In this study, Pastor Ray Viola unpacks a powerful and practical prayer written by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian church. This is a prayer we can pray for ourselves or for others as we come before the Lord. Paul’s heart was that this church would grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ that would lead to their fruitfulness, other’s blessings, and God’s glory.
Like the previous section of Ephesians, this passage is a single sentence in the Greek language.
1.16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
- Because of their faith and love, Paul thanks God for the Ephesians, and now begins to pray for them. Paul heard two things about the Ephesians that inspired this prayer: their faith in The Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints.
- Salvation begins with faith. The faith that believes and receives Jesus Christ as Lord. Romans 10.9,10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
- Faith in The Lord Jesus will always be manifested by a love for the saints. Their love was indiscriminate. To love someone in The Lord is to love them as Jesus loves them, genuinely and sacrificially.
- Jesus told the disciples in John 13.34,35 that the sign to the world that they were His disciples would be their love for one another.
- A believer’s faith in Christ is proven by his love toward fellow saints. First John 2.9-11 says that if you claim to have saving faith yet hate your brother, you are a liar, a spiritual fraud. You can’t love Christ and put your faith in Him without loving the people that He loves.
- But this faith in Jesus and love for Him doesn’t grow in a vacuum. We know that this love for Jesus is one that must be cultivated daily, because when Jesus wrote to the church of Ephesus approximately 30 years later, His chief complaint was that they had left their first love.
- You can learn all of the creeds of the church and all of the systematic theology possible, but if you do not love Jesus Christ and others, you are a tinkling cymbal or gong…a spiritual zero.
- True salvation goes from the head and heart of the believer to other believers and to an unbelieving world in Christ’s Name. Faith worketh by love (Gal 5.6).
- The word wherefore there in verse 15 is a connecting word.
- Would you take note that this particular prayer isn’t a prayer of distress? It isn’t a crisis prayer. It’s a prayer of thanksgiving coupled with a plea to The Father to bestow deeper revelation knowledge of the Name of Jesus, the power of Jesus, the position of Jesus and the authority of Jesus.
- Paul begins in verse 3 by blessing God for what He had done for them, and now in verse 15 he prays that He would do more for them.
1.17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the (deep and intimate) knowledge of Him:
- The Father of glory is a Hebraism which means that God is infinitely glorious in Himself and all glory is due to Him from His creatures. This phrase is not a denial of Christ’s deity, but is an affirmation of His incarnate humanity as Son of Man.
- The first step in the Christian life is coming to the saving knowledge of The Lord Jesus Christ. At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see Who God is and who we are for the very first time. The Ephesians already had that salvation encounter with Jesus Christ.
- The second step is to know Him better; that is what Paul is talking about here. Commentators agree that the “spirit” is God the Holy Spirit, The One present in all believers at the moment of salvation to seal them as The Lord’s possession and assure them of salvation.
- Matthew Henry wrote: We have the revelation of the Spirit in the word: but will that avail us if we have not the wisdom of the Spirit in the heart?
- And the “knowing” here is not the same kind of intellectual knowing that the devil has. It is a knowledge that is personal and intimate.
- The difference between head, informational knowing about Jesus with actual, experiential knowledge of Jesus is like the difference between knowing that this brown stuff in the jar is honey because of the label on the jar, and knowing this is honey because of tasting it.
- Oh taste and see that The Lord is good!
- Jeremiah 9.23,24 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
- The word knew (yāda‘) means far more than intellectual knowledge.
- John 17.3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
- Nearly 30 years after coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we hear Paul declaring, that I might know Him (Phil 3.18).
- The earthly goal of the Christian life is not sinless perfection but spiritual maturity and growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3.18).
1.18 The eyes of your understanding (heart) being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
- The eyes of your understanding being enlightened- When Paul prays for the eyes of their understanding to be enlightened, he is saying, “understanding the scriptures about God is only part of knowing God!”
- The prayer for eyes to be supernaturally opened here is similar to when Elisha prayed for his servants eyes to be opened to the spirit realm.
