VIIa.12. What Is the Meaning of the Word “Dead” In Ephesians 2:1 to 5 Re: Salvation?


1. "What is the meaning of the word "dead" in Ephesians 2:1-5 regarding Salvation?"  2. "Does man have the ability to respond?" 3. "What is the meaning of the word DEAD in the Bible?"  4. "How to refute the teachings of others that man has NO ability to respond in their Salvation." Brother Jonathan

Dear Brother Jonathan, Thank you for your excellent questions!

Actually, what your questions have reference to, is the first point in the five deadly doctrines espoused by 5-Point Calvinism, "Total Depravity." They are often illustrated by the acrostic T-U-L-I-P; which stands for:

  1.   Total depravity,
  2.  Unconditional election,
  3.  Limited atonement,
  4.  Irresistible grace,
  5.  Perseverance of the saints.

 None of these false doctrines hold up under the "search light" of Scripture; and are a deadly attack upon the Grace of God!

 Question #1:  "What is the meaning of the word "dead" in Ephesians 2:1-5 regarding Salvation?"

 Answer: There are several usages in Scripture for the word "dead"; which, in the Greek is "nekros," and means--as a corpse.):

1.  You are physically dead, as in James 2:26...

 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

 a.  Man is a body, possessing a soul and spirit.

 "And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, (46) And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Luke 1:46-47

 b. Explanation: When a body dies, the soul departs with the spirit of man. And, at death, all that is left on earth is the body.

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

 2.  You are spiritually dead, as given in Ephesians 2:1...not having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit

 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" Ephesians 2:1

 a.  To be "spiritually dead"  means that you have not trusted in Christ as your Savior, and do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit within. This is explained in Ephesians 1:13,

 "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,"

 Question #2:  "Does man have the ability to respond?" Also, Question #4:"How to refute the teachings of others that man has NO ability to respond in their Salvation."


 1.  If a lost man had no ability to respond, the Holy Spirit would be "out of a job!" Notice. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is for the whole world. Their choice is: "Believe; or believe not."

 "And when he (the Holy Spirit) is come, he will reprove (convince) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (8) Of sin, because they believe not on me;" John 16:8-9

 2.  We "were...dead in trespasses and sins"; (Ephesians 2:1) but, that does not mean that we are unable to exercise free will. Before Salvation, the Holy Spirit convicts from the outside. If a man who is spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins," has no ability to respond to that conviction by trusting Christ as His Savior; why would God offer us a choice, "Believe, or believe not."

 "In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," Ephesians 1:13

(1).  We hear the word of truth, the Gospel

(2).  We believe or trust what we have heard by listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit

(3).  We are then sealed by the Holy Spirit, showing we now belong to him; i.e. everlasting life.

(4).  After Salvation, the Holy Spirit convicts from the inside. (Eph. 4:30)

 "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

 3.  God wants all men to be saved.

 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (a change of mind). 2 Peter 3:9

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

 Question #3: "What is the meaning of the word DEAD in the Bible?"

 Answer:  Basically, "death" in Scripture is always separation.

 1.  Physical Death - Separation of Soul and Spirit from the body.

 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

 2.  The Second Death - Separated from God for all Eternity.

 If you die without trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be separated from God for all eternity in the Lake of Fire. This will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennial Reign. We have a graphic description of this given in Revelation 20:11-15.

 "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (11) And I saw the dead (nekros), small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead (nekros) were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (12) And the sea gave up the dead (nekros) which were in it; and death (thanatos, the condition) and hell (the location) delivered up the dead (nekros) which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (13) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (14) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

 3.  Carnal Death - Separated from God; or, out of fellowship with God because of sin in your life. This does not mean you have lost your salvation. "Everlasting life" is just that. Everlasting! It never ends, and God never takes it back because of sin in your life. (1 Corinthians 3:14,15)

"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Romans 6:16

"What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death." Romans 6:21

"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" 1 Corinthians 3:3

 a.   To "walk as men," means the world will see no difference between your life and that of a lost man. "The things you do speak so loud, I can't hear what you say."

 b.   God is longsuffering and Hebrews 12:5-8 tells us that he will chasten disobedient children,

 "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (5) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (6) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (7) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  (8)"

c.   Even though we are chastised by the Lord, we do not lose our salvation. Five times in this passage He refers to us as "sons." We are still a part of His family, and never cease to be God's child. (John 1:12).  Of course, no one enjoys chastening and Christians often tell the Lord, "You can skip the discipline part. I've got it now." Right.  If we learn the lesson that the Lord is teaching us, then, God's Word tells us that we will bear fruit in our lives.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised (or, "trained") thereby." Hebrews 12:11

d.  The remedy for being "carnally dead"; or, out of fellowship with the Lord is found in 1 John 1:8,9, and 1 John 1:6,7:

(1).  Admit our sin to the Lord.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (8) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9

(2).  Walk in the light of his Word.

