Amplified: AND YOU [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:
NLT: Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: To you, who were spiritually dead all the time (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: And you being dead with reference to your trespasses and sins, He made alive (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Also you -- being dead in the trespasses and the sins,
AND YOU WERE DEAD IN YOUR TRESPASSES AND SINS: Kai humas ontas (PAPMPA) nekrous tois paraptomasin kai tais hamartiais humon: (Eph 2:5,6; 1:19,20; John 5:25; 10:10; 11:25,26; 14:6; Romans 8:2; 1Corinthians 15:45; Colossians 2:13; 3:1, 2, 3, 4) (Eph 2:5; 4:18; 5:14; Matthew 8:22; Luke 15:24,32; John 5:21; 2Corinthians 5:14; 1Timothy 5:6; 1John 3:14; Revelation 3:1)
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AND (kai) clearly ties the following statement to the previous verses. That is, as Christ was raised and exalted, so we also are spiritually raised in Christ and given new life in Him. But before describing our revivification and resurrection, he describes our former state of spiritual death. The death Paul describes is a death of "the most vital part of man's personality - the spirit - is dead to the most important factor in life - God." (Wood)
Again Paul writes one continuous sentence from Eph 2:1-7. Moule entitles this section "Regeneration of the Ephesians, an instance of gratuitous salvation." (Ephesians Commentary 2)
Wiersbe introduces this section writing..
In Ephesians 2:1, the KJV adds the words "hath he quickened" and the NKJV "He made alive". These words are not in the original Greek but are implied from the context. Paul ended Chapter 1 (Eph 1:23-note) by considering that the ultimate example of God's power was the resurrection of Jesus; now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus' resurrection are for us.
Let us never forget where we have come from and where we are headed - dead in trespasses and sins and on our way to glory (cp 2Th 1:10). We were not merely sick or injured, but were completely, spiritually dead. Death always brings separation. Thus every person ever born has been born into a state of separation from their Creator, the only true and Living God.
Spurgeon - Look back to what you used to be, to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged: "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Exposition)
Gaebelein speaks of cards signed during an evangelistic campaign, which read
To these promises Gaebelein replied that in light of the truth in Ephesians 2:1…
As an aside, it is notable that such promises are not without Biblical precedent. Read several other times where people made promises they could not keep - Ro 7:14-25 Ex 24:3, 7, Ex 19:8 Josh 24:21,22,24.
Were (eimi) is in the present tense indicating (spiritual) death was their (our) continual state. Unregenerate men, still in Adam (Ro 5:12-note, 1Cor 15:22), women and children are each like the popular television show "Walking Dead!" Without Christ we were all veritable "spiritual zombies!"
Dead in - "In" is locative of sphere, which indicates the sphere or realm, in which we lived before we were born in (the sphere of) Christ (see in Christ and in Christ Jesus and in Christ). We were not dead because we had committed sin but because we were in the sphere of sin. That's why we committed sin. We were born with the penchant as it were to commit sins. As a fish lives in an aquarium, we were born in the "aquarium" of sin. What does this mean? To reiterate we sin because we are sinners. Stealing does not make us a thief. We steal because we are by nature (from Adam) thieves! Does that hurt your pride?
When God looks down from heaven, in a sense, the whole world looks like a cemetery to Him. All God sees are spiritually dead people. Above every corpse (both those "walking" as well as those "lying" in the grave) is a three-word epitaph "DEAD IN SIN." The world without Christ always makes me think of the 1968 horror spoof "Night of the Living Dead"! And so Paul begins with the most important point which is man's desperate need for divine grace and mercy. Dead men can't do much in their own strength to create new life in their spirits! If you miss this point, you may miss eternity with God!
