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Ephesian Bible Study Guides
Eph | 1a | 1b | 2a | 2b | 3a | 3b | 4a | 4b | 5a | 5b | 6a | 6b | Notes 


Belonging to God's Family

Joining God's Family
The Creation of God's Family 1:1-14
Prayer for the Revelation of God's Family 1:15-23
The Transition into God's Family
  • From Death to Life
  • 2:1-10
  • From Strangers to Citizens
  • 2:11-22
    The Mystery of God's Family 3:1-13
    Prayer for Maturity in God's Family 3:14-21
    Living in God's Family
    Living in Unity Appreciating Diversity 4:1-16
    Putting off the Old Self and Putting on the New 4:17-32
    Walking in the Light, Imitating God 5:1-21
    Proper Role Relationships in Family and Society
  • Behaving Properly in Marriage
  • 5:21-33
  • Behaving Properly at Home and on the Job
  • 6:1-9
    Walking as a Soldier in God's Family 6:10-24

    Alternate Ephesians Outline

    God's Work
    Study Guides Key vs

    God's Work of Redemption 1:1-14

    God's Work of Revelation 1:15-23

    God's Work of Resurrection 2:1-10

    God's Work of Reconcilation 2:11-22

    God's Work of Proclamation 3:1-13

    God's Work of Sanctification 3:14-21

    The Christian's Walk

    The Christian Walk of Unity 4:1-16
    UNITY 4:1-16
    The Christian Walk of Repentance 4:17-32
    HOLINESS 4:17-5:14
    The Christian Walk in the Light 5:1-21

    The Christian Walk of Submission I 5:22-33
    WISDOM 5:15-6:9
    The Christian Walk of Submission II 6:1-9

    The Chistian Walk of Power 6:10-23
    POWER 6:10-24


    General Logic

    Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians

    Applications (4:1+)


    Ephesus was a city on the western shore of what is now modern day Turkey. It was originally built by the Greeks as a part of a trade route. By New Testament times Ephesus had declined somewhat because of deforestation which ruined the land and the harbor. The Romans helped to maintain Ephesus as a city for trade. But at this time they were going through an economic decline and depression. Tourism became important to them. And what was their great attraction? One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, The temple of the female goddess Artemis, also called Diana, who was widely worshipped. She was a sort of nature-goddess and prostitution was practiced in the temple as part of the religion. Many would come to Ephesus all over the world to worship Artemis and buy idols of her, which the Ephesians made.

    Paul first visited Ephesus on the way home from his second missionary journey. He talked with the Jews in the synagogue, and they asked him to come back He came back on his third missionary journey. But some of the Jews became hostile. So he took those who wanted to hear more and spent two years preaching and teaching the word of God there. Many became Christians, both Jews and Gentiles.

    Paul was so successful there that the idol makers were losing lots of money. Which could have threatened the entire economy of Ephesus. As a result there was alot of hostility against Christians, lead by a man known as Demetrius, who made idols. This hostility almost led to a riot, but government officials were able to keep peace, mainly because they were afraid of the Romans. Rome was of course ruling over the entire region and had placed some high officials in Ephesus as it was a central location. Furthermore, Rome had hoped to spread its Emporer worship throughout the region, so that despite the negative effect on the Ephesian economy, the officials didn't care very much about the Ephesian's religion.

    6 Problems in the Ephesian Church

    Didn't feel anticipation of going to heaven
    Lacked confidence in the forgiveness of sins
    Had trouble overcoming their sinfulness
    There were ethnic conflicts
    Behaving like the rest of the society
    Had improper attitudes about the roles

    that God had assigned to them in the society

    One way to study Paul's letters is to assume that he's trying to strengthen areas that are weak in the church and to clarify important ideas that the people may not have clear. Examining the letter with such an assumption, my impression is that there were 6 weaknesses among the Ephesian Christians that Paul was trying to strengthen. Three of these are associated with the words: Hope, Riches, and Power which show up throughout the letter.

