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Sabbath School Lessons on Ephesians
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 1: The Church at Ephesus *
Introduction: My favorite Bible studies focus on a single book of the
Bible. Jumping around in the Bible to study a specific topic is
necessary at times - such as this week when we look at the background
for the letter to the Ephesians. But, studying the Word of God in the
order in which He inspired it helps us to know God better. This
quarter our lessons are on Paul's letter to the group of believers
who lived in Ephesus. Let's plunge right into our study!
- The Saints at Ephesus
- Read Ephesians 1:1. Who wrote the book of Ephesians? (Paul.)
- To whom did he write it? (This book is a letter which
Paul wrote to the "saints" in Ephesus.)
- We plan to read Paul's words and learn something from
them. Is it okay for us to read a letter written to
- Are we eligible? Qualified?
- How does Paul define "saints?" (Those who are
faithful in Jesus.)
- Is it your desire to be faithful to Jesus?
(If so, this book is for you!)
- Specific Saints in Ephesus
- Read Acts 18:18-21. Who were two of the saints in Ephesus?
(Priscilla and Aquila.)
- What were they doing there? (They helped to establish
the church in Ephesus.)
- What do you know about Priscilla and Aquila? (Read Acts
18:1-2. They were refugees from persecution. The Emperor
of Rome had ordered all Jews to leave the capital. Paul
apparently converted them and they traveled with Paul to
- Notice that when Paul first introduces this couple he
mentions the man's name first. Later, in every
reference but one, he consistently mentions the
wife's name first. Why? (She must have been the more
prominent of the two workers. One commentary
suggested that she might be from a noble family,
another commentary that she was the smarter of the
- Read Acts 18:3. How did this couple make their
living? (By tent-making. The IVP Bible Background
Commentary tells us that "tentmaker" was a term used
for someone who was a general leather worker.)
- Get this picture: they were refugee leather
workers. What qualifications do we need to be
important workers for God?
- Read Acts 18:24. Who else do we find in Ephesus?
- What do we learn about Apollos? (He was educated and
he knew the Old Testament very well.)
- Apollos had previously been in Corinth. Read 1 Corinthians
1:10-12. What does this suggest about Apollos? (The fellow
was a leader of great influence.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:5-6. What kind of work did Apollos do
in Corinth? (He was obviously a teacher. Paul introduced
Jesus to them and Apollos apparently gave greater teaching
on why Jesus was the Messiah based on the Old Testament.)
- Read Acts 18:25. What were the limitations on Apollos'
teaching? (He only knew the baptism of John.)
- What is "the baptism of John?" (Read Matthew 3:11.
John baptized with water for repentance. Jesus
baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire.)
- Read Acts 18:26. How important to the future preaching,
teaching and leadership of Apollos were these two tent-makers? (This shows how everyone has an important place in
the work. Apollos was a real intellectual. Priscilla and
Aquila were tent-makers. The tent-makers supplied the
missing ingredient to Apollo's ministry. Together they
blessed the church in Ephesus.)
- How did the teaching methods of the tent-makers and
Apollos differ? (Priscilla and Aquila seem to be "one
on one" teachers ( Acts 18:26), while Apollos is good
with large groups.)
- Paul Begins in Ephesus
- Read Acts 19:1-3. What does it mean to say these men are
"disciples," but they lack the Holy Spirit? (Like Apollos,
they believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but they had
only gone as far as the teaching of John the Baptist. They
did not fully understand the work of Jesus.)
- How serious a problem is this - to lack the Holy
Spirit in your life? (Read Romans 8:9. The Holy
Spirit is essential to right living.)
- Read Romans 8:16. What does this suggest is an
important role of the Holy Spirit in the life of
the Christian? (The Holy Spirit helps to confirm
in our life that we are in accord with the will
- Read Acts 19:4-5. Is repentance sufficient? (Simply
repenting of your sins is not enough. You need to believe
in Jesus' life and death on your behalf, and you need the
direction of the Holy Spirit.)
- What do we know about the willingness of these men to
accept additional truth? (They realized that Paul was
teaching them additional truth. They accepted it
- How about you? How open are you to additional
- Read Acts 19:6. How does this Bible account "prove" that
they received the gift of the Holy Spirit? (They spoke in
tongues and prophesied.)
- It is rather clear that at Pentecost ( Acts 2:4-11),
the gift of tongues was the ability to speak foreign
languages. What does the context suggest here? (There
would be no need to speak in foreign languages. These
twelve fellows had been working together. They spoke
a common language with Paul because they understood
- What would you say if, after a baptism in your
church, someone spoke in tongues?
- If those who are baptized do not speak in tongues, is
it proof that they have only "John's baptism" and
have not received the essential gift of the Holy
Spirit? (The answer must be "no," or Paul's
rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 12:30(with the
implicit answer "no,")would not make sense. Not all
have to speak in tongues by any matter of means.
However, Acts 19:6 is very clear that Paul would be
shocked to hear that we would be shocked if someone
spoke in tongues after being baptized in our church.)
- Let's step back for a moment and consider what we have
learned so far. What did it take to plant a new church in
Ephesus? (It took several committed people - from all
walks of life, it took teachers, open hearts, and the
power of the Holy Spirit.)
- Paul's Method in Ephesus
- Read Acts 19:8-9. Why would Paul go first to the synagogue
to teach? (Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism.
Just as the "John's baptism" people were missing the next
required steps to salvation and right living, so Paul
needed to bring the message of Jesus the Messiah to his
- Was Paul successful?
- What lesson does Acts 19:9 teach us about presenting
the Gospel? (At some point you say, "Those I am
trying to convert have heard enough, they have to
make a decision, I am moving on.)
- What, if anything, does this teach us about
trying to reach former members who have dropped
- Read Acts 19:10. Analyze how Paul went about sharing the
gospel in Asia? (I find it interesting that Paul did not
go door to door trying to convert people. When he went to
a new town, he began work with the group he thought would
be most receptive. When they had an adequate opportunity
to decide, he took the converts with him and he began
teaching in a public place where people would feel
comfortable coming to discuss new issues. People came to
him. They then shared the new truth with their friends.)
- Read Acts 19:11-12. What is your reaction to this? Compare
Acts 5:15 and 2 Kings 13:21.
- Read Acts 19:13-16. Is this story a warning about being
presumptuous about the kind of unusual spiritual power
that we just read about in Acts 19:11-12?
- Read Acts 19:17-18. Why would these events cause people to
confess their evil deeds? (Christianity is not a magic
trick. The power of the Holy Spirit is serious business
that requires a serious response.)
- Friend, how about you? Is the power of the Holy Spirit
working in your life? We see from the planting of the
church in Ephesus that God can use laborers from all walks
of life. If you are willing, He will use you and give you
power through His Spirit.
- Next week: Ephesians - Themes in Relationships.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.