Term 2 2020
Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus gives us a deeper understanding of the impact and significance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus has reconciled all creation to God and has united people from all nations to himself and one another in his church. In this season of relative isolation we need to hold on to these realities that are ours through the immeasurable grace of God. Paul shows how these shape our lives as God’s people – our values, our relationships at home and work, and in society. I trust you will benefit from this series and be equipped by this great letter to live lives worthy of the Lord Jesus.
Walk in the Light! Ephesians 5:3-20 12th July
- What is the light Paul that talks about in the passage? What does the light do?
- How do we leave the darkness and enter the light? Why would we want to leave the darkness? What about the darkness is attractive to people?
- What are the fruitless deeds of darkness mentioned in verse 11? Read Galatians 5:22-23 and compare and contrast the fruit of lightness/the spirit to the fruit of darkness. What does it mean by fruitfulness?
- Is this passage another list of rules you must follow or something else? Why is it so important to remember God’s grace when we read passages like this one? What happens when we forget about his grace?
- Why are the words we choose to use so important? What should we avoid doing? Why should we avoid it? What should we be doing instead?
- What does Paul say children of light should do? How should children of light relate to each other? How should they relate to people still in darkness?
- Pray for wisdom in how to love those around us, whether they are in the dark or in the light.
Give Thanks to God Psalm 100 5th July
- Read Psalm 100. How does it relate to the theme of thanksgiving?
- How do you choose what to be thankful for? What can stop people from being thankful?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Is it possible to give thanks in every circumstance? Why/Why not? Is this reading encouraging or discouraging?
- How can we express our thankfulness? Has there been a time in the past where you have expressed your thankfulness? How did you do it? a) to God? b) to others? c) to ourselves?
- This week is the first week of having Church in person after a few months of online church. What are some things we can be thankful for? What have you been thankful about Church when we haven’t been meeting in person?
- Not all of us can meet together in person yet. How can we encourage and love these people? What might they be feeling?
- A lot of the time it can be hard to be thankful for things. Write a two or three sentence prayer that you can pray when you are not feeling thankful.
Put On Godliness! Ephesians 4:17 – 5:2 28th June
- How does Paul describe the Gentiles? Would they be offended at this?
- What does a hardened heart look like? How can it be softened?
- What are the differences between the old self and the new self? What motivates people to put on their new self?
- How can we change the attitude of our minds? What are some practical things that help?
- Is the list of instructions in 4:25-32 positive or negative? Is it just another list of rules we can’t break? Can you reduce all the instructions down into one instruction?
- What might be hard or helpful about this passage for: a. Someone who has been a Christian all their life. b. A non-Christian who does not think it is fair to describe themselves like Paul does the Gentiles/old self. They have always tried to be a good person. c. A new Christian.
- Walking in the way of love sounds like a lovely sentiment. What can stop us from doing it? How do we actually know if we are being loving to people? Pray for wisdom on how to love people in your lives.
Grow Up and Serve! Ephesians 4:1-16 21st June
- What is the calling that has been received? What does a life worthy of this calling look like? Why is unity an important part of it?
- How many times is the word one repeated in verse 4 and 5? What is it emphasising and why?
- Who is the person who ascended and descended? How can this person have taken people captive but also given them gifts? Is being captive a positive thing?
- Who is being equipped to do works of service? What is the end goal of these works of service? Do you feel like you are being equipped? Why/why not? How can people be equipped?
- What is the difference between a mature and built up church and one that is like an infant tossed about on waves? What is the middle ground between them? How might these churches function differently? What would it be like to be a church member at them?
- What is speaking the truth in love like? Have you ever experienced a time when someone has spoken the truth to you in love? What happened? Was it a positive or a negative experience?
- What is a big part and a small part of the body of Christ? Why are both big parts and small parts important and needed? Pray and thank God for your Christian brothers and sisters and the role they play in the body of Christ.
The Apostle’s Prayer Diary Ephesians 3:14-21 14th June
- What is the reason Paul talks about in verse 14? Look back at the previous chapters of Ephesians to find out. Why does the reason make Paul pray on his knees?
- Does Paul’s prayer follow a formula? For example, a teaspoon prayer (TSP) thank you, sorry, please. Can you categories his prayer points into a formula? Is it a positive or a negative to pray according to a formula?
- What does an inner being strengthened by the spirit look like? What does it not look like?
- What is the power Paul is praying people will have? Is ‘ability’ a better word for power in this passage? Why/why not? How is this power at work within us (vs 20)?
- What is the love of Christ? How does his love surpass knowledge? How can we display this love to others if it surpasses knowledge?
- How do you finish your prayers? Compare that to how Paul finishes his. What motivates Paul to pray like this?
- Spend some time praying for our church as we slowly move back to meeting in person. What words or phrases might Paul use if he were to pray that prayer?
The Mystery Revealed! Ephesians 3:1-13 7th June
- What is the mystery that has been made known? Why is it important to identify it? Why has it been made known to Paul now and not before?
- Identify the words used to describe Paul. Why does he use those specific words? Does he have a healthy self-image? What is he building his identity on?
- At the time of writing the letter to the Ephesians, commentators believe that Paul was in prison. How might that be reflected in the passage?
