Closing the Gap – Week 18 Study Guide

Ephesians 4:21, 25, 29, 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

 

Commentary 

4:21 What they (Paul’s readers) learned about Christ was that he embodies truth (i.e. divine reality, light, and life), in contrast to the ‘deception’ (absence of divine reality, darkness and futility) which characterized their former existence (21–22).[1]

4:25. Having put off (away) falsehood, believers are to tell the truth. Truth is conforming one’s words to reality. The reason for this exhortation is that believers are all members of one another in Christ’s body, the church (cf. vv. 4, 16).[2]

25 The first item to be included in the putting off of the “old self” is falsehood. It is not lying in the abstract but “the lying” or “the lie” (to pseudos)—falsehood in all its forms as over against “the truth that is in Jesus” and “true righteousness and holiness”. All that belongs to “deceitful scheming” and “deceitful desires” is to be left behind. It has no place in the community of Christ. Because our Lord is himself the truth, his body must reflect the truth. Because each member belongs to the rest, the fellowship of the church will be marked by a refreshing openness. Any kind of deception is a sin against the Spirit.[3]

4:29. Believers are not to speak unwholesome “rotten” words, but helpful words for the purpose of edification. Good words benefit (lit., “give grace” or enablement to) the hearers. One’s words are to be true and pure and also are to contribute to benefiting others.[4]

29 Not only will Christians do “the good” (v. 28): they will speak it too; what is helpful. No unhealthy language will pass through their lips. “Unwholesome” is that which is itself rotten and disseminates rottenness. In connection with “talk” (logos), it may signify not simply bad language but malicious gossip and slander. Anything that injures others and sparks dissension is covered by the expression. Christians, however, will only say what is calculated to build up the church by encouraging its members. This is to be done whenever the need arises, so that those who hear may profit by it. “That it may benefit” simply means to confer a blessing, whether temporal or spiritual. The ultimate source of all blessing is God himself. The channel may be human and so even the everyday conversation of Christians may become a means of grace to others.[5]

 

Study Guide – Use whatever questions below work for your group!

  1. Read—the passages.
    • What are some of the key words that jump out to you?
  1. Recap—Summarize the sermon for your group in two or three sentences.
    • What was something in the sermon that stood out to you? Share it with the group.
  1. Reflect—Unpacking/going deeper
    • What is meant when we talk about having honest communication?
    • Why is honest communication key to becoming whole?
    • How is honest communication different from just “giving people a piece of your mind”?
    • Why is speaking the truth to one another so effective in helping people?
  • Principle:
    • You are being renewed from the inside out…transformation has and is happening.
    • Verse the principle is based on: “Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:21-24
  • How does this principle challenge you?
  • What does Paul mean by “put off” and “put on?” What are the implications for you?
  • How is God changing you on the inside?
  • When you find yourself drawn back into the practices of the old life, look to your heart…is it off track?
  • What are some real and practical steps you can take to continually reorient yourself to the new life (put off the old and put on the new)?

 

  • Practice:Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25
  • Why is this an important “therefore?”
  • What does it mean to be a “member of one body?”
  • What is falsehood?
  • Is it reasonable to expect that people will actually be able to live fully truthful lives with one another? How does it differ from just “don’t lie?”
  • Why does humility demonstrated in confessing sins to one another prove to be a key component of God healing us?
  • How is living with secrets the same as living deceptively?
  • Who knows you…the current, up-to-date you?
  • What do you want? Will you have the courage to be honest about the real, “current, up-to-date you?”
  1. Repent
    • What is it that you need to turn away from? Repent and confess it to the Lord.
    • What is it that you need to turn towards? Do it right now. Decide today what you will turn towards.
  1. Rejoice – Thank the Lord for the truth of the Gospel; For community; For having others to walk alongside you. That we would live open and honest lives together.

 

[1] Turner, M. (1994). Ephesians. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1239). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 637). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Wood, A. S. (1981). Ephesians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 64). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[4] Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 637). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Wood, A. S. (1981). Ephesians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 65). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

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