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Ephesians Part V

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"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"
Paul's Prayer For The Ephesians (1:15-20)
INTRODUCTION
1. We have seen Paul describe how richly blessed we are in Christ in the"doxology" of verses 3-14 in this first chapter of Ephesians.
2. Paul now proceeds to reveal what sort of things he has been praying for on behalf the Ephesians...
a. Paul does the same thing in his epistles to the Philippians and Colossians - cf. ;
b. In noticing such prayers, I find it helpful to remember that Paul is writing by inspiration
1) I.e., the things mentioned were not just Paul's desire for his readers, but the desire of God as well!
2) And in most cases, what concerns are expressed in these prayers are just as applicable to us as they were to the original recipients of these epistles
3. With that thought in mind (i.e., Paul's prayer is God's desire for us as well), let's take a close look at this prayer...
Ephesians 1:15–20 ESV
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 1:
[Beginning with a recognition of their faith and love (verse 15) and a mention of his unceasing thankfulness for them (verse 16), Paul then states that in his prayers his concern for the Ephesians is...]
I. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW GOD (17)
A. TO "KNOW" GOD IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE...
1. More important than human wisdom, glory, or might - cf.
Jeremiah 9:23–24 ESV
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
2. It is eternal life itself! -
John 17:3 ESV
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
3. Failure to know God will lead to everlasting destruction! -
2 Timothy 1:7–9 ESV
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
-- Of course, we are speaking here of knowledge that comes through close and personal association, not casual awareness
B. THIS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD COMES BY "A SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION" (17)
1. Paul could have reference here to either the Holy Spirit Himself, or a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit gives
2. In either case, it likely refers to that process that was still going on in the first century, where the Spirit of truth was guiding the apostles and early Christians into all the truth (cf. ; ,)
3. Today, we have the full and final revelation in the pages of God's Word, where we can go to learn the truth about God (e.g.,cf. )
[Do you "know" God? Many people know "about" God, but it is God's will that we come to know "Him". Through the Word of God as we have it today, you can allow the "spirit of wisdom and revelation" give you that "saving knowledge" of God Himself!
We now observe that Paul's concern for the Ephesians included their"eyes being opened"...]
II. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE HOPE OF GOD'S CALLING (18a)
A. IN CHRIST, WE HAVE BEEN "CALLED" BY GOD...
1. This "calling" occurred through the preaching of the gospel -
2 Timothy 2:14 ESV
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
2 Timothy 2:14 ESV
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
2. God is "calling" us into His own kingdom and glory -
1 Timothy 2:12 ESV
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
3. We have been "called" out of darkness into God's marvelous light -
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
B. PAUL'S DESIRE IS THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE "HOPE" OF THIS CALLING...
1. The word "hope" means "desire with expectation"
2. What is the expectant desire of this "calling" by God?
a. Paul has already revealed some of this hope in verses 4-5
1) To be holy and without blame
2) To be adopted as sons
b. Paul will reveal more about it later in the epistle - cf.
Ephesians 2:19–22 ESV
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
3. In this way, Paul is helping to fulfill his own prayer by the writing of this epistle
[Do we appreciate the "hope" of God's calling? Again, it is through the revealed Word of God (like this epistle to the Ephesians) that we are able to have our own eyes enlightened. There is no reason for us to be ignorant of our wonderful "hope"!
In addition to their knowing the "hope of His calling", Paul prays...]
III. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE RICHES OF GOD'S INHERITANCE (18b)
A. PAUL HAS ALREADY MADE REFERENCE TO...
1. The fact that we were predestined to adoption as sons -
Ephesians 1:5 ESV
he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
2. The fact that we have obtained an inheritance -
Ephesians 1:11 ESV
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
3. The fact that the Holy Spirit was given as a guarantee -
Ephesians 1:14 ESV
who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
B. HE WILL WRITE MORE CONCERNING OUR "INHERITANCE" LATER ON...
1. Speaking of the exceeding riches of God's grace in the ages to come -
Ephesians 2:7 ESV
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
2. Speaking of how Gentiles can be "fellow heirs" -
Ephesians 2:12–13 ESV
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 3:7 ESV
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
[Again we see how Paul by writing this epistle is attempting to help answer his own prayer for the Ephesians.
There is one more thing that Paul wanted the Ephesians, and if the way he elaborates is an indication of its importance then Paul more than all else prayed...]
IV. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE POWER OF GOD (19-20)
A. A "POWER" DESCRIBED AS...
1. Exceedingly great ("the exceeding greatness")
2. Shown toward those who believe ("toward us who believe")
3. In accordance with the same power that...
a. Raised Jesus from the dead!
b. Seated Him at the right hand of God in the "heavenly places"
(cf. )
-- How can it be said that such power is available to us who believe? (The next section suggests how)
B. CONCERNING THIS GREAT "POWER"...
1. Paul gives an example in
Ephesians 2:1–6 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
a. We who were "dead in trespasses" (2:1-3) were "made alive"(4-5) and "raised up" (6)
b. I.e., in Christ we who were spiritually dead have been made spiritually alive - cf.
Colossians 2:12–13 ESV
having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
c. This may not sound as impressive as being raised from the dead physically (as Jesus was), but it cannot happen without the same sort of Divine Power!
d. As Jesus said when He raised the paralytic, "Which is easier...?" -
Matthew 9:2–8 ESV
And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
1) To raise the sick (and the dead), or to forgive sins (and make the spiritually dead spiritually alive)?
2) Both require Divine Power!
2. Paul speaks of its source in
Ephesians 3:16 ESV
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
a. It is through God's Spirit in the inner man that we can be "strengthened with might"
b. Just as we were "renewed" by the Spirit upon our baptism -
John 3:5 ESV
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
;
;
Titus 3:5 ESV
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
c. So we can be strengthened by the Spirit in our daily battles against sin -
Romans 8:12–13 ESV
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
3. Paul speaks of its greatness in
Ephesians 3:20 ESV
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
a. It comes from Him (God) "who is ABLE to do"
b. With ability that is "exceedingly", "abundantly", "above all" that we ask or think!
c. Such ability is "according to the power that works IN us" - cf. ("through His Spirit in the inner man")
Ephesians 3:16 ESV
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
4. Finally, Paul charges the Ephesians to stand strong in this power in
Ephesians 6:10 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
a. By putting on the "armor of God" -
Ephesians 6:11 ESV
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
b. For we are in a battle against the devil and his forces - (dare we fight this battle dependent upon our own strength alone?)
Ephesians 6:11–13 ESV
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
c. The "armor of God" described -
Ephesians 6:14–18 ESV
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
CONCLUSION
1. It appears that Paul followed that saying "Pray as though it all depends upon God, but work as though it all depends upon you!"
a. For while he prayed for the Ephesians that they might know...
1) God
2) The hope of God's calling
3) The riches of God's inheritance
4) The power of God
b. Paul takes it upon himself (with the aid of inspiration, of course) to write of these things in this epistle
2. How is our knowledge of God, the hope of His calling, His riches, His power?
a. Certainly it is God's will that we increase in our understanding, appreciation, and application of these blessings!
b. With the help of God's Word, especially a book like Ephesians, we can grow in all these things!
But before growth can occur, there must be life. Have you been "made alive together with Christ"? - cf. ;
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