 "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (6) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:6-7

 4.  "Sin unto death" - Physical Death - Separation of the soul and spirit from the body can result from continued carnality. If we ignore the Lord's chastening and keep on putting Him to an open shame before the world, He can choose to take us to Heaven prematurely. Paul makes reference to this in 1 Corinthians 11 in his instructions regarding the Lord's Supper.

 "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily (irreverently), eateth and drinketh damnation (condemnation, not loss of salvation) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." 1 Corinthians 11:29

 "Not discerning the Lord's body.."  This was the source of their irreverence. They were not respecting the cost of their Salvation! If our Lord became angry and drove out the money changers from the Temple, (John 2:14-17), think how He must abhor those who do not appreciate the cost of their Salvation. They did nothing but accept it by faith. He paid the extreme cost on the Cross of Calvary!

 a.  The result of this lack of respect for the Lord's Supper; as evidenced in verses 17-22 by the fact that they ate lavish meals before hand, some were drunken, some had no food and were hungry; but, the others did not share. They were despising the church (11:22) and some paid a dear price. Physical death!

 "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (are dead)." 1 Corinthians 11:30

 b.   The Apostle Paul recommended the following discipline to the church at Corinth, the most carnal of all churches, because of one openly committing fornication in the church with his stepmother.

 "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." 1 Corinthians 5:5

 c.   All sickness is not caused by sin; but, in this case, sickness definitely came as chastening from the Lord. We find in 1 Corinthians 11:31,32...

"For if we would judge (diakrino - be discerning of our own actions) ourselves, we should not be judged (krino - sentenced). (31) But when we are judged (krino - sentenced), we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."(32)

 d.  Being "condemned with the world," is that others will see no difference between us and non-Christians. We will have no testimony in the world's eyes. It does not mean we lose our Salvation!

 One final thought on the "sin unto death." Even though we live such an atrocious life that the Lord can't get our attention through extreme discipline and has to "promote us to Heaven" prematurely, we are still a Christian. We just get to Heaven a little sooner than we wanted. We are still saved, "yet so as by fire," and the "skin of our teeth," because of the wonderful Grace of God!

 "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (11) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; (12) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. (13) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (14) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." -  1 Corinthians 3:11-15


 1.  The lost man is "Spiritually dead in trespasses and sins..." because he has not yet believed the Gospel. Just as Adam and Eve had a choice in the Garden of Eden, mankind has a choice today. He can reject the Gospel and remain in this condition until he dies a physical death (separation of soul and spirit from the body) and suffers the "Second Death" of separation from God for all Eternity in the Lake of Fire.

 2.  "The sin unto death," can happen to a Christian who will not stop sinning; and continues living in a state of carnality (carnal death - separated from fellowship with God); despite the longsuffering discipline of the Lord. Eventually, extreme discipline can be administered. He dies, physically, arriving in Heaven sooner than he expected with no rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

 "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is ( a)* sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." 1 John 5:16

 *  There is no indefinite article in the Greek language; therefore, there is no article "a" in this verse.  In the original it should read, "There is sin unto death."

 3.  Why this confusion? It is due to the  false doctrine of predestination for Salvation. The following is an excerpt from  "Not Chosen to Salvation, by Dr. Max D. Younce, which can be found at the following link: Click Here to Read Online

 "Chapter One - Explaining Predestination and Foreknowledge.

 The word "predestination" comes from the Greek verb "proorizo." It means, according to Vine's Expository Words on the Greek New Testament, to "mark out beforehand, to determine before, foreordain." In essence, "predestination" means that something has been predicted by God and it must and will come to pass. The word "predestinate" as translated in the KJV is found only twice; that being in Romans 8:29 and 30.

 "Predestinated" is found only twice and that is in Ephesians; once in Ephesians 1:5 and once in 1:11. These two words do not appear in the Old Testament. We shall examine who is predestinated, what event is predestinated and when it will take place.

A. Ephesians 1:5 - Redemption Of The Body At The Rapture

Let us begin with Ephesians 1:5...

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."

