Ephesians 1:18


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18

The first clause is really dependent on the previous verse. Taken together the two say, “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, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…”

This then is the continued prayer of Paul which is being expressed in words. The first clause reads that, “…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” The Greek actually says, “the eyes of your heart.” The heart is considered the seat of understanding and the place from which wisdom is derived. This is especially true with spiritual understanding. It encompasses the totality of the inner man.

Paul’s prayer is that understanding would flow into them and fill them. And this filling has a specific purpose. It is so “that you may know what is the hope of His calling.” This is the calling of God in Christ that carries with it a specific hope. The “hope” he speaks of is not referring to something “hoped for” as if it is yet to be attained. Rather, it is the result of our redemption through Christ Jesus.

Paul is now, as he will be throughout this epistle, speaking of “heavenly” things. The “hope of His calling” speaks of our eternal inheritance in Christ. It is already secured based on our belief in Christ, even if it is not yet actuated. The reason for understanding this now (as his prayer desires for them), is so that in this world of trouble, we can look beyond the moment to the greater world, the world of glory, which lies ahead. This is revealed in the next clause which speaks of “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

In the Greek of this clause alone, there are eight words in the genitive case. A genitive is a word “relating to or denoting a case of nouns and pronouns (and words in grammatical agreement with them) indicating possession or close association.” The abundance of genitives shows that, “Glory is the essential characteristic of salvation, and this glory is richly abounding. His inheritance: which is His, and His gift” (Vincent’s Word Studies).

This is what we now possess, completely and forever. It can never be taken from us as it was given to us with a pledge (see verses 1:13, 14). For this reason, we can walk in this world of woe and have confidence that no matter what happens, our inheritance is secure and it is glorious. The riches of what lie ahead are ours now, and so nothing should make us falter in our walk with Christ. No matter what force of evil comes against us, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.

Life application: As the world continues to devolve into wickedness, let our hearts not be troubled. Should we be faced with the horrifying demand of renouncing Christ or losing our lives, let us have the faith of the saints of ages past and say, “Nice try devil, but no thanks! I have a sure hope and calling which will see you cast into the Lake of Fire as I sit, watching from a heavenly setting.”

Lord God, give us the mind to remember our salvation which has already been guaranteed for us by the work of Christ. We ask this during those times when we face troubles and sadness, and especially during any time where we may have to face renouncing Jesus or losing our own lives. What can the world do to us? We already have the guarantee of our rich inheritance because of the work of Christ. Help us, O God, to remember this always. Amen.



Ephesians 1:17


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.


Ephesians 1:16


Monday, 11 July 2016

…do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: Ephesians 1:16

It is common to Paul’s letters to have such a statement, or a part of such a statement, included in the early portion of them. In some letters, the stress is on the thanks, in others is it on the prayers. The letter to the Galatians noticeably skips over this general sentiment though. He had greater concerns with them.

With the Ephesians, he notes that he does not “cease to give thanks for” them. He was far distant from them and knew that he may never see them again, but he could communicate with them and hear of their continued faith in the Lord. The previous verse noted that he had heard of their “faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love for all the saints” and he was overjoyed at this. The knowledge of their steadfastly holding to the gospel which had been presented to them was a source of joy and elation, leading to constant thanks.

But more than just thanks, he tells them of his “making mention of” them in his prayers. He not only thanked God for their current state, but he also petitioned God for this to continue, for them to be strengthened and emboldened in their walk, to be protected and safe from the wiles of the devil, and to be comforted in their trials and tribulations.

He uses the same term, “making mention,” in both Romans 1:9 and Philemon 1:4. Paul was a faithful friend and a heartfelt prayer partner for those he so loved. As far as this constant thanks and prayer he mentioned, there is no reason to not believe it, just as he says it.

This doesn’t mean that Paul got on his knees, closed his eyes, and continued to be in thanks and prayer with the exception of taking time to eat or sleep. Rather, as he worked, as he walked, as he contemplated the many fruits of his labors, he took the time to thank God and pray for those he was so intimately connect to. It is reflective of his own admonition to those in Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Later in this epistle, he will speak of spiritual warfare in great detail. He knew that a part of that warfare was to continue in praise to God, and also to continue in petition to Him. In particular, see verse 6:18 concerning this.

