In every letter Paul gives a grand statement of the gospel, always stated a bit differently for the context of that letter. Chapter 2 is that chapter in Ephesians.
Paul reminds his readers what they were according to the “flesh” alone.
You were dead because of your offenses and sins! . . . We used to do what our flesh and our minds were urging us to do. What was the result? We too were subject to wrath in our natural state, just like everyone else. (2:1b, 3)
So, then, remember this! In human terms — that is, in your “flesh” — you are “Gentiles.” You are the people whom the so-called circumcision refer to as the so-called uncircumcision. . . . Well, once upon a time you were separated from the king. You were detached from the community of Israel. You were foreigners to the covenants which contained the promise. There you were, in the world with no hope and no god! (2:11-12)
Before they came to Christ, the Ephesian church, which must have been largely Gentile, were dead, fleshly, destined for punishment, locked out from the promises and blessings of the Jews, without hope.
Can you remember when the same could have been said about you?
Then . . . because of the great grace of God, not because of anything we had done, lest we boast (2:8-9), we were reborn. This idea of being new birth is very important to Paul at this point. He punctuates that idea twice in this chapter with creation and resurrection language:
He made us alive with the king. . . . He raised us up with him, and made us sit with him — in the heavenly places in King Jesus. (2:5-6)
The point of doing all this was to create, in him, one new human being out of the two [Jews and Gentiles], so making peace. God was reconciling both of us to himself in a single body, though the cross, by killing the enmity in him. (2:15b-16)
With rebirth the Ephesians are not the same person. They died hopeless objects of wrath; they were reborn children of the King. They died alienated Gentiles; they were reborn part of a greater humanity that does not see ethnicity and the hostility that too often comes with such differences. They are no longer defined by their flesh. They are new creations.
Can you remember when you were very aware that the same could be said about you?
That is the gospel.