I have waited for today with great anticipation! I am so excited about everything Ephesians holds for us and so honored that you have decided to join in. Before we jump in, I’d like to praise our God with His own words from Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do abundantly more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
This is the introductory lesson for an online Bible study through the book of Ephesians. The entire lesson is posted below. You can read it here and answer the questions in a journal or you can download the PDF or Word Doc and print a hard copy. Either way, I would love for all of you to interact with me and each other in the comments section of this blog page. Post insights, ask questions, and discuss the lesson. Let’s get started!
Grace. Grace. Grace.
Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus is a beautiful declaration of God’s grace working in our lives. From salvation, throughout our earthly life, and into eternity, God graciously works in us to bring us to our full potential in Christ.
Ephesians presents God’s purpose, power, and plan for living the abundant life in Christ.
Our salvation is just the beginning of what God wants to do in our lives. He has earthly plans and spiritual purposes He wants to accomplish through us, by His power working in us. In order to accomplish these plans and purposes, God must grow us up spiritually until we reach “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:13).
Our salvation is God’s work from beginning to end. And only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform us into the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18; Eph 1:19-20). But as we will see in Ephesians, both the individual and the church have indispensible roles in a believer’s spiritual growth. Our spiritual maturity is a joint venture! God, the believer, and the church work together to grow us up in Christ.
Let’s take a quick look at each role. But first, I want to emphasize that neither individual believers nor the church can fulfill the role God has given us without His grace and power working in us to accomplish it. Isn’t it amazing that God includes us in the work that only He can do?!
God’s Role: Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Describe this work of God’s grace in our lives.
Our Role: Read Ephesians 4:17 and 5:1. Describe God’s expectations for the individual believer.
The Church’s Role: Read Ephesians 4:11-13. Describe God’s intention for the church in the lives of believers.
I hope this “sampling” whet your appetite for what we are going to explore in depth together over the next 6 weeks. Next Wednesday we will start with Ephesians chapter one! But before we end our time together today, let’s briefly discuss the background of the book to gain the context we need to best understand the letter.
Background and Beginnings
It is generally and traditionally accepted that the Apostle Paul (1:1 and 3:1) wrote this letter to the Christians in Ephesus in the early 60’s AD from prison in Rome (3:1, 3:13, 4:1 and 6:20). Likely, the letter was also intended to be circulated to the other churches in the Roman province of Asia as well. That would include the seven churches mentioned in Revelation.
Paul established the Ephesian church during his second missionary journey around 50-51AD. Since, Ephesus was the capitol of Asia and a hub for commerce, rooting Christianity here provided the opportunity for growth throughout that part of the world.
Read Acts 18:18-21. Paul’s first visit to Ephesus was brief, he could not stay. Who did he leave behind to carry on the work he started?
Paul spent about three years, approximately 52-55, in Ephesus during his third missionary journey (see Acts 19:1-41 and 20:1). What struck me as I read this account in Acts was the power with which the Gospel message was displayed. This powerful display generated radically different responses.
Read Acts 19:11-12. In what ways did God display His power and validate the Gospel message?
Read Acts 19:17-20. How did those who accept the Gospel respond?
Now glance over Acts 19:23-41. Those who felt threatened by the message of Christ responded with hatred and violence. Same message. Drastically different responses. Those in Ephesus who hated the message ran Paul out of the city, but the message remained and spread.
Paul’s commitment to the message of Christ cost him his freedom and eventually his life at the hand of a Roman executioner. But he would not turn back. When Paul wrote Ephesians, the readers knew he was in prison for his faith in Christ. One of Paul’s purposes in writing to them was to make sure his suffering did not discourage them in their commitment to stand firm in their faith (Ephesians 3:13). In fact, he encouraged them to continue to grow to reach their full potential in Christ (4:13).
For discussion: As we close our first lesson in Ephesians prayerfully consider your spiritual condition. Are you steadily growing in spiritual maturity? Are you discouraged and tempted to give up? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between and need encouragement to keep moving forward toward God’s purpose for you. Where are you now?
(Each week, in addition to the weekly lesson, I will provide an opportunity – for those who have the time and desire – to go a little deeper. If you are unable to do this, please don’t worry, but if you can, take the plunge!)
Before next Wednesday, read the entire book of Ephesians in one sitting. It’s just six chapters! Keep a pen and paper handy. As you read, take note of the following recurring themes:
- God’s grace
- The intercession of Christ on our behalf (lots of “with/in/through/by Christ”)
- Contrast of life without Christ and life with Christ
- Praise and prayer
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I learned about this Bible study through Iris’ blog Grace Alone and thought I’d check it out. I am interested in participating. Thank you for taking the time to study God’s Word with us online.
As I consider my spiritual maturity, I have grown over the years through personal Bible study, my church and other believers including a prayer partner. I remember the excitement of learning and growing. However, I’ve had many losses the past few years and am very uncertain of the future. So trusting God has become so necessary. I returned to full time work last year out of necessity but God has blessed me by placing me in a job with children that I love.
I want to continue to grow spiritually and to trust God’s promises. Although I don’t believe in the health, wealth and prosperity that some teach, I know that God provides what we need when we need it. I want to view my life in Christ as an adventure in trusting Him in ALL things. That’s where I am spiritually at this point. I look forward to Wednesdays as we study Ephesians.
Blessings and love,
Debbie, thank you for sharing this with us. I noticed you said other believers have been an integral part of your spiritual growth. We will learn more about that as we go through Ephesians. Like you, I want to “trust Him in all things!” May our study together move us all in that direction!
Uuugghhh….I am so thankful for this. Thank you, thank you. I’m at a time in my life where tragedies over the past 2 yrs. have just really shook me and my faith. So I’m at a crossroad, do I grow deeper in my faith and let God be glorified through those tragedies or stay stagnant and miserable. It seems like the answer would be obvious but it’s not that easy for me in my life right now. It takes work and determination. Both of which I don’t have a lot of energy for at this time. So this bible study is perfect for me. God has truly put this bible study in my face to say “Here I am making it easy”. So I’m going to learn from Paul and try not to be discouraged from my sufferings but learn to turn it around and use for God’s glory. I’ve heard “use for God’s glory” all my life but I just don’t know how to do that. My heart and mind is so consumed in grief and misery that it’s hard to see anything good. My prayer is that God will show me how every Wednesday morning. 🙂
Grace, I am so sorry that you are struggling, but so thankful you are looking to God in the midst of your pain. Scripture tells us over and over that it is in the difficulties of life that God makes us into who He wants us to be. Girl, you are going to be beautifully refined silver in the Master’s hands! Keep turning to Him and let Him ease your pain.
I just downloaded the intro lesson.. Going to sit and read Ephesians tonight.. Thanks so much Kathy. Looking forward to the study with the you and others. So glad that God has a plan for us in HIS word.. Have a wonderful day.. I need to step into the beauty shop too!! Need a hair cut too!!! Bye!
Olga, so glad you’re going to read through the book! No better way to get the big picture.
Delayed in getting online for this very worthwhile study, due to visit from my granddaughter & 3 young boys, hard to get online, but am so blessed, my grandaughter was here to vacuum and clean for me. Got a break while she went to the school with them, they will be back for dinner. I plan on reading all of Ephesians tonight.
I have been under spiritual attack since 1996, not long after I made the decision to be baptized by immersion even though I had been baptized as an infant. Guess satan figured he was losing one of his own, so has set out on an all out attack (I hear voices inside my head, 24/7), doctors claim it is not schizophrenia, nor dementia, in fact they state “we don’t know what you have nor do we have a cure”, my response was, then I want off all the anti-psychotic drugs that are not helping, and if I am to be healed, it will be the Lord who heals me.” Took me 2 years to get off the drugs. I know it is my faith in our risen Lord that has brought me through to where I am today. I share my experience in my website jinnyscorner.net in order to help others and to spread God’s Word. I hope it is not inappropriate for me to relate this here. I keep myself occupied with writing poetry, devotionals, reading, piano playing, other various activities.
I feel that God has led me to this study for a purpose through a couple of wonderful friends I have made online. I am still trusting in the Lord to heal me, I was 63 years old when the voices started, I turned 78 in October and I am not giving up.
I was widowed on Easter Sunday 2008 & life has been one challenge after another ever since, but I am clinging to my faith.
June, you are clinging to the One who is able to heal! Keep holding tight. May God heal you thoroughly and completely. So glad you are studying with us.
I cling to His Word all day long; especially when I get frustrated at work. I believe that I am spiritually strong, but there is always room to grow. I think that we will not mature all the way until we see Him face-to-face in heaven!
Thank you so much for taking the time to lead us through the book of Ephesians, Kathy.
Iris, thanks for sharing that example of how God’s Word works in your daily life. Like you, I feel I have grown a great deal spiritually over the years. But, ah, I know I still have a long way to go! I am looking forward to our journey together through Ephesians!
Ephesians was introduced to me some years ago as one of the books in the Bible that tells me WHO I am in Christ. This has held so true for me.
I’m looking forward to studying Ephesians here with you and the other participants!
Kela, you are so right! There is so much glorious truth in this short book. The more I’ve studied it, the more I wish I had planned to take at least twice the amount of time I did. We may feel like we just skim over the surface!
I am so looking forward to this study of Ephesians. Our pastor at church as been going through Ephesians in his sermons on Sundays and there is so much we can glean from this book.
Hi Penny! Ephesians is so rich and full. I’ve just been torn trying to find a balance between going slow and deep enough and not keeping all of you for 6 or 8 months!
Hi Kathy I am writing to you some 8 years after this post, i dont know if it still open but I just wanted to let you know and I hope it is ok that I have uploaded your picture of Ephesians to my web/blog site I am in the process of setting up.
I used it for several reasons, one because I used Ephesians 4:14-16 on my home page and also that it happened to be written on my 50th birthday Jan18 2012.
Also reading many of the posts above, my site is aimed at those believers and none believers alike who are struggling and need to see more of the HEART of Jesus.
God bless, Ian.
Hi Ian, thanks for coming by! You are more that welcome to use the image. God bless your ministry!
Kathy, it is 2020 and I am starting this study. God has given you the race and spiritual gift to teach and exhort,
God bless you
I am also working on BEFORE HIS THRONE