Be Imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-20)
Welcome to Week 8 of your Ephesians Bible Study.
This week we’ll be studying Ephesians 5:1-20.
Review of Part 1 of Ephesians
We would do well to recall that Ephesians can be split into two main sections: Ephesians 1-3 reminds the Ephesian believers about their newfound status “in Christ” and about the nature of the Christian church.
Prior to knowing the Lord, the Ephesian believers were dead in their sins and excluded from the family of God (see Ephesians Bible Study – Week 3). But God in his great mercy and before the foundation of the world had decreed that both Jew and Gentile would become one people united in Christ.
This union, which Paul called a mystery (see Ephesians Bible Study – Week 4), would become the Christian church, bestowing on individual believers a rich spiritual heritage and an abundance of spiritual blessings (see Ephesians Bible Study – Week 1).
Review of Part 2 of Ephesians
In Ephesians 4-6, Paul then begins to describe a series of responsibilities that correspond to God’s people, to those who have been saved and redeemed and form part of Christ’s church.
Questions to Reflect on the Passage
Paul now continues in Chapter 5 with additional exhortations for those who have been redeemed by Christ and who form part of the body of Christ, that is, the church.
Read Ephesians 5:1-5
- Ephesians 5:1 calls believers to be “imitators of God.” What exactly does that require one to do, according to Eph 5:2? How does Christ’s example further elaborate the command toward imitation?
- Ephesians 5:3 continues the call for imitation, drawing out at least three major offenses to avoid. What are these? Why would these three get singled out? Hint: The first of these offenses comes from the Greek word porneia and encompasses a wide range of illicit sexual activity.
- Ephesians 5:4 elaborates once again what it means to imitate God and singles out a particular kind of offense? What type of offense is that?
- Ephesians 5:5 mentions many of the offenses in the prior three verses and adds a rather ominous warning to those who would persists in them. What warning is given?
Read Ephesians 5:6-14
- In Ephesian 5:6-14, Paul uses the metaphor of light and dark to contrast two types of people. Scan through verses 6-14 and list all of the elements which belong to those in “the light” and those in “the darkness.” Include characteristics, commands, and actions that you find in these verses.
Read Ephesians 5:15-20
- Verses 15, 17 and 18 give a series of negative contrasting commands. List the commands and the alternating pairs given for each command.
Questions to reflect on your life
- Ephesians 5:1-20 calls for us to imitate God. Do you find that to be 1) a hopeless ideal; 2) a challenging goal; 3) an endeavor that brings out the best in you?
- Among the many offense to avoid in this section are included: sexual impurity / immorality; greed or covetousness and unholy speech.
Sexual impurity (according to the Scriptures) would include any kind of sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage including addictions to pornography. Greed or covetousness would incorporate any type of unhealthy desire such as for money, power, control, etc.
How do you measure up in any of these three areas? (See NOTE below.)
- In terms of our speech (Eph 5:4), why do you think this gets singled out so often in Scripture? (See Col 3:8-9 and the Book of James).
NOTE: A small group Bible study (as also the church) functions best when its members are open, honest and vulnerable regarding their life and daily struggles.
One of the reasons God placed us within a community was so that we might encourage and challenge one another in our spiritual growth. For that to occur, it is vitally necessary for us to go out on a limb and trust other people with our life and with our struggles.
The rewards are truly great, however, the group must be sufficiently mature to deal with the fears, embarrassment and shame that sometimes occurs when confessing our hidden sins to one another.
Only you as a leader and / or member of a small group completing this study can really know whether your group is prepared to delve into these issues at a more in-depth level.