Ephesians

March 4, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 7) Build: Loving One Another: God calls us to be the church

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12–21

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

Questions

  1. What does Paul’s analogy of the church as a body tell us about the nature of relationships within the church?
  2. What’s beautiful about this vision of the church? What is my role in helping to fulfill this vision?

Prayer

March 3, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 7) Build: Loving One Another: God calls us to be the church

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Ephesians 4:11–16

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.

Questions

  1. Why does God institute leaders in the church, and what are they supposed to do?
  2. God calls Christians to grow and mature. How does the church help me do that?  What part of that process described in this passage is hard for me to accept?
  3. Tim Keller says, “Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.” How does this passage challenge me to speak (or receive) the truth in love?
  4. What can I do today to build up the church?

Prayer

February 19, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 6) Fight: The Life of Ministry

The life of a minister is spiritual battle

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Ephesians 6:10–20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

CONTEXT & COMMENTARY

Apostle Paul writes this letter (or epistle) to the church at Ephesus. In this final chapter he describes the spiritual battle all Christians face.

A spiritual war is raging. The apostle Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers.” You are in the middle of that war. Whether your heart is peace-loving or warlike makes no difference. You can’t get out of it. You can only choose whether to fight or to be mowed down as a civilian casualty.

McCallum, Dennis. Satan and his kingdom: what the Bible says and how it matters to you. Bloomington, Minnesota. Bethany House Publishers, 12.

Questions

  1. If all Christians are combatants in a spiritual war, what kind of mindset should I have?
  2. How does each part of the armor help me survive and fight this spiritual war? Which one do I need today?
  3. Who do I need to pray for today (vv.18-20)?

Prayer

January 1, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 1

 

INTRODUCTION

Part 1) Imitate: Be Imitators of Christ

Imitating Jesus is the beginning of Christian discipleship and a joyful, lifelong pursuit

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text:

John 13:1-17

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.     14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Context & Commentary

It is the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus is gathered with his disciples for a final meal together, celebrating the Jewish Passover. As they finish up the meal, Jesus shocks his disciples by washing their feet, one by one. “Foot washing was a common act in Bible times. People traveled mostly on foot in sandals across the dusty roads of Judea. When entering a home, it was customary to wash one’s feet. To not offer to wash a guest’s feet was considered a breach of hospitality (see Luke 7:44). Washing guests’ feet was a job for a household servant to carry out when guests arrived (1 Samuel 25:41). It was a subservient task. What was unusual about this act was that Jesus, the Master and Teacher, was doing it for his disciples, as the lowliest slave would do” (Life Application New Testament Commentary, 2001).

Question

01 How does Jesus’ example contrast with behavior that the world expects of people in power (cf. Mark 10:42)? How does this challenge me?

02 Jesus says, “If you know these things, …blessed are you if you do them.” And Paul encourages Christians to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us….” What are some concrete ways that I can follow Jesus’ example?  

Prayer

 

July 14, 2017

Ephesians 6

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Ephesians.

 

July 13, 2017

Ephesians 5

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Ephesians.

 

July 12, 2017

Ephesians 4

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Ephesians.

 

July 11, 2017

Ephesians 3

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Ephesians.

 

July 10, 2017

Ephesians 2

  • Journal & Pray  
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”

Click HERE for the commentary and Bible Project sketch notes for the Book of Ephesians.

 

July 8, 2017

Ephesians 1

  • Journal & Pray  Click HERE for “A Guide to Journaling & Prayer”
  • Read • Remember • Reflect

    Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages. Jot down your observation and reflection in the verses.

A Study Through the Book of Ephesians

Pauline authorship of Ephesians was universally accepted until modern times. Today a number of scholars claim that it was written in Paul’s name by an unknown follower or imitator of Paul, and they give two main reasons: (1) the letter’s style and thought does not strike everyone as characteristically Pauline; and (2) the author of Ephesians does not seem to be familiar with the letter’s recipients (see 1:15; 3:2; 4:21), which seems odd given Paul’s extended stay at Ephesus (Acts 19:10).

