John T. Willis

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paul's Prayer for God's People at Ephesus--Ephesians 1:15-23

After declaring God's spiritual blessings to all who will receive him (Ephesians 1:3-14), Paul now utters a powerful pray in behalf of God's people at Ephesus in Ephesians 1:15-23. This prayer falls into three parts.

I. Paul's spiritual connection with Christians at Ephesus. Ephesians 1:15-16.
a. Paul says he is well aware of the active and living faith, love, and hope of Christians at Ephesus [1:15, 18]. Faith, love, and hope are the three pillars of Christian faith, as Paul emphasizes in Colossians 1:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8;
2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; and elsewhere. 1:15.
b. Paul assures Christians at Ephesus that he does not cease to give thanks for them in his prayers. 1:16.

II. Paul Prays that God will do Three Things for Christians at Ephesus. Ephesians
1:17-19.
a. Paul prays that "the Father of glory" will give Christians "a spirit of wisdom and revelation as one comes to know God--1:17. "The God of glory" is a term often used to describe God in the Old Testament--see Exodus 24:16; 33:22; 40:34-38; Numbers 16:19, 42; Deuteronomy 33:2. This refers to the splendor or magnificence of God's appearance and presence. Paul uses this same expression in Ephesians 1:18;
2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:4, 6. When the Holy Spirit of God comes into the heart and life of an individual, that individual becomes a different person, a new person. See Ephesians 4:23. In this context, "wisdom and revelation" are not human learning, but a special gift of God.
b. Paul prays that God will enlighten the eyes of the hearts of Christians.
1:18a. This is inward enlightenment or illumination, an ongoing process given by the Holy Spirit. See Ephesians 4:17-19; 5:8, 11.
c. Paul prays that God will cause Christians to know (1) the hope God has given his people; (2) the riches of God's inheritance; and (3) the immeasurable greatness of God's power for those who believe--1:18b-19. Verses 19-21 emphasize the "power" of God at work among Christians by using the term "power" four times in these three verses.

III. Paul concludes in this prayer by specifically naming three things God has already done for God's people. Ephesians 1:20-23.
a. Paul declares that God put God's power at work in Christ when God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and seated Christ at God's right hand in the heavenly places. 1:20-21. Since God raised Christ from the dead, this is an assurance that God will raise all faithful human beings from the dead. See 1 Corinthians 15:12-28.
b. Paul declares that God has put all things under God's feet. 1:22a. Accordingly, God has all authority over all human powers of all kinds.
c. Paul declares that God has made Jesus Christ the head over all things for the church. 1:22b-23. The church is the "body" of Christ. Christ is the fullness of God.

These affirmations of Paul are powerful, motivating, and insightful. They certainly encourage the people of God.

How do YOU respond to this wonderful prayer of Paul? Share YOUR insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

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