Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ephesians Part 2

Ephesians 2:1-22

Session goal: To discover our current privilege and responsibilities in Christ, and the essence of being united as ‘one’ in Him.
Target Group/ No of People: Young working adults (23-35 years old)/ 15 people

Outline: (Notes for Bible Study Facilitator are in Italics)


In chapter 1, Paul revealed God’s eternal plan in choosing those who are predestined to adoption into God’s family. In chapter 2, Paul explains the execution of this eternal plan. God’s plan is to make sinners into saints and builds them into the body of Christ. It contains a number of vivid contrasts between believers’ previous condition outside of Christ and their current privileged experience of salvation. When God grant us this gracious gift of salvation by faith, we are not left alone but are saved into His family. We are united with other believers into a corporate unity. For Paul, it was the explanation of the union of believing Jews and Gentiles into one humanity.

1. Paul in Eph 2:1 says that his recipients used to be ‘dead’. What does he mean? Paul also mentioned about the gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. Name some of the cravings that enslave us.

Explain the term ‘dead’, which means spiritual dead, not a physical condition. Refer to Luke 15:24 for the story of the Prodigal son who were reckoned as dead. Those who are spiritually dead cannot communicate with the eternal loving God and thus are separated from God. They need to be made alive. Cravings of the sinful nature: the unregenerate incline toward the things of the flesh, which produces works that are contrary to the character of God. It could also mean that we do things that are opposing God and his ways.

2. Eph 2:8-10 explain the surpassing wealth of his grace he showed in his kindness to us; salvation is totally of grace and nothing of human effort. What is this gift? Does the gift include ‘our faith’ by which we come to believe? What do you understand about works? Can you think of any religion in Malaysia that emphasizes salvation by works? How can this knowledge help us to talk and reach out to them?

The gift of God does not refer to ‘faith’ but rather it refers to the whole concept of salvation. The gift of salvation has its origin in God, its basis is grace and it is received by means of faith in Christ. Affirm works as worthless in attaining salvation by cross-referencing Rom 11:16, 2 Tim 1:9, Titus 3:5. Works here refers to human effort. Give example of Buddhism (gain merit by doing good works), Islam (proper guidelines to gain more rewards), Hinduism (do things to appease their gods), Taoist and many more Chinese animistic beliefs that trust in their own ability to do good works or charity in order to ‘obtain’ favour and blessings.

3. ‘For we are God’s workmanship…, to do good works’ (Eph 2:10) What does this mean in our present context? Does doing good works here contradict with the ‘human works’ in previous verse? Give examples of instances of good works you can perform today.

We are God’s new creation. It speaks of God’s physical handiwork and the spiritual recreation of God in the believer’s life. The goals of being created in Christ Jesus is for good works. God’s workmanship is not achieved by good works, but it should result in good works as God has purposed them. Good works carry the connotation of works that are morally and beneficially good for us, for those around us, in the eyes of God.

4. Jesus is our peace (2:14) who destroyed the dividing wall, reconciling men through the cross, putting to death their hostility, and thus creating in himself one new man. What does the ‘wall’ means here? Have we too been guilty in creating ‘wall’ that separates us from those who are outside of the covenant of grace? How can we be more sensitive and compassionate towards outsiders?

Wall in this context means whatever that made the Jews distinctive from the Gentiles, primarily laws. It could also mean the attitudes the Jews had for themselves, who saw them being an exclusive nation. Applying this principle here, we need to beware not to create a ‘wall of hostility’ between ourselves and those who are outside. Jesus came to preach peace to humankind and this includes even our Malay counterparts. At times, we are not even aware of their presence in our radar. May the Lord help us in our ignorance and our non-compassionate hearts, and start to preach peace too so that they too may have access to the Father by one Spirit (Eph 2:17-18)

5. It is the grace of God that we are united into one body of believers; the regenerated sinners from all kinds of backgrounds. What diverse groups of people who normally do not get along have you seen reconciled within the relationships of the body of Christ? What are the common beliefs and practices that can unite diverse people in Christ?


We have a new standing before God once we are saved by grace through faith. Individual sinners obtained the gift of salvation, united with other believers, forming a family of God. As disciple of Christ, we no longer need to be subjected to the yoke of slavery to sin. Christ has made us alive in him and we have the Holy Spirit residing in us to help us walk in love, and do good works for the glory of God. The union we have with other believers can only be successful if love is its basis and mode of operation. Both Jews and Gentiles have been made into one person, growing into a holy temple (Eph 1:22). God’s abiding presence is in this new creation. The one true God that once dwelt in the temple made by hands is not dwelling in the collective entity, the church- united believers who are redeemed by his grace.


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