We continue our study of Ephesians by moving on to chapter 2 and doing our observations of the passage. What are the repeated words or phrases? How does this tie in with chapter 1? Who is Paul talking about in this passage? Are there any time-related words? What about places?
Sometimes it helps with asking these questions to read through the passage several times over a period of days, asking different questions each time. In Bible study we don’t always have to move through observation, interpretation, and application in just one day of study. It’s actually beneficial to spend several days on observation as the more we observe, the more accurate our interpretation will be. One of the reasons that people often fail at Bible study is they think it is too much work or takes too much time. They want to come away with an application every time they study. But that’s not a realistic way to study the Bible. In our fast-paced world, it’s better to not rush through the process of Bible study every time we do, but rather spend what time we can in careful observations even if it means not taking away an application each time we sit down to study. Rushed study can lead to rushed conclusions that lead to faulty interpretation and application. It’s better to take several days and get it right than to try to always have an application each time.
One aspect of Bible study that we didn’t go over in detail while looking at chapter 1 is the need for cross-referencing. Scripture helps to interpret Scripture. The beginning of Ephesians 2 tells us that we were dead in our sins. Where else in the Bible does it tell us this? Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned”. Ephesians 2:2 tells us that we were following “the prince of the power of the air”. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says “the god of this age”. Seeing where else in Scripture these ideas and phrases are used help to bring clarity to a passage and shed more light on its meaning.
Sinclair Ferguson’s Let’s Study Ephesians commentary gives this summary of Ephesians chapter 2: “We are no longer what we once were. But Christian living involves more. We are now citizens in God’s kingdom and members of his family. Formerly we were spiritually dead and in bondage to Satan, the world, and the flesh, by nature children of wrath, separated, strangers, aliens. Now our new identity both secures us (we belong) and transforms us (we live as citizens and sons, no longer as aliens and orphans). In a world where people, young and old, have lost a sense of belonging and a direction in living, the gospel of Christ is good news indeed.”
Next week we’ll look further at Ephesians chapter 2.