Google produces a list of Scriptures when you ask, “Which 10 encouraging bible verses do I need to read each day?” The third passage on that list is Ephesians 2:10. Today’s Daily Bread email message very briefly explains that Ephesians 2:10 focuses on encouragement and hope for all Christians.
The purpose of the letter to the Ephesians was to encourage unity in the early church. Paul counsels the people of Ephesus not to be divided by their former statuses as Gentiles or Jews.
The Epistle to the Ephesians offers general instruction in:
- the truths of God’s redemptive work in Christ,
- the unity of the church among diverse peoples,
- and proper conduct in the church, the home, and the world.
The central theme of the letter to the Ephesians is Christ who has reconciled all creation to God and has united people from all nations in His church. The letter consists of two main parts: an exposition of doctrine (chapters 1-3) and the consequent moral teaching (chapters 4-6).
In Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 2, Paul repeatedly emphasizes that salvation is accomplished on the basis of grace, through faith. Good works, human effort, and our best intentions will never be enough to earn salvation. Every person is marked with sin, both deliberate and accidental, and for this reason, we deserve to be separated from God. Only through His mercy and grace can we be saved, leaving no room for bragging. This also means that all who are saved, Jew and Gentile alike, are part of the same spiritual family. There is no cause for hostility between believers; we are all unworthy, and all saved by the same kindness of God.
We cannot earn our way into heaven; the demands of justice stand as a barrier, which we are powerless to overcome on our own. But all is not lost. “The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope.”
Ephesians 2:10 The Purpose of Our Lives
Verse 10 unfolds why God made us. Ephesians 2:10 is an astonishing passage that not only reveals the special care He took to make our lives but also to design the very “good works” that we are supposed to do.
Ephesians 2:10 starts with the phrase “For we are God’s handiwork.” The word “for” connects verse 10 with what precedes it, especially the fact that we have been saved by grace. Salvation is not only deliverance from death into life. It also involves being newly created in Christ.
The word “handiwork” comes from the same Greek word that’s related etymologically to our word “poem.” It means “made by someone,” a “work” of someone’s hands. The ESV goes with “workmanship.” The NRSV has “we are what He has made us.”
The word “workmanship” means “that which is made, a work of art.” It refers to a “masterpiece.” What Paul’s saying is that all God’s children are His masterpieces.
Simplified, Ephesians 2 10 says that it is God who has worked in us to make us what we are. He has given us a new life because we are united with Christ Jesus. He saved us so that now we can do good things in our lives. Those are good things that he has already prepared for us to do.
The Greek reads, “in order that we might walk in them,” thus ending 2:1–10 as it began, with a description of how we walk or live. When we receive this grace, we aren’t merely delivered from a bad way of living into some kind of neutral existence. Rather, we are created anew in Christ for a new way of living, a way embodied in good works.
The truth that God has good works for us to do is fully consistent with the rest of the letter to the Ephesians. God chose us to be holy so that we might belong to him and be devoted to his purposes (1:3). God determined that we should exist “for the praise of his glory” (1:12, 14).
Our good works are an expression of a Christian community. Yes, we are individually God’s handiwork. And, yes, God has good works for each of us to do. But that’s not the whole story. As becomes clear in the next part of Ephesians 2, God has good works for the community of the faithful to do together. In fact, you cannot walk in the good works God has for us apart from intentional fellowship with other members of Christ’s body. From Him, the whole body of the church joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)
Hope from Ephesians 2
In language that is both foreign and strangely familiar, Ephesians 2:1–3 describes the deadly life that many of us know all too well. Even if, because we are Christians, we are no longer completely dead in our sins, we still walk according to the lethal ways of this world. We still feel demonic power drawing us into toxic behaviors. We choose what we know to be harmful to gratify our desires
But Ephesians 2 doesn’t leave us with the depressing diagnosis of a living death. Rather, it offers the good news of what God has done in Christ and the hope of a different way of living. At the center of this good news is the truth that we have been saved by grace. Though we cannot save ourselves, God can and does save us through Christ.
This gospel can sound hollow to many of us since the gospel we have heard is mostly about a great life after death. Our life in this world is relatively unaffected, except for the fine print that came along with it: a long list of regulations to rule our life. Most of us have never heard that we have been made alive with Christ, raised with Christ, and enthroned with Christ. We do not realize that when we trusted God for salvation, we became his handiwork, newly created in Christ for good works that God had planned for us.
We don’t have to settle for a driven, empty, unhappy life. Rather, we can begin to live now in Christ and with Christ. We can begin now to experience the power of the resurrection that is for us because we have been raised with Christ. We can now begin to live as God’s workmanship, contributing to God’s work in the world and, therefore, knowing that our lives really matter.
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Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (NASB)
We should listen deeply to the story of God’s gracious salvation in Christ. Lean back into God’s great love, wealthy mercy, and incomparably rich grace. Let the truth that God has saved us by grace be the foundation of our lives. See ourselves as God’s handiwork, letting this inspired vision transform our sense of identity and purpose. There are good works God has prepared for us to do. We find encouragement and hope in the story of God’s grace in Ephesians 2:1-10. God’s grace changes us. It changes our stories. Let God’s grace rewrite your story.
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