Ephesians Bible Study Weekly Lessons by Gustavo Karakey Introduction Welcome to our Ephesians Bible Study.

This document contains lesson plans for a ten-week Bible Study. Steps to Prepare for Your Study The following steps will be helpful in getting the most from your Ephesians Bible Study: 1. If you are leading this study on Ephesians, I would encourage you to complete our Guide for Bible Study Leaders. It provides a helpful orientation to our lesson plans as well giving you some important guidelines for maximizing the impact of your Bible study. 2. Read an introduction to Ephesians in a study Bible, Bible dictionary or one-volume commentary (you can check out my Bible Study Tools page for some of my recommendations on these valuable resources.) 3. Study the Ephesians outline. Notice where the natural divisions occur. You can view an online version here: Ephesians Outline (Online) or download and print your own copy from our Print Lessons page. Look under Ephesians Bible Study. 4. Read Ephesians through in one sitting. 5. Keep a notebook handy with pencil to jot down questions, ideas and applications as you study Ephesians. 6. Read the short background information for Ephesians below. 7. Optional: To really jump ahead in your Ephesians Bible Study, complete our How to Study a Whole Book of the Bible lesson using the letter to the Ephesians as your subject. BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR EPHESIANS Paul's Ministry in Ephesus Paul first visited Ephesus on his return from his second missionary journey (Acts 18:21). He promised to return shortly thereafter, a promise he kept with his third missionary foray (Acts 18:23; 19:1-20:1), a majority of which was in Ephesus. Paul spent more than two years in the city, preaching the gospel to Jew and Gentile, ministering with power and building up the church there. His farewell speech to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17-38) www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 1

summarizes his great success while in Ephesus and stands as one of the most poignant portions of the New Testament. Occasion for The Letter It is believed Paul wrote Ephesians during his imprisonment in Rome (61-62 AD). On that occasion, Paul was returning Onesimus (a runaway slave) to his Christian master, Philemon, who lived in Colosse. The returning group would have traveled through Ephesus on their way home. Paul took this opportunity to craft the letter to Philemon, as well as Colossians and Ephesians and sent them along with the returning group. Main Themes Ephesians is unlike other Pauline letters in that it is NOT addressed to a particular situation or problem. (We see the particularity in the divisions mentioned in 1 Corinthians or the compromise of the gospel which Paul fought against in Galatians.) There is a breathtaking and cosmic quality to the themes that are covered in Ephesians. Here we are treated to God's universal plan which he had purposed from the foundation of the world. This plan, which Paul calls a "mystery" is that the Gentiles and Jews would become one body, the temple in which God would dwell, the body of Christ united, the church. In the first three chapters we are treated to the way in which God joined Jew and Gentile into one glorious body. This is a grand picture of the church, replete with the sinful past we left behind and the spiritual blessings that are now accrued to every believer. Once Paul has established our position in Christ, he then makes an appeal on what it means to walk worthy of our calling in Christ. These chapters are filled with moral exhortations to lead us to the goal of Christ-like maturity. Paul ends his letter with his famous chapter on the armor of God, again demonstrating that our maturity is possible if we will but use our spiritual blessings. Important Cultural and Historical Background for Ephesians In order to understand the radical nature of the message of Ephesians or even some of Paul's harsh language toward Gentiles, it is important to provide some cultural and historical context for the Jew / Gentile relationship in the ancient world. From the perspective of a first-century Israelite, the world was divided between those who belonged to the covenant community of God (the Jews) and those that did not (the Gentiles). Indeed, the entire Old Testament reflected God's election, love, blessing and discipline for the chosen nation of Israel. In addition, Gentile culture was known for two egregious sins that ran counter to all Jewish sensibility, that is, idolatry and sexual immorality. In the Jewish mind, to be a Gentile was to be a sinner in the worst possible way. www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 2

Thus for Paul to say that God had purposed from the beginning to bring together both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one body in Christ was a rather shocking affirmation. To be certain, this idea had been percolating in the Old Testament (Rahab the Canaanite and Ruth the Moabitess are notable examples of Gentiles being grafted into God's covenant community and even becoming part Jesus' messianic line). However, no one could have foreseen what the Christian church eventually became within the pages of the New Testament. (This caused quite a bit of stress between Jewish and Gentile Christians and required a major readjustment in perspective from both sides (see Galatians, Romans, Colossians and Acts 15 for example). But the view of Gentiles outside of those who had professed faith in Christ still remained nearly unchanged. Paul's letters are especially filled with references to our former (sinful) way of life, in reference to Gentiles. His descriptions of Gentile attitudes, speech and deeds (clearly seen here in Ephesians) serve various purposes: 1) They remind Gentile Christians of their former way of life; 2) They warn of behavior to avoid; and 3) They contrast with the moral and ethical excellence that should now characterize believers in Christ. Online Access to the Ephesians Bible Study This study is available in an online version using the links below: • • • • • • • • • • Overview of Ephesians Bible Study Week 1 – Our spiritual blessings in Christ (1:3-14) Week 2 – Praying for wisdom and revelation for the church (1:15-23) Week 3 – Were were dead but are now alive through faith in Christ (2:1-22) Week 4 – "The mystery" hidden for all ages (3:1-13) Week 5 - Paul prays for strength in the inner man (3:14-21) Week 6 – Walk in a manner worthy of your calling (4:1-16) Week 7 – Put on a new self (4:17-32) Week 8 – Imitate Christ by walking in love (5:1-20) Week 9 – The domestic code in Ephesians (6:1-9)

