Ephesians: God’s Spiritual People Paul’s Letter to the Church in Ephesus
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Paul’s Letter to the Church in Ephesus
Introduction: Rich in Christ, A Study of EphesiansI. Blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:1-23) Lesson 1: Spiritual Treasures in Christ (1:1-14) Lesson 2: Prayer for Spiritual Insight (1:15-23)II. Transformed by Christ (Eph. 2:1–3:21) Lesson 3: Spiritual Life (2:1-10) Lesson 4: Spiritual Unity (2:11-12) Lesson 5: Spiritual Mission (3:1-13) Lesson 6: Prayer for Spiritual Power (3:14-21)III. Blessed in Christ (Eph. 4:1–6:24) Lesson 7: Spiritual Church (4:1-16) Lesson 8: Spiritual Practices (4:17-32) Lesson 9: Spiritual Walk (5:1-21) Lesson 10: Spiritual Relationships (5:22–6:9) Lesson 11: Spiritual Warfare (6:10-24)
I. Introduction (1:1-2)
A. The Human Author (v. 1a)
B.The First Readers (v. 1b)Paul felt a need to introduce himself. If God led you to describe yourself, what words or phrases would you use?To what group was this letter written and how did Paul feel about them?
II. Blessings of Salvation in Christ (1:3-14)A. Introduction to Spiritual Blessings (v. 3)
After the formalities, Paul launched directly into praising God. What attributes did he name? Choose one attribute of God and tell why it’s important to you personally.
Compare the pilgrimage of faith introduced in verse 3 to the computer illustration. What are other illustrations that compare our lifetime pilgrimage of faith to “every spiritual blessing”?
How does being chosen for salvation by the God of the universe make you feel?
Does election do away with the need to proclaim the gospel? with human responsibility? Why or why not?
Why are we “holy and blameless in His sight”?
What are the blessings of redemption and forgiveness according to verse 7?
What is the final purpose for God’s master plan (v. 10)?
According to these verses, what is your purpose?
Describe a time that the security of the believer enabled you to do the right thing for the right reason.
What evidences do you see in your life that suggest the Holy Spirit is working in and through you?
Lesson 2: Prayer for Spiritual Insight (Eph. 1:15-23)I. Prayer of Thanksgiving (1:15-16)On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest, how would you rate your connection to Jesus Christ, the source of spiritual power for Christians? 1 5 10
A. Reason for the Prayer (v. 15)Under most circumstances why is a prayer of praise the best way to begin communication with God?What percent of your normal prayer time do you spend in praise for God’s blessings? petitions for yourself? intercession for others? What among the Ephesian believers thrilled Paul the most? Are you nurturing these qualities in yourself? in your church?
B. Persistence of the Prayer (v. 16)Are your prayers for those for whom you are genuinely concerned different from prayers for those mentioned toyou in passing?What makes it possible for you to sincerely thank God for blessing others even when you are suffering? How did Paul model this attitude for us?
II. Prayer of Intercession (vv. 17-23)A. To Know and Experience God (v. 17)Note the four prayer requests Paul made. What did he want to see accomplished in these Ephesian believers?What would be the effect on your attitude in prayer if you first acknowledged God’s character and attributes?What is unique about “wisdom and revelation” in a Christian’s life?
B. To Know the Hope of God’s Calling (v. 18a)How would you interpret Paul’s prayer that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”?How does biblical “hope” differ from the hope we often express in regard to our everyday activities?
C. To Know Believers Are God’s Glorious Inheritance (v. 18b)Have you ever inherited something you had not expected to receive? If so, what made it special to you?Name some of the experiences you enjoy now that you have inherited because of your salvation.Does the assurance of a heavenly inheritance motivate you to serve Christ? If so, give one or more examples.
D. To Know God’s Great Power (vv. 19-23) 1. Description of God’s Power (v. 19)How does God manifest His power in the world as well as in the lives of individuals?
2. Demonstration of God’s Power (v. 20)What amazing truth was Paul revealing about God’s power when he referred to Christ’s resurrection and His position now in the heavens?
