BIBLE STUDY: PART I
We saw last week that this book was not written for any specific problems being faced by the congregation at Ephesus, or its leaders, but to everyone there, and in the other churches. In Acts 20:29,30, when he returned from his third missionary journey, Paul warned the Ephesians at Miletus that men and women from among them would rise up speaking perverse things to draw the disciples of Jesus, which is all the saved people, away into sin.
From what we read in Revelation 2:2, "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars..." Ephesus was able to discern false teachers, and not fall into the trap. But, they lost their first love for Jesus, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (Rev. 2:4).
I Timothy 1:1-4, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do." Apparently from all that has been written on this subject, all generations, including this one are warned to watch for the false teachers. That is, those who would rewrite the Bible, or at least water it down to make it meet their own needs. When Paul said that each church should read the letter he sent, he was including us. That’s why this Bible was written, and translated, even though not purely. It is our guide through this life, and our road map to heaven.
In this Ephesian epistle, Paul used the verb agapao 9 times, and the noun agape 10 times. So we can say love is definitely a theme in this book. Ephesians begins with love in 1:3,6 (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.), and ends with love in 6:23,24. (Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen." One way this love is demonstrated is that the Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus considered themselves equal in the faith. They all loved Jesus and each other without segregation of heart, mind, body or soul. They were all one in the body of Christ.
V.1 - Here we are told that Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ by God’s selection, not by Paul’s choice. If man had been in charge of selecting this fourteenth apostle, he would never have chosen Paul, for he had been zealous in his desire to help wipe out this radical Christian faith. When the disciple Stephen was stoned to death, Paul was there encouraging the people. But this shows us that when God calls us to a ministry, He is relentless in His pursuit of us. At the moment we accept His call, He gives us the authority and power to accomplish it. Any obstacles are overcome. So Paul was enabled to preach and teach with authority and with great success.
This letter was written to the saints who were in Ephesus, the hagiois, the called out ones. In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, I read, “The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, 'to all the saints'; whether officers of the church, or private members, whether rich or poor, bond or free, strong or weak believers, of greater or lesser abilities.” So every saint, no matter his/her standing in the church could accept this as a personal letter from Paul. It was written to the “faithful in Christ Jesus.” They were faithful by openly reaching out to the lost for Christ, and they persevered in their holiness no matter who or what came against them. They were faithful to Jesus, His Gospel, and His commandments. Many of these people had turned away from worshiping the Greek goddess and huntress, Artemis of Ephesus, also known by the Romans as Diana. They were now devoted to Christ and furthering the Gospel.
V.2 - What Paul meant here when he used the word “grace” is the increasing of grace. Let’s read John 1:14-18. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was before me. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." We are all receiving grace upon grace. Those who have much grace need to seek more. We need always to walk in grace. Grace is mentioned so many times in the New Testament that we have to know it is something significant for us to learn about. For it’s by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:5). Grace continually perfects the saved of God, so the closer you get to perfection, the more grace you need, because the harder the battle becomes.
The peace spoken of here is the peace of salvation, and the peace of relationship with God through Christ, and peace with each other. They had a peaceful conscience because they knew they were forgiven, and under grace. They had peace in the knowledge of their eternal salvation. For them, and for us, is no greater comfort found then resting in the knowledge of our position in God.
V.3 - God sent His Son to earth to die for us. He gave Him a human body, and a human nature. So many people think because Christ is God, He didn’t really feel pain as we do. But He did! He was human in every way. When Jesus came to earth, He had to grow through childhood, and young adulthood, before He became Jesus the Man. Jesus prayed to God, and He believed in Him. He knew that prayer was a mighty weapon to guard His own heart, and protect His disciples. He spent many nights alone in deep prayer. Example: the night before Jesus selected the twelve apostles, He spent time alone on a mountain in prayer seeking God’s desire and the Spirit’s wisdom to direct His selections (Luke 6:12,13).
