By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
The eyes of our hearts have been opened. Paul wants us to know and understand three things that greatly impact how we live out our lives as believers. The first fact that Paul wants us to understand is the hope of His calling which we discussed previously. The second fact is that we as believers are His inheritance which we discussed yesterday. The third fact is His incomparable power toward believers.
Paul uses four different Greek words that might each be translated power in this verse. We might translate the last phrase of this verse in accordance with the power of His power of His power. All of this great power is made available to us who believe, that is those who have become His children as we have been saved through faith. It is access to the manifold power of God that we possess as believers. In this verse, Paul emphasizes that power. In the immediately following verses, he will provide evidence of that power.
The first word for power (surpassing greatness of His power) is the word that we commonly associate with dynamite, yet this word does not really mean instantaneous, explosive power but rather the continuous ability to accomplish whatever is needed. (Hoehner writes, “dynamite was not invented until at least a millennium” after Paul used this term.) This is modified by the words surpassing greatness. This power that is available to us enormously exceeds any other power in existence. We who believe are backed by His infinite power. This is that which is described in Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. The surpassing greatness of His power is further explained by in accordance with the working of the strength of His might. This word denotes the capacity of God’s power.
The word working might also be translated energizing. For the scientist, the previous word for power (dunimis) might be considered potential energy while the word translated working refers to kinetic energy. It is power in motion. It is the active exercise of God’s power. The word translated strength is often used to extol the dominion of God. It connotes absolute rule. It emphasizes the force of the available power. The word translated might often refers to physical strength or power and is also used to extol the strength of God. The words translated strength and might are very similar in meaning. Paul will later use these two words together when he writes Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10).
God’s power is energized on our behalf as we live in an evil and satanic world. It is the power that enables us to live in this world right now. It does not yet destroy that evil world system. That will come later. For now, we must never forget that this power is available and active in our lives today. Even when it seems as if God has forgotten, His power remains energized in our lives.
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:18c what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
The eyes of our hearts have been opened. Paul wants us to know and understand three things that greatly impact how we live out our lives as believers. The first fact that Paul wants us to understand is the hope of His calling which we discussed yesterday. The second fact is that we as believers are His inheritance. Because of the praise of the glory of His grace (v.6), the Father to whom all glory belongs (v.17) will receive the glory of His inheritance in the saints (v. 14) that is described as God’s own possession (14). As believers, we belong to God right now. He has purchased us with the blood of the Son. We are His inheritance.
We, as believers, constitute the abundant and glorious wealth of God’s inheritance. In verse fourteen, Paul spoke of our inheritance that is sealed by the Holy Spirit. This includes a magnificent array of blessings. The inheritance described now is unfathomable. Here he refers to believers, meaning you and me, as God’s inheritance. This inheritance will be fully received by God when we all meet Jesus in the air. After the Judgment Seat of Christ where rewards will be in view, God will prepare a feast that will celebrate His inheritance. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:7-8).
We will be His forever, “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him (Mal. 3:17).” We will rejoice in the freedom that belonging to Him brings, “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall (Mal. 4:2).”
Paul desires that we might come to know God in a personal and intimate fashion. He wants this relationship to grow over time. We are extremely valuable to God. He has purchased us with the most valuable commodity possible, the blood of His Son. We are His inheritance. We belong to Him. God wants fellowship with us right now. We must take the time to get to know Him better each day. We are to the praise of His glory. Amen and Hallelujah!!!
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:18b so that you may know what is the hope of His calling,
The eyes of our hearts have been opened. Paul wants us to know and understand three things that greatly impact how we live out our lives as believers. The first fact that Paul wants us to understand is the hope of His calling. We must understand four things about hope in the Scriptures.
First, our hope is placed in and assured by God. The Psalms often speak of our hope in God, (e.g.; Psa. 61:7 With God is my deliverance and my glory; O God of my help—and my hope is with God). In the current context it is God who has called us to the blessings that Paul has just described. It is the Son who paid the price to obtain the blessings that God has promised. It is the Holy Spirit of Promise who is the seal that can never be broken. Our hope is placed in and assured by God.
Second, our hope is not that which we physically see. It is rather a hope that is seen when the eyes of our hearts are opened. Paul declares in his letter to the Romans, For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees (Rom. 8:24)? Our hope is based on the objective fact of what God has already done when Jesus died for us and rose again from the dead. Our hope is built on the objective evidence of how He has worked in our lives and the subjective experience of our relationship with Him. We look forward to the ultimate realization of all that is involved in the promises of God.
