“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4).
The word “but” sets forth a great contrast. Paul has just reminded the Ephesians of man’s sin problem. The Gentiles had this problem (Ephesians 2:2). The Jews had this problem (Ephesians 2:3). However, God is rich in mercy. The word “mercy” (eleos) refers to “outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it” (Vine’s); “kindness or goodwill toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them” (Thayer). The reason that He extends mercy to man is because of His love for man.
“even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6).
Man is saved by grace. The word “grace” (charis) is used in a variety of ways in the Bible. Here it refers to “the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds” (Vine’s); “good-will, loving-kindness, favor… contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved… the New Testament writers use charis pre-eminently of the kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and grants to the sinners the pardon of their offenses, and bids them accept eternal salvation through Christ” (Thayer). Grace and mercy are somewhat equated in context.
Man has the opportunity for spiritual life through the power of God. A comparison is made to emphasize this point: Even as, God restored physical life to Jesus (and this resurrection was for our benefit cf. Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 3:21), so also, God has the power to restore spiritual life (cf. Ephesians 1:19-20; 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12-13).
It is according to God’s heavenly plans that this spiritual resurrection is for both Jews and Gentiles. They sit together (in one body or church – Ephesians 2:16; 4:4 cf. 1 :22-23).
“that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
His desire is to show, one day to man, the exceeding riches of His grace. This same book speaks of “the riches of glory of His inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18). The inheritance is in heaven (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-4). He wants man to be a part of the beauty of that realm.
These blessings are found “in Christ.” In truth, every spiritual blessing is found “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Man gets into Christ by baptism (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-28).
This section of scripture is not emphasizing the conditions for salvation (and there are conditions – Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 1:3, 7 cf. Galatians 3:26-28; Acts 2:37-38; Hebrews 5:8-9). This section of scripture is emphasizing the source of salvation. The source is God. “Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to Me; There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary” (Song: Years I Spent in Vanity by William R. Newell).