March 26, 2017 – Ephesians 1:15-23
Lesson Date: March 26, 2017
Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 1:15-23
AIM: To lead students to discover the things Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, and to pray those same things for their Christian friends.
Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 1:15-23 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Get enough copies of the “My Prayer Guide” handout to give to everyone in attendance. Also have pens or pencils available for any students who might need one. Write the following scripture references on index cards or small pieces of paper: John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 3:18. Enlist some volunteers who are comfortable reading aloud to look up the verses and be prepared to read them when called upon.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask for some brief prayer requests and then lead a brief opening prayer. After the prayer, tell the class we often ask other believers to pray for us and other believers often ask us to pray for them. Ask the students to name some other Christians they pray for (without telling what they are praying – just the names or identities of the people). Then ask: “What kinds of things do you pray for other Christians?”
Tell the class that the Apostle Paul devoted the first half of the first chapter of Ephesians to the subject of salvation. In today’s lesson, we will learn what he prayed for his friends, the Christians in Ephesus.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesian believers while he was a prisoner in Rome (locate Rome and Ephesus on the map).
- Read Ephesians 1:1-14.
- Remind the class that those verses describe the role of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in salvation.
- Ask them to describe the activities of the Father, Son, and Spirit in salvation.
- In summary, tell the class that God the Father Planned our salvation, God the Son Purchased our salvation, and God the Holy Spirit Protects our salvation.
- Paul Prayed for the Ephesians.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 1:15-16.
- Ask: “According to verse 15, what had Paul heard about the Ephesians?” (about their faith and love toward one another).
- Ask: “According to verse 16, what did Paul do for the Ephesian believers?” (he thanked God for them and prayed for them).
- Ask: “How often did he do this?” (continually – he ceased not).
- Remind the class that Paul had spent a lot of time in Ephesus and cared very much about the believers there.
- Paul Prayed for Understanding for the Ephesian Believers.
- Tell the class that the next verses describe the things Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus.
- Give everyone a copy of the “My Prayer Guide” handout, and a pen or pencil if needed.
- Read Ephesians 1:17.
- Ask the class what Paul prayed in that verse for his friends (that God would give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Him).
- Ask the students to write this in their own words on their handout sheets.
- Ask: “Why do you think he prayed this?” (because the truths about salvation are so wonderful they are hard for us to understand).
- Explain that we come to know the Lord experientially when we receive Him as Savior, but for the rest of our Christian lives we continue to learn and understand more and more about what he has done for us.
- Paul Prayed for Enlightenment for the Ephesian Believers.
- Read the first phrase of Ephesians 1:18.
- Ask the class what Paul prayed would be opened (the eyes of their understanding).
- Ask the students to write this in their own words on their handout sheet.
- Remind the class that the natural mind cannot comprehend the things of God.
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read 1 Corinthians 2:14.
- Tell the class the Bible makes it clear that there is no spiritual understanding apart from the enlightening of the Lord.
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read John 14:26 and Ephesians 3:18.
- Paul Prayed the Ephesian Believers would Understand the Greatness of God’s Power.
- Tell the class Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would have wisdom, revelation, and understanding.
- Ephesians 1:18-19 tell us what Paul wanted them to understand.
- Ask the class to listen for three specific things he wanted them to know, as you read those verses (he wanted them to know the hope of their calling, the riches of their inheritance, and the power at work in them).
- Ask the students to write these things in their own words on their handout sheet.
- Briefly lecture on the meaning of those verses, using the following outline:
- We use the word hope to speak of a wishful desire, but the Bible uses it to mean a confident assurance.
- Calling refers to God’s call upon one’s life that leads to salvation.
- Christians can be confident about the future because God has called us to salvation.
- Inheritance (see Eph. 1:11) is the result of adoption (Eph. 1:5).
- If we understand all God has promised to give us, we can live much more peaceful and contented lives.
- God’s power is exceedingly great and is at work in the lives of Christians.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 1:20.
- Ask: “What power is at work in us?” (the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead).
- Explain that to enable us to live our Christian lives God gives us the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read 1 Corinthians 6:14.
- Tell the class God also set Christ at His own right hand.
- Stress the fact that when we face trials and difficulties we should remember that resurrection power is at work in us.
- Ask the students to write this in their own words on their handout sheet.
- Paul Prayed the Ephesian Believers would Understand Christ’s Greatness.
- Remind the class that verse 20 says Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father.
- Read Ephesians 1:21-23.
- Ask: “According to verse 21, what is Jesus Christ far above?” (everything – all of the spiritual and physical creation).
- Ask: “According to verse 22, what has God put under Christ’s feet?” (all things).
- Ask: “What is Christ’s relationship to the church?” (He is the head of it).
- Ask: “What does verse 23 say about the church?” (it is the body of Christ).
- Since the church is made up of saints redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church represents the fullness of Christ’s work and accomplishment on this earth.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention to their copy of the “My Prayer Guide” handout sheet. To review the lesson, ask: “What did Paul pray for the believers in Ephesus?” Members should read something like the following from their handouts:
- That God would give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Him.
- That the eyes of their understanding would be opened.
- That they would understand the hope of their calling.
- That they would understand the riches of their inheritance.
- That they would understand the power at work in them.
Tell the class if the Apostle Paul felt it was important to pray these things for believers whom he had personally spent over three years teaching, then modern believers probably need these same things, as well. Actually, we would all do well to pray these things for ourselves. Stress the fact that if the Lord led Paul to devote a half chapter to explaining salvation and then another half chapter to praying that his readers would understand salvation, then it must be important and difficult for us to fully comprehend our salvation (in fact, chapters 2-3 also deal with salvation).
Ask the students to look back at their handout sheets. Tell them to write their own name under the heading “I will Pray These Things for the Following People.” Next, ask them to list names of other Christian friends for whom they will pray these things. Suggest that they pray these things for these people every day this week. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to use their prayer guide to pray for others this week. Tell them to thank God daily for their salvation and to look for opportunities to tell others some of the wonderful things God has done for them.
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