April 30, 2017 – Ephesians 2:18-22
Lesson Date: April 30, 2017
Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 2:18-22
AIM: To lead students to recognize that if they are saved they have a responsibility to belong to and be actively involved in a local New Testament church, and to encourage any who are not to repent of their sin and get involved immediately.
Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 2:18-22 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Get enough copies of the “Response Sheet” handout for your anticipated attendance, along with some pens or pencils for those who might need one. Locate an artist’s rendering of Herod’s Temple. Write the word “Temple” on the marker board or chalkboard. Write or print the following scripture references on index cards or small slips of paper: Matthew 23:16-17; Mark 15:37-38; Luke 21:5; Acts 17:24; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19. Enlist some volunteers who are comfortable reading aloud to find those scriptures and be prepared to read them to the class.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Temple” written on the board. Ask: “What comes to your mind when you hear the word temple?” (various religions refer to their places of worship as temples; students may also think of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem). Ask: “Have you ever seen a temple? If so, where?”
Hold up the picture of Herod’s Temple. Remind the class that the ancient Jews worshiped God at a Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple depicted in the picture is often called Herod’s Temple, because King Herod the Great renovated and greatly enlarged it. This is the Temple that was in use at the time of Jesus. When the Bible speaks of Jesus going into the Temple or preaching in the Temple or cleansing the temple, it was this Temple.
On the picture, point out the outer courtyard identified as the “Gentiles Courtyard.” Explain that this was the only place Gentiles who wanted to worship God could go. Point out the wall separating the Gentiles Courtyard from the inner Temple buildings. Gentiles were not allowed within that wall, upon penalty of death.
Tell the class the Romans destroyed this Temple in a.d. 70. Since that time there has never been another Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In today’s lesson, however, we will learn about the true Temple of God and our place in it.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that we are involved in a six-month study of the New Testament book of Ephesians.
- The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the church at Ephesus while he was a prisoner in Rome (locate Ephesus and Rome on the map).
- Ask: “What was chapter 1 about?” (the role of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in our salvation).
- Remind them that the first ten verses of chapter 2 were about the spiritual condition of lost people and God’s plan and purpose for our salvation.
- Read Ephesians 2:11-17.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus Christ removed the division and hatred that previously existed between Jews and Gentiles, putting all saved people into His body, the church).
- No More Separation.
- Tell the class the Temple had become a point of pride to the ancient Jews, almost like an idol to be worshiped.
- To illustrate this, ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Luke 21:5 and Matthew 23:16-17.
- Remind the class that there were two main parts of the central Temple building: the “Holy Place” in which the priests ministered every day and the “Holy of Holies” into which only the high priest could go once a year.
- Write the word “Separation” on the board.
- Using the picture of “Herod’s Temple,” tell the class that in Temple worship the Gentiles were kept separate from the Jews, the women were kept separate from the men, the men were kept separate from the priests, the regular priests were kept separate from the high priest, and ultimately the people were kept separate from God. Temple worship was marked by “Separation.”
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Mark 15:37-38.
- Ask: “What happened when Jesus died?” (God tore the Temple veil in two).
- Read Ephesians 2:18.
- Tell the class when Jesus died on the cross He removed the separation.
- Erase the word “Separation” and write “Blood of Christ.”
- Ask: “According to this verse, what can we have through the Spirit?” (access to the Father).
- Through Jesus Christ, there no longer has to be separation between saved Jews and Gentiles or between saved people and God.
- The Household of God.
- Read Ephesians 2:12 to remind the students of the condition of unsaved Gentiles.
- Read Ephesians 2:19.
- Ask: “What does this verse tell us about the condition of Gentiles who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation?” (they are no longer strangers or foreigners; they are now fellow citizens with other saved people and they are part of the household of God).
- Stress the fact that as saved Gentiles we are now part of God’s “household” or family.
- Read Ephesians 2:20.
- Ask: “What is the foundation of that household?” (the teachings and writings of the apostles and prophets recorded in the Bible).
- Ask: “What is the corner stone of that household?” (the Lord Jesus Christ).
- Tell the class a sturdy building needs a good foundation. The foundation of God’s new temple (the church) is the teaching of the apostles and prophets, and that foundation rests upon the corner stone of Jesus Christ.
- The Holy Temple of God.
- Read Ephesians 2:21.
- Explain that the words “fitly framed” mean that every part fits perfectly into the whole.
- Tell the class that with modern mass-produced building materials and power tools it is not very difficult to make sure all the parts of a building fit together. In ancient times, however, craftsmen had to hand-cut each stone to fit perfectly into each spot.
- Ask: “What does verse 21 say we are growing into?” (a Holy Temple in the Lord).
- Read Ephesians 2:22.
- Ask: “What does this verse say we are built together for?” (a habitation or dwelling place for God through the Spirit).
- Ask: “Does this mean God lives in the church building?” (no).
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Acts 17:24.
- That verse makes it clear that God does not live in buildings built by the hands of man.
- Ask: “What, then, is this habitation for God through the Spirit?” (we are).
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:19.
- Tell the class the Bible makes it clear that God does not live in temples built with hands and He does not live in our church buildings. The Bible says that believers (those who know Jesus Christ) are the Temple of God because the Holy Spirit of God lives within them.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Say: “If Christians are the Temple of God and members of the household of God (the church), then they need to be actively involved in the body of Christ – a local New Testament church.” Tell the class the only visible expression of the church is a local body of baptized believers seeking to live by the teachings of the New Testament.
Give each student a copy of the “Response Sheet” handout and a pen or pencil if needed. Tell them this is the “post test” to see if they have learned and can apply the important truths from today’s lesson. Read the questions to the class and ask them to mark their answers on the sheet (tell them you are not going to take up the sheets – their answers are for their eyes only). Take time to go through each question, along with the options underneath each question.
Take the time necessary to make this a serious commitment time. Explain that the “bottom line” is this: lost people need to be saved, saved people need to join the church, and church members need to get involved in serving the Lord through their church. Tell the class: “The church doesn’t exist to meet your needs; rather, it exists to give you the opportunity to exercise your spiritual gifts by serving God and reaching out to and ministering to others.” Pass around a blank sheet of paper on which anyone who is willing to be a Care Group Leader or other class worker can put his or her name and phone number.
Encourage everyone to get right with God and make whatever commitment they need to make. Lead a closing prayer of repentance and commitment.
CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to follow through on his or her commitment. Offer to speak personally to anyone who needs further help or guidance.
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