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Week 10 – Put on the full armor of God for protection (6:10-17)

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Week 1 – Our Spiritual Blessings in Christ (1:3-14) Introduction Everyone loves to receive gifts. As children, opening those Christmas presents was perhaps the most exciting time of the year! (Yes, somewhere down inside if we were Christian we knew Jesus was the most important part of Christmas, but boy were those toys hard to beat.) And as for birthdays, well that was almost more special since we were the guest of honor and didn't need to share our gifts with others. (Though mom always insisted we did!) Ephesians begin with a lavish list of gifts that belong to every believer in Christ. The list itself is quite overwhelming and forms part of an extended praise by Paul for how richly God has blessed each of us. Believe it or not, Eph 1:3-14 represents one single glorious sentence in the original Greek! Read Eph 1:1-14 Paul begins this section by praising God the Father for giving his children “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” These blessings represent divine resources and privileges for God's people. Discussion Questions 1. List out each of the spiritual blessings that are yours in Christ according to Ephesians 1:3-14. They all begin with a verb in the past tense, indicating that these things have already happened as a result of your faith in Jesus. 2. How many spiritual blessings do you count? What impact does this list have on your faith? Is there one blessing that means more to you at this point in your spiritual journey? Explain. 3. Eph 1:4-5, 11 indicate that “God chose us before the foundation of the world” and that “he predestined us to be adopted as sons (and daughters) and to an inheritance...” This has been understood as either God foreknowing or foreseeing that he would save you or that God pre-ordained your salvation ahead of time. In other words, he purposely chooses some for salvation and not others. How do each of these perspectives challenge your understanding of your own salvation, your Christian faith, evangelism, etc.? Can you think of other places in Scripture where these perspectives are represented? Where do you fall? And on what basis? 4. What does it mean to be a son or daughter of God? How do you (or don't you) live out that identity in your daily walk with God? 5. The word “redemption” in 1:7 means to release someone based on a payment of ransom. The verse goes on to say that Christ paid a ransom to forgive your sins “through his blood.” Do you see your salvation principally in these terms? Why or why not? What impact does reflecting on www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 5

Christ's crucifixion have on your faith? Love for God? Love for others? Service? 6. Eph 1:13 states that we have been “sealed” by the Holy Spirit which guarantees our inheritance. The word suggests a type of stamp that authenticates that believer will receive his eternal salvation and rewards. Do you live with that type of assurance regarding your salvation? Why or why not? How does that impact your day-to-day decisions?

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Week 2 – Paul's Prayer for Wisdom and Revelation (1:15-23) Welcome to Week 2 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be studying one of Paul's prayers for the Ephesian church. We begin with an observation based on real life. The Desire For Wisdom Walk down any major urban center and you are bound to see front store shops dedicated to reading your palms, your horoscopes or your future. The popularity in these services has to do with an innate human desire to have more knowledge, more insight, indeed more spiritual perception in order to make better decisions in life or to know exactly how one's life is going to turn out. But all of these avenues are false sources and dead-ends. Some may even be connected to the occult. However, beyond the command to avoid these spiritual traps, God has already promised to grant us wisdom, revelation and deeper spiritual insights if we only ask him. In this section of our Ephesians Bible Study we see that Paul prays for exactly these things for the Ephesian church. Read Eph 1:15-23 Questions About The Passage 1. Paul describes two characteristics of the Ephesian church in 1:15. What are they? 2. In 1:17 Paul prays for a spirit of “wisdom” and “revelation” for the Ephesian church? These words are not meant to conjure up a desire for secret knowledge but rather a deeper perception about God and his ways. What wisdom and revelation did Paul wish for the Ephesian church given what follows in the letter? 3. In 1:18 Paul prays that “the eyes of your heart might be enlightened” so that they might know “the hope of God's calling,” the “riches of his inheritance” and “God's power.” What is the meaning of each of these spiritual truths. 4. Paul describes God's power by referring to what event in the gospels? 5. In Ephesians 1:21-22 Paul describes the position God gave to Christ after his resurrection. Describe that position in as much detail as possible. 6. Ephesians 1:22-23 begins to describe several fundamental truths about the New Testament church: What do these verses say in this respect?

