Ephesians

Ephesians is the Gospel of the Church. We are not living out an individual or privatised faith but rather a faith in community, we are the people of God together. So what does it mean to be people of God? What does it mean to live a life shaped after the life of Christ? Through studying this book together we will discover that a life held in Christ and moulded by him is one that brings life in place of death, unity and reconciliation in place of division and alienation, righteousness in place of sinfulness, love and peace in place of hatred and strife. The vision Paul paints of the church here is one that stands out in bright relief against the sombre background of the old world, for together we truly are God’s very good workmanship created, founded, held and sent in Christ Jesus.

1. Chosen in Christ

 Ephesians 1:1-14

Naomi Black - 22 Aug 2021

The opening of this letter repeats again and again the phrase ‘in him’, Paul is beginning as he means to go on. Everything we are and have and will be is found in Christ. What does it mean to be chosen in Christ? Does it mean that only some are and other aren’t? Or is it bigger than that? Paul begins this letter with a birds-eye-view, unfettered declaration of praise of who Jesus is, as we come to understand our chosen-ness we should begin from this perspective, from the spectacular view of who Jesus is and what he has done. It is from that place that our identity as chosen, as being ‘in Christ’, as being those caught up in this glorious inheritance, is found.

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2. Knowledge of Christ

 Ephesians 1:15-23

James Cant - 29 Aug 2021

Paul’s thanksgiving and praise spills over into a prayer, a prayer of deep thanks for all that he sees growing in this young church. His prayer is that they would continue to grow in their knowledge of God; that they would know him better. He prays that they would know the hope they have, the inheritance they have and the power that lives in them because of Christ. What difference would such a prayer make to our own lives? How can we strive to grow in our knowledge of God, how can we be those who pray to know him better?

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3. Alive in Christ

 Ephesians 2:1-10

Andy Harding - 5 Sep 2021

Being alive in Christ is a whole new way of being, through no effort of our own we are lifted up by the incomparable grace and kindness of God displayed through Jesus. This is the life we can have now, one in sync, in tune, in rhythm, infused with the grace of God. Paul begins by reminding the young church, and us, that at one point we were not alive in this way, at one point we followed a different road, a road that led not to life, but to death. To know our full alive-ness in Christ we must remember how far we’ve come, how far the grace of God has brought us.

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4. One in Christ

 Ephesians 2:11-22

Eddie Backler - 12 Sep 2021

The reconciliation between Jew and Gentile in Christ that Paul is expounding on here is a reconciliation more radical than we can really understand. It is not that one group is merged into the other with no trace of where they came from, or that they are simply an amalgamation of the two strands, rather it is that one new family with a brand new identity has been created in Christ and through Christ. Why does this matter to us? We’re no longer dealing with this dichotomy between Jew and Gentile. It’s important for us to know that our faith was born out of a place of reconciliation, of healing a divide and that in Christ, new creation in place of division is truly possible. As Paul continues we see that the result of this ‘one-ness’ is that a new household is being built, and that we are included. God has made a way for us to live in deep connection with him, no longer foreigners and strangers but as those built up in him.

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5. The Mystery of Christ

 Ephesians 3:1-13

Zak Robb - 19 Sep 2021

The mystery of Christ here is that through the gospel, those on the outside, those previously excluded are welcomed in, able to fully share in the promise of Jesus. Paul describes this as a mystery that was kept hidden and is now revealed, a mystery that we can know. There is mystery in our faith, we know everything about God that he wants us to know, but we don’t know everything about God! What does it mean to live in the light of what we know and also to embrace the mystery held in Christ?

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6. The Love of Christ

 Ephesians 3:14-21

Andy Harding - 3 Oct 2021

We reach the halfway point of Paul’s letter. He’s expounded on all these big doctrinal points in the first half, calling us into deeper knowledge and understanding of the work of Christ but at this point he draws us back to what really matters, as Tom Wright says, ‘perhaps the best Christian doctrine is that which emerges from the life of prayer’. It seems that Paul’s deepest desire for this young church, and perhaps the most important thing for them, is that they would know the love held for them in Christ more fully. That is what our faith hinges on, that is what our faith is built on, the wide, high, long and deeply abundant love of Christ.

