Ephesians 5:1-14

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 5:1-14 Inductive Bible Study

I. Follow Christ’s example of love (1-2)
II. Stay far away from all immorality and impurity (3-6)
III. Be children of light, not of darkness (7-14)

I. Follow Christ’s example of love (1-2)

Discussion Questions

How can we imitate God? What aspects of God should we imitate? Why?
How can we walk in love? What standard should we try to reach?
Why is Jesus love the ultimate example?
Why is Jesus’ sacrifice called a fragrant aroma? Who was it fragrant to? Why?

Cross-References

Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – Be holy as He is holy.
1 John 4:11 – Since God loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Matthew 18:33 – Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant as I have had on you?
Colossians 3:12-14 – Bear with each other and forgive each other. Over all these virtues, put on love, which binds us together in unity.
1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.
Matthew 25:35-36 – Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.

Teaching Points

1. Be imitators of God. A lot of people have idols, heroes they look up to that they want to be just like. They want to talk like they talk; they want to look like they look; they want to have similar hair styles, similar fashions, similar personalities. But the problem with most of these idols, is that they are spiritually corrupt. Ask a lot of people who their idols are and they will say sports stars like Kobe (adulterer), singers like Michael Jackson (sexual pervert), actors like Tom Cruise (scientologist), politicians like Bill Clinton (also adulterer). People either have incredibly low standards or they ignore the moral character and focus on outward looks or success. As believers, we should be imitators of God. He is the one we should look up to and try to emulate. Why? Quite simply because He is perfect. He is the standard in holiness, love, kindness, righteousness, mercy, justice, etc. We shouldn’t model our lives after morally bankrupt superstars or we will follow the same dark road they do. We should model our lives after Christ, who lived a perfect life in this world and showed us how to respond to all kinds of problems and temptations. If we have heroes, they should be Christian heroes who modeled Christ in their own lives. We should respect them for their character, not for their looks or success. Paul also said to follow him as he followed the Lord. Don’t set people up on a pedestal, but we can learn from them so that we can better imitate the Lord ourselves in our lives.

2. Walk in love – While we are to imitate many of God’s characteristics, love is the central one for the believer. It is mentioned over and over again because it is so important. Again, walk, is a day to day lifestyle. Love is something we need to live out day to day in both small and big situations. While we need to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, a lot of times love can be shown in even the smallest gestures. It is not something we can ever take a break from or ever finish. We need to show love whether we are tired, overworked, sick, under pressure, on vacation, at the office, home, on the road, working, or playing. To do that we need to be alert and give 24/7 effort. Love could be cleaning out the toilet, taking out the trash, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, filing the report at work that no one else wants to, going to the store, making the bed, listening, speaking a kind word, comforting the discouraged, making a phone call to our parents, asking about someone’s life, visiting an orphanage, visiting the sick in the hospital or spending quality time with our family.

3. How high is our standard? Our standard is Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice, His own life. Their are no restrictions on how much we are to love others. There is no time limitation. It doesn’t apply to only people we know or only our friends or family. It is applied to strangers, enemies, bosses and employees. It doesn’t matter if they deserve it. We didn’t deserve Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us and the people around us probably don’t deserve our love either, but Christ still did it and we are too. We need to love others whole heartedly, completely, and all the time.

4. Jesus’ sacrifice was pleasing to God. It was a fragrant aroma, like some of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. It pleased God because it demonstrated His perfect plan and His perfect love and justice, because it brought sinners to Himself, because it showed Christ’s perfect submission, and because it defeated Satan. Christ’s obedience and love pleased God and if we love others by sacrificing ourselves for them, this also pleases God, which is what verse 10 tells us we are to do

II. Stay far away from all immorality and impurity (3-6)

Discussion Questions

What does it mean that immorality/impurity/greed must not be named among us? Does this mean we should keep our mouth shut about it?
What is silly talk? Can you give any examples?
What is course jesting?
Why are these kinds of talk not fitting?
What do these instructions tell us about our speech?
What kind of speech should we replace this wicked speech with? Giving of thanks to who?
What warning does Paul give in verses 5-6?
Does this mean that believers will be perfect? Then what does it mean?
How should we, as professing believers, take this warning? What would you say to someone who tells you not to worry about it because you have prayed the salvation pray and cannot lose your salvation?