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Questions to reflect on your life 1. In 1:15 you identified two traits that characterize the Ephesians church. Are these traits descriptive of your church? Are they descriptive of you? Why or why not? 2. In 1:18 Paul desired greater spiritual understanding for the Ephesians in order that they might know the “hope of God's calling,” “the riches of his inheritance” and “his power.” In which of these truths do you need greater spiritual understanding? Why? 3. What does it mean for the church and for your life individually that Christ has been seated at God's right hand above every rule, authority, power and dominion? How is it that you appropriate God's power, authority or dominion in your Christian life? Or do you appropriate it at all? 4. What are the implications for the church and for your part within the church to say that we are Christ's body and that he is the head or the source of the church? What does this image imply about the way that the church grows, how it functions, how it is lead and the part that you play within this body? 5. Paul often prayed for the congregations he planted and served often giving thanks to God for these churches (and their members) and petitioning God that these churches might be strengthened. What is your level of intercession for your church, for its leaders, for people within the congregation? Is this something all Christians should cultivate?

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Week 3 – We Were Once Dead But Now Live in Christ (2:1-22) Welcome to Week 3 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be discussing Ephesians 2:1-22, which provides two contrasting portraits of our human condition: 1) A fairly bleak description prior to coming to faith in Christ and 2) a description of our life after coming to Christ. Let's dive in to see what this week's lesson has to say to us. We were dead in our trespasses Read Eph 2:1-3 Questions to reflect on the passage 1. In Eph 2:1 and 3, Paul uses four ways to describe how we “were” prior to coming to know Christ. What are these four descriptions? What do each of these four statements mean or imply about our former condition? 2. In Eph 2:2 Paul describes another spiritual presence that exists in this world? How does Paul describe that entity and what is the effect it has in this world? God made us alive in Christ Read Eph 2:4-10 Paul indicates that even when we were dead in our trespasses (echoing Eph 2:1), God raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly places so that he might show his surpassing grace. This takes us all the way back to Eph 1:3-14 and the spiritual blessings we received when we came to faith. 1. In Eph 2:8-10 Paul states that we have been “saved through faith” and that we were “created for good works.” What do these statements mean (not to you personally) but in general given that this letter is all about how God pre-ordained the church's existence. We were strangers to the covenant Read Eph 2:11-22 1. In Ephesians 2:11-19 Paul gives an extensive list of privileges belonging to Israel from which we (the Gentiles) were excluded. What is that list of privileges? Look for the word “formerly” or “no longer” and for the various privileges in verses 11, 12, 13, 17, 19. 2. Likewise in Eph 2:11-18, Paul says that something quite remarkable has happened because of Christ's blood to both Jews and Gentiles? What exactly has Christ accomplished through his death according to these verses? Why does Paul use mostly Jewish terms to describe what has happened? www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 9

3. Eph 2:19 speaks to a new status for Gentiles who were once “aliens and strangers.” List the various descriptions for this new status? Again, why is Paul using Jewish terms to describe our new status in Christ? 4. Finally, in Eph 2:20-22 describes God's people using a metaphor. What is that metaphor? What are the various facets of that metaphor? And what does that metaphor indicate about the nature of the church? Questions to reflect on your life 1. Do you see your former life (prior to salvation) in the categories that are described in Eph 2:1-3 and 2:11-19? Why or why not? Is Eph 2:1-3 an accurate portrayal of your life prior to Christ? Comment. 2. This chapter is full of Israelite imagery and concepts (e.g. circumcision, household of God, covenant of promise, commonwealth of Israel, fellow citizens, to name a few.) Does it surprise you that your salvation is described in these terms and concepts? Why is it important for you to view your salvation in these terms? 3. This section deals extensively with Christ bringing together two ethnic groups (Jews and Gentiles) that were formerly separate from one another, socially, religiously, racially, and any other way you might care to define. Why is it important to keep the focus on two ethnic groups coming together in Christ as we speak of our modern context? Are there groups of people that you view in a detached way or even in a suspicious way? What does this section require of us who may like to make distinctions based on race, gender, ethnicity, color, socio-economic status or other factors? 4. What impact does the fact that ALL Christians are being built up into a TEMPLE have on your perspective about yourself, the church and your place in the church? Remember, the temple is a dwelling place for God!