- This was idea behind for the Paul Baloche song, “Open the eyes of my heart Lord.” Beloved, we never outgrow our need for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- That you might know the hope of His calling- God wants us to know the hope of His calling. Pastor Chuck Smith wrote, When I realize what God has waiting for me, it gives me the strength, the energy, the courage, all that I need to go on.
- In the NT, we read about the hope of righteousness (Gal 5.5), the hope of glory (Col 1.27), the hope of eternal life (Titus 1.2); in 1 Timothy 1.1, The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is called our hope.
- In Scripture, hope is not a reference to uncertainty or a lack of confidence in what the future will bring; rather, hope is another word for confident expectation that is both objective and subjective.
- Objectively, we have a hope that exists outside ourselves-Jesus Christ will return to reign visibly over all.
- Subjectively, hope is the inward confidence we have that we will participate in that kingdom.
- His inheritance in the saints. This indicates how precious we are to God.
1.19 And what is the exceeding (incomparable; immeasurable; surpassing) greatness of His power to us- ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,
1.20 Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
- His power is toward us who believe- Oh how I (we) need a revelation of the divine resources that are available to us as a child of God in Christ Jesus.
- The power of God available to us now is like the mighty power “that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.”
- The power of God available to us now is like the mighty power that God worked (verse 20) when He“seated Christ at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
- Jesus’ “right-hand” position in heaven is a place of authority and the fact that He is “seated” signifies that His the work atonement is completed!
- The Father gives unto us this resurrection and ascension power in order that we might live and die for the glory of Christ.
1.21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
- Above all principality, power, might, dominion and every name- In Philippians 2.9-11, we understand that God has also highly exalted Him, given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The Father has seated Jesus there in the heavenly places, far above, a name above every name that is named.
- Paul said in Colossians 2:15 that at the cross God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Christ.”
- This means that when Jesus rose from the dead, He was exalted over all the hosts of hell. They are a defeated foe. They are not yet out of the world. And battles are yet to be fought. But the power from God for us now in these battles is a resurrection power now—to live and die for the glory of Christ.
- I really do not want to belabor this point because we are going to be covering it more in depth when we get to chapter 6, and look into the theme of spiritual warfare, Lord willing. But it is an important practical point for all of us to consider. Sin is defeated at the cross; yet sin remains to be fought. Satan was defeated at the cross; yet Satan remains to be fought. And for this fight, Paul’s prayer is that God would grant unto us the resurrection power of Jesus Christ—to live and die for the glory of Christ
1.22 And hath put all things under His feet (quote from Psalm 8.6), and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church,
1.23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (the fullness of Him Who fills everything in every way).
- The Head of the body- Jesus Christ is The One and only Head of the body of Christ both on earth and in heaven.
- Every month at our church board meeting we begin the meeting with an acknowledgement that Jesus is the head of the body, the church. We are not there to conduct the business as we see fit, we are there to get the mind of the Lord, that He might direct the activities of the church. We are not there to govern the church, we are there to listen to Him, to find out what He wants done. And we seek His council and we seek His advice, for He is the head of all things to the church.
- Christ has so identified Himself with His church that we are said to be His very body. This is as when Adam described Eve as bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh in Genesis 2.23. We will see this more in chapter 5.
The Power of Prayer
Many people find it hard to pray regularly, which is unfortunate because prayer is among the most powerful tools for advancing the kingdom of God. If that is you, consider setting aside a period of time each day to spend in prayer….even if it be 5 minutes to start and then build upon. Consider being a part of one of the many prayer groups here.
No created being escapes death. It strikes the most famous, the richest, and the powerful. Those who refuse to trust in Christ alone for salvation will suffer the eternal wrath of God for their sins. The gospel is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after He died on the cross for our sins. He ascended to the right hand of The Father of glory, where He rules and reigns over all principalities and powers.
Will you drop your sword of rebellion against His rule as Lord in your life today? Will you repent of your sin and embrace Jesus Christ as Lord today? Today IS the day of salvation.