An in-depth study on the book of Ephesians through a seminar-style classroom experience.

 

The goal is to bring together a diverse group of people to study the book of Ephesians with a mind toward taking it and teaching others.


We will meet together on Saturday mornings to discuss what we learned throughout the week.

Before coming to class, we will have watched videos taught by Tim Mackie on Ephesians (1-1.5 hours).

There will be an opportunity to go deeper through optional videos, articles, commentaries, podcasts, etc.


In class, we will:

  • Summarize Tim's teaching and come to a working understanding of it.
  • Discuss additional things we learned from the optional material.
  • Come to conclusions on what this Ephesians passage meant originally and for us today.
  • Put the learning into practice by giving ideas for how to teach this to the Youth Group and to other contexts.

SCHEDULE

Saturdays

8:30am-10:00am



1. Sept. 14

   Off - Sept. 21

2. Sept. 28

3. Oct. 5

4. Oct. 12

5. Oct. 19

6. Oct. 26

7. Nov. 2

8. Nov. 9

9. Nov. 16

10. Nov. 23

   Off - Nov. 30

11. Dec. 7

12. Dec. 14

Resources

Main Teaching Material:

The Bible Project's Classroom


Recommended Commentaries:

Selections from the first section of each commentary. Other selections may be provided as needed. 

Read through them to see if you might want to purchase one.


My Favorite:

For Everyone - N.T. Wright

NIV Application Commentary - Klyne Snodgrass


Additional:

 For Everyone (Study Guide) - N.T. Wright

Christ Centered Exposition - Tony Merida

New International Commentary on the New Testament - F.F. Bruce


Other Resources:

The Bible Project

Door of Hope - Sermon Series

1


September 14, 2019


1. Introduction to Paul (5 min)

      Ephesians 1:1-2

2. The Apocalypse of Jesus (18 min)

3. Paul’s Apocalypse (10 min)

4. Questions on “Apocalypse” (18 min)




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1. Introduction to Paul

  • Read through Ephesians at least once (15-20 min) before viewing the videos.
  • Listen to how Tim explains who Paul is in these introductory videos. How would you explain who Paul is to a young follower of Jesus or to someone unfamiliar with the Bible?

Extra
Get an overview of Paul's life and setting by watching these videos (22 min):
  1. Acts 1-7
  2. Acts 8-12
  3. Acts 13-20
  4. Acts 21-28

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2. The Apocalypse of Jesus

  • Why did Paul write this letter?


"Ephesians is an essay summarizing the most important apocalyptic event in history: Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as Messiah and the gift of the Spirit to bring about new creation right here in the present world."


Extra:

Learn a little more about the Holy Spirit (4 min).

Listen to the Holy Spirit podcasts (4 episodes).


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3. Paul's Apocalypse

  • How would you describe "The Apocalypse" in your own words? Why is it so important to Paul?

 

Extra:

Learn a little more about the overlap of Heaven and Earth (6 min).

Listen to the Heaven and Earth podcasts (5 episodes).


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4. Questions on The Apocalypse

  • Reflect on your notes and write down any questions have about the teaching so far.
  • What would you like to still know before going deeper in Ephesians?

 

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2

September 28, 2019


5. The Design of Ephesians 1-3 (15 min)

6. Questions on “The Design” (16 min)

7. The Logical Flow of 1:3-14 (16 min)

      Ephesians 1:3-14

 
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5. The Design of Ephesians 1-3

Paul has been heavily influenced by his Jewish upbringing (having deep knowledge of the Jewish Bible) and by Greek (Hellenistic) means of communication. This writing style might be a little strange to us, but it was a common and learned way of thinking and writing at the time. He writes masterpieces of Jewish/Greek mashups.


Tim mentions how Epictetus writes in a very similar fashion that Paul does, both products of their Greek education. Learn more about Epictetus here: Wikipedia and a Journal Article. (Not relevant to our study, but figured I would include it for the curious since he was mentioned).


