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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on Ephesians

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2, 1–22 :

The gospel of salvation ( 1, 13 ) that God worked in Christ ( 1, 20 ) is reiterated in terms of what God's great love ( 4 ), expressed in Christ, means for us. The passage sometimes addresses you, Gentiles ( 1–2.8.11–13.19.22 ), but other times speaks of all of us who believe ( 3–7.10.14.18 ). In urging people to remember their grim past when they were dead in sins ( 1–3.11–12 ) and what they are now in Christ ( 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 ( 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 ( 1–2; cf 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 ( 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 vv 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; Rom 3, 24–28 . Christians are a newly created people in Christ, fashioned by God for a life of goodness ( 10 ).

2, 1–7 :

These verses comprise one long sentence in Greek, the main verb coming in v 5 , God brought us to life, the object you/us dead in…transgressions being repeated in 1 and 5; and cf Col 2, 13 .

2, 2 :

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; Ti 2, 12 . The disobedient: literally, “the sons of disobedience,” a Semitism as at Is 30, 9 .

2, 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 ( 11–12 ); but through Christ all these religious barriers between Jew and Gentile have been transcended ( 13–14 ) by the abolition of the Mosaic covenant‐law ( 15 ) for the sake of uniting Jew and Gentile into a single religious community ( 15–16 ), imbued with the same holy Spirit and worshiping the same Father ( 18 ). The Gentiles are now included in God's household ( 19 ) as it arises upon the foundation of apostles assisted by those endowed with the prophetic gift ( 3, 5 ), the preachers of Christ ( 20; cf 1 Cor 12, 28 ). With Christ as the capstone ( 20; cf Is 28, 16; Mt 21, 42 ), they are being built into the holy temple of God's people where the divine presence dwells ( 21–22 ).

2, 12 :

The community of Israel: or “commonwealth”; cf 4, 18 . The covenants: cf Rom 9, 4 : with Abraham, with Moses, with David.

2, 14–16 :

The elaborate imagery here combines pictures of Christ as our peace (Is 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.

2, 15 :

One new person: a corporate body, the Christian community, made up of Jews and Gentiles, replacing ancient divisions; cf Rom 1, 16 .

2, 20 :

Capstone: the Greek can also mean cornerstone or keystone.

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