This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Ephesians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.
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“Now the church, although scattered over the whole civilized world to the ends of the earth, received from the apostles and their disciples its faith in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven, and the earth, and the seas, and all that is in them, and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation, and in the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets proclaimed the dispensations of God—the comings, the birth of a virgin, the suffering, the Resurrection from the dead, and the bodily reception into the heavens of the beloved, Christ Jesus our Lord, and His coming from the heavens in the glory of the Father to restore all things, and to raise up all flesh, that is, the whole human race, so that every knee may bow, of things in heaven and on earth and under the earth, to Christ Jesus our Lord and God and Saviour and King, according to the pleasure of the invisible Father, and every tongue may confess Him, and that He may execute righteous judgment on all. The spiritual powers of wickedness, and the angels who transgressed and fell into apostasy, and the godless and wicked and lawless and blasphemers among men He will send into the eternal fire. But to the righteous and holy, and those who have kept His commandments and have remained in His love, some from the beginning of life and some since their repentance, He will by His grace give life incorrupt, and will clothe them with eternal glory.
Having received this preaching and this faith, as I have said, the church, although scattered in the whole world, carefully preserves it, as if living in one house. She believes these things everywhere alike, as if she had but one heart and one soul, and preaches them harmoniously, teaches them, and hands them down as if she had but one mouth. For the languages of the world are different, but the meaning of the tradition is one and the same.” …. Quote from Irenaeus
In Ephesians Chapter 4, Paul encourages us to live a life worthy of this calling. A humble, patient, loving life that will allow us to maintain the unity of the body which is one in Christ.
Ephesians 4:1-32 (NIV)
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 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 to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 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, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him 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 his 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 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he 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.
Unity in the church does not just happen; we have to work at it. Often differences among people can lead to division, but this should not be true in the church. Instead of concentrating on what divides us, we should remember what unites us: one body, one Spirit, one future, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God!
Paul’s description of a life of love is what should characterize the church today. A healthy loving church should among other things:
See leaders as equippers.
See each member as a minister.
Pay close attention to maturing and building believers up in Christ.
Seek to help individuals and groups within the church serve as Christ leads.
In this nurturing atmosphere, the church can have the greatest impact on the world around us.
Relationships within the church should be marked by love.
The church should always be growing up and maturing in Christ in order that we can be a valid expression of Jesus to the world around us. The whole body “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work”.
Only as we grow toward maturity together can we respond fully to Jesus as He directs us to serve in the world. Only a strong and healthy body can carry out the tasks assigned to it. Our effectiveness in communicating the Gospel and the love of God to the world around us depends on our growth toward maturity. This kind of growth takes place as we—members together of one body—build each other up in love, each part doing its own ministering work.
What does Paul teach us as to how we are to live together in Christ? Putting off the former way of life we are to live with a totally new attitude: a new self that is like God in true righteousness and holiness. How does righteousness find expression in human relationships?
By putting off falsehood and speaking truthfully.
This involves more than not lying. It involves an open sharing of ourselves with one another, rejecting deceit.
By rejecting the sinful actions anger drives us toward.
Anger is not given a place. Before evening comes, we are to move toward reconciliation.
By rejecting gossip and unwholesome talk.
In our conversation we seek to build others up, not tear them down.
By ridding ourselves of bitterness, rage, slander, and every form of malice.
In their place, we are to express kindness and compassion, forgiving each other as God has forgiven us.