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Walk Worthy of Your Calling, Ephesians 4:1-16

Recommended Procedure. Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading

Idea for group discussion leader: Show pictures or slide shows of Christians from around the world.

Review of background and significance for this lesson: Ephesus was an immoral city that practiced sorcery and idolized a goddess named Artemis, whose image supposedly fell from heaven. Ephesus was also a mixed city of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). This created a lot of tension between the two groups in the church. This was one of the reasons for Paul's second and third missionary journeys; to encourage the Gentile believers, who were being told that believing was not enough; they needed to observe the Jewish Law and traditions. He also wrote to encourage them to love and accept each other in the new body of believers, the church.

In chapter 1 we learned that believing Jews and Gentiles were called to salvation and shared a spiritual inheritance graciously given by God.

In chapter 2 we learned that the Jews and Gentiles were on the same spiritual footing - they were all sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Gentile Christians were part of the same spiritual body, the church, and were on equal standing with the Jewish Christians.

In chapter 3 we learn how Paul was involved in bringing the message of Jew and Gentile union and equality in Christ, how he suffered for it, and his desire for the Ephesian believers to experience the love of Christ and unity, and for them to be strengthened inwardly by the Holy Spirit (this would be especially helpful during their struggles with unity or times of persecution).

Read chapter 4:1-16. How can this section of scripture be divided?

Answer 1


You will notice, as in chapter 3:1, that Paul again reminds us that he is a prisoner in chapter 4:1. To whom is he a prisoner? Why?

Answer 2


The word "then" in chapter 4:1 introduces a summary. Paul is drawing a summary or a conclusion based on chapters 1-3. Because of our calling to adoption as children of God (both Jews and non-Jews), because of God's grace, because of Paul's administration (stewardship) of the revealed mystery that Gentiles and Jews are on equal footing and part of the new body, the church, then they (or by application, we) should do what?

Answer 3

The meaning of the word "walk" is how we live or conduct ourselves.

The word "worthy" means of equal weight, comparable to, or in a manner suitable to (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed., F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walter Bauer's Fifth Edition, 1958, The University of Chicago Press, ©1957, 1979, p.78)

How should we walk worthy of the calling we have received? Since we were adopted into God's family, how should we act? 1Peter 2:9, Ephesians 4:2-3

Answer 4


Think about the context and to whom Paul was writing. Why were Paul's first instructions, after telling the church of Ephesus to live a life worthy of the calling [they] had received, to be completely humble and gentle, patient and longsuffering with each other and to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace?

Answer 5


Again, think of the context when you answer this question: why was there an emphasis on oneness in 4:4-6?

Answer 6


To each of us grace has been given (manifested in spiritual gifts). Other passages that mention spiritual gifts, not only for the leaders of the church are Romans 12:6-8 and 1Corinthians 12:4-11. What are your spiritual gifts? Are you exercising them through the church?

Answer 7


What do verses 8-10 mean? See also Luke 16:19-31; 1Peter 3:18-20 Whom did Christ lead if he was the one who ascended on high and led captives in his train?

Answer 8


God gave gifts to men [probably a generic term for mankind] The gifts have a purpose. What is it? Ephesians 4:7-16. How should we exercise them? 1Corinthians 13.

Answer 9


Lessons to Live by: (If you are the leader, ask for members' input first)

Today's Bible memory verse: Ephesians 4:1b " a life worthy of the calling you have received." (NIV)

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A1: Two possible divisions of Ephesians 4:1-16

1-6 Be unified

7-16 The purpose of spiritual gifts - to profit others, build each other up, and grow us up (mature)

A2: He is a prisoner for the Lord. Perhaps in a humble way he is trying to establish his authority.

A3: Walk worthy of the calling you have received.

A4: By adoption we are children of the King of Kings and LORD of LORDs. We are princes and princesses. We are a royal priesthood of believers. We have received a gracious calling so we should act with grace.

A5: Perhaps he realized this union of Jews and Gentiles might be difficult at times. Are there people in our church and in our families to whom we find it difficult to accept? These instructions are not just for the church of Ephesus; they apply to us as well. We, too, are to be completely humble and gentle, patient and longsuffering with each other and to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

A6: Perhaps there were efforts to keep Jews and Gentiles separate even in the church/churches. Do we realize the common heritage of faith we have, regardless of our nationality and culture? Do we realize that Japanese, Asians, Europeans, Africans, and all other nationalities have equal standing in the church if they are believers, and that they are all to be given an opportunity to serve? In our families do we we emphasize equal standing and unity or is there favoritism? We need to keep the unity of the Spirit by treating all members with equal love and consideration.

A7: your own answer

A8: "He [Christ] leading captives in his train" may have referred to Old Testament saints. It also appears that Jesus may have given the people who died in the Noah flood a second chance to be saved, though we don't know what he preached or taught them (perhaps about his own sacrifice for sin and that he could save them as he did Noah and his family when they entered through the door of the ark. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6, NIV)).

A9: By the grace of the Holy Spirit, God has given gifted people to the church. Spiritually gifted leaders have been given to equip, mature, and protect the body of the church from apostasy. Other spiritual gifts given to believers in the body of Christ are meant to benefit and grow the body of Christ as each one contributes his or her gift. Are you exercising your spiritual gift to help the church?

Lessons to Live by:

•  People are not always easy to live with, even in the church. Be gracious, kind and accepting.

•  God gives gifted people to the church to equip it, mature it, and protect it. Each believer's spiritual gift is beneficial to build up the body of Christ, the church.

• Exercise your spiritual gifts through the church.

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