Ephesians 1: 15 – 23 (NLT)
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”
Today as I comment on this passage, I’m going to use several quotations from Charles Swindoll’s Living Insights; New Testament Commentary – Galatians/Ephesians. Paul begins his prayer by thanking God for the Ephesians’ “strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people”. (v. 1)
Swindoll says, “Today, many Christians tiptoe gingerly through the Christian life, afraid of stumbling, unsure about whether the path of faith on which they’re travelling might lead them into danger. When they hear strange noises, they cower. When darkness sets in, they hesitate. And when obstacles fall in their path, they panic. But not the Ephesians, – with the illuminating light of faith, they marched forward, bold and strong, advancing in the Christian life toward spiritual adulthood.” (page 176)
Swindoll also comments about the need to love God’s people everywhere. “At this point, I need to emphasize something that is often overlooked. Bible-believing churches need both fidelity to the truth and unconditional love for fellow churches. Without abandoning doctrinal purity on the essentials of the faith, we need to foster unity between churches and between Bible-believing denominations. Our loyalty to Christ – who is the head of the whole body of Christ worldwide – must work itself out in practical, observable love for one another. A church that has truth but lacks love is not a church; it’s a giant Bible class cultivating cliques, leading to a clannish mentality, and producing cult-like attitudes of pride, superiority, and exclusivity. That must stop! We need to pray for other Bible-believing churches, partner with those of genuine faith, and learn from evangelical teachers with backgrounds different than ours. In other words, we need to follow the example of the Ephesians and demonstrate love for “all the saints.”’ (page 176)
Paul goes on to pray for some very specific things:
- That God will give them “spiritual wisdom and insight” so the will know God better (v.17)
- That they will understand the “confident hope” that God has given us (v. 18)
- That they will understand the “incredible greatness of God’s power for us” (v. 19)
Those three things are actually quite amazing! If we truly understood that God gives us wisdom and insight, that we can be confident of God’s promises, and that God’s power is available for us – wouldn’t we live in a much more positive way? Instead of worrying about all sorts of things, we would be confident that God is at work and has things under control. That is really something to think about – and pray about – if we confess that in reality we trust mostly in our own ability.
The last three verses state strongly why we can be confident as God’s children and members of God’s church. Let’s read those verses over again, and as we read, let’s soak in who we belong to. Soak in why we can live in confidence.
“This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”
Our song for today is How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin