Ephesians Online: Chapter 4
for individual, one-on-one discipleship, or community groups)
In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul is trying to help the people of God in Ephesus comprehend what God has done through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Paul wants them to understand that the redemption that takes place because of Jesus was always part of God's rescue plan for the world. He wants both Jews and Gentiles to see how they fit into this grand plan, this Kingdom that God has both already enacted and is bringing about. Some Bible scholars believe that Paul saw the death and resurrection of Jesus as an apocalyptic event, an event that revealed the mystery of God and ushered in a new way of being and doing that was cataclysmic.
As we move into the final three chapters, Paul seems to move from a comprehension lesson to a hands-on learning approach. His focus becomes on how the people of God should respond to what God has done in Christ, to this apocalyptic event.
So before we move there with Paul, let's consider the following together:
If you had to sum up what Paul says in the first three chapters into one paragraph (3-5 sentences), what would you write/say?
What are some "big ideas" in the first three chapters (big idea = 1-2 sentences)?
What all has changed because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus?
How does this fit in with God's redemption plan for the world?
Let's Not Overcomplicate It
We are going to repeat what we did the first week of Ephesians Online.
Take a few minutes and read through Chapter 4 once. Remember on this first read through the goal is to just familiarize yourself with it.
Now go back and read little slower and look for the following:
Connection words (therefore, however, because, and, but, if, then, etc.)
Compare and Contrast (where does Paul make comparisons and contrasts)
Words/Ideas/Themes/Phrases that are repeated.
To-do lists: actions, behaviors, expectations, qualities
Highlight, underline, make notes on paper. Just observe, don't try to assess or make connections just yet. Below is an example to get you started (it has fewer notations as the hope is you will need a little less help to get started this week).
How are Paul's connection words related to what comes before them?
"therefore" in 4:1
"however" in 4:7
"but" in 4:20
"so" in 4:25
Did you notice any other connections like these?
What all does Paul compare and contrast? What do you learn from these comparisons?
Based on the words/themes/ideas/phrases repeated, what are some big ideas that seem important to Paul?
What are the behaviors/qualities Paul says followers of Jesus should display/do?
Why does how the believers at Ephesus act or believe matter so much to Paul?
Look at 4:17-19. Paul is writing to a church of Jews and Gentiles and in these verses he "attacks" (critiques) Gentile culture. How would you have felt if you were a Gentile listening to this letter being read when the speaker got to this section?
How open is our culture (both the secular and the church culture) to critiques like Paul gives?
What ultimately does Paul believe should be our motivation for living in unity and doing the things he said to do?
Feel free to share what you're learning in the comments below.
More Important than You Know
This week we want to really encourage you to answer the questions below and reach out to someone and share your answers with someone.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?
What do you need to do about it?
How can others help you follow through?