The book of Ephesians is one of the most beloved among the apostle Paul’s letters. He wrote it while he was incarcerated (see Ephesians 3:1, 4:1, and 6:20), so it is known as one of the “prison epistles.” This Bible study guide will help you explore this precious book and learn valuable lessons about God and the Christian life to enhance your spiritual growth.
Let’s explore 25 great questions and answers to gain a deeper understanding of the Word of the Lord and this Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Question #1: Who were the recipients of this letter?
This letter is addressed to all believers who lived in the city of Ephesus. Scholars believe this was a circular letter, meant not only for the Ephesians but also for other churches in the province of Asia. Acts chapter 19 tells us about Paul’s trip to Ephesus when he started the Church there.
Question #2: What are the blessings that God has given the believers through Christ?
The book of Ephesians tells us about blessings that God has given us corporately, that is, He blessed the Church as a whole. So, when someone becomes a true believer, they become recipients of those blessings. This is the list that Paul wrote:
- God blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (verse 3).
- He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love (verse 4).
- He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself (verse 5).
- He made us accepted in Christ (verse 6).
- He redeemed us through Jesus’s blood (verse 7).
- He forgave our sins (verse 7).
- He made His grace abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence (verse 8).
- He made the mystery of His will known to us (verse 9).
- He gave us an inheritance (verse 11).
- He predestined us according to the counsel of His will (verse 11).
- He sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (verse 13).
All these blessings were possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for us. We receive them when we are “in Christ” (when we are part of the spiritual Church, the body of Christ).
Question #3: Why is Paul thankful to God for the Ephesians? What can we learn from that?
Paul was thankful because he had heard about the Ephesian believers’ faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the community of believers (all the saints).
From this statement, we learn that our faith must be practical, and it must be seen by people around us. Our faith and love for the Lord are expressed in our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Question #4: What is Jesus Christ’s position of authority?
Paul wrote that Jesus was seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places after He was raised from the dead. The right hand was the symbolic place of highest honor and authority back then. Jesus was given authority over all spiritual powers (all principality, power, might, and dominion) and over any authority that has ever existed and will exist. In other words, there is no authority, in all creation, above Him.
Paul also addressed this subject in Philippians 2:9-11. He affirmed that the Father gave Jesus “the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9 NKJV). When we say that Jesus is the Lord, this is what it means: He has authority over every creature in all creation, both in the physical world and in the spiritual realm as well.
Question #5: What illustration does Paul use to explain the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church?
Paul said that Jesus is the head, and the Church is His body. When we think about how the human body works, we realize how profound this illustration was. It shows that not only Jesus governs the Church as its head, but also that the members are connected to each other as parts of the body. Those different members work together to accomplish the same goal, established by the head.
Paul explained this analogy in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. He used it again in Ephesians 4:12,16 and 5:29-30, Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 10:17, Colossians 1:18,24 and 3:15. The author of the book of Hebrews also used it in Hebrews 13:3.
Question #6: What was the situation of any Christian before they met Jesus?
Paul described the terrible situation of any Christian before they met Jesus:
- They were dead in trespasses and sins.
- They walked according to the course of this world, that is, the sinful system that is governed by the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2 NKJV).
- They were sons of disobedience.
- They conducted themselves in the lusts of their flesh (their sinful nature).
- They were, by nature, children of wrath (deserving of condemnation).
Note how Paul emphasizes the fact that the people in this situation are sinners by nature, and their lives are governed by sin. This scenario keeps them away from God (Romans 3:23).
Paul wrote this dreadful list referring to all Christians in the past, himself included. We can assume that this is the current state of anyone who hasn’t believed in Jesus yet.
Question #7: What did God do for us when we were dead sinners? Why did He do that?
Verses 4 and 5 make it clear that God acted while we, believers, were still sinners. This is what He did for us:
- He made us alive together with Christ.
- He raised us up together.
- He made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
God did that for us because He is rich in mercy and because of His great love for us (verse 4). So, He wanted to show His extraordinary grace through his kindness towards us in Christ (verse 7). That’s why it is called “amazing grace.”
Question #8: How is a person saved?
Paul affirmed that a sinner is saved by grace through faith (see also Romans 3:24,27-28).
