Eph 2:1 We were Dead

Sep 12, 2021 // By:Dave // No Comment

The most basic truth overlooked is that we are alive 

Paul starts this section by reminding us that we were spiritually dead 

He is going to write a bit about what this awesome God did for “not so awesome” critters who didn’t deserve any of it

and the first thing he did was give life to the dead

Eph. 2:1 And you were dead in your offenses and sins,

necrosis = literally a corpse

in offenses and sins (small slips and missteps along with outright disobedience)

offenses . παράπτωμα paraptoma, par-ap´-to-mah; from 3895; a side-slip transgression: — fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass.

crossing the known line

sins  ἁμαρτία hamartia, ham-ar-tee´-ah; from 264; a sin (properly abstract): — offence, sin(-ful).

missing the mark, archery term for shooting at a bullseye and missing

kids love to try to get off the hook when caught by saying “I didn’t know”

(change the situation from willful trespass to ignorant “oops”

actually, many of us do the same thing when the officer pulls us over for speeding and we try to pretend we didn’t know the speed limit reduced or that our registration was expired five months ago.

Paul is not saying one is lessor than the other, or one is more excusable than the other.

what he is saying is that each one of us has both of these on our records.

(we have all done lots of both)

we are born, spiritually dead.  unable to respond to spiritual stimuli just like a corpse cannot respond to a question asked, cannot explain to us how they died, cannot even respond to pin prick.

dead means dead

we acquired this spiritual death back in the garden of Eden, thanks to a wonderful couple who thought it would be a good idea to second guess the word of God and take the word of a talking serpent.

this is why Nicodemus was so confused with his conversation with God in John 3:3 when Jesus tells him that he must be born again. (Nicky tries to translate this into physical advice because that is all he knows, it is all he can understand)

Dead people do nothing, they can’t do anything 

Can’t feed dead people , can’t go to a morgue and hand our food to the corpses saying “you’d feel better if you had a good meal”

(This is the problem with inviting an unsaved people to church… your inviting a dead person to come to a meal

  • once in a while, there is a genuine conversion (when someone else notices the dead person and shares the gospel with them) most often, you end up with the pastor offering meals to dead people
    • they walk, 
    • they talk, 
    • even tithe, 
    • but they are dead
    • they do not grow
    • they do not mature in christ because they were never born.
    • 1 Cor 2:14 explains this “But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
    • John 14:17 The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you.
    • 1 Cor 1:18, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    • 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

(yes, God can use that situation too, but it is not optimal)

The Very first thing that must happen to each of us is that we must have life to do anything spiritual

think of a baby

  • no head control
  • no speech
  • no fine motor skills (and very little gross motor skill)
  • neck muscle development
  • head control
  • eye focus ability
  • hand control
  • gurgle sounds (that every enthusiastic parent calls speech)
  • crawling (that comes with greater eye focus and gross motor skill)
  • standing
  • walking
  • running
  • checking real food with teeth
  • cognitive ability
  • speech
  • toilet training and other responsible control issues
  • basic right from wrong definitions
  • controlling the parent
  • controlling themselves

if we were to observe someone at 1 year old with no head control, we would be concerned

if we were to observe someone at 5 years old with no speech, we would be concerned

If we observed someone in their teens who could not define right from wrong, we would be concerned

someone in their twenties, who is still trying to guilt their parents to control them would cause us to think they are immature (their development was behind where it should be at this point)

developmental markers are quite well defined for physical and cognitive growth 

and very useful for detecting and diagnosing delays, causes and corrections

what about spiritual development ?

do we have markers, or levels of expectations to look ?

the common rational is “everyone grows at their own time and speed”

(but that is not accepted for physical or cognitive development)

There are markers, progressive indicators, that ARE expected.

(and while there are no specific time periods ascribed to them, they do provide a basic sequence of spiritual development)

Heb. 5:10 being designated by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Heb. 5:11 ¶ Concerning him we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain, since you have become poor listeners.

Heb. 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the actual words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Heb. 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.

Heb. 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.

Heb. 6:1 ¶ Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

1Cor. 3:1 ¶ And I, brothers and sisters, could not speak to you as spiritual people, but only as fleshly, as to infants in Christ.

1Cor. 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to consume it. But even now you are not yet able,

1Cor. 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like ordinary people?

bearing in mind that only 2-3 years has passed since Paul was there (he expected the ones he knew then to be “on meat by now”)

Paul left Corinth in Spring of 52 AD and wrote Corinthians A by 55 AD while in Ephesus

Paul left Corinth probably in the spring of 52 AD, giving him two years there. After leaving Corinth, Paul stopped at Ephesus and then returned to Antioch. From there he went to Jerusalem (Acts 20:18-22).

“Previous Letter” from Paul is no longer extant. Paul, who is now in Ephesus (52 to 55 AD), wrote to Corinth rebuking vice and fornication by church members (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). This letter is referred to by scholars as Corinthians A.

Report to Paul: Chloe’s people reported to Paul about the party spirit and quarrels at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11).

