The apostle Paul has spent the first part of his letter to the Ephesians telling them who they are in Christ. Paul has described the many spiritual blessings that are found in Christ. You are chosen, adopted, redeemed, and sealed. Paul now moves forward in this section to describe to us what God wants us to have and what God wants us to know. So we will look for these things as we read the rest of Ephesians 1.
What God Wants You To Have (1:15-18)
Paul begins by praising the Ephesians Christians for their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the saints. They are exhibiting the vertical relationship of Christianity: love and continued faithfulness toward Jesus. They are also showing the horizontal relationship of Christianity: love toward all the saints. These are two important statements, neither of which can be neglected. You cannot be faithful to Jesus and not love the other Christians. Nor can you love other Christians rightly and not be faithful toward God. Christianity hangs on these two principles: to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor. We are called to live beyond ourselves. We are called to live for Christ and for one another. Paul praises them and declares that he has heard of their faithfulness to Jesus and the love for the saints. This causes Paul to pray continually for the Ephesian Christians with thanksgiving to God. But listen to what Paul wants God to give these Christians.
“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…” (Ephesians 1:17–18 ESV)
Most of the translations read “spirit” with a lowercase “s.” I believe this is correct. It does not make sense for Paul to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. We just read in Ephesians 1:13-14 that they already had been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. God does not hold something back at salvation. Are we to suggest that there are extra requirements of spirituality that when met God will dole out these blessings that have been held in reserve and are excluded from others? Paul already said in Ephesians 1:3 that they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Nothing has been excluded. Every believer receives the Spirit, unless this is a reference to miraculous spiritual gifts. But this answer does not work either because he will tell these Ephesians in the third chapter that all of them can understand the mystery of Christ when they read Paul’s words. So the lowercase “s” is the way to read this. Paul is praying that God will give them a spirit or disposition of wisdom and revelation.
So what does Paul mean? Paul is identifying something very important. The problem is not that God is withholding blessings. The problem is not that we lack blessings for we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. The problem is that we lack the insight and wisdom to understand these blessings from God. You have come to Christ. Now you need to learn what he has in store for you. Paul is praying that they are going to have “good eyes” when they read what he is writing. He wants them to read in such a way so that God’s glory and will is revealed to them. They must have a disposition of wisdom. They must have a spirit of revelation. They must be ready to receive the word with insight and perception.
This is what Paul means when he says that the result is “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” I don’t want you to read my words with dark eyes. I don’t want you to read with darkened hearts. I want the eyes of your heart to be enlightened. The eyes of your heart will be enlightened when you take God’s word with a spirit of wisdom and insight. Notice that this insight is found in the knowledge of him. Paul is calling for these Christians to not just know the facts. He is calling for a deeper knowledge and truly experience their Lord. I can know facts about the president. But I do not know the president at all. You can know facts about Jesus but that does not mean you know Jesus at all. Knowledge, truly knowing, requires mutual knowledge and mutual exchange. Think of it! These are Christians and Paul is praying for them that they will not be dull in the reception of the word. He is praying that they will gain more and more insight into the knowledge of the Lord.
Here is the warning: don’t be dull readers. These words of God mean something. Every word has a purpose and meaning for us to examine. Do not just roll over the words. Otherwise, the knowledge of the Lord becomes boring and academic. It becomes stale and dry. Read with a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Read with perception. Read with insight. Listen to every word from God. Slow down and meditate on one verse and just let it soak your heart. Let the light of Christ pour into your heart. Let God turn the light bulb on in your mind and heart. Paul is telling Christians that we need our spiritual faculties awakened. We can lose that spirit of wisdom and revelation. Wake them up and pray to God to wake them up!
What God Wants You To Know (1:18-23)
Paul wants our hearts enlightened so that we can know three things. Again, Paul wants us to truly know these things. He does not want us to know these things factually but experientially. Only with the eyes of our hearts opened will we be able to truly know these things. This is what God wants us to know.
(1) To know what is the hope to which he has called you.
God wants us to have an expanded awareness of the full implications of God’s calling in our lives. You need to know the hope that God has called you to. We have slowed down over the first 14 verses of this first chapter so that you could know the hope you can been called to. The hope to which we have been called is not to come in here on Sunday, sing four songs, let some guy yell at you, and go home trying to be better people. That is not the hope we are living under in this calling. We need to know the hope to which we have been called so that we will praise the Lord for what he has done and live to the praise of his glory. We live to the praise of his glory because we have a new hope. You have been redeemed by God. You have been chosen by God. You have been adopted by God. You have been made heirs by God. You have been sealed by God. Paul says that he wants you to truly know these great things. You have been called to partake in the salvation of God and belong to God’s family. We were a people who had no hope because of the debt of our sins. But our glorious God has given us hope. Because we are called into God’s family we have hope and you have been called to live in the light of that hope.
(2) To know what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.
Second, we are to know the wealth of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. We looked at this in the last lesson. We are God’s inheritance. God wants you to know the wealth and richness of what it means to be God’s inheritance. Know what it means to be the people of God. We must appreciate the value God places on us as part of his inheritance. We cannot begin to name all the riches of being God’s people. But let us consider a few rich blessings. Being in God’s family means that we will see Jesus face to face. It means that we will be in the presence of God. It means that we will be in the comfort of God. It means that we will be joined with the disciples of Jesus who have gone on before us. It means rest from our labors. It means every pain in this life will be resolved. It means seeing the reward of all we have been striving toward. Being the people of God just has no end to its vast wealth and blessings to us. We are valuable to God because he purchased us in order to inherit us. We look for Christ’s return when he comes to get his saints. God doesn’t need us. God wants us.
(3) To know what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.
God wants you to know his power. How much power does God have? Notice how his power is described. It is the “immeasurable greatness of his power.” You need to know how exceedingly great and incomparable his power is. We need to recognize the enormous power of God. But it is not us sitting back and wondering about the ridiculous amount of power God has. Notice carefully what Paul says. That power is directed toward us who believe. God wants you to know the immeasurable greatness power that is being directed toward our lives! You need to know that God is using his power to protect you and keep you from the attack of Satan and from the powers of this world.
How do we know that this power is effective in our lives? Paul says that we have observed this surpassing power when Jesus was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God. God’s power is seen in that Christ was exalted to the highest position possible and placing him over all things. Christ shows his total victory. He cannot be defeated. He has power far above all other powers. But notice that his authority is for our benefit. Notice verse 22 carefully. God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him. God gave him to the church (us) as head over all things. The church has authority and power to overcome all opposition because he is our leader and head. He is Lord of all. We are filled with and filled by Christ.
How do you get to know someone? Can you read biographical information or historical data about him? These things will help you know a lot about the person, but you will not know him. God wants us to know him, not to know about him. If you want to get to know someone then you have to spend time with that person. There are three glorious things that God wants you to know for your walk with him. But we need to pray for and seek to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation. I am asking you to desire the word of God. I am asking you to desire soaking on God’s word. Without that spirit, you will not enjoy studying God’s word, nor Bible classes, nor worship, nor preaching, or anything else that is tied to God. You will not come to love the Lord the way he wants you to because you have not experienced this deep knowledge of him. Let the knowledge of the Lord change your life. Know the hope to which you have been called. Know the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Know the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us as seen through the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. Let yourself experience the joy and wealth of knowing Christ. Make it your goal to get to know him.