Ephesians 1:17-19 – Paul’s intercessory prayer

June 8, 2020 at 9:31 PM Leave a comment

Paul concludes this chapter with a prayer for the Ephesian believers. I am going to break the prayer down into three parts: v.15-16: thanksgiving prayer, v.17-19: intercessory prayer and v.20-23: praise for God’s power.

v.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.” Paul moves from his prayer of thanksgiving to an intercessory prayer. He starts his prayer praying to the only One truly capable of hearing and answering his prayer: “God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul seems to be repeating himself from 1:3 where Paul introduces the letter praising “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here he uses the word “glorious” to describe the “Father” to say glory only belongs to God the Father because he the source of glory. All things have been created to glorify him. Then Paul gets into his prayer for the Ephesians. Paul asks that the believers be given the gifts of “spiritual wisdom and insight.” Other translations including NIV say “Spirit of  wisdom and revelation.”  Paul is praying God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit), already given to the believers, will continually give wisdom (practical ability to act on what they know and believe) and revelation (grasping or understanding the truth of Scripture). The idea “you might grow in your knowledge of God” is talking about growing closer to God, getting to know him more deeply. Paul wanted the believers to spend more time with God and prayed the Holy Spirit would continually give them wisdom and discernment to know God and the truths of his Word so as to practically apply it to the believers lives.

v.18-19,“I pray 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. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.” In many translations including the NIV the phrase is used “eyes of your heart may be enlightened” unlike “your hearts will be flooded with light” as the NLT translates it. The term “eyes of your heart” is a better descriptor to what Paul is trying to convey. He is referring to the spiritual eyes of our heart that all human beings have. Even though all believers have opened their eyes of their heart to receive Christ as their Saviour at conversion, they still must seek God to enlighten (or open) the eyes of their heart to come to a deeper understanding of these crucial truths he mentions next. Our “heart” refers to our total inner person, which includes our intellect, our emotions, centre of thought and the will. In order to understand wisdom and revelation, God must open the eyes of the heart of the believer. Before believers’ conversion their heart’s eyes were closed to the things of God. At the moment of conversion, the eyes of the heart are opened somewhat, but this is just the beginning. Paul asks God, through the Holy Spirit, that the eyes of the Ephesian believer’s hearts would be continually opened (“enlightened”) more and more to the fullness of God’s truth and that it will dwell in them fully. Paul simply was praying the believers would grow in their faith each and every day. That they would become more and more like Christ and they would do this with the help of the Holy Spirit. Now Paul prays the believers would know three essential truths  about their salvation through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit: confident hope, a glorious inheritance and greatness of God’s power. 

Paul prays the believer would be enlightened with the truth about their future confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people.” The “confident hope” in AMP says “divine guarantee, the confident expectation to which he has called you.” Paul wants the believers to know the significance that God’s call (or choosing them) has on their future. God has guaranteed a future destiny for all believers, that is eternity with Christ which they can be confident in this future hope. By knowing the hope that is set before them, believers are motivated by the certainty that their work in this world and their care for people is not in vain. This future hope should change the way they live now.

“Who are His rich and glorious inheritance. is referring to the believers’ present spiritual riches in Christ in being freed from sin and made ready for fellowship with God. Also refers to the believers’ heavenly possessions of riches and glories of God. Such riches are part of the believers’ inheritance. And Paul doesn’t assume the believers anticipated this inheritance or are thankful for it so it prays that they will know it, the glory of it and the riches of the glory of it.

The third truth is “you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.” Paul wants the believers to know the truth that God is incredibly powerful, so powerful that his power accomplished the resurrection of Christ. It proved that God’s purpose cannot be stopped by any human action. It proves God is still in control. Paul’s desire is that the believers will know this great power is available to them and he prays they will understand it.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Paul’s intercessory prayer is asking the Holy Spirit to open the spiritual eyes of the Ephesian believers to three truths: their confident hope of eternity with Christ, their glorious inheritance and the incredible power of God that they all can experience because they believe. Paul wanted the believers to grow in the faith to be more Christlike, and this should be my prayer as well, for me, to be more like Christ in all I say and do and think.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  The whole Christian life involves an continual opening of the heart’s eyes to the things of God. As long as sin is in my life it will cloud my thinking, my desires and affections. There will always be part of me that needs to be opened more and more to let the fulness of God’s truth dwell in me. I should pray both for myself and my fellow believers this prayer of Paul each and every day.

Entry filed under: Journey Thru the Bible. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Ephesians 1:15-16 – Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving Ephesians 1:20-23 – Paul’s praise for God’s power

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