Devotional # 97. 8/11/14. Ephesians 1:15-23.
Intro. Last week we talked about our trip to Hungary which was why this Devotional started although it has evolved to include many more people! As we continue through Ephesians I want to remind you to look up the Scripture at the top (in this case Ephesians 1:15-23) first and then read through this Devotion. Half of this stuff won’t make sense unless you read the text! Last week we read from vv. 6-14, which had a theme of God’s will not being about us but about Him receiving glory for His grace. This week we’ll see Paul’s prayer for his spiritual family. Including thankfulness, desire to see them wise in The Lord, the knowledge of God’s calling, the riches of our inheritance and the incredible power He possess! From the punctuation here we see that verses 15-21 are to be taken all in one shot! But we have to break them down to really understand them, so here goes…
vv. 15-17. If we condense Paul’s first main point here, I would translate this: ‘Therefore I don’t stop thanking God for you in my prayers, I pray that He will work wisdom and understanding of Him in you.’ Notice I left the “therefore” in there because Paul is building off of what he has already said to the Ephesians. He recognizes that they trusted in the gospel of salvation (v. 13) and because they have that foundation what is left for them? Once we have “faith in the Lord Jesus” and show “love for all the saints [in other word other believers]” what is left for we who call ourselves Christians?
We also must note the example that Paul gives us. As a seasoned believer Paul prays! If you have been a Christian for more than a year or two then it is time for you to be mentoring others. Jesus sent out 11 disciples and they changed the world. Each of us should be praying for the believers we know. What does Paul pray for? A bigger car? A steady job? That he would stop getting death threats? No, he prays 2 things (in this section): 1. Thankfulness for the existing Christians, 2. that the Father would work the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” into them.
A minute ago I asked what is left for Christians to do? The answer is receiving the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” But what does that mean? MacArthur says, “Paul was praying that believers will have the disposition of godly knowledge and insight of which the sanctified mind is capable (v. 8), so as to grasp the greatness of the hope (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2) and the inheritance that is theirs in Christ (vv. 13-14)” (Source 1, p. 1804). So the “spirit of wisdom” must be worked into us by God since He is the source of all wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Revelation means that something is revealed that was hidden. God desires for us to become wise in Him and His ways. He was Shekhinah glory, unapproachable but has made a way to know Him and grow in Him.
vv. 18-2. Remember this is still to be taken as part of what was started in verse 15. Paul prayed for two things above (1. thankfulness, 2. understanding of God). Now he continues: 3. knowledge of God’s calling, 4. riches of inheritance, 5. His power. Let’s look at each of these:
The knowledge of God’s calling means how God calls us to be; how we are to live. We’re called to be saints, to bear fruit, to be a witness, to love unconditionally, to be ministers and to suffer for His namesake.
The riches of inheritance has been talked about several times in these Devotionals. With an identical mindset Paul describes how good God is in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Read chapter 11 to see what he’s talking about. Read John 14:2-4 about the mansions in Heaven Jesus is building us. Also in Romans Paul describes what a blessing it is not only to be saved from our sins but to be adopted by God and given many spiritual riches. Read Romans 8, specifically vv. 12-17 for more.
Paul spends the most time in this section on God’s power, both in description and in doctrine. There is: 1. A “greatness of His power toward us who believe” which is the power that gave us Jesus’ crucifixion and 2. The power “when He [the Father] raised Him [Jesus] from the dead.” 3. The power that seated Jesus at the right of the Father (see Mark 16:19-20, Devotional #42 for more). 4. The power which put Jesus above everything in the Universe. Being God, Jesus has always existed and since He created all things (John 1:3) He has always been above everything. But what Paul is getting at is that God is amazing in that He was able to confine Himself to a human body and die for every created humans’ sin. That although He made Himself nothing on earth (Philippians 2:7), there is incomprehensible power that He could command dominion over all things, even time!
vv. 22-23. Paul completes the portion he started above about the power of God with a quote from Psalm 8:6. All things are “under” Jesus’ feet, not like he’s trampling them down but as in He’s exalted. He is the authoritative leader or “head” over His church. We are the body, we have many different functions but always have Christ over us. This is comforting not only because He will take care of us but because He will always lead us in the absolute perfect direction.
Conclusion. Paul does a masterful job of showing the Ephesians (and we believers today) what to do after they have placed their faith in Jesus. We hear what we have been blessed with (riches of inheritance), what we should be doing (praying for godly wisdom, how we are to live according to our calling) and the nature of God (facets of His power).
Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, 1997.