ILLUSTRATION - Some one said to a person dying; "Well, you are in the land of the living yet." "No," said he, "I am in the land of the dying yet, but I am going to the land of the living; they live there and never die." This is the land of sin and death and tears, but up yonder they never die. It is perpetual life; it is unceasing joy. (D L Moody in his great little book Heaven)
Dead (3498) (nekros from which we get English "necropsy") denotes the body derived of life, and refers literally to the physical condition of being deceased. As used here in Ephesians, figuratively "dead" refers to the spiritual condition of those who are unable to attain to the life of faith in and of themselves. Lost men are spiritually, eternally dead, not merely weakened, incapacitated, disabled, or sick. Spiritual death is the state of separation from God and His life. Death itself is a separation, whether physical, the separation of the person from his body, or spiritual, the separation of the person from God. Two other marks of a dead person are corruption and impotence, both relevant to the spiritual condition of unregenerate men and women.
Nekros - 120x - Matt 8:22; 10:8; 11:5; 14:2; 17:9; 22:31f; 23:27; 27:64; 28:4, 7; Mark 6:14; 9:9f, 26; 12:25ff; Luke 7:15, 22; 9:7, 60; 15:24, 32; 16:30f; 20:35, 37f; 24:5, 46; John 2:22; 5:21, 25; 12:1, 9, 17; 20:9; 21:14; Acts 3:15; 4:2, 10; 5:10; 10:41f; 13:30, 34; 17:3, 31f; 20:9; 23:6; 24:21; 26:8, 23; 28:6; Rom 1:4; 4:17, 24; 6:4, 9, 11, 13; 7:4, 8; 8:10f; 10:7, 9; 11:15; 14:9; 1 Cor 15:12f, 15f, 20f, 29, 32, 35, 42, 52; 2 Cor 1:9; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; 2:1, 5; 5:14; Phil 3:11; Col 1:18; 2:12f; 1 Thess 1:10; 4:16; 2 Tim 2:8; 4:1; Heb 6:1f; 9:14, 17; 11:19, 35; 13:20; Jas 2:17, 26; 1 Pet 1:3, 21; 4:5f; Rev 1:5, 17f; 2:8; 3:1; 11:18; 14:13; 16:3; 20:5, 12f Usage: corpse(1), dead(122), dead man(3), dead men(1), dead men's(1).
Spiritual death is probably the most difficult truth in all of Scripture for human beings to believe (or accept). The unsaved think we as believers have lost our mind talking about the "walking dead"! They don't accept the divine judgment that because of sin every person born is separated from God. They refuse to believe that dead mankind is unable to know God personally and can’t do anything about the condition. Worst of all, they are dead and don’t know it! To be dead is a hopeless condition and later in this chapter Paul specifically says the Gentiles were those "having no hope."
Moule adds that Paul uses the analogy of physical death which is something everyone is painfully aware they must one experience (unless they are living in "the Rapture generation"). He writes that this analogy on the whole consists in this that…
In Genesis 2 before Eve had been created, God warned Adam…
In Genesis 3 the serpent of old, Satan, the liar and deceiver countered Eve's arguments…
Paul sums these events up writing…
The uselessness of the dead is the subject of Solomon's proverb who writes that
Jesus referred to all of us in our spiritually "embalmed" condition when He prophesied…
Maybe you heard about the little boy who walked out of the church sanctuary one Sunday. Out in the lobby was an engraved plaque listing all the members of the church who were dead as a result of their military service. The little boy asked his father, ''Dad, what's that?'' His dad replied, ''That's for the members who died in the Service.'' To which the little boy asked, ''Which service did they die in, Dad? The morning or the evening service?''
Most of our politicians, business leaders, educators, journalists, and work associates are dead. With a few rare exceptions, this world is being run by people who are spiritually dead and in desperate need of new life.
S Lewis Johnson tells the following story from a Scottish expositor who wrote…
Trespasses (3900) (paraptoma [word study] from parapipto = fall aside from para = aside + pipto = fall) means a deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right way to live, stepping out of line of true conduct, a deviation from truth and uprightness. The plural of both trespasses and sins further emphasizes the natural tendency of humans to continue in sin.
