Ephesians over Christmas Break

Day 12: Ephesians 6:10-24

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.

23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” That’s not the bible - it’s The Usual Suspects starring Kevin Spacey. But just maybe there’s some truth to that Hollywood statement. My guess is that you are like me, distracted, worrying about the inconveniences we see, touch, and feel, instead of prioritizing the real battle raging against our souls! Prepare yourself and “be strong in the Lord” by putting on the armor of God which is the strength of HIS might (v10), not our own!

  1. Have you ever thought it might be a good idea to skip pre-season training and go into the blaze of the season without preparation? No – why do we follow Jesus this way then?

  2. What is the actual war going on in this world and in our lives? Is that the one you give most attention in your daily life?

  3. What components make up the whole armor of God? What happens to a soldier who doesn’t have one or two items of armor on in battle?

The truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God are given to us for armor through Christ.  While we are called to the action of preparing for battle and familiarizing ourselves with this armor. We have to put on God’s armor - daily, hourly. We fight fearlessly because God’s grace guards us and ultimate Victory belongs to the Lord!

Put on God’s grace!

Day 11: Ephesians 5:21-6:9

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

What a loaded passage!  There is no way to unpack this passage in a short devotional, but here are a few guiding thoughts . . .

First, verse 5:21 not only completes the previous passage on the Spirit-empowered (5:18) community of Christ, but it also looks forward to the specific household relationships in today’s passage. Living as a follower of Christ means subordinating our own desires and wills to each other, for the good of the other. We often fail to do this, especially in our closest relationships, but when we do, we actually glorify or “revere” Jesus (“out of reverence for Christ”) because He, more than anyone, chose to subordinate his own good for our good.  Even though Jesus is co-equal with the Father (e.g. John 17:5), He joyfully submitted to the Father’s plan of salvation (e.g. John 17:4).

Some people take issue with the call for wives to “submit” their desires for the husband’s good (5:22), but this view seems to ignore the equally Christ-like and sacrificial calling for the husband to die to himself for the good of the wife (5:25-30).  As in the case of Jesus and the Father, submission does not imply inferiority BUT GLORIOUS LOVE! Husbands are not to demand that wives “submit” any more than wives are to demand that husbands give up their lives for them. But when husbands and wives joyfully die to themselves and submit to the other, they glorify God as a living picture of the union and love between Jesus and his people, the church, even us (5:31-32)!

Obviously, the passage on slaves and masters raises modern questions, too.  A lot could be said, but note two things for now. One, Paul is calling people to an extremely different kind of relationship than what we are familiar with in America, given that he calls “masters” to treat “slaves/servants” with the same “respect,” “fear,” and “sincerity of heart” (6:9 - “in the same way”).  This kind of relationship is completely foreign to our own cultural context.

Two, even though it’s not the same type of master/slave relationship we know, Paul does call “slaves” to gain their full freedom if possible (1 Corinthians 7:21); an entire letter in the New Testament is devoted to Paul pleading for the freedom of a slave (Philemon); and, most importantly, his teaching lays the theological foundation for the total abolition of all forms of slavery (e.g. Galatians 3:26-28 - not to mention the equality of men and women!).  

How is God calling you to submit your will to the good of others in friendships, team relationships, family, and work relationships out of reverence for Christ?  In what areas of your life to you most need power of Christ, through His Spirit, to enable you to do so?

Day 10: Ephesians 4:17-5:20

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is providing the Ephesus church with ways in which they should live and conduct themselves. He instructs them to live in unity with one another, and provides practical guidelines for their everyday life. Have you ever been part of a team or community that didn’t get along or work well together? You know how frustrating and counterproductive this can be. The Christian church (followers of Christ), should seek live together in unity, and according to God’s instructions.

1. How does verse 4:32 say that we should treat each other? What is our motivation for doing this?

2. Verses 4:22-23 tell us to put off our old self and put on our new self.  What does this mean? Is this a one time thing or a constant task?

3. Verse 5:6 says the God’s wrath will come on those who are disobedient. Who or what can protect us from the wrath of God?

Day 9: Ephesians 4:1-16

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

For the previous three chapters, we have read about every glorious detail of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. And if you remember from the Bible Project video, this is where there is a transition in what Paul is writing to the people of Ephesus, emphasized by the “Therefore” in verse 1. Chapter 1-3 covered the Gospel Story, and now we are how it effects and shapes Our Story – personally and relationally!

As we also see in verse 1, Paul instructs us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling.” He is explaining how we should live – NOT as a rule book that is impossible to follow. Instead, we LONG to respond in this manner because of what God freely gave us by His grace! Remember Ephesians 2:8-9? “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The emphasis Paul shows us in how to live is not just for yourself, separate from others. It is an instruction of how to live a life devoted to loving and serving one another: with humility and gentleness (v. 2); with patience (v.2); bearing with one another (v.2); eager to maintain peace (v. 3); for building up (v. 12); attain unity, faith, knowledge and maturity (v.13); speaking in truth and love (v.15). We can live united and as one, living out the instruction from Paul because we know that God has, and will never stop, chasing after us for a relationship with Him. That will never change for those in Christ, and there is nothing we can do to lose it or earn more because it is a GIFT from God, and not the works of people.

