Lesson Date: 10/15/2017
Lesson: 39
Week: 42

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“For the Perfecting of the Saints”

Published by Randal S. Chase

New Testament Lesson 39 (Ephesians)

EPHESIANS

Ephesians was written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (AD 61–62). It may have been a circular letter for many branches in Asia. Its theme could be summarized as a concise and beautiful outline of how a person sets aside the things of this world in order to take upon himself the powers of godliness.

It is a deeply spiritual sermon that also provides a summary of Church doctrine and organization. It is directed to members of the Church who have maturity and understanding, and therefore it reflects great depth in its concepts. In fact, many Saints in Ephesus had been living righteously enough to be sealed up to eternal life (Ephesians 1:13).

Perhaps no other Pauline epistle contains so many doctrines that today are thought of as being distinctively Latter-day Saint. In it we find reference to the doctrine of foreordination, the dispensation of the fulness of times, the importance of Apostles and prophets in the Church, the idea that there is only one true and unified church, and the doctrine that the organization of the Church is essential. We also find some of the most sublime teachings on the role of the family and the importance of proper family life that are found anywhere in scripture.

OUR PAST & OUR DESTINY

God and Our Premortal Existence

● As usual, Paul opens with a distinction between the Father and the Son and with a statement of his apostolic authority (Ephesians 1:1–3). Paul uses “grace” twelve times and “peace” seven a times in Ephesians.

● “Predestinated” means foreordained (Ephesians 1:4–5). In King James’ time, predestination did not have the same connotation as it does today. Most modern versions translate the Greek word as “foreordain.” It is not an irrevocable decree of destiny but rather a divine declaration of trust. Based upon our actions in premortal life, God calls us to serve him in this life. Our exercise of free agency in accepting or rejecting that call determines the outcome.

The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times

● Paul speaks of our own latter-day dispensation, and suggest that what is happening to them will have an important role in the restoration (Ephesians 1:9–10).

— President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “You and I are experiencing the profound and wonderful blessings of the dispensation of the fulness of times. In this day and time there have been restored to the earth all of the principles, powers, blessings, and keys of all previous dispensations.”1

Sealed by the Holy Spirit

● Being “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” is the same as having one’s calling and election made sure (Ephesians 1:11–14; 2 Peter 1:4–19).1

● He refers to the Father as the “God of our Lord, Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:17; John 20:17).

● “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” comes from a Greek idiom suggesting an enlightenment of the whole man through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:18).

● Paul emphasizes the exalted status of Christ (Ephesians 1:21–23). The Church is the “body of Christ.” This suggests the status of those sealed up unto eternal life.

— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “In the Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith describes the Father and the Son as ‘filling all in all’ because the Son, having overcome, has ‘received a fulness of the glory of the Father,’ and possesses ‘the same mind with the Father.’ Then he announces the conclusion to which Paul here only alludes: ‘And all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all; being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.3″4

● The full extent of God’s love and grace will be apparent when we find ourselves in the celestial kingdom because of it (Ephesians 2:6–7).

Saved by the Grace of Christ

● The Saints are made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1–5).

● Ultimately, we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8–10). Works cannot save us, but obedience to God’s commandments cannot be ignored. Paul taught that there must be a balance.

— C. S. Lewis said: “[The grace versus works controversy is like] asking which blade in a pair of scissors is [more] necessary.”5

● Christ made death subject to him, thereby freeing us from its bonds (Ephesians 4:8–9). This also applies to those in spirit prison, whom Christ visited before he ascended up on high.

LIVING LIKE SAINTS

The Church of Jesus Christ

● Paul describes the condition of those in the world without the gospel (Ephesians 2:11–12).

● Paul describes the condition of those who have been baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:19–22). Using a building metaphor, he calls Apostles and prophets the “foundation” and Jesus Christ the “chief corner stone (v. 20). Without these officers, the Church cannot continue to stand.

● Paul makes it clear the Church is led by revelation (Ephesians 3:3–8). A “mystery” is a sacred truth made known by revelation. The mystery spoken of here is that both Jew and Gentile alike may become heirs of the covenant through Christ, a doctrine not understood by ancient Israel. Note Paul’s humility about his calling as a minister.

● Paul describes the officers of the Church and its mission or purpose (Ephesians 4:11–14).

Evangelists: The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “An Evangelist is a Patriarch. . . . Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons, etc.”6

Pastors: The Latin word means “shepherd,” one who leads a flock, as does a bishop or stake president. The term is translated variously in the English New Testament as “pastor,” “shepherd,” or “bishop.”

Saints: The English word “saint” comes from the Latin sanctus and is used to translate the Greek hagios in the New Testament. All of these terms mean “holy ones”—those who are trying to become a holy people. The term in no way conveys sinlessness or any suggestion of superiority over other people. The members of the Church are given the name because they are attempting to live a holy life.

● There is only one Church of Jesus Christ, which is the appropriate place to exercise our faith and into which we must be baptized by authority (Ephesians 4:5).

