has seated us in the heavenly realms with Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:20). That is where our heavenly citizenship lies (Philippians 3:20) and where our final home is. What Christ did physically (i.e., died, arose, and took His seat in heaven) God has already done for the believer spiritually. The fact that God enabled Christ to do these things physically should help us believe that He has done these things for us spiritually.

Verse 7

God’s ultimate purpose is to glorify Himself. The "ages" to come include all future ages. God will use the regeneration of believers to demonstrate the wealth and richness of His grace (cf. Ephesians 1:7). Specifically His kindness toward believers as displayed in all that we have in Christ is in view. We see God’s kindness in His giving life to those who were dead in sin.

Note that Ephesians 2:1-3 describe what we were in the past, Ephesians 2:4-6 what we are in the present, and Ephesians 2:7 what we shall be in the future.

Verse 8

Ephesians 2:8-9 explain the surpassing riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:7) and elaborate the parenthetical statement in Ephesians 2:5.

The basis of our salvation is God’s grace (unmerited favor and divine enablement; cf. Romans 3:22; Romans 3:25; Galatians 2:16; 1 Peter 1:5). The instrument by which we receive salvation is faith (i.e., trust in Christ). Faith is not an act or work that earns merit with God, which He rewards with salvation. When a person puts out his hand to take a gift that someone else offers, he or she is doing nothing to merit that gift. The giver gets credit for the gift, not the receiver. Likewise faith is not a meritorious work. [Note: See Morris, p. 104; and René A. López, "Is Faith a Gift from God or a Human Exercise?" Bibliotheca Sacra 164:655 (July-September 2007):259-76.]

To what does "that" or "this" refer? Since it is a neuter pronoun it evidently does not refer to "grace" or "faith," both of which are feminine in gender in the Greek text. Probably it refers to the whole preceding clause that describes salvation (cf. Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 3:1). Salvation is the gift of God. [Note: See Roy L. Aldrich, "The Gift of God," Bibliotheca Sacra 122:487 (July-September 1965):248-53; and Gary L. Nebeker, "Is Faith a Gift of God? Ephesians 2:8 Reconsidered," Grace Evangelical Society News 4:7 (July 1989):1, 4.]

"If we breathe, it is because life has been breathed into us; if we exercise the hearing of faith it is because our ears have been unstopped. We are born from above. Spiritual life is not of the nature of a subsidy supplementing dogged exertion or ruthless self-flagellation, but a largess from the overflowing well-spring of divine compassion, lavished on a set of spiritual incapables." [Note: Simpson, p. 55.]

Verse 9

Salvation is not by works since its basis is grace and its means of reception faith. No one will be able to boast that he or she has done something that earned him or her salvation. All the glory will go to God for accomplishing salvation.

"Since we have not been saved by our good works, we cannot be lost by our bad works." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:19.]

Verse 10

Here Paul gave the reason salvation is not from man or by works. Rather than salvation being a masterpiece that we have produced, regenerated believers are a masterpiece that God has produced. "Workmanship" (Gr. poieme, from which we get the word "poem"; cf. Romans 1:20) means a work of art, a masterpiece. The Jerusalem Bible translated it "work of art" here. As a master worker, God has created us in Christ Jesus. The word translated "created" here (Gr. ktizo) describes only God’s activity and denotes something He alone can produce.

Good works are not the roots from which salvation grows but the fruit God intends it to bear. God has not saved us because of our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but He has saved us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). God saves us by faith for good works. Good works are what God intended for us to practice, with His divine enablement. He intended that we walk in them, as a pedestrian walks along a path, before He saved us (cf. Ephesians 1:4). This verse reveals that God is ultimately responsible for our good works (cf. Romans 9:23; Philippians 2:13). Paul developed the idea of walking in good works further in chapters 4-6.

". . . God has prepared a path of good works for believers which He will perform in and through them as they walk by faith. This does not mean doing a work for God; instead, it is God’s performing His work in and through believers . . ." [Note: Hoehner, "Ephesians," p. 624.]

However this verse does not say that Christians will inevitably walk in the good works that God has freed us from sin’s penalty and power to pursue. God has saved us so we can do works that are good in His sight, but this is obviously only part of His purpose in saving us. He has also saved us to take us to heaven, for example (John 14:1-3). He has guaranteed that all who trust in His Son will reach heaven (our glorification, John 10:28-29). He has not guaranteed that all who trust in Jesus Christ will persevere in good works (our progressive sanctification). That depends on our obedience (Ephesians 4:1; Titus 3:8).

God desires that everyone experience salvation (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), but the fact that some will perish does not put God’s desires or power in question. He has given us enough freedom to choose if we will believe or not (cf. John 3:36). Likewise God has provided salvation so His children will be able to obey Him and do good works, but He does not compel us to do so (Titus 2:11-12).

