I. LET’S GET STARTED
A. Having prayed, and being in a place free of distractions, we read through Ephesians chapter one for the first time. There is much to be seen! Don’t get discouraged. God will show you.
B. There are two things that I look for as I read – how the chapter is divided into sections, and what words and phrases appear many times in the chapter.
C. We can see how the chapter is divided into groups of verses, after reading it a few times.
1. There is an obvious salutation (greeting) in verses 1 and 2. Paul often does this in his letters. This is the first group of verses, and there are one or two more groups.
2. There is a very obvious “division” in the chapter at the end of verse 14. We can see this in several ways.
a.There is a paragraph mark located here (don’t always trust these, but they can help sometimes).
b.It is the end of a sentence.
(1)There are actually only five sentences in this chapter. Verses 1 & 2, verses 3 thru 6, verses 7 thru 12, verses 13 & 14, and verses 15 thru 23.
(2)In the New Testament, there is almost never a place where a sentence ends in the middle of a verse. So, you can look at the end of each verse for a period (.). This will allow you to easily find the end of each sentence in the chapter.
(3)When all else fails, simply divide the chapter into sentences, and try to understand each one separately.
(4)Paul often writes very long sentences, and this is helpful to us because we know that each sentence contains one primary thought.
c.The word “Wherefore” starts verse 15, and it is clearly starting a new idea or thought in the chapter.
d.The repeated phrases “praise of His/the glory” and “his will” cease to appear in this chapter after verse 14.
e.So, verses 3 thru 14 are group two.
3. There are other less obvious divisions (which you may or may not notice).
a.One at the end of verse 6.
b.Another at the end of verse 19.
c.If you did not see these at first, don’t worry. The important division to notice is at the end of verse 14.
d.If you can’t see any divisions, simply divide the chapter up into sentences and study them one at a time. This method works in Paul’s epistles, and in most other places, but not in all (i.e. Proverbs).
4. So, you could divide the chapter into three, four, or five groups of verses. I have included the descriptions here, but you might not see them until later.
a.Salutation and greeting - Verses 1 & 2.
b.God chose to bless us – Verses 3 to 6.
c.The blessings described – Verses 7 to 14.
d.Paul’s prayer for them (and us?) – Verses 15 to 19
e.The superiority of Christ – Verses 20 to 23.
D. Now we are looking for repeated words and thoughts. We can see that there are a number of words and phrases that are repeated again and again in this chapter. It is best if we highlight each of them with a specific color.
1.The one that is most prominent is, “in Christ” which is the same as, “in him” and “in whom.”
2.Another very interesting phrase which appears three times is, “To the praise of the/his glory.” (See verse 6, 12, 14)
3.Appearing four times is, “the will of God” (1), or “his will” (5, 9 and 11).
4.“Heavenly places” or “heaven” appear a total of three times.
5.“Chosen,” “Predestinated,” and “purpose(d)” appear 5 times, and “his calling” once (for a total of six times).
6.In verses 4, 6, 8, and 9 we see four things that “he hath” done. Lists like this are valuable, but don’t be too rigid about insisting that the two words “he hath” always be there. Sometimes a list won’t rigidly use the same two or three words to introduce it.
a.He hath chosen us (4).
b.He hath made us accepted (6).
c.He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence (8).
d.He hath purposed in himself (9).
E. As you go, make sure you know what all the words mean. There are some words in this chapter that we need to make sure we clearly understand. Some may surprise us. Use a dictionary and be thorough.
1. “Hath” appears in verse 3. Do you know what it means?
a.Hath is the third person singular present of “have.”
b.It is important to know that this is “present tense” and not past or future.
2. “Predestinated” appears twice. It means that something (don’t assume what) was “determined in advance.”
3. “Prudence” appears in verse 8. It means to cautiously apply wisdom in a way that avoids evil. Simply stated, it is the proper application of wisdom. It is the performance of wisdom (doing something wise).
4. The phrase, “Principality and Power” appears three times in Ephesians and eight times in the Bible. It refers to those in office or who hold authority.
a.Principality comes from the same Greek word as Archaeology (beginning). The person who comes first is the connotation.
b.Power, when connected to Principality refers to authority.
5. The phrase, “should be” can be tricky in English. Sometimes in means, “would be.”
a.For example, I John 3:1 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God”
b.We are now called the sons of God because of the love of the Father.
c.This is not an instruction to us to be something, but what has already happened.
d.In Ephesians 1:4 and 1:12, we are “holy” and we are “to the praise of His glory.”