Tim outlines the first three chapters and point to their symmetry (chiastic structure). We’re meant to be making comparisons between the symmetrical sections.


Other examples of chiastic structure:

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6. Questions on "The Design"



Regarding the style of writing: every page of the Hebrew Bible is like this. The symmetry and creative patterns (chiastic structure) are all over. They help one compare and contrast ideas and aid memorization. But you’re not meant to dissect it--you’re meant to read it, to experience it and feel it.


Ephesians was likely a letter sent to a bunch of churches (encyclical letter) in the Lychus Valley, but the one that went to Ephesus went viral.


lychus


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7. The Logical Flow of 1:3-14

The writing style is very dense--likely crafted over many days. We’re meant to read and re-read it slowly, focusing on different things each time.


Core theme introduced: all things in heaven and earth becoming one in Jesus. Read through the whole book of Ephesians again looking for how this theme is brought out.



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3

October 5, 2019


8. Blessing and Election in Ephesians 1:3-14 (38 min)

9. Questions on “Blessing and Election” (16 min)

 
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8. Blessing and Election in Ephesians 1:3-14

  • The story of the Bible has had some half-truths added into it over the years that have muddled its clarity. Here Tim will try to re-center the concept of Election/Choosing and how Paul is using it in this section.


Tim reframes the story of the Bible for us without the half-truths:


one


The language of predestine, election, choose, bless, adoption, and grace is all from the story of Israel.


  • God fills the earth with blessing in Genesis 1. 
  • Humans are created in the image of God and meant to spread this blessing, but instead, they spread violence (Gen. 6).
  • But God chooses to bless his enemies by choosing one out of many to give blessing, so that through the one he can restore blessing back to the many (Gen. 12).
  • The problem is that the vehicle of blessing is corrupt and hope will fall on a future king in whom the blessing will be fulfilled (Psalm 72).
  • Through Messiah Jesus, all nations receive blessing.

Other language of "predestine" and "chosen" are found in passages like Romans 9-11, Deuteronomy 4:37, 7:6-8, 10:15, 14:2, and Psalm 89.


"The point of God choosing one family was never just to bless one family. The blessing is for all humanity."


Christ was the predestined one. When we're in Christ, we are predestined. See quote from Witherington below:


five

 
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9. Questions on "Blessing and Election"


What questions do you have about predestination/election?


 

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4

October 12, 2019


10. Paul’s Prayer for an Apocalypse (14 min)

         Ephesians 1:15-23

11. This Age and the Age to Come (14 min)

12. Questions on “This Age and the Age to Come” (17 min)

 

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10. Paul's Prayer for an Apocalypse



  • In Christ you are among the chosen/beloved/blessed/predestined because he is chosen/beloved/blessed/predestined.  For those who are "in him," Jesus' identity becomes our identity.
         -His death becomes our death.
         -His resurrection becomes our resurrection.
         -His exaltation becomes our exaltation.

"Jesus was the one who was saved from evil and death in his death and resurrection. 

He was a victim of sin and death and he was vindicated through the resurrection out into life and new creation. 

And for those who trust in Him they find themselves in Him: 

His identity defines my identity, 

His death becomes my death, 

His resurrection becomes my resurrection, 

His exaltation to rule over heaven and earth becomes my true calling as the image of God."


  • Paul hears a report that they are trusting Jesus and loving their neighbor as themselves (1:15).
  • He prays that they would constantly discover new depths of this story--that their eyes would be opened (language of revelation) (1:16-18).
  • The revelation is not a one-time thing, you need to keep asking for wisdom and revelation.

