Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ephesians Part 3

Ephesians 3:1-21

Theme: The divine mystery and a prayer for strengthened love
Session goal: To discover the mystery revealed to Paul as steward of God, and to know Christ’s strengthened love, which surpasses all knowledge
Target Group/ No of People: Young working adults (23-35 years old)/ 15 people

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


Chapter 3 is often seen as a digression to another subject- the mystery of Christ. Paul here, stops abruptly in the middle Eph 3:1 and digresses to describe the mystery of Christ and his responsibility to make the content known. Afterwards, Paul resumes by praying his second prayer for the recipients. The focus of his prayer is that they might come to know Christ’s strengthened love, which surpasses all knowledge, and consequently demonstrate it toward one another.

1. What does the word ‘mystery’ mean to you? What is this mystery of Christ? What is Paul’s role in the mystery and who is this mystery for?

The mystery here denotes something that was hidden in God and cannot be unravelled or understood by human ingenuity. It is not something mysterious but rather a revealed secret to be understood by all believers. Paul’s main purpose it to assist his recipients in their insight into that which was revealed to him. The content: the believing Jews and Gentiles are together in Christ. This concept is revolutionary for both Jews and Gentiles. This is an effect of Christ’s death on all human beings.

2. Human still create situations in which suspicion and hatred are dividing people. It is a mystery, which God has declared to the church that all people have equal access to Him in Christ. What are the lines of division that people use to separate themselves into groups that despise one another? What are the most polarised group in our community, and our nation? How can we as a church be involved in making known this mystery of God to these groups?

Share on the impact this mystery has on Christians. Divisions based on economic or financial status, colour or race, religious beliefs, politics inclinations et cetera. Share within the group which group has the most factions among themselves. Share on the church’s responsibility to proclaim peace and how we can embark on the ministry of reconciliation.

3. Paul in Eph 3:9-12 explains his ministry of the gospel. The purpose of his ministry is discussed. What the purposes of his ministry found in this verses? In what way are your ministry similar to Paul’s? Are they relevant to your ministry?

God’s wisdom made known to the rulers and authorities (3:10), God’s purpose be accomplished in Christ (3:11), and God’s presence accessible in Christ (3:12).

4. Why do you think that Paul pictured the love of Christ as having “width and length and height and depth”? Why did not Paul just pray that the believers love Christ more?

The measurement is all encompassing although it has no limits as we cannot measure the width, the length, the height and the depth. All of them combined sits as one unity. Paul was not praying that his recipients would know ‘more’ of Christ love as the dimension given is already encompassing the ‘more’ in love with him. Share this principle: if we know how much Christ has loved us, then we would be able to grasp the whole of the understanding (dimension), and enable us to love Christ more.

5. What do you think ‘the fullness of God’ is, and how do we participate in it?

Previously in Eph 1:23, we concluded the church was being filled with God’s moral excellence and power. In this context, to be filled up to God’s fullness is to know the love of Christ. In Christ, this divine fullness belongs to a believer. However, Paul was asking that it might be experientially realized in each one of them.


The mystery revealed to Paul by God, is a mystery of the church where Jewish and Gentiles are positionally ‘one new person’ in Christ. God took the redeemed Jews and Gentiles and made them into one body, creating a new person encompassing reconciliation between the two groups. His prayer is that God would strengthen them in the inner person, resulting in Christ effectively dwelling in them, having been rooted and grounded in his love. This experiential knowledge of Christ’s love is for the purpose of them being filled up with God’s moral character. The prayer in Ephesians 3 then, is a plea for them to comprehend Christ’s love, which would cause them to love their fellow brothers and sisters. This experiential knowledge of Christ’s love is not only for individual believers but is to be applied to the entire corporate body. Only then, can we say ‘to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’ (Eph 3:21).


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