Third, our ultimate hope is laid up for us in heaven. Paul declares in his letter to the Colossians, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel (Col. 1:5). In his letter to the Thessalonians he writes, Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord (1Thess. 4:17). Our eternal future is assured by God. But not only that, it affects everything that we do right now.
Fourth, it stands in stark contrast to unbelievers who have no hope. Eph. 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. As we look at the hopelessness of the world around us, we must be struck with the fact that we have absolute assurance that we belong to God. Let us pray for those that do not know Him that they may experience the same hope that we experience.
This hope is a result of God’s calling. He has accomplished it all in our lives. Hoehner writes, “Hope for believers is not the world’s wishful thinking, but the absolute certainty that God will make true what he has promised.” We may not physically see it right now but the eyes of our hearts have been enlightened so that we might see what is the hope of His calling. As I wrote yesterday “We have received the indwelling Holy Spirit which has resulted in the blasting of spiritual light into the very center of who we are.” We see this hope as the reality that it is. After all, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:17 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.
Paul now expresses the request of his prayer in a nutshell. Ultimately the request concerns knowledge of Him. This is the same thing that John wrote about in I John. Paul wants us to know God in an extremely personal manner, but before we get there let’s examine what Paul says about that knowledge. First, the source of that knowledge is God. There is no other source and without including God all knowledge remains incomplete. He is designated as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. This phrase is unique as it is used only here in the New Testament. It uniquely designates the unity of essence of both the Father and the Son. He is designated as the Father of glory. He is the One to whom all glory belongs. I do not have time to even begin to unpack all that means. Simply stated (if that is possible) Paul goes right to the source of all glory as he makes His request for us.
Paul asks that God may give to us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation. In doing so Paul brings the Holy Spirit into the mix. Wisdom suggests insight into the facts which were already revealed while revelation speaks of those things which in the past were hidden in God and are now being revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. This is the major reason that it must be the Holy Spirit who is in view in this verse since this revelation can only be disclosed by God Himself. It is true that as believers, we already have the indwelling Holy Spirit yet Paul still requests that the Holy Spirit will enable us to know the deep things of God through insight into His previous revelation and the unfolding of those things now being revealed.
Paul requests that we might have a profound knowledge of Him. Paul requests that we might have this relationship with God that is freely available to us as believers. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God (1Cor. 2:10-11). The request is that God will provide to us all the resources necessary to fellowship with Him. He has provided us with the Holy Spirit.
Paul is asking for us the same things that John wants us to have. Paul makes the request to God on behalf of believers. He asks that we not only possess eternal life but also revel in the deep, intimate and personal knowledge of God as the Holy Spirit gives both insight into God and reveals deep, hidden things about God. Paul includes all three persons of the Trinity in this prayer which requests intimate knowledge of Him.
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
The word translated giving thanks is used thirty-nine times in the New Testament and always refers to giving thanks to God. Jesus uses this word nine times in conversation with the Father. It is used in connection with the Lord’s supper as we give thanks to God for salvation given us through the shed blood of Christ. Paul gives thanks to God for the Ephesian believers because of their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the saints. Love for each other naturally proceeds from faith in Christ. This love was not just centered in the saints they knew but extended to all their fellow believers. Paul made praying for the believers in Ephesus a part of His regular prayer life. It is a cause for contemplation. Would Paul be able to give thanks for my faith? It is possible that it merely refers to their salvation. Yet, I must consider if my day to day life of faith and fellowship is worthy of thankfulness to God. Likewise, I wonder if my love for my fellow believers shines out the message of God’s love to the world.
The phrase making mention of you in my prayers looks both backward to Paul’s thankfulness and forward to the prayers he makes for us as believers. In that prayer, Paul will make one request in verse 17. He will then discuss the purpose and content of that request in the remainder of the chapter. This prayer for us as believers will be central to what we need to understand as we live in light of that insight. Paul could then jump right into the practical results in our lives that he discusses in the second half of the book as they are essentially built on the content of this prayer. First, he will tell us much more about what God has done for us. Tomorrow we will begin to delve a little deeper into the knowledge we must have as we seek to live in light of it.
We must start by exemplifying the qualities that invoke Paul’s thankfulness to God. That is faith in the Lord Jesus and love for all the saints. We must faithfully live by faith. We must also remember to give thanks for one another and mean it. I do thank God for each one of you. You are a bunch of precious folks.
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints.