  • Hope: In the midst of the pain/brokenness of the world as we know it, God is calling people into a new hope. 
  • Richness: The richness, abundance, generosity of God that never seems to cease (carrying over from the language of abundance and gift in 1:1-15).
  • Inheritance: The original inheritance is the Promised Land. Israel comes out of slavery in Egypt with their hope set on the Promised Land. Paul adopts this story and maps it onto a new Exodus: Humanity comes out of slavery to the powers with our hope set on the new creation (the restored heaven and earth).
  • Power: The power of God to bring about a new humanity / new creation. To take a dead/enslaved people and recreate them as new humans. The resurrection is one of the first / most notable displays of this power.
  • Enthronement: Tied to language of resurrection. Enthronement in the heavenly realm, but over all forms of power/authority, and over this age and the age to come (which will be talked about more in the next section). 

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11. This Age and the Age to Come

  • Heaven and Earth are overlapping realities, but humanity has alienated itself from the heavenly dimension--it has become blind to the heavenly reality. The revelation is that heaven and earth are united in Jesus. He prays that they would keep having their awareness heightened to this reality. 



  • This Age: Evil, sin, death, slavery, violence, and curse.
  • Age to Come: Justice, love, life, freedom, shalom (peace), and blessing.
  • The Day of the Lord: The moment that transitions this current age to the age to come.
          - A time of divine justice: Wrath and judgement from God, bringing what people have earned for themselves. A big theme in the prophets.
          - A time of divine reward: Resurrection, vindication, and reward. Prominent in Daniel and Isaiah.

    Learn more about The Day of the Lord using The Bible Project or go even deeper with The Day of the Lord Video Notes.

04-01



  • The Resurrection: Transitions us from this age into the new creation.
    - The new creation hasn't yet consumed the old.
    - It was a burst of new creation, a spotlight.
    - With the resurrected Jesus, a piece of the new age was standing right here in the middle of the old age.
    - The resurrection is a preview of the transition between this age and the age to come.
  • The Return: Transitions us fully into the age to come.
    -New creation was inaugurated in the resurrection and will be consummated in the age to come.
  • "Now, Not Yet": We live in the in-between time. Between the resurrection and the return.
    - Ephesians 2:6 uses the language of the not yet to describe the now: You're ruling with Christ in the heavenly realms now.
    - 1 Corinthians 10:11 - We are the ones in whom the ages are transitioning. 
    - Heaven overlaps with earth, like another dimension. We have been blessed with every blessing of the heavenly realms (1:3), but we're here on earth. It is a reality that we can't fully see.

04-02


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12. Questions on "This Age and the Age to Come"

  • What questions do you have about this age and the age to come?


The elements of the new creation / age to come (justice, love, life, freedom, shalom, and blessing) often seem impossible to pull off in our own lives in this age. There is a struggle going on as to which creation we want to participate in. But in light of the resurrection, the old age has been declared to be passing away and the new age is being birthed. Which do I want to participate in? Thankfully, God empowers us with his Spirit right here as a foretaste of the age to come. Empowers us to be the real and true humanity that isn't blurred by the current age of death and slavery to sin.



━━━━


Refresh yourself on this idea of two ages coming together by watching the Heaven and Earth video again or by studying deeper in the Heaven and Earth Video Notes.


The exaltation of Jesus to rule over heaven and earth is talked about often in the New Testament. Psalm 110 is often quoted when this concept is being referred to, but also the title of "Son of Man" from Daniel 7, about "one like a son of man" who comes before the throne of Yahweh and is given "all authority" (Dan. 7:13-14). Watch the Son of Man video by the Bible Project to learn more.

This is very closely tied to the concept of the Image of God--how God made humanity in his image and gave them authority to rule. Watch the Image of God video by the Bible Project to learn more. You can also read this paper that Thomas wrote on the image of God and how it connects to our purpose as human beings. The Bible is filled with language calling us to grow and imitate God's ways in the world in order to fulfill our calling to rule as God's partners and heirs on the earth (Gen. 1:26).