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Week 4 – The “Mystery” Hidden For All Ages (Eph 3:1-13) Welcome to Week 4 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we tackle Ephesians 3:1-13, which covers God's great purpose in forming the church from both Jewish and Gentile families. This is a similar topic to last week but it is approached from a different angle. In addition, this week we are introduced to a new term, “mystery” which forms an integral part of the letter to the Ephesians. It is important to understand the full meaning of this term for it has implications for how the gospel is lived out day by day. Let's dive in to see what this week's lesson has to say to us. Read Ephesians 3:1-13 As you read, pay attention to the way Paul positions himself with respect to the Gentiles. Also, try to pick out the word “mystery” in these verses and see how Paul is defining this term. Read Acts 9:1-15 (as background for this section of Ephesians) Note the relationship between Paul's commission in Acts and his explanation of his ministry in Ephesians 3:1-13. Questions about the passage 1. According to Acts 9:1-15, how exactly did Paul receive his commission? What did that commission imply? What does that commission imply according to Eph 3:1-2 and 3:8? 2. What are some possible reasons that God would choose an Old Testament scholar, a doctor of the law, a Jewish Pharisee to communicate his gospel of grace to a Gentile world? As you answer this question, think about Paul's impact on Christianity and some of the topics he tackled in his letters. 3. What exactly is the “mystery” to which Paul refers several times in this section? How did Paul receive this “mystery” (3:3)? What additional details or descriptions do 3:5, 9, 11 provide regarding this “mystery”? 4. Paul combines the term “fellow” with three descriptions and applies these to Gentiles (3:6)? What are these phrases now applied to Gentiles and what do they mean? 5. What is the result of the church being brought into existence according to 3:10? Questions to reflect on your life 1. According to 3:6 we are fellow heirs (see 1:11), fellow members of one body and fellow partakers of the promise (presumably the promise to Abraham). How does knowing you have a www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 11

future inheritance affect your Christian life today (personally and in community)? What is the implication for you of the church being described as a body? How accurate is that metaphor for how you live out your Christian life (personally and in community)? Elaborate. 2. How would you describe the “mystery” in this section in modern language to someone who was reading Ephesians for the first time? Again, is this the lens by which your view your faith and salvation? Why or why not? 3. Eph 3:10 talks about God's wisdom being made manifest to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Later in Ephesians 6, Paul will ask his readers to put on God's armor as he talks about the principalities in the heavenly realm. What do you as a 21st century, modern Christian make of these descriptions? Do you have a portrait of the church that uses these very cosmic descriptions and categories? Why or why not? Who are these rulers and authorities in the heavenly places and what impact (if any) do you believe they have in this world and on the church? 4. Ephesians 3:12 says we now have boldness and confident access through faith in Him (Christ). This is a description of our ability to approach God's throne without fear and trepidation to make our needs known to him (See Heb 4:16). Does this accurately describe your approach to prayer? Why or why not?

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Week 5 – Paul Prays For Strength in the Inner Man (Eph 3:14-21) Welcome to Week 5 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be studying Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul's second prayer for the Ephesian church within this letter. (In Week 2, we studied Paul's first prayer for wisdom and revelation.) Read Eph 3:14-21 Questions about the passage 1. What is Paul's posture as he begins to pray for the Ephesian church? What does that posture communicate about Paul, about his approach to prayer and about the one to whom Paul is praying? 2. Verse 3:15 can be translated as “from whom his [God's] whole family on heaven and earth derives its name” or “from whom all families in heaven and earth derives its name.” The latter reading is likelier given the original language. What difference does that make, the fact that ALL families on earth derive their name from God? 3. Paul prays for three things for the Ephesian believers. What are these requests at 3:16, 17 and 18? In what role or capacity does each person of the Trinity appear in these requests? 4. In 3:21, Paul says God receives glory in at least two ways. What are those two ways? How exactly is God glorified in these two ways? Questions to reflect on your life 1. In thinking about your answers to Question #1 above, what is your mindset as you approach God in prayer? How do you view what takes place in prayer? 2. Paul asks for three things for the Ephesians: 1) strength in the inner man; 2) that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith and 3) that they might know the surpassing greatness of the love of Christ. Are any of these the prayers of your heart at the moment? Why? Can you give a personal example of the surpassing greatness of Christ's love in your life? 3. In 3:20 Paul states that God can do way more than we could ask or imagine. How big are your prayers? Do you really believe that God can answer and has an answer for anything you are experiencing now or will experience? 4. How can God be glorified in the church, through you, today?

