Online Bible Commentary
Three Positional States
Ephesians 2:6 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. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (NKJV)
The book of Ephesians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
The epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Ephesus, Asia. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to the other churches.
The book of Ephesians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first three chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ.
The second half, the last three chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the book of Romans.
In this passage, Paul continues with describing the positional, what we Christians are in Christ. Here he discusses three positional states; resurrection, salvation, and conversion.
He discusses these three states in the opposite order in which we experience them. We experience conversion, salvation, and resurrection in that order.
The fact that Paul listed them in the reverse order was not a mistake. Positionally, in the eyes of God, they all happen at the same time.
These three states are inseparable. In God's eyes to be a Christian is to already be with Him in Heaven.
Nothing can stop the will of God. What God has started in us He will finish.
In discussing the resurrection, Paul writes "(God) raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (v. 6). Our resurrection, like all positional states, is seen by God as already occurring, a done deal.
God sees us as already being with Him in Heaven, even though we are still muddling around here on earth. Since He sees us in that way, we should act that way. We should always have a kingdom perspective.
The result of acting that way is that we are blessed. Paul writes "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (V. 7). God blesses us when we walk in the center of His will.
These blessings may come during our time on earth, but will definitely come during our time in Heaven. We are rewarded in Heaven for the good we do on earth.
The second positional state Paul writes of is salvation. He writes "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (v. 8) not of works, lest anyone should boast." (V. 9).
We have not yet experienced our salvation, but again, in the eyes of God we have. We have been saved through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior by the grace of God.
All we have done is accept Christ, and His work on the cross on our behalf. We have nothing to boast about.
We don't get to Heaven by doing good works. We get to Heaven on Jesus' ticket, not our own.
But, our good works on earth are important. They are not the cause of our salvation, but they are the result of our salvation.
We are not saved by good works. We are saved for good works.
Paul writes "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (V. 10). God has preordained that we should be saved in order to do good works on his behalf. God uses people to do His work on earth.
The third positional state Paul writes of is conversion. He writes "Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— (v. 11) that at that time you were 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." (v. 12).
Prior to becoming Christians, we were just people trying to find our way in life. We had no direction, no purpose.
Paul expresses this viewpoint when he refers to his readers as once being "Gentiles" in verse 11. The Ephesian Christians had previously only been "Gentiles", considered lowly by the Jews, and were without "hope" and "without God".
They had no direction, no purpose. They worshipped statues, idols made of wood and stone. They did not have a relationship with the One True God.
But, after their conversion everything changed. Paul writes "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (v. 13).
We, before becoming Christians, were once "far from God". But now, after our conversion, we "have been brought near" to Him.
He is always with us. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
These three positional states are one in the eyes of God. Positionally, we are already with God in Heaven, through God the Holy Spirit who lives in us. It is no wonder that He expects us to act in that manner.