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5

October 19, 2019


13. The Logical Flow of 2:1-10 (15 min)

         Ephesians 2:1-10

14. Paul’s View of Grace (21 min)



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13. The Logical Flow of 2:1-10



  • 2:1-10: Cosmic Perspective
    Ruler of the Authority of the Air
    God made us alive
    Living Dead to New Humans

  • 2:11-22: Covenantal Perspective
    Dividing Wall / Torah 
    God brought us near
    Outsiders to Family

05-01

  • This act of salvation to new creation is from grace, not from our own effort.
    - We're all going to die unless someone with power over death helps us.
    - It is not something we can generate for ourselves--it must be received as a gift.
  • Galatians 3:26-27 - The things that define our identities outside the gathering are irrelevant in the new creation.
    - You have new status and worth before God and therefore before each other, which gives birth to a new way human beings should relate to each other.

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14. Paul's View of Grace

  • How do we come to be a part of the new creation? How do our works play a part in it? 
  • Here we focus in on the topic of grace.



  • Grace "charis
    - literally: a gift
    - metaphorically: the attitude/attribute of the one giving the gift
  • Later western concept: A gift is for no reason, spontaneous, and with no strings attached.
  • Traditional cultures: A gift is to establish a relationship of reciprocity. "I want to connect with you and bond to you." Can be in healthy or unhealthy ways.


  • Incongruity: Mismatch between someone's worthiness and the lavishness of the gift.
    - Humanity is destroying itself and God's gift is of a new humanity.
  • Reciprocity: Gift given with the expectation of a response.
    - Does Paul think we are obligated to respond to the gift? Yes, in trust.
  • Unconditioned: Not given on the basis of worth.
    - We did nothing to deserve the gift, but a response is still expected.
    - Not saved by works, but saved for works (2:9-10).


  • The Paradox of Work: The work is me and not me at the same time.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10
    - The gift has not been in vain. Paul has been reciprocating.
    - Somehow the response is both Paul and not Paul (Spirit within him).
  • Philippians 2:12-13
    - Command for you to work out your salvation, but it is God who is the one doing the work and giving you the will.
  • John 15
    - Command to bear fruit, but it comes from the vine.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
    - Paul attributes the work to God: God is the one who makes it grow.
    - The new creation plants that we're able to cultivate are a gift from God that we can't attribute to ourselves.
    - Paul is called to do this missionary work with the Gentiles, but also found that it was happening before his eyes and he happens to be on the scene.


  • Recommended resource: John Barclay's Paul and the Gift. Watch a short interview with Barclay on his book (14 min).

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6

October 26, 2019


15. Introduction to “The Powers” (10 min)

16. Paul’s View of “The Powers” (24 min)

17. “The Powers” in Hebrew Scriptures (14 min)

18. Questions on “The Powers” (8 min)



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15. Introduction to "The Powers"

  • Getting into the spiritual powers that Paul talks about. An uncomfortable and sometimes overlooked topic for modern Christians.


  • The spirit of the power of the air: some kind of personal being that has authority over the governing principles that can't see it, but determine how you think and what you value.
  • Paul and the Biblical authors have a way of seeing the world that we are blind to.
  • The Powers encompass a broad range of topics: political, social, economic, and social issues
  • The Powers are at work when you see:
    -Roman centurions bossing people around.
    -Christians dragged off to the gladiator arenas.
    -Christians dividing their churches along ethnic lines.

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16. Paul's View of "The Powers"

  • An outline of some of the Scriptural references to the powers in the New Testament.


  • Ephesians 1:20-21 - Christ has authority over all the powers.
  • Ephesians 2:2 - We once followed the powers. 
  • Ephesians 3:10 - The church displays the wisdom of God to the powers.
  • Ephesians 6:12 - We put on the attributes of God in order to resist the powers--our enemy is them, not other humans.
  • Colossians 1:15-16 - The powers were created by Christ. They are visible and invisible. Not all are evil: they can serve God's purpose or not.
  • Colossians 2:8 - The powers deceive.
  • Colossians 2:15 - By being killed by the powers, Christ somehow triumphs over them.
  • Galatians 1:3-4 - The cross rescues us from our enslavement to the powers and the present age.
  • Galatians 4:8-9 - Enslaved to the powers.
  • John 12:31, 42 - Same word ("ruler") used to describe the spiritual power and the chief priests. They are empowered by the ruler.
  • Luke 22:52-53 - Tying together the spiritual and human powers. "This is your hour and the authority of darkness." 
  • Romans 13:1 - Good power under God's purpose (even though Paul is imprisoned by this power).
  • 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 - Again intertwining human and spiritual authorities. The powers are passing away and did not understand the mystery of what God has done. 
  • Romans 8:38-39 - The cosmic powers: death, rulers, angels, powers, and time.

