Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
In Chapter 2 [See Note #4] the operation of the power of God on earth, for the purpose of bringing souls into the enjoyment of their heavenly privileges, and thus of forming the assembly here below, is presented, rather than the unfolding of the privileges themselves, and consequently that of the counsels of God. It is not even these counsels; it is the grace and the power which work for their fulfilment, by leading souls to the result which this power will produce according to those counsels. Christ is first seen, not as God come down here and presented to sinners, but as dead, that is, where we were by sin, but raised from it by power. He for sin had died; God had raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand. We were dead in our trespasses and sins: He has quickened us together with Him. But as it is the earth that is in question, and the operation of power and grace on the earth, the Spirit naturally speaks of the condition of those in whom this grace works, in fact of the condition of all. At the same time, in the earthly forms of religion, in the system that existed on earth, there were those who were nigh and those who were far off. Now we have seen that in the full blessing of which the apostle speaks the nature of God Himself is concerned; in view of which, and to glorify which, all His counsels were settled. Therefore outward forms, although some of them had been established provisionally on the earth by God's own authority, could now have no value. They had served for the manifestation of the ways of God as shadows of things to come, and had been connected with the display of God's authority on earth among men, maintaining some knowledge of God important things in their place; but these figures could do nothing as to bringing souls into relationship with God, in order to enjoy the eternal manifestation of His nature, in hearts made capable of it by grace, through their participation in that nature and reflecting it. For this, these figures were utterly worthless; they were not the manifestation of these eternal principles. But the two classes of man, Jews and Gentles, were there; and the apostle speaks of them both. Grace takes up persons from both to form one body, one new man, by a new creation in Christ.
In the first two Verses of this Chapter (Eph 2:1-2) he speaks of those who were brought out from among the nations that knew not God Gentiles, as they are usually called. In Verse 3 (Eph 2:3) he speaks of the Jews "We all also," he says. He does not enter here into the dreadful details contained in Romans 3, [See Note #5] because his object is not to convince the individual, in order to shew him the means of justification, but to set forth the counsels of God in grace. Here then he speaks of the distance from God in which man is found under the power of darkness. With regard to the nations, he speaks of the universal condition of the world. The whole course of the world, the entire system, was according to the prince of the power of the air; the world itself was under the government of him who worked in the hearts of the children of disobedience, who in self-will evaded the government of God, although they could not evade His judgment.
If the Jews had external privileges; if they were not in a direct way under the government of the prince of this world (as was the case with the nations that were plunged in idolatry, and sunk in all the degradation of that system in which man wallowed, in the licentiousness into which demons delighted to plunge him in derision of his wisdom); if the Jews were not, like the Gentiles, under the government of demons, nevertheless in their nature they were led by the same desires as those by which demons influenced the poor heathen. The Jews led the same life as to the desires of the flesh; they were children of wrath, even as others, for that is the condition of men; they are in their nature the children of wrath. In their outward privileges the Israelites were the people of God; by nature they were men as others. And remark here these words, "by nature." The Spirit is not speaking here of a judgment pronounced on the part of God, nor of sins committed, nor of Israel having failed in their relationship to God through falling into idolatry and rebellion, nor even of their having rejected the Messiah and so deprived themselves of all resource all of which Israel had done. Neither does He speak of a positive judgment from God pronounced on the manifestation of sin. They were, even as all men, in their nature the children of wrath. This wrath was the natural consequence of the state in which they were [See Note #6] Man as he was, Jew or Gentile, and wrath, naturally went together, even as there is a natural link between good and righteousness. Now God, though in judgment taking cognisance of all that is contrary to His will and glory, in His own nature is above all that. To those who are worthy of wrath He can be rich in mercy, for He is so in Himself. The apostle therefore presents Him here as acting according to His own nature towards the objects of His grace. We were dead, says the apostle dead in our trespasses and sins. God comes, in His love, to deliver us by His power "God, who is rich in mercy, according to his great love wherewith he loved us." There was no good working in us: we were dead in our trespasses and sins. The movement came from Him, praised be His name! He has quickened us; not only that He has quickened us together with Christ. He had not said in a direct way, that Christ had been quickened, although it may be said, where the power of the Spirit in Himself is spoken of. He was however raised from the dead; and, when we are in question, we are told that all the energy by which He came forth from death is employed also for our quickening; and not only that; even in being quickened we are associated with Him. He comes forth from death we come forth with Him. God has imparted this life to us. It is His pure grace, and a grace that has saved us, that found us dead in sins, and brought us out of death even as Christ came out of it, and by the same power, and brought us out with Him by the power of life in resurrection with Christ, [See Note #7] to set us in the light and in the favour of God, as a new creation, even as Christ Himself is there. Jews and Gentiles are found together in the same new position in Christ. Resurrection has put an end to all those distinctions; they have no place in a risen Christ. God has quickened the one and the other with Christ.