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7. Unity in Christ

 Ephesians 4:1-16

Mae Moore - 10 Oct 2021

Everyone has a part to play in this beautiful thing called the Church. Paul opens up for us here the many facets of leadership and contribution that make up the body of Christ, these gifts of grace that have been apportioned to us. Our flourishing however doesn’t just come from using and embracing and welcoming these gifts (which is important), our flourishing comes when we understand that the purpose of all of these gifts is one of unity. How can we be people who ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’?

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8. New in Christ

 Ephesians 4:17-32

Odele Harding - 17 Oct 2021

What does it mean to ‘put on the new self’? It’s often supposed to be a matter of behaviour first; do this, say that, don’t do this, don’t say that. But Paul makes it clear here that it starts not with our actions first, but with our minds (v.23). Tom Wright says that, ‘genuine Christianity opens the mind so that it can grasp truth at deeper and deeper levels’; new life springs from a renewed and transformed mind and heart. And so then these instructions that Paul follows on with become not just a list of do’s and don’ts that we may succeed or fail at, but rather they are the result of a renewed mind motivated and transformed by the kindness of Jesus.

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9. Imitators of Christ

 Ephesians 5:1-20

Steve McLeister - 24 Oct 2021

Again Paul comes to us with what could seem like a list of instructions, of things to do and things to steer clear of and as we read it, we probably find ourselves having failed at every turn! The opening of this chapter is perhaps of the greatest importance as we try and understand it, we are to follow God’s example, living into our identity as his dearly loved children, walking in the way of love just as Jesus did. As imitators of Christ it isn’t about getting a good score on the behaviour measure but rather it is about choosing the Jesus way every day, choosing to walk in his light, choosing to be motivated by his love instead of finding out motivations elsewhere. We are not walking in darkness, we have the light of Christ to guide our every step.

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10. Church of Christ

 Ephesians 5:21-33

Naomi Black - 7 Nov 2021

Mutually submitting to one another is the mark of those who follow Jesus, as Jesus demonstrated Himself at Passover by adorning the clothes of a servant and washing his disciples feet. In chapter 5 Paul is continuing his argument for the church family to live life in the Spirit. The primary context is to view all relationships in light of being those who follow Christ and who are filled by the Holy Spirit. The marriage relationship is used as an example to help demonstrate the mutual self-giving and submission of all believers to one another as an expression of being the bride of Christ.

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11. Freedom in Christ

 Ephesians 6:1-9

Andy Harding - 14 Nov 2021

We know that in this life there are hierarchies and unjust power balances. But we also learn here that God shows no favouritism. In the case of seemingly inescapable powerlessness, such as with a child and their parents, or a slave and their enslaver, we are reminded that God knows what is in our hearts and sees whatever good we do. We know that ultimately there is freedom in Christ and that God is a God who enacts equality and justice. The message for the church is that for it to be a place of ‘on earth, as it is in heaven’ we too need to be without favouritism or injustice.

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12. Equipped in Christ

 Ephesians 6:10-24

Sarah Johnson - 21 Nov 2021

We reach the end of Ephesians with a call to be fully equipped in Christ for the times of struggle ahead of us. Paul reminds us that we have everything we need to stand firm in the face of opposition: God’s truth; righteousness; the gospel of peace; faith; salvation and Holy Spirit. What does it look like to daily clothe ourselves in these gifts God has given us? Paul lands his letter with the repeated encouragement to pray. Not only are we equipped in Christ, but we also get to continue to come to God for all our needs and participate in his plans. Prayer is what sustains us, and Paul makes it clear that this is not just one-on-one prayers between us and God, but that essential to life in Christ is praying for all members of the church.

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