THAT YOU WERE AT THAT TIME SEPARATE FROM CHRIST: hoti ete (2PIAI) to
kairo ekeino choris Christou: (John 10:16; 15:5; Colossians
You Gentiles were
characterized spiritually by 5 "less attributes" - Christ-less,
country-less, covenant-less, hope-less and god-less!
has been added here by the translators for continuity.
enumerates five things that were true of the uncircumcised Gentiles. If
you don’t understand the history behind the Gentile nations and where
Israel came from, then you don’t really understand the significance of
how powerful the before/after truths in Ephesians 2 really are. Most of
us are Gentiles and naturally we have a "Gentile mentality" thinking we
deserve salvation and the Jews have received their due. We mistakenly
think that God immediately came to save Gentiles. Many even forget that
Jesus Himself was a Jew! Gentiles don’t seem to understand we are the
late comers. We were the ones far off who have been brought near
as Paul describes in Ep 2:13-note.
(ete) is in the
At that time
- before your salvation experience when you were still dead in your
trespasses and sins. Synonymous with "formerly" as discussed above.
means a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with
the implication of being especially fit for something and without
emphasis on precise chronology. It means a moment or period as
especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time (at the right
time). Kairos speaks of a limited period of time, with the added
notion of suitableness ("the suitable time", "the right moment", "the
convenient time"). Kairos refers to a distinct, fixed time
period, rather than occasional moments.
is not so much a succession of
5550), but a
period of opportunity.
Chronos refers to chronological time, to clock time or calendar
time, to a general space or succession of time. Kairos, on the
other hand, refers to a specific and often predetermined period or
moment of time and so views time in terms of events, eras, or seasons.
In other words, kairos defines the best time to do something, the
moment when circumstances are most suitable, the psychologically "ripe"
(choris) is used as an improper preposition to mean apart from,
separate from, at a space. It means separately and serves as a marker of
dissociation indicating a distinct separation from something.
(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an
office) is a transliteration of the Greek word
refers to the
Anointed One and thus is a title of the Messiah (the English
translation of the Hebrew word Mashiach = besmeared or anointed),
Who is the Divine One the Jews were looking for and of Whom the Old
Testament bore prolific prophetic witness.
NET Bible Notes writes that...
“Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has
been anointed.” Because the context refers to ancient Israel’s
messianic expectation, (Ed note: not that the majority Jews had
received Messiah as Savior though, cf John 1:11,12 and
was employed in the translation at this point rather than “Christ.” (The
NET Bible Notes. Biblical Studies Press)
Gentiles had no connection with Christ. The Jews (even those who
were not saved) lived with an attitude of at least hoping and waiting for the
coming of their Messiah (e.g., note this same belief among Orthodox Jews
in Israel persists in our time - but they are looking for His "first
coming" not accepting the truth that He has already come once as Savior
and next as King of kings). On the other hand the Gentiles had no
expectation of a Messiah to light up their spiritual darkness and they
knew nothing at all about Him.
You were without the knowledge of the
Messiah. You had not heard of him; of course you had not embraced him.
You were living without any of the hopes and consolations which you now
have, from having embraced him. The object of the apostle is to remind
them of the deplorable condition in which they were by nature; and
nothing would better express it than to say they were "without Christ,"
or that they had no knowledge of a Saviour. They knew of no atonement
for sin. They had no assurance of pardon. They had no well-founded hope
of eternal life. They were in a state of darkness and condemnation, from
which nothing but a knowledge of Christ could deliver them. All
Christians may, in like manner, be reminded of the fact that, before
their conversion, they were "without Christ." Though they had heard of
him, and were constantly under the instruction which reminded them of
him, yet they were without any true knowledge of him, and without any of
the hopes which result from having embraced him. Many were infidels.
Many were scoffers. Many were profane, sensual, corrupt. Many rejected
Christ with scorn; many by simple neglect. All were without any true
knowledge of him; all were destitute of the peace and hope which result
from a saving acquaintance with him. We may add, that there is no more
affecting description of the state of man by nature than to say, he is
without a Saviour. Sad would be the condition of the world without a
Redeemer-sad is the state of that portion of mankind who reject him.
Reader, are you without Christ? (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
writes that the Gentile's...
history had no purpose, no plan, and
no destiny—except the ultimate judgment of God, of which they were
unaware. The popular Stoic philosophers taught that history repeated
itself in three–thousand–year cycles. At the end of each cycle the
universe is burned up and then reborn to repeat the same futile pattern.
