David Johnstone

Bible study notes for Ephesians 2:1–2:10

April 20, 2011

I have loved this passage for a long time thanks to its relevance to Calvinism. This is the part of Ephesians I knew the best before I started studying the book systematically. And now that I have looked at it more closely than ever, I still love the way it describes what we have been transformed from and to, and the fact that God is completely responsible for that transformation.

  • What are the three things that act as influences when they were dead in their trespasses and sins?
    • The world (v. 2).
    • The devil (v. 2).
    • The flesh (v. 3).
  • What is “the kingdom of the air” (v. 2)?
    • In the ancient worldview, the “air” was the place between heaven and earth where [evil] spirits dwelt (as the magical literature of the day attests). This is quite different to the intellectual atmosphere with opinions and ideas that we have today.
  • What does it mean that all are “by nature children of wrath”?
    • Everybody is born in a state of deserving condemnation (cf. Romans 5). A quote from my commentary: “only the person who understands something of the greatness of his wrath will be mastered by the greatness of his mercy”.
  • How do people become Christians? Why do people become Christians (v. 4–5)?
    • God loved us — even when we were undeserving and didn’t love God — and made us alive. It is God’s work.
  • Note that “through faith” in v. 7 could mean either “through your faith in Jesus” (cf. Galatians 2:16) or “through Christ’s faithfulness”.
  • What does “this” in “this is not your own doing” refer to?
    • Not just faith, but salvation as a whole.
  • Notice how Paul denounced good works (as a way of salvation) in v. 9, and then encourages good works (as a consequence of salvation) in the next verse.
  • The “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” is potentially confusing. But it makes sense when read in light of the sovereignty of God (cf. 1:4, 11).
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