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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 41 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 5: The Church: God's Workmanship *
Introduction: Last week, Paul blessed us with his account of all of
the riches and power given to us by our Father in Heaven through
Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This week, Paul reminds us what we were
and what we had to deal with before God intervened in our life to
give us hope. Do you sometimes feel like you have no hope? Is life
getting you down? God has done great things for you. Let's dive into
- Read Ephesians 2:1-2. What was our condition when God
"found" us? (We were dead.)
- Why were we dead? (Our transgressions (lapses) and
our sins killed us.)
- Ephesians 2:2 tells us that we "used to live" in our
transgressions and sins. What does it mean to "live" in
sin? Why not just say we sinned in the past? What added
meaning comes from the statement that we lived in sin?
(Sin is an attitude, a pattern of living. Sin is not so
much a specific time that we failed, as it is a pattern
and practice of our life.)
- Paul connects our pattern of sin with "the ways of
this world." When I was a young man in Christian
schools, it seemed the goal was to have me look
"different" from the world in ways that seemed
meaningless. What does it mean to avoid following
"the ways of this world?" How should we avoid
following the "world's ways?"(Just because the world
does something, does not mean it is forbidden to us.
Paul links the "ways of the world" with the ways "of
the ruler of the kingdom of the air." When these two
coincide, as they often do, we need to stand clear.
Paul sharpens the picture by describing the dead as
"those who are disobedient." If looking and acting
like the world involves disobedience to God, then you
- Read 2 Corinthians 4:4. Can we trust our own
judgment on the ways of the world?
- Air Satan
- Ephesians 2:2 is obviously speaking about Satan. Why is
Satan described as the "ruler of the kingdom of the air?"
Is this a warning against using wireless microphones at
church? (The IVP Background Commentary explains that in
Paul's Jewish culture people believed that "evil spirits
dominated the lowest realm of the heavens (i.e., the
atmospheric realm) far below the realm of God's highest
angels and His throne.")
- Are Paul's words an example of bad science, or can
you relate them to the world today? (We can relate
this statement in two ways. First, the idea that
Satan dominates in the minds of the people of the
world seems absolutely true. This reflects Jesus'
statements in Matthew 7:13-14. Second, the influence
of Satan on the world is revealed in Satan's
domination of the "airwaves" today - television and
- When Ephesians 2:2 refers to "the spirit," is Paul calling
Satan a "spirit" like the Holy Spirit? (The Greek word
("pneuma") used here sometimes refers to the Holy Spirit.
Demons are often referred to as "spirits." See, e.g. Mark
1:26-27; Matthew 12:45. However, I think the word here is
used to describe the attitude of the people. For example,
Matthew 5:3 ("poor in spirit") and Mark 8:12 ("sighed
deeply in His spirit"(RSV/KJV/ASV)) refers to an attitude
or inner thought and not Satan.)
- As an aside, when I was studying this I noticed that
this same Greek word was used in Mark 1:12-13 to
describe "the spirit" which drove Jesus into the
wilderness to suffer 40 days of temptation by Satan.
I have previously taught the Holy Spirit was driving
Jesus into the wilderness, and tried to explain what
seemed illogical. However, after looking at the way
this word can be translated, I now think it was Satan
who is the "spirit" who drove Jesus into the
- Are Satan and the evil angels able to be in more than one
place at a time like the Holy Spirit? (Compare Revelation
12:10-12 with Matthew 12:43-45. A "spirit" that is present
everywhere could not be "hurled down." An omnipresent
spirit would not be described as moving to live in a
specific person. Satan and his angels have the power to be
invisible, but they are not omnipresent (present
everywhere at once) as is the Holy Spirit. But see, John
- What comfort is there in this fact? (You and I are
unlikely to have been directly tempted by Satan. He
is limited in much the same way we are limited. I can
only be in one place on Sabbath physically teaching
this lesson. The Internet allows my influence to be
felt world-wide. However, no one is influenced by the
lesson unless they choose to be. We voluntarily
allow into our lives much of the way in which Satan
spreads his influence.)
- Read Ephesians 6:12-13. How does this help us to
understand Paul's statement in Ephesians 2:2 that we used
to follow the ways of the "ruler of the kingdom of the
air?" (Our spiritual battle is not against fellow sinners
-- people who are like we used to be -- but rather against
the influence of evil spread by Satan.)
- If this is true, how should we act as God's allies?
(It seems that condemning individuals in the world
(as opposed to sin)is the wrong battle. The right
battle is to be sure the influence of our lives and
our words and our works is for the truth.)
- What is your influence at home and at work? Have
you considered it?
- The Solution to Trouble
- Read Ephesians 2:3. Whose "wrath" are we talking about?
- What triggers God's wrath in our life? ("Gratifying
the cravings of our sinful nature and following its
desires and thoughts.")
- Do you understand what Paul is writing about?
Are you able to identify your "sinful nature"
with its "desires or thoughts?"
- How much of these desires and thoughts can
you trace back to allowing "Air Satan"
(information over the airwaves) into your
- Read Ephesians 2:4-5. When did Jesus save you (us)? (When
we were dead.)
- Would exerting an effort to avoid letting "Air Satan"
into our life give us life? (No. God's mercy to us is
unmerited. It originates in God's love for us, not in
our works. However, when Paul states in Ephesians
2:2 that we "used to live" in ways that followed
Satan, he means that changes in our lifestyle are
- Read Ephesians 2:6-7. Why did God show grace towards us
through Jesus? (God is kind to us.)
- When will we reap the full reward of God's kindness
to us? ("In the coming ages." Sometimes we do not
feel that life is being kind to us. God gives us life
and hope for ages to come when sin will not be part
of our everyday experience. It will not then be
giving us "bad days.")
- Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Is any part of our salvation our
responsibility? (In this famous text, Paul tells us that
grace is a gift from God and not something that we earn.
We, however, have a role to play in it. That role is
"through faith." Salvation is not from us, but we must
accept it by faith.)
- Read Ephesians 2:10. What role do "works" play in our
life? What role does obedience to God play in our life?
(We were dead in our sins. Out of His kindness God the
Father, through Jesus, gave us eternal life. We did
nothing to earn this. We simply accept it by faith. God
gave us this new life with the expectation that we would
do good works ("created in Christ Jesus to do good
- Friend, God saved you from death and your old life. Will
you accept His offer of grace and enter into a new life of
service to Him?
- Next week: The Church Without Walls.
* 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.