Life application: Even though God already knows the end from the beginning, and even though the plan is complete in His mind, this should not lead us to a fatalistic view of life where prayers are ignored. Rather, our prayers are figured into the plan, just as our free-will calling on Jesus is figured into the plan. If we don’t receive Jesus, we will not be saved. Likewise, prayers that are unuttered can never be heard. God’s foreknowledge of all things outside of time factor in our actions within the stream of time. Pray!

Heavenly Father, one of the marvelous things You have granted to the sons of men is the opportunity to pray. We can open our hearts to You, and You hear and respond according to Your grace and mercy. As Jesus is the Mediator between our prayers and Your ears, we can know that only those prayers offered through Him can be accepted by You. And so, we offer them to You in His name – the perfect Mediator who stands between fallen us and perfect You. Thank You that our prayers are heard because of Him. Amen.



Ephesians 1:15

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, Ephesians 1:15

Paul’s wording here is very close to the wording of Colossians 1:4. It is known that Paul had visited Ephesus and that he had not visited Colossae. For this reason, some look at this letter as not being written exclusively to the saints at Ephesus. However, he uses similar terminology in Philemon 1:5 also, and so the address solely to the Ephesians is not necessarily to be considered a later addition, nor is this a reason to dismiss this letter as a forgery.

“Therefore” is based on verse 13 which concerns their having “heard the word of truth” and then “having believed.” Based on this, they were “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Because of these things, he says, “I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints…” He will state in the next verse what the result of these things are. For now, it is sufficient to concentrate on the words at hand.

“After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus” are the words scholars lean on to state that the address “to the saints who are in Ephesus” is a later addition. As Paul had been there and personally seen the faith of those in Ephesus, the logic is that there would be no point in stating this. But as was seen above, he uses the same terminology in Philemon. Instead, this is speaking of their faith which obviously continued to grow, both in number and in maturity. Paul had not been to Ephesus for some time. When hearing of their status, his words of elation make complete sense.

The words translated here as “your faith” are literally, “the faith among you.” It is the only time he uses this phase, and it therefore lends credence to the thought that this letter was actually addressed to the Ephesians. As he has been gone, and as “the faith among” them had expanded, it is natural to think that he would have heard of it after it occurred. He is pleased to have learned of the state of the Ephesian church.

The words, “in the Lord Jesus” do not give the same idea as “towards the Lord Jesus.” Faith towards Jesus is centered on Jesus; whereas, faith “in the Lord Jesus” embodies much more. It signifies a faith which acknowledges God’s work, in Christ, and thus it is a faith which includes the plan of God the Father as well as the work of the Spirit. Each of these have already been noted in his opening words (e.g. see verses 3 & 13).

Paul is especially elated to hear of both this faith as well as their “love for all the saints.” This is an evidence of their faith in Christ. It is the expression of that faith being worked out among those who are also “in Christ.” It is the mutual respect that all believers should have, but which is sorely lacking among the redeemed in today’s world. Doctrinal differences lead to immense divides in the church. Among the Ephesians, such problems may have existed, but their love remained strong towards all believers. It was, therefore, of exceptional note.

Life application: With the Bible written, we have our source of doctrine for proper Christian conduct and belief. Because of this, divisions within the faith are certainly more pronounced. When a congregation practices something which clearly violates Scripture, it is rather hard to continue to show them fraternal love. They are demonstrating disregard for the word, and thus for God who gave the word. It will be good when Christ returns and sorts out our many differences, both petty and great.

Lord God, You ask us to demonstrate love towards all, especially those who are of the household of faith. But it sure can be hard when they refuse to heed Your word. It can be even more difficult when their doctrine isn’t in accord with Your word. Such willful disobedience to the precepts You have laid down shows a lack of care for You who gave that same word. It will be marvelous when You come back for us and sort us out. May that day be soon. Until then, give us hearts to love others, knowing that we too are not perfect in our faith and practice. Amen.




