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Monday, April 19, 2021

Alternate Understanding of Ephesians 2:1 "Dead in sin?"

Allow me to offer an alternative understanding of Eph 2:1. Here is how it is rendered in the NKJV (and most English translations):

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins

We know in Christ we are "dead to sin" (present tense)

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

-Romans 6:2 

That we understand. In Christ we are DEAD to sin. Let's look at some similar verses in regard to how this idea is translated.

Let's take a look at this last one in full.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

We being "dead" is the state of the Christian to his flesh NOW. The admonition is to recognize this death (and the eventual physical death of the flesh, the curse) so we can seek to live free from its wants, desires, lusts (including religious traditions and religious pride). The expanded Rom 6:11 puts it succinctly.

Likewise reckon [consider] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let's now try the opposite and try to apply the KJV rendering in Ephesians 2 to our understanding in Romans 6 (etc.) and see where that gets us:

For in that He died, He died IN SIN once (bad translation of Rom 6:10)
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed IN SIN (bad translation of Rom 6:11)

That makes no sense (it's blasphemy in the first example and terrible in the second). Christ died "unto sin" (not "in sin") and we are to consider ourselves dead "to sin." So, we cannot go back to those verses and apply the KJV in Ephesians rendering.

Let's now jump back to Ephesians 2 and look at these verses in light of the understanding of our death unto sin as it is correctly translated in our bulleted examples above. We also note (without going into detail for the sake of space) that "were" should be rendered "being" from the Greek (ontas, present participle). The KJV translates the same word (ontas) "being" in Col 2:13, so it's not crazy.

And you hath he quickened, who being dead to trespasses and sins

-Ephesian 2:1 (corrected)  

Let us also correct Ephesians 2:5

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) - KJV
Even when we being dead to sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) - Corrected

There is no "en" in the Greek nor a word for "when" used in the KJV. The context in the passage is the exalted hope (greater than the land, greater than the Kingdom, greater than the New Jerusalem) of sitting "in heavenly places." We see the "rich in mercy" (2:4) and "exceeding riches" (2:7) of this current hope which was hidden from "before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4) and revealed by Paul.

Ephesians 2:6

 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus

The hope of Paradise restored. The hope of the land from the Nile to the Euphrates. The hope of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. The hope of the New Jerusalem which comes down to earth... all these pertain to earthly blessings and covenants. In Eph 2 we are on the exalted ground of blessings far above the heavens where Christ sits.

The passage is teaching that SINCE we are (now) DEAD TO SIN, we should walk according to the new nature. Because we were saved by grace through faith, we should walk in the good works God has prepared for us (Eph 2:8-10).

We are to consider ourselves dead now. The importance is found in our hope. We live in light of our lives, hidden in Christ in God, waiting to be revealed in us, because WE ARE DEAD TO SIN.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 
-Col 3:3

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
-Romans 8:18-19

These truths underlie our series on "Walking in the Spirit" and "Walking Worthy."

We differentiate our life now (considering our flesh to be dead) and the life to come in resurrection. When the Lord contrasts death and life in John, it is in light of the resurrection.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will... He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

-John 5:21-25 

In sum: We walk in bodies of death today. As believers we are to consider our flesh DEAD and "walk in the newness of life" (Rom 6:4) today. We no longer walk according to the flesh (the old nature), but according to the spirit (the new nature) today. Die to the old, live in the new, That is context of the death and life spoken of in Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:1 and 2:5 are emphasizing this point, not our state of death before we believed.

Likewise reckon [consider] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A quick plug for the Far Above All translation. Here is how Ephesians 2:1-5 is rendered there:

Including you who are dead to transgressions and sins, in which you once walked, according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit which is now active in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all also once had our mode of life, in the desires of our flesh, doing the will of the flesh, and of the mind, and we were children of wrath by nature, as the rest are too, but God, being rich in mercy, on account of his great love with which he loved us, made us, being dead to transgressions, alive together with Christ – you have been saved by grace