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Paul does not use the word 'regeneration' in Ephesians, nor does he use the term 'new life'. However, the concept of regeneration and new life is very much in his mind.

In Ephesians 2:1 and 2:5 Paul describes our pre-conversion condition as 'dead in your transgressions and sins' and 'dead in transgressions', and teaches that it was when we were still in this condition that God 'made us alive with Christ'.

God 'made us alive with Christ'. That is the essence of regeneration. From the immediate context of Ephesians 2:1-10 we learn the following facts about regeneration:

[1] Regeneration is not the result of human initiative - we were 'dead in transgressions'. It is the result of God's initiative. Had it been left to us we would have remained as we were, following the ways of the world and of Satan [2:2-3].

[2] Regeneration is not caused by any human merit. It is, Paul states emphatically, 'because of God's great love for us' and because God 'is rich in mercy'. It is 'by grace' and an expression of God's 'kindness' [2:4,5,7,8,9]. Mercy exists and operates only where there is no merit.

[3] Regeneration is not only the giving of spiritual life where there was spiritual death, but the giving of a special kind of life: 'God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ [2:6]. This is life beyond the reach of death, beyond the reach of condemnation and judgement. It is that life which, in Christ, has the right of access into the presence of God, without fear of rejection.

[4] Regeneration has a purpose: 'that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus' [2:7]. This new life that we now have in Christ is intended by God to be a life in which we revel in his overwhelming grace and kindness that he continues to express towards us in Christ.

From the broader context of Paul's prayer that began in Ephesians 1:15 we also learn:

[5] That the power of God that initiated, enabled, and successfully implemented our regeneration is the same power that God 'exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms' [1:20]. This is the power that was needed to regenerate us, and this is the power that guarantees the effectiveness and permanence of that regeneration.

This week, and in the ages to come, may we rejoice in and be strengthened by this great truth of regeneration: that 'because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions' [2:4,5].

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007,2017