3. Christ’s Exalted Authority (vv. 21)What can you learn about Christ on the basis of Paul’s description of Him in this verse?How would you parallel Paul’s list of rulers, authorities, and powers in his day to comparable persons in our day?
4. Christ’s Headship (vv. 22-23)In verse 22 Paul quoted Psalm 8:6. What does this Old Testament quotation say to us about Christ’s mighty power?How did Paul describe the church?The church is often called “the body of Christ.” If Christ is the “head over everything for the church” (v. 22), what glorious responsibility does this place on the church?
Lesson 3: Spiritual Life (Eph. 2:1-10)Is the concept of spiritual transformation difficult for the average “good person” to accept? Why is it dangerous to try to characterize our deeds as “good” or “bad” in regard to our relationship with God?
B. Manipulated from Without (v. 2)Paul began this new section of his letter with a stark contrast between death and life. Why do you think he used this analogy?How did Paul underscore the hopeless state in which the unbeliever lives? Who is “the ruler of the atmospheric domain” (v. 2)?
D. Under God’s Wrath (v. 3b)What was the death blow that Paul, the former Pharisee, delivered to those who placed their confidence in their religious heritage (Eph. 2:3)?
II. New Life (2:4-10)A. God’s Great Mercy and Grace (vv. 4-5)What amazing characteristic of God did Paul emphasize in verse 4?How would you describe the difference between God’s grace and His mercy? Reflect on your journey from spiritual death to life, and recall some obvious evidences of God’s mercy extended to you.
B. Resurrection Life (v. 6)What added dimension to Christ’s resurrection victory over death did Paul emphasize in Ephesians 2:6? How does this differ from the effort of many to merely turn over a new leaf to bring about a change in their lifestyles?
C. God’s Ultimate Purpose (v. 7)What is God’s ultimate purpose in eternity in regard to those who have been redeemed by the blood of His Son?Whom does God consider the trophies of His grace?Imagine this glorious scene in heaven. What amazes you most about God’s grace?
D. God’s Gift (vv. 8-9)When you witness a person’s initial surrender to God through faith in Christ, do you reflect on your own salvation experience? Consider the words “grace,”“saved,” and “faith” in verse 8. Show how each one meshes in order to bring about the miracle of the new birth.Why do you think Paul added “not from works, so that no one can boast” in verse 9?
E. God’s Creation (v. 10)Why do you think verse 10 is a vital part of all that Paul had said about this great salvation?What does the fact that God “created [us] in Christ Jesus for good works” say about any ministry or service we may perform? Are you ready to listen for His direction toward the path of “good works” He has planned for you?
Lesson 4: Spiritual Unity (Eph. 2:11-22)How do true believers feel toward those who may have differences in terms of language, culture, appearance, and the like?In the minds of first-century Jews, how did they feel about Gentiles? How did they come to have this erroneous attitude?
I. Alienated from God and His People (2:11-12)Identify ways these Gentile believers needed to remember their former lives.In contrast, what did they now have in place of these barriers?
II. United with God and His People (vv. 13-18) A. Brought Near in Christ (vv. 13-14)What did Paul mean when he reminded the Ephesians that once they were “far away” from God and now they are “brought near”?What is the difference between “peace with God” and “the peace of God”? How is Christ “our peace”?What was “the dividing wall of hostility” that separated Jews from Gentiles in Paul’s day?
B. A New People in Christ (vv. 15-16)What religious regulations did some of the Jewish believers try to impose on Gentile believers? Why did this anger Paul?How did Christ do “away with the law of the commandments in regulations”? What was His intention by sweeping away these legal barriers that violated the true spirit of God’s Word?
C. Access to God Through Christ (vv. 17-18)What is different about you because you have made peace with God through your faith in Christ?What amazing truth about God’s nature did Paul present in verse 18?What reassurance did Paul give the Gentiles in regard to their access to the Father?
III. Participants in God’s Purpose (vv. 19-22)A. Fellow Citizens and Members of God’s Household (v. 19)Paul saw a potential danger that could have developed in the church because of the inclusion of both Gentile and Jewish believers. How could a similar situation exist in a church fellowship today?Can you identify someone in your church who may have been classified by some as a foreigner or stranger but who later became a vital and valuable member of the fellowship? Compare that experience to what may have been happening in the Ephesian church.
