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Paul wrote his letter to the Saints in Ephesus during his first Roman imprisonment, A.D. 61-62. Other “imprisonment” letters written by Paul were sent to the Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon. Both Ephesians and Colossians were written while Paul was under house arrest in Caesarea, awaiting trial by Felix before being sent to Rome. (Wayment, From Persecutor to Apostle, 206-211). Ephesus was on the western shore of modern-day Turkey, near the Aegean Sea.
The Book of Ephesians has been called the “quintessence of Paulinism,” the “crown of Paulinism,” and the “Queen of the Epistles” because of the elevated nature of its thought and concepts, including doctrines such as foreordination, the promised dispensation of the fullness of times, the true church of Christ being built upon a foundation of apostles and prophets, and the mentioning of other church offices. These concepts endear the book to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because they confirm to us the reality of a restored church.
Ephesians is a deeply spiritual sermon where Paul does not have to address any major crises in Ephesus, but is teaching them higher ways of living and deepening their conversion. He writes about the state of our inner person, who we are becoming, what kind of thoughts and feelings exist in our minds and hearts, and what we choose to say and do as a result.
Verses to Post or Memorize
Below are some of my favorite verses from Ephesians that could be posted around the house, or you could challenge and reward your children for memorizing a verse or two!
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained the we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2: 8-9
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” – Ephesians 2:19
“Be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, with passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:16-19
“There is… One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” – Ephesians 4: 5-6
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” – Ephesians 4:14
“Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” – Ephesians 4: 26
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” – Ephesians 4: 29
“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4: 32
“Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” – Ephesians 5: 2
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” – Ephesians 6:1
“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6: 11-13
General Conference Slant
This week of studying Ephesians will be the week we listen and watch General Conference. It might be interesting to plan this Come, Follow Me lesson for the Sunday evening after Conference, or even Monday night for a Family Home Evening, to discuss what connections you found between Paul’s message to the church in Ephesus and the remarks from church leaders today.
As a side note, I am loving this gorgeous Conference Workbook from Work and Wonder. I believe you can still order copies this week. Link here. Next Conference, I’d like to buy these for my older girls. A fun way to stay engaged and take notes while listening. This edition is full of the gorgeous artwork of Caitlin Connolly.
A Foundation of Prophets and Apostles
With Conference happening this weekend, it is a perfect time reinforce this truth and bear testimony to your families of living prophets and apostles in our day. Read Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 2: 19-20.
More than ever before we are hearing messages from our leaders that reiterate imperative and unchanging truths. These leaders are helping us identify un-truths that are being wisely accepted in our current societies. More than ever we are receiving instructions on how we should lead, minister, and navigate certain issues within the church today. From policy application, to ministering, from invitations to better involve women in leadership and councils, to how and what we should teach in our homes and during Sunday meetings.
Questions: Why do we need prophets and apostles? Read DC 1:38 and Amos 3:7. How have the teachings of modern prophets and apostles helped you in your life?
Activity: I liked this idea from the manual. “Talk about the Restoration… to demonstrate this idea, you could hide objects or written phrases around your home that represent things that have been restored in our day (like priesthood keys, temple ordinances, scriptures, apostles, spiritual gifts.) Family members could search for them and ‘gather’ them together.” Discuss why we should be thankful to live in the “dispensation of the fullness of times.”
Video: This video about why we need living prophets is a good display of applying this truth in our lives.
We Can Strengthen our Family Relationships
Read Ephesians 5:22-33. These verses mostly talk about the relationship between husbands and wives and how they are to love, accept, and reverence each other. While it says wives are encouraged to “submit” to their husbands, just as husbands submit to the Lord, it’s important to understand the scriptures use the word “submit” in various contexts. Note Ephesians 5:21 that reads we are to “submit to each other.” We are to be good law-abiding citizens and submit to government leaders, Church leaders, and of course to the Lord (read Mosiah 3:19).
Scholars D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew Skinner describe submission in these verses this way: “In the same spirit of submission to God, the wife is counseled to submit to her husband — certainly not in the sense of cowering servitude but in the sense of honoring or respecting his leading role in their companionship and in the home. It is clear in the scriptures and in the present-day Church that if the husband himself is not honoring that role, the wife has no obligation to submit to his guidance.”
Without dwelling on the nuance of this scripture, I think we can safely agree that men and women need each otherequally. Additionally, men and women are needed equally within the Lord’s plan. They are meant to counsel with each other, lean upon each other as they jointly lean upon the Lord. Together, they determine their roles in unified partnership as to how they will meet the needs of their family, both temporally and spiritually. I love this quote from Elder David A. Bendar,
“The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation… Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other.” (Bednar, Marriage is Essential to His Eternal Plan, 83-34).
Last Sunday our ward we had a second hour combined meeting that was extremely powerful. Our Bishopric had been considering the needs of the youth of our ward — the problems they were facing, challenges, and pitfalls. They listed these issues in a powerpoint, with issues ranging from pornography to social media addiction, from chastity to vaping. And it wasn’t an exhaustive list.