Jesus was not created like Adam, nor adopted like us, but was born naturally. According to Luke 1:35 the Holy Ghost, “...came upon Mary,” and the power of God overshadowed her. I have heard it argued that this means Mary and the Holy Spirit had sex. No way would God join His perfection to mortal imperfection in such a way. It makes more sense to think of the Spirit hovering above Mary as He did over the face of the earth at creation. When God said something, the Spirit made it happen.
We are blessed with every spiritual blessing. That is different from the physical blessings of health and wealth. Spiritual blessings are the eternal ones. That is, our salvation, our redemption, our adoption as children through Christ, and our eternal life in the spirit, and so on. This blessing also means that everything we need to live an abundant spiritual life, peace patience, love, kindness, etc. is provided So, from eternity past, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, in Christ Jesus.
BIBLE STUDY: PART II
Ephesians 1, verse 3 told us we have every spiritual blessing God has created. We are made righteous in His sight by the Blood of Jesus, and all other spiritual blessings were added to us when we accepted the sacrifice He made.
V.4 - God chose them to pour His blessings out upon. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" (John 15:16). But they were not chosen as Israel was. Israel was a nation of people chosen as God’s special ones. The people chosen here were individuals. God did not call Ephesus or Corinth to be a new nation. His Spirit called each person from within those nations to accept Christ as Savior. This letter is directed to all believers, no matter where they came from. If they were in Ephesus when this letter arrived, and they were faithful in their love for Jesus, they were included in this letter. Paul even included himself. (Look at verse 3, “the father who has blessed US.”) So, Paul is telling them he is blessed just as they are, or vice versa, so not one of them is better than another. He also told them they were selected, chosen ones. Does that mean God hand picked some to salvation and some to destruction? No, it does not. It means that all humans were created by God to be saved, but free will is what makes the final choice. Scripture says that God wants none to perish. Please read John 3:16; 10:28, and I Peter 3:9.
We were chosen, as they were, to be holy, blameless before God even before He formed the earth! Let’s look at I Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."; Romans 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren"., and II Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." God knew we were going to need a Savior, and He elected Jesus to fulfill that need. It seems like such a long time ago that we were chosen, but let’s put it into perspective. A house fly is said to be able to live 60 - 70 days, but its average is 14 days. That means it must be born, go through infancy and puberty, have children, retire, and die in that short span of time. To us that seem a very short lifetime, to them it is a lifetime. The same goes for us. We may live seventy, or one hundred-twenty plus years, but to God that’s a small increment of time on His watch of eternity. If one thousand years is as a day to God, how long do we really live according to that time frame? I tried to figure it out, but am not good with math, so could not. But you get the idea. We are here for a blip of time, and have to accomplish so much before we leave the earth to return to our Maker. Another consideration is, we don’t know our lifespan. God assigns us each a certain number of days, so we must be vigilant in getting things done.
V.5 - I don't believe in the opinion that predestination means God hand picked only certain people to be saved, and the rest go to hell. He would not be a very merciful God if that truly was His agenda. What I do believe is that we are the only one of His creations predestined, or foreordained to receive the blood of a Savior. (Angels can’t be saved because they are not fallen beings, and devils won’t be saved because they are too blinded to see the truth.) If we believe that God hand picked people before they were born, and predestined only certain people for salvation, why would He tell us to go out and disciple all the nations? Why would He make the claim that He wants none to perish? Why would He call people to offices within the church for leadership and training of the new disciples? He would just have a list of those He wanted to share eternity with, and they would be the only ones ever to enter the kingdom. Read Matthew 7:13,14. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Why would God advertise a way into heaven if He didn't want us all to find that narrow gate? It is my thesis then, that we are not called, or predestined as individuals, but as a segment of creation, IE. fallen man, to be saved and secure our eternity.
We are predestined to be adopted as sons by God through Jesus. Please read John 1:12; Galatians 3:26-29 and Romans 8:16,17. As sons of God, and joint heirs with Christ, we have access to all that God made available to us through Jesus. We are called, sanctified, redeemed, made holy, and filled with the power of the Spirit of God. We are made the righteousness of God on earth. That’s what God had in mind, and that’s what these Scriptures are telling us. Jesus came to earth as a human, suffered, died, and became our way of salvation. And because He did, we are able to share in the eternal inheritance with Jesus that God has made available to us. Predestination is God’s provision of a way of salvation for all man, Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.