 Notice who is predestinated. It can only be one of two groups: the saved or the lost. Paul identifies the children of God as the object of being predestinated, "Having predestinated us (plural pronoun)." This is Paul and every saved person. God did not predestinate anyone to be saved, but this teaches He predestinated something for those who are already saved.

 What did God predestinate for the Christian? The Scriptures are pure and simple. The Christian is predestinated unto the adoption of children (Greek, HUIOTHESIA, meaning sonship). When we trust Christ as our Savior, we become His children:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons (Greek, TEKNON, meaning-a child.) of God,even to them that believeth on his name." - John 1:12

 We are positioned in Heaven as a son now, but we do not come to the realization of our son-ship until the Rapture.

The Jewish Bar Mitzvah may aid in understanding adoption and sonship. Bar Mitzvah means "a son of the commandments, or the placing of a son." When a Jewish boy reaches the age of 13, he is then considered as a adult. He is expected to accept adult religious responsibilities. It is a joyful occasion accompanied by gifts from friends and family. He is no longer considered a child, but an adult son.

The word "adoption" is derived from the Greek word "huiothesia," from "huios", meaning "a son" and "thesis" "a placing." Therefore, "the placing of a son." Just as a Jewish boy is placed as an adult son on the day he reaches 13, we Christians also experience our sonship when we are placed in Heaven at the day of the Rapture. This is when we have our physical bodies redeemed for a new glorified body. It could be no clearer than stated in Romans 8:23:

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, WAITING FOR THE ADOPTION, TO WIT, THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY."

In summary:

  • WHO:

       Negative: Nowhere are the lost said to be predestinated to be saved.

       Positive: The saved are predestinated to receive something.

  • WHAT: The Adoption. Romans 8:23, "the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
  • WHEN: At the Rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:17,1 Corinthians 15:50-54.

 B. Ephesians 1:11,12.- This Is Not Our Testimony

"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ."

 Notice the use of the word "we", a plural pronoun. Paul is including himself and all Christians. They have obtained an inheritance. This identifies those who are predestinated for something as being already saved. We can see in Verse 12 what the Christian is predestinated to receive. What is predestinated is according to the Lord's purpose. He will also bring it to pass "after the counsel of his own will." "His own will" lets us know that God does not leave what He predestinated to be brought to pass by the volition or faithfulness of man. Therefore, we can rest assured... what God predestinated will come to pass!

 In summary: The saved are the recipients of being predestinated. It was God's purpose to do so and He will bring it to pass Himself. We are told in Verse 12 what is predestinated:

 "That we (Christians) should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ."

 At first glance one may think this means it is God's will that every Christian should lead a separated life, which would be to the praise of His glory. This is certainly God's will for every believer (Romans 12:1,2). However, this cannot be the meaning of this verse, if taken in context, as the fulfillment of what was predestinated. If this were true, then it has not come to pass in every Christian's life. Remember, what God predestinates will, without exception, come to pass. The reason being, every Christian is the recipient of what is predestinated. Not every Christian leads a separated life. In fact, some Christians never lead a separated life from the time they are saved until they leave this earth!

 To what is this referring? It has reference to the event of the Rapture when, without exception, every Christian will be to the praise of His glory. The Bridegroom (Christ) is looking in expectation for His Bride (the Church). The Church (every believer) is looking for the Bridegroom to return and "so shall we ever be with the Lord." This meeting is the fulfillment of what Christ predestinated for every believer. Remember--what is predestinated must come to pass.

 If "to the praise of his glory" meant leading a separated life, it may not come to pass, for all Christians are not yielding their lives to God's will. Christ never leaves what He predestinates to be fulfilled by the volition of man. By the determined will and power of God, the Rapture will fulfill every qualifying aspect of His predestination, "that we should be to the praise of His glory."

 C. Romans 8:29 - The Elements of "Foreknowledge" & "Predestination"

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

 The statement is heard many times, "You cannot reconcile the sovereignty of God and the free will of man." This is not true--one can understand both. The confusion exists when one does not properly understand the meaning of foreknowledge and predestination. Foreknowledge is an attribute of God's omniscience. Primarily, foreknowledge had to do with persons and places, and predestination is centered in God's purposes.

 Foreknowledge contains ONE element, that is, knowing what is going to happen before it takes place. In relation to people and places, it does not contain the element of bringing it to pass or making it happen.

