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Passage: Ephesians 2:1-10

Ephesians 2:1-10 – Saved by Grace

Summary

Addressing Gentile believers, the author tells readers that they have moved from death to life and that this transformation is a gift from God.

Analysis

While other Pauline writings see death or sin as the power that has held humanity in its grip, in this text the enemy of authentic human life is "the ruler of the power of the air," presumably the devil (see Ephesians 6:11-12). Human beings have followed this one, and the result is the state of being "dead through our trespasses."

God's response to this situation is characterized by mercy and love. God intervenes in the human condition, making human beings alive together with Christ and seating them "in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." The metaphor echoes Psalm 110:1 ("The LORD said to my lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool'") and so connects human experience to an Old Testament image that is otherwise used in the New Testament exclusively to describe Christ.

The text also echoes a Pauline theme that this new life is a gift and not a cause for boasting (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31); it ends by noting that human beings have been "created in Christ Jesus for good works." In a few verses, then, this passage reports the move from human life characterized by sin to human life characterized by good works. The intervention that makes this move possible is God's merciful action to connect human beings to the living and exalted Christ described in Ephesians 1:20-21.