Ephesians 2:1-2 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Kai humas ontas (PAPMPA) nekrous tois paraptomasin kai tais hamartiais humon,

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 Publishing - used by permission)   

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:

Spiritual Wealth Spiritual Walk
The Position
of the Believer
The Practice
of the Believer
God Sees
Us in Christ
The World Should See
Christ in Us
Privilege Practice
Doctrine Duty
Doctrinal Practical
Revelation Responsibility
Belief Behavior
of the Believer
of the Believer
Our Heritage
In Christ
Our Life
In Christ
Know your
Resources (Riches) in Christ
Live by faith in the light of your Resources (Riches) in Christ
of Christ
of the Christian
of Christ
In Us
of Christ
Through Us
in Christ
in Us
of God
of the Christian
Who You Are
In Christ
Whose You Are
In Christ
Identity Responsibility
of the Believer
of the Believer
Theology Ethics


Ephesians 2
Is Amazing!

Ephesians 2:1-3 Amazing Depths
Ephesians 2:4-7 Amazing Heights
Ephesians 2:8-9 Amazing Grace
Ephesians 2:10 Amazing Work

Adapted from Kent Hughes: Preaching the Word: Ephesians


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 “Having described our spiritual possessions in Christ, Paul turns to a complementary truth: our spiritual position in Christ. First he explains what God has done for all sinners in general; then he explains what God did for the Gentiles in particular.” (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

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.

THOUGHT - 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 "From now on I promise to lead a better religious and Christian life."

To these promises Gaebelein replied that in light of the truth in Ephesians 2:1 "How is it possible for a person to live a better life, when that person has no life at all"?

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?

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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 - corpse(1), dead(122), dead man(3), dead men(1), dead men's(1). 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

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…

(1) It is a state in which a living principle, necessary for organization, growth and energy, in reference to God and holiness, is entirely lacking; (2) it is a state which has no innate tendency to develop such a principle of life. The principle must come to it altogether ab extra. -- The latest researches into nature confirm the conviction that dead matter has absolutely no inner tendency to generate life, which must come into it ab extra if it is to live." (Ephesians Commentary 2)

In Genesis 2 before Eve had been created, God warned Adam…

but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17)

In Genesis 3 the serpent of old, Satan, the liar and deceiver countered Eve's arguments…

And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! (Genesis 3:4)

Paul sums these events up writing…

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Ro 5:12-note)

Comment: We are all born as sons of Adam and thus born in sin and in guilt and condemnation… all because of Adam's sin). (See also related topic Births, Deaths, and Resurrections.

The uselessness of the dead is the subject of Solomon's proverb who writes that

whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4)

Jesus referred to all of us in our spiritually "embalmed" condition when He prophesied…

"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. (John 5:25)

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.

ILLUSTRATION - S Lewis Johnson tells the following story from a Scottish expositor who wrote "that there was a graveyard in Ayrshire, one of the counties of Scotland, where once a stranger was buried. It greatly distressed the people of that particular parish, so much so that they put a notice up on the outside of the graveyard to this effect, this is what it read: “This graveyard is reserved exclusively for the dead who are living in this parish.” Now, that is what we have in this parish of the whole wide world. We have dead people. They’re alive, just like Adam was alive, physically, after he had sinned, but nevertheless, he was spiritually dead. We are living in the parish, but we are dead, as we are born into this human race. (Ephesians 2:1-10 His Power and Our Salvation)

Trespasses (3900) (paraptoma 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 "To pass over, to go beyond one’s right in place or act; to injure another; to do that which annoys or inconveniences another; any violation of law, civil or moral; it may relate to a person, a community, or the state, or to offenses against God. The Hebrew 'asham ("sin"), is used very frequently in the Old Testament when the trespass is a violation of law of which God is the author. (ISBE Article)

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…

Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss (chata) (Jdg 20:16+)

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.

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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…

"Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits (present tense) sin is (present tense) the slave of sin." (John 8:34)

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

“all our righteous deeds are like a filthy (Hebrew = menstruation a picture of ceremonial uncleanness and undesirable filth) garment” (Isa 64:6)

Paul affirms this truth writing that…


In another passage Paul explains that unbelievers are not even able to understand the things of God, for

a natural (unsaved, still "in Adam", not "in Christ") man does not accept (dechomai = deliberately and readily, receive kindly, they do not "put out a welcome mat"! = present tense) the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness (moria = that which is considered intellectually weak, irrational) to him, and he cannot (dunamai = present tense = have intrinsic power - natural men lack the inner, inherent ability and resources on their own to) understand (verb ginosko = know by experience) them, because they are spiritually appraised (anakrino = sift up and down and so to scrutinize, to examine accurately and carefully with exact research like in legal processes)." (1Cor 2:14+)

Nor can we come to God in our own power, for Jesus says,

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

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…

"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

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".