B. A Holy Sanctuary (vv. 20-22)If Christ is indeed the cornerstone of the church, how should His placement affect the relationship between the members of the family?How did God use apostles and prophets in the early stages of building His church? In what way do God’s messengers today function as prophets in the continual building of the church?
Lesson 5: Spiritual Mission (Eph. 3:1-13)I. Administration of the Divine Mystery (vv. 1-6) A. Imprisoned for the Mystery (v. 1) What was the reason for the prayer Paul was about to offer for these Ephesian believers?Why was God’s inclusion of Gentiles in His offer of salvation so amazing to Paul?How did Paul view his imprisonment?
B. Grace of the Mystery (vv. 2-5)Paul shared the testimony of his conversion regularly among those to whom he ministered. Why was the account of his conversion unusual among the Gentile believers in Ephesus?Why did Paul want it clearly understood that he received knowledge of this great mystery “by revelation”?How were the prophets and apostles of the New Testament era able to understand this mystery more clearly than those in the Old Testament?
C. Heart of the Mystery (vv. 6-7) What is the difference between a mystery in the biblical sense and a mystery we hear or read about from human experience? What three amazing facts made up this “mystery” (v. 6)? What is the theological basis for accepting believers from varied ethnic, cultural, and social backgrounds as brothers and sisters in Christ?
II. Commission of the Divine Mission (vv. 8-10)A. Proclaim the Gospel to Gentiles (v. 8)What evidence do we see in Paul’s life of the power of God to transform a person who receives Christ as Savior?What did Paul mean by the privilege that was his to proclaim “the incalculable riches of Christ” (v. 8)?
B. Proclaim Redemption’s Result for Gentiles (v. 9)How far back in the mind and heart of God did this incredible plan of salvation reach? (See 1:4-6.)What was an additional responsibility God had given Paul concerning the proclamation of this mystery? Why was it not enough merely to stand in awe before this gift of God to undeserving people?
III. Aspects of the Divine Mission (vv. 10-13)A. Divine Wisdom (v. 10)What do you see implied in Paul’s description of God’s wisdom as “multi-faceted” (“manifold,” KJV; NIV)?How would God’s wisdom be revealed “to the rulers and authorities in the heavens” (v. 10)? Who were “the rulers and authorities in the heavens”?
C. Divine Blessings (v. 12)How did Paul validate the role of the church in God’s plan (v. 11)?Now that our lives have been transformed by the Spirit of God, what privileges are ours?
D. Divine Perspective (v. 13)What was the primary purpose for Paul’s imprisonment? What “afflictions” do you think Paul had in mind?How were Paul’s afflictions the “glory” of his fellow Ephesian believers?
A. Proper Attitude (v. 14)If standing was the common posture for praying in Bible times, what did kneeling in prayer indicate?Paul said his praying was “before the Father.” How did addressing God as Father affect Paul’s attitude toward the Almighty God?
B. Proper Recognition (v. 15)How does Paul describe the extent of God’s Fatherhood?Did Paul mean that every created human being is automatically a part of the Father’s spiritual family? In what sense did Paul consider God as the Father of all?
II. Aspiration for the Saints (vv. 16-19)A. Prayer to Receive Spiritual Strength (vv. 16-17a)Paul included several requests in this prayer, each one seeming to flow out of the other. Why do you think his first request was for inner spiritual strength?Paul referred to “the inner man” in two other passages (Rom. 7:21; 2 Cor. 4:16). How would you identify “the inner man” in keeping with Paul’s statement here?Considering that Paul was writing to believers, what kind of faith was he praying for in 3:17a?
B. Prayer to Comprehend Christ’s Love (vv. 17b-19a)What happens in a church fellowship when its members are “rooted and firmly established in love” (v. 17)?How are we “able to comprehend with all the saints”the magnitude of God’s love? What did Paul mean when he said that the Messiah’s love “surpasses knowledge” (v. 19)?
