Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ephesians 1:15-23

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

It’s amazing to me how Paul says that he does not cease to pray for the Ephesian Christians. I find it so difficult to be consistent in my prayer life and then within that to be consistent praying for particular people or situations. Notice then the content of Paul’s prayer. How different this is from the way most of us pray.

First he prays for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God. Perhaps the following line is an expansion of this idea, but we see that the giver of what he prays for is God, the Father of glory. This is the same God who the Lord Jesus Christ sought in His prayers. He is the source of the wisdom and revelation that Paul is praying for. He is asking that God the Father will give these Christian brothers and sisters such a knowledge of God that wisdom and an understanding of His revelation will come from within them.

To explain that, he goes on to say that what he is asking for is that the eyes of their understanding should be enlightened to know certain things. Only God can turn the light on for us so that our understanding is more clear. The two on their way to Emmaus had talked with the Lord and they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Jesus was able to open the Scriptures to them so that they begin to understand.
What then does Paul pray for them to know? He wants them to know the hope of God’s calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.

It’s an important thing to know the hope that God’s calling gives us. When God calls us, He gives us a hope. Before we know Christ we were without hope and without God. But the fact that God calls us provides that hope both now and for eternity. Scripture says that Christ in you is the hope of glory.

Second, Paul wants us to know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. It is not our inheritance he speaks about here, it is God’s inheritance. God’s work in us is so glorious and so transforming that God can speak of us as his inheritance. And it is not just any ordinary inheritance. He speaks of it as the riches of the glory of His inheritance. Is that the way you see yourself in Christ?

Third, Paul describes the greatness of His power operating on us who believe. It is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. But it is greater power than that. It is the power that seated Him at the right hand of God. According to the book of Hebrews, the fact that Christ is seated means that His job was finished, the penalty of sin was forever paid unlike the priests who continually stood day by day to offer sacrifices. And finally it was enough power to make Him head of the church, His body.

This section finishes with an interesting thought. The church is described as the fullness of Him who fills all in all. It’s hard to put into words what this means, but there is some sense in which the church is the fullness of God. It’s not the completeness of God because God is complete in and of himself. But we as His church make up His fullness. I don’t know what that means, but it must mean something amazing if you think about it.

Considering this prayer makes my prayers look extremely trivial. Paul goes beyond the praying for the sick and salvation and spiritual growth. He prays for a deep understanding of the truth of God’s work on behalf of His people.

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