Cross-References

Proverbs 12:23 – A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself but the fool burst out his folly.
Matthew 12:34-37 – The good man brings out of the good of his heart. We have to give an account for every word we have spoken.
Colossians 3:5-10 – We have to rid ourselves of all of this junk because we have put off the old and on the new.
James 3:3-12 – Section on controlling the tongue.
Ephesians 5:19-20 – Speak to one another in hymns and spiritual songs.
Colossians 3:17 – Whatever you do in word or in deed, do it all in the name of Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. We were like that, but are now sanctified.
Revelation 21:27 – The impure will not enter.
1 John 3:7-8 – Practices sin and practices righteousness.

Teaching Points

1. These things must not be named among us. It means they must not occur, that we must not give unbelievers any chance to point to Christians and say that we are doing those kinds of things. When professing Christians scandalously have an affair and get divorced, it is improper and tarnishes the name of the church. It allows unbelievers to accuse us. We must stay far away from any compromising situations so that those who wish to accuse us can find nothing and will have nothing bad to say. This is in turn will shame them whose lives are full of this kind of wickedness. So it means that Christians as a body should be above reproach and star far far away from these types of wickedness. They are putrid and evil and we should recognize them as such.

2. No filthiness. Pretty self-explanatory. Evil, dirty, and wicked things. These things are specifically applied to speech here. No filthy speech. This could include things like cursing, bad jokes, and any kind of dirty talk (the kinds of things that parents used to wash their kids mouths with soap for). Although this kind of talking is extremely common in the world and viewed as humorous or masculine (sometimes), there must be no hint of it in the church. I guess most of us don’t have a serious issue with this when we are are around believers, but what about when you are around your worldly friends? Do you get sucked into filthy talk? Do you stay there and listen to it? Do you laugh at it?

3. Silly talk. Talk that is nonsensical and has no value. Could include things like speculation about things that can never happen excessive joking (tends to happen more with guys), flirtacious or wishful talk by girls, often dismissed as girl talk, but which is silly talk (do you think so and so likes so and so? don’t you think so and so is handsome? so and so looked at me and I think he likes me, etc. Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it is silly talk. I think a lot of talk falls into this category and I am often guilty of it. I know that many of us here enjoy joking, myself included. When does it pass the line of harmless fun and enter silly talk? Should we not joke at all? How can we discern? Get thoughts. I’m not sure I know the exact line, but I think we can apply some principles.

A. Talk less and listen more. Quick to listen and slow to speak. The abundance of words brings strife.
B. What is the opposite of silly talk? Meaningful talk. Be sure to have meaningful, deep conversations with others. Don’t be surfacy and joky all the time. Empty talk accomplishes nothing of eternal value.
C. Control ourselves. Think if our “harmless” jokes is going to hurt others. Is it a bad testimony? Does it tear others down? Are we being rude or misleading others? Does it build us up? Hurting others and then laughing doesn’t make it any better. Once we say something, we can’t take it back.

4. Course jesting. This refers to harsh joking, the kind that hurts other people. It is unedifying and not pleasant to listen to. Sometimes there are 1-2 people engaging in it while everyone else sits around uncomfortably noticing that their laughs are hurtful and degrading.

5. Our speech is important. Those were all kinds of speech we are to avoid, but we are to replace those with giving of thanks. Let our words be glorifying to God, focused on the gifts and grace He has given to us. Let it be testimonies of His grace in our lives. Use our words positively instead of negatively.

