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For by grace you have been saved: A new topic that’s really the same topic?

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012 in scripture | 5 comments

For by grace you have been saved: A new topic that’s really the same topic?

As I’ve said before, we’re studying through the book of Ephesians together. (If you want to follow along with the posts I’ve already written based on my own study, see “Ephesians, here we come?,” “Summarizing Ephesians 1:3-10,” “Blessed be the God and Father…,” “The family of God in Ephesians,” and “Jesus is the head of the church and head over all things.”)

This coming Sunday, we plan to read and discuss Ephesians 2:1-10 together. Of course, this is a very popular and familiar passage, which always makes it difficult to study. I mean, we already know what it means, right? For instance, we all know how this section of Paul’s letter ends:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

As we all probably know, the statements above end the passage that begins by Paul describing our terrible state apart of God and our new state with God in Jesus Christ.

But, as I was studying this passage, I noticed something interesting: there are several lexical connections back to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23 (especially the last half of the prayer from Ephesians 1:19-23). While I first noticed the connection in these passages:

…that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places… (Ephesians 1:20 ESV)

… and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Ephesians 2:6 ESV)

But, those are not the only lexical connections. For example, Paul connects these two passage with these terms (at least): “dead,” “immeasurable greatness/riches,” “age,” “rule/ruler,” “power,” “believe/faith,” “working/work.” There are a few other connections that are not direct lexical (but synonymous) connections such as “to come/coming.”

So, could it be that Paul did not intend Ephesians 2:1-10 to be a new topic/theme in the letter? Could it be that it’s actually a continuation (and perhaps an explanation or illustration) of the prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23?

If this is a continuation, how do you think the two passages (Ephesians 1:15-23 and Ephesians 2:1-10) are connected?


5 Comments

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  1. 10-4-2012

    Alan,

    As I read the Scriptures here saying how Christ is seated at the right hand of His Father, it occurred to me that as Stephen was being stoned to death, Jesus actually stood up.

    Other than that, I got nothing.

  2. 10-4-2012

    Donald,

    Great. Maybe God is using my studies to reveal something to you then.

    -Alan

  3. 10-4-2012

    Alan,

    Oh, wait wait wait..when I said “I got nothing”, it didn’t mean I got nothing out of your post! I meant to say, “Other than the comment about Jesus standing up for Stephen, I have nothing to add”. Sorry! I went back and re-read what I typed and realized it sounded a bit harsh, and it was not what I was seeking to say. My apologies if it came across less than polite.

  4. 10-4-2012

    Donald,

    Yes, I did misunderstand you. Thank you for explaining.

    -Alan

  5. 10-4-2012

    Alan,

    Thank you for receiving my explanation. I’m glad we could clear this up.