BUT GOD, BEING RICH IN MERCY: o
de theos plousios on (PAPMSN) en eleei: (Eph 2:7; 1:7; 3:8;
Exodus 33:19; 34:6,7; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 51:1; 86:5,15; 103:8, 9 10,
11; Psalms 145:8; Isaiah 55:6, 7, 8; Daniel 9:9; Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18,
19, 20; Luke 1:78; Romans 2:4; Romans 5:20,21; 9:23; 10:12; 1Timothy
1:14; 1Peter 1:3).
There is an old
"Rolaids" commercial (upset stomach) and the jingle was "How do you
spell relief?" How do you spell
"relief" from spiritual death and despair? You spell it "But God".
You were going straight to hell and eternal separation from God (2Th
1:8, 9) until
those great words sounded forth...BUT GOD! Praise God for His
"but God's" in Scripture (see below noting the very first use
in Genesis! What a merciful God we serve.) for without them mankind would have no hope of
spending eternity with Him. In the wonderful passages that follow we
read of the Divine motivation for reaching down and saving us.
But God -
41x in the NASB (95) - Gen 8:1; 17:19; 20:3; 21:12; 45:8; 48:21; 50:20,
24; Exod 21:13; Num 22:22; Jdg 15:19; 1 Sam 23:14; 1Chr 28:3; Job 34:5;
Ps 49:15; 52:5; 64:7; 73:26; 75:7; Jonah 4:7; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21;
12:20; 16:15; Acts 2:24; 7:6, 42; 13:30; Ro 5:8; 1Cor 1:27; 3:6, 7;
6:13; 7:15; 12:24; 15:38; 2Cor 7:6; Gal 3:18; Eph 2:4; Phil 2:27; 1Th
In a similar
divine reversal of destiny, Paul reiterates the "before" and "after"
in his letter to Titus...
For we also once were foolish
ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and
pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one
the kindness of God our Savior and
His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds
which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the
washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured
out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that being
justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of
eternal life. (Titus 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7-See notes
(de) introduces a contrast and what a dramatic contrast this
presents with the preceding dreary description of an unbeliever (Ep 2:1,
2, 3-see notes
2:3) and here the
description of a believer! The phrase "but God" also shows the problem
of alienation was not with God but with man. To the contrary, "but
God" shows that it is God Who initiates the salvation Paul proceeds
salvation hangs entirely on those two words. We were dead…But God! We
were enslaved…But God! We were trapped…but God! We were
self-destructing…but God! We were lost in sin…but God!
We were children
of wrath and deserving of an eternity in the torments of hell, BUT GOD
instead of pouring out wrath God will spend eternity showing the
immeasurable riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Greek NT comments
A return is now made to the
statement which was interrupted at Eph 2:2. The resumption might have
been made by oun (therefore). The adversative de
(but), however, is the more appropriate, as the other side of our case
is now set forth—the divine grace which meets the sinful, condemned
condition, and which stands over the dark background of our death by sin
and our subjection by nature to the divine wrath. God who is wroth with
sin, is a God of grace. His disposition towards those who are dead by
trespasses and sins is one of mercy, and this is no stinted mercy, but a
mercy that is rich, exhaustless.” The word “rich” is the translation of
plousios, “wealthy, abounding in material resources, abounding,
The word "But" here puts two
matters into contrast. The first contrast is between man and God; the
second is between the state of man and the mercy of God, and this is the
main thought in the mind of the writer. The picture of man's state is
very dark: "dead through your trespasses and sins"—that is, cut off from
all the true things of life; therefore, walking under the dominion of
"the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience"; therefore
living "in the lusts of the flesh"; therefore "children of wrath." Can
any conditions more hopeless be imagined? How can it ever be that those
living under such conditions shall become "holy and without blemish?"
What wisdom can plan such a deliverance? What power can be equal to
carrying out such a purpose? The complete and final answer is given in
"But God, being rich in mercy!"
In the wealth of His mercy there the
wisdom that plans, and the might that accomplishes. Mercy is
compassion, and in God that is more than passive, it is active; it is
pity, working on behalf of those who are helpless; it is love, doing the
things that love desires to be done. When that compassion, pity, love,
is predicated of God, the vastness of it is postulated, the sufficiency
of it is recognized. This is the very heart of the Gospel. Over against
all the appalling facts of our weakness and wickedness, we must place
the wealth of the mercy of God, which had its unveiling and found its
mode of action in Christ. Presently Paul referred to the "exceeding
riches of His grace"; and we feel the power of the expression. It
exceeds all our need. It is an ocean in which all our emptiness is
filled without loss to its superabundance. (Morgan, G. C. Life
Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible).
(eimi) is the
indicates this is God's continual state, rich in mercy. How
grateful we are for the present tense in this description.
Ephesians 2:4 and
2:5 offer three words which answer to the desperate state of mankind:
Mercy is God not
giving us what we do deserve—Judgment. Grace is God giving us what we
(plousios from ploutos = wealth, abundance, riches)
defines that which exists in a large amount with implication of its
being valuable. God is "plentifully supplied", overabounding,
without measure, very rich and
wealthy in regard to His mercy.
