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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 4: Praise and Prayer *
Introduction: We all love to be praised. How many of us equally
appreciate someone praying for us? What would your reaction be if
someone told you, "I'm going to pray that you get a lot smarter?" Is
that an example of both prayer and praise? In our study this week,
Paul praises the Ephesians, and then prays that they "get smarter."
Let's jump into our lesson to learn more!
- Last week, we studied in Ephesians 1:13-14 that the
believers in Ephesus were "sealed" with the Holy Spirit.
That seal was their security deposit assuring them of
heaven. Read Ephesians 1:15-16. Paul starts out "For this
reason." For what reason? (Paul's understanding that they
- What other good things has Paul heard about the
Ephesians? (That they have faith in Jesus and they
love each other.)
- Do you pray for those who seem to have their act
- Why would Paul consider the salvation of
the Ephesians one of his own blessings?
(It shows his "fatherly" attitude towards
- Why would Paul flatter the Ephesians with
the inside knowledge that he thanks God
- Prayer, Wisdom and Encouragement
- Read Ephesians 1:17. Imagine that during the prayer time
in church someone stood up and said, "I pray all the time
that God will give(insert your name) the spiritual gift of
wisdom." How would you react to that?
- Add the fact that the person praying for you has
recently been in some sort of conflict with you. What
would you be thinking? Would you stand up and say
"I've also been praying that (the other person) would
be given some wisdom by God, starting with the nature
of their public prayers about me!"
- What Paul writes could be taken as an insult. Tell me what
specific technique Paul uses to keep this from sounding
like an insult? (The first thing Paul did was to praise
them for their spiritual progress. The second thing he
did was to suggest that he wanted them to grow in
knowledge. Since everyone can grow, this is not an
insult. Third, he addressed it to the group, and did not
single out any specific person who was especially in need
- Notice in Ephesians 1:17 Paul also prays that they will
have the Spirit of "revelation." What do you think that
means? (When I looked this up in the Greek, and looked at
the way the word had been translated elsewhere, I got the
feeling that it was a cross between a greater
understanding of Jesus and His plan for His Second
- What is the purpose of this additional wisdom and
revelation which Paul requests for the Ephesians? (To know
- We have discussed our reaction if someone else prayed for
greater wisdom for us. Do you pray for greater wisdom and
revelation for yourself? How about your pastor? Your
- Recall that Paul started out saying that the Ephesians
were saved - they were sealed by the Holy Spirit. They
loved each other. What does Paul's prayer teach us about
being satisfied with mere salvation? (The Christian's life
is one of progress. We should desire to keep moving
towards greater knowledge of Jesus, greater wisdom and
- Prayer for Our Future
- Read Ephesians 1:18. Paul has another "you need to know
more" prayer for the people. What is it?
- I'm not sure my anatomy is the same as the people living
in Ephesus. My heart does not have eyes. How about yours?
- Seriously, when Paul refers to the "eyes" of the
"heart" what does he mean? (He is not really talking
about the heart or the eyes. He is talking about
spiritual understanding. Something that you know
- What does Paul want us to know inside? (Our future.
Our inheritance as saints.)
- Have you ever prayed that God would more clearly
reveal your future reward to you?
- When I was young, I thought and planned about what I
intended to accomplish in my life: what education I
needed, what would be my profession, my professional
goals. As I get older, I think more about "semi-retirement," where I will live as I grow old, whether I
will have enough money, health and mental ability to get
along until the day I die. How about you? When you think
about the future, on what are your thoughts centered?
(Paul is teaching me that my thoughts are certainly
inadequate. I need to be contemplating my "semi-retirement" in heaven. You need to be contemplating and
learning more about God's heavenly reward for you.)
- Prayer for Power
- Read Ephesians 1:19-21. Paul has another prayer for the
Ephesians, a prayer for power. Would you like to become
- For whom does this power exist? ("For us who
- What kind of power is this? How great a power for us
does Paul request? (This power is like what God the
Father used to raise Jesus from the dead and seat Him
on His throne in heaven.)
- Would that kind of power take care of all of
your "power" needs?
- When I was young, during the "muscle-car" days, I mostly
drove European sports cars. These cars were designed to
be fast around corners, but they had little "muscle" in
the engine department. However, one American car I owned
was much different. It was a Mercury Cyclone GT, with a
huge engine (390 cubic inches), a "dual-feed" carburetor,
an aluminum hood held down by racing pins, and various
other things designed to allow it to go fast. Unlike the
European cars, it was terrible going around corners. The
problem with the Cyclone was its tires. They were pretty
narrow and that kept the car from effectively applying all
of the power of the engine.
- Paul tells us that we have this tremendous amount of
power available to us. What do you think is keeping
us from effectively applying all of that power? What
is the equivalent of the tire problem in my Cyclone?
- What keeps us from having "traction" with the
power of God?
- Read Ephesians 1:22-23. Who has all authority today?
(Jesus. God placed "all things" under His (Jesus) feet.)
- Where do you come into play in this text? (We are the
body, the church. Jesus is the head of the church,
and we are the hands and feet - the body.)
- What does this suggest about the power of God
available to us? (It suggests a couple of
things. First, that the way in which the power
of God is applied is decided by Jesus. He is the
brains of the operation. Second, it is the body
(us) who actually apply the power. My brain
decides what my body will do, but my body
performs the action.)
- What does this analogy to the body suggest about
the answer to our question about applying the
power of God? What could be the problem? (It
suggests the lack of power in the church exists
because Jesus has decided not to fully apply it,
or it could be that the body is not in close
enough contact with the head - so that the
instructions from the brain are not getting
- Which answer do you think applies? (Notice
again that in Ephesians 1:18-19 Paul prays
that the "eyes of the heart" of the
Ephesians would be "enlightened" to know
about this "incomparably great power."
This implies the problem exists with us.)
- Friend, Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be wiser and
more aware of the power available to them from God. Will
you pray that same prayer for your church and for
- Next week: The Church: God's Workmanship.
* 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.