- What are the boundless riches of Christ? Are they literal riches or something else? If Paul is a prisoner and a servant of the gospel, what riches is he experiencing? Do we tend to limit these riches? If so how?
- How can Paul’s sufferings be for the Ephesians glory?
- What role does the church have in God’s plan? Do you think we are fulfilling it? Especially as a church in quarantine?
- What stops us from approaching God with freedom and confidence? What can help us to do that? Pray and thank God for this freedom and confidence.
Tear Down This Wall! Ephesians 2:11-22 31st May
- How can the passage be read differently for these five different groups of people? What might their reaction be? What does Paul want their reaction to be? a. A Jew? b. A Jewish Christian? c. A Gentile? d. A Gentile Christian? e. A modern-day reader?
- What would cause two groups of people to build a dividing wall of hostility, both figuratively and literally? Can you give any examples from history?
- How does God intend to bring peace? Is it ‘world peace’ or something different?
- What role does the Holy Spirit play in creating a new humanity?
- If you had to take a citizenship test to become a part of God’s new humanity what would be in it? Would it be helpful or harmful to have one?
- How can a person be a cornerstone of a building? What does that look like in the modern-day church when there are so many different types of them?
- What are some other types of walls we build between us? Take some time to pray for people who are on the other side of those walls.
Amazing Grace! Ephesians 2:1-10 24th May
- What does a non-Christian think about the word ‘grace’? How might you explain it to them?
- What are the differences between grace, mercy and justice? Why is it important to know the differences between them?
- What are the differences between being alive and dead in this passage? Why might Paul use this language to describe Christians and non-Christians? Can you think of another way to explain the before and after of grace?
- How might you use this passage to talk to someone who is: a. Doubting their faith and their salvation? b. Believes that good works is equal to grace? c. A non-Christian who is struggling with depression?
- Have you ever experienced grace from someone other than God? What happened?
- Why is it so hard to show grace to those around us?
- While we know grace is a free gift, do you still find yourself trying to earn it?
Thoughts and Prayers Ephesians 1:15-23 17th May
- What is the reason for praying mentioned in verse 15? Is that the same reason you have for praying for people?
- How can the eyes of your heart be enlightened? Enlightened to what? Do you really want to have the eyes of your heart enlightened, isn’t ignorance bliss?
- How does wisdom and revelation help you to know God better? Does it have any other purpose? Is it something that you normally pray for yourself and for others?
- Can this passage be read as a prayer? Why/why not?
- What is God’s power and how does he use it? How is it different from the power of a politician, a celebrity or a health worker?
- Does Jesus fulfill his job description in vs 20-23? What is he meant to be doing?
- Does it feel like Jesus is filling the church in every way? What might that look like both practically and theologically? What are the obstacles to that? Take some time to pray for people in our church who you haven’t seen or spoken to while in lock-down. Maybe choose the least likely people you would normally pray for, the ones you only know by sight.
God’s Big Picture Ephesians 1:3-14 10th May
- Read through the passage aloud. In the original Greek, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one entire sentence. How many sentences are there in the English translation? Try and notice what words or phrases are repeated. What jumps out at you?
- What about your life at the moment doesn’t feel like a blessing?
- What is a worldly definition of a blessing? What is a biblical definition of blessing? Is there any difference?
- What are the blessings in the passage? What would the opposite of them be? Who is being blessed? How do we get the blessings? What role does Jesus have in these blessings?
- Why does Paul list these blessings for the Ephesian church? What important theological things are mentioned in this passage? If you have time, make a flow chart of the main ideas of the passage. How does each verse impact the next?
- How often do you so thoroughly praise God like Paul does here? Read through the passage aloud again with the intention of praising God. Does reading the passage feel different this time? Why/Why not? Did you notice different things about the passage this time?
- Make a list of 30 things you are thankful to God for. They can be big things or little things like the smell of rain or potatoes. Then pray through the list praising God.
No longer business as usual Acts 19:1-20:1, Ephesians 1:1-2 3rd May
- Read each section of the chapter (Acts:1-12, 13-22, 23-31 and 32-20v1) and identify
- the main characters/actors
- the motives of each character or group involved
- Read Acts 19:1-12. This is the only example of “re-baptism” in the New Testament. What do you think is missing in the faith of these believers?
- What do you think Luke means when he says “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord”? How do you think this happened? What evidence is there that Paul strategically planned his “missionary journeys”? How would Ephesus fit in this plan?
- Read Acts 19:13-22. List the features of this account that highlight the spiritual battle that accompanied the gospel’s entry into Ephesus. Why do you think features like this so rare in Western societies? 50,000 Drachmas is about $7.5m in today’s terms. What economic impact does Paul’s ministry have? Why do you think these valuable texts were destroyed and not sold?
- Read Acts 19:23-31. How do these verses show the integration of religion, culture and economic life in the first century? In what ways is this different from Australian society? Can you think of economic impacts (for good or bad) that Christian faith might have on our society or on the lives of individual Christians?
- Read Acts 19:32 – 20:1. What arguments does the city clerk use to calm the crowd? Why are they effective? What is the underlying concern that makes them so?
- Read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this week.