"One could legitimately characterize the whole lordship controversy as a dispute over efficacious grace. All points in the discussion ultimately come back to this: Does God’s saving grace inevitably obtain its desired effects? If all sides could come to consensus on that one question, the debate would be settled." [Note: John MacArthur, Faith Works, p. 61.]

God’s saving grace inevitably obtains all that God has said it will inevitably obtain, including the believer’s justification, positional sanctification, and glorification. However it does not inevitably obtain what God has said depends on the choices of His people. We must be careful to distinguish what God wants to happen from what He has said He will make happen. His desires are not the same as His decrees. [Note: See Zane C. Hodges, Absolutely Free! pp. 73-74.]

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty means that God is the ultimate authority in the universe. It implies that He has power sufficient to control everything that happens. It does not mean that God will inevitably bring to pass everything that He wishes would happen. If that were the case, no one would go to hell, and everyone would obey Him perfectly.

God does not force Christians to persevere in good works any more than He forced the Israelites to persevere in good works. The Israelites’ failure to walk in the good works that God had foreordained for them does not mean that His efficacious grace failed. Neither does Christians’ failure to do so mean that.

This section of the epistle (Ephesians 2:1-10) contrasts what the believer was before regeneration with what he or she is after. All the glory for the change goes to God. He provided salvation for people. We do not need to do good works to merit salvation, but we should do good works because we have received salvation. This is God’s plan for the believer.

Verse 11

In view of what God has done for us in changing us, Gentile believers need to remember certain things. Paul used "flesh" here in the literal sense (i.e., the body) rather than in one of its metaphorical senses (i.e., the sinful human nature, or all that we are in Adam). Great differences existed between Jewish and Gentile believers before the Cross.

"The one word that best describes the Gentiles is without. They were ’outside’ in several respects." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:22.]

Verses 11-13

The reality of Gentile believers’ union with Jewish believers 2:11-13

Verses 11-19

B. Corporate calling 2:11-3:19

New spiritual life does not just mean that we have experienced regeneration individually. Additionally God brings every Christian into union with every other Christian. In Christ we have solidarity with other believers as well as solidarity with God. Paul next explained this corporate aspect of our being in Christ.

". . . a major focus of this letter and of the Prison Epistles in general is the corporate nature of those who are in the body of Christ. Believers do not have a private faith; they have corporate relationship and responsibility to each other." [Note: Bock, p. 308.]

Verses 11-22

1. Present ministry 2:11-22

The apostle first stated the reality of the union of all believers in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-13). Then he explained what this involves (Ephesians 2:14-18). Finally he described the consequences of this union (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Verse 12

Paul listed five privileges Gentile believers did not enjoy that Jewish believers did enjoy before the Cross. First, Gentile believers were separate from Christ, Messiah. They had no corporate national hope centered in a Messiah, as the Jews did. Second, God excluded them as a people from citizenship in Israel. Individual Gentiles could become members of the nation of Israel, but as a whole the Gentiles had no part in what God planned to do in and through Israel. The Gentiles were aliens from Israel in this sense. Third, they had no direct part in the promises of God to Israel contained in the biblical covenants (Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic). Morris, an amillennialist, believed the singular "promise" refers to "God’s promise to send his Messiah." [Note: Morris, p. 62.] Probably the singular "promise" simply stresses the promise element that is foundational to all the biblical covenants. Fourth, as a people the Gentiles had no corporate future promised by God to which they could look and in which they could hope, as Israel did. Fifth, they were separate from God. In contrast, God had reached out to Israel and drawn her to Himself.

"The Jew had an immense contempt for the Gentile. The Gentiles, said the Jews, were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. God, they said, loves only Israel of all the nations that he had made. The best of the serpents crush, they said, the best of the Gentiles kill. It was not even lawful to render help to a Gentile mother in her hour of sorest need, for that would simply be to bring another Gentile into the world. Until Christ came, the Gentiles were an object of contempt to the Jews. The barrier between them was absolute. If a Jewish boy married a Gentile girl, or if a Jewish girl married a Gentile boy, the funeral of that Jewish boy or girl was carried out. Such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death." [Note: Barclay, p. 125. Cf. Jonah.]

Verse 13

"But" points to another great contrast (cf. Ephesians 2:4). Because of Jesus Christ’s death (blood) God has brought Gentiles near to Himself and to the Jews in a sense never before true. The rabbis spoke of Gentiles who were far from the privileges of the Mosaic Covenant as "brought near" by becoming proselytes. [Note: For the original sources, see Abbott, p. 60.] Sin results in death and separation. However, Christ’s obedience resulted in life and reconciliation with other people as well as with God for Gentiles. Perhaps Paul referred to the blood of Christ to correct the Gnostic denial of Christ’s real humanity. [Note: Robertson, 4:526.]