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
The Jewish nation had Christ in some
sense in which the Gentiles had Him not. It had the Messiah—not Jesus
indeed—but the Christ in promise. He was the great subject—the one
glowing, pervading promise of their inspired oracles. But the Gentiles
were “without Christ.” No such hopes or promises were made known to
them. No such predictions were given to them, so that they were in
contrast to the chosen seed—“without Christ.” The rites, blessings,
commonwealth, and covenants of old Israel had their origin in this
promise of Messiah. On the other hand, the Gentiles being without
Messiah, were of necessity destitute of such theocratic blessings and
institutions. Such seems to be the contrast intended by the apostle.
(John Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)
The word “Christ” here is not
to be taken in its Christian sense, but in its Jewish one. The point is
not that these Ephesians were without Christ as Saviour, but as
Gentiles, they had no covenant connection with Him as the Jews had with
Him as Messiah.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
pleaded with God on the basis of His Messianic Name, the "Hope of
Israel" (God's Names all reveal some aspect or attribute of His
"Thou Hope of Israel, its
Savior in time of distress. Why art Thou like a stranger in the land Or
like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night?" (Jer 14:8)
In spiritual terms to be without Christ meant
the Gentiles were (among other things) without salvation for there is
none in any other name (Acts 4:12), without the real Life of which He is
the Only Source (John 14:6), without the Light of which He is the Only
Source (John 8:12), without peace for He Alone made peace through
the blood of His Cross and without the rest He Alone gives (Mt 11:28).
In Romans 9 Paul has a similar list of "Jewish
could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the
sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are
Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the
covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the
promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according
to the flesh, Who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (See notes
9:5) (Comment: The Messiah came to Jews and was
perceived by Jews. Since they were not Jews, Gentiles were cut off from
It is interesting that although the Gentiles were
separated from Christ, Christ still had them on His heart declaring in
other sheep (referring to Gentiles), which are not of this fold
(referring to Jews); I must bring them also, and they shall hear My
voice; and they shall become one flock (parallels "one body" see
Ephesians 2:16 "might
reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross") with one
shepherd (parallels Christ the Head - see note
EXCLUDED FROM THE COMMONWEALTH
apellotriomenoi (RPPMPN) tes politeias tou Israel: (Eph
4:18; Ezra 4:3; Isaiah 61:5; Ezekiel 13:9; Hebrews 11:34)
translates excluded "aliens from". In respect to the
nation of Israel, the Gentiles were aliens or those who did not
“belong.” They were strangers and foreigners, without the rights and
privileges of citizenship in the nation of Israel. As far as the community of Israel was
concerned, the Gentiles were on the outside, looking in. In the OT God
had a covenant with the nation of Israel and governed that state
directly. Those who were not Jews were foreigners or aliens.
summarizes this Gentile deficit writing that...
God excluded them as a people from
citizenship in Israel. Individual Gentiles could become members of the
nation of Israel, but as a whole the Gentiles had no part in what God
planned to do in and through Israel. The Gentiles were aliens from
Israel in this sense (Ephesians Expository Notes)
(apallotrioo from apó = marker of dissociation implying
rupture of former association with emphasis on the idea of separation +
allotrióo = alienate from allotrios = strange, foreign, an
enemy) means to alienate entirely, to be alienated or to
be estranged from. To be cut off entirely. Alienated always implies loss of affection or
interest. It is not simply being called aliens but living in that state,
a state of complete estrangement, the state prior to man’s
reconciliation to God.
The idea of
separation and estrangement is strongly expressed by apallotrioo.
Webster adds that
alienate means to to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent where
attachment formerly existed.
Paul's use of the
speaks of the
permanence of the Gentile condition of alienation. Thus apallotrioo
is a powerful term, indicating the desperate and settled state of the
lost. Had God's Spirit not intervened this would our settled state,
fellow saint. This truth should stimulate at least an "arrow prayer" of
thanksgiving to our Father for having performed so great a salvation!
In Ephesians 4
Paul is describing lost Gentiles as...
being darkened in their
understanding, excluded (apallotrioo in the
= speaks of the
permanence of this condition) from the life of God, because of the
ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart (see
The only other NT
use of apallotrioo is also by Paul and again to remind his
believing readers that...
And although you were formerly
alienated (apallotrioo in the
= speaks of the
permanence of this condition) and hostile (hateful to God by attitude!) in mind, engaged in evil deeds
Comment: Non-Christians are
detached from God because of sin. Stated another way, there is no such
thing as an “innocent heathen.” They are hostile toward God - they
hate Him and resent His holy standards and commands because they are
engaged in evil deeds. Thus all unbelievers suffer separation from God
unless they receive the reconciliation provided in Jesus Christ.