 Predestination, on the other hand, is different from foreknowledge in that it contains TWO elements: One is the prediction (His omniscience) and the other is the act of God (His omnipotence) to bring it to pass. The confusion begins when one inserts meanings into a word which it does not contain. Remember, keep these two words separated as to their meaning.

 Foreknowledge has ONE element, that of foreknowing what is going to happen. Do not add any other meanings to this word, it contains one element only!

 Predestination has TWO elements; one is predicting, the other fulfilling. Again, predestination is related to God's purposes, foreknowledge is related to persons and places. In Verse 29 we are told:

"For whom he (Christ) did foreknow..."

 This simply states that Christ knew ahead of time every person who would trust Him as their Savior. The word carries no other element which would impede the free will of a person to make their own choice. Every Christian who would be saved is foreknown of God. We also see that every Christian is going to be the recipient of what God is going to predestinate.

 "For whom he did foreknow (every Christian) He also did predestinate..."

 He foreknew every person who would be saved. His purpose is seen in predestination as we are predestinated to what? "To be conformed to the image of his son." When will we be conformed to the image of God's Son? At the Rapture, of course! In Philippians 3:20,21 we are told:

 "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."

This is being conformed to the image of His Son.

 In 1 John 3:2 we read: "Beloved, now are we the sons (Greek, TEKNON, children) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear (Rapture) , WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM; for we shall see him as he is."

 Predestination becomes very clear if we do two things: One, take exactly what the Scripture says and believe it. Two, know the difference between foreknowledge and predestination and add no other elements of meaning to them. Foreknowledge has one element while predestination has two.

 In summary: Verse 29 teaches the following according to predestination:

  • WHO: Only the saved are predestinated, not the lost.
  • WHAT: Christians are predestinated at some future time to "be conformed to the image of His Son."
  • WHEN: At the Rapture. Philippians 3:20, 21, and 1 John 3:2.

D. Romans 8:30 - Who Are The Called?

 "Moreover whom He (Christ) did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

 Let us briefly examine each aspect of this verse as we observe the simplicity of God's Word.

 "Moreover whom He did predestinate."

 As we have found, those who are predestinated are only Christians, never the lost to be saved.

 "...them he also called..."

 How are Christians called? The Scripture tells us in Romans 10:17 that:

 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

And we are told in John 6:44:

"No man can come to me, except the father which hath sent me draw him."

 This verse is comparable to that of Romans 8:30. The phrases "them he also called" and "draw him" lead us to ask, "How then does God draw or call the lost?" In John 12:32 we have the answer:

"And I, if I (Christ) be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

 "All men" here does not mean "all men without exception," but "all men without distinction of race, creed, social standing, etc." We are called or drawn by the Word of God which testifies of the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. So then, if "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God," Christ will draw men by the hearing of the Word. This is the preaching of the Gospel:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he arose again the third day according to the Scriptures." - 1 Corinthians 15:1,3,4

 Christ never calls us outside of His Word (Romans 10:17). The called are those who have established His Word by accepting Christ as their personal Savior.

"...them he also justified..."

All are declared righteous upon receiving Christ by faith. As it says in Romans 5:1,

 "Therefore, being justified (declared righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

 And those who are justified the Scripture tells us..

 "...them he also glorified."

 Notice the use of past tense here. This is a positional truth. God looks upon Christians as though they were already in Heaven. Notice the past tense of Ephesians 2:6.

 "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" - Ephesians 2:6

 In summary: Romans 8:30 simply teaches that the ones who were the object of God's predestination were already saved. For "whom he did predestinate," these are the "called, justified, and glorified."

 No one is ever predestinated to be saved. You must, personally, realize you have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God sent Christ to pay for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) so we do not have to pay that debt ourselves in Hell. If one will only believe in (trust) Jesus Christ as his Savior, God will give him eternal life.

 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." - 1 John 5:13

 It should be recognized that all of the Old Testament prophecies could be stated as being predestinated. Other words synonymous with "predestinate" would be "foretelling, prophecy, predicting and etc." For God to predict the future of people, places and nations, he would have to foreknow the future.

 We are grateful to God for His precious Word. There are thousands of prophecies where synonymous words are used instead of "predestinate." I have limited our study only to the four places where the actual word appears in the Bible--due to its misuse. Expanding any further into prophecy would constitute a book, or books, on that great subject!"

 It all boils down to one thing--self-righteousness! Those who hold to this false doctrine believe "way down deep" that God saw a little spark of goodness in them, and that is why they are the ones "chosen to be saved." They are the Pharisees of today!

 "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." -  Psalm 118:8

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