Ephesians 1 15-23

Categories: Brother to Brother.

May 12, 2017 // By:Dave // No Comment

The letter to the Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. It is written to a flourishing church established in the greek city of Ephesus. This was perhaps the most important city in Asia Minor because of the fact that it had a harbor opening to an attached waterway giving access to the Aegean Sea and also because of an intersection of major trade routes.

Last week, In Ephesians 1:3-14, we covered the blessings Paul says the Ephesians have received in Christ.

This week, we look at Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the Ephesians and what he is praying for on behalf of the them in Eph 1:15-23.

First and formost, notice that Paul is not praying for them because they are “in trouble”. Far from it, the church in Ephesus stands strong in the faith and is making an impact. Paul is grateful for their stand and is praying for not only a continuing of their stand but an expanding of God’s blessings in their hearts and minds. Let me show you what the Message offers for verses 16-18:

Eph. 1:16 I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. 

Eph. 1:17 But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, 

Eph. 1:18 your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians,

clearly, the Ephesian followers already “knew Him personally” else they would not be called saints, but Paul is basically asking God to “pour it on!”  (Father of glory, give them a fuller knowledge of Yourself, reveal your self even more that they may have an even deeper relationship with You.)

He  asks for:

  • a spirit of wisdom
  • revelation in the knowledge of Him
  • eyes of their hearts be opened

so that they may know:

  • the hope of His calling
  • the riches of the inheritance for the saints
  • surpassing greatness of His power toward the saints.

Paul is praying that his readers may be fully endowed with the Holy Spirit. God has already made provision for this. But it was necessary that they themselves should be quickened with the spiritual powers of wisdom and vision (NEB). “Revelation” (apocalypsis) seems to refer here to the insight and discernment the Spirit brings into the mysteries of divine truth (1Cor 2:14, 16). All this is so that they may get to know God more completely. Epignosis is the fullness of knowledge acquired through personal acquaintance (Trench, pp. 268, 269). – Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Verse 19 starts with a collection of superlatives begining with surpassing. The greek word is

ὑπερβάλλω, hyperballō, v.  [5642 + 965]. to go beyond, surpass, be incomparable (literally = beyond our sphere). Imagine what we know of God’s power and how we might try to understand or define “omnipotent” and put all that understanding inside a ball the size of our moon. Now imagine God says “nice, you know my power a little bit. What if I told you that what you know compared to what I really am is like comparing the size of your moon to the earth in size, (or perhaps He would way the Sun, maybe even the entire galaxy ?!)

Paul is asking God to reveal an entire Solar System of power to those who only know of a moon’s worth of that power. (and all that power is “toward us”, the believers. Eph 1:19

Let’s try another metaphor. Imagine the richest man on the planet. (according to Forbes). You should have a picture of Bill Gates in our head right now (his net worth is $85 billion dollars). Now imagine his next in line (a son) is walking around, homeless, with a few bucks in his pocket for his next meal. An incredible inheritance awaits him. He has only to pick up an phone and call his dad to begin experiencing all that awaits him. Imagine the impact he could make in the world around him if he only understood and accepted the power in his inheritance (an mind-blowing amount of resources and power available to him simply because of who his father is)

Well Paul is saying this to the Ephesians and he’s praying that they will understand the power and resources available to them becuase of who their father is, God. All that awaits them is waiting for them IN CHRIST. Verse 20 tells us that all of this was brought about when the Father raised the Son from the dead and seated Him at His right hand, far above all earthly rule and authority, above any earthly name, and His seat of authority will never cease or crumble down. That is to say “His surpassing greatness and power toward us is eternally secured in the accomplished work and eternal person of Jesus Christ Himself.

Verses 22-23 remind us that everything in existance is under Christ’s authority, including the Church described as “His Body”. It further reminds us that Christ was given (as a gift) to this church, and is filled by Him. Jesus has life (John14:6) and light (John 1) apart from the church, but the church has nothing without Christ. I am reminded of Matt 7:23 as a result of this prayer.
Let me finish with these famous lines from a poem by C.T.Studd

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

next week

εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux

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