Book Of Ephesians: Bible Study

Paul's letter in the book of Ephesians is the model for what our Churches should be. What does he tell us and where do we fall short? A good bible study...

Paul's letter to the Ephesians is the model for what our Churches should be. He writes from his prison cell in Rome around 60 A.D. This letter is more like a sermon than like Paul's other epistles. It probably was intended to be circulated among the various churches Paul and his fellows established while in Ephesus.

Paul greets his readers and then addresses his topic, the nature of the Christian Church. He teaches on the characteristics of the Church and the responsibilities of the members of the body of Christ as a group, as individuals and as families. Finally, he reminds the Ephesians that the Church is in a battle and teaches us how to protect ourselves in that battle.

The Characteristics of the Christian Church: Ephesians 1:3-3:11

In this epistle, Paul says a great deal about the qualities the Church has. He begins with telling us we are blessed, chosen and should be holy and without blame. Notice he says "˜should be' instead of "˜are'. Paul was no fool, he knew the human nature well enough, being human himself. While we are to strive to the higher calling of holiness, we always fall short. This sets up his next statements: that we are adopted by God out of His grace and goodwill towards us and are redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ. He is emphasizing that we would have none of the former things without the latter.

The Church is a mystery revealed. As Christians we are one in Christ and serve as the body of Christ. Christ is the Head of the Church; Christ is the mind of the Church. This mystery and gathering together as one is what Paul is talking about in verses 8-10 of Chapter One. It is important to grasp this metaphor, as it is foundational to the teachings about the Church and about Christianity. We as individuals are the Church, Christ lives in us. We as a group are the Church, Christ is our Head. We are to achieve unity with Christ as individuals and as a group. As a group, we are also to have unity with each other. This is where we as individuals and as a group fall so short, in our unity.

Verses 12-20 go on to establish that Christ is King. His authority extends to all things and as one in authority; Christ's logical position is as our Head. All things are under His feet and the Church is His body.

In Chapter Two, Paul reminds us who we were. He addresses our sinful nature and our former obedience to "˜the prince of the power of the air' (vs2), which is Satan. In His mercy, God called us to Him and Christ saved us from our sin. Interestingly, we were all alike in our sin and so we are in our salvation. Paul is addressing Gentiles here, and speaks of the separation that previously existed between the Gentiles and the Jews. Now, through Christ, the barrier is broken and all Christians are equal. This message is potent today. There are so many subliminal battles between denominations, when we are intended to be one Church, of one Body, one Spirit and one Mind.

The Responsibilities of the Body of Christ: Ephesians 4:1-6:9

With Chapter Four, Paul begins to teach us what our responsibilities are. We are told to "walk worthy" of our vocation, which is representative of Christ. Our behavior as individuals and as a group should reflect the nature of Christ. We should be humble and loving to one another. And, keep the unity! Here again Paul emphasizes that we are one Church, one Spirit, one Body and one Mind.

Within the Church, we each have different callings. Some are teachers, some are pastors, some are caregivers but we all have the responsibility to serve the Church with our gifts. Out of our service to each other and to God, our unity and strength grows.

When we first come to Christ we are like babies. Within the Church, there will be those who are to help us grow. They will be our teachers and guides. However, we have a personal responsibility for our Christian growth, too. We must mature in our spirits to be truly useful to Christ. With maturity we will be strongly rooted in our faith and able to withstand deception and troubles. And, as our Church matures it works as it should. Like a baby, the Church is clumsy on its feet when learning to walk. With maturity, the walking is smooth and takes no thought. It happens at will and with purpose. So to do our Churches work at will and with purpose when they are matured.

Paul gives us a list of instruction for personal and Church behavior in the closing of Chapter four. We are told to leave behind our old nature and live in our new nature, the nature of Christ. We are instructed to be truthful with each other because we are a part of each other. This is an important point. As members of Christ's body, the Church, we are now family. Truthfulness cements unity and forges bonds of trust. When we can trust each other, we can work together even through disagreement and difficulties.

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:" (Vs. 26) Anger has destroyed more Churches than doctrinal differences. Paul gives an excellent example of righteous anger in his letter to the Galatians. Paul founded the Galatian Church. While Paul was in prison in Rome, the Galatian Church fell into false doctrine. Paul addresses them in his epistle, attacking the doctrine they were purporting. He is firm, confronts their falling away with genuine concern, and yet doesn't condemn them. Instead he instructs them again in the genuine doctrine of the Gospel.

This is a model of how our Churches ought to deal with internal discord. It's also a model of how we should handle our grievances with our fellow Christians. Paul was genuinely concerned for the salvation of the Galatians' souls. If you are troubled by anger with a fellow Christian or your Church, examine your motives and if they are pure, address the issues with the parties involved. This is how we can be angry but sin not. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (4:31-32)

In the close of Chapter Five, Paul discusses the Christian family relationship. It is also a model for the Christian family of the Church. He establishes the husband as the head of the family. This point has given many men the idea that they have autocratic control of the family and even the idea that they may rule as tyrants. This is not what Paul teaches. Paul is not so much establishing authority as he is responsibility. The husband is responsible or accountable for the spiritual well being of the family as the pastor is responsible for the spiritual well being of his or her church.

A church is ruled democratically, as the family should be. Paul instructs the husband to love his wife as his own flesh. He says no man hates (or abuses) his own flesh. This means that no man or pastor is to abuse in any manner, physically, mentally or spiritually. If a man loves his wife as his own flesh, this love must include respect as well. Respect extends to the entire being of the wife, her intelligence, her desires, her needs and her person. So also must the pastor extend respect to the congregation. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Vs. 27)

The roles of the children or congregation are also spelled out. Respect again is demanded. Employees are instructed to serve their employers as they would Christ. Employers are instructed to treat employees with respect. With respectful treatment, people are able to trust and again, where trust is present, bonds are forged and unity reigns.

The Spiritual Battle: Ephesians 6:10-17

The Church and the individual must always be aware that we are in a spiritual battle. Though Christ has already won the war against sin, Satan seeks to capture as many prisoners as he can. We must continually guard against attacks on our spirit. Do not surrender your salvation for the sake of a moment's satisfaction. Be wary of those things that separate you from the strengthening of your spirit. It is these very things that Satan will attempt to use to lure you away from your faith. Read carefully and study the passage discussing our Christian armor. Herein lies your protection against spiritual attack.

This battle will also be waged against your Church. Be certain that you play your part in fighting for your Church and defending it. Pray for the leadership of the Church and be active in service.

Students of the Bible soon discover that God has provided us instruction for everything. We sometimes have to dig for it and pray for understanding, but the instruction is there. Ephesians is our blueprint for our Church, the Church that is the individual and the Church that is the group. Study this Book for understanding and direction in building a solid personal and community Church.

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