Bible Reading Guide
The letter which we call Ephesians, is the most general of Paul’s letters. It does not seem to be addressing any particular problem or situation in his audience. It seems likely that the letter was written around the same time as the letter to the Colossians as it has a similar end greeting that talks about Tychicus bringing news (Col 4:7, Eph 6:21). It seems likely that this letter was written to a group of churches or believers meeting in various places in the region around the city of Ephesus, reminding them of the great truths that they have in Christ (particularly chapters 1-3) and instructing them on how they should live in light of that (chapters 4-6).
Paul had apparently spent most of 2 years with the people in Ephesus.
What was Paul’s relationship with the believers in Ephesus like?
Although it seems likely that the people he’s writing to in this letter are not exactly the same as those he spent time with in the account in Acts, as you continue in the readings for this month, try to keep in mind what it might have been like to be a believer in the Ephesus region to receive such a letter.
We often skim over the greetings in the letters of the New Testament writers, let’s instead pause to think about what is contained in these short verses.
Who does Paul say he is, and why? (Hint: apostle means ‘sent one’)
What does he call those he’s writing to?
What do we think about ourselves, and our brothers and sisters in Christ? (compared to what Paul says here)
If verses 4-10 can be summarized as our salvation in Christ, what does Paul say is the purpose of what God has done? (Hint: it might be helpful to read from verse 10 and piece together his argument backwards)
How is your perspective about being chosen in Christ similar/different to this?
Spend some time praising God that in him we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (v.3).
How did the Ephesians come to be part of God’s salvation plan?
Reflect on your journey with God, and how it came about; then spend some time praising God for the Holy Spirit who has been given to you sealing you, being the deposit guaranteeing eternity for you (v13-14).
Make a list of the things that Paul prays for.
Spend some time praying for other believers following Paul’s prayer.
What does God’s power do in this passage?
Again, Paul has a cosmic scale in mind as he describes what God has achieved in Christ (see also Day 3). How does knowing that this same power is at work in you give you confidence that God is achieving his purposes in your life?
What is the great transition that Paul describes here?
Praise God for the grace he has shown us, and spend some time praying for your yet-to-believe friends and family, that God might also “make them alive” (v5).
These three verses are a good summary of the gospel, and the effect of salvation in our life. Spend some time memorizing these verses and meditating on the truth throughout the day.
What has been the impact of Christ’s work on the relationship between Gentiles and Israel?
What has happened to the law? And why is this important?
What then is the motivation to have peace between people? And are there relationships that you have with other believers where there should be peace?
How are we described in this passage?
What is Christ’s place in this?
How does today and yesterday’s image of God’s people shape your view of the church and relationships with other believers?
What was the ‘mystery’?
What was God’s purpose for Paul?
What was God’s purpose for the church?
How are each of these things the same/linked?
Another passage of prayer. List out the things Paul prays for here.
Spend some time praying for yourself and others using his words as a starting point.
What are the things in v4-6 that our ‘unity’ (v3) should reflect?
How does this perspective encourage us to live the way we are commanded in v1-2?
Again Paul’s view is cosmic in dimension as he looks at what Christ has done in v7-10. From this perspective he then speaks about the ‘gifts’ he’s given to his people, what are they? (v11)
What is the purpose of these ‘gifts’?
How are you participating in either being a ‘gift’ to others, or in the effect of these ‘gifts’?
What was their former way of life?
What has been your way of life before you came to a living relationship with Christ and/or how has your life been progressively changed by this relationship?
What are the commands in this passage?
What are the motivations given for these commands?
As you read this passage, pray that God would reveal in you any of the sinful thinking or behaviour that Paul is describing.
Spend some time confessing this to God and asking for forgiveness, knowing that in Christ, we are assured of his forgiveness, and that by his Holy Spirit we might live lives pleasing to him.
What are the things ‘of darkness’ described here?
How should children of light live?
If possible, spend some time listening to/ or singing a hymn/Christian song (even better if you can sing with someone!), reflect on the truths in the song.
(For those who are married) How well are you living in obedience to what Paul is commanding in this passage?
(For everyone) How does marriage give us a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church? – reflect on some of the healthy marriages that you know, how does this enrich your understanding of your relationship with Jesus?
Spend some time praying for married couples (and your own marriage, if you are married), and thanking God for the intimate relationship we have with Christ.
What are the motivations given for the commands here?
Although we are not ‘slaves’, we are ‘like slaves of Christ’. With this in mind, how does this affect the way you serve God in the role(s) that you have, whether as a student, worker, or within your family?
What are the armour and sword that we have to fight the spiritual battle?
How might you ‘put on’ these things?
Paul urges us to pray ‘on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests’ as part of the spiritual battle. Particularly, he requests prayer for himself. Spend some time praying for gospel workers and gospel work that you know of, that they may be ready for the battle against the forces that would prevent Jesus from being known and worshipped.
Next month: Luke 12 - 24