Ephesians 2

Reconciliation and Hope in the Gospel

Ephesian Wealth

But God, being rich in mercy . . . (Ephesians 2:4)

The “richness” of God in His mercy is illustrated here by material richness. Inhabitants of Ephesus would have been familiar with wealth. A series of six luxurious residences are located on terraces on the side of the hill south of the Library of Celsus at Ephesus. The oldest building dates to the 1st century BC and continued in use as a residence until the 7th century AD. Some of what is preserved here is older than Paul, and some had not been constructed yet in his day; many also underwent renovation through the centuries. These houses give us an unprecedented look into the way the wealthy lived during this time.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

He made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built over the traditional sites of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The model shown here is based on archaeological findings. The front of the building empties onto the main north-south street (cardo) through the city. The rotunda at the back is built over the traditional tomb of Jesus, while the rock venerated as Golgotha was located in the open space between the two buildings. This model is located at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu in Jerusalem.

Royal Gifts

For you have been saved by grace, through faith . . . it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

This relief from Persepolis depicts men from Media bringing gifts to the Persian king. It was much more common in the ancient world for the king to receive gifts than to give them, although kings were known to give gifts to those who had shown particular bravery and loyalty to the royal house. These men are shown bringing a set of bracelets, a handsome sword with scabbard and belt, and a set of cups. This depiction was photographed at the east stairs of the apadana at Persepolis.

The Commonwealth

You were at that time . . . alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12).

The word “commonwealth” (Gk. politeia) has to do with the right to be a member of a sociopolitical body, that is, citizenship (cf. Acts 22:28). As Gentiles, exclusion from Israel would have meant exclusion from the benefits, promises, and blessings that went along with it. It is believed that observant Jews in Paul’s day set themselves apart from others through their dress (cf. Matt 23:5), not unlike the observant Jews in this photo.

"Having No Hope"

You were at that time . . . having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12).

This description by Paul concludes and summarizes his description of the Gentile life, apart from God. This depiction of a mourning woman appears on the base of a statue of Roma. It was probably intended to depict some country or people group that has been subjected by the Roman army. The dejection expressed by her pose illustrates the hopelessness Paul describes for those who are without God in the world.

The Church's Foundation

Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20).

Paul here begins a metaphor that compares the group of those who believe in Christ to a building. The first statement is that the foundation is the apostles and prophets, those who brought the word of God to various groups at various times. A solid foundation is necessary for any structure of size, and Paul suggests that the apostles and prophets provided that foundation. One of the archaeologists who excavated the Church of St. Paul in Pisidian Antioch, shown here, believes that it was built on the foundations of an earlier synagogue. By analogy, the faith preached by the apostles was built on the earlier teaching of the Old Testament prophets.

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