In the Mediterranean port of ancient Joppa, there lived a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity (see Acts 9:36).

Dorcas was a woman known for “good works.”

Paul, in Ephesians 2:10, says this is to be the same for every believer – we were created in Christ Jesus for “good works” (because we are His workmanship … His poetry).

The question we must answer is what are these good works and how do we go about doing them?

In this expositional sermon, Nathan examines Ephesians 2:10 and explains that the good works Paul refers to is not about a list of activities or “dos and don’ts” – but rather is the life and love of Christ Himself.

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Key Passage: Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 2:8-10 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

A Simple Bible Study Resource

Created in Christ Jesus

  • Creation Itself Was Created Through Christ For Christ
    • Colossians 1:16 – For by [en – in, by] him all things were created [ktizo – verb], in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
    • Romans 1:20 – For since the creation [ktisis – noun] of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [poiema], even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…
  • Christians are (Re)Created In Christ For Christ
    • From death unto life!
    • Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created [ktizo – verb] in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation [ktisis – noun]. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
      • I am a brand new creation IN Christ!

For Good Works

  • For (epi) – preposition meaning “upon” or “on”
    • Sometimes used to declare purpose, goal, or result – “for the purpose of”
    • Sometimes it can be used (with the dative, as here) as a “marker of basis for a state of being, action, or result” (BDAG)
    • “So good works are not the source but the goal [result] of the new relationship between humanity and God. Salvation is not “by works” but “for works.”” (Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians, vol. 42, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1990), 114.)
  • So salvation and being God’s workmanship (poema) are not achieved by works … but this new life does result in good works (there is an evidence of new life)
  • Matthew 7:17-18 – [Jesus speaking]: Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
    • If I am a bad tree, no matter how much goodness I try to accomplish, only badness results.

Which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them

  • We do NOT “work” in the good works … we “walk” in them
  • Good works is the fruit (outflow) of the saved life of a believer

What Are the Good Works?

Believers are called to do good/good works:

  • 1 Thess 5:15 – See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
  • Galatians 6:10 – So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
  • Colossians 1:10 – so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
  • 2 Thess 2:16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
  • 1 Timothy 6:17-18 – As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, …
  • Titus 2:7 – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,
  • Titus 2:14 – [Jesus], who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
  • Titus 3:8 – The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
  • Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
  • – Also see Acts 9:36; Romans 2:7, 13:3; 1 Timothy 2:10, 5:10, 5:25, 6:18; Titus 3:14;

The Opposite: Works of the Flesh/Death

  • Galatians 5:19-21 – Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • Also see: Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19; John 3:19
  • Romans 14:23 – For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
    • So even “good” things, if not sourced by the Spirit of God (as we live in faith), is still sin.

Good Works / Works of Life

  • Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit [work] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
  • Good works is not a list of dos and don’ts but the life of Jesus
  • In one word, the “good works” we are called to walk in is LOVE 
    • Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
    • 1 Corinthians 16:14 – Let all that you do be done in love.

Good Works Are to be the Natural and Continual Outflow of My Life

  • I don’t create, go after, produce “good works” – I rest in Jesus and my life naturally starts to spill out good works
  • But the “good works” is not the focus of my life … the source of the goodness (Jesus) is
    • If I go after “good works” I will miss Jesus … but if I go after Jesus, He will automatically produce good works in and through my life
  • Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

What happens if bad stuff happens in my life?

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.

Be a Dorcas

Acts 9:36 – Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.


  1. How much of your Christian life is a “have to” rather than the natural outflow of His life and love?
    • Exchange your list of dos and don’ts for a lifestyle where you can’t help yourself
  2. Does the world see your good works … if so, who gets credit (you or God)?
    • Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  3. Would you be a Dorcas – who is known for being full of good works and acts of charity?

In Our Next Study Together …

I invite you to join me on this journey from the book of Ephesians to discover God’s eternal purpose, His plan for your life, and learn how to practically live out an abundant and fruitful Christian life. 

  • The focus of our next study: Ephesians 2:11
  • We will examine the overview of our new section (Ephesians 2:11-22), specifically focusing on how the Gentiles get to be heirs with the Jews in Ephesians 2:11-13.
  • I encourage you to read through Ephesians a couple of times this week and focus specifically on Ephesians 2:11-22.

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About The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series

The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series in Ephesians is a Christ-centered practical in-depth verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Join NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) as he expositionally preaches from this incredible book – which will help you grow in your faith, gain greater intimacy with Jesus, and understand how to study God’s Word.

Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. Deeper Christian equips Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.

About NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson)

NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps Christians discover and experience a passionate love for God and His Word so that they can grow in their faith, live victorious lives, share the Gospel boldly, grow in their intimacy with Jesus, and transform the world through the indwelling life of Christ.
Read more about him here.

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