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 2:1-10 Bible Study Guide – With Commentary And Discussion Questions
I. Their past condition (1-3)
II. God’s amazing grace transforming their lives (4-10)
I. Their past condition (1-3)
- Who was dead in their sins? Just the Ephesians?
- What does it mean to be dead in your sins?
- What is the course of this world?
- Who is the prince of the power of the air?
- How is he working now and who are the sons of disobedience?
- Why were we “children” or “objects” of wrath?
- Can you see this behavior in your previous life? How about now?
John 3:3 – Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
John 15:19 – If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. You were dead in your sins – Paul describes the Ephesians’ former life prior to their conversion. Being “dead in sins” describes their spiritual condition. There was no spiritual goodness and no life. A dead person does not just need a change of scenery or extra motivation. He is completely helpless. Prior to salvation people have no ability to please God in any way. Even the good that we do is as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. A new birth is needed. A mere change in trajectory is insufficient.
Also, a spiritually dead person cannot see or understand the things of the Spirit. Neither can he take initiative to seek after God.
Application: Our salvation is not due to ourselves. Did Lazarus take credit for his resurrection? A dead person gets no credit. Our salvation and life transformation is completely due to God’s grace in our lives. Therefore we should be humble. We should give Him the glory. And we should not think that we can finish by our own efforts that which He started in our lives with His power. Therefore we must live by the strength and wisdom which He provides.
2. In which you used to live – The Ephesians had a radical life change after they were born again. After salvation, they did not live the same way as before. Paul implies here that every believer’s life has a clear change in direction after they are saved. If a person claims to have given his life to God and yet lives exactly the same way as before, then there is a good chance that decision wasn’t genuine.
Application: What sin do you struggle with now that you also struggled with prior to coming to Christ? How can you get victory?
3. Of the ruler of the kingdom of the air – Satan has dominion over this world. When he tempted Jesus, he took Him to the top of a mountain and offered to give him the kingdoms of the world. You cannot give what you do not have. Here Paul also teaches that Satan’s kingdom is in this world. His kingdom is equated with the “ways of the world” and Paul says that he is working in those who are disobedient.
The lesson is clear. Satan is active in this world, leading (misleading) it against God. Human governments and culture are under his sway. He makes use of every tool at his disposal: internet, television, print media, newspapers, magazines, and academic institutions. This is not to say that these are all satanists or 100% working for him all the time. It is to say that he is working through these outlets to spread his lies, temptations, and doctrines.
Can you give examples of how Satan uses media to influence people?
Application: Believers must be wary. We need to understand that Satan is active and using these resources to undermine Biblical truth. Therefore we must always practice discernment. Whatever we hear and wherever we hear it must be compared to Scripture. And those things that disagree with Scripture must be discarded no matter how many people One current example is the LBGT movement. Satan is trying to undercut the traditional family and cause people created in God’s image to lose their identity. When God created people, He said “man and woman.” He created two genders, not the fifty-eight genders that Facebook supports.
4. All of us lived among them at one time – In the church there is no room for a “better than thou” Pharisaic pride. Every single one of us is in the same boat. Every believer was once dead to sin and alive only by grace. Christians must not judge those that come from rough backgrounds. And we must be welcoming and loving to those who are still lost.
In recent years, I have been saddened by many professing believers behavior toward the lost, either in the real world or in the anonymity of the online one. There is an almost militant “us against them” attitude. Aggressive arguing, harsh language, and even hatred is more and more common.
Believers should not target and single out certain sins and attack people who commit those sins. We should stand for the truth and not compromise. Yet people are not won into God’s kingdom through debate. Hateful words and arguing do not reach souls for Christ. Love is what goes to the heart. And God calls us to love all people, no matter what they have done or are doing. Followers of Christ should tone down the rhetoric and spend more time loving the lost like Christ Himself did.
5. Gratifying our sinful natures – By nature, this is what we did prior to following Christ. We sought to satisfy our own desires. Pleasing ourselves was the rule of the day. Jesus talked about the broad way that leads to destruction. The gate is wide and the way is broad. A person entering the broad way never needs to deny himself. He never needs to say “no” to his own desires. And on the broad way, he can do what he likes. If he desires tell him to look at porn, he looks at porn. If he desires binge watching television, then he binge watches. If he desires being a slave at work in order to try to secure a promotion or worldly recognition, he does it. If he wants to sleep around, then does it. After all, he tells himself it is not “hurting anybody.” The broad way is the easy way. Fellow travelers on this path are doing the same things and so will not condemn you for these selfish gratifications.
However, when a person comes to Christ he has a new nature and a new Master. He is on the narrow way. The born again believer seeks to please his heavenly Master rather than satisfy his own flesh. The decision making process is completely flipped around. Instead of asking “what gives me the most pleasure,” he asks, “what pleases my Lord?”
Living for God, means saying “no” to the flesh and to worldly passions.
Application: Is there an area that your sinful nature and your new nature are struggling? In what area is it difficult for you please God instead of yourself? What do you need to do in order to get victory?
II. God’s amazing grace transforming their lives (4-10)
- Explain the importance of the short phrase, “But God.”
- What was his motivation for saving us?
- What does it mean to be “made alive?”
- How are we seated in the heavenly places with Christ?
