“(I) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him..” Ephesians 1:16-17 (NASB)
We can imagine that one of the greatest blessings we might experience in the first century would be the Apostle Paul praying for us. Paul was devoted to prayer just as his Lord Jesus set the example for his apostles. These words by the are from a prayer he wrote and sent to the Christians in Ephesus. Paul says that he did “not cease giving thanks” and it became a habit to pray for the young churches and to keep praying for the believers in all cities. He requested that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order that they would grow to know God better. They were believers who knew God but like us all, they needed to continue to know God in a deeper way. This prayer is given to us in the Bible applies to our lives as well if we have believed and come to know God. We too want to know God better. We can each ask God to give us wisdom and revelation and to teach us by His Holy Spirit more and more of God’s great truths for our Christian lives each day.
“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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)
Can we say that the promise in today’s passage is the promise of God’s power working within us? Yes, we can. For this is just what the Apostle Paul is praying for with confidence for all believers. This power is abundant to the point of exceeding our ability to ask or imagine. Beyond our thoughts. But, again we need the context to understand more completely how this power is made available. Spiritual power is a mark of every Christian who submits to God’s Word and Spirit. It is not reserved for some special class of Christian, but for all those who discipline their minds and spirits to study the Word, understand it, and live by it. Paul’s prayer included requests for: strength for our inner person; the dwelling of Christ in our hearts through faith; solidly grounded and rooted in love; ability to comprehend the fullness of God’s love which surpasses knowledge; and filled with the fullness of God. When these conditions are met, God’s power working in and through believers, is unlimited and far beyond any comprehension. All for His glory in Christ Jesus and His church forever. That is God’s promise of power for us.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” Ephesians 2:19 (NASB)
God’s kingdom is made up of the people from all time who have trusted in Him. There are no strangers, foreigners, or second-class citizens there. Redeemed sinners not only become heavenly citizens but also members of God’s own family. The Father bestows on believers the same infinite love He gives His Son. This verse reminds us of our identity as Christians. This is the promise God makes for each of us and He wants us all to recognize the great change that His promise makes in our status and identity the moment we believed in Jesus as our Savior – the only way to heaven. Our verse speaks of our former status as foreigners and aliens without standing in God’s family. But now we are citizens. God sent His Son into this world to make this change possible. God recognized that we, His creatures didn’t belong to Him but He wanted us to be His by new birth. We are citizens together with God people, citizens with eternal rights to heaven. Even more, we belong to God’s household, members of His family. What a life affirming promise that is for us today.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
While we read and think on this verse let’s be sure to notice that the emphasis is on God and His plans for us. It’s not on what we do for God but on what He does for us. When the verse speaks of our being created by God it really means our being born again – our re-creation because of what Jesus did for us. It is God who makes that happen and makes us His child and gives to us eternal life. That makes us the work of God – we are His workmanship. Good works cannot produce salvation but they are subsequent and the result of what God has empowered⸺they are the fruits and evidences of the salvation he prepared beforehand for each of us. Our sanctification as believers and our good works were ordained before time began (Ephesians 1:3–6). God has a purpose in this and it is that we will do what He gives us to do. We will tend to the work He gives us. Good works in our lives comes after His work in our lives. And all this was prepared and planned in advance. It is God’s plan that comes together for our benefit.
