Ephesians 1-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 10, 2000


We’re going to begin a grand experiment with our Sunday morning and Sunday evening studies.  We’re going to try and follow the example of Pastor Chuck in doing a survey on Sunday nights of a couple of chapters, while taking a section out of those chapters on Sunday morning and going a little more in depth.

Background to Ephesus

From Pastor Chuck:

The church in Ephesus, it seemed, was established by Apollos, who was a man who was mighty in Scriptures.  Now there was an interesting couple that Paul met in Corinth.  They were business people, tent makers by trade.  So when Paul was in Corinth he got a job with them--Aquila and his wife Priscilla.  They were Jews.  They had first lived in Rome.  They were expelled with all of the Jews from Rome, under Claudius.  They had moved to Corinth, where Paul met them and labored with them in tentmaking, in order that Paul might provide for his needs in the ministry.  They moved on from Corinth to Ephesus. 

And there came to Ephesus, this man Apollos, who was a brilliant man, mighty in Scripture.  He was able to prove from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.  So a group of believers gathered in Ephesus.  The thing with Apollos is that he only knew the baptism of John, so Aquila and Priscilla took him aside.  They explained to him more fully concerning Jesus.  Apollos went on to Corinth.  Paul came to the church in Ephesus. 

There were certain disciples, about twelve of them.  There seemed to be something lacking in their joy or in their love, in their fervor and excitement for the Lord.  So Paul asked them, did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?  They responded, we didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit.  Paul said, well how were you baptized then?  They said, by John’ s baptism.  Paul said, well he baptized unto repentance but he spoke of Jesus Christ who would fill you with the Holy Spirit. So they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  And Paul laid hands on them.  They received the Holy Spirit. 

Paul stayed there in Ephesus for about three years.  Again working, no doubt, with Priscilla and Aquila making tents and ministering as the body of Christ grew in Ephesus into a very strong body.  In fact the influence of Christianity became so strong in Ephesus that the silversmiths created sort of a riot because they made little silver idols of Diana, the goddess of the Ephesians.  People were not buying the idols.  Business was down.  They attributed it to the fact that Paul was preaching that Diana was not a god and that gods are not made with man’s hands, these little images that they make are not really god.  And so the riot ensued as a result of Demetrius and the silversmiths creating the turmoil.  But Paul established very strongly the church in Ephesus.  It because a very strong church.  The area around Ephesus, that area of Asia, was sort of saturated with the gospel. 

And so the other major cities in that area were evangelized and churches were established so that when Jesus, in the Book of Revelation, addressed the seven churches of Asia, Ephesus was the first church that He addressed.  Paul’s last recorded visit to the church of Ephesus was in the Book of Acts, when he was on his way back to Jerusalem, with an offering for the church that he had gathered from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia.  Paul called for the elders to meet him at Miletus, which was the area, actually Ephesus was about ten miles from the sea.  So he invited them to come on out.  He ministered to the elders there and departed with tears.  That was the last recorded visit of Paul. 

There are early writings that are not Biblical but are sort of historical, that say that Paul’s first appearing before Nero went rather well in that there were no charges really to be brought against him.  Paul was released.  Now we don’t know this from the Bible, but from early records.  And according to those early records, when Paul was released, he went back to Ephesus.  Then Nero started a tremendous persecution against the church.  Paul was arrested again.  This time he was beheaded at the edict of Nero. 

John the beloved disciple, spent his last days in Ephesus, prior to his being banished to the island of Patmos, as Polycarp became the minister or the overseer of the church in Ephesus, one of the early church fathers of whom there are a lot of historic records. 

So the church of Ephesus, now the interesting thing is that when Jesus wrote to the church of Ephesus, they had left their first love.  They were still very a strong, influential church, but they lacked the first bloom of love that they once had. The Lord was rebuking them for that loss of their first love. 

This letter was written from Rome in about the year, 64 AD.  It is the first of what are know as the prison epistles of Paul.  It was sent by Paul at the same time as the letter was sent to the church in Colosse, which is a companion letter to the church in Ephesus.  These were to be sort of general letters to the churches.  They were to be exchanged among the churches.  You’ll find that Paul will address many of the issues in the letter to the Colossians that he addresses here in the letter to the Ephesians.  Also, it is thought that this letter was intended for the church of Laodicea.  Some of the early commentators believed that this letter was actually sent to the Laodiceans, but that lacks any real substantial evidence.

:1-14 – See Sunday morning’s study

:15-23  Paul’s prayer

:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Paul’s prayer. 

One of the goals of prayer is learning to pray “according to God’s will”.

(1 John 5:14-15 KJV)  And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

I think we can learn a lot about how to pray if we pay attention to Paul’s prayers.

:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

wisdom and revelation come through the knowledge of God.

wisdomsophia – wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters

revelationapokalupsis – laying bear, making naked; a disclosure of truth, instruction

(Eph 1:17 NLT)  asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

I think that part of the inheritance that God has for us are the “riches” that are the saints.  God’s people are a great treasure.

:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Eyes to be opened to see –


The wealth in God’s people

God’s power for us

:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Jesus is the head of the church.

The church is His body, His physical presence on the earth.

We are His hands, His feet.

Ephesians 2

:1  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:

quickened – made alive.  Actually, this word is not in the Greek, it was added by the translators to help understand what God has done.  It is consistent with verse 5.

dead – Before knowing Jesus, we were spiritually dead because of our sin.  We were spiritually alienated from God.

:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

courseaion – for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe; period of time, age

worldkosmos – the world, the universe; the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family; the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ; the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ

prince of the power of the air – Satan

Before coming to Jesus, we were all under the power and control of Satan and this world.


Don’t expect holiness from unbelievers

The other day on the radio program To Every Man An Answer, a caller asked for counsel in a situation where he as a Christian was going into a business partnership with an unbeliever.  They were going to open up a gas station and were having a disagreement about whether or not to sell Playboy and other pornographic magazines.  Pastor Chuck told the caller that this was just the beginning of the problems he was going to have.
It’s not that we can’t stand up for our rights and be salt and light in our country, but don’t be too surprised when an unbeliever can’t understand why you don’t want to go to a certain movie, or why you ask them to behave in a certain way.
Without Jesus, they are “prisoners” of the enemy.
They also don’t need refining, they need Jesus.
When we invite people to come to Jesus, we don’t expect them to clean up their lives first.  They are unable to do so without the Lord’s help.

:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

conversationanastrepho – to turn upside down, overturn; metaph. to conduct one’s self, behave one’s self, live

lustsepithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

The unbeliever lives according to the lusts of his flesh.

:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

But God … - If it weren’t for God’s love for us, we would have perished because of our sins.  He didn’t have to do anything for us, He could have simply ordered His justice and let us face the consequences for our sins.

:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

quickened us togethersuzoopoieo – to make one alive together

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, loveliness; good will, loving-kindness, favour.  It is God giving you what you don’t deserve.  God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

This chapter is one of the great descriptions of what grace is all about.  We were totally deserving of God’s wrath, but God went ahead and paid for our salvation by sending Jesus to die on a cross for us.

:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

When Jesus was raised from the dead, we were raised too.

When we are in Christ Jesus, we have a seat in the heavenly places.

:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

showendeiknumi – to point out; to show, demonstrate, prove, whether by arguments or by acts; to manifest, display, put forth

exceedinghuperballo – to surpass in throwing, to throw over or beyond any thing; to transcend, surpass, exceed, excel; excelling, exceeding

God wants you to be a trophy of His grace for everyone in heaven to look at and marvel.

:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

We are saved from God’s wrath because of God’s grace.

God saw our need and sent Jesus to die in our place.

We receive this salvation through faith.

We have to trust God and believe that Jesus will pay for our sins.

Even this ability to trust God is a gift from Him.

Without Him giving us faith, we would not even have the ability to trust Him on our own.

:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Basic doctrine of salvation.  Salvation is based on what God does for us, not upon what we do for God.

:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

workmanshippoiema – that which has been made (poieo); a work; of the works of God as creator.  We get our word “poem” from this, the idea being a work of beauty, a work of art.  We are of God’s making, God’s work of art.

worksergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking; any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work


God has a plan for your life.

He has “good works” planned for you to do.  You have a purpose.
There is a “blueprint” for your life, planned long ago.
Your life has a “design” to it, and the purpose of the design is for you to accomplish certain “works” for God.
We aren’t saved by our works, but we are saved to do works.

:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

Paul is writing to non-Jewish people.  This is the meaning of “Gentile”.  One of the distinguishing marks of a Jew was that they were circumcised, a part of their flesh had been cut away in a ceremony.  The Gentiles were called the “uncircumcision”.

:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

aliensapallotrioo – to alienate, estrange

commonwealthpoliteia – the administration of civil affairs; a state or commonwealth; citizenship, the rights of a citizen

Before Jesus, the only way a person could know and relate to the God who created the universe was to come through the religion of the Jews.  They were God’s chosen people, given the Laws that showed how God was to be related to.

Before Jesus, if you were a Gentile, there was no hope for you, unless you converted to Judaism.

:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Jesus has made it possible for not only Jews to be saved, but for Gentiles to be saved as well.

His blood can pay for any person’s sins.

Jesus didn’t just die for the sins of the Jews, but for the sins of the whole world.

But note, the way to God hasn’t changed.  It’s not that God has now opened a different road to Him.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish Law.

The way to God has always been through substitutionary sacrifice.

In the Jewish Law, the people were taught to sacrifice animals, so that the animals would pay for the sins of the person bringing the sacrifice.
But this was only setting things up for the final sacrifice, Jesus, who would be the “Lamb of God” to take away the sins of the world.
As Gentiles, be can be saved, not because we don’t have to worry about the Law, but because Jesus has fulfilled the Jewish Law for us.

:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Jesus has taken down the wall that separates the Jews from the Gentiles.

:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Jesus fulfilled the Law, lived a perfect life, then served as a spotless Lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

far off – Gentiles

nigh (near) – Jews

:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Gentiles don’t become “Israel”, but are fellow-citizens.

:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The Mormons use this verse to say that a church needs apostles and prophets.  “Does your church have apostles and prophets”, the missionaries will ask you.

Our church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.  We have their words written down in the New Testament.

There is no need for a new foundation.  The foundation in the New Testament has already been laid.

:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

God dwells in us.  We, gathered together, are the temple of God.

(Psa 22:3 NASB)  Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

He dwells here as we praise Him.

Ephesians 3

:1  For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Paul has been in prison in Rome because of the preaching of the gospel.  His whole imprisonment started in Jerusalem because of how he, as a Jew, had been reaching out to the Gentiles.  The non-believing Jews didn’t like this.

:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret, mystery

:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

The “mystery” was that Christ would also save Gentiles (vs.6).

:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Before the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10, neither the church nor the Jews had a clue as to what God had in mind for the Gentiles.

But as we’ve seen through Isaiah, God had planned on saving Gentiles all along.

(Isa 2:3 KJV)  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
(Isa 42:6 KJV)  I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
(Isa 55:5 KJV)  Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
(Isa 60:3 KJV)  And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

effectual workingenergeia – working, efficiency; in the NT used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the Devil

powerdunamis – strength power, ability

Ministry is through grace.

You can serve because of what you have been given, not because of how great you are.

What you do is only effective if you are doing it in His power.

:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;


Humility to be useful.

I think that for God to be able to use us as much as He could, we need to learn that we too are the “least” of all the saints.  God isn’t lucky to have us.  It’s when we come to the place where we know that we really don’t have anything to offer others that we can let God use us.
Yet in reality, Paul was quite a knowledgeable fellow.  He was quite useful.  But he had to be broken first.
Moses was like this.  At forty years old he thought he was going to deliver his people.  He was the adopted son of Pharoah, schooled in Egypt.  But it wasn’t until he learned the lessons of 40 years in the backside of the desert that he was able to be used by God to bring deliverance.

:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

The mystery being that God would save the Gentiles too.

:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

The angels have learned about God’s wisdom and plans as they watch what has happened in the church.

:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

We have boldness and access to God because of our faith in Jesus.

:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Paul was suffering because of his preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.

:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Another prayer of Paul’s.

:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Not just the Jews, but the Gentiles too.

:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Main prayer – to be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit.

strengthenedkrataioo – to strengthen, make strong; to be made strong, to increase in strength, to grow strong

mightdunamis – strength power, ability

:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

dwellkatoikeo – to dwell, settle; metaph. divine powers, influences, etc., are said to dwell in his soul, to pervade, prompt, govern it; to dwell in, inhabit

Is Jesus “at home” in your heart?

rootedrhizoo – to cause to strike root, to strengthen with roots, to render firm, to fix, establish, cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded

groundedthemelioo – to lay the foundation, to found; to make stable, establish

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence


Roots and foundations

I think one reason that people fall away from the Lord is because they lack deep roots and a solid foundation.
Sower and seed (Matt. 13) – shallow roots allow the plants to wither in the heat.
Bad foundation (Mat. 7) – the storms will throw the house down.

:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

May be ableexischuo – to be eminently able, able, to have full strength

to comprehendkatalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, attain to, to make one’s own, to take into one’s self, appropriate; to seize upon, take possession of; to lay hold of with the mind; to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend

:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Strengthened in order to know the love of Christ, to know just how big it really, really is.

to knowginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel

You kind of get a picture of a person being told to walk around a building to get a concept of how big this building is, and the building contains the love that God has for you.  Except as you begin to walk around the perimeter, you find that it has no end.  The building just goes on and on.  There is absolutely no end to the love that God has for you.

:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,

is abledunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

exceedinghuper – in behalf of; over, beyond, more than

abundantlyperissos – exceeding some number or measure or rank or need; over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

God can do things even beyond your wildest dreams.  He is able to do above anything you can ask Him for.

:20  according to the power that worketh in us,

powerdunamis – strength power, ability

that workethenergeo – to be operative, be at work, put forth power

God is able to do incredible things for us.


God wants His power to be IN your life.

Don’t just be thinking that His great power is outside of us, like some genie that appears and grants your wish.
Sometimes the incredible things God wants to do is through the power that He puts in YOUR life.
Sometimes we struggle with things in our life and as we pray, we are hoping that God will somehow do something that affects the outside of our life.
A man having a struggle with pornography, he prays for deliverance, and I know that sometimes you have this idea that you will never have another opportunity to look at pornography again.

But sometimes God wants the answer to come from an ability He wants to work IN your life.  Sometimes He wants YOU to turn off the TV.  Sometimes He wants YOU to make the changes.

:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.