In sum, the three NT uses of
apallotrioo describe the tragic threefold state of alienation of
every unbeliever - from God (Colossians 1:21),
from life of God (Ephesians 4:18)
and from the commonwealth of Israel.
There are 9 uses of apallotrioo
(Josh 22:25; Job 21:29; Ps 58:3; 69:8; Jer 19:4; 50:8; Ezek 14:5, 7; Hos
Apallotrioo is used by
Josephus to denote a sentence of expatriation. (Antiquities 11.4)
is used in the Septuagint where David explains that
"The wicked are estranged
(apallotrioo) from the womb. These who speak lies go astray from birth."
David's point is
that their corruption is not a development of later life but can be
traced back to their birth - they were alienated and estranged from
birth. Their lawlessness and rebellion are inborn, so that as men begin
to talk, they begin to lie! They don't have to be taught! In Ezekiel God
"the hearts of the house of
Israel...are estranged (apallotrioo) from Me through all their
(politeia from politeúo = to behave or act as a free
citizen <> compare polites = citizen, inhabitant of a city, one
who has the right of citizenship) is literally the condition and the
civic rights belonging to members of a political entity. It defines the
right to be a member of a sociopolitical entity. The literal use thus
describes citizenship, with the inherent rights and freedom belonging to
indicates the government of Israel framed by God in which religion and
polity were joined (a far cry from the so-called separation of church
and state argument we hear almost daily on the news in post-Christian
was a significant word in the Roman Empire and Paul draws on his
privilege as Roman citizen in order to keep from being scourged, Luke
the (Roman) commander answered, "I
acquired this citizenship (politeia) with a large sum of money."
And Paul said, "But I was actually born a citizen." (Acts 22:28)
Here in Ephesians
2:12 Paul uses politeia figuratively as an allusion to the
privileged religious position of Israel in God's plan of the ages.
writes that "excluded from the commonwealth of Israel"...
means more than that they were
not Jews. It means that they were strangers to that polity--politeia
or arrangement by which the worship of the true God had been kept up in
the world, and of course were strangers to the true religion. The
arrangements for the public worship of Jehovah were made among the Jews.
They had His law, His temple, His sabbaths, and the ordinances of His
religion. See Ro 3:2 [note].
To all these the heathen had been strangers, and of course they were
deprived of all the privileges which resulted from having the true
religion. The word here rendered commonwealth--politeia--means,
properly, citizenship, or the right of citizenship, and then a
community, or state. It means here that arrangement or organization by
which the worship of the true God was maintained. (Albert Barnes. Barnes
comments that "excluded from the commonwealth"...
“does not necessarily imply a lapse
from a former condition of attachment or fellowship, but expresses
generally the idea of being a stranger as contrasted with one who is at
home with a person or an object. The term politeia (commonwealth) has
two main senses—a state or commonwealth, and citizenship or the rights
of a citizen. The first of these is most in harmony with the theocratic
term ‘the Israel,’ and so it is understood by most. These Ephesians,
therefore, had no part in the theocracy, the OT constitution under which
God made Himself known to the Jew and entered into relation with him.”
(Nicoll, W Robertson, Editor: Expositors Greek Testament: 5 Volumes. Out
of print. Search Google)
John Eadie has an interesting
note writing that...
“The commonwealth of Israel”
is that government framed by God, in which religion and polity were so
conjoined, that piety and loyalty were synonymous, and to fear God and
honour the king were the same obligation. The nation was, at the same
time, the only church of God, and the archives of the country were also
the records of its faith. Civil and sacred were not distinguished;
municipal immunity was identical with religious privilege; and a
spiritual meaning was attached to dress and diet, as well as to altar
and temple. And this entire arrangement had its origin and its form in
the grand national characteristic—the promise of Messiah. The Gentiles
had not the Messiah, and therefore were not included in such a
commonwealth...National distinction did not, indeed, exist in
patriarchal times, but by the formation of the theocracy the other races
of men were formally alienated from Israel, and no doubt their own vices
and idolatry justified their exclusion. And therefore they were
destitute of religious privilege, knowledge of God, modes of accepted
worship, enjoyment of Divine patronage and protection, oracle and
prophet, priest and sacrifice. (John Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle
of St Paul to the Ephesians)
(Israel) refers to the people and/or nation of Israel.
in his note on Acts 3:12 explains that the title Israel was
An honorable and conciliatory form of
address. The term Israelite gradually gave place to that of
Jew; but Israel was the sacred name for the Jews, as the
nation of the theocracy, the people under God’s covenant, and hence was
for the Jew his especial badge and title of honor.
