We had a fabulous start to Ephesians this morning! Here are my notes with a brief introduction of the letter. Please feel free to continue to conversation in the comments!
Ephesians Bible Study Weekly Recap
November 11, 2014
Ephesians 1 & 2
Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
- Paul’s relationship with the church
- Written to the church in Ephesus – according to Acts (Acts 19) Paul spent more time in Ephesus than anywhere else
- Despite the fact that Paul knew this church likely better than other churches, it is much more general – thought to have been a general letter intended for many churches as opposed to just written to the church in Ephesus
- Basic presentation of Paul’s gospel
- Gives us a very cohesive portrait of God’s plan and purpose
- The perspective moves from a cosmic picture of God’s plan to the role and mission of the church to how individuals can pray and be part of God’s work in the world à Paul shifts from talking about what God is doing to talking about how Christians can live out God’s call
- The letter is faithfully Pauline, but there are scholars who believe that this was written pseudonymously sometime after Paul’s death
- “At a time when Christianity in Asia Minor was threatened by fragmentation and the Pauline heritage was in danger of being lost, Ephesians calls Christians back to the basis of their own existence, Paul’s gospel and mission to the Gentiles and their own baptism.” Harper Collins Bible Commentary
1:4-5 – Predestination Theology
- Paul introduces the idea of pre-existence – something we haven’t seen from Paul before (Paul has typically talked about being changed by the resurrection)
- Free Will vs. Predestination à not an either/or à God created us to be children of God, Disciples of Christ and we still have to choose to follow
- Even if we still have free will, it is still comforting to know that God has chosen us to do something in the world
- We can all be God’s chosen people and still have free will
- If you feel like you are chosen by God, wouldn’t you not want to disappoint God?
- If you feel like you are chosen by God, then God will give you the strength to carry out what you can have been called to do.
1:7-8 – We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding.
- Great visual!
1:11 – In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will,
- Reference to Romans
- When bad things come along, God will help you work this out
1:13 – Sealed/Marked by the Holy Spirit
- Common to the times – slaves were marked and sealed
- Are we sealed in baptism?
Unity in the Holy Spirit – we are all the same and we are all serving together, even if we don’t agree all the time
1:15-16 – I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason. I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
- Paul sets a good example that pastors and church leaders should love the people that they are serving with and give thanks for them
- We cannot set up an “us vs. them” dynamic
We are seeing a different side of Paul – he usually talks about living and ministering in community and he took a much stronger Christological approach here
This says it all
You are not saved by works, you are saved by grace
2:8 – You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith.
- If we don’t have faith are we not saved by grace?
- The grace is always there for us to take
Grace is a gift from God
- Again, this makes us feel special – when someone gives us gifts, it is because they know us and care about us – God knows us and cares about us
- Grace may look differently for different people
- God saves us in different ways
2:10 – For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
- We are works of art, masterpieces
- We are God’s greatest accomplishments
- We need to treat ourselves and others as a work of art
- Paul was talking about the fact that we have been changed by Jesus
- How is this relevant to us today?
- No matter who are you or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here – we are all one in Christ, we are all constantly being changed by tangible expressions of God’s grace
- Being on a faith journey means that you are constantly changing
- Christ came and preached peace and we all have the same access to God because of that
- We should focus on the oneness
- Christ is the great equalizer!
- When you walk into the church, everyone is equal (kind of like TSA screening at the airport – it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, everyone has to take off their shoes!)
2:22 – Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit
- We are part of the Christian story that is still unfolding