  • "It is probable that in Ephesians Paul had in mind at the same time both visible, specific governors and the invisible authority exerted on them."

  • These powers can become twisted and create structures of order that are dehumanizing, that crush human beings, or allow some humans to flourish and others not. If God doesn't recreate humans in Christ, we are enslaved to these powers--that is the human condition apart from Christ.

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17. "The Powers" in Hebrew Scriptures

  • Where did this idea originate? It is not from Paul alone, but began in the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • I highly recommend going to novachurch.org/genesis and reading through & watching Lesson 3: Spiritual Beings. Much of the video below is covered in that lesson, which is from the Spiritual Beings series from the Bible Project. If you want to go deeper, read the Video Notes on Spiritual Beings (more detailed and extremely helpful).



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18. Questions on "The Powers"

  • What are modern applications of "the powers"?
  • They speak of horoscope, the holocaust, the sexual revolution, and capitalistic exploitation.

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7

November 2, 2019


19. How Jesus Destroyed Enmity (32 min)

         Ephesians 2:11-22

20. Question and Response (18 min)

21. The Garden Temple Imagery for God’s People (5 min)


━━━━

19. How Jesus Destroyed Enmity


  • There was not meant to be hostility between God's people and the nations. Israel was meant to be a light to them of God's goodness.
  • The Torah was meant to help them be this light, but instead became the very thing that drove them further apart from the nations.
  • The hostility between Israel and the nations was not meant to be the way it was. It needed to be dealt with by God in order that they would be brought near, made into one.
  • The Torah was hijacked by sin to tempt us away from God and lead us to death. But God uses even this evil to destroy sin itself.
  • What is the metaphorical dividing wall's basis of imagery?
    1. Barrier that stood in the court of the Jerusalem temple (balustrade).
    2. Barrier referring the to protective hedge around Israel, his vineyard (Isa. 5:2). God breaks it down due to Israel's unfaithfulness. During the 2nd Temple period: the Torah is the protective hedge that prevents Israel from sin but also prevents contact with other nations (isolation and hostility which are unintended by God).
  • Romans 7 is a more detailed explanation of the concept behind what Paul is talking about.
  • Romans 7 is difficult and makes Thomas' head hurt.
  • Sin hijacks the good command to create death and hostility.
  • In 7:8-13 Paul is definitely drawing on Genesis 3 imagery for how he talks about the Torah.
    - Torah = God's word saying don't eat from this one tree.
    - Sin = snake deceiving humanity into disobeying God.


━━━━

20. Question and Response on "Enmity"



  • Israel failed, so Jesus comes to do what Israel couldn't: reconciling all people and pointing to who God is.
  • The laws of the Torah ended up being contractual rather than intimate covenantal. 



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21. The Garden Temple Imagery for God's People



  • We have a new humanity that is Israelite and the nations together.
  • Temple / Tree of Life that we're becoming. Mixes of metaphors getting at the uniting of heaven and earth.
  • Citizens -> Family -> Temple. There's almost this progression to the imagery he uses about how he describes us getting close to God himself.
    - We're a fellow citizen among God's people, but more so we're part of God's own household family, but more so God himself will dwell in/among us.

8

November 9, 2019


22. Paul’s Message Summarized

         Ephesians 3:1-13

23. Paul’s Prayer for Love in Ephesians 3:14-21

         Ephesians 3:14-21

24. Apocalyptic Imagination


Videos 22 and 24 are missing the graphics that Tim shows on screen. Click the links above to be able to view Tim and the graphics simultaneously while you watch.


