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 2:11-22 Inductive Bible Study


I. Gentiles were alienated from God and the Jews (11-12)
II. Christ reconciled the two groups and made them one new man (13-18)
III. Gentiles now can be part of the same building, which is built on Christ and the apostles (19-22)

I. Gentiles were alienated from God and the Jews (11-12)

Discussion Questions

Who are the “uncircumcision”? Who are the circumcision? What was the purpose of circumcision as God originally commanded it for the Jews?
When is “that time” that is referred to in verse 12?
What do each of the following phrases mean? Separate from Christ? Excluded from the commonwealth of Israel? Strangers to the covenants of promise? Having no hope? Without God in the world?
Why were Gentiles in this desperate and hopeless situation? Why did God elect one nation, Israel? (Don’t know.)
Why does Paul remind the Ephesians of the Gentiles’ previous desperate condition?


Romans 2:29 – The more important circumcision is circumcision of the heart.
Colossians 2:13 – When we were dead in sins and uncircumcised in flesh, Christ forgave us.
Jeremiah 9:25-26 – God always considered circumcision of the heart more important.
Philippians 3:3-11 – Paul, the Jew of Jews, can still put no confidence in the flesh.
Genesis 17:7-9 – God makes a covenant with Abraham.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – Anyone who is not a believer has no hope.
Romans 1:17-32 – They gave up the knowledge of God and changed it for lies and pathetic idols.
1 Thessalonians 4:5 – The heathen doesn’t know God.

Teaching Points

1. Circumcision was a physical symbol of God’s covenant with the Jews. It showed the fact that they were a separate people dedicated to God and His laws. As a physical symbol, it is somewhat similar to the physical symbol of baptism for the believer, which signifies our relationship with Christ and separation from the world.

2. The Jews were specially chosen/elect by God, but had become prideful in this. They looked down on everyone who wasn’t circumcised and called them the “uncircumcision.” To them, others were unclean, low, worthless. They had forgotten that true circumcision was circumcision of the heart. It was an attitude of holiness and separation from the ways of the world, an attitude of dedication to God.

3. There are five areas where Gentiles were worse off than Jews in the Old Testament.

a) Separate from Christ – Christ means Messiah. The Messiah was promised as the deliverer of the Jews. He was their King, their Savior. In fact, He was Jew Himself.

b) They could not be citizens of Israel. They were always referred to as aliens or foreigners. The best they could do was be a second-rate resident of Israel.

c) Strangers to the covenant of promise – God made a covenant with Abraham and renewed it with Isaac and Jacob. In it He promised specific things, such as land, a priesthood, many people, a nation, a king. Since Gentiles are not descended from Abraham, this covenant is not for them.

d) Having no hope – All people without God are without hope. Gentiles in Old Testament times were almost universally without God. We learn from Romans, this is because of their willful disbelief in the one true God. They had many false gods, but rejected worship in the one true God.

e) Without God – They didn’t know God. They didn’t follow God. That’s why they didn’t have any hope.

4. The obvious question then is, could a Gentile in the Old Testament be saved? Did they have any chance? The answer is yes. Salvation has always been by faith and has never been handed out to anyone just because of their race. To receive salvation in OT times is the same as today, trust in God. Non-Jews could actually become circumcised and become proselytes even in the OT. However, the vast majority continued to willfully reject God and even the few who did believe in God (Ruth, Nebuchadnezzar, etc.) wouldn’t receive the benefits of full citizenship.

5. Why do we need to know all of this? Knowing where we come from helps us to be more joyful and grateful for where we are.

II. Christ reconciled the two groups and made them one new man (13-18)

Discussion Questions

What changed starting in verse 13? Who brought about the change? Was this a new idea of God’s to save the Gentiles? Did He just think of it after some thousand years realizing that the Gentiles needed hope to? How do you know this was always part of God’s plan and not a new idea?
What does it mean to be far off? Far off from what?
Why is Christ our peace? (Think also peace between Jews/Gentiles.)
How are both groups one? Looking at the world today, it still looks like the Jews and Gentiles have a lot of arguments. (The church.)
What does this tell us about the relationship we should have with others in the church? How about others of different races? Different social levels? Different backgrounds? (Tell Cody story.)
What does the barrier of the dividing wall refer to?
What is the Law of commandments? How did it divide?
How did Christ put to death the enmity? (He, a Jew, showing His love by dying for all the people, including the Gentiles.)
How are Christian Jews and Gentiles alike? How about Christian Chinese and Americans? Poor and rich?


Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, etc.
Colossians 1:21-22 – Once you were alienated from God and enemies, but now reconciled.
John 10:16 – Jesus had other sheep, not of that fold.
Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:8 – God would bless all the families of the earth through Abraham. This was His plan from long before.
John 16:33 – Jesus is our peace.
Colossians 1:20 – His death accomplished peace.
Galatians 6:15 – Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, what counts is a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 – Reconciliation.
Hebrews 10:19-25 – We can enter the Most Holy Place through Christ. He opened the way for us. Because of that we should draw near to God and each other (spur one another on in love and good deeds.)
James 2:1-9 – Partiality in the church.
Colossians 2:9-15 – There is no distinction between Jew or Greek, slave or free, etc. Also application, put on a spirit of unity and compassion, etc.

Teaching Points

1. Christ takes the central role in this dramatic reversal of events. The words “But now in Christ” are infinitely important. In short, our entire situation has been changed. We are no longer in the desperate, hopeless situation depicted in verses 11-12.

2. This was not a new idea for God. It was hinted at way back in the OT. Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:8, John 10:16. This was always part of God’s eternal plan, the same as His choice of the Jews and His choice of you. He chose to bring salvation to all of the world through the Jews. That was in fact a major reason why He chose them to begin with, to be a light to the Gentiles, which Christ ultimately fulfilled.

3. Gentiles were formerly far away from God, but He brought us near. He made peace between the two sides. He broke down the barriers including circumcision, the law, the curtain in the temple dividing Gentiles and Jews (symbolically). He brought two groups who hated each other, and in Himself made them into one. To receive the benefits that the Jews have, it is no longer necessary for Gentiles to be converted to Judaism. We don’t need to be circumcised and we don’t need to follow the Old Testament law. Christ brought peace.

4. Then why then is there not peace in the world between these groups even today? All of the above is true IN THE CHURCH, not in the world. In the Church, we are really all one in Jesus. This applies to Jew and Gentile, slave and free, woman and man, old and young, poor and rich. Read cross-references. The only way these two groups can have peace is through Christ. This has proven true throughout the history of the world when Jews and unbelievers have warred and fought and argued and hated.

5. What is this peace? It is not simply a passive acceptance. It is not a grudging tolerance. It is not a burning bitterness inside, but placid faced on the outside. It is not a lit fuse just waiting to explode. It is taking two and making them one. It is like marriage. It is like grafting a tree. It is one new man. One heart, one soul, one mind. This speaks of unity. It speaks of an unbreakable bond. It is a new entity entirely where the previous background is no longer important.

6. In the church, people don’t go by their nationality or age or social status. We are all citizens of heaven first and most importantly. Being a Christian is more important than being a Chinese, an American, a Song, or a Dexter. Being a Christian is more important than being married or single, a successful business man or a street worker. The world is full of divisions and bitterness, but Christians are radically different all because of Christ.

7. By application that means we must not show partiality. Read cross references.

8. It means we must love with the love of Christ. The next time you are tempted to show anger or impatience to a fellow believer, remember what Christ has done for you. Remember that you are one in Him.

9. It means we must fellowship with one another. Since believers are one, it only makes sense that we will spend more time hanging out, fellowshiping, and strengthening each other than we will with those in the world. We tend to hang out more with those who are more like us. If you spend most of your time with worldly people it would at least appear that you identify more with them than you do with believers. Hebrews 10:19-25

III. Gentiles now can be part of the same building, which is built on Christ and the apostles (19-22)

Discussion Questions

What does it mean to be a citizen? What were Gentiles living with the Jews called previously?
What is the building doing? (Growing.)
What about the individuals? (Being built. Growing.)

Teaching Points

1. The benefits of the Gentiles newfound relationship to God. Gentiles were no longer outcasts, aliens, foreigners. They were accepted into (and actually formed the majority of) the church. They became full class citizens with full perks. They could actually be members of God’s very household, His own family. We are citizens of heaven and have direct access to God through His Spirit. We are His children. We can pray to Him at any time. We should rejoice in our close relationship to God, made possible only through Christ’s death on the cross.

2. Jesus is the cornerstone, the most important piece of the puzzle. Without Him, the entire building would crumble. Tell Solomon’s temple story.

3. The apostles built on top of Christ. They repeated the lessons of Christ and taught more as they were given divine inspiration from God by the Spirit. They laid down the foundation of the church both in teaching, preaching and actually building the church through their missionary efforts. The foundation of teaching laid down the disciples is unchanging. It is the core of the believers’ life.

4. What is the actual structure? The actual structure of the building is the very lives of believers. Each believer is part of the church and contributes in their own special way with their own unique gifts.

5. Growing. The church as a whole and we as individuals must be growing. It is still not a finished work. The foundation remains unchanged. But the structure keeps growing, is painted, is renovated, is upgraded, etc. You must be growing


Galatians 3:26-28, Philippians 3:20 – We are all sons of God through Christ. Our citizenship is in heaven.
1 Peter 2:4-5 – Jesus, the chosen corner stone, was rejected by men. (Reminiscent of the story of Solomon’s temple, where one stone was rejected by the builders, but finally chosen to be the cornerstone for the entire temple.

Study Ephesians 3:1-13