A Condensation of Romans Chapters 1-3 in Only 3 Verses


Stott (The Message of Ephesians)

Sometimes the Scriptures have a way of abbreviating things in one place that are spoken of at greater length elsewhere in its pages. For example, John R.W. Stott describes Ephesians 2:1-3 this way:

“It is a condensation into three verses of the first three chapters of Romans, in which he [Paul] argues his case for the sin and guilt first of pagans, then of Jews, and so of all mankind” (The Message of Ephesians, p.71).

What a great way to put it! So if you want to boil down (or condense) the essential message of Romans chapters 1-3, you could do a lot worse than looking to these three verses in Ephesians:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

Outside of Jesus Christ we are all dead in sins and trespasses; enslaved to sin, and helplessly under the sway of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Outside of Christ we are all by our very natures the objects of God’s just wrath.  Romans 1-3 goes to great lengths to teach us these things. Ephesians 2:1-3 teaches us the same things, just in far fewer words.

Thankfully Ephesians chapter 2 does not stop there, but goes on to speak of God’s mercy, love, grace, and kindness toward sinners in the gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 2:4-10 Paul writes,

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)

You could say that if Ephesians 2:1-3 is a condensation of Romans chapters 1-3, then Ephesians 2:4-10 is similarly a condensation of Romans chapters 4-16 (the rest of the book of Romans), where Paul goes into great detail about the good news of the gospel of Christ and its implications for our lives.


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