Calling Day 5 Living Love Story: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
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The Questions

1) What is Paul emphasizing in verses 1-10 and why does he spend so much time here?

2) Who are the two groups Paul references and what is the dividing wall of hostility? (verse 14)

3) What is the legacy for the two groups? (verses 19-22)

Ephesians 2:1-22

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.

11 So, then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands. 12 At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, 15 he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. 17 He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

Original Intent

1) What is Paul emphasizing in verses 1-10 and why does he spend so much time here?
When studying the Bible, it’s extremely important to remember we cannot just jump into a passage and start applying our thought processes to the words we read. It’s always important to go back and go forward, reading around the passage to gain greater understanding of what is being taught. Backing up into the end of chapter 1, we see Paul concluding an absolutely stunning passage on Christ Jesus. Paul describes Him as having full authority over all things as an equal with God the Father. There is none above Christ’s Name. Please, go read those 3 verses again and again until you are breathless; the Lord Jesus is stunning!  In sharp contrast, Paul begins chapter 2 with the condition of our hearts prior to having a relationship with Jesus. He uses words like “dead”, “sin”, “disobedient”, “fleshly desires”, and “all…under God’s wrath” (verses 1-3) to describe the now-believing-now-renewed-now-declared-saints as they once were before Christ rescued them from eternal death. Paul dramatically shifts in verse 4, not by declaring an action the people took to be different, but he places full emphasis on God Himself, “But God…”. Here are the two most powerful words in all of Scripture! Wretched sinners, dead in sin, undeserving of grace, but God…made us alive! (verses 4-5) There is no better news than this! Verses 6-10 pull out glorious riches now lavishly available to all who call on the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord of All. Paul places emphasis squarely on 2 aspects, our sinfulness and God’s unimaginable gracious love.

2)
Who are the two groups Paul references and what is the dividing wall of hostility? (verse 14)
Paul wrote his letter to the churches in Ephesus. Before we nod our heads and move on while wearing our “western hemisphere glasses”, it’s important to know that Ephesus was a strategic port-city in the ancient Mediterranean. This meant it was the crossroads for trade from all over the known world. The people, and religions, of the world crisscrossed paths in Ephesus. Also important to note is that the idea of “church in Ephesus” didn’t mean “the big Baptist church on the corner by the market tent”. While there was likely a synagogue where believers could meet for regular study and prayer, most of the Ephesian churches met in houses as they gathered their neighbors, inviting everyone they knew to come, hear the word of the Lord, be taught by Him, and, most importantly, be made new in Jesus. This was the common idea of Church for both Paul and his recipients. Paul’s letter would make its rounds through all the house churches in Ephesus, being poured over and over as it was read aloud. Then his letter would be carried to other surrounding cities and read to them as well. Given the context of so many people gathering to hear Paul’s letter, and wanting to grow in maturity as local churches, Paul wrote very clearly of “two groups” to acknowledge this reality. Both Jews and Gentiles would hear God’s Word through Paul’s letter, and Paul wanted to make sure they knew God’s heart was for them to be unified together under one banner, Christ Jesus. Whether they could trace their Jewish ancestry back to Abraham (the father of the Jewish people) and had memorized the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), or if they had just turned from worshipping Greek gods and goddesses just last week to surrender in full to Jesus, God wanted them to live and love together in unity. Both groups were equally sinners, equally dead as a result of their sin, but both groups were now equally alive in Jesus because of God’s grace!

3)
What is the legacy for the two groups? (verses 19-22)
Where there was once such strong division, now because of Jesus, there exists such a deep unity binding these people together! They have moved from foreigners and strangers, even enemies, to a tight kinship radical enough to call one another brother and sister of the same household, God’s Family! (verse 19) They have become one people bound together by the Spirit of the Living God working within them (verse 18); this is Church! Even richer than being connected together in this sweet family bond, they are now each deeply intertwined with Christ as their head, their Lord and Savior. He is their wisdom as they grow, the power enabling them to continue in unity, and the wise architect who intentionally designs them to keep growing together as One! This Church isn’t built overnight, neither is it constructed based on human ability or forethought, but it is anchored in the truth of Scripture (verse 20) through the power of the Holy Spirit as each person submits to one another in love and honor. (verses 21-22) This is the calling of the Church as Christ’s Bride! This is the DNA of how God designed His Church to operate!

Everyday Application

1) What is Paul emphasizing in verses 1-10 and why does he spend so much time here?
No one “falls into” a new identity of “saint” where once they were “sinner”. “Christian” is not bequeathed by spiritual acts, special prayers on behalf of others, or earned through a long family line of the devoutly religious. Every single transformation story has a “dead in sin” storyline leading up to a “But God” moment where everything changed. The former way of existence is crucified in Christ and His Spirit awakens us to an entirely new life available in Him. Even if your faith story, like my own, began so far back you don’t even remember a time when you didn’t believe in Jesus, the trademarks of “sinner transformed to saint” must still mark your life. If you cannot step back, and breath in wonderous awe, knowing for certain that where you are in your faith is only because of “But God” moments, then it warrants serious examination of the genuineness of your trust in Christ Jesus. If you aren’t repulsed by your sinfulness against a holy God, spend time asking yourself what exactly you need saved from. Because none of us are good enough on our own. As Paul vigorously declares in verse 8, this radical transformation “is not from yourselves”. There can be no mistake that Christ alone has wrought something altogether holy and living from what was dead. If you’ve never taken time to write out your faith story timeline, make space to do this! Start with a date as far back as you can remember, creating a line plot graph with significant life events. Trace God’s movement in your life and turn to Him in praise for His “But God” moments, asking Him to convict you of sin and take you deeper into this rich inheritance He died to give you.

2)
Who are the two groups Paul references and what is the dividing wall of hostility? (verse 14)
This passage in Scripture is very dear to my heart because the Lord used its illustration of “two groups” and the verbiage of “hostility” between them to encourage me in my marriage. For most of my married life, I’ve felt like my husband and I were too different, even entirely incompatible, to have a vibrant relationship together. These differences, however, are not too difficult for the God of impossibilities. If God could bring two warring parties together under the All-powerful Name of Jesus Christ, then saving my marriage was certainly not too hard for Him! As long as the Jews and Gentiles remained focused on their differences, and nuanced beliefs about the other party, they would continue in their division, never reaching the maturity of living together in unity as God designed. But! If, each group were to fix their gaze on the richness of Christ, His lavish love for them, and the delight of simply knowing Him in every increasing depth, their wall of hostility would be broken down as they loved each other by loving Jesus first and most! Peace was possible through Jesus alone! What area of conflict is the Lord bringing to your mind? Pray diligently over this and the people involved. Ask the Lord to convict you where you have been focusing on people or struggles instead of on Jesus. Pray for walls of hostility to be broken down in Jesus’ name and for His peace to reign!

3) What is the legacy for the two groups? (verses 19-22)
Using this passage as a gauge for what church is supposed to look like and instructive for how the Lord intended His people to operate together, take some time to assess your role in your local church. Your struggles likely look different than the specific challenges the Ephesians faced, but every local church battles the temptation to give in to division and hostility over peace and growing in maturity through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Are you “all in” when it comes to being committed to your local church? Are you showing up each week as a priority? When you attend, who are you going for? What are your expectations when you walk in? How do those thought processes align with God’s clear calling on the church to live together in unity, each member seeking the mature edification of the other?  How are you lovingly serving alongside others in your local church? Practice building unity together! Be intentional in your prayer life this week as you prepare to not simply go to church this weekend, but to show up and be the church, intent on growing together and sharing Jesus in love and unity!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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