Paul finishes one exceedingly long sentence (1:3-14) about every spiritual blessing that has been given to us and immediately begins another long single sentence (1:15-23) as he describes his prayer for them and us. This prayer is that we will know God, personally and intimately. In chapter two he will discuss our movement from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive. If I had been writing this, I think I would have started with the description of our salvation and moved on to the personal and intimate relationship that it offers. Paul begins with the magnificent blessings that God bestows and moves to the relationship that is available. Paul begins the discussion with God in view while I would begin the discussion with me in view (Hmm, God’s way seems better). (Yes, I know that God is the one who takes me from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive in chapter two.) Anyway, Paul starts with God and moves quickly to that relationship that we may have with Him. In John’s epistle (I John) this intimate relationship is also front and center just as it is throughout Scripture. God wants to have a personal relationship with me and He provides the means.
Paul begins this sentence by mentioning the two fundamental relationships of Scripture. He begins with the vertical relationship with God that begins with faith in the Lord Jesus. He has just said having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13). He will soon say in the notable passage in chapter two, For by grace you have been saved through faith (2:8). God has blessed us with the blessings that we have received through faith. Paul speaks of this faith ten times in this letter. The intimate relationship we have with Him is always related to faith. It begins through faith and we live by faith. This vertical relationship is emphasized in the first tablet of the Law (Commandments one through four of the Ten Commandments) which Jesus summarizes with the words And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37).’ Paul has heard of their faith. It makes me pause to wonder; ‘how many people have heard of my faith?’.
Paul continues with mention of the horizontal relationships described with the phrase your love for all the saints. This horizontal relationship is emphasized in the second tablet of the Law (Commandments five through ten of the Ten Commandments) which Jesus summarizes with the words “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39).’ Paul will include the words love with faith in the final two verses of this letter. Paul has also heard of their love. It makes me pause to think; I am perfectly comfortable sitting here attempting to understand God’s word, yet ‘How much is my love for the saints evident in what I do?’. Let us pursue our relationships with God and His people fervently.
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
As Paul closes this section on the fantastic blessings of God in our lives, he does so with the complete assurance that our inheritance in God and God's inheritance in us is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. You see, just as John writes about abiding (we in Him and He in us), Paul speaks of both our inheritance and God’s possession (you and me). It is all pledged with the down payment of the Holy Spirit. The word translated pledge is only used two other times in the New Testament and both refer to the fact that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. In II Cor. 1:22, both the word sealed (that is used in Eph. 1:13) and the word pledge or earnest are used as he writes who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. In II Cor 5:5 he writes, now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Hoehner describes it as, “a little bit of heaven in believers’ lives with a guarantee of much more yet to come”.
Paul first stresses that everything he has mentioned in this passage (Eph. 1:3-14) and more (Paul didn’t have enough space to mention everything in this section) are guaranteed to us by the down payment of the Holy Spirit. We have received redemption through His blood. We have received forgiveness of our sins. When we believed we were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. He is the One who makes the promise and assures the promise. God, Himself is our promise.
Not only does the Holy Spirit promise that we have an inheritance, He is given as the promise of the redemption of God’s possession, that is you and me, that is those who have believed. We are God’s possession. Peter speaks of us as God’s possession, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1Pet 2:9). The prophet Malachi writes, “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him (Mal. 3:17).” We as God’s own possession look forward to the time when we will have complete release from the presence of sin in our lives.
Paul ends the section on the sealing of the Holy Spirit with a doxology to the praise of His glory just as he did the section on the redemptive work of the Son (vv. 7-12), and the sovereign work of the Father (vv. 3-6). God has declared that our ultimate redemption will be to the praise of His glory. Isaiah wrote the same thought as he declares, “The people whom I formed for Myself. Will declare My praise (Is. 43:21). We are right now to the praise of His glory. We must declare His praise.
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Paul transitions from the work of Christ in providing us with redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins to the work of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, he also moves from emphasis on the magnificent part God plays in procuring our salvation to our responsibility in receiving His offer of salvation which is validated by the Holy Spirit. In saying this, I do not minimize the part that the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation. He does not just give us an ‘Atta boy’. He plays an intimate part in the process. He is the One who convicts. It is the Holy Spirit who comes to the fore when Paul writes, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (I Cor. 3:6). He is the One who seals. He is the seal. Yet, in this verse that speaks of the part that the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation, Paul also emphasizes the responsibility that we have in believing God’s message. This is the same responsibility that John stresses when he writes, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
There are three verbs that occur in this verse and they are all in the same tense suggesting that they occur simultaneously. Logic would suggest that hearing would come before believing but the verse speaks of them happening at the same time. The fact that we are in Christ is marked by the moment we heard the message of truth and believed the message. At that instant the Holy Spirit sealed us for all time.
Let’s scrutinize this just a little. The message we heard is the message of truth. Hoehner describes this message as “the word of which truth is the very substance and essence.” Jesus said I am the truth. Just as did Jesus, Paul affirms that this truth provides the only way to our salvation. This is the message we have heard. This is the message that is the gospel of your (our) salvation. This is the message that redeems us out of the clutches of sin and places us in the body of Christ forever.
