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From Death to Life!


Text: Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.  Ezekiel 37:1–14.

We have reached chapter two. Ephesians chapter one is full of superlatives, – an amazing charge through the wonderful works of God on behalf of his people, his elect, his church. Now we come to Paul’s clear declaration of the Gospel of Free Grace in Ephesians 2.

1 God’s Sovereign WorkAnd you hath he…

Now, like in every good study of God’s word we need to be careful with the text, we need to make sure that we read it very carefully and pay particular attention to the grammar. The Gospel message falls broadly into two parts, LAW and GRACE, the Law convicts us of our sin – think of the Ten Commandments, think how we fail to keep them every day, and how that drives us to sorrow and repentance, – GRACE is what God does for us, forgiveness of sin, trough the gift of his own Son. Think of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” In this and every verse, ask yourself, who is active in the verbs, – who is DOING the work?  This chapter like ch1 and 3 has God active and man passive.  Jesus does not give you some power to make changes in your life on a take it or leave it basis. Jesus changes you! He gives you new life! The essence of this verse is that God changes us! Now, let’s see…

2 The Dramatic Change. … you hath he quickened,…

AMP And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins,

Now, look at your Bible – likely, the words ‘hath he quickened,’ or ‘he made alive’ are in italics. That’s because they are not in the Greek Text. The literal translation would simply be, “And you were dead of your trespasses and sins,” kai hymeis eimi nekros… So why does our English Bible have the words “hath he quickened (Made alive)?” Well, note that the verse begins with AND. This verse is not a stand alone verse – it is part of a sentence. Paul has portrayed in extremely vivid language what God has done in the life of the sinner, and without break or breath he exclaims with great wonder – AND YOU WERE DEAD! The words ‘hath he quickened’ are implied in what has already been said – indeed we have been quickened. Our English translators have been very careful that we should understand the excitement and the wonder, the sense of awe that Paul feels as he dictates this passage.

So, why is this ‘quickening’ so important that the translators want us not to miss it?  In Ezekiel 36, God had told the prophet to prophecy the rebirth of His people, Israel. In ch 37 God tells Ezekiel that the land would be restored under the leadership of ‘David’ Ezekiel 37:24  It’s a Messianic reference – a reference to the future under Jesus Christ the Messiah, the true descendant of David (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7; Luke 1:31–33). God gave Ezekiel the vision of the dry bones as sign that he would breathe new life into His elect chosen people – bring them from death to life. Can God do this? Of course he can! In the vision, Ezekiel saw a valley full of bones, – human bones. Can they live? Not humanly speaking, but God can breathe new life into dead bones. When Ezekiel declared God’s word, the bones were quickened, and they joined together and they lived! 

  • God did it at creation!  Genesis 2:7  
  • He will do it again at the general resurrection! 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
  • He does it at conversion. 2 Corinthians 5:17  

At conversion he raises us from death to life. In Revelation we learn that there’s going to be two (or more?) resurrections.  Revelation 20:5-6  The reformed position is simple. At regeneration, when God saves the sinner, gives him or her new life, that sinner is raised from death to life, as Paul teaches us here. That is a resurrection – the first resurrection that we experience.  Jesus teaches us this too, in John 5:24  That’s a resurrection – passing from death to life.. cf  John 5:25  That’s a resurrection too, but note really carefully this phrase, the hour is coming, and now is.  Now how could a resurrection hour be NOW, and at the same time be NOT YET?  Present, and yet in the future?  How can the DEAD hear the voice of Jesus and live?  Right now?  The NOW. Is at conversion!  When we are brought from death to life.  Colossians 2:13 In Christ we are RAISED TO NEW LIFE. We have experienced that first resurrection that will guarantee that we will have part in the second, general resurrection of the dead at the last day.

3 How Deep is Spiritual Death?  … dead in trespasses and sins…

Unlike Romans, Ephesians is not a systematic theology! Here he begins with praise for God’s grace, and prayer for the church, before he gets to an important point – understanding how deep and how terrible is our human sin and rebellion against our Creator. We are not just spiritually sick, we are spiritually dead, and that is a death that is eternal.

How can Paul describe ‘ME’ as ‘dead?’ Am’t I living my best life now? An I not enjoying life to the full? Haven’t I got everything I could ever want in this life, right now?  See how this spiritual death is described here:

  • Dead in TRESPASSES. paraptōma. – a stumbling aside, a false step; in NT a trespass, fault, offence, transgression, Mt. 6:14, 15; Mk. 11:25, 26; Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. a fall in faith. 
  • Dead in SINS. αμαρτιαις. Falling short. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Now here’s the point, – in order to fully appreciate the greatness of the saving work of Christ, what he did on the cross for you and me, and how effective the result of that work in my life and yours, we need to understand what he saved us from, from our state of spiritual deadness. Paul will spend more time on this in verse two and three, and so shall we.

So what have we learned? Three lessons, that God changes us, – salvation is not by any works of ours. It is all His work. Then, we learned that we have undergone a spiritual resurrection at conversion, brought from death to life, and finally, that we we speak about spiritual death, it is an accurate description of the unregenerate soul. 

© Bob McEvoy 2023

From → Ephesians

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