These small group studies of Ephesians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Ephesians 1:1-10 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Applications
I. Greeting from Paul to Ephesus. (1-2)
II. God’s grace, our position in Christ, Christ as the mediator (3-14)
a) Praise to God who pours out His blessings on us. (3)
b) Doctrine of election (4-5)
c) He gives us grace (6)
d) He redeems and forgives us according to His grace (7)
e) He is not stingy, but He lavishes His grace on us (8)
f) He reveals His will to us (9)
g) All things are building towards the final kingdom of Christ on this earth (10)
I. Greeting from Paul to Ephesus. (1-2)
- Who is the author of this letter? Tell me briefly about him.
- Where was it sent to? Tell me briefly about that city.
- What do you think is the main purpose of the book of Ephesians?
Background on Ephesus:
1 Timothy 1:4,7 – The church of Ephesus was hounded by some false teachers who were interested in endless myths and genealogies, but not of sound biblical teaching.
Acts 19 – Paul’s trip to Ephesus and starting the church there. The riot by the silversmiths and Artemis’ temple.
1. Paul an apostle – Paul introduces himself as “Paul and apostle of Christ” in most of his epistles. The fact that Paul was an apostle is an amazing story. He was one of the most zealous persecutors of believers in the early church. But a divine encounter with Jesus transformed him. After his divine appointment with Jesus, he became a zealous missionary. Whenever Paul introduces himself in this way it is a reminder of Jesus’ life changing power.
Beyond this, it is a a statement of Paul’s credentials. Paul’s credentials as an apostle are an important reminder to the recipients of his letter that he has the authority from God to relay His message and give commands for the church. It is a gentle way of saying, “you had better listen to what I have to say!”
II. God’s grace, our position in Christ, Christ as the mediator (3-14)
- What is the main point of this section?
- Who has been blessed with these great blessings?
- What kinds of blessings does this include?
- What is the teaching in verses 4-5?
- How to explain that God chose us before the world began?
- What does this tell us about God?
- Why do some people get so upset when they hear about this “doctrine of election”?
- What should our response towards those people be?
- Some people say that this (and many other doctrines) are not important and don’t actually affect how we live. What do you think?
- Why is it important?
- In what way did He bestow this grace on us? (Freely, lavished) What does this tell you about our involvement?
- What words/phrases are repeated again and again?
- What can we learn from this?
- What does redemption mean?
- What does verse 9 mean? What is the mystery of His will?
- What does verse 10 mean? What is an “administration suitable to the fullness of the times?
Deuteronomy 7:6-7 – For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
Matthew 24:22 – If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
John 6:44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
Acts 13:48 – When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 – But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:29-30 – For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Romans 9:11 – Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.
John 1:12 – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
2 Corinthians 6:18 – And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
1 Timothy 1:14 – The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:24 – And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Colossians 2:13 – When you were dead in your trespasses and sins, He made you alive together with Christ.
1. The big idea of the passage – Ephesians 1:3-14 is one of the most spectacular reminders in the Bible of our position in Christ and His great love toward us. It is filled with rich theological doctrines, each of which has amazing practical implications. Paul actually spends most of the first three chapters in Ephesians laying out these important spiritual truths and then most of the last three chapters pointing out how they are to be applied in the daily lives of believers.
Whenever you feel discouraged or useless, you should turn to this passage and read it. After reading it you will feel the comfort and peace of the assurance of your relationship with Jesus fill you.
Below we will discuss many of these spiritual principles one by one.
2. Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing – Every blessing that God has in His “arsenal,” He has poured out into our lives. Notice that Paul focuses on “spiritual” blessings. In many modern churches much focus is placed on physical blessings. Health and wealth are emphasized. The prosperity gospel is gaining in popularity in many places in the world. Proponents of the prosperity gospel teach that God wants His followers to be healthy and rich.
Chris Gore, a prominent teacher in Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry, said “it is always God’s will to heal” and “there is no divine purpose for being sick.” Focus is placed on physical healing rather than the gospel, sin, justification, sanctification, etc. Such teaching is dangerous because it give believers a false hope that God will always heal. When He chooses not to (for His own perfect reasons), people are disillusioned and may turn away from Him. Even if they are healed, the focus becomes miracles rather than Jesus.
The prosperity gospel is a heretical teaching that is not supported in the Bible. What the Bible does say is here. God blesses us with every spiritual blessing. Forgiveness. Peace. Redemption. Grace. Mercy. Love. Sanctification. Answered prayer. And much more. God is not stingy in what He gives to us. He wants what is best for us.
Application: When you are discouraged take some time and sit down in a quiet place to reflect on God’s blessings in your life. List out those blessings one by one. Write them down on a paper. As you begin to remember God’s blessings, it will encourage you and begin to change your outlook.
3. He chose us before the foundation of the world – Here is one of the key passages in the Bible on the doctrine of election. This doctrine teaches us that God predestined the elect to salvation and He did it before the world began. Since He chose us before the world began, then it is not on a basis of our own merit or good deeds. It was His choice, His grace, and His power that accomplished our salvation.
It is as if each person in the world is on an escalator going down to hell. If left completely to ourselves, we will happily keep going there. But God did not leave us t ourselves. Instead He reaches down and takes some from this escalator and then puts them on an escalator going to heaven.
