Disciple Lessons from Ephesians

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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Rembrandt, St. Paul in Prison (1627)
Rembrandt, "St. Paul in Prison" (1627), oil on wood, 72.8 x 60.2 cm., Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie. Larger image.  His body may be in prison, but you can see in his face a contemplatioin of the heavenly realms that he opens for us in Ephesians 1.
Of all of St. Paul's Epistles, for me the Letter to the Ephesians is his masterpiece. Though written from prison in Rome, the first half of the Letter is full of praise and worship, an exalted understanding of Christ, and a transcendent view of the Church. He challenges us to leave our lowest selves and inspires us to seek our highest potential in Jesus, seated with him at the right hand of the Father. Here is salvation by grace through faith, as well as the unity and mission of the church. Paul's prayers are amazing in their breadth and scope!

The second half  turns from doctrine to application. He spells out what unity looks like and how gifted ministry functions in the church body. Paul's condemnation of sinful attachments is matched by his conviction that the power of Christ can free us to become like "light in the Lord." He paints a portrait of a loving Christian marriage between believing spouses, and compares it to Christ and his Church. This prison epistle concludes with a challenge to "put on the whole armor of God" and to struggle in prayer for victory. All in all, it is an uplifting, glorious epistle, indeed!

I invite you to journey with me and thousands of brothers and sisters world-wide through St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians.

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
This is our 22nd online Bible study since 1996. If you've participated in one before, you know how God can use them in your life. If not, then you have a treat in store for you. I am an ordained American Baptist pastor, currently serving in a Covenant congregation. I'm here to  serve you as your guide through Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. --. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson. About the leader.

Here's how we'll study together. We'll study the letter in two parts, 8 weeks for chapters 1-3, a several weeks break (November and December for the first "wave" of participants) and then 8 weeks for chapters 4-6 (with a couple of planned breaks in each segment).

  • Each Saturday I'll e-mail you the lesson for the week. Then you'll read the Bible passage and use my notes to help you understand it better.
  • On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday, you'll receive a question from that week's lesson to think about and answer. This is designed as a "total immersion" approach to Bible study, since I believe God wants to use it to work real and permanent change in your life. (You can opt out of the daily questions if you like, however, and just receive the weekly lessons.) You'll be thinking about these passages constantly for over these weeks -- long enough for God to work his Word into your life and lifestyle.
  • You can respond to the questions using the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum -- and read others' answers to reinforce your own understanding.
  • With each lesson you'll receive a link to a 20- to 30-minute audio teaching that sums up the passage you've been studying that week. Some who learn better from hearing than from reading really appreciate this.
  • Then on Saturday, I'll send you the next week's lesson.

Here's an outline of the study:

Introduction to Ephesians
NIV Text of Ephesians
References and Abbreviations
Reprint Guidelines
Essay: Headship (kephalē) and Submission (hupotassomai) in Ephesians 5:21-33
Text of Ephesians (New International Version)
Participant Guide Handout Sheets (may be be reprinted free)
   Artwork on the Apostle Paul
   Photos of Ephesians
   Ancient Christian Symbols

Part 1. Doctrine

  1. Spiritual Blessings in Christ (1:1-6)
  2. God's Gracious Plan of Redemption (1:7-14)
  3. The Greatness of Our Christian Inheritance (1:15-23)
  4. From Deadness in Sin to Coming Alive in Christ (2:1-7)
  5. Salvation by Grace through Faith (2:8-10)
    Scheduled one-week break
  6. Fellow Citizens with the People of God (2:11-22)
  7. The Mystery, Mission, and Ministry of the Church (3:1-13)
  8. Paul's Prayer and Doxology (3:14-21)

    two week planned break
Disciple Lessons from Ephesians, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
All the lessons are now available as an e-book or printed book for your convenience.

Part 2. Application

  1. One Body -- Unity and Diversity (4:1-10)
  2. Preparation, Ministry, and Maturity (4:11-16)
  3. Putting on Clean Clothes (4:17-32)
  4. Imitate Your Father, Children (5:1-20)
    Scheduled one-week break
  5. Christian Husbands and Christian Wives (5:21-33)
  6. Children and Parents, Employers and Employees (6:1-9)
  7. Wrestling with the Enemy of Our Souls (6:10-18)
  8. Prevailing through Prayer (6:18-24)

If you're planning to use this material in a small group study and want to operate on a faster schedule, the e-book and printed version of the entire 16-week study should be available by October 2006 for your use. As you are waiting for the study to commence, I encourage you to begin reading Ephesians in your own private devotions. Try to read it completely through in one sitting. Then read it chapter by chapter as you begin to absorb what God is saying to you in this wonderful book.

Flags of many nationsAs of March 22, 2007, we've had 2,609 sign-ups from more than 106 countries, including: Andorra, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Albania, Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Brazil, Bahamas, Botswana, Belize, Canada, Switzerland, Cote D'Ivoire, Chile, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Denmark, Dominica, Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Spain, Ethiopia, Fiji, Micronesia (Federal States of), France, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, HongKong, Croatia/Hrvatska, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Italy, Jersey, Jamaica, Jordan, Japan, Kenya, Korea (Democratic People's Republic of), Korea (Republic of), Kuwait, Cayman Islands, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Saint Lucia, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Myanmar, Macau, Mauritania, Montserrat, Malta, Mauritius, Malawi, Mexico, Malaysia, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Sweden, Singapore, Slovakia (Slovak Republic), Sierra Leone, Turks and Ciacos Islands, Chad, Thailand, East Timor, Trinidad and Tobago, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Yemen, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe 23% specify text format, 77% HTML format. 25% selected the weekly format, 75% the daily format.

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To sign up, start by clicking on your e-mail frequency preference:

You'll receive your first lesson the Friday after you sign up. There is no cost to participate in the study, though donations are encouraged so we can create more studies and reach more people.

We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.

Please don't sign up for more than one of my Bible studies at one time. There's no penalty, but each of them is pretty intensive. If you try to do too many studies at the same time without adequate reflection, you'll miss out on God speaking to you.

Copyright © 2021, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.