If you picture life back in the beginning in the Garden of Eden as something wonderful did you know there is something for you right now that is even better! Sound interesting? Of course it does!
Just how great was life in the Garden of Eden? To begin with everything was “good”! It’s hard to beat “good.” But God improved on it. God made things “very good!” The man and the woman could tell they were “made for each other,” and they were “walking together with God” in that beautiful Garden of Eden.
And yet, in the Book of Ephesians we learn that there was something even better to come. It went beyond Eden to deeper and better relationships both vertically and horizontally.
Exercise #1: Understanding the imagery of the Body.
1. Picturing an ant’s body, how would you envision Paul’s illustration in Ephesians 3:4-6?
2. How is this concept expressed in Ephesians 4:3-6?
3. In what ways does Paul develop this imagery in Ephesians 5:28-32?
4. The English language differentiates between the “head” and the “body.” But, explain what Paul meant in speaking of the Body of Christ, in light of Ephesians 5:15-6:9.
Exercise #2: Understanding the structure of Ephesians.
Paul used a surprisingly clear six-part pattern in the second half of Ephesians, using the words “therefore” and “walk” to introduce each sections. The sixth section is introduced by the word “stand,” rather than “walk.”
1. Briefly describe what Paul wrote about in each section.
a. Eph. 4:1-16 Therefore walk worthy
b. Eph. 4:17-32 Therefore walk not in futility
c. Eph. 5:1-6 Therefore walk in love
d. Eph. 5:7-14 Therefore walk as children of light
e. Eph. 5:15-6:9 Therefore walk very carefully
f. Eph. 6:10-20 Therefore stand against the devil
2. Explain how Ephesians 5:32 is the key to this section.
Exercise #3: Identifying the Great Mystery.
To explain this Great Mystery, Paul took old words earlier in this passage and gave them new meanings. At the same time, he used additional word patterns in such a way that they reinforced the new word meanings. All this made the Great Mystery stand out in his letter to the Ephesians.
1. Describe the relationship Paul referenced in Genesis 2:23-25.
2. What did Paul reveal about the Great Mystery in Ephesians 5:32, by using this illustration?
3. What becomes the focus of this passage when read through the lens of Ephesians 5:32?
By (1) avoiding these interpretation traps, and (2) focusing on the key ideas in Ephesians 5:15-6:9, we can proceed to unlock the riches of Paul’s passage in Ephesians 5-6. We come to see the wonderful news that we participate in the great relationship of the Body of Christ, the relationship that goes beyond even that experienced by the first couple with God back in the beginning in the Garden of Eden.
See below for links to resources for further research.
1. The first of Bruce C. E. Fleming’s 3 Workshop videos on Ephesians 5-6 with slide presentations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsKnuhwhr5Y)
2. Join the Tru316 Project! (https://www.patreon.com/Tru316Project)
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