Ephesians 1:14


Saturday, 9 July 2016

…who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:14

It is right to look at this verse along with verse 13 for proper context –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

The believer trusts in Christ after hearing the word. It is this word which is the gospel of his salvation. Once a person believes in Christ, he is sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit “who is the guarantee of our inheritance.”

The word for ‘guarantee” is arrabón. It is a rare word, found only three times in the New Testament and it means “properly, an installment; a deposit (‘down-payment’) which guarantees the balance (the full purchase-price)… [It] is the regular term in NT times for ‘earnest-money,’ i.e. advance-payment that guarantees the rest will be given…[it] then represents full security backed by the purchaser who supplies sufficient proof they will fulfill the entire pledge (promise).”

Understanding the meaning of this word, it is impossible to see how anyone can believe in a loss of salvation for a person who has – at any time in his life – believed in Him and been saved. If God seals us with His Holy Spirit as a guarantee, and if we can lose that, then –

  • It was not a very good guarantee.
  • It diminishes the value of the blood of Christ which was used for the purchase of the possession.
  • God made a mistake in sealing us with His “guarantee.”
  • It is of our effort and not of God that we are saved. (If we can lose our salvation, at anytime after we are saved, then it means that it was never of grace, but it was up to us to maintain it by some type of work).

This word, arrabón, comes from the Hebrew word eravon which is also found only three times in the Bible, all in Genesis 38 in the account of Judah and Tamar. In that account, a picture was being made of the work of Christ, including the Gentile-led church age. The story is a magnificent one and a detailed sermon on its meaning can be viewed at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezrTF468Q_I

As noted, the word arrabón is found only three times in the New Testament. The other two times are in 2 Corinthians 1:22 and in 2 Corinthians 5:5. In all three uses, it is referring to the pledge of the Holy Spirit. He is our surety and our guarantee. As this is the sealing of God in us, it represents the highest of all authorities. It further represents an eternal decree of God. It can never be undone without violating the initial decree.

Therefore, we are one hundred percent secure as we wait “until the redemption of the purchased possession.” What is being referred to here is “the complete and final salvation from sin and death” (Charles Ellicott). This indicates the result of the action, and not the action itself. In other words, we have already been purchased by and through the work of Christ. This is evidenced by the sealing of the Holy Spirit. What is being referred to is the action that will be taken, at some future point, based on the what has already been purchased. This action is noted in 2 Thessalonians 2 where Paul speaks of the revealing of the coming antichrist. There he writes –

“Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7

The “He” referred to in this verse is the Holy Spirit with Whom we are sealed. Paul says that a day is coming, prior to the revealing of the antichrist, that the Holy Spirit will be “taken out of the way.” This is the rapture of the church. We will be taken to be with Christ during the time of tribulation which is coming on the earth. As noted above, if the Holy Spirit is taken out and we are not, then that was not a very good guarantee.

Rather, we are guaranteed of being taken out – just as the Bible states. God cannot lie and our hope is secure. And all of this is “to the praise of His glory.” Vincent’s Word Studies notes that this final clause is to be taken together with the words “you were sealed.” Our sealing is to the praise of God’s glory because it conforms to “God’s purpose as it respects Himself.”

His plan of redemption is that for which He is to be glorified. The sealing of the Spirit, based on faith in the work of Christ, is what brings Him this praise. He is glorified through the way He deals with His redeemed. And praise God for this wonderful plan!

Life application: If you have doubts concerning the doctrine of “eternal salvation,” then all you need to do is think logically about what God’s word says. If your salvation is up to you, then it is not by grace. If not by grace, then we are pursuing the wrong God, because the Bible says that God saves us by grace through faith. Works are ex-clu-ded.

Heavenly Father, Your word shows that we are saved by grace and through faith. If we can do something after being saved that will cause us to lose our salvation, then our salvation is up to us, and it isn’t really by grace. Rather, when we trust in Christ, we are sealed with Your Holy Spirit as a guarantee. The deal is done; the seal is from You. We have the surest hope of all that You will never leave us and never forsake us. Hallelujah and Amen!