- Saved by grace: it means that salvation is a gift of God. So, the saved person doesn’t pay or give anything in exchange for their salvation. It is free for the one receiving it, but it had the highest cost: the life of the Son of God (John 3:16).
- Saved through faith: it means that the sinner must respond to God’s grace by trusting, believing in Him, and accepting Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice for them (John 3:36).
A sinner is not saved because they are good or because they did something to deserve it. They are saved because God is good and gracious. So, He gets the glory, not us.
Question #9: What role do their good works play in their salvation?
A person gives nothing of their own, and they do not pay for salvation in any way. So, their good works don’t contribute at all. Good deeds do have a purpose as the fruit of their salvation, as we will see in the next question. Therefore, a saved person must produce good works as a result of their salvation, not to acquire it.
Question #10: What was God’s purpose for creating and saving us?
God created us to do good works. However, sin corrupted us, and we became incapable of doing anything that could be considered good by His standards. So, Jesus saved us so we could fulfill God’s plan and do the works that He had prepared for us even before we were saved.
Question #11: What was the situation of the non-Jews (the Gentiles) before Jesus died? How has Christ’s sacrifice changed that?
“Gentiles” is how Jews call the foreigners, the non-Jews. Since God had made His covenant with Israel, it didn’t include the Gentiles (see verses 11 and 12). That means they didn’t have any hope of knowing God.
But, when Jesus died, his sacrifice became available to anyone who believed, no matter their ethnicity. Paul said that Jesus reached both peoples, those who were far off (the Gentiles) and those who were near (the Jews).
Because of Jesus, the Gentiles are no longer foreigners to God. When they believe, they become “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 NKJV), just as the Jews who believe become too. There is no longer an ethnic division among the people of God (the Church).
Question #12: What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the household of God?
In that analogy, Paul compares the Church (the believers) to a household of God (a building). He said that Jesus is the chief cornerstone of that building. The cornerstone is the first stone set in place to start construction. It guides the placement of all other stones. Jesus being the cornerstone means that not only is He the most significant piece of the building, but He is also the one that determines how all other individual stones will be placed. Those stones represent the believers (Jews and Gentiles).
With this analogy, Paul makes it clear that Jesus is the one who governs the Church, and its members are equals (Galatians 3:28, Romans 2:11). He finished that illustration by saying that the Church grows into a holy temple in the Lord, meaning that it is the place where God dwells through the Holy Spirit.
Question #13: To whom did God reveal the mystery of Christ? And what is that mystery?
God, through His Spirit, revealed the mystery of Christ to his apostles and prophets. Usually, the expression “the apostles and the prophets” refers to the biblical authors of the New Testament and the Old Testament. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) to write the books that became part of the Christian Bible.
The mystery is that the gospel would reach both Jews and Gentiles. It means that God’s plan was to include the Gentiles in His salvation. Therefore, through Jesus’s sacrifice, they can be heirs of His promises and part of His community of saints (the Church).
Question #14: What was Paul’s mission?
His mission was to preach the gospel among the Gentiles, so they would believe in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Himself gave him this assignment on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:15-18).
Question #15: What did Paul say about God’s ability to respond to our requests?
He said that God can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). Note the words that Paul uses to express how God is so powerful that He can do far more than we could ever ask or think.
Question #16: What argument did Paul use to convince his readers of the importance of unity in the Church?
Paul told the Ephesians to make the effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the Church. Since keeping unity requires an effort, he explained the importance of that unity to convince them to try hard. In his argument, he explains how unity is a characteristic of God and of the faith they now embrace. He said there is:
- One body and one spirit.
- One hope of their calling.
- One Lord.
- One faith.
- One baptism.
- One God and Father of all.
Like everything in this list, the members of the Church must be united as one too. The unity in the Church testifies to the unity of the Triune God and the gospel.
Question #17: What are the ministry roles that Jesus gave to the Church? What is their purpose?
The ministry roles that Jesus gave to the Church are (verse 11):
- Pastors and teachers (scholars debate whether these are two individual roles, or one single role with two responsibilities, pastoring and teaching).
Those ministry roles have the purpose of preparing all believers for the work of ministry and building them up as members of the body of Christ, that is, the spiritual Church (verse 12).