Being Children of Light

● People of the world alienate themselves from God by refusing to look to God, by being “past feeling,” and giving themselves over to lasciviousness or immoral desires (Ephesians 4:18–19). Members of Christ’s Church are expected to do better—to live by the light they have been given.

● A list of sins to watch out for: Paul warns against involvement in “filthiness,” in a sexual context, “foolish talking,” and “jesting”—using polished and clever speech to accomplish evil purposes (Ephesians 5:4–6).

● The righteous are children of light, the wicked are children of darkness (Ephesians 5:8–14).

Righteous Relationships

● Practical advice on how to dwell together in love as Saints (Ephesians 4:25–32).

● Characteristics of good relationships: wisdom, consideration for time, spiritual inspiration, good music, willingness to submit to others (Ephesians 5:15–21).

● The relationship of wives to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22–24).

● The relationship of husbands to their wives (Ephesians 5:25–33).

— President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Can you find in all the holy scriptures where the Lord Jesus Christ ever failed his church? . . . Was he faithful? Was he true? Is there anything good and worthy that he did not give? Then that is what we ask—what he asks—of a husband. . . . Can you think of how he loved the Church? Its every breath was important to him. Its every growth, its every individual, was precious to him. He gave to those people all his energy, all his power, all his interest. He gave his life—what more could one give?”7

● The relationship of children to their parents (Ephesians 6:1–3).

● The relationship of parents to their children (Ephesians 6:4).

● The relationship of masters to slaves (Ephesians 6:5–9). In our present society, this would apply to the relationship between employers and their employees.

Putting on the Whole Armor of God

● Paul uses the metaphor of a Roman soldier’s armor to illustrate our best defenses against worldly enticements and Satan’s “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:10–18).
— Our shields against the fiery darts of the Devil are truth and righteousness.
— Our weapons—with which we will defeat Satan—are faith and knowledge of scriptures.
— Truth will protect our virtue and chastity (our “loins”).
— Righteousness will protect our conduct (a “breastplate” for our heart, feelings, and desires).
— The gospel should direct our paths and objectives in life (our “feet”).
— Salvation should be central to all our thoughts (the “helmet” covering our head).

● Paul also advises prayer, both for ourselves and for our leaders (Ephesians 6:18–20).

Notes:

1.  In Conference Report, April 1992, 98; or Ensign, May 1992, 70.
2.  Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 149; also McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 2:493–95.
3.  Joseph Smith, comp., Lectures on Faith [1985], 50–51.
4.  Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:497.
5.  Mere Christianity, 129.
6.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 151.
7.  “Men of Example”, Address to religious educators, 12 Sept.

 

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By | 2017-10-08T21:55:53+00:00 October 9th, 2017|

About the Author:

Randal S. Chase spent his childhood years in Nephi, Utah, where his father was a dry land wheat farmer and a businessman. In 1959 their family moved to Salt Lake City and settled in the Holladay area. He served a full-time mission in the Central British (England Central) Mission from 1968 to 1970. He returned home and married Deborah Johnsen in 1971. They are the parents of six children—two daughters and four sons—and an ever-expanding number of grandchildren.He was called to serve as a bishop at the age of 27 in the Sandy Crescent South Stake area of the Salt Lake Valley. He served six years in that capacity, and has since served as a high councilor, a stake executive secretary and clerk, and in many other stake and ward callings. Regardless of whatever other callings he has received over the years, one was nearly constant: He has taught Gospel Doctrine classes in every ward he has ever lived in as an adult—a total of 35 years.Dr. Chase was a well-known media personality on Salt Lake City radio stations in the 1970s. He left on-air broadcasting in 1978 to develop and market a computer-based management, sales, and music programming system to radio and television stations in the United States, Canada, South America, and Australia. After the business was sold in 1984, he supported his family as a media and business consultant in the Salt Lake City area.Having a great desire to teach young people of college age, he determined in the late 1980s to pursue his doctorate, and received his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah in 1997. He has taught communication courses at that institution as well as at Salt Lake Community College and Dixie State University for 21 years. He served as Communication Department chair and is currently a full-time professor at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah.Concurrently with his academic career, Brother Chase has served as a volunteer LDS Institute and Adult Education instructor in the CES system since 1994, both in Salt Lake City and St. George, where he currently teaches a weekly Adult Education class for three stakes in the Washington area. He has also conducted multiple Church History tours and seminars. During these years of gospel teaching, he has developed an extensive library of lesson plans and handouts which are the predecessors to these study guides.Dr. Chase previously published a thirteen-volume series of study guides on the Book of Mormon, Church History, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The series, titled Making Precious Things Plain, along with four smaller study guides on Isaiah, Jeremiah, the story of the Nativity, and the final week of our Lord’s atoning sacrifice, are designed to assist teachers and students of the gospel, as well as those who simply want to study on their own. Several of these books are also available in the Spanish language.

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