However, there are sound reasons to affirm that Paul wrote Ephesians. First, the letter explicitly claims to be Paul’s (1:1; 3:1), which should weigh heavily in the debate unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The early church—which rejected other spurious letters—unanimously accepted this letter to Ephesus as being written by Paul, and this was a city with a reputation for discernment regarding false apostolic claims (Rev. 2:2). Furthermore, letters in antiquity were usually transmitted through a person known by both author and recipient(s) who would have guaranteed the original copy’s genuineness and elaborated on its details—see note on Ephesians 6:21–22 regarding Tychicus.

Second, analyses of an author’s style are often subjectively based on incomplete evidence. With the aid of more sophisticated computer analysis, further careful study has shown that Ephesians has more similarities to Paul’s accepted style than was earlier recognized. In addition, recent research suggests that the role of secretaries in the composition of ancient letters should be given greater consideration than it has been given in the past. Ephesians does indeed demonstrate close similarity with Paul’s forms of expression and thought. Critics have used this evidence to ascribe authorship to someone Paul had influenced, but it is more likely that these marks of Pauline thought and writing style confirm that he himself wrote the book.

The question of Paul’s apparent unfamiliarity with his readers can easily be explained. Ancient archaeological evidence has shown that Ephesus controlled a large network of outlying villages and rural areas up to 30 miles (48 km) from the city. Also, Acts 19:10 reveals that reports of Paul’s preaching during his stay at Ephesus had radiated out to “all the residents of Asia.” Hence, Paul would not have been personally acquainted with newer pockets of believers in the Ephesian villages and rural farms that had sprung up since his stay in the city a few years before the writing of this letter.

Moreover, many have suggested that Ephesians in its present form stems from the Ephesus copy of a circular letter to several Asian churches that Tychicus was delivering in the course of his journey to Colossae, along with the letter to the Colossians (Col. 4:7–9). Therefore, the absence of personal greetings is no cause for surprise.

Finally, it would be extraordinarily odd for someone to write so forcefully that his readers should “speak the truth” and “put away falsehood” (4:15, 25) in a letter he was deceptively forging! Consequently, it can be affirmed with good confidence that Paul wrote Ephesians.

The title “to the Ephesians” is found in many early manuscripts (see note on 1:1). It indicates that the letter was written to the churches in Ephesus and the surrounding dependent region.[1]

Writer and poet Eugene Peterson tells the story of his four-year-old grandson hopping up into his lap to hear a troll story. “Tell me a story, Grandpa,” he begged, “and put me in it!” That is what Paul is doing in Ephesians, telling the ultimate story—God’s story—and putting some Gentile believers—and us—in it (1:13-14; 2:13).

The churches of Asia Minor are in a period of difficulty. Some outside influences are putting pressure on Gentile believers to conform to Jewish identity markers (circumcision, food laws, religious calendar; see “Specific Advice for Reading Colossians,” pp. 360-61). Others are discouraged, distressed by magic and the power of the demonic (“the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” Paul calls them, Eph 6:12), which had held them in their grip for so many years. As Paul is in prison thinking about these things and reflecting on the grandeur of Christ as expressed in his letter to the Colossians, his heart soars, and what he sees he writes down as encouragement for these churches.

You will hardly be able to miss the note of affirmation and encouragement in this letter. It begins with praise to God (in the form of a Jewish berakah: “Blessed be God”) for the abundant blessings he has given in Christ (1:3-14); it carries on through the thanksgiving and prayer (vv. 15-23), into the narrative of Jew and Gentile reconciliation (2:1-22)—plus Paul’s role in it (3:1-13)—and concludes with yet another prayer and doxology (3:14-21). The rest of the letter urges them to maintain the unity God has provided through Christ’s death and resurrection and the Spirit’s empowering (4:1-5:20), especially in Christian households (5:21-6:9), and concludes (6:10-20) by urging them to stand boldly in Christ and the Spirit and so to withstand the powers that are still arrayed against them (and us), while they (we) live in the present age.[2]

[1] ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2008. 2256.

[2] Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002. 347-348.

 

Scroll to top