The basic idea of paraptoma is conveyed is that of stumbling or falling so as to lose one's footing. Paraptoma conveys the idea of a false step and so often is translated a transgression. The idea behind transgressions (transgress in English means to to go beyond or overstep a limit or boundary and is from Latin trans- across + gradi = to step) is that we have crossed a line, challenging God's boundaries. Similarly, the word derived via the Old French from a word meaning "to pass over" or "to go across" to commit an offense against a person or a set of rules.
ISBE says that trespass means…
Sins (266) (hamartia) originally had the idea of missing mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow. Later it came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Hamartia in the Bible means to miss God's mark as an archer misses the “bull’s eye” and ultimately to miss the true purpose and end of our lives which is God Himself. The Hebrew word for "sin" (chata 02398) conveys a similar picture in a literal OT use…
Sin is any violation of God’s righteous character. It is anything we say or do or think or imagine or plan that does not meet God’s standard of perfection.
What are some of the implications of theses truths? Trespasses and sins lead to guilt, which places all men in need of forgiveness. They ultimately lead to eternal death, which is only reversed by a new life in Christ.
The fact that all men apart from God are sinful does not mean that every person is equally corrupt and wicked. In other words, not all men are as evil as they could be, but irregardless, all fail to measure up to God’s perfect standard.
On the other hand Sin has infected every part of our being—our mind, our emotions, our will, our intellect, our moral reasoning, our decision making, our words and our deeds. No part of our life is exempt from the debilitating effects of sin. As someone has said, "If sin were blue, we’d be blue all over." Part would be dark blue, part would be sky blue, part would be light blue, but every part would be blue in one shade or another.
The KJV Bible Commentary - This truth is denied in these days. Men speak of “the better self” and “the good spark.” Man needs a new heart, not just a new start; a new life, not just turning over a new leaf; a resurrection, not just reformation. Signing a pledge card will not suffice. No one can live a life for God until he first receives life from God. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Spiritual death defines all of mankind's condition. Furthermore, as explained in chapters like Romans 6, all unbelievers are in a state of bondage or enslavement to the power of sin. Jesus declared…
We commit sins because we are born sinners in Adam. We are all born with the "sin virus!"
From a human standpoint, it appears that people might be able to do good, but God through His prophet Isaiah explains that
Paul affirms this truth writing that…
In another passage Paul explains that unbelievers are not even able to understand the things of God, for
Nor can we come to God in our own power, for Jesus says,
And so from a theological standpoint, the truth that all men are born spiritually dead touches on one of the most controversial areas in theology. How can a "dead" man hear so as to be saved? This is a topic we won't delve into except to say that the exact nature of what happens when a spiritually dead person is regenerated or born from above is mysterious. Mortal man does not understand how God gives spiritual life to the spiritually dead, except through what He has revealed to us in Scripture. Jesus alluded to the mysterious, invisible nature of regeneration when He explained to Nicodemus that…
And so just as one cannot see the wind at work but can see its results, so it is with the new birth. It may come about slowly or suddenly, from one direction or another. One cannot detail the mechanics of the regeneration process. Just as one does not remember his physical birth, he may be unable to pinpoint his spiritual birth. As the proof of the one is the reality of his physical life, so the proof of the other is the reality of his spiritual life. And it is this glorious truth that Paul is preparing to unveil in the subsequent passages. But first, he continues to explain more of the "bad news".
