Winger, Thomas M. "Made Alive Together in Christ 2:1-10." Ephesians. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014, 279-308.
Winger comments on the suspense created in Ephesians chapter two, where Paul begins by describing "you," the direct object of the sentence (Winger 2014, 279). He distinguishes between you (Gentiles) and we (Jews) in verse three. Then in verse four he presents God as the subject and continues with the main verbs of the sentence (Winger 2014, 280).
Paul's description of the Ephesians as dead before Christ gave them life is unqualified. They were dead in an entirely literal manner, as Paul would describe them (Winger 2014, 280). Winger notes this leaves no room for any type of Pelagian thought. He ties this thought to Romans 6 and Colossians 2, where it is baptism which brings life from death. Winger therefore considers the passage in Ephesians 2 to identify baptism as the start of walking with God (Winger 2014, 282). A key element to Paul is the shift from walking according to the authority of evil spirits and to walking according to God in Christ (Winger 2014, 283).
Ephesians 2:2-3 speaks plainly of the hopeless state of the Ephesians as dead without Christ, but that the spirit of God moves in them to bring them life. Verse three identifies the Ephesian Gentiles with Paul and the Jewish Christians, who also were without hope (Winger 2014, 283). The root of the condition was identical. Both groups were united by sin before they became united by Christ (Winger 2014, 284). The life in sin was driven by sinful desires which pushed us toward our unbelieving goals. Winger observes the language of "flesh" and how it could be related to a distinction of what unifies us. With that in mind he briefly speaks sacramentally about baptism leading to desiring the flesh of Christ in the eucharist (Winger 2014, 284-285). All this, in verse four, is a result of God's love which moves him to mercy (Winger 2014, 286-287).
The theme of unity returns in Ephesians 2:5, where Winger observes there are three compound verbs which use the prepositional prefix "with" (Winger 2014, 28). Unity will remain a major theme throughout Ephesians.
Winger proposes a chiastic structure for Ephesians 2:1-10. The mid-point, in 2:5, is "by grace you have been saved" (Winger 2014, 288). Winger further thinks this statement may be a brief liturgical quotation, as a doxological statement at the focal point of the chiasm.
Walking back through the steps of the chiasm, Winger notes the quick return of the "with" verb, here sitting down with Christ (Winger 2014, 289). This takes place in the heavenly places, an expression of Jesus' power. Winger does point out that Jesus doesn't have a restricted local dwelling, but that his heavenly throne serves as a sign of power. Verse seven states a purpose of Christ's work, that he can show his overwhelming grace (Winger 2014, 290). His show of grace entails the salvation of the Ephesians, the major topic of verses 8-9. Paul emphasizes that the salvation was completed in the past and remains a reality in the present (Winger 2014, 291).
Winger discusses "by grace through faith" as he considers whose faith the passage might refer to. He considers it not to be Christ's faith, but rather, "it is fides qua creditur, subjective faith. The preposition διά subtly distinguishes the role of the Christian's faith from God's grace. While grace is the efficient cause, faith is merely the receiving instrument of the gift of salvation" (Winger 2014, 292). When the passage goes on to say, "this is not from yourselves," Winger notes that some commentators have understood the antecedent of "this" to be "faith." However, the gender difference makes this unlikely. Winger takes the neuter "this" as a reference to the entire clause which immediately precedes it (Winger 2014, 293).
Paul is quite emphatic in Ephesians 2:9 that grace is different from works. Being saved by grace is diametrically opposed to being saved by works (Winger 2014, 293). Winger sees Paul as clear that it is only God's works which save, not ours. The theme continues with forceful statements into verse ten. Good works, rather than bringing salvation, are the result of salvation (Winger 2014, 296).
Winger continues to emphasize the combination of eloquent expression and artful structure in Ephesians chapter two. Here Paul has not only used three clear sentences with a strong logical flow, but he has created a chiasm of ten verses, drawing the reader's focus to the grace of God. Winger provides a chart of the structure and then discusses the elements in turn (Winger 2014, 297-298). The plight described is all of man's making, while the rescue is entirely the work of God.
The overall motion of Ephesians 2:1-10 is from death to life. Winger notes the parallel to Jesus' death and resurrection. The blessing of the Christian is a resurrection, but not only in the future. Paul sees the Ephesians as experiencing the life of resurrection already (Winger 2014, 300). Winger notes that Paul uses the image of death in three different ways, which must be distinguished by context. There is the deadness of sin apart from Christ. There is also the putting to death of the old life in baptism. Third, in living the baptismal life, the old life is being put to death (Winger 2014, 301). Likewise, resurrection has a present element and an eschatological element (Winger 2014, 302-303).
Winger finally reflects on the Ephesians' unity with each other and their exaltation with Christ. He finds that this unity comes from the fact that the Christians are partakers of baptism (Winger 2014, 304ff). They have received the Gospel and have been cleansed from sin. Their unity with one another is significant, but Paul sees their unity with Christ as the important point of salvation (Winger 2014, 305). The present serves as a foretaste of what is to come.