Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 2

Ephesians 2  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
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In Ephesians chapter 1 we found that we must distinguish between the heavenly calling and the church calling. The church has heavenly calling, but it does not follow that all who have heavenly calling have church calling. Heavenly calling arose from divine disappointment in the earth, which was given to Adam. He forfeited it, and the Lord then takes His elect to heaven.
The Lord found another way to bless His elect, for the earth is lost. Where then will He put His saints? “I will put them in heaven,” He says. This is not the repairing of a breach, but bringing something better out of the ruin. The heavenly man finds himself in a better place than if he had never lost the earth.
The two dealings of God with the earth are in strangership and citizenship: citizenship when God is dealing with and settling the earth and strangership when God is calling people out. He has now called the church into strangership. We see how God introduces our thoughts to the present dispensation. The earth is polluted, and God has chosen to take Himself and His people to heaven. But the church is more than a stranger Moses, Abraham and others were taken to heaven as witnesses of heavenly calling. But in Ephesians 1 we are not only in heaven, but in Christ in heaven. See how full of “in” the chapter is. We are blessed in heavenly places in Christ—accepted in the Beloved. God has chosen us in Him. We have obtained an inheritance in Him. We are raised in Christ, seated in Him in heavenly places and a co-inheritor in Christ. That is a new thing; that is the body of Christ. That is one peculiarity of the church.
Soon the Lord will fill the whole face of the earth. All nations will bow to His scepter. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. But is that all we get in the millennial earth? No, we get the twelve tribes in special nearness. We get the land of Israel in special relationship to God. And we get in the midst of the tribes a royal people and a priestly people. No one can read the prophecy and not see that Jerusalem will have a special place, seated in her beauty. “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.”
Then we travel to the heavens and find beautiful varieties there the noble army of martyrs and the goodly fellowship of the prophets. But, as Jerusalem will take the chief place on earth, so the church will take the chief place in heaven.
When Israel stood between the Red Sea and the hosts of Egypt, they were told, “Stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah.” They had gotten out from under the claims of the destroying angel and were in the salvation of God, but God had secrets in the cloud not yet unfolded to them. There was a glory there that could scatter the hosts in the sea, taking the wheels off Egyptian chariots while making crystal walls for the Israelites. So, standing before the Ephesians, we do not come to see justification by blood, but to let the rich purpose of God unfold itself to our gaze. Are we satisfied only to know the blood on the lintel has delivered us? All leans on that but inquire into the cloudy glory before taking up Ephesians in this attitude.
The moment the history of Israel closed in Babylonish captivity, the glory departed it never went to the Gentile. The sword went, but not the glory. In Ezekiel we see that the glory has gone up to heaven and the sword has gone to the Gentiles. Has the glory ever come back? It has not in the sword of Caesar but shrouded in the humiliation of the Man of Nazareth. The sword failed to keep the earth in order and it and the glory are just as much apart now as in the days of Ezekiel. The powers that be are not ordained of Jesus; they are ordained of God as God. All dignities belong to Jesus in title, but we cannot yet see Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. The remnant’s religion is, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Now we must recognize God’s domain and Caesar’s domain. Thus we may not say that the glory is returned to link itself with the sword, or He who said, “Who made Me a judge or a divider?” would have been a very different person in this world.
In Ephesians 2 we take up an important truth to see out of what we are called. Verses 16 gives us the subject of death and life, verses 7-9 the subject of good works and verses 10-22 the distance and nearness.
Before we were baptized into the body of Christ, our condition was a profound moral ruin death. In Christ we have life of the highest order imparted to us. Our death state in nature could not be lower; our life state in Christ could not be higher. Our good works as a ground of boasting are shut out by God. But we have been created in such a way that we must be bringing them forth. Our new creation secures them.
Then to the end of chapter 2 we get alienation and nearness. This is just like death and life in our own person either death or life attaches to us. In relation to God, it is either alienation or nearness: “No hope, and without God in the world.” Once so completely cut off from Him, how ineffable is my nearness now in Christ! It could not be more perfect. The value of Christ rests upon every stone in the temple and the Holy Spirit dwells there.
Thus, the first chapter of Ephesians unfolds our position in Christ while the second draws us aside to see how weak and feeble is our nature. Though He is not weak in delineating our condition in nature, He is equally strong when He delineates our condition in Christ Jesus.
J. G. Bellett (adapted)