“To be descendants of Abraham, this
honor they must share with the Ishmaelites; of Abraham and Isaac, with
the Edomites; but none except themselves were the seed of Jacob, such as
in this name of Israelite they were declared to be. Nor was this
all, but more gloriously still, their descent was herein traced up to
him, not as he was Jacob, but as he was Israel, who, as a prince,
had power with God and with men, and had prevailed” (Trench,
So Paul, in enumerating to the
Philippians his claims to have confidence in the flesh, says he was “of
the stock of Israel.” It is said that the modern Jews in the East still
delight in this title. (Word
Studies) (Bolding added)
AND STRANGERS TO THE COVENANTS
OF PROMISE: kai
xenoi ton diathekon tes epaggelias: (Genesis
15:18; 17:7, 8, 9; Exodus 24:3-11; Numbers 18:19; Psalms 89:3-18;
Jeremiah 31:31, 32, 33, 34; Jeremiah 33:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26;
Ezekiel 37:26; Luke 1:72; Acts 3:25; Romans 9:4,5,8; Galatians 3:16,17)
(xenos) describes a person (Gentile) belonging to socio-political
group other than reference group (Jew). Xenos has the particular
meaning of one who is not a member of a state or city, is used here in a
general sense of foreign to a thing, having no share in it. Gentiles
were spiritually "homeless", not having any share in or access to the
Messianic promises in the Covenants. In this respect, the
Gentiles were in the position of aliens who could not claim the
prerogatives of nationals.
One can find
numerous books in Christian bookstores which catalogue the thousands of
promises of God in the Bible, but Paul's implication in this verse is
that (with few exceptions), the Gentiles had no access or right to
partake of these "promise books" because the majority of the promises
apply to those who are in Christ!
writes of the exclusivity of the divine promises explaining that
has granted (perfect
= speaks of the permanence of
the promises) to us (believers) His precious and magnificent
promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine
nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (see
2 Peter 1:4)
is one ignorant of or unacquainted with someone or something, in this
case the "covenants of promise" which God gave to Israel. In a
certain sense this is still true of all unbelievers.
Lloyd-Jones writes that unbelievers...
They can read their Bible and it does not move them. They can look at
these ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ and say: To whom does this
apply, what is all this about? They are strangers; they are like people
from another country; they do not understand the language.”
promise - means covenants having the promise as their distinctive
possession, and characterized by it.
These covenants were the anchor that
pointed to the faithfulness of a God to deliver what He promised. The
Gentiles had no anchor. They were sailors on a captain less boat on
uncharted seas. (Ephesians 2:11-15 Christ the
Author of Our Peace - 1)
(diatheke from dia = two + tithemi = to place
pictures that which is placed between two Thus, a covenant is something
placed between two, an arrangement between two parties.) was a commonly
used in the Greco-Roman world to define a legal transaction in settling
an inheritance. Diatheke denotes an irrevocable decision,
which cannot be cancelled by anyone. A prerequisite of its effectiveness
before the law is the death of the disposer and thus diatheke was
like a "final will and testament". In reference to the divine
covenants, such as the Abrahamic covenant, diatheke is not a covenant in
the sense that God came to agreement or compromise with fallen man as if
signing a contract. Rather, it involves declaration of God’s
unconditional promise to make Abraham and his seed the recipients of
(epaggelia from epí = intensifies verbal meaning +
aggéllo = to tell, declare) originally referred to an announcement
or declaration but in later Greek came to mean a declaration to do
something with the implication of obligation to carry out what is stated
(thus a promise or pledge). It is notable that in the Greek the definite
article ("the" - tes epaggelias) indicates not just any
promise but "the" promise, which in turn probably alludes to
the promised Messiah as the ultimate promise.
In Acts Luke
records this instructive passage...
"And we preach to you the good news
of the promise made to the fathers, (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob to
whom and through whom the Abrahamic Covenant passed) that God has
fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up
Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, 'THOU ART MY SON;
TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN THEE.' (Acts 13:32-33)
In Romans Paul
speaks of the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant writing...
