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Seat | The Importance of Our Identity | April 17

Review:  What specifically did Paul ask for in his prayers for the believers in and around Ephesus? Did you try to pray for the same things for fellow Christians this past week?

Background:  Compare Ephesians 6:21–22 with Colossians 4:7–9 and Philemon 10–12. Based on the individuals named in these three letters, it appears that all of these letters may have been delivered at the same time. Apparently Paul sent the runaway slave Onesimus back to his master Philemon in Colosse in the custody of Tychicus. With them Paul sent a personal letter to his friend Philemon, pleading with Philemon on behalf of Onesimus (the NT book of Philemon); a second letter to the congregation in Colosse of which Philemon and his family were a part (the NT book of Colossians); and a third more general letter to be passed around among the congregations around the city of Ephesus (the NT book of Ephesians).

Pray:  Thank you, Lord, for bringing us together again. Please help us to listen carefully to what you are saying to us in the Bible, and then to live according to what we have learned.  Amen

Read:  Ephesians 2:1–10

Discussion:

1. The idea that is introduced in v. 1 is not completed until v. 5. The essential thought in this extended sentence is: “We were dead (v. 1) but God (v. 4) made us alive (v. 5).”

Although eventual physical death is universally part of the human condition because of the Fall, and eternal death is the final judgment of the unredeemed, this passage is talking about people who are spiritually dead right now—in this life. What exactly is “dead” about people who are outside of Christ?

2. Classic Christian theology speaks of the three-fold effect of “the world, the flesh, and the devil” in influencing people to sin.

Where in vv. 2–3 can references to all three of these evil influences be found?

What might each one of these influences look like in actual human experience?

3.    The first three verses of this passage describe the desperate state of all human beings apart from Christ.  The turning point comes in v. 4 with the phrase “But . . . God” and the remainder of the passage elaborates on what God has done.
Why did God intervene (v. 4)?

How can we appropriately appreciate these qualities of God?

4. Verses 5 and 6 include three different expressions that describe what God has done for believers. Each expression begins with the Greek prefix sun-, which means “with.” List the three actions that God has done for us “with Christ”:

a)   

b)   

c)   

It is possible to see in these three phrases a correspondence to Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and session as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: “The third day he rose again from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and he sits at the right hand of God the Father.”

5. God’s raising of Jesus from the dead was a demonstration of his mighty power (Ephesians 1:19, 20).
According to v. 7, what do the actions of God in vv. 5–6 demonstrate?

6. In how many different ways do vv. 8–9 emphasize that what God has done for us in Christ has nothing to do with what we deserve?

7. Discuss the contrasting functions of “works” in vv. 9 and 10.

Application: 

8. What in practical terms does it mean that you are now “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms”?

9. How does it affect the way you live today?

Pray:  We praise and worship you, Lord God, for your vast love, rich mercy, and incomparable grace toward us. We are incapable of comprehending the extent of your kindness! Thank you for everything you have done for us in Christ.  Amen.