Ephesians 1-2 Chosen Before the Foundation of the World
Ephesus is on the west coast of Turkey, and its ruins are considered one of the largest and most treasured archaeological sites in the world. Paul wrote this epistle to church members there—being mostly gentile converts to Christianity—in about 61 AD, while he was in prison in Rome (see Ephesians 4:1).
In this epistle, Paul focuses on unity and love. What do you learn about unity and love from Ephesians 1:10; 2:12-22; 3:14-21; 4:1-6, 11-14; 5:22-32?
Note Paul’s opening in Ephesian 1:1-3; again including his testimony of Jesus Christ and the Father; note also the blessings Paul pronounced on the Saints (see also his closing pronouncements of blessings upon them in Ephesians 6:22-24).
- What did Paul teach about our pre-mortal life, in Ephesians 1:4-5, 12? (note footnote 5a, which clarifies that the word predestinated (a false idea; also used in verse 11) should be rendered as foreordained.
- Find things Paul taught about Jesus Christ in verses 6-9.
- In verse 10, Paul foretold our day, calling it “the dispensation of the fulness of times.” What did he say would happen in our day?
- Joseph Smith taught that Paul’s teaching in verse 13 about being “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” is a reference to having one’s calling and election made sure (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 149).
- What things did Paul say about the Ephesian Saints in verses 15-19?
- Find things Paul taught about Jesus Christ, in Ephesians 1:20-22 and Ephesians 2:1, 5, 7.
- How would you explain salvation through Christ, as taught in 2:8-10, 12-13, 19-22?
Ephesians 3 “Rooted and Grounded”
What are the things that you pray for most regularly? Consider the following:
- How do we “access” Heavenly Father, according to verses 9-12, 14-16? (See also 3 Nephi 19:9.)
- What blessings flow from the Father and the Son, as taught in verses 17-20?
- Are you fully “rooted and grounded” (verse 17) in the Savior’s gospel and church?
- In what ways have you experienced “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (verse 19)?
Ephesians 4 “One Faith”
- According to verses 2-4, 29, 31-32, how do we “forbear” (hold ourselves back) in our relationships with one another?
- Paul’s statement in verse 5, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” is a call for unity, but also can be taken to mean that there can only be one true Church.
- Make a list of other things Paul teaches about the true church, in verses 11-15. What should be your role in helping create unity and maturity in the Church?
- In what ways do verses 17-19 make you think of our world today? How do we avoid such attitudes and behavior, according verses 20-24?
Ephesians 5 Counsel for Husbands and Wives
Read verses 1-5, 8-12, noting the things Paul exhorted us to do and be; and not to do nor be. Verse 12 states that “it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them [the wicked] in secret.” If we should not even speak about evil things, why would we ever want to read about, watch, listen to, or think of such things?
What do you think are the important qualities that righteous women would want to see in their husbands? Some Bible students find fault with Paul’s counsel in verse 22, wherein he says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added his own thought to the end of this verse, writing, “As long as his [the husband’s] rulership is exercised in righteousness” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:519; see also D&C 121:41-42).
Consider also the verses that follow:
- The husband must be to the wife as the Savior Jesus Christ is to the church—willing to give his own self and even his own life for her (verses 23, 25).
- Like Christ, the husband is to be an agent who will do all he can to help “sanctify and cleanse” his family (verse 26).
- The husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body (verse 28). Consider also that the husband and wife are commanded to become one flesh (see verse 31; see also Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7-8).
- The husband must nourish and cherish his wife and their relationship (verse 29).
- The husband is commanded to love his wife “even as himself” (verse 33).
Ephesians 6 “The Whole Armour”
Ponder Paul’s closing admonitions: his teachings and counsel to children (verses 1-3) and to fathers (verse 4; the Jerusalem Bible renders this, “never drive your children to resentment”).
This may bring to mind the idea of “gentle parenting.” For example, President Brigham Young taught: “I will here say to parents, that kind words and loving actions towards children will subdue their uneducated nature a great deal better than the rod, or in other words, than physical punishment…. Children who have lived in the sunbeams of parental kindness and affection, when made aware of a parent’s displeasure, and receive a kind reproof from parental lips, are more thoroughly chastened than by any physical punishment that could be applied to their persons” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, p. 339).
Paul ends by warning the Saints of “the wiles of the devil” (verse 11), “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” (verse 12). Paul therefore teaches that we must take unto ourselves “the whole armour of God” (verse 13). What did Paul say in verse 14 that will be our blessings, as we do so?
In verses 14-17 Paul specifies the pieces of armor (see also D&C 27:15-18). Some commentators have compared these verses to elements of modern LDS temple worship; while others have made these connections:
- Verse 14: girding (or protecting) our loins may relate to the attributes of chastity and virtue.
- Verse 15: we are to have our feet “shod” (covered; protected) which can relate to our pathways and goals.
- Verse 16: we shield ourselves from “the fiery darts of the wicked,” which symbolizes our spiritual strategies that protect us from the influence of Satan.
- Verse 17: the helmet protects our heads, perhaps representing our thoughts and intents.
- Verse 17: we take up the “sword of the Spirit,” which students of the Bible have pointed out is the only “offensive” piece mentioned by Paul—the others being defensive in nature. “The Spirit” can refer to any of the Three Members of the Godhead and Their influence, which we all so desperately need, in order to survive spiritually.
Finally, we are to pray for others in the church (verse 18); and for the prophets and apostles (verses 19-20).