This is the message that we have believed. It was at this precise moment of belief that something remarkable happened. We were identified as being in Christ by the Holy Spirit of promise. There are a couple ways of looking at this. First, it is the Holy Spirit that seals us. The phrase might be translated sealed in Him by the Spirit of promise, that is the Spirit who is the Holy Spirit. Paul strongly emphasizes that God Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is the One who seals us. Second, the next verse lets us know that it is the Holy Spirit who is the seal. We listen, we believe, we are saved. The Holy Spirit seals us for all eternity. He is the Spirit of promise. He is both the source and the sign that our salvation is assured. He is our Promise. We are absolutely assured that we will spend eternity with Him. Once again we Praise His Holy Name; that is the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!!!
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
This verse is a good example of why we sometimes should ignore reading the commentaries, although reading the commentaries gave me something to say today. In fact, I read two commentaries from the same author and over the years his view had changed from one view to the other. Now, I dare not be too harsh on commentaries, else I could not expect you to read my comments on the book of Ephesians. My point is this. There is discussion in the commentaries about who the “we” of verse twelve and the “you” of verse thirteen are. Does “we” mean Paul and his companions or the Jews? Does “you” mean The Ephesians or the Gentiles in general? OK, enough of that. I find that discussion to be of little practical consequence while the verse itself has much practical application.
In this case, it really doesn’t matter who is who, because everyone of us as believers are fully in possession of all these magnificent blessings that God has so greatly bestowed on us through His awesome grace. As believers, we are all redeemed, all the sins of all of us have been forgiven, we all are recipients of the inheritance of verse eleven, all of us are His possession, all of us have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, we are all to the praise of His glory. We are all One in Him.
As Paul draws to close the second section emphasizing the works of the Son with the words to the praise of His glory, it is worth noting that Paul does not keep the distinctions among the three persons of the trinity as absolute as I might have suggested earlier. The works of the Father slide down into the deeds of the Son and the Spirit just as the works of the Spirit and the Son slide up into the works of the Father. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together in perfect harmony to provide us with all that is involved in the blessings of our salvation. It is all to the praise of His glory.
Ah, so you might ask, ‘what is the point of all this?’. In addition to the glorious promises described here, as believers we are all in cahoots with one another and with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Whether Paul or the believing Jews, or believing Ephesians or believers in general; we are all in partnership with God, Himself. He has chosen us as His message of life to this dying world. It is all to the praise of the glory of His grace. Let us together get on with the task to which we are called. We cannot do it alone.
By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
There are two possible ways to understand this verse both of which speak truth about our relationship with God in a profound way and both of which are supported by the Greek. (The Greek is not always as precise as my first Greek professor claimed.) I wonder at times if it is possible that God and perhaps Paul had both ideas in mind when this verse was written. After all, the Old Testament is replete with prophecies that have dual fulfillments. The other possibility is that since I cannot decide which view is correct, I accept both views.
The first view is that which is commonly assumed by most translations although a better translation might be, we have been made heirs or we have been given an inheritance which brings out the passive voice in the Greek. This emphasizes God as the One who has provided us with the magnificent inheritance that has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and procured by the sacrifice of the Son. This agrees with what Paul writes in his epistle to the Colossians. (giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:12-14).) The idea would be we are made partakers of an inheritance… in order that we might praise Him. This inheritance includes possession of redemption, forgiveness of sins and the sealing of the Spirit. The inheritance that we have received ultimately brings praise to God.
The second view is that we are God’s inheritance and would be translated we are God’s inheritance (possession)… in order that we might praise Him. This idea is supported by the Old Testament concept that Israel is God’s possession or inheritance (“For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance (Deut. 32:9).) Israel was to bring praise to God. This fits the context in Ephesians where Paul speaks of Jews and Gentiles being brought together as one body to bring praise to God. Hoehner writes, “Not only do believers possess these benefits (possession of redemption, forgiveness of sins and the sealing of the Spirit), but moreover, God possesses the believers because of what He has done for them.” The inheritance that we are ultimately brings praise to God.
(Quick aside: both views are true whether or not they are both proclaimed in this verse.) We have been given a magnificent inheritance by God. We are God’s possession, purchased by the blood of Christ. God determined that these things would be true by taking counsel with Himself. The One who decided that we are to both be given the inheritance and be God’s inheritance is the One who has made the decision about the inheritance and worked out all the details that we might be to the praise of His glory. Paul will soon designate the Holy Spirit as the One who assures the fait accompli.