There is obvious continuity between the redeemed people of God in the Old Testament and the redeemed people of God in the New Testament. However here Paul stressed the differences between these two groups. [Note: See Carl B. Hoch Jr., "The New Man in Ephesians 2," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, pp. 98-126.] Covenant theology stresses the continuity between the two groups whereas dispensational theology stresses the differences between them. Many covenant theologians deny these differences.

Verse 14

To understand this verse we must discover what dividing wall Paul had in mind. Perhaps it was the wall in Herod’s Temple courtyard that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Jews. [Note: Morris, p. 65. Cf. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15:11:5; ibid., The Wars of the Jews, 5:5:2.] This seems improbable since that wall still stood and divided Jews and Gentiles when Paul wrote this epistle. Perhaps he had in mind the veil between the holy and most holy places in that temple. However, that veil-it was not a wall-did not separate Jews from Gentiles but all people from God. It seems most probable that Paul had in mind a spiritual rather than a physical barrier that had separated Jews and Gentiles since Abraham’s time. This is in harmony with Paul’s emphasis on spiritual realities that marks Ephesians.

"This new institution [the church] does not dissolve ethnic distinctions, but displays reconciliation, with every believer equally qualified to share in the benefits of salvation and peace that emerge from the uniting of Jews and Gentiles into a new living community." [Note: Bock, p. 314.]

This verse is a strong testimony to the fact that with the death of Jesus Christ God began dealing with humankind on a different basis than He had in the past. He now stopped working with and though the Jews and Judaism primarily (though temporarily, cf. Romans 11). Instead He began dealing with Jews and Gentiles on the same basis, namely, their faith in His Son. In others words, He began a new dispensation or administration in His dealings with humanity.

"When Ephesians 2:14 says Christ is our peace, it means that Jesus is the source of restored relationships, not only between an individual and God but also between individuals. Now people form a new community, the household of God, which itself is compared to a holy temple, a sacred work of God (Ephesians 2:18-22)." [Note: Idem, "’The New Man’ as Community in Colossians and Ephesians," in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands, p. 161.]

Verses 14-18

The significance of Gentile believers’ union with Jewish believers 2:14-18

Essentially Jesus Christ’s death has resulted in peace between Gentile believers and Jewish believers and peace between Gentile believers and God.

Verse 15

The body of Jesus sacrificed on the cross terminated the enmity between Jews and Gentiles. It did so in the sense that when Jesus Christ died He fulfilled all the demands of the Mosaic Law. When He did that, God ended the Mosaic Law as His rule of life for the Jews. The word "abolished" (Gr. kataresas) means "rendered inoperative." The Mosaic Law ceased to be God’s standard for regulating the life of His people (Romans 10:4; et al.). The Mosaic Law had been the cause of the enmity between Jews and Gentiles. Its dietary distinctions and laws requiring separation, in particular, created hostility between Jews and Gentiles. The NASB translation implies that the law was the barrier. Really it was the cause of the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. Jesus Christ destroyed the barrier and the hostility that resulted from it by terminating the Mosaic Law. [Note: See Hal Harless, "The Cessation of the Mosaic Covenant," Bibliotheca Sacra 160:639 (July-September 2003):349-66.]

Jesus Christ had two purposes in ending Jewish Gentile hostility. First, He wanted to "create" one new man, the church (Ephesians 2:6), out of the two former groups, Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11). Here the "new man" is not the individual believer but the church, the body of Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Colossians 3:10-11; Hebrews 12:23). In the church God does not deal with Gentiles as He did with Jews, nor does He deal with Jews as He did Gentiles. Jews do not become Gentiles nor do Gentiles become Jews. Rather God has created a whole new (Gr. kainon, fresh) entity, the church. In it believing Jews become Christians, and believing Gentiles become Christians. God deals with both believing Jews and believing Gentiles now equally as Christians. [Note: See Fruchtenbaum, p. 118.]

Verse 16

Jesus Christ’s second purpose for ending Jewish Gentile hostility was to bring Jewish and Gentile believers to Himself in one body, the church. The Old Testament never spoke of Jewish and Gentile believers as being in one body. Ironically the Cross in one sense terminated Jesus, but Jesus terminated the enmity between Jews and Gentiles with the Cross. Not only have Jews and Gentiles experienced reconciliation with one another (Ephesians 2:14), but they have also experienced reconciliation with God by the Cross (Ephesians 2:16).

Verse 17

Not only is Jesus Christ our peace (Ephesians 2:14), but He also preached peace. He preached the message of peace, the gospel, through His apostles following His ascension (cf. Acts 1:1-2; Acts 1:8) to both Gentiles and Jews (Ephesians 2:12-13).

Verse 18

As a result of the Cross, both Jewish and Gentile believers have access to God. Formerly access to God was through Judaism, but now it is through Christ by the Holy Spirit. As a result of Christ’s death, all believers now have direct access to the Father (cf. Ephesians 3:12; Romans 5:2). The Holy Spirit gives Jewish and Gentile Christians equal access to God. Note that all three members of the Godhead appear again here.