God’s election of believers cannot be divorced from our own responsibility. Throughout the Bible people’s responsibility to respond to God’s calling and place their faith in Him is emphasized. Over and over Scripture commands people to “believe” and to “repent.” All people are responsible for their own reactions to the gospel. We must respond to God’s offer of salvation. We must accept God’s free gift. When we do it is not due to our own goodness. Our positive response is only enabled by His working in us first.
1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us.
Throughout the Bible God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are held in tension, like two sides of one coin, a paradox. Many divisions and debates have ripped the church because of disagreements on this issue. We must remember Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4 to be “diligent to maintain the unity.” Some aspects of God’s sovereignty and people’s responsibility and how they work together are hard to understand. While we should study and seek to come to a deeper knowledge, this quest should not lead us to a place of division and anger toward other believers.
A person once said that the door to heaven has a sign on it. On our side of the entrance it says, “Your choice.” On the other side it says, “Elected by God.” Rather than seek to separate these two Scriptural truths, we can continue to hold them in tension and recognize the importance of both
Application: If you are saved, God has elected you. You are safe and secure in His loving arms. He will never leave you or forsake you. Since it is God’s work, you should be humble. Give Him the glory and the praise. Meanwhile since He started this work in your life, you must depend on Him and not your own strength to finish it.
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
4. Adopted as His children – Adoption. It is one of the most exciting teachings in the Bible. Our holy, eternal, all-powerful, all-loving God has chosen to adopt us as His sons and daughters. We were His enemies. We were poor, sinful, and wretched. He not only loves us. He not only accepts us. He then adopts us, giving us all the rights and blessings due to children.
Because of this we have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. Since He is our Father, we can come to Him at any time with any request.
I myself have four children. If a stranger came up to me and asked for something, I may or may not help depending on the situation. But if one of my children ask, then I will help because I am their father. Their cries are not always pleasant. As a baby or a toddler, they may scream in the night. The words they use are not always eloquent. The way that they ask is not always correct. But since we have a relationship, I will respond.
We have that same kind of relationship with our heavenly father. Because of this we know He hears us. More than this, we know that He will never abandon us. He will protect us. He will teach us. He will remain faithful and loving to us no matter what we do.
In verse 5 it tells us that He did this “according to the purpose of His will.” Once again, we see the principle of sovereign election. He chose us.
Application: When was the last time you thanked Him for adopting you? What should an adopted child do? What should you do to show your appreciation?
5. In Him we have redemption through His blood – Redemption means that He paid the price for our sins. He freed us from our slavery to sin.
I heard a story of a girl who was being taken to a slave market to be sold. A kind gentleman felt compassion for her. So he bought her and handed her certificate of freedom and sent her away free. But she started following him saying again and again, “my redeemer.” She wanted to spend her life serving such a gracious redeemer who paid the price for her freedom.
Jesus is our redeemer. He offered His own life as a sacrifice. He paid for our freedom with His own blood. Redemption through Jesus was God’s plan of salvation from the beginning.
Application: What will you do with your redeemed life? Will you be like the freed slave girl who followed her redeemer?
6. According to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us – God is not stingy. His forgiveness is not stingy. He does not sprinkle blessings on us, a little here and a little there. He doesn’t count them out carefully. His blessings are lavished on us.
Note how He gives to us. It is “according to” His riches. How rich is He? How big is God’s bank account? How vast is His estate? Of course it is infinite. He never runs out of blessings. They are like the oil of the widow women in the time of Elisha. She kept pouring and pouring out of the one jar.
When I was a kid I used to look forward to Christmas because I would receive a lot of gifts. It was so exciting to open them up. The night before I could hardly sleep. As I have grown the source of my excitement has changed. I find that I am excited by giving gifts to my children. I love to find them special gifts which they will enjoy. It is a delight to see their childlike joy at the special things my wife and I have prepared for them. At this age there is little I need or want. God has been good to us. But it fills my heart with happiness to see my little ones enjoying the blessings we are sharing with them. And yet if they fight and argue over those gifts, it saddens us to see them being selfish with the things which they should generously share and enjoy together.
Somehow I think that God is like this. It is a delight to Him to share His good things with us. But when we misuse these things or selfishly hold on to them instead of sharing, it also saddens Him. His resources are unlimited. He wants to give us even more. But He also wants us to use these things for Him. As we prove ourselves to be good stewards then it will give our Redeemer great joy.
James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.
7. Making known to us the mystery of His will – God’s plan of salvation is progressive. Certainly there were many hints of it in the Old Testament, but it was not always completely clear. He reveals His plan for people step by step.
What is the mystery? Paul further clarifies by saying “set forth in Christ.” It is the plan of salvation by God’s Son dying on the cross. Even Jesus’ own disciples had a very hard time accepting that this was going to happen, much less all the other Jews who were expecting a political savior.
Now we know and understand God’s plan of redemption. He sent His perfect Son as a sacrifice to pay for our sins and then raised Jesus from the dead to prove that His plan worked! He did this in the “fullness of time.” At just the right time.
Salvation is offered to all people everywhere in order to “unite all things in him.” Later in this book, we will see that salvation came to the Gentiles. All peoples can be united through Christ as every person who believes in Him will be part of His one big family.
E-book: If these notes are helpful you can download the entire Ephesians E-book study guide to use on any device or print the entire series.