These small group studies of Ephesians contain outlines, commentary, 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 3:14-4:16 Bible Study – Small Group Lesson And Discussion Questions

Outline

I. Benediction of the doctrinal section of Ephesians (3:14-21)
II. Be diligent to preserve the unity of the body (4:1-6)
III. Spiritual gifts and their purpose (7-11)
IV. Purpose of spiritual gifts (12-16)

I. Benediction of the doctrinal section of Ephesians (3:14-21)

Discussion Questions

• Paul says, “for this reason I bow my knees…”. For what reason?
• What is the main point of 14-21?
• What does verse 15 mean?
• How can we or anyone derive their name from God?
• Is Paul praying starting in verse 16?
• If not, what is he doing?
• Comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of what?

Cross-References

Psalms 95:6 – Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker

Ephesians 1:10 – To be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Ephesians 2:19 – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.

Psalms 107:43 – Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

Romans 11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. In verse 14, Paul continues the thought process he began in verse 1 – He went off on a side point about the mystery, which is the uniting of the Gentiles and Jews in the church. He had already discussed that point in chapter two. So “this reason” is the point he discussed in chapter two, namely that believers who were dead in sins are now alive in Christ, and that the Gentiles who were formerly strangers and aliens were now fellow citizens of God’s household.

Paul marveled at God’s eternal purposes and perfect plan for the Jews and Gentiles. His response is to bow in worship. God is sovereign. He has good plans for His people. This should also cause us to bow our knees before Him and praise Him with all our hearts.

2. It is very important to read verse 15 in context – As with the rest of the chapter, the context is believers in the church. Therefore it doesn’t mean that unbelievers derive their name from God. Only followers of Christ bear His name. In Christ, every believing family is God’s, regardless of ethnicity.

What does it mean that we derive our name from God? Well, we are Christians, believers. Our relationship with God forms the foundation of our identity. When people see us, they see God in us. If we do right, they may give glory to God. If we do wrong, they say that our God is not good. It’s like my son. He is called by my name “Dexter.” What he does reflects on me. Jesus Himself said that the world would hate us because they hated Him first. Our actions stem from our relationship with Christ and reflect back on Him.

3. The rest of this section is a benediction – It closes out the first half of the book of Ephesians before the second half begins. The first half is focused on doctrine, and the second half is focused on life application of that doctrine. Most of Paul’s books end with a benediction giving glory to God and invoking God’s blessing on or exhorting the believers he is writing to. This is like a two-part sermon with a benediction in the middle.

4. In verses 16-18, Paul is invoking God’s blessings on the Ephesians – We may not notice it, but we also invoke God’s blessings on others when we say things like “May God bless you.” “God’s peace be with you.” “May God comfort you during this time.” etc. When we do this, we should also pray for the person as Paul did for the believers he taught. Paul wants them to be strengthened, their faith to increase, and to fully understand the love of God. In verses 20-21, he concludes the benediction with praise for God. Notice also in verse 20; he recognizes that God can do much more than he had even asked him for.

II. Be diligent to preserve the unity of the body (4:1-6)

Discussion Questions

• What is the therefore there for?
• What does it mean to be a prisoner of the Lord?
• What is Paul’s conclusion?
• How is this section different than the previous section?
• What does the word “walk” mean?
• What does it imply?
• Why are the qualities in verse two integral to unity?
• Give some examples of how they can preserve unity.
• Give some examples of how their opposites can wreck unity.
• What does showing tolerance look like in real life?
• What does it not look like?
• How much energy should we expend towards keeping unity?
• What does this imply?
• What is the reason for unity in the church?
• What word is repeated again and again?
• What do we have in common?

Cross-References

Philippians 1:27 – Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Colossians 1:10 – So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 – Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Romans 15:1 – We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

John 17:21 – That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Chapter 4 begins the second part of Ephesians, which is focused on the application of the doctrines taught in the first half.

Notice it begins with the word “therefore.” This means “based on everything you have just read.” The doctrines taught in the first three chapters should directly impact how a person lives. In fact, doctrine is useful. Some people don’t like to look at doctrine. They think it is boring and unimportant. Their exhortation is just to love one another more. But why should we love one another? Why should we have this unity in the church?

Paul told us many specific reasons why we should love those who are different than us in the first three chapters. Doctrine is the why and application is the how. If we don’t know why we do something, eventually we may stop doing it.

For example, some might give an application to “just share the gospel!” Why? Because of the doctrine in the Bible which teaches that we all have sin and are doomed to judgment and hell unless we believe in Christ as our Savior. This is the motivation. The facts in the Bible form the foundation, so we should dedicate ourselves to understanding them.

On the other hand, some believers mostly focus on the doctrine and skip the application. Just understand the Bible. But knowledge is not our end goal. If it doesn’t change our life it is not helpful, but will only puff us up. So Paul gives us a good example here, three chapters of doctrine and three chapters of application. If you read the rest of his epistles, he writes extensively about both doctrine and application.

2. The key application is that we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called.

Ephesians 4:1 Bible Verse

We see all that God has done for us. We see the great position we have in Christ. We have seen His love, plans, and blessings for us. So we must live our lives in a worthy manner. Does this mean that we can somehow earn what we have received from God? Of course not. Then what does it mean? Because of our gratitude and because of our new lives in Him, we should live our lives according to the new position we have.

Imagine a king goes out and adopts a poor beggar into his family. This beggar is now a prince. But he leaves the feast at the palace in order to resume begging. It is improper and not suitable. Or suppose someone robs your house. You find them in prison and discover how bad their life situation is. You decide not to press charges but instead choose to give a financial gift to this thief. He then comes back to your house and steals again. He is not living worthy of the gift you have given him.

As believers, when we go back to the same sinful lifestyle we had prior to coming to Christ, we are the same as the beggar and thief. God has adopted us and forgiven us. Now we have a responsibility to live worthily, not perfectly, but worthily.

Maybe at the beginning, the beggar has a hard time adjusting to life as a prince. He can’t seem to learn how to be a noble and makes a lot of clumsy mistakes. The king will have patience with him, but the beggar needs to try his best. The king will definitely provide plenty of help for him and resources to speed up this change. God provides the resources for us. We need to make use of them and live new lives without turning back to our former way of life.

3. We learned in the last couple of chapters about the unity believers have regardless of their race. Even previous enemies can be brothers and sisters in God’s family.
So how do we live this out? Maybe there are some old grudges there. “Sure, I can have unity with John and Fred, but Tim is just too difficult. Yeah, Michelle can have unity with Tricia and Angel, but Janice is just so hard to get along with. I mean, you don’t know how annoying she is!”

No, it is not a pick and choose type deal. We are to have unity with all believers in the church, not just those like us or with the same views as us. And this is hard work.

A. The qualities we need – The first part of verse 2 discusses the qualities that are
absolutely essential to unity. A prideful person looks down on others. He thinks that his way is the best and is condescending toward those who don’t agree with him. He will bicker and argue. He wants respect and honor. He will cause divisions over minor issues. He will speak out his opinion too much and want others to listen to him. This will all create disunity.

A humble person is quiet and calm, considers others more importan