C. Prayer to be Filled with God’s Fullness (v. 19b)What do you think Paul meant by “the fullness of God”?When can a Christian anticipate experiencing in totality “the fullness of God”?
III. Assurance of God’s Abilities (v. 20)What do you think prompted this doxology with which Paul brought his prayer to a close?What does this ascription of praise tell us about God?
IV. Ascription of God’s Glory (v. 21)What is the ultimate goal of our existence as God’s people bonded together in His body, the church?Name ways all believers can bring glory to God through the church.
Call for Unity (vv. 1-3)How did Paul see himself as a “prisoner in the Lord” (v. 1)?In what way are all Christians called of God?How do we “walk worthy” of this calling (v. 1)?
B. Basis of Unity (vv. 4-6)Even though all believers have differences now and then, unity depends on what basic principle that never changes?How does the Holy Spirit mold a diverse body of believers into a spirit of unity? In what two ways can “one baptism” be interpreted (v. 5)?
II. The Church’s Variety (vv. 7-12)A. Gifts to Believers (vv. 7-10)Why does Christ give gifts to the members of His body, the church?In verse 7 what kind of “grace” did Christ give to His children?Where do you see Christ’s incarnation and resurrection implied in verses 9-10?
B. Gift of Church Leaders (vv. 11-12)Name the differences between Paul’s references to spiritual gifts given to members of the church in 1 Corinthians 12–14, Romans 12:3-8 and the offices referred to in Ephesians 4:11.How do the ministries of evangelists, pastors, and teachers differ?With what two responsibilities did Christ charge these particular church leaders?
III. The Church’s Standard (vv. 13-16)If spiritual unity is maintained among believers, what two areas did Paul indicate should get special attention?When are God’s people “childlike” and when are they “childish”?How did Paul’s analogy of the physical body provide a clear picture of the healthy functioning of the church? (4:16)
Old Way of Life (vv. 17-19)How does the Scripture passage for this session relate to Paul’s earlier admonition: “walk worthy of the calling you have received” (v. 1)?Why was it so difficult for the Christians in Ephesus to live consistently by the teachings of Christ?How did Paul add a special sense of urgency to his warning in verse 17?
B. New Life in Christ (vv. 20-24)What was the amazing contrast Paul introduced in verse 20?What is the difference between “learning Christ” and “learning about Christ”?How do Christians continue to hear about Christ and be “taught by Him”?
II. Outward Expression (vv. 25-32)A. Speaking the Truth (v. 25)In this first of the five commands Paul gave the Ephesians concerning how to live the new life in Christ, he dealt with lying. What happens within a body of believers when we are less than truthful in what we say to each other? Why do you think Paul began with this admonition?
B. Controlling Anger (vv. 26-27)Why is out of control anger one of the most harmful reactions believers can express toward each other?How would you define constructive anger? Why should we not “let the sun go down” on our anger (v. 26)? Are we to take this verse literally?
C. Doing Honest Work (v. 28)Compare Paul’s words in 4:28 with 2 Thessalonians 3:10. What was Paul’s work ethic?What is the obvious Christian principle behind doing honest work instead of stealing?
D. Using Beneficial Speech (vv. 29-30) Why is “rotten talk” or profanity so much a part of the world’s conversation? How would you evaluate the explanation of professing Christians who regularly use foul language and excuse it by saying that “the Lord knows my heart, and He knows I do not mean it”?Given the fact that Satan will cause a Christian in an off-guarded moment to utter hurtful words to or about someone else, what can we do to overcome this temptation?
E. Acting with Kindness (vv. 31-32)How would you describe the six specific sins of the tongue Paul listed in verse 31?From verse 32 identify the only sure way to prove that one has put away the evil dispositions, words, and actions Paul described in this passage?
Walk in Love (vv. 1-2)On what basis did Paul insist that believers practice kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to one another?Compare and contrast the love of an earthly father for his child with the love of the Heavenly Father for His children.Love for His Father motivated Christ to give Himself for us. In what ways and to what extent can we imitate the Lord Jesus in what He has done for us?
