Ephesians 2:1-10 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does the apostle Paul describe our natural state in Ephesians 2:1 (printed below?)

And he raised you also, when you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)

The apostle describes us by nature as being “dead in your transgressions and sins.” This state of spiritual deadness (separation from the life and fellowship of God) was initially caused by sin (note Genesis 2:16-17) and is presently characterized by sin: prior to his conversion, the Christian is described as being “dead in …transgressions and sins in which you…walked” (that state of spiritual deadness is characterized by an active resistance and animosity to the law of God).

2. How did we live at that time and under whose influence were we conducting our lives? See Ephesians 2:2-3 (printed below)

…you once walked in accord with the course of this world, which is in accord with the ruling prince of the air, that is, the spirit who is now working in the sons of disobedience. (3) Indeed, we all formerly lived among them for the lusts of our sinful nature, doing the will of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath just like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:2-3)

By nature, we “walked (lived) in accord with the course of this world.” The course of this world itself is directed by “the ruling prince of the air, that is, the spirit who is now working in the sons of disobedience.” It is the devil himself who exercises an evil dominion over this world (note Luke 4:5-6a) and who operates in the natural man (Ephesians 2:2) in a way that parallels the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian (Philippians 2:13). By nature, “we all formerly lived … for the lusts of our sinful nature.” That is to say, our lives were dominated by our sinful nature and devoted to gratifying the desires of that nature; there was a natural addiction to sin and selfishness.

3. What did God do for us? See Ephesians 2:4-6 (printed below)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in transgressions made us alive with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (6) and he raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms—in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6)

We are told that God made us alive with Christ and raised us from the dead with Christ. When God the Father raised Jesus’ physical body from the dead, we, being united to Him by the sovereign will and divine ability of God, were resurrected to spiritual life. Our souls have been joined with Christ in His resurrection and at His return our bodies will also be resurrected to new life. Furthermore, God has caused us to be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. It is not until Christ’s return in glory that we shall experience the full measure of this unfathomable work of God and gain some comprehension of it (note Colossians 3:3-4).

4. To what must we attribute our salvation? See Ephesians 2:8-9 (printed below)

It is by grace that you have been saved through faith—and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—(9) it is not of works, therefore no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Throughout this passage the focus and emphasis is placed on God’s grace and mercy. Verses 8-9 are teaching that it is not merely a matter that by grace God makes His salvation available to us—and it is left up to us to supply the faith that receives that divine salvation. On the contrary, not only the salvation, but also the faith to receive that salvation, are both the product of God’s amazing grace. Salvation—together with the faith to receive it—is all the gift of God. The whole of salvation (its conception, its accomplishment, its offer, and its application to the sinner and reception by the sinner) is all of God: it is all the gift of God by grace; it is not in any way the product of our works.

5. How are we as Christians described in Ephesians 2:10 (printed below) and what is the purpose for which God has redeemed us?

We are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared in advance in order for us to walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

We are God’s “handiwork.” Our salvation and the new creation we have become are the product of God’s work of grace. We have been created “for good works that God prepared in advance in order for us to walk in them.” Even the new life for which we have been created is the product of God’s work of grace in us. We have not been saved to produce good works; we have been saved to live by the good works that God by His Holy Spirit reproduces in us.