4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Verses one to three describe our horrible past, verses four to six demonstrate our blessed present status with God, and verse seven shows how God will display His magnificent grace in succeeding generations.
Verses four to 10 present God’s grace toward us by positional truth. God gives us life (vv. 4-5), raises us with Christ (v. 6a), and seats us with Him in the heavenly places (vv. 6b-10).
Having stated that we were the “children of wrath” in the previous verse, Paul here made a right-about-face statement—“But God.” These words are a sharp contrast to the first three verses and are emphatic in the Greek.
There was a time when we were hopeless before God; we were dead spiritually, but God stepped in and saved us by Christ. Everything changed because of who God is in His character and what He did to save our souls.
Against the miserable hopelessness of the non-Christian, God radically directed His grace toward man by the exercise of four attributes or actions toward us:
who is rich in mercy [undeserved kindness],
The Bible describes God as a person of “mercy.” Mercy is God’s undeserved grace toward the sinner.
God is “rich” in this kind of mercy (Ex 34:6; Ps 103:8; Jonah 4:2; Mic 7:18). “Rich” means wealthy, abundant in resources. God is very wealthy when it comes to His mercy (Lam 3:22, 23).
because of His great love with which He loved us,
God’s mercy comes from His “great love” for sinners. Love is the exuberant ground for God’s saving us. Both words for love here refer to God’s one-way love for us. He loves us whether we reciprocate or not. He loves out of His capacity, not on the basis of our response to His love. God’s love is not conditioned on our love for Him (Jer 31:3; Ro 5:5, 8).
Love is more than compassion. Love is active generosity. God is in common cause with the objects of His love. He interposes into the dire situation of sinful man to rescue him from his desperate state.
Mercy flows from love.
Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. God has every right to condemn men because of their sin. However, He does not give tit-for-tat. Instead of executing that wrath, He extends mercy that comes from His love. God does not withhold His mercy toward us even though we are victims of our own poor choices.
God extends His mercy toward us not because of our goodness but because of something in God Himself. Love and mercy reside in Him.