Church and family: What’s the relation?
The Church–at least, the way God intended the church–is a beautiful thing. It’s like family.
But the world has many definitions of what constitutes a family. So what kind of family does Paul have in mind when he compares the church to a family? The best of families, that’s what. Just like the church, God’s blueprint for the family is also a beautiful thing.
Welcome to the online Bible study of the book of Ephesians. Today, we’ll be looking at Ephesians 1:1-14 which talks about God’s original design for the family of God. Be sure to watch my video on this section of Ephesians and then use the questions below in italics to guide your study of the passage.
Check out my Session One Video on Ephesians 1:1-14 here.
In Ephesians 1:1-14, Paul uses the image of a family with adopted children to describe the institution of the church. The world has many definitions of what constitutes a family. So, let’s consider this question:
What is the makeup of a happy, secure family?
Maybe you are squirming right now. Your experience with either a family unit or a church group hasn’t been the greatest. You believe in Jesus but you could do without the church. You have days you could do without a family too.
No matter how the Church might have let you down, at the core, the Church is still a good idea. Paul gives us several reasons why we should not give up on the church.
Read Ephesians 1:1-14
What words does Paul use in vs. 3-6 that suggests the Church is like a family?
When we enter a relationship with God, how are we like adopted children?
Compare our entry into God’s family to the adaption process. How is it similar? How is it different?
This particular passage in Ephesians has been misunderstood by many throughout the centuries.
Perhaps it is because theologians have focused too much on WHO has been chosen by God to be called into His family. They have interpreted Paul’s words to mean God intentionally chooses and draws certain individuals for salvation and gives them the capacity to have faith.
First, we must understand that Paul is talking not about individuals but about the Church at large as one corporate group of people. The message of this section of Ephesians is that God chose to establish a group of people who would represent Him, strengthen each other, and partner with Him in revealing His plan that has been kept under wraps for centuries.
Next, it’s always important to look at a passage of Scripture in light of other passages. Compare this passage to 1 Timothy 6:12. According to this verse, what is our responsibility in being called into God’s Kingdom?
Finally, let’s look carefully at this passage from another perspective and see what Paul says:
- WHEN were we chosen? (v. 4)
- For WHAT were we chosen? (v. 7)
- WHY were we chosen? (v. 11,12)
- What PROOF does God give that we are chosen? (v. 13, 14)
Let’s Make This Personal
What makes the Church worth loving? The Church is worth loving because Jesus Christ started the Church. Jesus is:
Creator: Just as the Lord created sunsets, hummingbirds, and snowflakes, He also created the institution of the church. The church was part of his plan even before the creation of the world.
Constructor: God built the framework for the church and laid the plans for who would belong to this special group of beloved people – those redeemed by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross and who accepted His gift of forgiveness.
Commander-in-Chief: Jesus is the head of the church. Not the local pastor,national board, or a group of fallible elders. Not even the Pope. All Christians look to Jesus as the ultimate leader. We obey Him through His Word the Bible, not the dictates of men.
If I am God’s adopted child through my belief in Christ and you are God’s adopted child through your belief in Christ, what kind of relationship do you and I have with each other? Are your spiritual blessings any different from mine?
The Church is a family. Families are built on what we have in common. What do believers in Christ share in common with each other?
If we both look to Jesus as our authority and our leader, how will that strength our relationship with each other?
How has your church group been like family to you? Thank God for your church family!
How can you strengthen your relationship with members of your local church family?
God had a plan from the beginning for the church. What do you think His plan is for you in your role in your church family this coming week? For the long term? What can you do to implement His plan?
Don’t give up on the Church! The Church is a good idea because God created and constructed the Church and because Jesus is the Commander of the Church. That makes the Church worth loving.
Did you miss the introduction to our Ephesians Bible study? Red more here.