For if those who are of the Law are
heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;
for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is
there violation. For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in
accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be
certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law,
but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of
us all, (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU")
in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the
dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (See notes
The covenants of promise were
those various arrangements which God made with his people, by which he
promised them future blessings, and especially by which he promised that
the Messiah should come. To be in possession of them was regarded as a
high honour and privilege; and Paul refers to it here to show that,
though the Ephesians had been by nature without these, yet they had now
been brought to enjoy all the benefits of them. (Albert Barnes. Barnes
feels the promise here is specifically
The messianic promise, which
was the basis of all the covenants. (Word
Covenants of Promise
(1) Abrahamic Covenant
The Covenants of promise would
include the Abrahamic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New
Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth
from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a
blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses
you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be
blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3)
The promises to
Abraham were based on this covenant, a covenant the Gentiles had no
share in. In the same way the Gentiles were "strangers to" the encouraging
blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant.
And He (Jehovah) took him (Abram)
outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if
you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your
descendants be." 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to
him as righteousness... 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with
Abram... (Genesis 15:5-6, 18)
And so we see that
the Gentiles were
"strangers to this covenant of promise" the ultimate promise
being that of righteousness imputed by God through faith in God's
promises which ultimately culminated in the promised Messiah as Paul
explains to the Galatians writing that...
And the Scripture (reference to the
Old Testament), foreseeing that God would justify (declare righteous)
the Gentiles by faith (so even though the Gentiles were strangers to the
covenants of promise, God had not totally forsaken them), preached the
gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED
IN YOU (this promise would include the Gentiles)." So then those who are
of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer...16 Now the promises
were spoken to Abraham and to his
He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to
"And to your Seed,"
that is, Christ.
(Galatians 3:8-9, 16) (Comment: And although we do not
fully comprehend the specific facts Abraham was aware of concerning
Messiah, we see that in Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed the good news and
ultimately believed in the
Seed that would could from
his line. He was looking forward to the Cross in faith. Believers today
look back to the Cross in faith. Salvation in both the Old and New
Testaments has always been by faith alone, in Christ alone. Abram was
childless, but God promised a son of faith from his own body. He
believed the Lord and was counted righteous. Abraham was declared
righteous or saved by faith not works.)
Covenant was first given to Israel (not to the "Church" as is
commonly misunderstood) in the prophecy of Jeremiah.
"Behold, days are coming," declares
the LORD, "when I will make a
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (note who
this covenant is initially promised to!), 32 not like the covenant which
I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring
them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I
was a husband to them," declares the LORD. 33 "But this is the
which I will make with the house of Israel
after those days,"
declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I
will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34
And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his
brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the
least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will
forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jeremiah
Although the name
"New Covenant" is not found in Ezekiel's prophecy, nevertheless this
prophecy clearly gives further truths regarding this covenant.
"Moreover, I will give you a new
heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of
stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 "And I will put
My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will
be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel
At the Last Supper
(the Passover meal) Jesus shared with His disciples, He explained to
them that what they were about to partake of was symbolic of His coming
sacrifice on the Cross. When Jesus offered His body as the perfect sin
offering, the New Covenant was inaugurated, His blood
representing the blood of the New Covenant. Remembering that this
covenant was initially offered to Jews in the OT and was inaugurated in
the presence of Jesus' Jewish disciples, we begin to understand the
import of the declaration that they Gentiles were "strangers to the
covenants of promise."
And when the hour had come He
reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him...19 And when He had
taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them,
saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance
of Me." 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten,
saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the
new covenant in
My blood. (Luke 22:14,
The promises of this covenant
are first described in 2 Samuel 7 where we see God speaking
to King David declaring...
"When your days are complete and you
lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you,
who will come forth from you, and
I will establish his kingdom (fulfilled first in Solomon but ultimately
fulfilled in the Messiah as explained below). 13 He shall build a house
for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom
16 And your house and your
kingdom shall endure before Me
your throne shall be
(2 Samuel 7:12-13,16)
Although the word
"covenant" is not used in this preceding passage, the following
passage identifies God's word as one of the "covenants of promise".
Yet the LORD was not willing to
destroy the house of David because of the
which He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp
to him and his sons forever. (2
The fulfillment of
the Davidic Covenant which was promised "forever" would of
necessity have to pass through the line of David, a lineage which Paul
summarizes in the opening verses of Romans writing...
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,
called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He
promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3
concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according
to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the
resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus
Christ our Lord, 5 through Whom we have received grace and apostleship
to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His
name's sake (See notes
Jesus Christ was
in the line of David and it would be through Him that the covenant
promises of an everlasting kingdom would be fulfilled. The apostle
John elaborates on this fulfillment in the Revelation, explaining that
when Jesus returns at the end of this age...
on His robe and on His thigh He has a
name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Re 19:16-note)
And thus we see
the fulfillment of the promises of the Davidic Covenant as the
Suffering Servant returns as King of kings to begin His reign on earth
for 1000 years (Millennium,
after His defeat of the Antichrist and his allies. John records this in
a vision writing...
