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Ephesians - Share this information with the ladies:
Second Missionary Journey Acts 18:19-21, a short visit to Ephesus that left Aquila and Priscilla behind while he (Paul) went to Caesarea and Antioch, before starting his third journey - this time overland to Galatia and Phrygia.
Third Missionary Journey Acts 19:1 - 20:1 Paul continues overland to Ephesus. This was the most important city in what is now Turkey - a harbour, on a river, leading into the Aegean Sea, at an intersection of trade routes, with a famous temple to a pagan Roman goddess, Diana (in Greek ‘Artemis’).
Paul used Ephesus as a centre of evangelism throughout the area, for two years three months plus, Acts 19:10. Colosse is quite nearby. In Revelation 2:7 the first of the ‘seven churches of Asia’ mentioned is Ephesus. Laodicea is the furthest from Ephesus, about 100 miles, Sardis, Smyrna, Thyatira, Pergamum, and Philadelphia are all within that mileage, although not that direction. Every one of them may well be results of Paul’s concentrated evangelism in Ephesus.
There are no specific greetings in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians - perhaps it was designed to be a circular letter to be read in all the churches associated with Ephesus. Compare with Colossians 4:16, Revelation 1:4 and 11.
Invite one or two of the ladies to read Ephesians 1:1-14 out loud and slowly. Ask the ladies to try and find each phrase (opposite) as the lady reads. Take a few moments to think about each of those mentioned blessings. Then answer the questions together. Don’t rush! Be wowed! Enjoy!
Notice the word ‘mystery’ or ‘secret’ in Ephesians 3:1-6. God’s plan through the ages is now revealed, opened up to our view, our way back to God and the inclusion of the Gentiles. These buzz words for Gnosticism (mystery, secret) show that the teaching of Gnosticism - the need of special knowledge - was now proved false. God had shown clearly what was previously a mystery. There is no other specific teaching against Gnosticism here. Perhaps Paul was warning them beforehand?
Challenge the ladies to keep their Christian thinking and their understanding in line with the way they live. That way their lives will have impact on outsiders who watch them.
The prayers of Ephesians 1:17-19 and 3:16-19 we can pray for each other.
Lesson 27 Letters written from house arrest in Rome A.D. 60-62
The people receiving these letters lived in cosmopolitan towns and cities, with a variety of cultures. They did not live in ‘all Christians together’ ghettos. Do you live in a Christian community or are you challenged with other cultures next door and nearby?
Ephesians falls easily into two sections:
theory: God’s purpose for the church
living out our spiritual blessings in Christ wherever we are practice: God’s purpose for believers; always living as children of Light.
Let’s look at blessings Paul lists for us.
He lists them for us to know, but he really lists them so we will live always conscious of them. Let’s be excited by them:
Ephesians 1:3-14 verse 3 we are blessed in our Lord Jesus Christ verse 4 God chose us - I wonder why? – in Christ, how?
– before the creation of the world, when?
– to be holy in His eyes, why?
– predestined us to be His sons and daughters, why? – for His praise, why?
- in Him we have redemption, how? - in Him we have forgiveness, how?
- He lavished His grace on us, how?
Take time to absorb every Bible phrase above. Then answer the ‘bold word’ questions.
wow wow wow wow wow wow!
An action meditation: God (one finger pointing up)
loves (cross arms as in a big hug)
me (pointing to your own heart) Before you ask me – yes, our ladies group in UK did the actions.
So sit there, close your eyes, do the actions while saying the true words in your heart (or out loud). Let the truth refresh you again.
It’s incredible and it’s wonderful!
The challenge to us is to express our beliefs about Jesus always, by everything we do and every word we speak in our daily lives.
Lead from the front – share the information.
