Packed ongoing.001

 

I am currently preaching a sermon series on Sunday mornings at Wildwood Community Church called “Packed” – based out of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.  During this series, I am using my blog to post study prompts, devotionals, sermon audio/video, and discussion questions to help facilitate personal or group study of this book.  NOTE: At the bottom of this post, I have a set of links to previous resources in this series.

 

Ephesians 2:11-22 – Study Prompts #3

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”
  2. Read Ephesians 2:11-22.
  3. STUDY NOTE:  The city of Ephesus was a Gentile city.  In Old Testament vernacular, there were only two types of people, Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews were an ethnic group made up of the descendants of Isaac’s son Jacob.  Jacob had 12 sons that formed 12 different tribes that eventually made up the nation of Israel.  Anyone who was not a descendant of Jacob was called a “Gentile” by Jewish people.  God’s plan for was always for both Jews and Gentiles to enter into a relationship with Him, but God’s strategy for reaching the Gentiles began by working with one particular people group, the Jews, for a specified period of time (the Old Testament period).  In this period of time, God related in a special way to the Jewish people and used His relationship with them to demonstrate to the world His holiness, His ability to grant salvation, that “the wages of sin was death” (a truth clearly shown in the sacrificial system, that He was kind towards His people, that He would discipline His people to guide them to the areas He wanted them to go, etc.  God’s plan was for the Jews to be a pre-evangelistic example to the Gentiles of the reality of God, and one day, when Jesus would come, the Jews and Gentiles would both have equal access to a relationship with God.  This was the plan, however, the Jewish people became arrogant in their spiritual pride.  Instead of loving the Gentiles, they despised them.  Instead of seeing their lives as blessed by God out of His grace, they saw their lives as worthy of blessing because of who they were — better than the Gentiles.  This created a lot of religious hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles.  So, when Paul (a Jew) plants a church in Ephesus (a Gentile city), issues of Jew/Gentile relations became an important question.  In this week’s verses, we will see how Jesus reconciles the Jew/Gentile controversy through His work on the cross.
  4. In Ephesians 2:11, Paul begins this conversation by setting the stage for the tension between Jews and Gentiles.  He says that the Ephesian Christians are Gentiles “in the flesh.”  This is a statement of their ethnic identity.  The differences between Jews and Gentiles led to their hatred for one another and discriminatory practices.  Our world today does not divide over Jew/Gentile divisions, but we DO divide often over identity based issues.  What are some things that you see people dividing over in our world today?
  5. All Jewish men were circumcised early in life.  This became a physical sign of their participation in the covenant community of God.  Gentiles did not practice circumcision in the New Testament world.  Because of this, Jews would have great pride in their circumcision, and calling someone “uncircumcised” was a derogatory term, a put down.  Look back over your list of divisions from question #4.  What are some of the words we use today to put down others who are different from us?
  6. Paul goes on in 2:11 to mention that circumcision can be done “in the flesh by hands.”  This is a admission that not all who were Jewish by ethnicity, and not all who had been circumcised in a Jewish practice, had ever really embraced the God of the Jews by faith.  There were some who had been circumcised in the flesh, but there were others who had really been changed at a heart level.  Paul’s point seems to be that a lot of the divisive problems between Jews and Gentiles came from people who claimed to be a Jew, but were really operating out of their own selfish or prideful motivation.  In what way today do you see people who claim to be Christians, create unnecessary divisions between others based on their spiritual pride?
  7. In Ephesians 2:12, Paul describes the spiritual prospects of a Gentile before Christ.  Write out those descriptions here and then define what you think they are referring to in your own words.
  8. Paul seems to be indicating that there was a tremendous blessing to being a part of the nation of Israel . . . and he was right.  It was to the Jews that God gave the Old Testament.  It was to the Jews that God gave the promise that one day Messiah (Jesus) would come.  It was in Israel that Jesus lived out His life.  Think for a moment of all the ways in which it was BETTER spiritually to be a Jew in the Old Testament era than it was to be from any other nation.  Write out some of your ideas below:
  9. If you grew up in a Christian home, there are many blessings that you have experienced that those who grew up in non-Christian homes did not.  If you grew up in a Christian home, write down below some of the spiritual blessings you had just because of where you grew up.  If you did NOT grow up in a Christian home, what do you think you missed (spiritually) because of you upbringing?

 

For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:

Packed Schedule.001

52 thoughts on “Ephesians 2:11-22 Study Prompts #1

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