The Gospel is the great equaliser, but also the great uniter.
2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
2:18 – For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Discussion questions for group (If you want them):
What is the connection here between grace and being “in Christ”?
For the three sections in vv.1-10 (vv.1-3, vv.4-7, vv.8-10) what would be the effect if you stopped at one before going to the next?
What connection does Paul make between God’s grace, and Christian community?
Paul has used the term “heavenly realms” a number of times so far in Ephesians. What does he mean by it?
What does it look like for grace to be displayed in Christian community? What examples have you seen?
What does it look like for us to live out God’s grace in our everyday lives?
How does grace change our approach to social justice? Ethics?
How does God’s plan for us allow (or encourage?) us to have diversity in unity?
Notes / Observations:
vv.1-10 – Grace: The great equaliser before God[ut_togglegroup] [ut_toggle title=”vv.1-3 – The universal problem with sin”] v.1 – Notice the personal pronouns: Paul is here making a distinction between Jews & Gentiles in order to make the point that because of grace there is no distinction!
v.1 – The deadness is spiritual deadness, which only being “in Christ” can rectify (1:3)
v.2 – “Although the ruler of this world has been defeated by Christ at the cross (Col 2:14-15; cf. Heb 2:14-15; Eph 1:20-22), he does not surrender without a struggle and he continues to make his powerful influence felt. He is effectively at work in those who have not personally benefitted from God’s deliverance in Christ, while he still poses a threat to believers (Rom 8:38-39; Eph 4:27), who must steadfastly resist him by God’s power (Eph 6:10-20; cf. 1 Pet 5:8-9).” O’Brian
v.3 – You can see the similarities here to Paul’s argument in Romans 1-3 that it’s not just Gentiles who struggle with sin, but all people are under it’s influence.[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv.4-7 – The merciful & gracious character of God’s salvation”] v.4-7 – “What prompted God to act so freely and mercifully on our behalf? Using four groups of words, the apostle shows that the origens of God’s saving initiative are to be found in his mercy (v.4), his great love (v.4), his rich grace (vv. 5,7, and 8), and his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (v.7). The whole paragraph emphasises that he acted on our behalf simply because of his own gracious and merciful character.” O’Brian
v.6 – Again we see the connection between what Christ has done, and what those who believe in him benefit from. When Christ was raised, so were those who believe in Him.
[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv.8-10 – The life-changing nature of God’s grace”] v.8 – The “gift” here mentioned by Paul is best understood not merely the faith by which we believe, but the whole package of salvation by grace, which includes the faith given by God.
v.9-10 – Just as we can’t boast about being right with God, so we can’t boast about what life looks like in God. The fruit of being saved by grace are the works that flow out of grace, prepared by God in advance for us to do. From beginning to end, we exist in God’s grace.
vv.11-22 – Grace: The great equaliser with others[ut_togglegroup] [ut_toggle title=”vv. 11-13 – The Gentile who were once outsiders are now insiders because of Jesus”] v.11 – See Genesis 17 for the significance of circumcision. If you were, you were in the people of God, if no, you were out. The idea of circumcision is spiritualised in the NT int that it’s now those with “circumcision of the heart” (Romans 2:29)
v.12 – The idea here is that Gentiles previously sat outside of God’s blessing.
v.13 – The thing that unites is the sacrifice of Jesus, the person and act that tears down what used to divide.
[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv 14-18 – The foundation, because of Jesus, for unity”] v.15 – “The term ‘peace’ in both Old and New Testaments came to denote well-being in the widest sense, including salvation, the source and giver of which is God alone. ‘Peace’ was used for harmony among people (Acts 7:26; Gal 5:22; Eph 4:3; Jas 3:18) and especially for the messianic salvation (Luke 1:79; 2:14; 19:42). The term could describe the content and goal of all Christian preaching, the message itself being called ‘the gospel of peace’ (Eph 6:15; cf. Acts 10:36; Eph 2:17). The biblical concept of peace has to do with wholeness, particularly with reference to personal relationships. Peace describes an order established by the God of peace (1 Cor 14:33; cf. Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:9). Christ himself is the mediator of that peace (Rom 5:1; Col 1:20). He gives peace to believers (2 Thess 3:16); indeed, he himself is that peace.” O’Brian.
v.16 – There are two dimensions to this hostility. There’s the hostility between mankind (Jew & Gentile in this case), but this stems from the hostility between God and man. So the end of hostility between mankind is found when mankind are united in God.
[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv. 19-22 – The application, because of Jesus, for unity”] v.19 – This is not merely a picture of tolerance, but one of family relationship
v.20-22 – This is reminiscent of 1 Peter 2 and the idea of being built together like living stones, but also Jesus designation of himself as the new temple (John 2).