Unit 24, Day 4: Ephesians 1

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Saints in Ephesus about their foreordination to receive the gospel. He wrote about the final dispensation—the dispensation in which we now live—during which God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). Paul taught that we can come to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through revelation.

Ephesians 1:1–8

Paul teaches the Saints that they were foreordained to receive the gospel

Think about a time in your life when you agreed to accept an important responsibility. When the task grew challenging, how were you sustained by knowing that you had agreed to the assignment and that someone trusted you to fulfill it? How were you blessed or rewarded for fulfilling your responsibility?

Paul writing at desk

The Apostle Paul was under house arrest in Rome.

In this epistle the Apostle Paul sought to strengthen those who were already members of the Church and to help recent converts grow in their spiritual knowledge and remain faithful to their covenants.

Read Ephesians 1:3–8, looking for truths Paul taught the Saints to help them remain faithful to their covenants.

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      What are two or three basic doctrines you would teach to help a Church member remain faithful to his or her covenants and stay active in the Church?

    2. b.

      How could understanding those truths help someone choose to remain faithful?

The phrase “before the foundation of the world” in Ephesians 1:4 refers to the premortal existence, and the phrase “the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” and the word predestinated in Ephesians 1:5 refer to those who were chosen or foreordained there to receive the gospel during mortality. One truth we learn from these verses is that God’s children were foreordained to receive the blessings of the gospel. Receiving these blessings depends upon our faithfulness in this life.

As you read the following statement from True to the Faith, think about how understanding the doctrine of foreordination could help someone choose to remain true to his or her covenants and active in the Church:

“In the premortal spirit world, God appointed certain spirits to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives. This is called foreordination.

“Foreordination does not guarantee that individuals will receive certain callings or responsibilities. Such opportunities come in this life as a result of the righteous exercise of agency, just as foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence. …

“The doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church, not just to the Savior and His prophets. Before the creation of the earth, faithful women were given certain responsibilities and faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood duties. Although you do not remember that time, you surely agreed to fulfill significant tasks in the service of your Father. As you prove yourself worthy, you will be given opportunities to fulfill the assignments you then received” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 69–70).

How can understanding that we were foreordained to receive the gospel and its many blessings in order to accomplish tasks here in mortality help us remain faithful to our covenants?

Ephesians 1:9–12

Paul speaks of the dispensation of the fulness of times

Locate the definition of dispensations in the Basic Doctrines section at the beginning of this manual or in the Bible Dictionary. Read the paragraphs that explain what a dispensation is. As you read, look for which dispensation we live in.

From what you read, when did the dispensation we live in begin? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read Ephesians 1:9–10, looking for what Paul wrote would happen in our dispensation, the “dispensation of the fulness of times.” (The phrase “mystery of his will” refers to God’s plans and purposes.)

When Paul wrote that “all things in Christ,” both in heaven and on earth, would be gathered “together in one” (Ephesians 1:10), he was referring to the Restoration and bringing together of all the keys, powers, and promises God has revealed to His children since the world began, as well as other knowledge that has never before been revealed (see D&C 128:18).

From Ephesians 1:10, we learn the following truth: During the dispensation of the fulness of times, all things from former dispensations will be restored.

Elder B. H. Roberts

Elder B. H. Roberts of the Seventy explained how each past dispensation relates to the dispensation of the fulness of times: “This is the dispensation of the fullness of times, and we see running into it, as mighty streams rush into the ocean, all the former dispensations, putting us in touch with them, putting them in touch with us; and we see that God has had but one great purpose in view from the beginning, and that has been the salvation of His children. And now has come the final day, the final dispensation, when truth and light and righteousness must flood the earth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1904, 73).

river in mountains
  1. journal icon2.

    Elder Roberts taught that truth, light, and righteousness must flood the earth in the last dispensation. In your scripture study journal, list five or more of the truths, scriptures, covenants, and powers from previous dispensations that have been restored or brought forth in the dispensation of the fulness of times. (If you need help, see “Restoration of the Gospel” in True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 135–39.)

  2. journal icon3.

    Complete one or both of the following:

    1. a.

      Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal: How is living in the dispensation of the fulness of times a blessing for you? What resources in our dispensation enable the truth and light of the gospel to flood the earth?

    2. b.

      On a social media website you have access to, post an explanation of dispensations and why you are grateful to live in this dispensation. When you are finished, write in your scripture study journal how you feel about posting your message.

Elder David A. Bednar

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. … I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood” (“To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” [Brigham Young University Campus Education Week devotional, Aug. 19, 2014], LDS.org).

What are you doing to help flood the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth? Consider how you might share meaningful truths that have been restored in this dispensation with those near you and those who live far away.

In Ephesians 1:11–12 Paul taught that through Jesus Christ the Saints had obtained an inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 1:13–23

Paul teaches about the Holy Spirit of Promise

Read Ephesians 1:13–14, looking for a blessing the Saints had received because of their faithfulness and their trust and belief in Jesus Christ.

Being “sealed [by the] holy Spirit of promise” means that the Holy Ghost “witnesses to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Holy Spirit of Promise,” scriptures.lds.org). The phrase “the earnest of our inheritance” in Ephesians 1:14 indicates that when the faithful Saints are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, they will receive the personal assurance that they will eventually inherit the celestial kingdom. (For more information on calling and election, read 2 Peter 1 and the commentary provided for that chapter in the Unit 30: Day 1 lesson.)

As recorded in Ephesians 1:15–16, Paul told the Saints that he continually gave thanks to God for their faithfulness. Read Ephesians 1:17–18, looking for what Paul prayed God would give the Saints.

Think about what these verses teach us about how we can come to know Heavenly Father.

One truth we can identify in these verses is that we can come to know Heavenly Father through the spirit of revelation.

As you read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar, mark what he taught about the spirit of revelation:

Elder David A. Bednar

“Revelation is communication from God to His children on the earth and one of the great blessings associated with the gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, ‘The Holy Ghost is a revelator,’ and ‘no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 132).

“The spirit of revelation is available to every person who receives by proper priesthood authority the saving ordinances of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—and who is acting in faith to fulfill the priesthood injunction to ‘receive the Holy Ghost.’ This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87).

Think about how revelation through the Holy Ghost can help us come to know Heavenly Father.

  1. journal icon4.

    In your scripture study journal, write how revelation through the Holy Ghost has helped you or someone you know come to know Heavenly Father better.

Living worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost can help you come to know Heavenly Father better.

In Ephesians 1:19–23 Paul continued to teach about the Saints’ inheritance and Jesus Christ’s position as the head of His Church.

  1. journal icon5.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Ephesians 1 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: