What are the good works we’re created for in Ephesians 2?

Let’s begin where the question begins, in Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Before I share my observations, let’s note that the author is drawing a distinction between two types of works; those that you can’t do, and those that you were called to do.

Those that you can’t do revolve around earning God’s grace or salvation. His grace and salvation are a gift through faith, they cannot be earned. Yet we see that there are good works that we, who’ve received God’s gift of grace and salvation, should perform. These good works were prepared beforehand by God, and they are to be the fruit of Christ’s workmanship in us.

My observations:

  • That we are Christ’s workmanship connects to what Paul refers to as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • This work in Christ, and the intended fruit of it, was conceived by God and prepared in advance.
  • This shows the proactive nature of God and his love for his children. It also shows an underlying purpose which he intends to fulfill; that in a future time he can reveal his love for us in Christ for the benefit of the world (Fourth Gospel(1) 17:20-23).

Let’s return to the good works we’re to walk in, and the focus of this article. Paul, throughout his letter to the Ephesians, characterizes the faithful life of those committed to Christ. In Ephesians 1 he begins by reviewing all that we’ve received in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-14), but at the end of the chapter, he begins to show what fruit those gifts in Christ should produce individually in our lives. I’ll summarize them below.

Ephesians 1:15-22

  • Faith, love toward the saints, and thanksgiving
  • The eyes of our heart enlightened
  • To know the hope we’re called into
  • To know the riches of his glorious inheritance which is promised to us
  • To know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us in Christ

In chapter two, Paul then goes on to show some of the fruits in a social context, as it relates to the descendants of Jacob (Israel and the Jews).

Ephesians 2:11-22

  • To live in the unity and peace established between the circumcised (Israelites) and the uncircumcised (Gentiles)
  • Christ has removed the hostility which divides us
  • Both have access to the Father through the one Spirit
  • Together we are fellow citizens with the saints
  • Members together of the household of God
  • We are being built together into a dwelling place for God

Paul continues in Ephesian 3 to disclose some of the characteristics of the mystery of God, hidden for ages and revealed to him (Ephesians 3:1-13). He again concludes the chapter with how this knowledge should impact our lives.

Ephesians 3:16-19

  • You may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being
  • This strength enables us to endure the struggles necessary to produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • To comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of God’s mysterious work in Christ
  • To be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ in all we do

Interested in the scope, origin, purpose, and fulfillment of the Mystery of God?
Discover more.

Paul then expands on the unity revealed in chapter two, and what that unity and new life should look like.

Ephesians 4:1-3, 13-17

  • Bear the fruits of your calling, the good works
  • Walk in humility and gentleness
  • Bear with one another with patience in love
  • Eager to maintain the unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace
  • Grow in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God
  • Do not be deceived, tossed to and fro by every type of doctrine
  • Speak the truth in love
  • Grow up in every way into Christ
  • Do not walk as the Gentiles do:
    • In the futility of their minds
    • Darkened in their understanding
    • Alienated from the life of God, due to ignorance and hardheartedness
    • They practice every kind of impurity

Ephesians 4:25-32

  • Speak the truth
  • Be angry, but do not sin
  • Set aside your wrath so that your heart doesn’t become hardened
  • Do honest work so that you’re able to share with anyone in need
  • Speak only that which is good, for building up others
  • Do not grieve the Holy Spirit with
    • Bitterness and wrath
    • Anger or slander
    • Or a malicious attitude
  • Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, and forgiving

By behaving and living in such a way, we show the fruit of Christ’s work in us, through the Holy Spirit, in which he completes in us his new creation. This is why Paul calls the work Christ is doing in us a “good work.” (Philippians 1:6)

We can also see that such conduct is pleasing to the Lord.

Colossians 1:10-12
10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

My observations:

  • Bear fruit in everything you do
  • The fruit being spoken of here is the character of Christ; love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • In everything we do, our works should lead to these fruits, which are intended for the benefit of others
  • The fruits which are directly beneficial to us include:
    • Increasing in the knowledge and wisdom of God (Ephesians 1:16-17)
    • Being strengthened as we exercise patience in difficult circumstances with all joy
    • Giving thanks always to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light
    • By the fact that he has transferred you into the kingdom of his son; in part now, fully when he comes to set up his earthly kingdom, and eternally when he hands that kingdom over to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:22-26)

 Conclusions

This brief review shows us that the good works God has prepared for us to walk in consists of our entire life in Christ, no matter how long that time is. All that we do in response to his gift of grace and faith can lead to praise, glory, and honor to his Holy Name. It’s also our duty (Titus 3:1-8), and an expression of the work of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the maturity and character of our Lord (Ephesians 4:13-14).


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

The following notes are taken from my book . . .

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The election of God in faith is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
  2. The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant. (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. God is not calling the entire world to repentance at this time – the time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:23-24)
    1. It is only given to some to hear and believe (Matthew 13:10-13; Mark 4:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
    2. God’s elect are the first to be saved. Those who are the firstfruits are not the only ones who will be led to obedience in Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:11-13; Romans 8:23,29; Hebrews 12:22-24; James 1:17-18; Revelation 20:4-6)
  5. Christ’s work results in a new creation (Fourth Gospel 3:1-21; Romans 8:28-31; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 6:14-18)
  6. The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)

Footnotes:

  1. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

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Published by GMajella

Husband, father, and author on theological topics, with a focus on the underlying presuppositions which either cloud or enhance our view of reality. My focus is to challenge and guide fellow Christians into a deeper knowledge of God; his work, his will, and his overall purpose. My primary methods will be through books, blogs, and virtual or personal events.

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