And I saw thrones, and they
sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of
those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and
because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or
his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon
their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a
thousand years (Millennium,
(See Re 20:4-note)
Millennial Reign of the
HAVING NO HOPE:
elpida me echontes (PAPMPN):
(Jeremiah 14:8; 17:13; John
4:22; Acts 28:20; Colossians 1:5,27; 1Thessalonians 4:13; 2Thessalonians
2:16; 1Timothy 1:1; Hebrews 6:18; 1Peter 1:3,21; 3:15; 1John 3:3)
(echo) means literally to have or hold something and figuratively
of possessing something in the present context.
Having no ground
for looking forward to better times, no reasonable expectation of
improvement in your religious condition. Gentiles were
hopeless. Like all men they had aspirations for the present and lived
for the present moment, but cherished no hope for the future and the
life after death.
[word study]) in
Scripture is not the world's definition of "I hope so", with a
few rare exceptions (e.g., Acts 27:20.)
Hope is defined as a desire for some future good with the
expectation of obtaining it. Hope is confident expectancy.
Hope is the looking forward to something with some reason for
confidence respecting fulfillment. All of these aspects of Biblical "hope"
were something the pagan Gentiles sorely lack.
If there is no
hope, all is lost. Without hope there is nothing. Hopeless is surely one
of the most dreadful words in the English language.
They had nothing to hope for, as they
were shut out of the covenant of promise. The promise of God is the only
foundation of hope, and therefore those to whom there is no promise have
no hope. (Ephesians
2:11-22 Commentary - Online)
explains hope writing that...
True hope can be based only on a true
promise, on confidence in someone who can perform what he promises. Hope
is a profound blessing that gives meaning and security to life. Living
without hope of future joy and enrichment reduces man to a piece of
meaningless protoplasm. Hope is the consummation of life, the confident
assurance that we have a blessed future in the plan of God. The saddest
feature of Job’s great lament is found in these words:
“My days are swifter than a weaver’s
shuttle, and come to an end without hope” (Job 7:6).
The opposite of that pessimistic
outlook is the joyous truth celebrated among the Jews and stated
succinctly in Psalm 146:5—
“How blessed is he whose help is the
God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God!”
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
In the OT we see
that God is referred to by this term "hope", Jeremiah recording...
"Thou Hope of Israel, Its
Savior in time of distress, Why art Thou like a stranger in the land Or
like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night? (Jeremiah 14:8)
O LORD, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake Thee will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth
will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living
water, even the LORD. (Jeremiah 17:13)
"For this reason therefore, I
requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain
for the sake of the hope of Israel." (Acts 28:20)
Comment: The hope of Israel,
as explained previously, refers to the fulfillment of the promises made
to the Jewish patriarchs, especially the promise of the Messiah.
Inherent in the fulfillment of these promises was the resurrection of
the dead. The messianic hope, incarnate in Jesus Christ, the fulfiller
of OT promises.
Paul mentions "no
hope" in his letter to the saints at Thessalonica writing that...
we do not want you to be uninformed,
brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the
rest who have no hope. (1Thes 4:13)
Greek New Testament
“It is not only that they had not the
hope, the Messianic hope which was one of the distinctions
of the Israelite, but that they were utterly without hope.
Ignorant of the divine salvation and of Christ in whom it was found,
they had nothing to hope for beyond this world.”
The only hope a
pagan Gentile could count on was a desire for some future occurrence of
which they could not be assured of attaining. In fact, because of this
fact, the ancient world did not generally regard hope as a
virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion. Historians tell us that a
great cloud of hopelessness covered the Gentile world.
Philosophies were empty; traditions were disappearing; religions were
powerless to help men face either life or death. People longed to pierce
the veil and get some message of hope from the other side, but there
found none unless they found Christ.
leading intellectual figure, tutor of the depraved emperor Nero (who
forced Seneca to commit suicide!) and contemporary of Paul, tragically
defined hope as “an uncertain good”, the antithesis of Biblical
hope! but really the only correct definition of a Gentile's hope!
What a difference the new birth in Christ makes in one's perspective.
The German philosopher Friedrich
Nietzsche's gave a Gentile perspective on hope writing that it is
“the worst of all evils, because it
prolongs the torments of man.”
A study of WWII
concentration camp survivors found that those prisoners who were able to
hold onto their sense of hope (‘things are going to get better’
or ‘we’re going to get out of here one day’) were much more likely to
survive. Hope was not optional but for the prisoners proved to be
a matter of life and death.