God’s will is His actions. In this case it is His desire for us to be saved. So this is telling us God gets great pleasure from fulfilling His will for our lives. He made a way for us to be saved and adopted because He loves us and wants us to be with Him for all time. That is what will give Him true joy and satisfaction.
V.6 - To praise the glory of God’s grace is to express our gratitude to Him for making a way that we can be accepted. As we raise our hands to praise God for His mercy and grace, we should also thank Him for sending Jesus as our way to be accepted. Accepted is said to mean grace with grace. God has the perfect Son already, and doesn’t need us, but He loves us, so He bestowed on us unearned favor (grace), and that should lead to rejoicing, and to praising God.
We are accepted, “In the Beloved.” Read Matthew 12:18. "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him,and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles." Jesus is God’s Own beloved Son. He is the only One who has ever completely pleased God. And God has made us accepted (righteous) because of Him, and through Him only. None of it comes from anything we do.
So, God chose us as the species to be saved before He formed the earth, and He gave us Jesus for our redemption, and He gave us every Spiritual blessing. God made us adopted sons and daughters for His own pleasure, praise His name, and praise Him for His grace bestowed upon us. Why? So that we can stand holy and blameless in His presence one day. We were not chosen because we are holy, but because Christ is holy, and we are in Christ as believers.
This earth is our proving ground. If we accept Christ, we become sanctified by the Spirit and become holy and without fault forever. So now, if we believe this, John 3:16 makes more sense than ever. “For God so loved the world (His people creation, even before He formed it) that He gave His only begotten Son (that’s God’s love come to life) that whosoever believes in Him (accepts that love and takes it into their hearts) shall not perish (for God wants none to perish) but have everlasting life (to live eternally with God, sanctified, holy and righteous before Him).
BIBLE STUDY: PART III
V.7 - In HIM we have redemption. Who is Him? Jesus. Redemption from what? From sin and bondage. We are freed from satan and from the Law that leads to death because no man, or woman, can live under the Law and not sin. What is redemption? 'Apolutrosis,' a loosing away, 'lutrosis,' a loosing, particularly by paying a price, a ransom, that delivers us and sets us free. We are forgiven for past, present, and future sins in the Blood. Jesus’ blood was the only thing able to pay the ultimate price for our freedom. Read Hebrews 9:11,12. "But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Let’s read Hebrews 9:16-22. "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
Forgiveness, and remission here are basically the same thing. It is the act of being freed from sin. Jesus bought this for us with the blood of His own life. The “riches of His grace” is God’s grace in sending His Son to die for us. Can there be any better grace for us? Take time now to read Roman 3:9-26. According to verse 23, how many of us have sinned? Everyone! Does that mean everyone needs Jesus? Most assuredly. We were all sinners, and we all needed His sacrifice to secure our eternity in heaven. We are fortunate because we were drawn to the Lord for redemption, and we paid heed to that calling. So many out there are oblivious to the need of salvation. Even when we tell them they need Jesus, they argue that they don’t. They see with their eyes, but do nor perceive, they hear with their ears, but do not understand, therefore are not saved. Look at how I Corinthians 1:18 explains it. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
People who don't know Jesus often think of us who do as Jesus freaks, Bible thumpers, and weirdos. But we are the ones who live in truth. It is therefore our duty to teach this truth.
V.8 - God made His riches abound for us. He gave us grace in great abundance, in excess. This grace is what allows us to understand His will for us. It allows us to understand the Bible and the salvation message. Without God’s wisdom and prudence (understanding) being poured into us, we would still stand condemned. God’s grace has given us the ability to see, hear, and understand the Gospel, which is filled with the gift of salvation for all those who will accept it. They tell us how we are pardoned, justified, made the righteousness of God, and made joint heirs with Jesus to the kingdom. Until we open our hearts, and accept this grace, we are doomed.
V.9 - The Gospel was a divine secret, a "mystery" but now has been revealed to the saved. Yet to those who are unsaved, perishing, it remains hidden. But the truths of the gospels have been revealed to those who believe. Read Romans 16:25-27. "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."