    Paul was concerned about their lack of the feeling of anticipation of going to heaven. Perhaps they were caught up in the failing economy, or their jobs, or their schooling too much to be looking to the next life. Yet there was a great hope that Paul presented in his message. In the section on God's Work of Redemption, consider questions of: What have we really obtained in this redemption? What guarantees do we have? How do we know personally that we have this redemption? And how much of it is dependent on our own choice?

    But perhaps their struggle with hope was due to their feeling that God was not really rich or generous towards them. Would He forgive all their sins? Or did they have to add some of their own works to make up for their failures? Are there really great riches in heaven awaiting them? Was God really so generous in His love to them? Perhaps because of the failing economy and the increasing persecution around them, they had difficulty believing God to be so rich to them. And perhaps because of these weaknesses of faith, they failed to experience God's power within them: The power to understand the application of the message; the power to stand against sin in their lives and in the world; and the power to do God's work.

    But how could Paul best help them to understand the significance of their position in Christ? In addition to just telling them what their position was, he teaches of a supernatural technique at the end of chapters 1 and 3 that transformed the lives of the Ephesians and the lives of anyone who uses it.

    It seems that they were too much caught up with their ethnic differences. The earliest members of the church were Jews. But slowly the Gentiles dominated the church. No doubt there were ethnic conflicts and power struggles within the church as there had been even between Jesus' disciples. The gentile Christians may have tried to ignore and even eliminate the Jewish roots of their new belief. And the Jewish believers may have seen the Gentiles as second class citizens in the kingdom of God, as they were formerly idolators. Paul resolves these differences in chapters 2 and 4.

    In terms of their behavior, just like many of us Christians today, they tended to sin just like those in the society around them. In Ephesus prostitution was an accepted way of life. No doubt some found stealing from tourists as somehow being justified. Ephesus was a sort of place where you do whatever you feel your flesh wants to do. Not unlike the society we live in. But Paul proposes that they not act like everyone else does, but behave as children of God should. This idea was not accepted by all the Christians. In fact the Nicolatian Christians who lived in self-indulgence were mentioned in Revelation 2 when Jesus was speaking of the church of Ephesus. They were allegedly followers of  Nicolas, who was one of the elders in the church of Jerusalem mentioned in Acts 6:5, but had misconstrued his teachings to justify their indulgent lifestyle. In Rev 2, Jesus in speaking to the church at Ephesus commends them for hating the deeds of these Nicolatians.

    In such a society as Ephesus where people were encourage to exercise unrestrained freedom in carrying out their fleshly desires, concepts of submission and obedience were not seen as virtues. And much the same is true of this society. Being under Roman occupation, though they had fear, they did not have high respect for the authorities over them. Their highest authority, from their point of view, was a woman, Artemis of the Ephesians, who they worshipped as a god. This, with the rampant sexual immorality led to a breakdown of the family structure. The role of husband was not recognized as having authority associated with it. Neither did the husbands show proper love to their wives as they went to the temple to have sex with the temple prostitutes. As the wives did not respect their husbands so also the children did not respect their parents. Perhaps Isaiah puts it best in describing the symptoms of such a society that had turned away from God "Their children are rebellious and women rule over them" Is 3:12 Such was Ephesus. Yet this was not necessarily alarming to the Ephesians as they had redefined the role relationships in the society to conform to the culture. Paul, however, taught them to accept their role within the society as God has place them, but to allow God to define what incorporated that role. And to live within the boundaries of that role as God defined such boundaries.

    Even today we recognize that this concept of submitting to the limitations of the roles God has assigned to us in the church and in the society is the perhaps the most controversial. Such issues are seldom allowed to be discussed in any kind of open forum because they tend to be too devisive and polarizing.

    In conclusion, Paul's letter to the Ephesians is a letter to us. How did the Ephesians turn out? Some time later Jesus talks to them in Rev 2 saying "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Today Ephesus is in ruins and it's country dominated by Islam. Indeed its lampstand has been removed.


    PAUL'S FINAL FAREWELL: ACTS 20 Taught for 3 years, holding back nothing that was helpful Warning: Be watchful, false teachers will arise among you Paul urged them to follow his example of working at a secular job so that he was able not only to support himself, but the men who were with him. In this way be generous and support the weak. In Ephesus, Paul would not have been considered a full-time Christian minister.

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Jul 23,2020