━━━━

22. Paul's Message Summarized


  • "Open-secret" - Often translated as "mystery," which doesn't get at its more nuanced meaning: Something that used to be unknown but is now open and public.
  • The secret was that the nations are co-inheritors of the good news of the Messiah.

  • The church IS the wisdom of God incarnate. 

  • Paul boasts in the things that bring him shame outside of the Messianic worldview - his weaknesses, floggings, shipwrecks, imprisonments.
  • Glory = honor = visible manifestation of your rank on the social ladder.
  • In the upside down world of the Messiah, it is their glory that their founder is in prison, because their God was crucified as a criminal.
  • Jesus turns the honor/shame culture upside down.

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23. Paul's Prayer for Love in Ephesians 3:14-21


  • God is father of the earthly and heavenly crews. He has given all creatures in heaven and earth life--they find their origin with him.
  • Discussion on how the communal nature of these thoughts factors into God's love (over an individualistic reading).
  • There are depths and dimensions to the love of God that are impossible for me to experience if I'm not regularly around other followers of Jesus who are not like me.
    -Friends, family, marriages, and assemblies (churches).

━━━━

24. Apocalyptic Imagination


  • The very message that frees us, imprisons Paul.
  • Chapters 4-6 are about imagining how the new creation talked about in 1-3 can be lived out.


9

25. Unity not Uniformity Ephesians in 4:1-16 (31 min)

         Ephesians 4:1-16

26. Meaning of Head in Ephesians 4:15 (24 min)

27. People as Gifts in Ephesians 4 (16 min)


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25. Unity not Uniformity in Ephesians 4:1-16


  • There are 7 “one”s.

  • “Seven” visually/metaphorically represents fullness/completeness.

  • It’s Paul’s Messianic Shema (Deut. 6) multiplied by seven.


  • The body is the physical manifestation of the Messiah in and through his people where the spirit animates this body.

  • We are one in Jesus, but this unity expressed through the different gifts of people that make up the one body. 

  • Leaders equip the body to work together. When this happens, Jesus’ body is physically present.

  • It’s a corporate new humanity.

  • When Paul is quoting Psalm 68, he has the whole poem in his head.

  • It’s a template for the whole biblical drama: God conquers evil then gives gifts of power to his people.

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26. Meaning of Head in Ephesians 4:15


  • This discussion is important for the interpretation of later uses of head in the often-debated Ephesians 5 regarding husband as the head of the wife (5:23).

  • Head = Gk. kephale

  • What role does the head play?

  • In this chapter, the body grows into the head and from the head (v. 15-16).

  • Here it is the source / beginning (ex. head of the river, trailhead).

  • In the wider context of secular Greek, head does not mean authority (1. Literal head, 2. Literal source, 3. Metaphorically prominent).

  • But head in Hebrew often means leader/authority. Is Paul writing Hebrew in Greek?

  • Earlier in the chapter (1:22), it seems that kephale means authority. 

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27. People as Gifts in Ephesians 4


  • Here Paul talks about leaders as gifts. It gives them honor and also no ground to stand on other than the grace of God.

  • Leadership is not yours, it was given to you irrespective of your worth.

  • “Freed from the need to establish their honor in competition… believers can afford to grant it to others.” -John Barclay

  • This list of spiritual gifts (4:11) seems to be focusing on the guiding, leading, and equipping gifts because he is focusing on the maturity of the body. Other lists include Romans 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 1 Cor. 12:28, 1 Peter 4:11.

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10

28. From Old to New Humanity in 4:17-5:2

        Ephesians 4:17-5:2

29. From Dark to Light in 5:3-14

        Ephesians 5:3-14

30. From Folly to Wisdom in Relationships in 5:15-25

        Ephesians 5:15-25






11

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12

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