What is Inductive Bible Study?
Inductive Bible Study is a prominent and useful methodology that helps readers observe the text, then interpret the text, and finally apply the text into their lives (i.e. the Observation, Interpretation, and Application framework).
A Year In Ephesians
Purpose: To strengthen the believers in Ephesus in their Christian faith by explaining the nature and purpose of the church, the body of Christ
Original audience: The church at Ephesus, then circulated to neighboring local churches
Date written: Approximately A.D 60, from Rome, during Paul's imprisonment there
Setting: The letter was not written to confront any heresy or problem in the churches. It was sent with Tychicus to strengthen and encourage the churches in the area. Paul had spent over three year with the Ephesian church. As a result, he was very close to them. Paul met with the elders of the Ephesian church at Miletus (Acts 20:17-38) – a meeting that was filled with great sadness because he was leaving then for what he thought would be the last time. Because the letter contains no specific references to people or problems in the Ephesian church and because the words "in Ephesus" (1:1) are not present in some early manuscripts. Paul may have intended this to be a circular letter to be read to all the churches in the area
Key verses: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (4:4-6)
Key people: Paul, Tychicus
Author, Date & Place of Writing:
The author identifies himself as Paul (1:1; 3:1; cf 3:7,13; 4:1; 6:19-20). Some have taken the absence of the usual personal greetings and the verbal similarity of many parts to Colossians, among other reasons, as grounds for doubting authorship by the apostle Paul. However, this was probably a circular letter, intended for other churches in addition to the one in Ephesus (1:1,15; 6:21-23). Paul may have written it about the same time as Colossians, C. A.D. 60, while he was in prison at Rome (3:1; 4:1; 6:20).
Overall Questions (look up the answers and type them out in the 'Add notes' tab below):
- WHO wrote Ephesians?
- WHEN was is written?
- WHERE was Ephesus?
- WHAT was the city mainly known for?
Unlike several of the other letters Paul wrote, Ephesians does not address any particular error or heresy. Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers, so that they might understand better the dimensions of God's eternal purpose and grace and come to appreciate the high goals God has for the church.
The letter opens with a sequence of statements about God's blessings, which are interspersed with a remarkable variety of expressions drawing attention to God's wisdom, forethought and purpose. Paul emphasizes that we have been saved, not only for our personal benefit, but also to bring praise and glory to God. The climax of God's purpose, "when the times will have reached their fulfillment," is to bring all things in the universe together under Christ (1:10). It is crucially important that Christians realize this, so in 1:15-23 Paul prays for their understanding (a second prayer occurs in 3:14-21).
Having explained God's great goals for the church, Paul proceeds to show the steps toward their fulfillment. First, God has reconciled individuals to himself as an act of grace (2:1-10). Second, God has reconciled these saved individuals to each other, Christ having broken down the barriers through his own death (2:11-22). But God has done something even beyond this: He has united these reconciled individuals in one body, the church. This is a "mystery" not fully known until it was revealed to Paul (3:1-6). Now Paul is able to state even more clearly what God has intended for the church, namely, that it be the means by which he displays his "manifold wisdom" to the "rules and authorities in the heavenly realms" (3:7-13). It is clear through the repetition of "heavenly realms" (1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12) that Christian existence is not merely on an earthly plane. It receives its meaning and significance from heaven, where Christ is exalted at the right hand of God (1:20).
Nevertheless, that life is lived out on earth, where the practical daily life of the believer continues to work out the purposes of God. The ascended Lord gave "gifts" to the members of his church to enable them to minister to one another and so promote unity and maturity (4:1-16). The unity of the church under the headship of Christ foreshadows the uniting of "all things in heaven and on earth" under Christ (1:10). The new life of purity and mutual deference stands in contrast to the old way of life without Christ (4:17-6:9). Those who are "strong in the Lord" have victory over the evil one in the great spiritual conflict, especially through the power of prayer (6:10-20; 1:3).
How to read Ephesians:
Satisfying our thirst for identity and fulfillment is not found in the adventure of an exotic safari, the success of a booming business venture, or the passion of a romantic relationship with that perfect someone. Rather it occurs as we discover the purpose for our lives. This letter answers the question men and women have asked throughout all time, “Why am I here?” The answer may astound you. Interested? Read on. Our journey with God is only beginning, and it promises to get better and better!
Paul uses the biggest, most extravagant words to paint the picture of how incredible it is to discover our identity and purpose as God’s beloved. Don’t rush through this superlative-laden description of the indescribable riches of God’s redemptive acts! Take time to savor each nuance of meaning as Paul reveals who God is and his measureless love for you (Eph 1:17-23; 3:15-21). Join Paul in worshiping God for the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8) because of his incomparable sacrifice on the cross!
- This letter divides into three parts: Chapters 1-3 speak of the Christian’s wealth in Christ; Eph 4:1-6:9 of the Christian’s walk; Eph 6:10-24 of the Christian’s warfare. As you study this book, you’ll learn about God’s intentions for his people, and you will gain insight into the nature of the church. Notice how Paul uses various word pictures to stress the unity of all believers.
The general theology of Ephesians is direct and unambiguous, presenting no ideas or interpretations whose meaning are seriously contended. There are, however, some texts that require careful thought to rightly interpret, namely:
- 2:8, in which one must decide if the salvation or the faith is the gift.
- 4:5, in which the type of baptism must be discerned.
- 4:8, in its relationship to Ps 68:18.
I. Greetings (1:1-2)
II. The Divine Purpose: The Glory and Headship of Christ (1:3-14)
III. Prayer That Christians May Realize God’s Purpose and POwer (1:15-23)
IV. Steps Toward the Fulfillment of God’s Purpose (chs.2-3)
A. Salvation of individuals by Grace (2:1-10)
B. Reconciliation of Jew and Gentile through the Cross (2:11-18)
C. Uniting of Jew and Gentiles in One Household (2:19-22)
D. Revelation of God’s Wisdom through the Church (3:1-13)
E. Prayer for Deeper Experience of God’s Fullness (3:14-21)
V. Practical Ways to Fulfill God’s Purpose in the Church (4:1-6:20)
A. Unity (4:1-6)
B. Maturity (4:7-16)
C. Renewal of Personal Life (4:17-5:20)
D. Deference in Personal Relationships (5:21-6:9)
- Principle (5:21)
- Husbands and wives (5:22-33)
- Children and parents (6:1-4)
- Slaves and masters (6:5-9)
E. Strength in the Spiritual Conflict (6:10-20)
VI. Conclusion, Final Greetings and Benediction (6:21-24)
God's Character in Ephesians:
- God is accessible - 2:13, 18; 3:12
- God is glorious - 1:12; 3:16
- God is kind - 2:7
- God is loving - 2:4-5
- God is merciful - 2:4
- God is powerful - 1:19; 3:7, 20; 6:10
- God is a promise keeper - 1:13; 2:12; 3:6
- God is reconciling - 2:14, 17
- God is unified - 4:6
- God is wise - 1:8; 3:10
- God is wrathful - 5:6