Controversy over whether Gentile believers had to come to God through Judaism or whether they could come directly to God as Gentiles raged in the early church (Acts 15:1-5; Galatians 1-2). Paul gave the solution to this problem again here (cf. Acts 15:6-21; Galatians 3-4). God has made Jewish and Gentile believers one in the church (Ephesians 2:14). He created a new entity, the church, out of two others, namely, Jewish believers and Gentile believers (Ephesians 2:15). Both kinds of believers experience reconciliation with each other in that body (Ephesians 2:16), and both have access to God by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). [Note: See Bruce W. Fong, "Addressing the Issue of Racial Reconciliation According to the Principle of Ephesians 2:11-22," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 38:4 (December 1995):565-80.]

Verse 19

Because of this union Christians are no longer strangers (foreigners) and aliens in relation to believers of former ages. They are fellow citizens with all the saints, namely, believers who lived before Pentecost. Elsewhere Paul spoke of the local church as a household (1 Timothy 3:15), but here the household in view is all believers of all ages. [Note: See Hoehner, Ephesians, pp. 395-96.]

Verses 19-22

The consequences of Gentile believers’ union with Jewish believers 2:19-22

Verse 20

Paul, third, compared the church to a temple. It rests on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Evidently New Testament prophets are in view since the word "prophets" follows "apostles" (cf. Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11). These men constituted the foundation of the church since it was through them that God revealed and established the church.

"In practical terms this means that the church is built on the New Testament Scriptures." [Note: Stott, p. 107.]

When Paul wrote, the cornerstone was the crucial part of the foundation of a building. It was the stone with which the builder squared up every other stone, including the other foundation stones. [Note: Hoehner, "Ephesians," p. 627.]

"In the East it was considered to be even more important than the foundation." [Note: Wood, p. 42.]

Verse 21

Paul pictured the church as under construction with God adding new believers constantly (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16; Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:5). The individual stones represent believers, both Jewish and Gentile. Today God does not inhabit a physical temple somewhere on earth, as He did in Old Testament times. He indwells His church, which is a spiritual temple spread over all the earth. It began on the day of Pentecost, and it will continue until the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). As physical temples glorified the gods they represented in ancient times, so the church glorifies the true God today.

Paul may very well have used the illustration of a temple because the temple of Artemis in Ephesus was the city’s most outstanding claim to fame. It was four times as big as the Parthenon that still stands in Athens. One hundred twenty-seven white columns rose 60 feet high and surrounded an image of the goddess Artemis (Diana). [Note: Pliny, Historia Naturalis, 36.21 §96.] Authorities still regard this temple as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (cf. Acts 19:23-41).

Verse 22

The Holy Spirit indwells the church universal. He, of course, also indwells ever believer individually (John 14:17; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 3:2; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13). Paul compared the individual believer to a temple of God elsewhere (1 Corinthians 6:19). He also referred to the local Christian congregation as a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). However here he revealed that all Christians are part of one great temple, the church universal.

"Now His presence is dispersed, not localized. Now His presence is incarnated, instead of confined behind a veil." [Note: Bock, "A Theology . . .," p. 314.]

"What a fellowship rivets our gaze in the communion of saints! Where shall we find its like? Gathered from east and west, from patriarchs of the prior and laggards of the last times, from the courts of kings and the cabins of beggars, from babes-in-arms and centenarians, right honourables and ragamuffins, from the ranks of the learned and the ignorant, the pharisee and the publican, the sharp-witted and the feeble-minded, the respectable and the criminal classes-what a divine power must be put forth to mould all these incongruous elements into one consentient [united in opinion] whole, stamped with one regenerate likeness for evermore, the radiant image of the ’Alpha and Omega,’ God’s Yokefellow and theirs, coequally David’s Son and David’s Lord!" [Note: Simpson, p. 68.]

God’s plan for believers included the building of a new entity after Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension (cf. Matthew 16:18). It was to be the church. The church is not just a continuation and modernization of Israel under a new name but a new creation (Ephesians 2:15). In it Jewish and Gentile believers stand with equal rights and privileges before God. Membership in this new body is one of the great blessings of believers in the present age along with our individual blessings (Ephesians 2:1-10). Paul glorified God for that blessing in this section of Ephesians.

"I wonder if anything is more urgent today, for the honour of Christ and for the spread of the gospel, than that the church should be, and should be seen to be, what by God’s purpose and Christ’s achievement it already is-a single new humanity, a model of human community, a family of reconciled brothers and sisters who love their Father and love each other, the evident dwelling place of God by his Spirit. Only then will the world believe in Christ as Peacemaker. Only then will God receive the glory due to his name." [Note: Stott, pp. 111-12.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.