B. Walk in Purity (vv. 3-5)Why were the three sins Paul mentioned—sexual immorality, impurity, and greed—such important teachings for the Ephesian believers? How does Satan use different tactics in every generation to tempt Christians to become involved in these very sins?Why is “giving thanks” an effective deterrent to these sins of the tongue?
II. Walk in Light (vv. 6-14)How do some cast the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer in a false light?What assurance do Christians have when they sin?What is the best way Christians expose the evil conduct of those who live in moral darkness?
III. Walk in Wisdom (vv. 15-21)Why did Paul urge his readers to “pay careful attention” to the way they lived their daily lives? What are some specific ways in which we can be on guard against Satan and his subtle efforts to interrupt our walk with Christ?What is the best way to determine how God wants you to use your time during any given day?What does it mean for a Christian to “be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18)?
Responsibility of Wives (vv. 22-24)B. Responsibilities of Husbands (vv. 25-33)Why is Paul’s word to wives one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses in the Bible?Paul carefully described the relationship of a godly husband toward his wife. What should be the nature of the wife’s response to her husband in light of this analogy?How can a self-centered husband abuse Paul’s exhortation to wives? How can wives miss the point of submission as Paul presented it?
B. Responsibilities of Husbands (vv. 25-33)How does agape describe the husband’s love for his wife? How is agape superior to family affection or sexual passion? What example does Christ’s love for the church set for the husband?What specific things did Christ do that made His Bride, the church, presentable? What is the basic lesson for the husband in this analogy?How is it possible for husbands to love their wives “as their own bodies”? How does this compare with Christ’s love for His church?
II. Children and Parents (6:1-4)A. Responsibility of Children (vv. 1-3)Why do you think Paul was dealing only with children whose parents were believers? How did Jesus deal with children and unbelieving parents in a family? (See Matt. 10:21.)How do children obey their parents “in the Lord”? Paul supported his statement to the children that it was “right” for them to obey their parents. How would you explain the promise attached to the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12)?
B. Responsibility of Parents (v. 4)When Paul spoke specifically to “fathers,” was he absolving mothers of the admonition not to stir up anger in their children unnecessarily? If not, why didn’t he say “parents”?How can parents unwittingly “stir up anger” in their children? Explain why this approach proves to be unhealthy both socially and spiritually?What distinction would you draw between the “training” and the “instruction” of children?
III. Masters and Slaves (vv. 5-9)A. Responsibility of Slaves (vv. 5-8)What is the difference between our concept of family and the New Testament term household in regard to slaves and masters?In verse 5 Paul specified “human” masters in his instructions to slaves. What was the one goal a Christian slave should have in regard to his human master?How does Paul’s instruction that slaves serve their masters “with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart” translate into the employer-employee relationship today?
B. Responsibility of Masters (v. 9)How does God rank individuals, whether they are employers or employees? What is absent in heavenly justice that was prevalent in Roman law?
Spiritual Equipment Required (vv. 10-13)How do the devil’s “tactics” (6:11; “wiles,” KJV; “schemes,” NIV) today compare with those faced by the first-century Ephesian believers?Why did Paul insist that believers “put on the full armor of God”? What two truths are reflected here?What is reflected in Paul’s mention of “rulers . . . authorities . . . and world powers of this darkness” in his description of our Enemy?
B. Spiritual Equipment Described (vv. 14-17)Why do you think Paul spent considerable time dealing with the inevitability of warfare for Christians before he described the armor?In using the military dress and equipment of the Roman soldier, what do you think was his major concern regarding the individual Christian’s warfare?
II. Prayer in Spiritual Warfare (vv. 18-20)What did Paul command concerning our prayers that would assure their effectiveness?Paul urged the Ephesians to pray “at all times.” To the Thessalonians he said, “Pray constantly” (1 Thess. 5:17). What did he mean?How can Christians fail to “stay alert” in our praying? How does this affect us negatively in our daily spiritual warfare?
III. Concluding Remarks (vv. 21-24)What were some characteristics Tychicus obviously possessed that caused Paul to consider him a “dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord” (6:21)?Why do you think Paul felt it necessary to have Tychicus tell the recipients of the letter precisely how Paul was faring and what he was doing?What special encouragement did Paul wish to leave with his readers?