Lesson 122

Ephesians 4

“Lesson 122: Ephesians 4,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Paul taught that the Lord had established His Church and called leaders to both perfect and unify the Saints. He also encouraged Church members to put off their old ways and live what they knew to be true.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ephesians 4:1–16

Paul teaches the importance of Jesus Christ’s Church

Invite students to consider the following two scenarios:

  1. At school your teacher asks the class to express their views on a controversial topic. As students share their opinions, you realize that most of them support a position that is different from the teachings of the Church.

  2. Lawmakers in your country have legalized behavior that Church leaders have taught is wrong.

  • Why might situations like these be difficult for a member of the Church?

Invite students to look as they study Ephesians 4:1–16 for a truth about how we can know what is right and what is wrong in a world of changing values and beliefs.

Remind students that in this epistle Paul may have been writing to new members of the Church. Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:1–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Paul taught about the Church and its doctrine.

  • What did Paul teach about the Church and its doctrine?

  • What do you think Paul meant when he taught that there is “one Lord, one faith, [and] one baptism”? (verse 5). (In Paul’s day, as in ours, there is only one true Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth [see D&C 1:30].)

Summarize Ephesians 4:7–10 by explaining that Paul taught that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have all been given the gift of His grace. He also taught that Christ had given other gifts to mankind.

Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord gave the Church. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What did the Lord give to the Church?

Explain that the titles of the offices of the priesthood in the Church today may not be the same as the titles used in Paul’s day and the early Church may not have had every calling that the Church has today. For instance, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that an “evangelist is a Patriarch” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 140). Also, a pastor is a shepherd, or one who leads a flock—a fitting description of modern-day bishops, branch presidents, stake presidents, and district presidents.

Write the following incomplete sentence on the board: The Lord has called apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders to help …

Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord gave the Church apostles, prophets, and other leaders.

  • For what purpose did the Lord provide apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders for His Church? (Add perfect the Saints to the statement on the board.)

  • In what ways do apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders help perfect us?

Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for another reason why the Lord gave His Church apostles, prophets, and other leaders.

  • Why else did the Lord provide these leaders for members of the Church? (Add and protect them from false doctrine on the board so that the entire truth reads as follows: The Lord has called apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders to help perfect the Saints and protect them from false doctrine.)

boat in rough water

To help students understand the imagery in verse 14, display a picture of a boat in the midst of rough waters. Or you or a student could draw a picture of a boat in rough waters on the board.

  • What can happen to a boat that is tossed about on the water in violent storms?

Refer to the scenarios presented at the beginning of the lesson.

  • How can a boat that is tossed about in rough waters be likened to someone who is “tossed to and fro” (verse 14) by the changing winds of false teachings and public opinions?

  • How do the teachings of apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders help followers of God navigate these troubled waters and return safely to Heavenly Father?

Write the following Church callings on the board: apostles, prophets, patriarchs, bishops, and teachers. Invite students to choose two of the callings and write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals how a leader holding that calling has helped them improve or grow spiritually or helped protect them from false doctrine and deception. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share one of the experiences they wrote about.

Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:15–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the way in which our Church leaders should teach us the truths of the gospel.

  • How should our Church leaders teach us the truths of the gospel?

Ephesians 4:17–32

Paul encourages the Saints to put off evil and become new through Jesus Christ

Bring to class a casual coat or jacket (preferably one that is well worn or tattered). Also, if possible, bring a coat or jacket that would be suitable to wear to a nice event. (If you prefer, you may bring one casual shirt and one nice shirt instead. Make sure that both shirts are large enough for a student to wear on top of his or her clothing.) Invite a student to come to the front of the class and to put on the casual coat. Ask the student to turn around and show the coat to the class. Next, ask him or her to take off the casual coat and then put on the nicer coat and show it to the class. Thank the student, and invite him or her to remove the coat and be seated.

  • Which of these two coats would be more appropriate at a nice event?

Remind students that Paul may have been addressing recent converts to the Church. Invite students to look as they study Ephesians 4:17–32 for how Paul used the metaphor of taking off something and putting on something else to teach these new converts what they needed to do as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:17–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that describe the spiritual state of Gentiles who had not joined the Church.

  • How did Paul describe the spiritual state of the other Gentiles?

  • What did Paul say was the reason the other Gentiles were in this spiritual state?

Invite a student to read Ephesians 4:21–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what had helped members of the Church become different from other people.

  • According to verse 21, what had helped members of the Church become different from other people?

Refer to the student who put on the two coats, and ask the class what that student had to do before he or she could put on the nicer jacket or coat.

  • What did Paul tell Church members to “put off”? (verse 22). (You may want to remind students that the word translated as conversation frequently refers to one’s conduct as a whole.)

  • What does it mean to “put on the new man”? (verse 24). (To be spiritually reborn [see Mosiah 27:25] and diligently live the gospel of Jesus Christ daily.)

  • What truth can we identify from these verses about disciples of Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a truth similar to the following: Disciples of Jesus Christ put off their old, sinful ways and put on new, righteous ways.)

Invite students to copy the following chart in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

Old Self

New Self

   

Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to read Ephesians 4:25–32 aloud together. Ask them to fill out their charts as they read, listing under “Old Self” the things disciples of Christ need to “put off” (verse 22) or “put away” (verse 31) and listing under “New Self” the things disciples of Christ need to “put on” (verse 24). Point out the Joseph Smith Translation for Ephesians 4:26 in footnote a.

After sufficient time, invite each pair to think of a scenario that illustrates the possible behavior of someone who has not put off his or her sinful nature in one of the areas Paul described. Invite each pair to also think of a scenario that illustrates how the same person might act if he or she came unto Christ and became a new person. After students have had time to plan, invite a few pairs to come to the front of the class and explain their scenarios. After a few pairs have presented, ask the class:

  • How might a member of the Church who knows the truth but is not living it be like someone who is invited to a nice event but does not put on appropriate clothes?

  • What challenges might we face as we try to put off our old, sinful natures and become new as disciples of Christ?

  • Why is it important for members of the Church to remember that putting off our old ways and fully following Jesus Christ is a continual process and not a one-time event?

Explain that for many, putting on the new ways of righteousness is as simple as making small changes like being a little more kind or patient, keeping a commandment a little more fully, or eliminating a bad habit from our lives.

Testify of the importance of putting off our old, sinful ways and putting on new ways of righteousness. Invite students to write down one thing they can do today to put off their old ways and fully follow Jesus Christ. Encourage them to act on what they wrote down.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Ephesians 4:11–14

To help students explain the doctrine taught in Ephesians 4:11–14, invite students to turn to a partner and use Paul’s teachings in Ephesians 4:11–14 to explain why the Lord established His Church and called leaders to serve in it. Then invite students to explain how they could use the doctrine in Ephesians 4:11–14 to help a friend who believes there is no need for an organized Church.

Commentary and Background Information

Ephesians 4:13. “Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”

What does it mean to come “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13)? Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that it refers to “the status of glory and exaltation enjoyed by Christ himself. The whole plan of salvation is designed to enable men to become like God. Those who gain infinite perfection shall be like Christ and he is like the Father. (3 Ne. 28:10.) [As the Lectures on Faith state]: ‘Salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power and dominion which Jehovah possesses and in nothing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him.’ [Lectures on Faith (1985), 76.]

“… Christ ‘received a fulness of the glory of the Father; And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.’ (D. & C. 93:16–17.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:511).