Ray Pritchard sums up the consequences of sin writing that because of sin we are…

Lost—To be lost means to be in a position of great personal danger because you cannot find your way to safety. The unsaved are "lost" in precisely that sense. They are far from God and do not know where or how to find him.

Separated from God—Sin has created a great chasm between God and us. We were made to know God but our sin keeps us from him. We feel it and we know it is true. There is a cloud between us, a mountain of sin rising up, and a deep chasm beneath us. This is why we are restless. Nothing on earth can satisfy our hunger for God. This is why we are seeking and searching and trying and striving.

Blind—Sin destroys our ability to see things clearly. We live in the darkness of sin and not even the tiniest ray of light breaks through to us.

Dead—A dead person has eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear, lips but cannot speak, feet but cannot move. The spiritually dead have within them no ability to respond to God. Unless someone raises them to life, they can never know the God who made them.

Enslaved—Because of sin we are slaves to our own lusts. Even our heart has been corrupted. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that the heart is deceitful and wicked so that we cannot trust our own instincts. Left to ourselves, we repeatedly choose to do wrong. Try as we might we cannot change ourselves. In the words of the cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We are enslaved and we cannot set ourselves free! God says, "Thou shalt not" but we say "I shall" and then we hate ourselves afterwards. Why? We are enslaved to sin. Sin masters us, rules us, dominates us. We are a people of high ideals and weak wills, of big dreams and small deeds, high hopes and low living.

Helpless—This is the logical end of it all. A person who is lost, separated, blind, dead, and enslaved is truly helpless. He is trapped with no hope within himself. Any help must come from somewhere else. (The Truth about You)

From Today in the Word- Dead Men Can't Hear - In an article in Fortune magazine, David Whitford wrote of the shocking discovery prior to his father's death that his dad had amassed a six-figure debt on high-interest credit cards. There had been clues that his father was having financial problems, but when Whitford had tried to talk about it his father immediately changed the subject. “At one point,” Whitford writes, “he put his hands over his ears and made a humming noise.” Yet two days after his father's death, Whitford found these words scrawled on his father's desk: “Help me. I'm drowning.” Whitford's story illustrates a tragic reality. There is little we can do for those who refuse our help.

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

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.

Our Daily Bread - "Life Giving Words" …

In Luke 7 we read the dramatic story of what happened when Jesus encountered a large funeral procession. A widow was on her way to the cemetery to bury her only son. With a heart full of compassion, Jesus spoke to the woman, touched the coffin, and with a command brought her son back to life.

What happened to that young man is an illustration of what happens to a person who is converted to Christ. Until you and I come in contact with the Savior, we are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) and on our way to the cemetery of what the Bible calls the second death (Rev. 20:6). We will be eternally separated from God's love unless we are spiritually reborn.

But when Jesus speaks to the needy sinner through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and the person puts his faith in Jesus, instantly he receives new life. Peace, joy, and blessing will follow.

Friend, have you heard the life-giving words of Jesus? He alone can take away the deadness of your soul and give you a thrilling awakening that brings forgiveness and joy right now, and the prospect of heaven forever.

If Jesus has rescued you from eternal death, ask Him to use you to tell others of the One who gives new life.-- Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Once far from God and dead in sin,
No light my heart could see,
But in God's Word the light I found --
Now Christ liveth in me.-- Whittle

When you trust God's Son, darkness gives way to the light.

Our Daily Bread - "New Life" …

For a long time the old church sat empty and abandoned in a Detroit neighborhood. The decaying building blended naturally into the whole area. Storefronts were boarded up. An old school building was padlocked. Party stores flourished, but little else. Grim, unswept, forgotten—that's how it all looked.

Then one night things changed. The old church sparkled with light. Parked cars lined the streets. The sound of music filled the air. What had been dead and abandoned had come to life.

I've seen people like that. For years they were dark and empty like that old church. There was little inside except anger, selfishness, and pride. Then one day all was changed. Suddenly the darkness was gone. It was as if someone had turned on the lights.

And that Someone is God. He forgives those who come to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. He specializes in giving new life to those who seem to be beyond hope—those who are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).

