Click here for study notes: Ephesians 1 15-19 Study Notes

Ephesians 1:15-19, Responding to the Spiritual Blessings:

  • In Ephesians 1:9, Paul says that everything the Lord has done for those in Christ, is a mystery now being revealed. Therefore, without the working of the Lord to reveal his will for salvation, the spiritual blessings we’ve studied earlier will remain hidden and ineffective.
  • So as we move on, Paul now prays for the revelation of these things. The prayer has as its focus, the fullness of Christ in the church.

 

  • Therefore, Paul gives thanks to God for the conversion of believers (15–16). He prays that God will give them that wisdom and knowledge (17); that their eyes might be opened to understand the nature and value of the hope we have in God’s call, and the glory of their inheritance (18); and the greatness of that power which had already been exercised in their conversion (19).
  • Let us then study the attitude and position of our required response to the Spiritual Blessings Paul revealed in 1:3-14:

 

  1. Continuous Thanksgiving:
  • Text – let’s start with verse 15. For this reason (1:15). This phrase connects the prayer with the previous teaching on salvation.
  • I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people (1:15). “I heard about” suggests that the church has grown since Paul’s last visit.

 

  • Yet he is grateful because they are strong in faith and love. Hope comes later. Now, the phrase “faith in the Lord Jesus” can mean either faith that has “the Lord” as its object (we trust in the Lord).
  • Or faith we have within the sphere of life defined by Christ (as those who exist in the Lord, we have faith). I believe it is the former, because the Greek, en, can specifies the object of belief. Plus because of their faith in Christ, their love is directed to God’s people.

 

  • Now on to verse 16. I have not stopped giving thanks for you (1:16). It is just a figure of speech, it is not like his praying for them every second. Rather, Paul indicates that he has been praying regularly and consistently for them. He affirms his relationship with the church and in addition, he models a life of consistent prayer. But he continues…
  • Remembering you in my prayers (1:16). This phrase is dependent grammatically on the first phrase; “I have not stopped giving thanks,” and it serves as a bridge to the intercession that is about to come. Paul models what he commands in Philippians 4:6, he gives thanks & makes requests on their behalf.

 

  1. Positioned in Christ:
  • Text – 1:17-19
  • The NIV starts verse 17 as a new sentence beginning with “I keep asking that.” But the original has verse 17 is a continuation of the sentence that began with verse 15.
  • Paul has not stopped giving thanks for the salvation of those in Ephesus. Remembering them in his prayers, “[that]” (this is the reason) “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (1:17).

 

  • Paul’s prayer is that those in the Ephesian church will grow in knowledge of God and his blessings. Paul is asking God to give “the [Holy] Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” For what reason?
  • So that you may know him better (1:17). That’s loosely translated. The Greek of this phrase reads “in knowledge of him.” Paul assumes that the believers would already have a relationship with God. But now he wants that relationship to grow. The only for this relationship to grow is through revelation.

 

  • It is not head-knowledge or intellectual understanding. This growth is personal, relational, and experienced by a community. It includes experience, emotions, and intimate communication
  • Here’s a bonus note, throughout Ephesians, knowledge is an essential element of the Christian life, without it we cannot be the people God intends us to be.

 

  • Having the eyes of your heart enlightened (1:18). Having the “eyes” of our inner being enlightened allows us to know God’s blessings more deeply, namely: “the hope to which he has called you,” “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints holy people,” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (1:18–19). Let’s unpack these:

 

  • The first two blessings for which Paul prays have to do with the future: hope and glorious inheritance. (1) The hope to which he has called you (1:18). This goes back to verse 4 & 5: God chose us (1:4), predestined us (1:5).
  • So when Paul speaks of hope, he is not implying a lack confidence about the future. Hope is the future reality about which we may be fully assured right now.

 

  • (2) The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (1:18). The text suggests that the “glorious inheritance” is God being the one doing the inheriting. So God has chosen us to belong to him as his holy people and beloved children, but also to be His inheritance! Yes, we will inherit many blessings in the future, but this is not the main point of Ephesians 1:18. and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

 

  • (3) The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (1:19). This petition suggests that God’s power is for us, for our benefit.
  • This power is something we each experience individually. But the plural “for us” suggests that God’s power is for God’s people together.

 

Application:

  • Question 1:
  • Why is thankfulness such an important element of our prayers? And to what extent should we give thanks?

 

  • Question2:
  • How can we grow “in the knowledge of Him”?

 

  • Question 3:
  • How do the three petitions from verse 18 give us the assurance of our relationship with God?