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Map | Finding Your Path in Life | May 1

Review:  What deep-seated human animosity or hostility was reconciled in Christ, according to Ephesians 2? What human division or conflict are you working to reconcile in your local congregation? Did you take any positive steps toward this reconciliation in the past week?

Background:  The structure of the book of Ephesians—similar to the structure of other epistles of Paul—consists of two main parts.  The first part, chapters 1 through 3, is theological, and in this section Paul systematically lays out the doctrinal teachings that drive the book.  The second part, chapters 4 through 6, is practical, and in these chapters Paul spells out the life applications that logically follow from his theological teachings.  This study guide concludes the theological section of the epistle.

Pray:  Thank you, Lord God, for the incredible riches that you have made available to us in Christ.  As we study your word together, please help us to comprehend more fully all that you have done for us, and show us what difference this knowledge should make in our lives.  Amen

Read:  Ephesians 3:1-21

Discussion:  

1.    Compare v. 1 and v. 14. Paul begins a thought in v. 1, then interrupts himself with vv. 2-13, and finally returns to his original thought in v. 14.  
If “this reason” refers to what Paul has just stated in the previous chapter, what is Paul talking about here?

What does Paul’s contemplation of what he has just said motivate him to do?

2.    Paul’s mention of the fact that he is a prisoner (v. 1) seems to have prompted his digression, because in his conclusion to this long parenthesis in v. 13 he urges his readers not to be troubled about it. In vv. 2 through 12, then, Paul describes two privileges that God has given him, introduced by two similar phrases.

a)   What is the first privilege that Paul mentions (vv. 2-3)?

As in Ephesians 1:9, when Paul uses the term mystery he is not referring to something obscure or enigmatic, but to something that was previously unknown but has now been revealed.
What is this mystery that God revealed to Paul (vv. 4-6)?

b)   What is the second privilege that Paul discusses (vv. 7-9)?

Why do you think Paul considers his ministry to the Gentiles a gift of God’s grace?

What is God’s intention for the whole church (v. 10)?

3.    In vv. 14 through 21 Paul resumes the prayer that he introduced in v. 1.
What requests does Paul include in this prayer?

In your own words, try to summarize what Paul is praying for on behalf of the believers in and around Ephesus.

What might our intercessory prayers sound like if we prayed for each other in the same way that Paul prays here?

Of what is Paul confident in this prayer (v. 20)?

Application:  

4.    In Paul’s mind, both receiving the good news (vv. 2-6) and preaching the good news (vv. 7-12) were equally gifts from God.


Describe some of the hardships that Paul experienced in his missionary career.

In light of these sufferings (v. 13), how do you think he was able to sustain his conviction that being a “servant of the gospel” (v. 7) was a gift and a privilege?

5.    Do you consider sharing the gospel a gift and a privilege, or do you think of it more as an obligation or responsibility?

What might help you to change that perspective?

6.    In what ways has God uniquely prepared and positioned you to “preach . . . the unsearchable riches of Christ” (v. 8) in your context?

How could your small group help you to carry out this calling?

Pray:  Close in prayer with Paul’s words:

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,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever!  Amen.