Letter to Paul: Stephanas, Fortunatas, and Achaicus probably brought Paul a letter that reports on problems at Corinth, with specific questions about marriage, divorce, food sacrificed to idols, spiritual gifts, and the collection he was organizing for the Jerusalem believers (1 Corinthians 16:17).

Timothy was dispatched to Corinth to deal with some of the problems (1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10-11).

1 Corinthians Letter: In the Spring of 55 AD, Paul writes during his final year at Ephesus the letter we know as 1 Corinthians concerning problems reported to him. Perhaps this letter was carried to Corinth by Stephanas. This is sometimes called Corinthians B. At this point Paul is planning a soon visit to Macedonia with a stop in Corinth. (1 Corinthians 4:18-21).

infant (same word used in both contexts) = is not meant to call them cute and cuddly, it is meant to convict the reader to realize they are immature compared to where they are expected to be

infantile means undeveloped, delayed

from these two passages, infantile means:

1 Cor 3

  • fleshly, 
  • walking like ordinary people, 

Heb 5

  • poor listeners, 
  • needing to be taught the elementary principles of the Word of God, 
  • unaquantied with the Word of Righteousness, 
  • senses are untrained to discern between good and evil because it is not used, un-practiced

Paul certainly seems to have some developmental markers in mind
(and since this is the inspired Word of God, this means that God has those same developmental markers)

God expects us to grow spiritually, on course, just as unsaved people expect physical and cognitive development to follow a course, a pattern (within a given window of time)

When John is finally released from his prison sentence (penal mining colony on Patmos) he settles down in Ephesus to minister. The ephesian church goes through a split over gnosticism

We see references to this in Rom 16:17-20, 1 For 16:9, multiple reference in 1 Tim

John provides three basic stages in his epistle to the ephesian church known as 1 John.

in chapter 2:12-14

1John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you on account of His name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

When referring to Christians as “little children,” “young men,” and “fathers,” John is not speaking about Christians in different stages of physical/social development. Rather, he is acknowledging different stages of Christian spiritual development 

1Cor. 2:6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;

1Cor. 2:7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;

1Cor. 2:8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;

Eph. 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

Eph. 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ,

Eph. 4:16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

When you choose to receive Christ, God makes you His child forever and gives you His spiritual life. Then you can begin to grow and develop and mature spiritually. 

Christian spiritual development is not Gnostic/New Age – suddenly acquiring new knowledge and power through special practices, dramatic experiences and secret doctrines. 

Rather, it is a growth process, through different developmental stages, toward maturity. 

For each stage, God has already provided the resources we need to mature to the next stage. The key for us is to consistently appropriate these resources, and to embrace the responsibilities of each stage. This passage provides us with a basic “developmental map” – describing the key resources at each stage of spiritual development, and implying the main responsibilities of each stage.

Stage #1: “Little children” – baby Christians

“Young children” (2:12a – technion) and “children” (2:13b – paidion) are synonyms in this passage. They refer to the first stage of spiritual development – spiritual infancy and early childhood. How long this stage lasts may vary according to different factors (e.g., help from other Christians; previous Bible knowledge; etc.), but Paul implies that we can and should progress beyond stage within two or three years.

What provisions does God make for spiritual infants and young children to enable them to flourish and begin to develop? 

John names two:

  1. Your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake” 
  2. and “You know the Father.”

You can develop spiritually only if you can relate to God confident of His Fatherly acceptance – that His love and acceptance do not waver, and that you are always welcome to come to Him for communion and to ask Him to meet your needs. Just as young children thrive only with this kind of healthy attachment to their parents, so we thrive spiritually only with this kind of healthy attachment to God. Children who are not sure of their parents’ love do not develop properly!

How can we relate to God confidently when we sin against Him every day? Because “our sins have been forgiven us for His name’s sake.” God has already forgiven us of all of our sins (perfect tense). Read 2:2 – Jesus has fully satisfied God’s righteous wrath against all of my sins. He forgives, not on account of what we do for Him or how we vow to change, but “for Jesus’ name’s sake” – on account of what Jesus has done for us. So I need never worry about God condemning or rejecting me no matter what I do. True, He will discipline me for my own good, but this will always be within the sphere of His acceptance.

Tragically, many Christians never develop past spiritual infancy because they think or are taught:

  • God accepts them only if they quit sinning
  • only if they ask daily for forgiveness, etc. 
  • Even more tragically, many Christians are taught the truth about God’s complete acceptance but refuse to really believe it – insisting on their own standards of performance, trusting others’ love more than God’s, etc.

Therefore spiritual babies have two primary responsibilities. 

  1. learn about and believe in God’s complete forgiveness. The best way to do this is to memorize passages that teach this truth (like 2:12).
  2. relate to Him on this basis. The best way to do this is to draw near to God each day and confide in Him regardless of your recent performance.

Are you appropriating these provisions? If so, you will establish the foundation of a healthy Christian life. And God will move you into the next stage of spiritual development…

next week


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