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Week 6 – Walk Worthy of Your Calling (Eph 4:1-16) Welcome to Week 6 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be studying Ephesians 4:1-16. In this section, Paul makes a break from the previous three chapters both in style and content. In Chapters 1-3, Paul spent a great deal of time explaining the nature of the church as conceived by God. We who were Gentiles and alienated from the promises of God, have now been brought into God's household by faith in Christ (Week 2). We now get to experience the rich spiritual blessings (Week 1). This is the great mystery which God had purposed since the beginning of the world (Week 3). But now that Paul has highlighted who we are in Christ, he now asks us to respond in a manner worthy of that calling. In other words, those who are of the household of God should behave as those of God's household would behave. Read Eph 4:1-3 Questions about the passage 1. Paul lists 6 initial traits / characteristics / behaviors that define those who have been called into Christ's church. List these ways and define in your own words what each of these traits are. Read Eph 4:3-7 1. Paul lists 7 elements in the above verses that indicate unity? What are these elements? Why is “unity” so fundamental to Paul's vision of what the church should be? Read 4:11-16 1. According to Eph 4:11, how many gifted types of people did Christ give to the church? What are the gifted types of people? What roles do these gifted people perform if we were to think in terms of Paul's church planting mission? Does the passage indicate how many of each type Christ gave to the church? 2. According to Eph 4:12, what is the reason Christ gave these gifted people to the church? 3. According to Eph 4:12, what tasks do the “saints” perform? 4. According to Eph 4:13, 15 and 16, what is the end goal of the work that the saints perform? 5. According to Eph 4:14 and 15, why must this work be performed in the first place?

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Questions to reflect on your life 1. Which of the characteristics / traits in Eph 4:1-3 do you most need to cultivate today? Comment and explain. 2. Why is the unity of the church so critical to God? How does ignoring the traits highlighted in Eph 4:1-3 contribute to the disunity of the church? Be specific? 3. Eph 4:11 enjoins a list of gifted people which Christ gave to the church? Most churches seem to only emphasize the role of a pastor / teacher? Why aren't the other roles emphasized? Also, the passage seems to indicate that there are a multiplicity of each type of person in the church? What would it mean for your church to recognize that there are perhaps dozens of “pastors” in your church, though only one is ordained? 4. Eph 4:12, appears to imply that the “ministry” of the church belongs to the saints. Is this your perception of your role within the body of Christ? What “ministry” is Paul referring to here? 5. Eph 4:14 speaks to erratic teachings and doctrines that circulate within the church. Can you give some specific examples in your context today of what constitutes good or bad doctrine? By what criteria are you able to discern between the two? Be specific. 6. Eph 5:13, 15 and 16 all speak of the growth of the body as the end goal of this work or ministry that the saints perform. Paul states that every joint and every part is important to that growth. What part are you playing in the maturing of the body of Christ? 7. Finally, what are the implications for viewing the church as a body (with you as a contributing member) vs. an institution that holds services and runs several programs? What changes for you when the church is described as a body?

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Week 7 – Put On A New Self (Eph 4:17-32) Welcome to Week 7 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be studying Ephesians 4:17-32. This section is a continuation of the main theme, which Paul began to treat at the start of Chapter 4, which is the command to “walk worthy of your calling.” Thus, it contains a reminder to leave behind your old ways (before Christ). In addition, Paul provides a rather lengthy list of moral and ethical exhortations to strive for as you live out your life in Christ. Read Eph 4:17-19 These verses paint a very bleak description of your past life (before coming to Christ). Paul here severely criticizes this way of life and describes it as “walking like the Gentiles.” Questions About the Passage In these first few verses of this section (vv. 17-19), Paul warns the Ephesian believers to “no longer walk as the Gentiles walk...” He then lists at least nine (9) traits that characterize these “Gentiles”: 1. What are these nine traits that Paul enumerates? What are the overlaps or similarities within these traits? Read Eph 4:20-24 Paul here speaks once again about “our former manner of life” or the “old self.” Paul uses two words having to do with clothing, that of “laying aside” and “putting on”, to describe the changes that should be taking place in each believer. 1. Again, what characterizes the “old self” (v. 22)? 2. Paul suggests two things that we should do in laying aside the “old self.” What are they (v. 23 and 24)? 3. List two qualities for which the “new self” has been created (v. 24). Read Eph 4:25-32 Paul here intensifies the list of moral imperatives that should characterize the lives of each believer. 1. What specific moral imperatives does Paul give in this section? List them out carefully. 2. What overlaps or similarities do you find in these various commands? Do some commands expand on others? How? www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 16