Question #18: What was the situation of the Gentiles before they believed in Jesus?
Paul wrote that the Gentiles were in the following situation before they believed in Jesus (verses 17-19):
- They walked in the futility of their minds.
- Their understanding was darkened.
- They were alienated from the life of God.
- They were ignorant.
- Their heart was blind.
- They were past feeling.
- They had given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Question #19: What did Paul say that the Gentiles should do after they believed?
After presenting the list of their former situation as sinners, Paul confronted the Christian Gentiles to change their behavior. He used an illustration to tell them to leave their old ways behind. He said they needed to put off their old man or old self (their sinful nature) and put on the new man or new self (their holy nature), as if they were changing clothes. Paul meant that there are not just a few things that they need to change, but their whole life.
Question #20: What Are the Two Key Commands That Paul Gave All Believers?
Paul commanded us to be imitators of God as dear children. So, we should pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). He also told us to walk in love, as Christ did. Jesus gave His own life for us, so we should imitate Him as well and love others as He loved us.
If we do that, we will automatically obey all other commands he had given in the prior verses, like not lying (Ephesians 4:25), not stealing (verse 28), not using inappropriate language (verse 29), being kind, forgiving one another (verse 32), and so on.
Question #21: What did Paul say that believers do when they are filled with the Holy Spirit?
Paul told the Ephesian believers not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit instead, so they would:
- Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (verse 19).
- Sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord (verse 19).
- Give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 20).
- Submit to one another in the fear of God (verse 21).
Question #22: What are the roles of the wife and the husband in a Biblical marriage?
Paul taught that the husband should be the leader, and the wife should submit to his leadership. These roles are aligned with the creation of man and woman (1 Timothy 2:13, Genesis 2:18-24).
Paul establishes a reference for both roles, which is key to understanding how they should work:
- The husband must follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love in his leadership.
- The wife must follow the Church’s example of respectful submission to Christ.
Paul wrote a careful explanation of how the husband should treat his wife (see verses 25 to 33). Male leadership is not an excuse to be dictatorial. He explains in length how the husband must care for, cherish, and protect his wife, to the point of giving his life for her as Jesus did for the Church.
The harmony of marriage is achieved with the husband serving and loving his wife through his leadership, and the wife respecting her husband through her submission. That harmonious relationship is a representation of the union between Christ and the Church (verse 32).
Question #23: What is the purpose of the whole armor of God? Against whom are we supposed to fight?
The apostle Paul used an illustration that was easy for the people of his time to understand. He used the elements of the whole armor of a Roman soldier to illustrate a spiritual armor given to us by God.
The purpose of the whole armor of God is to allow us to stand against the deceptions of the devil (verse 11) and to resist in the evil day (verse 13).
Paul said that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV). Keep in mind that our enemies are not a match for the Lord (Ephesians 1:19-21, Colossians 2:15).
Question #24: What are the elements of the whole armor of God and what do they represent?
The elements of the whole armor of God are (verses 14-17):
- The belt of truth.
- The breastplate of righteousness.
- Feet prepared with the gospel of peace.
- The shield of faith, used to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
- The helmet of salvation.
- The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Note that there is only one element that can be used for both defense and attack, which is the sword of the Spirit. Also note that, along with using the whole armor of God, Paul tells his readers to pray at all times (verse 18). Prayer is a key component of spiritual warfare.
Question #25: What is Paul’s prayer request? What can we learn from it?
Paul asked the Ephesian believers to pray for him, that God would give him the words to boldly preach the gospel, as he knew he had to do.
We can learn a few lessons from this simple prayer request:
- Even though Paul was an apostle and had done many amazing things, he was humble to ask other people to pray for him.
- He also knew that he depended upon God, so he asked that the Lord give him the words to speak boldly. He didn’t trust his own talents or experience (1 Corinthians 2:1-5); he trusted the Lord.
- He was aware of his mission to proclaim the gospel. In that short prayer request, that was his focus.
These are excellent examples for us, for our ministry, and our Christian life.
The book of Ephesians teaches us valuable doctrinal and practical lessons that will enrich any life of a disciple of Jesus. This letter, which is one of the New Testament’s shortest books, addresses some of the contemporary believers’ basic questions about Christianity. Even more importantly, it will help you grow in your personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.