The Wednesday Bible Study Club resumed meetings for the 2019-20 year on September 11 in the home of Lynn Waddy. The Wednesday Bible Study Club celebrates its 84th continuous year of study.
Sharleen Stone presented the lesson from Ephesians, Chapter 2. Mrs. Stone noted that she used the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible for this study. Sharleen opened her lesson stating it was suggested that Paul was the author of this letter to the Ephesians and, most likely, was written from Rome during his first imprisonment soon after his arrival in the year 62 – four years after he had parted with the Ephesian elders at Militus.
The first portion of this letter tells that we are “Made Alive in Christ:”
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh (a) and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
The next section describes how “Jew and Gentile are Reconciled through Christ:”
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) – 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Barclay summarizes Paul’s letter with two illuminating thoughts. The Gentiles are no longer foreigners but full members of the family of God. He tells the Gentiles: “You are no longer among God’s people on sufferance. You are full members of the family of God.” And put very simply: it is through Jesus that we are at home with God.
In his second thought, Paul uses the illustration of a building. Each part of the building is fitted into Christ. That is what the church should be like. Its unity comes not from organization, or ritual, or liturgy. It comes from Christ. Where Christ is, there is the Church. “The Church will achieve its unity only when it realizes that it exists not to propagate the point of view of any body of individuals, but to provide a home where the Spirit of Christ can dwell and where everyone who loves Christ can meet in that Spirit.”
In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human being, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.
Mrs. Carla Narcomey entertained the group with a brief piano concert of hymns. President Nikki Murphy conducted the business meeting. Members expressed prayer concerns and Carla led the intercessory prayer. The meeting was dismissed with the Closing Prayer.