Today’s Scripture Focus: Ephesians 1:1-14
Today we begin a study in the book of Ephesians. The author of Ephesians identifies himself as Paul. This letter, along with Colossians, would likely have been written about AD 60 while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Since this letter, unlike Paul’s other letters, doesn’t address a specific problem or heresy, it was most likely written as a “circular sermon”, meant to be passed around to a group of churches in Asia Minor and read aloud at public church gatherings. Ephesians contains praise of God and practical instruction, all phrased in beautiful prose and poetry.
Ephesians 1 can be divided into three sections: 1) opening exhortation, 2) praise to God, and 3) thanks for the Ephesian Christians. The opening greeting is typical of Paul’s letters. He identifies himself as an “apostle” – one appointed as a diving witness. He reminds his readers that he was appointed directly by God for this mission. He gives the two classic words of greetings of his day—”Charis” or “grace” was the Greek salutation, and “Shalom” or “peace” was the Jewish one. Paul’s churches were composed of both groups.
Ephesians 3-14 is all one long sentence! In it, praise is first offered to God (v 3), the author of salvation. The emphasis then moves to Jesus, means of salvation (v 4-13a). Finally in verse 13-14, the Holy Spirit is the giver of salvation. The word used repeatedly throughout this passage is “predestined” or “chosen”. Some churches, based on this passage, teach that certain individuals are predestined to be saved, and others are not. This is knows as Calvinism. As Nazarenes, we are Wesleyans. We believe that God predestined the plan, but that salvation is available to all.
The prayer of Paul for the Ephesians is that they understand what God did for them through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit so they may serve as better witnesses and bring more glory to God. Paul reminds them they were all redeemed, forgiven, adopted, and have an inheritance. The language here is that of someone who is enslaved because of debt, when suddenly a wealthy benefactor pays their debts, frees them, then adopts them as a child and heir. God has done this for all of us. Amazingly, we find out this was God’s plan for all of us all along.
Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
If you suddenly found out you had won a million dollars, what would you do with the money?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?