  1. Notice how many times “one” is repeated? Where can you further unite your relationship with God as one, and bring others into oneness with you and God?

  2. Where do you see the effects on not living a life unified with God? How can your sin and brokenness corrupt the unity of the body of Christ?

  3. What do you know now to be true of Christ, and THEREFORE, to be true of you as a son or daughter IN Him? Which truth do you desire to understand and experience more this year?

Day 8: Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What are you praying for this week?  We often pray for lots of good things, for ourselves and others. But in the midst of our scattered concerns, unnecessary fears, and good desires, we sometimes miss praying for the best thing.  Above all else, Paul prays that people will grasp the immensity of God’s love revealed in Christ and be completely filled up with this love.  He sounds pretty excited about it. He’s convinced that God is able to do much more in our hearts and lives than the lesser things that we frequently ask for (3:20).  Before praying today, take a few minutes to consider what you are seeking to be filled up by, and what can truly fill you up. Pray for the best thing for yourself and others!

Day 7: Ephesians 3:1-13

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Remember Paul is writing to the Christians in Ephesus from prison/under house arrest.  He is so grateful to God that he has the privilege of sharing the love God with others, specifically the Gentiles even as he is being persecuted for doing so!

In this passage, he is assuring the Gentiles even further that they are a part of one body in Christ with the Jews. The Gentiles now share in the inheritance and promises of Christ. The Gospel is a mystery which has now been revealed through Christ, and Paul has the privilege of sharing this mystery.  

In verse 1-2 & 7-9, Paul talks about his mission given to him by God – “to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of God’s grace through Jesus” and to share with everyone so that they might understand the gospel.

The mystery of the gospel through Jesus gives us access to God. Verse 12 says that through faith in Jesus, we can have freedom and confidence in approaching God. Think about that – we can approach the most holy God in all of his power and beauty without being afraid. What an amazing privilege!!

  1. The mystery has been revealed...what is this mystery?  Paul elaborates on what he said in chapter 2:11-22, that the Gentiles are one people with the Jews (verse 6).  Paul uses the word “together” three times to emphasize this point. How does this mystery of oneness through Jesus affect your life and relationships?   

  2. In verses 7-9, how does Paul view himself before God and others?  (He doesn’t have too high a view of himself or too low, but knows who he is before God).  How would you describe yourself? Similar to the words used by Paul to describe himself?

  3. Like Paul, we are not merely the objects of God’s grace but the channels of it to others. How can you be a revealer of this mystery to others?  Who in your life needs to hear about the immense riches (of love and forgiveness, of freedom before God) of God given through Jesus?

Day 6: Grace Day!

Take this day as an opportunity to catch up, pray, and just rest in the presence of the Lord. Pray the scripture below for a specific person in your life and for yourself.

Ephesians 1:17-19 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Day 5: Ephesians 2:11-22

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Every person was created in God’s image (Gen 1), however, we often try to find differences between other people and ourselves to make us feel better about our individual self. In this passage, the Jews and Gentiles are very different people - this DIVISION is extreme! JEWS are God’s chosen people, and GENTILES are... NOT.  BUT JESUS (sound familiar?) unites them together to become ONE NEW MAN  - one people (v 14)! Second, Jesus painfully reconciles this ONE New Man (people) to God (verses 16-18).  But wait, it gets better… WE are even promised to be built up, together by the Spirit, into a dwelling place for God. Where He lives. From outcast to a brick in His house... What an honor!

  1. Have you ever felt like an outcast? Gentiles were known as the “uncircumcision” by the Jews because they did not practice literal circumcision (an important mark of God’s promise to the Jewish people at birth). Gentiles were outcasts from God and His good promises! How would it feel to be -- “separated from Christ,” “alienated from Israel,” “strangers to the promise,” with “no hope” and “without God.”?

  2. What do you think it means that Christ “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility? Do you think Jesus’s death on the cross was an easy, painless solution to break down the division between us and God?

  3. In verses 19-22, what does it mean to you to be included as “citizens with the saints,” “members of the household of God,” and “part of a dwelling place for God” of which Jesus is our cornerstone! How does being part of God’s holy dwelling place (with others) motivate you to live?

Jesus is our peace - our peace among each other and our peace before God. He suffers to bring us good.  Remember, he loves us, a people who are not easy to love! There’s someone in your life who’s hard to love or even like. Think about this,  if you are both believers in Jesus, then both of you are even part of the same building set on Christ our cornerstone!! Don’t tear down your own building, especially not God’s. Instead, let’s try to follow His example. Go be peacemakers!