If all this sounds unfamiliar, it may be because we've lost sight of the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Let's remember what He has done for us, and what He can do for others. —MRDII (Ibid)

Christ takes each sin, each pain, each loss,
And by the power of His cross
Transforms our brokenness and shame
So we may glorify His name. —D. De Haan

Salvation produces a change within that breaks the chains of sin.

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)

Greek: en ais pote periepatesate (2PAAI) kata ton aiona tou kosmou toutou, kata ton archonta tes exousias tou aeros, tou pneumatos tou nun energountos (PAPNSG) en tois huois tes apeitheias;

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! 

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:

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 - All their thoughts, words, and deeds are ensphered by sin. Not one of their acts ever gets outside this circle of sin. That is what is meant by total depravity. (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

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…

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph 4:22+)

In a similar manner, Paul reminded the saints at Colossae of the incredible change that God's Spirit had wrought in them…

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col 1:21, 22-notes)

Writing to the Church at Corinth Paul reminded them of their former manner of life to emphasize the greatness of their salvation…

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you (this is who we all once were); but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (1Cor 6:9, 10, 11+)

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 "constative, a construction which looks at a thing or an action as a complete unit, looks at it in a panoramic view. The whole life of the unsaved person is nothing but sin.(Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

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

“righteous in the sight of God, walking (peripateo) blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Lk 1:6+).

In contrast, Paul refers in this verse to the lifestyle of unbelievers and later in this same letter counseled the Ephesian believers to

walk no longer just as the Gentiles (in context a description of all the unsaved) also walk, in the futility of their mind” (see note Ephesians 4:17).

John declares that,

“if we walk (peripateo) in the light as [God] Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7+)

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 (the sphere of immorality, etc, all things that on account of the wrath of God will come - Col 3:5, 6-see notes Col 3:5, 3:6) you also once walked (peripateo), when you were living in them." (see note Colossians 3:7)

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

"conformed to this world (aion), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (see note Romans 12:2)

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 "“All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale,—all this is included in the aion, which is, as Bengel has expressed it, ‘the subtle informing spirit of the kosmos, or world of men who are living alienated and apart from God’ ” (Trench, R. C. Synonyms of the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers. 2000)

Wuest commenting on aion adds that "The Germans have a word for it, zeitgeist, “the spirit of the age.” “World” is in the head, his demons are his emissaries, and all the unsaved kosmos, which here refers to the system of evil of which Satan are his slaves, together with the purposes, pursuits, pleasures, and places where God is not wanted. To distinguish the words, one could say that kosmos gives the over-all picture of mankind alienated from God during all history, and aion represents any distinct age or period of human history as marked out from another by particular characteristics. (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

World (2889) (kosmos) 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:

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 "the things that dominate Satan are the things that dominate us. A characteristic of Satanic activity is opposition to the word of God. We often blame Satan for things that are really, simply, the lusts of the flesh. I don’t deny that Satan may use the lusts of the flesh. But really Satan is more interested in the counterfeit of the truth. And so he’s not so interested in the fleshly lust types of things as he is in infecting the mind with false doctrine. Satanic things are the things that primarily have to do with the denial of the truth of God, the counterfeit of the truth of God. (Ephesians 2:1-10 His Power and Our Salvation)

Paul is saying that everyone born is born enslaved to…


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…

Put on (aorist imperative = Command to do this now! Don't delay!) the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (see notes Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:12)

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)

John writes…

We know that we are of God, and the whole (complete in extent) world (kosmos) lies in the power of the evil one. (1John 5:19+)

Similarly on the night in which he was betrayed Jesus addressed the Jewish chief priests and officers…

While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours. (Luke 22:53+)

Comment: In this verse "the power of darkness" is not a reference to the darkness of the night in which Jesus was arrested, by to Satan and the dark powers he ruled over.

In other allusions to Satan as ruler of the world Jesus declared…

Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler (archon) of this world (kosmos) shall be cast out. (John 12:31)

Comment: This verse at first glance seems somewhat confusing for Jesus says "now" which might suggest Satan no longer holds power which we know is not true from other passages. The "now" refers to the assurance of ultimate victory over Satan that was to be won by Christ on the Cross - Col 2:14, 15-see notes.

"I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. (John 14:30)

Comment: Jesus is saying here that Satan possesses nothing in the Person of Christ and has no power over Him whatsoever which of course is another evidence of Christ's sinlessness.

