Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
To see more Bible study outlines go to page two: More Bible Study Outlines.
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 4:1-16
KEY VERSES: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
INTRODUCTION: The first three chapters of the Book of Ephesians deal primarily with the Christian and his or her position in Christ.
Ephesians chapter four, five, and six deal with practical Christian living. Chapter four opens with an appeal from the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians and is applicable to us today.
I. UNITED IN CHARACTER. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
INSIGHT: Paul urges Christians to live in a way that is worthy of the calling we have received from the Lord. God has summoned us to put our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and Because God saved us by grace we should respond to His kindness by living faithfully.
A. The plea of Paul. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
1. To walk worthily. (Ephesians 4:1)
(Ephesians 4:1) I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Paul begs us to lead a life worthy of our calling, for we have been called by God.
2. To be patient and support one another. (Ephesians 4:2)
(Ephesians 4:2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
We must always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of our love.
3. To endeavor to keep the unity of the (Holy) Spirit. (Ephesians 4:3)
(Ephesians 4:3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Which Christian virtues should characterize our lives? Paul mentioned four Christian virtues that should characterize the believers’ lives. He spoke of (1) humility, (2) gentleness, (3) patience, and (4) bearing one another’s faults.
INSIGHT: Gentleness is the product of humility and characterized a person who is soft-spirited and self-controlled. Patience suggests a refusal to avenge wrongs committed against oneself, which would also lead to putting up with the faults of others.
B. The pattern of unity. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
(Ephesians 4:4-6) 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
INSIGHT: Many people today attempt to unite Christians in a way that is not biblical. For example, they will say: “We are not interested in doctrines. Now, let’s forget our doctrines and have wonderful fellowship!” But Paul did not discuss spiritual unity in the first three chapters; he waited until he had laid the doctrinal foundation.
While not all Christians agree on some minor matters of Christian doctrine, they all do agree on the foundation truths of the faith. Unity built on anything other than Bible truth is standing on a very shaky foundation. Paul names here the seven basic spiritual realities that unite all true Christians.
· One body.
This is, of course, the body of Christ in which each believer is a member, placed there at conversion by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). The one body is the model for the many local bodies that God has established across the world. The fact that a person is a member of the one body does not excuse him from belonging to a local body, for it is there that he exercises his spiritual gifts and helps others to grow.
· One Spirit.
The same Holy Spirit indwells each believer, so that we belong to each other in the Lord. There are perhaps a dozen references to the Holy Spirit in Ephesians, because He is important to us in the living of the Christian life.
· One hope of your calling.
This refers to the return of the Lord to take His church to heaven. The Holy Spirit within is the assurance of this great promise (Ephesians 1:13-14). Paul is suggesting here that the believer who realizes the existence of the one body, who walks in the Spirit, and who looks for the Lord’s return, is going to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker.
· One Lord.
This is our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, lives for us, and one day will come for us. It is difficult to believe that two believers can claim to obey the same Lord, and yet not be able to walk together in unity. Someone asked Ghandi, the spiritual leader of India, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?” He replied, “Christians.” Acknowledging the lordship of Christ is a giant step toward spiritual unity among His people.
· One faith.
There is one settled body of truth deposited by Christ in His church, and this is “the faith.” Jude calls it “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The early Christians recognized a body of basic doctrine that they taught, guarded, and committed to others (2 Timothy 2:2). Christians may differ in some matters of interpretation and church practice; but all true Christians agree on “the faith” -- and to depart from “the faith” is to bring about disunity within the body of Christ.
· One baptism.
Since Paul is here discussing the one body, this “one baptism” is probably the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that act of the Spirit when He places the believing sinner into the body of Christ at conversion (1 Corinthians 12:13). This is not an experience after conversion, nor is it an experience the believer should pray for or seek after. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), but we are never commanded to be baptized with the Spirit, for we have already been baptized by the Spirit at conversion. As far as the one body is concerned, there is one baptism -- the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But as far as local bodies of believers are concerned, there are two baptisms: the (1) baptism of the Spirit, and (2) water baptism.
· One God and Father.