Day 4: Ephesians 2:1-10

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Paul says that we were dead in our sins and deserving of God’s wrath. Paul is referring to being spiritually dead. The first three verses show our hopeless and miserable situation if left to ourselves. We can’t do anything to help ourselves out of spiritual death.

BUUUUUUUT(!), verse 4 is a powerful and crucial verse as it starts, “But God” (...whenever you see those words something good is about to take place!). Even though we were dead in our sins and in a hopeless situation, God gives us life in Christ showing His great love for us. There is nothing we can do to earn this great love of His, but we receive it by grace (undeserved favor from God) as a gift.

  1. When was a time that you felt hopeless?  How have you attempted to get out of that hopeless situation?  Who/what did you run to for help?

  2. How does Paul describe the human condition before trusting Christ?  How does God save us from our human condition resulting in spiritual death?  

  3. Verse 8 says that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned. Why is it important that we understand this?

Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for His acts of compassion, love, grace, and mercy towards you.  Praise God for His salvation provided through Jesus, His Son, sent as a gift for us to be forgiven of our sin and therefore have a relationship with Him.

Day 3: Ephesians 1:15-23

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

In these verses Paul is explaining to his prayer and thanksgiving for the Ephesus church. When Paul heard of the faith and love of the Ephesians, he could do nothing else but give thanks for them. This was because their faith and love were evidence of their participation in this great work of God. He prays that the Ephesus church will come to know God even better – it is important for us to have an accurate knowledge and understanding of who we are. Yet it is far more important (and beneficial) for us to know and understand who God is. And he speaks about the hope that they have in knowing a powerful God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead!

1. What does verse 19 tell us about God’s power?

2. In verse 20, Paul says that Christ was raised from the dead and seated in the right hand in the heavenly realms.  How can this truth directly impact you, knowing from earlier verses that as believers we are “in Christ.”

3.  In verse 17 Paul says that he is asking God to give the people of Ephesus the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they may know Him better.  What would it look like for you to ask for and receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in your own life?

4. What does it mean that “your eyes may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he (God) has called you?” (v. 18). What hope has He called you to?

Day 2: Ephesians 1:3-14

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

To summarize, this passage says that, “in Christ,” we have been given “every spiritual blessing:”

This describes both the kind of blessings and the location of those blessings. These are spiritual blessings, which are far better than material blessings. These blessings are ours in the heavenly places in Christ, they are higher, better, and more secure than earthly blessings.

We have also been made “holy and blameless” (1:4), adopted into God’s family (1:5), made for the praise of God’s glorious grace (1:6), redeemed or “bought back” from slavery to our own desires, forgiven (1:7), given understanding of God’s will (1:9), brought into unity (1:10), and given the Holy Spirit and an inheritance with God (1:13-14).  Take a few minutes to reflect on each one of these truths, which are only true because of what Jesus has “freely given us” (1:6). Which of these truths stands out to you the most?

The word “predestination” is used twice (1:5,11).  It means that God has a plan for us and for the world that He is going to accomplish. It’s important, but be careful not to get lost trying to completely figure out the purposes of God. The Bible is very comfortable holding together the realities that God is all-powerful and that we are completely dependent on Him – His plan is not reliant on our merit or what we can “do” for Him – and yet as humans we are still responsible. Even in this passage, we see that we must respond to Jesus in hope and belief in order to receive every spiritual blessing (1:12-13).  

How do you think Paul wants his readers to feel after reading this passage?  How do you feel? How is God’s control and power comforting? What does it mean to “put our hope in Christ”?

Need help understanding? Confused on words used? If you want to explore more on your own, a great way to start is using study bibles and commentaries: ESV Study Bible and Ephesians Commentary.

Day 1: Context and Ephesians 1:1-2

Welcome to Ephesians! Before we really dive in, let’s take a look at how this letter begins and who it was written to:

Ephesians 1:1-2
1 Paul
, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we can see a few things right at the beginning to give context for this letter: it was written by a guy named Paul, who calls himself “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,” and it is written to the people in Ephesus.

In order for us to all understand who exactly Paul is and who the Ephesians are, here is a video linked below to start off the study that gives a great BIG picture of where we are headed!

The Bible Project Video

Paul refers to all of the people in the church at Ephesus as “God’s holy people.”  Holy means to be dedicated to God, to be pure and spiritually clean. How could everyone in the church, from the youngest to most mature Christian, be called “holy”?  

The answer lies in the phrase “IN Christ Jesus” at the end of the sentence.  Since Jesus has taken the consequences of our sins on the cross, God no longer counts them against us.  We are included in Jesus’ holiness by faith in him. Jesus’ holiness is our new identity! How are you seeing yourself today?  Is your identity in Christ or something else?