We now know the mystery that was from the beginning of time. There are several mysteries that the Gospel reveals. In John Gill’s exposition he says some of them are:
The two nature’s of Christ
Christ’s Sonship and incarnation
The saints’ union and communion with Jesus
The work of God’s Spirit on the soul
The calling of the Gentiles
The conversion of the Jews
Resurrection of the dead
The changing of the saints
The mystery of God’s will for saving sinners
Of course all of these things are important, but the most precious revelation is the revelation of the Messiah, Jesus.
So, by God’s grace, and for His own pleasure, He has revealed all things in this book that are pertinent to our eternity. There is nothing that is left hidden that He has not told us in order to be saved. The mystery of Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, and the story about it is all revealed in the Bible. I reiterate: It is the duty of all people who know the Lord to teach Him to the lost so that they too can glean the truths in the Word for themselves. We can know more of the truth, and the depth of Its meaning as we study it for ourselves.
V.10 - Dispensation is the divine ordering of the affairs of the world. So, God, in dispensing the divine order of history, made it the fullness of time (the proper, or destined time which only God knows, Matthew 24:36) that Christ could come and take all things under subjection to Himself, both in heaven and on earth.
The fullness of time is spoken of in Galatians. Let’s read Galatians 4:1-7. "Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Emphasis on verses 4,5.
BIBLE STUDY: PART IV
V. 11- In Whom. Who is Whom? It is Jesus Christ. Much of what is said in these verses, however, is about God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (V 3). So God is the subject in here. He is the One who has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (V 3). It is God who chose people over angels- over all creation- to be “holy and without blame before Him in love”(V 4).
It is God who decided we will sit, “In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives,” (Luke 1:75).
Mr. Webster says that blame is “to hold responsible; to find fault with; to place responsibility for a fault or error; to blame a mistake on someone." So- what are we no longer being held to blame for after our redemption?
The Eden Sin.
It is God who called out man who was created in "Their" image (Genesis 1:26) to be joint heirs with Christ. In Jesus all believers become joint heirs. Read Romans 8:16,17 and Acts 26:17,18. We are now sons and daughters made to praise the glory of His grace by which we are accepted in the Beloved, who is Jesus.
Verse 11 is speaking specifically to the Jews. We know that because it says, “We,” and we know Paul was a Pharisaical Jew of the highest order. It is argued that the Jews were originally the only ones predestined to salvation because of Scripture like Matthew 15:21-26. Also, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies about salvation, and those books were written to the Jews. But if we look into Scripture, we can see that gentiles were never to be excluded. Read Scriptures like Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 11:10; Daniel 7:13,14 to see this.
V.12- “... that we” is the Jews who trusted in Jesus before the Gentiles came to now Him. Please read James 1:16-18. The Jews are the firstfruit.
“To the praise of His glory,” is a phrase used three times in vv 6,12,14. Each time it used for a different purpose It is first used to tell us God has made us acceptable through His Son. Then it is used to tell us that the saved ones are God's joy. And then it tells us we are God's peculiar people, bought and paid for by the Blood of Jesus, whom He will redeem at the proper time.
V. 13- “Ye also,” now draws the gentiles into the letter. Those were the gentiles who had heard the Word, believed the truth of it (John 1:15-17), accepted it, and were saved. The word of truth came through Jesus. Let’s also read Colossians 1:3-8. "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: as ye also learned of Ep'aphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit."
The gentiles heard the gospel, believed it, and were sealed. Remember, each king of that day had a signet ring that he pressed in to hot wax to seal important documents or packages? This is also the type of security the tomb of Christ was sealed under (Matthew 27:66). We are sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Our hearts have been securely sealed, impressed with the seal of God’s love in Christ.
Walvoord, in his commentary, says, “God is the One who seals, Christ is the Sphere in which the sealing is done, and the Holy Spirit is the instrument of the seal.”
V.14- Which, the Holy Spirit, is the guarantee of our inheritance. God prepared our inheritance. The Holy Ghost is God’s guarantee that we will one day be resurrected to claim it (II Corinthians 5:5).