Paul likes to emphasize God as Father (Ephesians 1:3, 17; 2:18; 3:14; 5:20). The marvelous oneness of believers in the family of God is evident here, for God is over all, and working through all, and in all. We are children in the same family, loving and serving the same Father, so we ought to be able to walk together in unity. Just as in an earthly family, the various members have to give and take in order to keep a loving unity in the home, so God’s heavenly family must do the same. The “Lord’s Prayer” opens with “Our Father” -- not “My Father.”
Paul is quite concerned that Christians not break the unity of the Spirit by agreeing with false doctrine (Romans 16:17-20), and the Apostle John echoes this warning (2 John 6-11). The local church cannot believe in peace at any price, for God’s wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable” (James 3:17).
But purity of doctrine of itself does not produce spiritual unity, for there are churches that are sound in faith, but unsound when it comes to Christian love. This is why Paul joins the two: “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
II. UNITED IN SERVICE. (Ephesians 4:7-13)
A. The Christian’s Spiritual gifts are from the Lord. (Ephesians 4:7-11)
(Ephesians 4:7-11) 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Someone has said that the best “ability” is “dependability.” Every true believer in Christ has at least one gift for ministry. But God can’t use you if you are not dependable.
INSIGHT: In the business world certain core expectations are required for all jobs, but dependability is probably at the top of the list. Employees show dependability by taking personal ownership of all aspects of their job, including (1) being on time, (2) dressing and working in a professional manner, and (3) demonstrating a high level of commitment. Employers like dependable employees because they set and maintain clear expectations. The same is true for Christians as we serve the Lord day by day.
B. The Christian’s Spiritual gifts are for the good of others. (Ephesians 4:12)
(Ephesians 4:12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
It is our responsibility to equip God’s people to do this work and build up the Church, the body of Christ.
C. The Christian’s Spiritual gifts are for the glory of God. (Ephesians 4:13)
(Ephesians 4:13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
What is the goal of all believers in the Church? Paul said that the gifted believers he described should teach and train other believers within Christ’s Body – the Church. All members must then do their part to ensure the development and growth of their fellow Christians into solid, mature Bible-believers.
As the fellowship of believers works together, they can achieve their God-given goal of building up believers to be everything God wants them to be – WHICH IS TO BE JUST LIKE CHRIST!
INSIGHT: The Bible tells us that Christians with Spiritual gifts are to prepare the entire congregation for serving Christ. For example: (1) Evangelists (i.e., soul winners) can tutor other Christians in how to win other people to Christ; (2) Pastors (i.e., Bishops) may show their fellow believers how to lead others in the church; and (3) Teachers may train other Christians in how to give instruction based on the Word of God.
III. UNITED IN PURPOSE. (Acts 4:14-16)
A. The purpose of God’s Spiritual gifts is to produce GROUNDED Christians. (Ephesians 4:14)
(Ephesians 4:14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
Grounded Christians will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever that they sound like the truth.
B. The purpose of God’s Spiritual gifts is to produce GROWING Christians. (Ephesians 4:15)
(Ephesians 4:15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Growing Christians will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body (i.e., the church).
C. The purpose of God’s Spiritual gifts is to produce GOING Christians. (Ephesians 4:16)
(Ephesians 4:16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Going Christians make the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts to grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
INSIGHT: What things SHOULD and should NOT characterize Christ’s followers? God’s people should NOT be characterized by spiritual ignorance and immaturity, tossed by the waves and whipped around by every gust of heresy being peddled by spiritual frauds.
Christians SHOULD be seasoned in their faith, mature in their walk, and deep in their understanding of their Savior Jesus Christ. This comes by (1) prayer, (2) spending time reading God’s Word, and (3) actively serving the Lord.
CONCLUSION: When we as Christians begin to build up other believers in Christ, we begin to strengthen and build the entire Body of Christ -- the Church. In doing this, we are nurturing parts of the Body of Christ of which we are also a part. To live and serve in such a way honors Christ and is worthy of our calling.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “For joy that will last, always put Christ first in your life.”
* * *
REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
REV. RONALD PURKEY’S OFFICE
E-mail: Ronald Purkey