6. Paul gives a strong warning. The wicked people are not saved, don’t belong to God, will not go to heaven, and are sons of disobedience. Some people may come along and say that if we have confessed our sins and are saved, we need not worry to much. Don’t stress yourself out. But the warning is clear. This kind of person is not saved. We need to take this warning to heart, repent, and avoid this kind of lifestyle. If we practice these things, then we don’t belong to God. The true believer will repent and hunger for what’s right. He will be sensitive to sin and hate it and grow. The real believer will heed these warnings and make sure they are not following this path to destruction. The unbeliever will not heed the warning. Don’t be deceived, whether you have prayed some prayer or not, if these character qualities define us, then that is who we are, and we don’t belong to God. Read cross-references.

III. Be children of light, not of darkness (7-14)

Discussion Questions

So what is the application/conclusion for us?
Why does Paul say he reached this conclusion?
What is the difference between Light and dark?
Contrast “sons of disobedience” with “children of Light”.
What will be the evidence in our lives of us walking in the light?
How to “expose” the deeds of darkness?
Is it OK for believers to talk about immoral things, as long as they don’t do it?
In light of verse 13, how should we live our lives?
Explain verse 14.

Cross-References

Psalms 1 – Do not stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers, etc.
John 8:12, 12:46 – Jesus is the Light and whoever follows Him will have the light of life. And no one who believes in Him need stay in darkness.
1 Peter 2:9-11 – We are a chosen people and a holy priesthood, that we may declare the praises of Him who brought us out of darkness into the light.
Philippians 2:14-15 – That we may be3come blameless and pure and shine as stars in the universe.
Matthew 18:15-17 – Steps for reproving sin in the church.
1 Timothy 5:20 – Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly.
2 Timothy 4:2 – Be ready in season and out of season to preach and rebuke.

Teaching Points

1. Do not be partakers with them. The conclusion is that we can’t engage in any of these worldly activities. The consequence is facing the wrath of God and eternal separation from Him.

2. Why must we not? Because we have a new position; we are even a new person. We have been saved into God’s family and must live like it. We are called to reject the dark, evil, wicked lifestyle and reflect the light of God through our lives by a godly testimony to the world. Light and dark cannot be reconciled or combined. They are opposites. The Christian life is at odds with the unbelievers life. One is dark and one is light. Their can be no compromise an no going back.

3. How can we know which life we are living? By our fruit. The life in the light will bring goodness, righteousness, and truth, while there are no redeeming qualities of the darkness. They are unfruitful, meaning they are not pleasing to God. But they have their own “fruit of the flesh”, such as all the wicked qualities we just discussed.

4. If we are in the light, we will try to the things that are pleasing to God. We need to study the Bible to know what pleases Him and what doesn’t. It is like a husband and wife. The husband even needs to study/learn the wife to know what pleases her and how to best show love to her. That is what we should do to the Lord.

5. We are not only supposed to avoid the evil deeds of darkness, but we are to expose them. Cross-references. We are to oppose them, rebuke them, and fight against them wherever we find them, whether it is in our lives or the lives of others in the church. If these deeds are not exposed and dealt with, they will grow and spread.

6. Verse 12. The things done in secret are so evil they should not even be talked about lest they have a polluting influence on those who hear it. The only case where they should be talked about is if doing so exposes the sins so that the sinner can be dealt with appropriately. An example might be a rape case. It is necessary to mention the details in a court so that the perpetrator might be punished, but outside of that should not be discussed. It is the same in the church too. They are not to be gossiped about or joked about, but only mentioned when necessary to expose and deal with the sin.

7. The light will finally make everything visible. So we should live our lives above reproach knowing that no secret sin will stay secret forever. Live uprightly and holy lives so that if others were to dig in our lives they could find nothing. If we have nothing to expose, we don’t need to worry. Don’t hide any skeletons in the closet!
8. According to MacArthur verse 14 is perhaps a part of a hymn, which was a hymn of invitation to unbelievers to repent to experience the light of Christ.

Study Ephesians 5:15-33

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