3. What do vv. 26-27 state regarding anger? 4. Verse 32 touches on the area of forgiveness. With what measure should you forgive someone according to this verse? Questions to Reflect on Your Life 1. Look over the list from vv. 17-19 which you created above. Are there any traits which characterized your life in particular prior to coming to faith in Christ? Comment. 2. Why would Paul use the imagery of laying aside and putting on clothes to describe your salvation? What are some potential implications for the use of this type of imagery? 3. Why is truthfulness such an important virtue in the Scriptures (v. 25)? What are some barriers that would prevent you from being truthful and honest with people? 4. Do any of the affirmations regarding anger (vv. 26-27) surprise you or challenge you? Why would anger be described as “giving the devil and opportunity?” 5. Verses 29 and 31 touch on the issue of speech once again? Why is this such an important area for Christians to watch? Are you prone to unwholesome talk? Do you speak only things which are edifying? Comment. Are you guilty of any of the issues touched upon in verse 31? What will you do to change that? 6. Verse 32 touches on the area of forgiveness. Think back to your former way of life and to the things which God has forgiven you (both past and present). Is there someone you need to forgive in light of God's forgiveness of you in Christ? If so, deal with it right away.

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Week 8 – Be imitators of God and Christ walking in love (5:1-20) Welcome to Week 8 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be studying Ephesians 5:1-20. Review of Part 1 of Ephesians We would do well to recall that Ephesians can be split into two main sections: Eph 1-3 reminds the Ephesian believers about their newfound status “in Christ” and about the nature of the Christian church. Prior to knowing the Lord, the Ephesian believers were dead in their sins and excluded from the family of God (see Ephesians Bible Study – Week 3). But God in his great mercy and before the foundation of the world had decreed that both Jew and Gentile would become one people united in Christ. This union, which Paul called a mystery (see Ephesians Bible Study – Week 4), would become the Christian church, bestowing on individual believers a rich spiritual heritage and an abundance of spiritual blessings (see Ephesians Bible Study – Week 1). Review of Part 2 of Ephesians In Eph 4-6, Paul then begins to describe a series of responsibilities that correspond to God's people, to those who have been saved and redeemed and form part of Christ's church. We ought to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (See Ephesians Bible Study – Week 6) and not as in our former ways (See Ephesians Bible Study – Week 7). Questions About the Passage. Paul now continues in Chapter 5 with additional exhortations for those who have been redeemed by Christ and who form part of the body of Christ, that is, the church. Read Eph 5:1-5 1. Eph 5:1 calls believers to be “imitators of God.” What exactly does that require one to do, according to Eph 5:2? How does Christ's example further elaborate the command toward imitation? 2. Eph 5:3 continues the call for imitation, drawing out at least three major offenses to avoid. What are these? Why would these three get singled out? Hint: The first of these offenses comes from the Greek word porneia and encompasses a wide range of illicit sexual activity. 3. Eph 5:4 elaborates once again what it means to imitate God and singles out a particular kind of offense? What type of offense is that? 4. Eph 5:5 mentions many of the offenses in the prior three verses and adds a rather ominous warning to those who would persists in them. What warning is given?

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Read Eph 5:6-14 1. In Ephesian 5:6-14, Paul uses the metaphor of light and dark to contrast two types of people. Scan through verses 6-14 and list all of the elements which belong to those in “the light” and those in “the darkness.” Include characteristics, commands, and actions that you find in these verses. Read Eph 5:15-20 1. Verses 15, 17 and 18 give a series of negative contrasting commands. List the commands and the alternating pairs given for each command. Questions to reflect on your life 1. Eph 5:1-20 calls for us to imitate God. Do you find that to be 1) a hopeless ideal; 2) a challenging goal; 3) an endeavor that brings out the best in you? 2. Among the many offense to avoid in this section are included: sexual impurity / immorality; greed or covetousness and unholy speech. Sexual impurity (according to the Scriptures) would include any kind of sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage including addictions to pornography. Greed or covetousness would incorporate any type of unhealthy desire such as for money, power, control, etc. How do you measure up in any of these three areas? (See NOTE below.) 3. In terms of our speech (Eph 5:4), why do you think this gets singled out so often in Scripture? (See Col 3:8-9 and the Book of James). NOTE: A small group Bible study (as also the church) functions best when its members are open, honest and vulnerable regarding their life and daily struggles. One of the reasons God placed us within a community was so that we might encourage and challenge one another in our spiritual growth. For that to occur, it is vitally necessary for us to go out on a limb and trust other people with our life and with our struggles. The rewards are truly great, however, the group must be sufficiently mature to deal with the fears, embarrassment and shame that sometimes occurs when confessing our hidden sins to one another. Only you as a leader and / or member of a small group completing this study can really know whether your group is prepared to delve into these issues at a more in-depth level.