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Ray Pritchard sums up the consequences of sin writing that because of sin we are…
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Illustration of Sin - An open-air preacher was telling the old, old story, when a thoughtless youth rapped out, “You tell us about the burden of sin. I feel none.” Then he flippantly added, “How much does sin weigh? Eighty pounds? Ten pounds?” The preacher answered, “Tell me, if I put a 400 pound weight on the chest of a dead man, would he feel it?” “No, because he is dead,” answered the youth. The preacher responded, “And the man who feels no load of sin is dead spiritually.” The lad’s remarks only proved what he was. The Scriptures call it “Dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Do you feel the burden of your sins? If you do not, you may well feel alarmed. You are dead spiritually.—Baptist Herald
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From Today in the Word - Staring at A Dead Man: Author Mark Twain received so many photos from men claiming to look like him that he composed this form letter to send out: 'My dear Sir, I thank you very much for your letter and your photograph. In my opinion you are more like me than any other of my numerous doubles. I may even say that you resemble me more closely than I do myself. In fact, I intend to use your photograph to shave by. 'Twain's humorous letter helps to illustrate a serious spiritual truth. When we hold the Bible up to our lives, the picture it gives us of ourselves is more accurate than what we see in the mirror, because the Bible shows us our hearts.
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Our Daily Bread - "Life Giving Words" …
Once far from God and dead in sin,
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Our Daily Bread - "New Life" …
Ephesians 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: that you drifted along on the stream of this world's ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler (who is still operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God), to you Christ has given life! (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: in which once ye did walk according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience
IN WHICH YOU FORMERLY WALKED ACCORDING TO THE COURSE OF THIS WORLD: en ais pote periepatesate (2PAAI) kata ton aiona tou kosmou toutou: (Ep 2:3; 4:22; Job 31:7; Acts 19:35; 1Corinthians 6:11; Colossians 1:21; 3:7; 1Peter 4:3; 1John 5:19) (Psalms 17:14; Jeremiah 23:10; Luke 16:8; John 7:7; 8:23; 15:19; Romans 12:2; 1Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 1:4; 2Timothy 4:10; James 1:7; 4:4; 1John 2:15, 16, 17; 5:4)
In which (in trespasses and sins) - This phrase marks the sphere or "environment" in which the unsaved Ephesian Gentiles formerly conducted their life. In other words, "In" is the "locative of sphere" meaning that the unregenerate order their behavior and regulate their lives within the sphere of trespasses and sins.
Kenneth Wuest explains it this way…
Formerly (4218) (pote) is a generalization concerning time and means at some time and when referring to past time as in this verse means once or at one time in the past. This is a reminder to the Ephesians "holy ones" of their former "unholy" state! Before their new birth, they walked in a wrong path of conduct conforming to the world’s low standard of morality, doing what came naturally. Their day to day life was determined by the spirit and practice of the age in its unregenerate, evil, anti-god state.
Paul brings up the past again later as a means of motivating their present and future conduct writing that…
In a similar manner, Paul reminded the saints at Colossae of the incredible change that God's Spirit had wrought in them…
Writing to the Church at Corinth Paul reminded them of their former manner of life to emphasize the greatness of their salvation…
Walked (4043) (peripateo [word study] from peri = about, around + pateo = walk, tread) means literally to walk about here and there or to tread all around. Peripateo then came to mean, to make one’s way, to make progress, to make due use of one’s opportunities and finally (as used by Paul in Ephesians), to live, to regulate one’s life, to conduct one’s self. Most of the NT uses refer to the daily conduct of one's life or how one orders their behavior or passes their life.
Walked is in the aorist tense, which Wuest explains as…
In the figurative sense, peripateo refers to one's habitual way or direction of life, and so to their life-style. For example, in a good sense, Luke describes Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, as being
In contrast, Paul refers in this verse to the lifestyle of unbelievers and later in this same letter counseled the Ephesian believers to
John declares that,
In Colossians 3 uses peripateo in a similar context to his use here in Ephesians 2:2, describing how the Colossians saints walked before Christ transformed their heart and mind…
In other words before the Ephesian saints were saved, they ordered their behavior and regulated their lives within the sphere of trespasses and sins. Not a ray of light from God, nothing of God's righteousness or goodness, and not a single good thing in the sight of God penetrated that circle (sphere) of "conduct". All their previous thoughts, words, and deeds were ensphered in an atmosphere of sin. Not one of their acts ever got outside the circle of sin -- their previous manner of walking is a description of what is often termed total depravity.