6. “Fullness” is a word which means, “that which fills something, or which makes it whole.”
F. As we consider the words and phrases that appear often, we can see more of what the chapter is all about.
1. This chapter tells us the blessings that we ALREADY HAVE by being IN CHRIST.
2. We can see that it was HIS WILL, not ours, that gave us these blessings.
3. He gave us these blessings for HIS GLORY, not ours.
4. God had planned all of this before the world began (verse 4).
G. Be careful not to add meaning that is not there.
Some might try to use the word “Predestinated” to suggest that God also chose that some people could not be saved.
This does not agree with other parts of the Bible, and how we were saved is clearly documented in verse 13 – we trusted after we heard; we believed and then we were sealed.
You could not prove, using Ephesians Chapter One, that God chose to save some people and to reject others (create them only so they can spend eternity in Hell). This chapter teaches that God chose how to save us and bless us. It DOES NOT teach that he saved some and rejected others.
II. SO FAR WE HAVE . . .
A. Read the chapter several times and tried to divide in into smaller groups of verses.
B. Found four or five words or phrases that appear at least three or four times, and marked them with a colored highlighter.
C. Looked up a few words to be sure we understand their definition.
III. NEXT, STUDY THE SECTIONS (GROUPS OF VERSES) IN THE CHAPTER.
A. The first two verses are a salutation and greeting. That description is sufficient.
1. But, it is interesting that “the will of God” is mentioned and the phrase “in Christ” appears.
2. An interesting study would be to compare this salutation to other letters (like Romans 1:1-7 where he mentions the “gospel of God” in the introduction (unlike Ephesians), and the fact that Romans is about the gospel.
3. You can see that sometimes Paul (God) uses the salutation to introduce the theme.
B. Now, what about verses three thru six?
1. What does each verse say?
a.Verse 3 - God hath blessed us
b.Verse 4 - He chose us before creation, with a purpose
c.Verse 5 - He decided before creation to adopt us
d.Verse 6 - His glory and grace are praised by this.
2. How would you summarize those four verses into one simple statement?
a.God chose to adopt us, in Christ, to prove His glory and grace.
b.Or simply, The purpose for our spiritual blessings
c.Or, Why God blessed us in Christ
d.Or, Chosen and Adopted for His Glory
3. The goal is to understand, to generalize, the thought behind these verses. Then, later, we can dig for details in them.
C. Next, how can we describe verses seven thru fourteen?
1. There is a structure here, built around the phrase, “in whom.”
a.In whom we have redemption (7)
b.In whom we have obtain an inheritance (11)
c.In whom ye believed and were sealed (13)
2. Look at the way these verses work together:
a. Verse 7 tells of the first blessing we have in Christ - redemption
(1) Verse 8 explains that redemption is a wise and prudent act of God
(2) Verse 9 further explains how we came to be redeemed - revelation
(3) Verse 10 tells why God did this.
b. Verse 11 tells us the second blessing in Christ - inheritance
(1) Verse 12 tells why God did this
(2) Verse 13, part 1, proves that our trust is what did this.
c. Verse 13 continues by telling us that we have security in Christ
(1) The holy Spirit is the proof of God’s promise
(2) He is the proof of God’s “pledge” to fully purchase us
3. It is now rather easy to describe verses 7 thru 14.
a. In Christ we are redeemed, co-inheritors, and secure.
b. Or, Our threefold blessing in Christ
D. Finally, verses 15 thru 23.
1. Be careful. As you get near the end of a chapter you can get lazy and not work as hard at finding the details in these verses. They are just as important, if not more important, than the verses at the beginning of the chapter.
2. It is possible to divide these verses into two further sections.
a. Verse 15 thru 19 describe Paul’s prayer
b. Verses 20 thru 23 describe the manner of work God did in Christ
3. Paul’s prayer - verses 15 thru 19.
a. Verse 15 - Paul heard of their faith, and love
b. Verse 16 - Paul faithfully prays for them, thanking God.
c. Paul prays . . .