We have no record in the Book of Acts that Paul visited Colosse. It is in what is now Turkey. It was on an east to west trade route from Ephesus to the river Euphrates and was primarily a Gentile area. Look at Acts 19:10, Colossians 1:7-8, 4:12. It seems as though Epaphras was converted under Paul’s ministry and took the Christian Gospel of Jesus Christ to Colosse. The church started had later problems for which Epaphras sought Paul’s advice.
Ask ladies to read from the references opposite to discover possible problems the church was experiencing. Then look at Paul’s answer texts. Paul mentions a letter to Laodicea in 4:16. We do not have it.
Second Missionary Journey - Acts 16:9 “Come over to Macedonia and help us”. Acts 16:11-12, Singing in prison at midnight. What songs might they have sung? First church members: probably a business woman - Lydia from Thyatira (see seven churches of Asia, proximate to Ephesus), a jailor plus family, and a healed slave girl! Philippi was on the main highway from the east to Rome - the Via Egnatia. It was in a gold producing area of Macedonia. By Paul’s time it had many Italian settlers, retired soldiers from the legions. It was a vigorous and cosmopolitan city.
Ask ladies to read the Bible passages listed opposite to discover the main subjects Paul wrote about.
Read the whole letter out loud together – it’s only 25 verses!
This is a very personal note from Paul.
Onesimus’ name means ‘useful’. By running away he had become useless as a slave to Philemon. Now he has become a born again Christian. Paul asks the slave master to take back Onesimus the slave, this time as a brother in Christ. A big ask – but it should be possible because of Christ’s work in both men.
The issue of slavery - Paul does not say that slavery is wrong. In verses 15-17 he says slavery should not happen in a Christian setting. “Master” and “slave” are brothers in Christ, even if different in rank and job.
Encourage the ladies to pick up the four challenges from the four New Testament letters. And never forget the wow factor!
Several possible problems in the church are referred to by Paul:
2:16-17, 2:20-23; 3:11 legalism – observances and rules for special days
2:18 angel worship
1:15-20; 2:2-4, 9 deprecation, disapproval, deep criticism of Christ
2:2-3 supposed secret knowledge for some, Gnosticism
Paul’s answer is a strong emphasis on the all sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
1:15-23 See if you can find at least 11 truths about our Lord Jesus here. WOW!
Next Paul says ‘live out what you know to be true’.
3:1-17 Share the positives and the negatives here. There are many of both!
4:2-6 The challenge to us is ‘stand firm in right doctrine (belief) and daily lifestyle’ .
Philippians Philippians 1:13-14 fits the period described in Acts 28:16-31
1:5; 4:14-19 very sincere thanks for the gifts sent him
1:27-30; 4:4 encouraging the Philippians to stand firm in Jesus
2:1-11; 4:2-5 encouragement to humility and unity between everyone
2:19-30 Timothy and Epaphroditus were coming to visit
3:1-4:1 warning against Judaisers, and antinomians, people who believed they
could have a faith in the true God and yet live as they wanted to! The challenge to us is Paul’s prayer for the Philippians 1:9-11,27a.
Do you pray those things for yourself, for believers you know? Why/why not?
Written with Colossians, taken to Colosse by Onesimus and Tychicus. A letter of tactfulness and courtesy. verses 1-3 note who the letter is from............................? and to ...............................................?
Philemon was a slave owner (reportedly Athens had 21,000 freemen and 4,000,000 slaves)
Apphia - probably his wife
Archippus - Colossians 4:17 - leader of a house church, fellow soldier of Paul verses 4-7 praise and thanks for Philemon - a reviver and revitaliser of other people in the church - “Well done my friend”
verses 8-16 Onesimus, called ‘my son, my brother’ verses 17-21 please take Onesimus back, with no recriminations. I (Paul) will repay anything he owes to you because he is so important to me verses 22-25 I (Paul) want to stay with you – greetings to five other men – a mixture of Jews and Greeks on his team.
Think about slavery, verses 15-17, in light of both our relationships and responsibilities? The challenge to us is to visit, to speak with, to encourage and to spiritually renew someone else.