The term ‘grace’ covers all of God’s dealings with his creatures. It is a very comprehensive term; sometimes it refers to his attitudes and other times it refers to his actions. Many definitions have been given of grace but they are inadequate because they only focus on one or two aspects of it.
God is gracious to unfallen creatures. It was God’s kindness that brought the angels into existence and his upholding grace that kept them from falling when Satan rebelled. God showed grace to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There was grace in the covenant of works, because the blessing promised, that of eternal life, was more than Adam could have merited.
God is gracious to fallen mankind. He is gracious to them in his providence, by what is termed ‘common grace’ in which he gives good things to them to enjoy. And he is gracious to them in salvation, as we have been thinking about in our studies so far in Ephesians.
Grace involved each person of the Trinity (the election and adoption of the Father, the redemption and inheritance of the Son, and the sealing and earnest of the Spirit), is experienced in our Christian lives and meets our needs as sinners.
Grace will be shown to restored creatures for ever. There is an interesting use of an adjective in 2:7. If we look back to 1:7, forgiveness and redemption are the riches of God’s grace, whereas in 2:7 heaven is described as the ‘exceeding riches of his grace’. Is Paul indicating that the blessings we will experience in heaven are greater than those we received as sinners? The answer may be the distinction between our partial subjective experience now and our fuller subjective experience then. Imagine the difference between the experience of a slave leaving Egypt by God’s redeeming action and the experience of the same slave entering Canaan to enjoy God’s inheritance.