(the Holy Spirit) when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment… concerning judgment, because the ruler (archon) of this world (kosmos) has been judged. (John 16:11)

Comment: Jesus was referring to His judgment of Satan that was effected by His death on the cross (cf John 12:31). Satan is the prince of this world, but he is a defeated prince! Satan has already been judged and the verdict announced. All that must take place is the executing of the sentence, and that will occur when Jesus returns.

Paul referred to Satan when he explained to the church at Corinth that…

the god of this world (aion = better translated "age " - Satan rules for a short time in this present evil age but in the age to come, the Millennium, Jesus will be the King of kings) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2Cor 4:4) .

Comment: The "god of this world" is not saying Satan is god in the sense of God, but that he is a false god who wields enormous influence for evil in this present world. He controls the ideologies, opinions, hopes, aims, goals, and viewpoints current in the world -- cf. 2Cor. 10:3, 4, 5 (notes;). Satan is behind the world’s systems of philosophy, psychology, education, sociology, ethics, and economics, but one of his greatest spheres of influence is in the realm of false religion. He is called a god in the sense that his deluded followers serve him as if he were one. Satan is the original model for all the false gods in all the false religions he has spawned. As a corollary, believers should pray that the Spirit would take the gospel and "open [unbeliever's] eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God" Acts 26:18.

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 "Authority or right is the dominant meaning in the New Testament." (Word studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-171)

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 "from the meaning of "leave or permission" or "liberty of doing as one pleases" and passed to that of "the ability or strength with which one is endued," then to that of the "power of authority," the right to exercise power or "the power of rule or government," the power of one whose will and commands must be obeyed by others." (Vine, W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996. Nelson)

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 - see harpazo).

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 "The Greeks had two words which meant “air,” aer and aither. Aer was used to designate the lower air, the thick air or haze that surrounds the earth. Aither was the name given the pure, upper air as opposed to the thick lower air. The pure upper air started at the mountain tops for the Greeks of the ancient world, since they had no way of exploring the regions above these. The word aer referring to the lower atmosphere, namely, that below the mountain tops, is used in the NT. Aither is not used, although it must have been in common use in the first century (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

S Lewis Johnson has a humorous story relating to the "prince of the power of the air" "Many years ago, there was a very modern, liberal preacher by the name of S. Parks Cathman. He was a person who was known far and wide, very much like Harry Emerson Fosdick. He had a radio broadcast, very well-known man, very influential man. He was introducing a man over the radio one day, and an evangelical heard him. He introduced this man as being a mighty Christian minister, and he built him up by talking about his education and his background and his accomplishments, and then in one final rhetorical flourish he said, “And now we present to you the prince of the power of the air.” He didn’t realize, of course, that he was introducing him in a term that is used in Scripture as a term for Satan. Fortunately, an evangelical heard it and that’s story has been told by evangelicals around the country for about 50 years now. (Ephesians 2:1-10 His Power and Our Salvation - Audio)

OF THE SPIRIT THAT IS NOW WORKING IN THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE: tou pneumatos tou nun energountos (PAPNSG) en tois huois tes apeitheias:

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] 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 the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." (Job 1:7)

And in Peter we read…

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. (both are aorist tense, imperative see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) Your adversary, the devil, prowls (present tense = continually) about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (See note 1 Peter 5:8)

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"…is a Hebrew idiom in which one calls a person having a peculiar quality, or subject to a peculiar evil, a son of that quality. The unsaved are called sons of disobedience in the sense that they have the character of being disobedient. (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

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 "stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit. " (Acts 7:51+)

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 …

Let no one deceive (present imperative - with the negative ["let no one"] could mean this deception was already transpiring among the believers. Note that it is a command to continually guard against the fallen world's subtle, deceptive rationalization for justifying their flagrant rebellion against the Holy God! This world is being slowly but irrevocably being corrupted [like rust on metal on an ocean front house which is continually being bombarded with salt water breezes - beware of these corrupting "winds of doctrine" Ep 4:14-note] by the lusts of deceit - see 2Pe 1:4-note) you with empty words (these words may "sound" convincing at first hearing, but they have a "hollow" ring when filtered through the "grid" of a Biblical mindset), for because of these things (Ep 5:5-note) the wrath of God comes (verb actually pictures God's Holy, Awesome wrath as on its way! Woe!) upon the sons of disobedience. (Eph 5:6-note)

