Tuesday, 12 July 2016
…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:17
The wording in this verse is rich in Christological significance. In the previous verse, Paul said that he did not cease to give thanks for the Ephesians, making mention of them in his prayers. Now he explains what the substance of those prayers are. They form a prayer that is beautifully worded and suitable for use by anyone who yearns for the rich understanding of the work of Christ.
He begins with “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…” The prayer is directed to God the Father. It is thus a reference to the humanity of Christ as our Mediator to God the Father, while at the same time it highlights Christ’s deity. As God is infinite, and as we are finite, there is an infinite gap between the two. Christ Jesus is the bridge between us. He is finite in His humanity, and yet He is infinite in His deity. He is the One to carry our prayers across that infinite divide, and He is the One to bring the answer to those prayers back into our finite realm. Such is the mediatorial role of Christ between the perfect and infinitely holy Creator and His fallen creatures.
After this, he calls Him “the Father of glory.” However, the English fails to include an important definite article. Young’s Literal Translation rightly says –
“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of the glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of him,” YLT
The words are “the Father of the glory.” This is speaking not of the glory of the Father which is unseen, but the glory of Christ which is seen. The glory of God the Father is revealed through God the Son. In the Old Testament, it was the glory of the Lord, YHVH, that was seen. Jesus is the Incarnation of YHVH. This can be substantiated by referring to Acts 7 where the same term “the glory” is used by Stephen –
And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran…” This is found in Genesis 12:1 and it is speaking of the Lord. It is the same Lord who appeared to Abraham at other times, including in human form just prior to the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 18:1. In the New Testament, this “glory” was revealed to us in the Person of Jesus –
“And the Word became 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 1:14
It is this “Father of the glory,” meaning the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, that Paul petitions. His prayer is that He “may give to [them] the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” The term “spirit” here, according to the scholar Alford, “is neither exclusively the Holy Spirit nor the spirit of man, but the complex idea of the spirit of man dwelt in and moved by the Spirit of God.” This is correct.
The prophets and apostles used their own knowledge as they wrote, and yet their writings also reflect the working of the Holy Spirit in them. Although our thoughts and words are not inspired and thus to be considered as scriptural, Paul is asking that the same moving of the Spirit will work in our spirit to reveal to us the truths which are laid out in Scripture. The work of the prophets and apostles was for the writing of Scripture; the use of those Scriptures are for our understanding of what has been written.
In this spiritual working, Paul asks that it be directed to “wisdom.” This is the gift of knowing what is sound and proper in the interpretation of God’s word. One can read Scripture and misapply its contents. This is not wise. Wisdom is found in fearing God and cherishing the right application of His word. “Revelation” is the actual grasping of what God has placed in His word. One might say, “Give me the wisdom to see your words revealed to me.” This revelation that Paul speaks of is “in the knowledge of Him.” It is asking that we be able to peer into the very heart of Scripture to see Christ revealed. In doing so, we see God the Father revealed, because it is Christ who reveals Him to us.
This is the beginning of Paul’s petition for the Ephesians (and thus us!) as he writes his words to them.
Life application: We cannot know God without knowing Jesus Christ. We cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing the source of instruction on who He is, which is the Holy Bible. Therefore, we cannot know God without knowing our Bible. Let us handle this precious gift carefully, looking for God to reveal Himself to us through it.
Lord God, today I commit my steps to You. Please direct my feet; keep me on the proper path, from which I am bound to wander without Your leading; and should I stray, quickly redirect me back to You. Without Your guidance, I am certain to head into thorns and briars, help me to not get into those things! Instead, keep my feet on the soft grass which leads to the still waters of rest. Lord God, today I commit my steps to You. Amen.