Romans 8:22-25- "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." As the saved of the Lord, we are waiting for our guarantee to be honored. It was purchased at a high price, the blood of Jesus.
In Acts 20:28,30 Paul is foretelling about his chains and death. He is exhorting the Ephesian elders to be on their guard against the men who rise up and speak perverse (contrary, wayward and corrupt) things to draw the believers away from Christ. He wants them to teach, and protect the sealed ones who had been bought at such a high price. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. "
Please take time to read I Peter 2:4-10. We are the living stones spoken of. We are built on the chief Cornerstone - Jesus. We have a firm foundation from which to proclaim, or sing, or shout, the praises of the One who called us from darkness into the Light.
God called us, or elected us. Jesus saved, or redeemed us. The Holy Ghost sanctified, or sealed us. In closing, let's absorb II Thessalonians 2:13,14. "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
May God's grace abound to you today.
BIBLE STUDY: PART V
V.15 - tells us, as it does in Colossians, that after Paul and the other Christians heard of the faith of the Ephesians, they prayed. So we know information was passing through the churches and reaching his ears, as well as those of the Christians. The tongues were wagging in the Lycus Valley. All the churches had information about what was going on in the other churches.
Once Paul was aware of the depth of the Ephesians’ love for Jesus, and their love and concern for each other, he thanked God for them. Why?
A: Jesus was the center of their affections. He was the One they depended on for everything. They made their petitions to God through Him. They claimed Jesus as their Savior, and let others around them know it. It was very difficult in those days to share their faith. It was somewhat like sharing it in the middle east now-a-days. You can do it, but at risk of life and/or limb. The families of those Christians also disowned them. We remember the blind man who was healed whose parents would not speak out for him in the synagogue because they were afraid to be thrown out (John 9:1-41). Let’s just read V V 18-23. "But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him."
It has never been easy for Christians in Asia to speak out for the Lord. Steven was stoned, Peter hung upside down, Paul beheaded, some used as human torches to light the coliseum at night, and others were thrown in to fight the lions.
B: The Christians’ deep love for Christ gave them a new love for their brethren. They didn’t care what place they held in the community, or whether they were wealthy or poor, sick or well. They didn’t judge each other by what level of gifting they had. They just loved everyone, and let them live and work where GOD had put them. And they gave to others with a loving hand. So, their love was directed both vertically to the Lord, and horizontally to each other. (Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”)
V.16 - Let’s read Romans 1:8-10, and Colossians 1:9-12. Paul and the apostles do not cease giving thanks for the Christians of those churches because of their love for God and each other. This love is given by the grace of God. When you have faith in God, and love for His people, you can’t hide it. It shines from within. You become giving, caring people, just like Jesus is. We are to model Jesus, and this is a good way to begin.
Also, Paul mentions that he prays for the Christians all the time. What does that mean to us? We need to pray for each other everyday. James 5:16 tells us that our prayers for each other can bring healing. That is spiritual as well as physical healing. We should be excited that we have opportunity to pray for each other. It’s another gift we give to God’s people. Apparently Paul was a praying man who did "...make mention of you always in my prayers.”
V.17 - Now let’s look at why he prayed so much for them. It was so that the God of Jesus (John 20:17) and the Father of Glory, the Author of perfection (He is righteous and unchangeable), the Father who has shown so much love to us, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation. The spirit spoken of here is not the Holy Spirit, but a gentle spirit we need in order to learn to love God and man. Let’s read Isaiah 11:1,2. If we’re to be like Jesus, we need this spirit wisdom and understanding.
Walvoord says, “Wisdom (Sophia) gives insight into the true nature of things, and revelation is the unveiling of the object discussed, namely, God Himself.” He says that having this wisdom and revelation is so that we may know God better. This is not that we may have an abstract knowledge of God, or objective facts about Him, but that we can know Him personally and intimately. The world tells us to get to know ourselves intimately, the Bible teaches us to get to know God intimately. So God gives us of His Spirit so that we can develop a spirit of wisdom and knowledge.