Comment: Go back up to Ep 5:5 (note) and see what the deception entails - They were pouring out venomous statements like… "If you are saved, it doesn't make any difference how you live. Once you believe, if you sin openly and wantonly the rest of your life, you can be assured you have a 'fire insurance' policy." This is a lie from the pit of hell (figuratively and literally speaking!) and tragically is one which is infiltrating some evangelical teaching! Caveat emptor! (See Jesus' fearful, loving warning [true love warns and is not just "warm and fuzzy"] - Mt 7:21-note, Mt 7:22, 23-note) To be sure, faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone! Faith not works saves, but the faith that truly saves, works. See Jas 2:14-16 - notes)

Ray Pritchard writes that…

the whole gospel message (can be seen) in just six words. If you know what these words are and what they mean, you will know the gospel. And you can share it with anyone you meet.

The six words come in three sets of two words each—the first from Eph 2:1, the second from Eph 2:4, and the third from Eph 2:8.

You were—Eph 2:1

But God—Eph 2:4

Through faith—Eph 2:8

The first two words describe our true condition apart from God’s grace. The words "you were" describe not only what we used to be, they also describe the current condition of everyone in the world who is not saved. That condition, as we will see in a few moments, is truly hopeless.

The second two words tell us how grace works. The phrase "but God" announces the world’s greatest rescue mission when the Creator took on human flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ to perform the work of salvation.

The final two words explain how we come into contact with God’s grace. It is "through faith" and only through faith. It is not faith plus works or faith plus anything else. It is faith alone that brings the blessings of grace to us.

Rightly understood, the whole gospel is in those six words: You were…But God…Through faith. God made it simple so that anyone could understand it and so all of us could share it with someone else. (Amazing Grace)

A devotional from Our Daily Bread entitled "Autistic Listeners"

Hear now this … [ye] … who have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the Lord. Jeremiah 5:21, 22

Recently the London Times stated that there are about 4,000 autistic children in Britain. These unfortunate youngsters usually do not react to messages received and transmitted from the eyes and ears to the brain. Consequently, they live in a world where words have little or no meaning. This is a terrible physical affliction, but my mind immediately was drawn to the oft-repeated words of our Lord concerning the listeners in His day who were thus spiritually afflicted. Of them He said,

"Hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand" (Matt. 13:13).

The reason for such "autistic" listeners is clear. Unconverted men are spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ep 2:1-note). Only as the Holy Spirit enlightens them and gives them life in Christ can they "hear his voice" and follow Him.

A certain ungodly tavern keeper who was very fond of music decided to attend one of John Wesley's Methodist gatherings in order to hear the singing. He had resolved, however, not to listen to the sermon, and therefore sat with his head down and his fingers in his ears. But when God wants to speak to a soul, He can make His voice heard even if He uses means that may seem strange to us. As the man stubbornly refused to listen, a fly lit upon his nose. For a moment he moved his hand to drive it away, and in so doing, nine words of the sermon were brought to his attention:

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

From that moment the man had no rest in his soul. He came to the next meeting, listened eagerly to the Gospel, and was saved. Have you heard the Savior's voice? "Hear, and your soul shall live!" (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

I hear Thy welcome voice,
That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
That flowed on Calvary. — Hartsough

There is no one so deaf as the person who refuses to hear!

A devotional from Our Daily Bread entitled "The Peace Initiative"

It was the night before Christmas in 1870. French and German armies faced each other on the field of battle in the Franco-Prussian War. A French soldier started walking toward the German lines. His comrades watched breathlessly, expecting to hear at any instant the crack of a rifle that would end his life. As he neared the enemy lines, he stopped and began singing

"Noel, noel! Noel, noel! Born is the King of Israel!"

No shot rang out.

Slowly the Frenchman returned to his ranks. There was silence! Then from the German side came a lone soldier to the same spot and sang the German version of the same song. After each stanza both armies united in the chorus. For a few minutes Christ brought peace to that battlefield.

God is a peacemaker who always takes the first step. Jesus came as a baby, and when He grew to manhood He preached peace to a warring world. Then, in the greatest peace initiative this world has ever seen, Christ made peace between God and man by dying for our sins (Col 1:20-note).

Peacemaking efforts may be rejected, but the alternative is continued hostility. God didn't settle for that, nor should we. Let's take the first step in healing a broken relationship, even at the risk of being "shot down."-- Dennis J. De Haan (Ibid)

O Prince of Peace, keep us, we pray,
From strife and enmity;
Help us to speak with loving words
That quell hostility.-- J. David Branon

What this world needs is the peace that passes all misunderstanding.