Scripture is the absolute certainty of future good and believers are to
be continually, actively, expectantly
"looking for the blessed hope
and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ
Jesus." (see note
A living hope
motivates a "looking" hope" so that believers are those who are
(at least they should be) waiting eagerly, expectantly and anxiously for
Christ's return at any moment, this Messianic hope (certainty) providing
great incentive to "discipline (one's self) for the purpose of
godliness" (see note
knowing that godliness "is profitable for all things, since it holds
promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (see
AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD:
kai atheoi en to kosmo:
(2Chronicles 15:3; Isaiah
44:6; 45:20; Hosea 3:4; Acts 14:15,16; Romans 1:28, 29, 30, 31, 32;
1Corinthians 8:4, 5, 6; 10:19,20; Galatians 4:8; 1Thessalonians 4:5)
(atheos from a = without + Theós = God) is
literally without God and is equivalent to an "atheist"!
The verse could be
paraphrased "and atheists in the world".
were atheists in the original sense of being without God and also
in the sense of hostility to God from failure to worship Him. It was not
that the Gentiles were intellectual atheists, because most of them
believed in many gods. Some were pantheists, believing that divinity was
in everything, animate and inanimate. To reiterate, the problem was not
that the Gentiles had no god but that they did not have the true God.
In Classic Greek
atheos primarily meant godless, describing one who did not care
about existence of gods and consequently did not honor them.
"Oedipus Tyrannus, 661" we read "“Since I wish to die godless,
friendless,” etc. and thus is used in the sense of "without God's help".
writes that atheos means...
atheists; but not in the active sense
of denying God, rather in the passive sense of unconnected with God;
without any friendly and beneficial relation to him, without any vital
nexus that would bring into their soul the fulness of God. The words “in
the world” intensify “without God.” (The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians)
writes that the idea is...
The Gentile world were without God
to counsel, befriend, guide, bless, and save them. In this sense
they were godless, having no one to cry to, to trust in, to love,
praise, and serve; whereas Jehovah, in His glory, unity, spirituality,
condescension, wisdom, power, and grace, was ever present to the
thinking mind and the pious heart in the Israelites theocracy, and the
idea of God combined itself with daily duty as well as with solemn and
Sabbatical service. (John Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle of St Paul to the
Notice how Paul
begins with separated from Christ and ends with without God. This is a
dismal description of their former state. God is the source of every
good thing (James 1:17), including hope. So if we are without God, we
are without everything, despite appearances to the contrary.
The Gentiles were
without God, specifically without the knowledge of the only true, living
God and thus destitute of any God. Paul address this Gentile
disadvantage in Galatians writing
at that time when you did not know
God, you were slaves (in bondage, devoid of spiritual freedom) to
those which by nature (their inherent constitution or natural condition)
are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be
known by God (Salvation begins with God's knowledge of us, rather than
our knowledge of Him), how is it that you turn back again to the weak
and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all
over again (Those who know God must recognize and live in light that
they have been freed from all masters but Christ)? (Galatians 4:8-9)
(kosmos) in this context could refer to the planet earth as their
place of inhabitation but could also refer to the present evil, godless
world system dominated by Satan and adamantly opposed to and alienated
In the world
- what does Paul mean by this addendum? Blaikie has an interesting
thought noting that...
It were bad enough to be without God
(without his holy fellowship and blessed influence) anywhere, but it is
worse to be without him in the world, in “this present evil world” (Gal.
1:4), in a world dominated by so subtle and evil a god (v2 and 2Cor.
4:4). The fivefold negative description of this verse has a cumulative
effect; the situation becomes graver and more terrible, and the last
clause is the climax. (The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians)
writes the following regarding "without God in the world" that
those who had no knowledge of the
true God. This is the last specification of their miserable condition
before they were converted; and it is an appropriate crowning of the
climax. What an expression! To be without God--without God in His
own world, and where He is all around us! To have no evidence of His
favour, no assurance of His love, no hope of dwelling with Him! The
meaning, as applied to the heathen Ephesians, was, that they had no
knowledge of the true God. This was true of the heathen, and in an
important sense also it is true of all impenitent sinners, and was once
true of all who are now Christians They had no God. They did not worship
Him, or love Him, or serve Him, or seek His favors, or act with
reference to Him and His glory. Nothing can be a more appropriate and
striking description of a sinner now than to say that he is "without
God in the world." He lives, and feels, and acts, as if there were
no God. He neither worships Him in secret, nor in His family, nor in
public. He acts with no reference to His will. He puts no confidence in
his promises, and fears not when he threatens; and were it announced to
him that there is no God, it would produce no change in his plan of
life, or in his emotions. The announcement that the emperor of China, or
the king of Siam, or the sultan of Constantinople, was dead, would
produce some emotion, and might change some of his commercial
arrangements; but the announcement that there is no God would interfere
with none of his plans, and demand no change of life. And if so, what is
man in this beautiful world without a God? A traveler to eternity
without a God! Standing over the grave without a God! An immortal being
without a God! A man--fallen, sunk, ruined, with no God to praise, to
love, to confide in; with no altar, no sacrifice, no worship, no hope;
with no Father in trial, no counselor in perplexity, no support in
death! Such is the state of man by nature. Such are the effects of sin.
(Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
The first century was an age of
suicide. Tacitus tells of a man who killed himself in indignation that
he had been born. The French philosophers are not so nouveau after
all! For the Gentiles, history was going nowhere. There was no Messiah,
no hope. That is the way it is today also, apart from Christ.
Social Darwinist Herbert Spencer
“My own feeling respecting the
ultimate mystery is such that I cannot even try to think of it without
some feeling of terror so that I habitually shun the thought.”
Those apart from Christ typically
wrap their lives around things and refuse to think about ultimate
reality. The escape can be very intellectual on one hand, or on the
other an eternal Nintendo game. As a believer who has found hope, I
cannot imagine living without God.
The word which describes all of this
is alienation. The Gentile dilemma (which is the world’s dilemma)
produces alienation from God and alienation from man with all its
dehumanizing and debilitating results. (Hughes,
R. K.: Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ. Crossway Books)
nicely sums up this first section writing
It is worth noting that the spiritual
plight of the Gentiles was caused not by God but by their own willful
sin. Paul said the Gentiles knew the true God but deliberately refused
to honor Him (Ro 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23-see notes
19; 20; 21; 22; 23).
Religious history is not a record of man starting with many gods
(idolatry) and gradually discovering the one true God.
Rather, it is the sad story of man
knowing the truth about God and deliberately turning away from it! It is
a story of devolution, not evolution! The first eleven chapters of
Genesis give the story of the decline of the Gentiles; and from Genesis
12 on (the call of Abraham), it is the story of the Jews. God separated
the Jews from the Gentiles that He might be able to save the Gentiles
also. “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
God called the Jews, beginning with
Abraham, that through them He might reveal Himself as the one true God.
With the Jews He deposited His Word, and through the Jews He gave the
world the Saviour (Ro 9:1, 2, 3, 4, 5-see notes
9:5). Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles that they too
might be saved. But sad to say, Israel became like the Gentiles, and the
light burned but dimly. This fact is a warning to the church today.
When the church is least like the world, it does the most for the world.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
a Gentile (Greek) philosopher wrote:
“I rejoice in sport in my youth.
Long enough will I lie beneath the earth bereft of life, voiceless as a
stone, and shall leave the sunlight which I love, good man though I am.
Then shall I see nothing more. Rejoice, O my soul, in thy youth.”
The Roman poet
Catullus (circa 50BC) wrote:
The sun can set and rise again
But once our brief light sets
There is one unending night to be slept through.
said regarding "Ye were without Christ ... aliens ... strangers ...
having no hope . . . without God"...
I saw on a board this morning words
announcing that an asylum was to be built on a plot of ground for a
class of persons who are described in three terrible words—"HELPLESS,
HOMELESS, HOPELESS." These are the kind of people whom God receives; to
them he gives His mercy. Are you helpless? He will help you. Are you
homeless? He will house you. Are you hopeless? He is the hope of those
who have no other confidence. Come then to Him at once!
><> ><> ><>
Several famous people were asked what
they felt was the saddest word in the English language. Here’s what
some of them said...
Poet T. S. Eliot:
“The saddest word in the English
language is, of course, ‘saddest.’”
Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II:
Writer John Dos Passos quoted John
“Forlorn! the very word is like a
Psychiatrist Karl Menninger:
Statesman Bernard M. Baruch:
President Harry Truman quoted John
“For of all sad words of tongue or
pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”
“The saddest word in all languages,
which has brought the world to its present condition, is ‘atheism.’”
Put all of these answers together and
you have a faint picture of a soul without Christ. I think of that word
which Keats used so dramatically—“forlorn.” It is the English form of
the Dutch word verloren, which means “lost.” But the Word of God,
through the apostle Paul, gives the ultimate description, “without
Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from
the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”
(Ephesians 2:12). (Source unknown)