May 14, 2017 – Ephesians 3:8-12

Lesson Date: May 14, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 3:8-12

AIM: To lead students to discover one of God’s eternal purposes for His church, and to evaluate themselves to see if their service for the Lord helps the church fulfill its purpose.


Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 3:8-12 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write or print the following scripture references on index cards or small pieces of paper: Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 6:12; and Hebrews 10:19. Enlist some class members who are comfortable reading aloud to look up the verses and be prepared to read them to the class when called upon. Write “Purpose of the Church” as a header across the top of the marker board or chalkboard.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the class they are going to begin today’s lesson with a brainstorming activity. First, explain the ground rules of the brainstorming activity. Those ground rules are:

  • You will ask a question.
  • Students should quickly say any answers that come to their mind.
  • All answers will be written on the marker board or chalkboard.
  • Any answer is acceptable at this point.
  • Later in the lesson we will evaluate the answers in light of what the Bible says.

Enlist a “recorder” to come up and write all of the answers on the board.

Now ask the following questions: “What do you think are the purposes of the church? In other words, why did God create the church? What is it here for?”

Encourage as many responses as possible and see that the recorder writes them all on the board. Probably most of the answers will be good, but your class members will probably not name the purpose they will discover in this lesson. Tell them in today’s lesson they will discover one of God’s eternal purposes for His church.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of Ephesians.
    • Tell them 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).
    • Ask: “What was chapter 2 about?” (God’s plan of salvation and the uniting of saved Jews and saved Gentiles into one new body, the New Testament church.).
    • Read Ephesians 3:1-7.
    • Ask: What was last week’s lesson about? (the mystery that Gentiles can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, just like Jews).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (Eph. 3:6).
  2. God’s Plan for Paul.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 3:8.
    • Ask: “How did the Apostle Paul describe himself in this verse?” (“the least of all saints”).
    • Tell the class that we are sometimes guilty of false humility – putting ourselves down in hopes that others will disagree and build us up.
    • Ask: “Do you think this was merely false humility on Paul’s part?” (opinions may vary).
    • Ask the class to listen for Paul’s descriptions of himself, as you read 1 Timothy 1:12-15.
    • Explain that when Paul thought of what he had done before the Lord saved him and the wickedness that still remained in his heart (Rom. 7:15-25), he felt unworthy to preach the Gospel. Nevertheless, God in His mercy gave Paul a special ministry to the Gentiles.
    • Ask the volunteer to re-read Ephesians 3:8.
    • Ask: “What did Paul preach to the Gentiles?” (the “unsearchable riches of Christ” – spiritual truths about salvation through Jesus Christ that are so wonderful they are past human comprehension).
    • Summarize: God planned for Paul to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
  3. Paul’s Mission was to Reveal the Mystery of the Church.
    • Read Ephesians 3:9.
    • Briefly lecture on that verse using the following outline:
      • A part of Paul’s mission was to “make all men see” the mystery of the church, which allowed Jews and Gentiles to become one in Christ Jesus.
      • This mystery had been “hidden in God” up until that time.
      • The last phrase reminds us that God, through Jesus Christ, created everything.
    • Summarize: The mystery of the church was planned before the foundation of the world, but not revealed to mankind until the First Century d.
  4. The Church is to Reveal God’s Wisdom to the angelic Host.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 3:10.
    • Ask: “What does the word ‘intent’ mean?” (the purpose or intention behind something).
    • Tell the class that God’s purpose or intent is that the church demonstrates His great wisdom (“might be known by the church,” in other words, by means of).
    • God’s wisdom is revealed in two ways through the church:
      • In saving lost humans.
      • In putting saved Jews and saved Gentiles together in one new body.
    • Ask: “To whom does this verse say the church is supposed to demonstrate God’s wisdom?” (to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places”).
    • Explain that the words “principalities and powers” refer to angelic beings.
    • For further evidence of this ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Ephesians 6:12.
    • Tell the class that God’s plan and purpose is always right and always wise (read Ephesians 1:8).
    • He revealed the mystery of His purpose to us because it pleased Him and fit His plan to do so (read Ephesians 1:9).
    • Summarize: One purpose for the church of Jesus Christ is to show off the great wisdom of God to the angelic beings.
  5. God’s Eternal Purpose.
    • Read Ephesians 3:11.
    • Ask: “How long has God had this purpose for His church?” (throughout eternity).
    • Tell the class God has many purposes and tasks for His church, but this verse reveals His eternal purpose – His church exists to demonstrate His great wisdom to angelic beings.
    • Ask: “How did He purpose or plan this?” (in Jesus Christ).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 3:12.
    • Ask: “What do we have through Jesus Christ?” (boldness, access, and confidence).
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Ephesians 2:18 and Hebrews 10:19.
    • Remind the class that other religions, including Old Testament Judaism, maintain a separation between God and man. Through Jesus Christ, however, believers have direct access to Almighty God.
    • Summarize: God planned in eternity past that His church would demonstrate His great wisdom to angelic beings.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the class’ attention to the list on the board, which was compiled during the introductory activity. Remind them that they created this list when asked to describe the purposes of the church. Read some of the things written on the board. Ask the students to name the eternal purpose of the church, which they discovered today. As hard as it is for our finite human minds to grasp, one purpose of the church of Jesus Christ is to show off the great wisdom of God to the angelic beings.

Ask: “Do you realize that your spiritual life and your activity in God’s church are of interest to angelic beings?” Tell the class that angels aren’t the only ones interested in them – their faithfulness to church is also an encouragement to other believers. On the contrary, if they are unfaithful to church they discourage other believers and reflect badly on God’s church.

Ask: “Are you a part of this church? Are you a member?” Urge any who are not to come forward during this morning’s invitation and request church membership. Ask: “If you are a member of this church, is your service for the Lord helping this church fulfill its purpose?”

Tell the class that their church has many purposes and tasks to fulfill. Some of those are listed on the board, but in today’s lesson we have also discovered God’s eternal purpose for His church. Tell the students if they are church members who are not involved, they are out of God’s will. Urge everyone to confess his or her sin and commit to serving God in His church. Lead a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Urge any who are not involved in the church to become involved right away. Tell them of your need for Sunday School class leaders (such as Care Group Leaders), and offer to talk after class to anyone who is interested in available places of service in the class.

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