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Week 9 – “Be subject to one another” - Ephesians household codes (5:21-6:9) Welcome to Week 9 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be studying the important “household codes” of Ephesians (5:21-6:9). There are few sections of the New Testament that have been prone to more misinterpretation, misapplication or outright abuse than Paul's commands to wives, husbands, slaves and masters. The importance of cultural context Before beginning our study of this crucial passage we would do well to pay attention to two critical elements of the household codes in Ephesians (and in other parts of the New Testament) 1) Paul's cultural context when he wrote these codes 2) Paul's missional purpose In the first place , the Mediterranean world of Paul's day was highly patriarchal, which is to say, that it was a male dominated society. Male governance and rule over women and family were the accepted cultural patterns of that time period. Women were generally secluded in the home and were admonished to practice chastity, silence and full submission to their husbands. Likewise, slavery was part and parcel of the Mediterranean world. Though this system was markedly different from the slave trade in the U.S. in the mid-19 th century, it was nevertheless one human being having ownership and rule over another. Given these pervasive cultural patterns, it is not surprising to see New Testament writers such as Paul (and Peter) admonishing Christians (women and slaves for example) to conform their behavior to honor these cultural codes. Secondly, in many cases, the New Testament writers appeal to the church's mission of reaching nonChristians as the motivation for continuing to uphold these social patterns. (See 1 Pet 2:12; 14-15; 3:1; 1 Tim 6:1) In other words, the New Testament writers did not want to upset certain social patterns for fear of impeding the spread of the gospel (whether we agree with this stance or not). In summary then: The New Testament writers 1) uphold conventional social patterns in their admonitions and 2) in some cases uphold those patterns for the sake of being a Christian witness. Applying the household codes to our modern context These scenarios should be highly instructive for a modern application of these verses in Ephesians. Women in modern democratic societies are leaders of companies, universities, political bodies and even entire nations. They are fully functioning and equal members of society (though discrimination and various inequalities still exist). To insist that these culturally specific commands have universal and virtually identical applications as www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 20

they did in 1st century Palestine is to violate the rules of proper interpretation. We no longer live in a patriarchal society (though once again, many patriarchal attitudes still remain in place). Furthermore, to apply these household codes consistent with 1 st century Palestine is to actually betray the spirit in which some of these commands were given. Our Christian witness is not enhanced, but rather imperiled when we insist that women must be subjugated to their husbands IN THE SAME WAY as they were in Paul's day. Finally, in terms of slavery, it is not appropriate to apply Paul's admonitions to a modern employeeemployer relationship. Employees are not slaves and the slave-master relationship is an inadequate description of a salaried employee and his contractual obligations toward a modern corporation or entity. We can speak of respect and fairness in a modern work context, but submission would make the Scriptures say something they never intended to say to our modern world. Speaking of slaves The admonitions for slaves (along with similar slave-master codes in Colossians and 1 Peter) have also generated a great deal of controversy over the question of slavery. No doubt, a big part of the controversy has been the historical use of these verses to uphold and perpetuate the inhumane system of slavery prior to the U.S. civil war. Another aspect of this controversy has been a kind of moral outrage with the New Testament writers for not forcefully denouncing such a dehumanizing system. Indeed, these writers seem to go out of their way to maintain the status quo. We are all products of the cultures we live in... Again, it is easy for our modern mindsets, within a Western democratic society, to criticize the New Testament writers for their seeming lack of courage or their moral capitulation over these situations. However, we should quickly remember that we are all products of the cultures that we live in. Several hundred years hence, a future society will look back upon our time and wonder how it is that the population of a handful of modern nations lived in relative wealth, abundance and luxury, while 60% of the rest of the world's population barely had the means to survive. Maybe 1,000 years from now, some archeologists will wonder how so many modern, technologically advanced and well-educated societies managed to abort so many of their promising young men and women prior to their birth. There are many seeds of liberation in the NT The second response is actually a bit more inspiring. In actuality, the New Testament writers expressed many opinions about human relationships that ran against the prevailing cultural patterns. www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 21

Jesus himself elevated Mary to the status of one of his disciples when he defended her desire to learn from him. He spoke to a Samaritan woman, breaking both ethnic and gender barriers. Indeed, this woman went on to become one of the first evangelists of record in the gospels. The gospel of Mark relates how women were the first to give testimony about Jesus' resurrection, a rather surprising development given the poor status of women as witnesses in the first century. Paul's letter to Philemon and even the household codes here in Ephesians point to a change in status between slave and master. Paul appeals to Philemon to no longer treat Onesimus as a slave but as a brother in Christ. This is a rather bold statement given the cultural norms of that day. Indeed, what we find in many parts of the New Testament are the seeds of liberation from these oppressive structures. The logical and necessary outcome of the things the New Testament advocated in the area of human relationships was equality and freedom. In other words, it was only a matter of time before slaves were freed and women were given full equality in society (again, I am well aware that discrimination still forms part of life in our world; however, that speaks more to our own moral detriment than it does to a lack of forcefulness on the part of the New Testament to speak out against such injustice). There is no longer slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female, said Paul. Thus, even though the NT writers did not come out strongly against ingrained societal patterns, they provided the theological and social impetus for the changes that eventually transpired.