“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.” – Ephesians 6:16–17 (ESV)
Depending on your counting, the Apostle Paul lists six or seven means of preparation faith believers need to have ready. Here two are defensive and one offensive armor pieces. These three are taken up when we are susceptible to an outbreak of lies? The Holy Spirit, through Paul gave us these instructions because He knew what we need in the battle. Everyday is a battle if we are walking obediently in the Spirit doing what Christ calls us to do. We are instructed to use our faith as a shield against the lies of Satan. They come at us from every angle and even from sources we may have trusted. Putting our faith in God’s promises is how we use our shied and stop those lies from getting to us. Our enemy tries to feed doubts into our thoughts and cause us to question our own salvation. The saved elect wear the helmet of salvation as a protection against such psychological attacks. And our knowledge of God’s word and putting it to practice is sharper than a double edge sword. Let’s stand firm therefore prepared for action defensively and offensively.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)
If we let our guard down, it is easy to find ourselves in conflict with others and that conflict leads to attitudes and actions unbecoming our profession in Jesus Christ. Our verse today cautions each of us about attitudes and actions that are unpleasant. “Bitterness” is a smoldering resentment. “Wrath” is an outburst of rage. “Anger” is internal, feelings of hostility. “Clamor” is brawling, the outcry of strife out of control. “Slander” is evil speaking. “Malice” is the general term for ill will toward others. The six vices are responded to with three commands. being kind is doing what is suitable or fitting to a need. being compassionate is having inner emotions of affection. in forgiving we give freely and graciously. Those who have been forgiven so much by God should, of all people, forgive the relatively small offenses against them by others. Kindness, compassion and forgiveness are what Christ has toward us and we did not deserve it. God exemplified these in Christ. We are promised forgiveness by God and by his grace and help we can forgive each other.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (NASB)
We have been promised as faith believers that we are one together. So it may seem strange, after reading these verses and understanding this promise from God that there is myriad of versions of Christian bodies each following a different interpretation or teaching. Paul, the apostle is teaching the body of believers in Ephesus that in all the world there is only one body of believers. Paul lists seven elements of unity centered on the three Persons of God. He focuses on the Trinity—the Spirit in verse 4, the Son in verse 5, and the Father in verse 6. Paul’s point is not to distinguish between the Persons of the Godhead but to emphasize that, although they have unique roles, they are completely unified in every aspect of the divine nature and plan. These are the basis for unity that should exist in the body of believers. One body refers to the universal church. One Spirit is the Holy Spirit who indwells the church. The words, one hope when you were called, all believers have a common hope regarding their future with God, a confidence that began at the time they were “called” to salvation.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, …that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14, 16, 17, 18, 19 (NASB)
From today’s passage we’ll consider specific parts of Paul’s continued prayer* for the believers in Ephesus. Because this is part of the inspired Word of God, what Paul prays for on their behalf he has prayed for on ours as well. His prayer is for the spiritual welfare of others. The source of these promises is according to the riches of His glory – ‘according to’ rather than ‘out of,’ means the riches are never diminished. They are limitless and available to every believer. It is for our spiritual power that Paul prays, “strengthened … His Spirit in the inner man.” Spiritual power marks every Christian who submits to God’s Word and Spirit. The prayer is for our understanding. Only as believers are we able to understand the fullness of God’s love. There is no comprehension apart from genuine, Spirit-empowered love in our life. Paul gives us four descriptive words⸺breadth, length, height, depth⸺which suggest the vastness and completeness of God’s love. Such knowledge of Christ’s love is beyond the capability of our human reason and experience. It can be known only by those who are God’s children and are filled up to all the fullness of God.
*Read our passage in context Ephesians 3:14-21 (NASB).
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is* that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” – Ephesians 3:4-5 (ESV)
We have again a promise-packed passage by the Apostle Paul which teaches a most precious truth for our world, especially today. We are in an upheaval between truth and the lies the devil spreads in order to sow chaos in our world. Our enemy’s goal is to discredit by leading astray those who by faith believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and their Savior. Paul declares a mystery about the promise of salvation from Christ. What does ‘mystery’ mean? Many truths were hidden until later revealed in the New Testament that are called mysteries. Here Paul reveals one: Jew and Gentile brought together in one body in the Messiah. The cry against racism may truly exist among the unbelieving but for those who do believe and follow the teachings of Jesus, there is no room for this critical race theory now being bandied about. Paul not only wrote of the mystery that, in Christ, Jew and Gentile become one in God’s sight and in His kingdom and family, but also explained and clarified that truth. He taught us that spiritual knowledge must precede practical application. What is not properly understood cannot be properly applied.**
*The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4
**The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Eph 3:4.
“For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” – Ephesians 2:18 (ESV)
One precious truth about believing in Jesus Christ that is not offered in any other religion is that we have access to God our Father. No sinner has any right or worthiness in himself for access to God, but believers have been granted that right through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death. The resources of the Trinity belong to believers the moment they receive Christ, and the Holy Spirit presents us before the heavenly throne of God the Father, where we are welcome to come with boldness at any time. We might think of our access as our introduction to the Father. But it seems better to understand that Christ gives us access to our heavenly Father as our Savior and our advocate. This access is also by faith into the grace of God in which we stand (Romans 5:2). In the next verse we are promised standing as citizens with all who are set apart in holiness and therefore in God’s household. We are IN by faith in Jesus through what the Holy Spirit has provided to us, direct access to God. We need no human intermediary, God accepts our prayers, our confessions, our faith one on one.