BACKGROUND FOR THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
SPRING/SUMMER 2018 BIBLE STUDY
Purpose and God’s Church
Ephesus was the third largest city in the Roman Empire in what now modern-day Turkey. We can read of Paul to Ephesus in Acts 19. It was a city famous for magic and sorcery. Paul visited Ephesus in about 52 AD and wrote this letter in about 60AD. A key defining verse is 4:1 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” The Book of Ephesians might be similar to Romans. It was not so much written to address issues in a particular church but was written to a community of Christians to explains themes and doctrines of the faith. Ephesus was important to Paul. He lived and worked in Ephesus for 2-3 years — a long time for him. It is a letter that held in high praise by bible scholars (“the Queen of the Epistles,” “the crown of Paulinism”) because of its eloquent discussion of great Christian doctrines, principles, and the gospel of Christ. Like other letters, it is important to remember that Paul wrote this letter while he was in chains in prison. It is an important discussion about the place, role, and purposes of God’s people (the new life) and God’s church. Paul repeatedly talks about the new identity we have as believers in Christ and what that means for a new way of life. It repeatedly makes clear that all things God has brought everything under Christ’s rule. There is a new kingdom under Christ as Christ reconciles the world to himself. There are things that must be given up to live kingdom lives and to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle (chapter 6) by putting on the full armor of God.
EPHESIANS CHAPTER 1
Read verses 1-3
- Who wrote the epistle/letter of Ephesians and who was it written to?
- How does Paul identify himself?
- What is significant about Paul identifying himself as an apostle “by the will of God?”
- If we were writing, like Paul, to another church, how might we identify ourselves? Discuss why we choose these names. Look for other ways the Bible describes us (e.g. 1 Peter 2:9)
- Who is Paul writing to?
- What are two ways that Paul identifies who he is writing to? (The S______ in Ephesus or the H____ people in Ephesus, the F_______ in Christ Jesus)?
- What does it mean to be saints or holy people? Why is it important to know that we are set apart for a purpose?
- What does it mean to be faithful in Christ? Identify and discuss some examples.
- Why might it be important for Paul to open his letters with these greetings? How would it benefit the modern church if we greeted one another like Paul does?
- Paul turns in verse 3 to God in giving God praise. What is the nature of Paul’s praise?
Summarize the teachings and learnings from this lesson (the purposes of the letter, how Paul identifies himself, how he identifies the Christians in Ephesus, and how do we identify ourselves in Christ, etc.