4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
but (v.4) — in contrast to vs. 2-3
rich (v.4) = wealthy, abounding, abundantly supplied
love (v.4) = agape
dead (v.5) — Spiritual death is the state of the natural or unregenerate man as still in his sins (2:1), alienated from the life of God (4:18-19), and destitute of the Spirit (Romans 8:9). Prolonged beyond the death of the body, spiritual death is a state of eternal separation from God in conscious suffering. This is called “the second death” (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14). — Scofield, page 1274
made us alive (v.5) — This takes us to Romans 6:3-4, “Or, do you not know that as many as were placed into Christ Jesus (by the Holy Spirit), into His death were placed. We were entombed therefore with Him through this aforementioned placing into His death, in order that just as there was raised up Christ out from amongst the dead ones through the glory of the Father, thus also as for us, in the newness of a life (imparted) we may order our behavior.” This newness of life is a new life imparted through our identification with Christ in His resurrection. Our identification with Christ in His death broke the power of indwelling sin. Our identification with Him in His resurrection resulted in the impartation of divine life. This is what Paul has reference to when he says, “We were made alive together with Him.” — Wuest, page 66
Now comes the interjection, “by grace ye are saved” (v.5). We have here in the Greek what is called a periphrastic construction. This is used when the writer cannot get all of the details of action from one verbal form. So he uses two, a finite verb and a participle. The participle here is in the perfect tense, which tense speaks of an action that took place in past time and was completed in past time, having results existent in present time. The translation reads, “By grace have you been completely saved, with the present result that you are in a saved state of being.” The perfect tense speaks of the existence of finished results in present time. But Paul is not satisfied with showing the existence of finished results in present time. He wants to show the persistence of results through present time. So he uses the verb “to be” in the present tense which gives durative force to the finished results. Thus, the full translation is, “By grace you have been saved in past time completely, with the result that you are in a state of salvation which persists through present time.” The unending state of the believer in salvation could not have been put in stronger or clearer language. The finished results of the past act of salvation are always present with the reader. His present state of salvation is dependent upon one thing and one thing only, his past appropriation of the Lord Jesus as Savior. — Wuest, pages 66-67
raised us up (v.6) — “Hath raised us up together” is sunegeiro — “raised us with Him” — that is, to life now, in a present spiritual sense. The sunegeiro expresses the definite idea of resurrection, and primarily that of physical resurrection. The introduction of this term and the following makes it not improbable that both ideas, that of the present moral resurrection and that of the future bodily resurrection were in Paul’s mind, and that he did not sharply distinguish between them, but thought of them as one great gift of life. — Wuest, page 67
sit (v.6) = enthrone
in Christ Jesus (v.6) — not referring just to the sitting, but to the whole statement from v.4 on
the ages to come (v.7) = lit. “in the ages that are coming one upon another”
show (v.7) — tense indicates that the subject (here — God) acts in his own interest — for His own glory
toward (v.7) = upon
“But God, who is rich in mercy.” Thankfully, God has taken the initiative to make a provision of salvation and bring mankind in contact with the gospel, which is the means through which the Spirit convicts the unsaved sinner (John 16:7-11; Ephesians 6:17 cf. Hebrews 4:12). We believe that the sovereignty of God and human responsibility are both essential in the salvation of any soul. So then, when the gospel of salvation is preached to an unregenerate soul, the Holy Spirit supernaturally pierces through the enmity of his heart, allowing the light of the glorious gospel to shine in (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). Once the sinner is under conviction, he is responsible to God to believe the terms of the gospel — that Christ died for his sins, was buried, and rose again the third day.
But can the natural man who is dead in trespasses and sins believe the gospel? Some ask, “How can a dead person believe?” To which we would respond, “How can a dead person be disobedient?” (Ephesians 2:2). Both answers necessitate the utilization of man’s intellect and will. We reject the notion that God imparts faith to the natural man thus, enabling him to believe. If this were true, it would completely eliminate the human responsibility, especially in regard to the unbeliever who would be condemned to the lake of fire for rejecting a gospel he could have never believed. The Scriptures declare: “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Notice that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not implantation.
Let’s go a step farther. Did Adam in a fallen state understand what God said to him in the garden? The record is clear that he most certainly did — the Word of God pierced straight through his stony heart of flesh. God created man as an intelligent, rational being who has the capacity to make decisions. Even though this image has been marred by sin, when the Spirit convicts a soul through the gospel, man has the ability and the responsibility to believe. Can he resist if he so chooses and reject the good news? He often does (see Acts 7:51).
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). If all are dead in trespasses and sins, then it can also be said that the love of God and His righteousness extends to all. This is a recurring theme throughout the Pauline epistles.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). God’s gracious provision is unto “all” which clearly indicates that redemption is unlimited. Christ died for the sins of the world. However, the Word of God declares that salvation, and subsequently the righteousness of God, is only conveyed “upon all them that believe.” — Sadler, pages 91-92.
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