International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 2, 2012
Purpose: To understand how God has chosen us and to enumerate the ways God has blessed us through Jesus Christ
Scripture Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
Ephesians 1:3-14 (CEB)
(3) Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. (4) God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. (5) God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan (6) and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. (7) We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, (8) which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding. (9) God revealed his hidden design[a] to us, which is according to his goodwill and the plan that he intended to accomplish through his Son. (10) This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. (11) We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design. (12) We are called to be an honor to God’s glory because we were the first to hope in Christ. (13) You too heard the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit because you believed in Christ. (14) The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.
My Thoughts By Burgess Walter
The letter to the Christian church at Ephesus was probably a circuit letter to be read by all of the churches of Asia Minor. The city of Ephesus was the second largest city in the Roman Empire, second only to Rome. It was an important commerce center as well as one of the largest culture centers in the first century. It was an important seaport city on the Adriatic until about 400 A.D. when the river had filled the port with silt and now today the port is actually about five miles inland. The city of Ephesus was the sight of the great Temple of Artemis (Diana) one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It also housed one of the largest libraries of the period, as well as a theater that seated 25,000 spectators. In 2007 the largest gladiator graveyard was discovered here.
The city was one of the most civilized and cultured and had one of the most complex aqueduct systems in the Roman Empire, with many bath houses and mills run by water power both for grinding grain and marble. Some historians claim it was a vacation spot where Marc Anthony and Cleopatra had a home.
For early Christianity, Ephesus, was also very important; Paul lived and preached there from 52 -54 A. D. From there he established many of the churches and sent out missionaries to many more. Later in the first century it was home to the Apostle John, where he may have written The Gospel of John. The Roman Catholic Church believes Mary the Mother of Christ probably lived there with John.
The letter to the Ephesians was probably written by Paul or an associate while Paul was under house arrest in Rome, waiting his appearance before Cesar.
Our lesson text covers God's plan of salvation, which was from the beginning, a plan that would include both Jew and Gentile. The “hidden design” or “mystery” is God's plan that goes from the beginning of time to the end of time and is available to all who believe that Jesus is God's gift of inheritance to all of us who claim Him and we share in God's glory by honoring Jesus as that gift. As adopted sons and daughters our salvation is assured by the Holy Spirit, who serves as a binding deposit, until we receive the promised inheritance of salvation and redemption. Our responsibility is to represent God honestly, and make certain the sacrifice of Jesus, God's only begotten Son was not in vain. That is God's plan. God has made salvation available to all who believe, by faith, that God's grace and love, provided by Jesus is real.