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Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.1

Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians between 60-62 AD, likely directed to all Christians in Asia Minor, not just the Ephesus church. In the first ten verses of chapter two, Paul focuses on two big ideas: a declaration of God’s purpose that weaves throughout the chapter and the emphasis on regeneration from death to life.

Paul comes out swinging, reminding those reading where they came from. They were not only dead but also followed Satan and worldly desires. They were not separate from anyone else. These first three verses should be nothing but humbling to any Christian who recognizes where we all started.

But this passage was not just written to humble those reading or to remind us of our own depravity. Even in these first three verses, we are given hints of where the message is leading. Consistently, we see that this passage is in the past tense and creates a timeline for the regenerative process, which brings us to spiritual life.

This is particularly important in places like Ephesus because of the presence of Greek philosophy that brought life to Christian Gnosticism. This issue of Gnosticism in Ephesus and Asia Minor was so important that Paul, in his letter to Timothy, instructed
him to stay in Ephesus and continue to guide them so that they wouldn’t be swayed by false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

These false teachers are believed to have emphasized works-based salvation, overexaggerating Old Testament figures and requiring circumcision and dietary restrictions as a part of salvation. 2

In Timothy 1:3:8-11, Paul explains that the law is good when used correctly. As Walter Liefeld writes, “One legitimate use of law is to point out sin in whatever form it may take in a given culture.” 3

Paul is doing the same thing here as he instructed Timothy, not explicitly telling the church the law’s purpose but taking a roundabout method to show them that they were dead—nothing they did brought them life or even began the process.

Next month, we will continue in Ephesians 2, but until then, I hope we can use these few verses as reminders of where we came from and where those we preach the gospel to are currently. Let us have grace and patience when given opportunities to show and share the gospel.

Will you pray with me?
Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunities we have to freely share the gifts you have given us with those around us and the tools to learn more about you daily. Help us to see those occasions where we are allowed to share the saving work for Christ and to do so in a way that honors and glorifies you. Continue your work in us, and make us more like you. Let us serve you faithfully and well with every breath you have given us. Thank you, Lord.

In Jesus’ name, we pray,
Amen.

References

1 Crossway Bibles. (2001). The Holy Bible English Standard Version.
Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
2 Rydeylnik, M. &. (2014). The Moody Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody
Publishers.
3 Liefeld, W. L. (1999). 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. New International Version
Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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