- If we are already made alive, have already been sealed with the Holy Spirit, and already possess eternal life, what does it mean “that in the ages to come He might show us” more? What does He halve left to show?
- Does “that” in verse 8 refer to the grace of God or the faith? (Both.)
- Explain the connection between verses 8-9 and 10 if good deeds cannot save us.
1 Cor 5:10 – Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
Titus 3:3 – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
1 Timothy 1:16 – But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. But God (verse 4) – The word “but” is one of the most important in the Bible. Here Paul uses the word “but” to begin to contrast our former dead way of life with our new life in Christ. We were all dead to sin. We all lived under the realm of Satan, seeking personal pleasure and gratification. But. But God was merciful. He did not leave us in this state. Because of His mercy, He sent Jesus. And Jesus “made us alive together with Christ” by grace. He took us from the broad way of destruction and placed us on the narrow road leading to eternal life. He gave us the power to say “no” to sin and to live in a righteous way.
Application: What is one area of your life that God has helped you change after bringing you to Him? Share about your change in attitude toward this sin and any steps taken to help achieve victory.
2. He seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ – God has brought us into His kingdom and given us a seat at His table. This is contrasted with verse 2 which describes Satan as the “prince of the power of the air.” Satan has his kingdom which we were part of. But after salvation God brought us into His kingdom, giving us a seat at His celestial “table.” One day in heaven we will celebrate at the Great Banquet, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Prior to that day we still have a place in His kingdom and we are part of His administering and furthering that kingdom on earth. In this message there are many contrasts between the “before” and “after” of salvation. And this is one more stark difference.
3. The immeasurable riches of His grace – God is both rich and generous. There is nothing stingy about Him. He willingly shares with us abundant spiritual (and often material) blessings.
Application: God wants us to learn from His model of generosity. As He has graciously shared with us out of His immeasurable riches, so we should generously share with others. What is one resource God has given you which you can generously share? How will you do this?
4. Verses 8-9 (by grace you have been saved) –
Here are several key verses about the gospel. The point within is very clear. Salvation is by grace through faith. A person cannot be saved by good works. Salvation is 100% God’s work in our lives. Going to church cannot save you. Praying cannot save you. Giving to the poor cannot save you. Reading the Bible cannot save you. Being baptized cannot save you. Singing in the choir cannot save you. Doing ministry for God (preaching or teaching or any other) cannot save you.
The word “grace” means that God gives us something which we do not deserve, namely salvation. It cannot be earned. It cannot be paid back. Our sins mean we deserve judgment, but God gave us something much better instead, eternal life!
It is a gift from God. If I am walking down the street and find a random stranger and hand him $1000 dollars that is a gift, a form of grace. Since he did not work for me, he does not deserve this gift. Of course he has the opportunity to accept it or not. God’s grace toward us is like this. It is completely unmerited. One reason God designed it like this way is because He does want a bunch of boasters in heaven.
Imagine a person is drowning and the captain of a nearby boat throws him a life ring. He takes hold of it. Will the saved person be bragging in the boat about his cleverness, his choice, or his great natural ability? Of course not, he will be thanking the captain and it is the captain who will get the credit for his salvation. On the other hand, imagine the captain throws him a life ring and it is within his grasp, but he refuses to grab it and tries to save himself. In the process he is drowned in the high waves. Will people blame the captain for the man’s death? No, it is his own fault. He refused help and takes the responsibility for his decision.
In the same way God gets 100% of the credit for our salvation when a person believes and people get 100% of the blame when they refuse to take His free gift and die in their sin.
5. He created us for good works (verse 10) – When I read verses 8-10 I am always amazed at the logical flow of ideas here. Firstly, we just learned that a person cannot earn his salvation. It is God’s grace, His gift. In this case many people will then ask “why do good deeds?” Some may even think that since good deeds do not save us there is point in doing them. Paul stops this line of thinking before it can even begin. He tells us that while good deeds cannot save us we are created to do good deeds!
In other words, a believer should do good deeds. God has created us for this very purpose. He designed us with unique gifts and talents to do very specific things which He wants us to do to build His kingdom. He has given us the resources and the opportunities to do these good deeds.
My wife and I school our children at home. Every day we give them their assignments of the work that we expect them to do that day. They need to do these things one by one and check them off the list. God makes similar plans for us. He has certain good deeds which He “prepares beforehand” for us to do. Each day of your week God wants you to accomplish certain things for Him. Perhaps it is to encourage or pray for your spouse. Maybe He wants you to call up a friend and share a verse. It could be that He wants you to spend some time in meditation and prayer. When we think for example about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we can imagine that God wanted the first people to pass by him to help, to do a good deed. But they did not. In their own busyness and apathy they missed this opportunity and never had the same opportunity again.
Each day that we let go by without fulfilling God’s plan for us that day is wasted. Paul says in Ephesians 5:16 to “redeem the time.” Redeeming the time means making use of each day, each hour, each minute we have to do the good deed assignments God has laid out for us.
Application: What is a good deed that you think God wanted you to do this past week? Did you do it? What is something you think God wants you to do in the coming week for Him? Write down one good deed which you should do in the coming week and then the next week share with your group about it.
Ephesians E-Book Study Guide – If this study is helpful, you can download our complete Ephesians study in PDF or other E-book versions.
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