But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
(a) But God. Surely this is one of the Bible’s greatest phrases. “We were dead in our trespasses and sins… but God….” “The Savior was crucified and laid in a tomb… but God…” (Acts 13:30). “Joseph’s brothers plotted evil against him, but God…” (Gen. 50:20). “Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker was sick to the point of death, but God…” (Php. 2:27). For the believer, God always has the last word. No matter how bad things get, he is still the great hope we cling to. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26).
(b) Because of his great love. Some people have trouble accepting grace because it sounds too good to be true. “Why is God good to me? Why did he send his Son to rescue me? How can he accept me given the things I have done?” Paul answers those questions. “Because of his great love with which he loved us.”
At some point we need to accept that God loves us, not on account of anything we have done, but because of his great love. God is not mad at you, he’s mad about you. He rejoices over you with singing (Zech. 3:17).
For too long religion has prostituted the love of God by telling us we must do stuff before our Father will love us. Surely this is the greatest crime ever inflicted on the human race. It has left us orphaned, messed up, and in the pigpen. Manmade religion says God is angry and must be appeased. But Jesus shows us that God’s face is shining on us with love and grace.
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
(a) When we were dead in our transgressions. No one can ever say, “God accepted me because of the good things I did.” You were dead in your sins and without any redeeming qualities, when God raised you.
(b) Made us alive together with Christ. God didn’t just lift you out of the grave, he placed you in Christ (see the entry for Eph. 1:7).
(c) By grace you have been saved. The word grace is synonymous with Jesus. You have been saved by grace (Eph. 2:5) and saved by Jesus (2 Tim. 1:9). We are justified by grace (Rom 3:24) and justified by Jesus (Rom 4:25). The gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) is really the gospel of Jesus (2 Th. 1:8).
Further reading: “Is grace a person?”
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
This verse is key to understanding your authority in Christ. Jesus sits at the right hand of God and so do we who are in him (see the entry for Eph. 1:7). We are not grovelling at his feet like paupers or standing at a distance like doorkeepers. Once you were a slave, but Jesus has made you a king (see the entry for Rev. 1:6). When you see this, it changes the way you pray. You’ll no longer pray like a beggar but a commander knowing that God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).
The Good News Bible translates this verse: “In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world.” You were created to rule and reign with Christ. We have far more say in what goes on than we give ourselves credit for.
Further reading: “You are a king (so act like one)”
so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
(a) The ages to come means now and forever more. Grace is not something God revealed one time at Calvary. His plan is to show off or demonstrate his grace for all eternity.
(b) The surpassing riches of His grace. Earlier Paul spoke about the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7). God is very rich in grace. But here he adds the adjective “surpassing” as if to say, “I didn’t give you the correct impression before. God’s grace is even bigger than I led you to believe.” Other translations refer to the “full wealth,” “extraordinary greatness,” and the “immeasurable (limitless) riches” of God’s grace. His grace is surpassing and incomparable meaning “it can’t be compared with anything else” (NIrV). See also the entry for Rom. 5:20.
(c) The kindness or goodness of God was demonstrated in the cross, but here we are exhorted to look forward into the coming ages. It’s as if Paul is saying, “God has not even begun to demonstrate his goodness and kindness to you” (1 Cor. 2:9). Grace is not just for your salvation (past). Grace is for today and all your tomorrows.
The Grace Commentary is a reader-funded website. Got something to say about the commentary? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links or give feedback on this specific page, please use the comment form below.