“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” (Eph. 2:1)
Paul begins the Ephesian letter by telling them who they are. They are the faithful saints, chosen by God for their faith and anointed by in with saving grace through Jesus’ death on the cross. He points out they have been adopted by God because that is what he wanted to do. Paul goes on to remind them that through the blood of Jesus they have forgiveness of their trespasses. All of this is centered in Jesus, and Paul is insistent that the Ephesians open their heart to the truth of who Jesus is and who they are in him.
Chapter two begins with a reminder of who they were prior to their submission to Jesus and his cleansing power. Like the parable of the lost son, the Ephesians were dead to their father. Their rebellion in trespasses and sins had left them dead to the life in Christ.
In Christ is life and out of Christ is death. Those not in Christ are the true walking dead. Being dead the Ephesians were powerless to change their status. The dead cannot resurrect themselves. God is the one with power over death, and he is the only one who can bring the dead to life. That is exactly what he did for the Ephesians and all of the faithful saints since the resurrection of Jesus.
As we will learn later in the chapter, the faithful saints were raised with Christ and placed on a seat with him. This was an act of grace due to the mercy and love of God, and no person who is dead in sin can claim one single part of their resurrection.
So today we understand that the world is divided into two kinds of people. There are the walking dead, and there are the alive in Christ. That’s who makes up the world. Interestingly the very process suggested by both Paul and Peter takes one through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The process is called baptism which is a transliterated word meaning to bury or immerse. When a person is baptized, they die to sin, are buried in water, and arise in Christ. They begin as sinners, dead in their sin and finish as new creatures, born to a new life in Christ.
Some think that baptism is not necessary because they see it as an action of man and not of God, but nothing could be further than the truth. When a person submits to baptism, they change nothing. They are dead in sin and cannot resurrect themselves. It is during the reenactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that God in his mercy, love, and grace destroy the death of the sinner, cleanses him in the blood of Christ and restores him to life in Christ. The old man is washed away in the blood of Jesus, and a new man arises to live in Christ.
All who are made alive in Christ were at one time dead in trespasses and sins. God made them alive. The pivotal point was the act God created in baptism. The first to undergo this change asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37, 38)
The gift of the Holy Spirit was the sign of new life. They were dead in sins and trespasses but repented and were baptized into Jesus. Their sins were forgiven, and they were given new life. No longer the walking dead but the walking living.