I see here the immense crazy idea that doing one blog post per chapter of Scripture is. It would take me multiple sermons to cover this chapter. I’m going to do it under 1000 words here. Right.
In Summary: Ephesians 2 is one of the best, concise expressions of the grace of God in Scripture. The chapter starts with the declaration that we begin life dead in our sins, but even this begins with a positive feel as Paul uses the past tense to say that is what we were.
It’s not even really the past tense that is used, but what in Greek is called the “aorist,” which is one of those great big linguistic issues which we won’t deal with here. Suffice it to say this: aorist verbs typically refer to one-time, finished events. There are exceptions to this grammatically, but that is the general rule.
So when we see statements like raised us up with Him (Jesus) or you have been brought near (to God), we need to see them in this light. It’s an action that has been finished.
Carrying on through the chapter we find that salvation was not merely a matter of erasing sin, but reconciling the enemies of God back to Himself. And that in the process, God worked in us to accomplish the unity of His people. Not only are we reconciled to God, but able to relate to one another through the work of Jesus. It’s a big deal.
In Focus: This is stated clearly in Ephesians 2:6 where Paul speaks of our being seated with Jesus in the heavenly places. Here are the two things I think we should note from this:
1. Take the idea of being seated at a banquet at which you have no business. You are there only because someone who does belong has brought you with him. Now, amplify that—a lot. This is how we are seated in the heavenly places: we don’t belong there, but Jesus does. He brought us, we sit on His reputation and His grace in maintaining us.
2. Continuing that metaphor, who are any of us to dispute with the ones Jesus has brought with Him? We are all here because of God’s grace, not because His feast wouldn’t be much without me. The unity of the body of Christ comes as an obligation on us, not a choice we get to make.
In Practice: There is a simple portion of the practice: stop adding divisiveness to the body of Christ. Not that this is easy to implement, because some things are worthy of division. Divisiveness is when we fight over pews or chairs, hymnals or Powerpoint. Those things, and a thousand other minutiae are not worth it, and are unworthy of the banquet we are brought to.
There are other items that are important to correct or divide over. For example, there are clear truths of Scripture regarding salvation by grace alone (right here in Ephesians 2:8) or the trustworthiness of God’s revelation. These come to the definition of following Jesus in the first place.
The ones who are brought to the banquet are those who are made alive in Christ. Made alive, able to follow and walk with Christ. Life responds to the Life-giver.
In Nerdiness: After dealing with the verb tense issues already, I’m not sure how nerdy we want to get here. Ephesians 2 is definitely a place where grasping the Greek background is important. It really pays to spend a bit of time either studying it in Greek or at least snagging a good commentary that walks you through them. The interplay in aspects and tenses here livens up the passage.
Another nerd-issue to dig into here is how the Roman world’s concepts of friends and social networks come into play. This is where you get the imagery of being seated with and the kindness of God through Christ Jesus. It’s the idea that we are indebted to Jesus, and that what is done for us by God is only because of Him. There’s a lot to be studied on there.