In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul explains three things: (1) The natural state of humans, ever since Adam’s fall into sin (2) What God has done to address humanity’s problem (3) God should get the glory in salvation! I cover the first and third aspects of this passage in other blog posts, but this post will focus on the second aspect of the passage: what God has done to address humanity’s problem.
If the Ephesian Christians were once dead in their trespasses and sins, what was their greatest need at that time? To be made alive, of course! And after describing in detail the deadness of the Ephesian Christians at a past time, Paul says two words that change everything… “but God…” (Eph. 2:4). Many have remarked that these two words are among the most beautiful in the Bible! After the bad news, Paul delivers good news about what God has done: “But God… made us alive…” (Eph. 2:4,5). God met the greatest need of the people who now were Christians in the church in Ephesus. They were dead, but God made them alive! How did God do this? “Together with Christ… with Christ… with Christ… in Christ Jesus… in Christ Jesus… in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:5,6,6,6,7,10). As Ephesians 1:7 has made clear, “in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…” The spiritual enlivening of the Ephesian Christians is inexorably connected to Jesus Christ!
And the spiritual enlivening of the Ephesian Christians is also inexorably connected to the Holy Spirit! Ephesians 2:5 is clear that God made the Ephesian Christians alive. When did God do it? After they showed some signs of life? No! “Even when [they] were dead in [their] trespasses…” (Eph. 2:5). So what happened to bring the Ephesian Christians to faith in Christ? Remember, they were dead in trespasses and sins. And would people dead in trespasses and sins, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, living in the passions of the flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind place faith in Jesus? No! So they did not bring themselves to faith in Christ, and then God made them alive. Rather, God made them alive in order to bring them to faith in Christ! God, by his Spirit, gave them the new birth (cf. John 3:3ff), “caused [them] to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3), “even when [they] were dead in [their] trespasses” (Eph. 2:5). Thus the new birth was not God’s response to the Ephesians’ faith, but rather the Ephesians’ faith was their response to the new birth! They did not make themselves alive, nor show signs of life before God acted. Rather, God acted for them while we were dead in trespasses, making them alive and, thus, wooing them to faith in Christ! And it is the same process for all who God saves. All Christians were by nature dead in our trespasses, but God gave us the new birth so that our eyes were opened to the glory and sufficiency of Christ the Saviour! God made us alive!