According to (2596) (kata) is a preposition which used in the NT in a variety of ways but in this verse kata means "down" which speaks of domination and control. Paul's point is that unregenerate men in the act of ordering their behavior in the sphere of trespasses and sins are dominated or controlled by the "course of this world". They are continually in the state of being "under" the dominion or power of the world system and the evil prince, Satan.
Course (165) (aion [word study]) is not an easy word to define but in general aion usually refers to some aspect of time past, present or future. As used in this verse, aion conveys a figurative meaning referring primarily to the ethical/moral system of the world. In other words in this use aion refers to the system of practices and standards associated with secular society (that is, without reference to any demands or requirements of God). Note that aion is also sometimes translated "world" with somewhat of a similar meaning to the following word "kosmos". For example Paul exhorts believers to stop being
This present evil world system is continually seeking to squeeze men into its mold of godlessness. The unsaved either consciously or unconsciously are controlled by the values and attitudes of this world system and behave accordingly.
Trench adds that aion can be defined as…
Wuest commenting on aion adds that…
World (2889) (kosmos [word study]) basically means something well arranged or orderly (English word = "cosmetics"!). Kosmos is used 186 times in the Greek New Testament, and virtually every instance has an evil connotation. Kosmos does not represent the physical creation in this verse but refers to the world in a moral or ethical sense, specifically the world's values and ways of doing things. The idea is captured by the phrase we often hear -- "the spirit of this age". It is the "order" of this evil world system, which is ruled by Satan and his minions (1Jn 5:19, Jn 12:31) which is alienated and hostile toward God and God’s people. In this use kosmos represents the self-centered, godless value system and mores of fallen mankind. The goal of this present kosmos is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction, and every other form of self-serving. This world-system is imposing and powerful with armies and fleets and is often outwardly religious, scientific, cultured, and elegant; but, deep beneath seethes with national and commercial rivalries and ambitions. Kosmos is the present world, the present order of things, as opposed to the kingdom of Christ; and hence, always is associated with the ideas of transience, worthlessness, and evil both physical and moral and is the seat of aberrant cares, wicked temptations and irregular desires.
The world, this present evil age alienated from the life of God, was the environment they formerly moved about freely, feeling perfectly at home in and conducting themselves in complete harmony with.
ACCORDING TO THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR: kata ton archonta tes exousias tou aeros: (Eph 6:12; John 8:44; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9; 13:8,14; 20:2) (Job 1:7,16,19; Revelation 16:17)
According to - This phrase is the preposition kata the root meaning of which is “down,” which suggests domination. Those dead in their trespasses and sins are "down" and dominated by the evil prince, Satan. During the present evil age (Gal 1:4) he and his demonic hordes dominate, pressure, and control every person who is unsaved.
S Lewis Johnson has an interesting perspective of what it means to walk according to the prince of the power of the air writing that…
Paul is saying that everyone born is born enslaved to…
SIN AND SATAN
Believers once were the "prince's" possession, but were set free by the gospel of grace and are now his opponents. And so Paul exhorts the Gentile believers to…
Prince (758) (archon from archo = to rule) refers to the first in rank or power. It is the first in an order of persons or things and thus conveys the idea of ruler, chief or prince. In the present context archon refers to Satan as the first one in power and authority in this kingdom. He is the chief fallen angel who rules over a vast multitude of other fallen angels who oppose God and His people. (See brief related discussion on Satan) (See related word study on diabolos)
Similarly on the night in which he was betrayed Jesus addressed the Jewish chief priests and officers…
In other allusions to Satan as ruler of the world Jesus declared…
Paul referred to Satan when he explained to the church at Corinth that…
Unbelievers are under the dominion of and are ruled by their "father, the Devil" (see John 8:44) the chief ruler of all the evil spirits, whose realm is the atmosphere surrounding planet earth (see "air" below)
All of us before Christ were willingly obedient to the god of this age. During the present age Satan and his demon hosts dominate, pressure, and control every person who is unsaved.
