Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to chapter two of Ephesians. We have seen that there is no mention of God’s mercy in chapter one because everything there is excellent. But chapter two describes a miserable situation, a situation that requires the rich mercy of God. In this message we shall be concerned with the first three verses of chapter two.
Actually, Ephesians 2 is not mainly concerned with the pitiful situation of fallen man, but with the producing and building of the church. At the end of chapter one, we see the church as the Body of Christ being produced out of the transmission of the ascended Christ. This is the church seen from the positive view, the view from the top. But we must see not only the view from the top, but also the view from the bottom. In chapter one Paul looks at the church from the viewpoint of the heavenlies. From this perspective, the church is the issue of the transmission of the ascended Christ. But in chapter two Paul looks at the church from the bottom, the church from the viewpoint of the miserable situation of fallen man.
Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you, being dead in your offenses and sins.” According to grammar, “and” indicates that the last sentence of chapter one is not completed. The last verse of chapter one reveals that the church, the Body of Christ, has been produced by Christ through His attainment. Now chapter two unveils the background, the realm of death, from which the church has been brought forth.
In chapter one the Apostle Paul speaks many excellent things. He says that the church comes into being through the wonderful transmission of the ascended Christ. In chapter one Paul talks about Christ and the power that operated in Christ in raising Him from the dead, in seating Him in the heavenlies far above all, in subjecting all things under His feet, and in giving Him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all. But as we have pointed out, there is another side to the church. There is the side of Christ, and there is also the side of ourselves. Therefore, in 2:1 Paul says, “And you.” The church has not only the aspect of divinity, but also the aspect of humanity. In chapter one we see that the church is the issue of divinity transmitted into us. In chapter two we see that the church comes out of humanity. The conjunction “and” at the beginning of 2:1 is significant in bringing together these two aspects of the church.
Verse 1 says that we were dead in our offenses and sins. The words “being dead” refer to the dead condition of our spirit, a death that pervades our entire being. We were not only fallen and sinful; we were dead.
As I was preaching the gospel in Shanghai on New Year’s Day in 1947, I said to the people, “Friends, we Christian preachers must be honest and tell people what their real situation is. You are not only sinners—all of you are dead. You are all in a coffin and in a tomb. You may regard yourselves as cultured ladies and gentlemen, but actually you are dead and buried in a tomb. I tell you this because now Christ wants to make you alive and raise you up out of your coffin.” This is a good way to preach the gospel.
Because the book of Romans deals with sinners, it does not emphasize the fact that fallen people are dead. Instead, the emphasis in Romans is upon sins and sin. But the emphasis in the book of Ephesians is on death, on dealing with dead people. The salvation revealed in Romans is salvation according to righteousness. According to Romans 1:16 and 17, the gospel of God is powerful unto salvation because God’s righteousness is revealed in it. In Romans God saves us by, through, and with His righteousness. In Ephesians, however, God saves the dead with life. Righteousness does not benefit the dead ones. What they need is life. Many Christians are not clear about the difference between salvation through righteousness and salvation through life. For this reason, they use Ephesians to illustrate salvation through righteousness. As sinners and dead people, we needed both righteousness and life, both the salvation in Romans and the salvation in Ephesians.
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