28x in 28v - Matt 19:23f; 27:57; Mark 10:25; 12:41; Luke 6:24; 12:16;
14:12; 16:1, 19, 21f; 18:23, 25; 19:2; 21:1; 2 Cor 8:9; Eph 2:4; 1 Tim
6:17; Jas 1:10f; 2:5f; 5:1; Rev 2:9; 3:17; 6:15; 13:16. NAS = people(1),
rich(19), rich man(7), rich man's(1), rich people(1).
[word study]) is the outward manifestation of pity.
often translates the Hebrew word hesed which speaks of God's loyal or
steadfast love, His unfailing love and His tenderness. Eleos in
the NT describes kindness or concern expressed for someone in need. Mercy
indicates the emotion aroused by someone in need (all mankind dead in
their trespasses and sins) and the attempt to relieve that one and
remove his trouble. Mercy is the outward manifestation of pity, which
assumes a need on the part of him who receives it and resources adequate
(God is "rich") to meet need on part of him who shows. Mercy
implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands
compassion or forbearance shown esp to an offender or to one subject to
God's kindness and good will towards miserable and afflicted sinners,
joined with His desire to help them. It is much more than being merciful
because God instead of dealing with us as those who rightly deserve
wrath and judgment, deals with us in compassionate mercy.
writes that eleos is...
God’s “kindness and goodwill toward
the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them”
(Vincent). Grace meets man’s need in respect to his guilt and lost
condition; mercy, with reference to his suffering as a result of that
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
defines mercy as
“the self-moved, spontaneous loving
kindness of God which causes Him to deal in compassion and tender
affection with the miserable and distressed.”
One needs to
distinguish between grace and mercy. Grace is shown to the
undeserving, while mercy is compassion to the miserable. Grace is God’s
solution to man’s sin. Mercy is God’s solution to man’s misery. Grace
covers the sin, while mercy removes the pain. Grace forgives, while
mercy restores. Grace gives us what we don’t deserve while mercy
withholds what we do deserve.
Grace is getting what we do not
Justice is getting what we do deserve.
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.
BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE WITH
WHICH HE LOVED US: dia ten pollen agapen autou en egapesen (3SAAI) hemas:
(Deuteronomy 7:7,8; 9:5,6; Jeremiah 31:3; Ezekiel 16:6-8; John 3:14-17;
Romans 5:8; 9:15,16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-7;
1 John 4:10-19)
(dia) in this verse means on account of, which explains why
God is so rich in mercy. It is on account of His great love. Or as
Marvin Vincent notes this clause might be phrased "it is in order to
satisfy His great love."
- God's love to any degree would have been enough, but Paul says it was
His great love. God is not miserly, withholding His best from
those who deserve nothing at all! Amazing love indeed!
(polus) is that which is present in relatively large in quantity
[word study]) is unconditional, sacrificial love. Agape love
speaks of a love called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the
one loved, a love that impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the
benefit of the object loved. It is the love shown at Calvary.
expounded on this great "Calvary" love declaring that...
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever
believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that
He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not
perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the
world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through
Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has
been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only
begotten Son of God. (John 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18)
“Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)
emphasizes the greatness of this love for those so unlovely writing
But God demonstrates His own love
toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Ro
John adds that...
In this is love, not that we loved
God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for
our sins. (1John 4:10)
God's willful direction toward man. It involves God doing what He knows
is best for man and not necessarily what man desires. For example, John
3:16 states, "For God so loved the world, that he gave." What did He
give? Not what man wanted, but what God knew man needed, i.e., His Son
to bring forgiveness to man.
[word study]) describes the love God gives freely and unconditionally
regardless of response -- love that goes out not only to lovable but to
faithless Israel God speaks of coming days of restoration declaring...
"I have loved you with an everlasting
love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)
(Amazing divine love to love the unlovely!)
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F B Meyer writes that GOD'S
LOVE WAS NOT DAUNTED BY OUR SIN. (Ephesians 2:5)
In the day that we were born, we were
cast out in the open field, dead in trespasses and sins, and to the
abhorring of our person. But He loved us even then. His great love was
not diverted by the spectacle of our loathsomeness. He knew what we
were, and what we should be, and how much pain and sorrow we should cost
Him; but He loved us still. He foresaw our failures and backslidings,
and lapses into the darkness of shadow; but none of these things availed
to quench his love. So rich was He in mercy that He could afford to be
prodigal of his wealth.
It is a great comfort to know that God loved us when there was nothing
to attract his love; because He will not be surprised by anything He
discovers in us, and He will not turn from us at those manifestations of
evil which sometimes make us lose heart. He knew the worst from the
first. He did not love us because we were fair, but to make us so. We
cannot understand it; but since He began He will not fail nor be
discouraged until He has finished his work. (Love:
On God's Side)