This post continues our Bible Study series on Ephesians 2:1-10 exploring the Gospel. I pray that the Lord is using this series to deepen your understanding of the Gospel. Please use the Comments Section to suggest topics for future studies.
This study of verse 7 encourages me because it shows the Lord’s determination in saving a people for Himself. Sadly, my schedule prevented me from moving beyond this one verse, or even writing as much as I wanted to about it. So, to make up for my omissions, I hope you’ll take the time to look at the cross-references I’ll provide, as they offer deeper insight into the text.
But first let’s go back to the text itself, shall we?
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~~Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)
Paul begins verse 7 with the assuring statement that God will, in the ages to come, give a fuller revelation
- of the immeasuarable riches
- of His grace
- in kindness toward us
- in Christ Jesus
Commentators differ on whether the “ages to come” denote succeeding generations of Christians who would understand the Ephesians’ conversions as a demonstration of God’s rich mercy or to the ages that will begin when Christ returns. The former interpretation finds support in 1Timothy 1:16, where Paul claims His own conversion as an example of God’s mercy. Compare Titus 3:4-7, which states that the believers in the church Titus pastored experienced the same mercy as did the Ephesians. Yet 1 Peter 1:3-13 implies that God will display His mercy and grace at the time that Christ reveals Himself universally. I tend to favor the latter understanding because Christ’s return is part of the Gospel.
God’s purpose in showering believers with grace and mercy benefits us, but ultimately it refers back to His character. Vincent’s Word Studies says that the grammar of the Greek phrase translated here as “He might show” implies that God does all this for His glory first, and then for our benefit.
The Lord showed similar mercy to Israel, not because they deserved it (they certainly didn’t!), but for the sake of His reputation (Ezekiel 36:21-23, Deuteronomy 7:7-8, Psalm 106:8, Psalm 115:1-2, Ezekiel 20:41). God bestows His mercy on us, just as He did on Israel, out of concern for His reputation among unbelieving nations. For this reason, as well as because of the way verse 7 flows from preceding verses, I tend toward the opinion that these “immeasurable riches” will coincide with Christ’s return when all will see Him (Matthew 24:30).
Notice that God shows “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us” in the Person and work of Christ Jesus. Again, Paul insists that we did nothing to merit God’s favor, but Jesus gives us all these blessings because we are in Him. Accordingly, we take joy in Christ, honoring Him for making such treasures available to us.