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Week 9 Bible Study Lesson With the above caveats in mind, let us proceed to this section of our Ephesians Bible study (5:21-6:9). Questions About the Passage Read Eph 5:21-6:9 1. Who are the different groups addressed in these verses? List them out one by one. Don't forget the "group" mentioned in 5:20. 2. Next to each group, except the husbands, list out Paul's command for that particular group and the additional details that Paul provides for each command. In some cases it may be a reason for the command, or an amplification of the command. 3. What is Paul's advice for husbands? How does Paul substantiate his advice? Make sure you touch on the various aspects (See 5:25-33). Questions To Reflect On Your Life There is only one general question in this section which should generate its fair share of discussion / debate. 1. What is the modern day application for Paul's commands to each of the groups that are addressed? This question should be answered in light of whether you agree or disagree with the discussion on culture at the beginning of the lesson.

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Week 10 – “Put on the Full Armor of God” - (6:10-24) Introduction Welcome to Week 10 of your Ephesians Bible Study. This week we'll be looking at the metaphorical “Armor of God” that every believer is instructed to wear (Eph 6:10-24). As we learned in our introduction to this study, Ephesians was likely written during Paul's Roman imprisonment. During his imprisonment, Paul had plenty of time to meditate on the elements and purpose of a Roman soldier's uniform (Acts 28:16) or conversely, on the spiritual elements that belonged to a believer. From here, the jump to connect the two ideas would be quite natural in Paul's mind. Read Ephesians 6:10-20 Questions about the passage 1. Paul enjoins the Ephesian believers to “be empowered” or to “be strengthened” in the Lord and in his might. What reason, then does Paul give for putting on God's armor? (See both 6:11 and 6:13) The word translated as “schemes” in v. 11 carries with it the meaning of craftiness and deceit. How does this add to Paul's reasoning for putting on God's armor? 2. What does Paul mean that the Ephesian struggle is not against flesh and blood? Who then, specifically does Paul state their struggle is against? 3. Go through and match each element of the soldier's uniform with the corresponding spiritual element that Paul assigns. For further study look up Isaiah 11:5; 52:7 and 59:17. It is likely Paul had these in mind when constructing his metaphor of the soldier's elements. 4. What does Paul enjoin the Ephesian believers to do in 6:18 which he continues encouraging all the way to verse 20? Questions to reflect on your life 1. How would you describe “the schemes of the devil” v. 11? 2. The call to stand firm and to resist evil / the devil are the reasons that Paul gives for “suiting up.” Is this the approach you take, metaphorically speaking, in order to resist these “schemes”? Why or why not? 3. What or who are the rulers, powers and forces of darkness in today's world? www.free-bible-study-lessons.net - 24

4. How do you use / or would you use each spiritual element in the Christian armor: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and God's word? Be specific or share a story where you availed yourself of one of the spiritual elements. 5. Paul's final prayer is that we would pray for those in the church (being alert for the saints) and specifically for those who are sharing the gospel. Would you take some time in your study now to do both? Remember, when you do, you are taking the fight into the spiritual realm and against spiritual forces.

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A Couple Special Requests... We've come to the end of the Ephesians Bible Study. I hope you have been greatly blessed by a closer study of this immensely popular and amazing book. In closing, let me remind you that we have many additional Bible study resources on our website (see footer). As you know, most of that material is provided free of charge in order that it might reach the widest possible audience. However, if you have found this material useful and of benefit to you I'm going to ask you for two small favors that will require little effort on your part: 1. Would you consider promoting our site through your social media networks, website or blog. You can link to our website or simply hop onto any of our pages and use the Facebook or Twitter share buttons to post our pages to your networks. 2. If you are thinking about purchasing bible study resources, books, commentaries and the like, please consider using our affiliate search boxes on our website or the following Amazon.com or Christian Book Distributors (CBD) links as your entry into those sites (CBD's bestsellers and CBD's great deals.) We receive a small percentage of any purchases you make through those links, which go directly into funding theological education for majority world pastors in Latin America. You not only pickup more resources for understanding the Scriptures, but you help an important cause in the process without any additional cost to you! Please feel free to drop us a line on our site to let us know how we can improve this document, to tell us how God has blessed you or simply to say hello. We are committed to your spiritual growth and are here to help in any way that we can. All of God's blessings to you,


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