(1) Verse 17 - for them to have the spirit of wisdom and revelation
(2) Verse 18 - for their understanding of His hope
(3) Verse 19 - that they would know God’s power towards us
4. God’s power – verses 20 thru 23.
a. Verse 20 - He raised Christ from the dead
b. Verse 21 - He gave him ALL authority and power
c. Verse 22 - He put ALL things beneath Him
d. Verse 22-23 - He made Him head of the church, which is His body.
e. Verse 23 - The CHURCH is that which fills up Christ (this is very important)
IV. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED THUS FAR?
A. We could easily dig much deeper, but we have a fair understanding of the chapter already.
B. We know that this chapter teaches us what God has done for us and why He did it.
C. We know that none of this would be possible unless God had placed us “in Christ.”
D. We have seen why God did this (for His glory) and when He chose to do it (before creation).
E. The last nine verses tell us what we should seek to have as a spirit, and to understand.
V. WHAT ABOUT A THEME – MOST IMPORTANT – VERSE?
A. Verse three seems to sum up the chapter very well:
1. Verse 3 -- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”
2. Everything else seems to fit underneath this verse
B. If you can’t find the theme verse, try to pick one, remembering that you are looking for a verse which seems to summarize or introduce the rest of the chapter.
C. Look for a verse that the chapter would “lean upon” so that if that verse were missing the chapter would not make sense. Or, a verse that seems to “say it all.”
VI. LETS MAKE SOME LISTS
A. Lists help us to better understand exactly what the Bible teaches about a subject. Many chapters are filled with lists. Here are two examples. There are several others.
B. A list of the benefits of being “in Christ.”
1. We are blessed – have all spiritual blessings in Christ (3)
2. We are chosen in Christ (before creatio)n (4)
3. We are adopted by God in Christ (5)
4. We are accepted by God in Christ (6)
5. We are redeemed in Christ (7)
a. This is the forgiveness of sins
b. It is only possible through His blood
6. We have an inheritance in Christ (11)
7. We are sealed in Christ (13)
C. What can God make us to know?
1. The hope of His calling (18)
2. The riches of His inheritance (18)
3. The greatness of His power to us (19)
VII. A SIMPLE OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER?
A. Salutation/greeting: 1-2
B. Why God blessed us in Christ: 3-6
C. How God blessed us in Christ: 7-14
D. The effect of God’s blessings in Christ: 15-23
VIII. NOW TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS
A. What is this chapter mostly about? What is its theme? – Our spiritual blessings in Christ
B. List a promise (to us) from the chapter? – We have redemption, inheritance, and security in Him.
C. What command(s) can we see? – None that stand out clearly. This is a chapter of benefits.
D. What obvious doctrines (teaching) are seen? – Only because of God, and His purpose, do we have “all spiritual blessings,” and then only “in Christ.” Outside of Christ there is nothing!
E. Name something this chapter teaches about Christ? – We can only be accepted of God if we are “in Him.” (6) And, He is “all in all” (everything).
F. What principle in this chapter can we use in our life today? – Look at all the things that we have been given, which cannot be lost, which depend not on us but solely on Christ. This is encouraging!
G. How can I apply this chapter to my life today? – It is clear that God did all these things for His glory. We should live our life for His glory.
IX. TAKING THINGS FURTHER
A. You can keep digging into the chapter verse by verse until you feel that God would like for you to move on. Remember, there are 260 chapters in the New Testament alone: almost 1,200 in the entire Bible.
B. Look at some of the nuggets of truth that we see in Ephesians One.
1. God has blessed us with “all spiritual blessings” in Christ (3). Outside of Christ there are no spiritual blessings at all!
2. In God’s eyes, because we are in Christ, we are seen as, “holy and without blame.” (4)
3. We do not make ourselves “accepted;” God did this. (6)
4. Without the blood of Christ there is no redemption and no forgiveness (7)
5. One day we will be gathered together in Christ (10). That hasn’t happened yet.
6. We are sealed in Christ and cannot be taken out (13-14).
7. God desires for us to increase in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (17).
X. THE ASTOUNDING END OF THE CHAPTER (ABOUT THE CHURCH)
A. Look what the church is! It is the “fullness” of Christ: that which fills or makes Him full. IT IS IN HIM. The theme of Ephesians is “in Christ” and the church is “in Him.” Why would anyone not want to belong to something that is in Him?
B. Look how important the church is! It is “his body.” There is no other. And, He is its “head.” Clearly, God finds the church very important.
It is very important that you understand that ONLY the local assembly of believers is able to do the work of the Lord as, "His body." This IS NOT the so-called "Universal" Church.