Our Bishop explained that as he prayed and contemplated how he should address these issues the answer came to him one morning, very strongly, just before he would normally waken. He got out of bed and began to write down his thoughts. He knew without question that he was supposed to talk about marriage. He felt that if our marriages were strong, our children would be stronger and safer from the influences of the adversary.
Our relief society president shared some thoughts and mentioned that she once heard the saying, “If your marriage is sick, your family is sick.” And there is some truth to that. Our children take their cues from watching us. They feel the tension inside a home between parents. They are not unaware of rifts in this relationship. They are recipients of the love and respect a couple shares, as well as the angst and frustration that can often be found in marriages.
She offered a couple thoughts I thought were with sharing here.
1 – We are in charge of our happiness. We cannot look to our partner to make us happy. Our happiness is entirely dependent upon our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is bred of our own interpretation of situations. If we are always waiting for someone who is flawed to make us happy, we will be constantly disappointed. Happiness is up to us.
2 – We are to receive each other in marriage. It is interesting in a temple sealing that we do not “take each other” in marriage as men and women do in civil ceremonies. In the temple, we are asked if we will “receive” each other. Meaning we choose to accept and receive everything about that person — the good and bad, the struggles, flaws, quirks, and strengths.
Lastly, some of the best advice I’ve ever heard is this: There are three stages to every marriage. 1 – Loving and not knowing. 2 – Knowing and not loving. 3 – Knowing and choosing to love.
Put On the Whole Armour of God
Paul understood that our most deadly and urgent contest in this life is not with human enemies, but with the devil himself. He counsels each of us to consider ourselves as a warrior, battling for our own soul. Harold B. Lee offered this insight: “Paul… pictures us… being clothed with the essential armor to protect the four parts of the human body which apparently, Satan and his hosts… have found to be the most vulnerable… through which the enemies of righteousness…might invade the human soul.” Read Ephesians 6:11-20.
- Paul says girt your loins with truth. Our “loins” are the are of our body with vital organs, where purity and virtue live. We can maintain virtue when we remember the truth of how divine we are, that God has great plans for us and the grand spiritual potentiality. When we live according to this truth, we are filled with light and virtue.
- Put on the breastplate of righteousness. To protect your heart. “Do what is right, be faithful and fearless… God will protect you, then do what is right!” Elder Robert D. Hales taught, “If we are faithful… this armor will be given to us as a gift from God.”
- Cover or bind (“shod”) your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. We must prepare for future service or future conflicts by studying, praying, applying truths in our lives, and living them.
- Wear the helmet of salvation. Our head, or intellect, is the control center of our bodies. It must be well protected because “as a man thinketh, so is he.” Salvation means attaining the right to enteral life in the presence of God the Father and HIs Son, Jesus Christ. Having an eternal perspective, even just a glimpse of it, or a hope of salvation, changes how we live our lives. It changes how we see things, what we value, and how we act.
Discussion and Activity: Gather real-life items to dress someone up as a Warrior for the Lord. Find a girdle, belt, or sash. Tie it on. Find a breastplate (this could just be a paper plate taped or tied around their chest.) Find a covering for their shoes, or a pair of slippers, and find something to use as a helmet – a hat or bowl turned upside down. Anything can work. Then discuss with your family each of the items listed in Paul’s armor. Have your Warrior-child put on each item as you discuss. Ask your children, “What does this piece of the armor represent? How will this kind of armor help you in your life today?
Stage Your Own Battle: You could also find some kind of warrior accoutrements for each person in the family (like breastplates and helmets for everyone, cardboard or foam noodle swords for everyone — you could even let each family member fend for themselves in finding their own battle gear and see what funny things they come up with!) Then head outside for a “battle” of your own. You could have a pillow fight, a water ballon fight, play tag you’re it — whatever you choose. Just have fun and then discuss the concepts of putting on the amor of God.
Video: You could also watch this bible video the church created — The Armor of God.
Doer of the Word Challenge
Here are some ways you can put the principles found in Ephesians into action this coming week.
1 – Keep a Conference Journal. Write down the impressions you have during general conference and then write down your testimony of living prophets and apostles.
2 – Choose one current church leader to study. This could be a member of the First Presidency, the Twelve, or any of the Auxiliary Leaders. Find 3-5 talks they have given and study them.
3 – Write down what you love about your spouse. Note the Christlike attributes they possess. Include why you decided to marry them. Then decide on one way you can strengthen your marriage this week. It could be doing an act of service for them each day, making companionship prayer more frequent, meet together for lunch or plan a date night, attend the temple together, pray for your spouse, write them a love note. If you are not married, consider the Christlike attributes you wish to better develop that will prepare you for an eternal marriage.
4 – Choose part of the Armour of God to put on this week. Girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, or feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Determine how you will “put on” this piece of armour. Work on that principle. Pray about how you can resist the influence of the Adversary in your life.