Just Drivin' Along in My Car Praising God
Ephesians: Part 1
I was driving home from somewhere and put the scriptures on. I don’t usually get a lot from just listening (it’s not how I learn)-especially when I’m driving! But somehow the words of Ephesians 2 filled me with the Spirit. You know how in many churches the members of the congregation raise their hands in praise and say “amen” when they feel moved upon? That’s what I felt like. The more I study Paul, the more I understand; the more I understand, the more I’m grateful for his life and work.
Starting right out in verse 1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" There is so much meat in just this one verse! Firstly-let’s look at what “quicken” means. “The gift of the Holy Ghost … quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use.”See Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. (1965), 101."
“These words (he hath quickened) are not in the original (they were added by the King James translators to sync with verse 5). If we connect this verse with the last clause of the preceding chapter, (Eph 1:23. . .the fulness of him that filleth all in all.) we may read, you hath he filled, namely, with his gifts and graces, and thereby hath made you alive to himself; who were dead — Not only diseased, but dead; absolutely devoid of all spiritual life, and as incapable of quickening yourselves, as persons literally dead are of restoring their bodies to life. In this sense Locke paraphrases the words: ‘Ye were so entirely under the power of sin, that ye had no more power, nor hope, nor ability, to get out of it, than men dead and buried have to get out of their graves.’” Barnes Notes on the Bible
Secondly, Paul references being “dead in trespasses and sins”. Among other things, he’s referring to the law of Moses. “One of the major questions the early Church in Palestine had to decide was about the obligation of Christians to the ceremonial law of Moses. The matter was partially solved by the conference held in Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 15 and Gal. 2.
The Jewish Christians in particular had difficulty giving up the ritual of the law of Moses. By New Testament times among the Jews the law had become so altered it had lost much of its spiritual meaning. It is this form of the law that is so harshly spoken against by Jesus and by Paul.” Bible Dictionary
At this point, Paul has had to deal with the Jewish Christians who were having a very hard time moving on from the law of Mose
s. "Among the Jews of Jesus’ day, esteem for the Law was so great that some even refused to accept anything but the five books of Moses as scripture. Moreover, centuries of reverence for the Law as the revelation of God to Moses had created an almost fanatical devotion to its precepts in the hearts and minds of most Jews. For Jews the Law of Moses had gradually become identified as the divine will itself—perfect, absolute, forever unchanging and unchangeable. The Law was thought of as the will of God exactly, precisely expressed; therefore, any deviation at all from the letter of the Law of Moses was also deviation from God. There was no room for flexibility or “extenuating circumstances.
For most Jews there was no such thing, could be no such thing as a law higher than the Law of Moses. By the first century A.D. some rabbis among the Jews were also teaching that the Law of Moses was God’s premortal plan of salvation, that the world had been created by and for the Law of Moses, and that the Law was eternally binding. (Sifre on Deut. 11:10 and Gen. Rabba 1; M. Aboth 3:15 and Gen. Rabba 12; and J. Meg. 1:70 and 1 Enoch 99:2.)
. . .among the Jews, those who accepted Jesus Christ were in the minority, and the Law of Moses continued to be the law of the land. Therefore, Jewish Christians, whether or not they understood that the Law had been fulfilled in Christ, continued to live it anyway as a matter of cultural, social, and legal necessity.
This situation made it easy for some in the Church to insist that the Law was still necessary for salvation. Those who felt this way have been called “Judaizers”, and most of them flatly refused to accept the teachings of the Apostles and alter their traditional views on the subject of the Law. Often, their fanatical devotion to the Law of Moses was a hindrance to the work of the Apostles. (See, for example, Acts 11:2–3; Acts 15:5, 24; Gal. 2:3–5.)
Paul’s response to the question of the law is found in Galatians 2:16, 21. “16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. . . .21 For if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” In other words, if living the Law of Moses and observing its “performances” could justify us before God, then the atoning death of the Savior would have been unnecessary.” Reflections on the Law of Moses: Old Testament Apostasy in Context, 1983 Gib Kocherhans