Power (1949) (exousia [word study) means "the right and the might". It describes the authority a person has delegated to him from someone else. The person delegating authority is in a sense "out of himself" and acting in the person to whom he has delegated the authority. Exousia conveys the idea of "delegated authority" with the authority and the right to exercise that authority.
Vincent adds that
Exousía means the power to do something and was a technical term used in the law courts, of a legal right.
Vine explains that exousía evolved
Air (109) (aer) refers to the atmosphere immediately above the earth’s surface or the celestial air surrounding the earth. The kingdom of Satan is in this lower atmosphere where we humans live, in order that this sinister creation who is filled with a bitter hatred of God and mankind, might with his hordes of evil demons, prey upon humanity. Satan is the leader of the demons of the lower atmosphere. All unsaved men and women order their behavior according to Satan's dictates and those of his demons! (They would of course deny this is true but they are lost and deceived!)
Keeping in mind that the air or the lower atmosphere is the main location of Satan's rule, it is notable that this is also the location where the final bowl of God's wrath is poured out in the 7th bowl judgment! (read Revelation 16:17) In addition, one day soon, the Lord Jesus Christ will return and penetrate the air and deliver His body, the church, from this present evil age (cf rapture 1Thes 4:13ff).
Paul used the term "third heaven" in 2 Cor 12:2 which refers to the abode of God. The "first heaven" is the atmosphere (referred to as "air" in Eph 2:2), and the second heaven is outer space. (See note on the Third Heaven)
Wuest has a note on "air" adding that…
S Lewis Johnson has a humorous story relating to the "prince of the power of the air"…
OF THE SPIRIT THAT IS NOW WORKING IN THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE: tou pneumatos tou nun energountos (PAPNSG) en tois huois tes apeitheias: (Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26; 22:2,3,31; Jn 13:2,27; Acts 5:3; 2Corinthians 4:4; 1John 3:8; 4:4) (Eph 2:3; 5:6; Isaiah 30:1; 57:4; Hosea 10:9; Matthew 11:19; 13:38; Colossians 3:6; 1Peter 1:14; 2Peter 2:14; 1John 3:10)
Spirit (4151) (pneuma from pnéo = to breathe, to blow, referring to the movement of air) is literally breathing or breath but in this verse refers to an evil, independent non-corporeal (nonmaterial) being. In context this would refer to Satan and/or his demonic underlings. As an aside the only entity which can counter this spirit is the Holy Spirit (cf 1Jn 4:4)!
Now (3568) (nun) is an adverb of time and speaks of the present time, focusing on the moment. There is a day coming when Satan will be bound for 1000 years (Rev 20:2) and they will no longer be actively plying their evil trade on mankind.
Working (1754) (energeo [word study] from en = in + érgon = work) (Click related noun energeia) means to be effective in causing something to happen. It means to to bring something about through use of capability. It means to act, to be operative or to be at work. Energeo is in the present tense which pictures the continual "energetic, energizing" activity of the fallen spirits in this present evil age seeking to make what is bad even worse.
Satan never rests as we learn in Job…
And in Peter we read…
Sons (5207) (huios) refers to male offspring. Unregenerate men and women are all descendents or offspring of disobedience.
Wuest explains it this way noting that "sons of"…
Disobedience (543) (apeitheia [word study] from a = without + peítho = persuade) is a noun signifying literally one who refuses to believe or to be persuaded. It reflects an attitude of willful, perverse disbelief and is manifest as an unwillingness or refusal to comply with the demands of some authority. For example, in his "sermon" that brought about his martyrdom, Stephen called the Jews that were listening to him…
The picture is of a person who because of unbelief cannot be persuaded and remains obstinate and non-compliant.
This phrase sons of disobedience is used again by Paul in this same letter in his command to …
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Ray Pritchard writes that…
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A devotional from Our Daily Bread entitled "Autistic Listeners"
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A devotional from Our Daily Bread entitled "The Peace Initiative"