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 3:1-13 – Study Prompts #2
- As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth. Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24. “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
- Read Ephesians 3:1-13
- Four times in this section, Paul uses the word “mystery.” A mystery in the Bible is not an unsolved crime or riddle. A mystery is something that was hidden by God to previous generations but has now been revealed. According to these verses, what is that mystery and how has God revealed it to His people?
- Reflect back over last week’s study of Ephesians 2:11-22. How did God bring this mystery to pass in history? In other words, what was the event that allowed both Jews and Gentiles to have equal access to God?
- STUDY NOTE: In the history of God’s dealings with His people, there are several eras, including the era of the Mosaic Covenant with Israel (the Old Testament times), and the current “church era.” In the era of the Mosaic Covenant, in order to be made right with God, a person would have to take on the Jewish custom, culture, and practice. However, in the church era, it is no longer a blessing OR a liability to be a Jew (or Gentile). Both Jews and Gentiles now relate to God on the basis of what Jesus has done, not through the system God previously established through Moses. The “church age” is a mystery that God did not reveal in full through Old Testament prophecies.
- The fact that Jews and Gentiles could relate to God on equal footing in Christ is a “mystery” that God did not reveal through Old Testament prophecies. Because of this, it was also a “mystery” to angelic beings (who are not omniscient) . . . including Satan and demons. According to Ephesians 3:10, the current era of the church is instructive to angels and demons (“rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” is a biblical allusion to angels and demons). What do you think God is wanting to teach angels and demons through this “mysterious” time of the church age?
- STUDY NOTE: In answering that the idea behind question 6 above, Warren Wiersbe says this, “What are the evil angels learning from God’s mystery? That their leader, Satan, does not have any wisdom! Satan knows the Bible, and he understood from the Old Testament Scriptures that the Savior would come, when He would come, how He would come, and where He would come. Satan also understood why He would come, as far as redemption is concerned. But nowhere in the Old Testament would Satan find any prophecies concerning the church, the mystery of Jews and Gentiles united in one body! Satan could see unbelieving Jews rejecting their Messiah, and he could see Gentiles trusting the Messiah, but he could not see both believing Jews and Gentiles united in one body, seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and completely victorious over Satan! Had Satan known the far-reaching results of the cross, no doubt he would have altered his plans accordingly.”
- Based on your understanding of the Old Testament, make a quick list of three “heroes” of the faith. You may have mentioned Noah, Abraham, Moses, Esther, Ruth, Gideon, Samuel, David, or many others. Now, think about the implications of the fact that the church age was a mystery to them. If you are from a non-Jewish background, the blessings and access we have to God in Christ were a total mystery to our heroes of faith. God chose to bless you and I with a knowledge of Him that He withheld from previous generations. How does this understanding make you feel about the current era in which we live and the blessings God has offered us in Christ?
- How does knowing that the church era was a mystery help you to appreciate and understand the struggles of the early church with Jew/Gentile relationships?
For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:
- Packed – Series Introduction
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #3)
- The “In Crowd” (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #1 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #3)
- It’s a Wonderful Christian Life (Devotional)
- Packed #2 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #2 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #3)
- Unbelievable Offer (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed #3 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #3 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 2:11-22 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 2:11-22 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 2:11-22 (Study Prompts #3)
- Uncommon Denominator (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed #4 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #4 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 3:1-13 (Study Prompts #1)
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