V.18a - Gill suggests that the phrase “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” should be in parentheses because it’s more and explanation of what Paul was saying in verse 17 than a request made on their behalf. The eyes of your understanding is your heart. Since it is believed that the heart is the center of one’s personality, it is there we would need the understanding. What we need to understand is what we are without, and that is Christ in our lives. What we come to understand is the doctrines of the Gospels. It is our new knowledge of how glorious and righteous God is, and how unrighteous we are without Him. Gill says that “the eye of the understanding is Rabbinical and often found in Jewish writings, and that the Vulgate and Asian version read, “The eyes of your heart.”
V.18b - The calling he speaks of here is not our calling as in gifts and talents, but of our righteousness in God (II Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."). Jesus was without sin, and perfect. And because He was, He was the chosen sacrifice, the only acceptable one. The hope of our calling in Christ Jesus is to salvation. By grace we have been saved by the will of the Father of Glory, so we will see eternity in heaven. So, this enlightenment of the heart is that we can know Jesus more fully.
V.18c - We are God’s saints who will inherit not only the kingdom along with Jesus, but the glory that belongs to those who have been saved. As children of God, we receive glory on earth. That glory will be magnified in heaven. We will be perfected, no longer tempted by sin. Paul‘s prayer is that we come to know in our hearts what the calling of God on our lives truly means. It means no more pain, suffering or tears ever again once we pass into eternity. We have only a vague idea of what heaven will be like, but even that shadowed glimpse is enough to make me want it.
May the God of glory shine His everlasting Light on you.
BIBLE STUDY: PART VI
VV.19-23- These verses pack quite a wallop. If you read both in Walvoord’s Commentary, and in Gill’s Exposition, you will find there many explanations for the word “power.” I’m going to attempt to consolidate these complimentary views. Mr. Webster says that power is a great marked ability to do or act; strength, might, force. It is also the possession of control or command over others; authority, ascendancy.
In verse 18 we found the first two facts Paul wanted us to understand about wisdom and revelation.
1: Our present hope is in the past when we were called to salvation.
2: Our hope is in the future when God will claim His inheritance, which is us.
Now, in 19 we see the third thing we should come to know. It is God’s “incomparably great power.” This power is dynamis, and means a dynamic power. Dynamis is the root word for dynamite, so gives us a grasp of the energy this power has. This power is directed toward believers. Walvoord lists 3 other words to describe God’s power.
1: Working, or Energeian, or energetic power. This is where the word energy comes from. 2: Might which is Kratous, or power that overcomes resistance, such as the power Jesus used to perform miracles. Kratous power is used only of God. 3: Ischyos, or strength, is that given to Christians to do the work (I Peter 4:11). This gives us some indication of the power available to us as Christians.
Gill says the power here is directed toward believers. He says that this power is important to developing faith, and in the continuance and finishing of that work. This power contains all the elements of creation: Resurrection from the dead, Transformation of one man into another, and new life. By this power we are able to overcome satan, and cast him out of our hearts. We are then regenerated, given a new heart, and the Holy Ghost comes in to dwell within us to give us power to continue to overcome, and succeed in our maturity. It is the power to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Walvoord says that God’s power here is seen manifested in Christ three times.
1: Energetic power was displayed when God raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms (I Peter 3:21,22; Acts 2:22-24 Psalm 110:1,2). The same power God used to raise Jesus is available to Christians today. Let’s read Philippians 3:8-11.
2: The second manifestation of God’s power in Christ is that He put all things under Christ’s feet. He said that Adam lost his position of power over creation when he sinned. Jesus was made the Head over all (Matthew 28:18; Luke 1:32,33; Philippians 2:9,10; I Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 2:8-10).
3: Christ was made Head over the church (Ephesians 4:10-16; Colossians 1:18).
It is not Christ who is filled. God doesn’t need us to fill Him, but He fills the church with blessings. By the power of His Spirit we are filled with love, and with power to accomplish all He gives us to do (ICorinthians 12:1-11), from growing in faith, to leading others to Christ (Colossians 2:9,10).We are all part of the Christ (Romans 12:3-5).