December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 2 You were dead in your transgressions and sins 3
- in which you once lived following the age of this world, 4 following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.
- All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.
- But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us,
- even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ 5 (by grace you have been saved),
- raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
- that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
- For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
- it is not from works, so no one may boast.
- For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
- 6 Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands,
- were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel 7 and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.
- But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.
- 8 For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
- abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person 9 in place of the two, thus establishing peace,
- and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.
- He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near,
- for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
- So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God,
- built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. 10
- Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
- in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Table of Contents Previous Chapter Next Chapter
1 [1-22] The gospel of salvation (Eph 1:13) that God worked in Christ (Eph 1:20) is reiterated in terms of what God's great love (Eph 2:4), expressed in Christ, means for us. The passage sometimes addresses you, Gentiles (Eph 2:1-2, 8, 11-13, 19, 22), but other times speaks of all of us who believe (Eph 2:3-7, 10, 14, 18). In urging people to remember their grim past when they were dead in sins (Eph 2:1-3, 11-12) and what they are now in Christ (Eph 2:4-10, 13), the author sees both Jew and Gentile reconciled with God, now one new person, a new humanity, one body, the household of God, a temple and dwelling place of God's Spirit (Eph 2:15-16, 19-22). The presentation falls into two parts, the second stressing more the meaning for the church.
2 [1-10] The recipients of Paul's letter have experienced, in their redemption from transgressions and sins, the effect of Christ's supremacy over the power of the devil (Eph 2:1-2; cf Eph 6:11-12), who rules not from the netherworld but from the air between God in heaven and human beings on earth. Both Jew and Gentile have experienced, through Christ, God's free gift of salvation that already marks them for a future heavenly destiny (Eph 2:3-7). The language dead, raised us up, and seated us . . . in the heavens closely parallels Jesus' own passion and Easter experience. The terms in Eph 2:8-9 describe salvation in the way Paul elsewhere speaks of justification: by grace, through faith, the gift of God, not from works; cf Gal 2:16-21; Romans 3:24-28. Christians are a newly created people in Christ, fashioned by God for a life of goodness (Eph 2:10).
3 [1-7] These verses comprise one long sentence in Greek, the main verb coming in Eph 2:5, God brought us to life, the object you/us dead in . . . transgressions being repeated in Eph 2:1, 5; cf Col 2:13.
4  Age of this world: or "aeon," a term found in gnostic thought, possibly synonymous with the rulers of this world, but also reflecting the Jewish idea of "two ages," this present evil age and "the age to come"; cf 1 Cor 3:19; 5:10; 7:31; Gal 1:4; Titus 2:12. The disobedient: literally, "the sons of disobedience," a Semitism as at Isaiah 30:9.
5  Our relation through baptism with Christ, the risen Lord, is depicted in terms of realized eschatology, as already exaltation, though Eph 2:7 brings in the future aspect too.
6 [11-22] The Gentiles lacked Israel's messianic expectation, lacked the various covenants God made with Israel, lacked hope of salvation and knowledge of the true God (Eph 2:11-12); but through Christ all these religious barriers between Jew and Gentile have been transcended (Eph 2:13-14) by the abolition of the Mosaic covenant-law (Eph 2:15) for the sake of uniting Jew and Gentile into a single religious community (Eph 2:15-16), imbued with the same holy Spirit and worshiping the same Father (Eph 2:18). The Gentiles are now included in God's household (Eph 2:19) as it arises upon the foundation of apostles assisted by those endowed with the prophetic gift (Eph 3:5), the preachers of Christ (Eph 2:20; cf 1 Cor 12:28). With Christ as the capstone (Eph 2:20; cf Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42), they are being built into the holy temple of God's people where the divine presence dwells (Eph 2:21-22).
7  The community of Israel: or "commonwealth"; cf Eph 4:18. The covenants: cf Romans 9:4: with Abraham, with Moses, with David.
8 [14-16] The elaborate imagery here combines pictures of Christ as our peace (Isaiah 9:5), his crucifixion, the ending of the Mosaic law (cf Col 2:14), reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-21), and the destruction of the dividing wall such as kept people from God in the temple or a barrier in the heavens.
9  One new person: a corporate body, the Christian community, made up of Jews and Gentiles, replacing ancient divisions; cf Romans 1:16.
10  Capstone: the Greek can also mean cornerstone or keystone.
New American Bible Copyright © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
USCCB Home Page New American Bible Home Page
New American Bible
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000