I have been saturating in Ephesians 1.15-23 for some time now. Paul’s prayer has been incredibly rich to my soul as I have been discovering all that it holds for my life. It is certainly a true statement that when you get into the Word, you cannot remain the same! This has unquestionably been the case in my life. Recently, I have entered a new subsection of the passage (1.20-23) – an example of God’s indescribable power as told in verse 19. Over the next several weeks, I want to walk through the passage as we discover the essence and immeasurability of God’s power. But first, let us review what Paul has been saying throughout his prayer in Ephesians 1:15-19.
The Introduction (1.15-16)
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
Paul begins with an introduction, mentioning two things he has heard about the Ephesians. First, their faith in Jesus. Faith is not merely belief but a total dependency upon something or someone. When you jump out of an airplane, you must have faith in the parachute, otherwise you will go splat upon the ground (or you won’t jump). When it says that they had faith in Jesus, it was as if they were pushing all their chips in, casting themselves out of an airplane with full faith and dependency upon Jesus – if He doesn’t come through, they, in essence, are dead. They are invoking His activity and movement in their lives. Jesus has become the source of all that takes place within them.
Second, they have love for all the saints. Love here is not a feel-good emotion, nor is it the brotherly love and affection we often have for our friends. This love is the God-love, agape. Agape has no limits or restrictions. When you begin to agape someone, there is nothing they can do to make you stop – they can hate you, spit on you, beat your back, and even hang you on a cross, yet this agape love continues to pour forth. That is the level of love we should have for everyone around us (not just those in the church). What would it look like if a group of people banded together who decided to love on that level? It would change their church, community, and country. People would flock to them. Yes, it would not be easy – they will probably get mad at you, hit you, beat your back, and even hang you from a tree, but even then the unconditional love of God would be flowing and spilling from of every pore in your body.
It is because of these two things, that Paul says he can’t stop, slow down, or let up from continually giving thanks unto God for them.
Schooled in Christ (1.17)
[I pray] 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
In verse 17, Paul begins to open his heart and share the prayer he has been praying on their behalf (which is also being prayed for you). The word “revelation” has the understanding of unveiling or pulling back the curtain. Like a big theatre which has large, thick curtains hanging in front of the stage that are pulled back at the time of performance. There is an unveiling. What is being uncovered? The wisdom of God. Wisdom here literally means the “deep things of God.” Thus Paul is praying that in your life there would be a pulling back of the curtains, an unveiling of the deep things of God! I don’t know about you but I desperately need a revelation (unveiling) of the deep things of God in my life.
Paul then says that the entire purpose of the unveiling and revealing of the deep things of God is so you would have knowledge of Him. Knowledge here is not intellectual information but is associated with intimacy (ginosko). God wants to unveil and reveal the deep things of Himself in our lives for the purpose of drawing us into greater oneness and intimacy with Him. May it be so today!
Our Calling (1.18a)
[I pray that] the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling…
Paul continues by expressing his great desire for the Ephesians (and us) to have a full understanding of three things. First: that we might know the hope of His calling. Every single person has a calling in their life. No this is not a profession, a job, or things to do. Some may be “called” to be a teacher or a plumber or a factory worker or a circus clown; but regardless of that kind of calling, everyone has an intense single-focused calling upon their life. What is it? Jesus! Jesus is the calling within our lives. He is to be the essence and substance contained therein. When you get into this passage, you find that the word “calling” has to do with intimacy, oneness, and communion with Him. Our calling is to embrace Jesus, to rely and depend completely and fully upon Him, for Jesus to become the entirety of our life. It is only when this happens, that an unshakable hope is produced.
Our Inheritance (1.18b)
[I pray that you would know] what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
I grew up with the idea that once I die I will receive my “reward” or “inheritance” – gold streets, a mansion, eternal shuffleboard, and bon bons with no calories. That is completely opposite of what Paul is saying. We have an inheritance, and we don’t have to wait until we die to get it. We have an inheritance now! And you’ll never guess what it is … JESUS! He IS our inheritance! In 1.13-14, Paul writes that the Holy Spirit is merely the down payment (10%) of what the final (in heaven version) will be. Can you even imagine? The very best we can experience now in Jesus, the intimacy, the oneness, the dependency is merely a 10% glimpse of the total.
If I brought you into a large room full of $100 bills and told you to take as much as you would like, but you only get to take out as much as you can carry in one trip, I am sure you would sew extra pockets into your clothes. Yet we have Jesus, who is opening Himself up wide, and urging us to take as much as we want. Why are we content with so little? Why would we not run hard and fast after Him until we have received His FULLNESS? Note: I understand it will be impossible to have more than the tip of the iceberg of His fullness by the time we die – but why wouldn’t we live as if we could somehow have the entirety, the full iceberg? To aggressively go after Him with the full intention of having every ounce and drop we can get. He is opening Himself up wide begging us to take more. There is only one thing we are allowed to be greedy in – JESUS! Go after Him! Why would you be content and satisfied with what you have when there is far more of Him to embrace?
The Exceeding Greatness (1.19)
[I pray that you would know] what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…
I found a great quote by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “Take all the dictionaries of the world, exhaust all the vocabularies, and when you have added them all together you have still not begun to describe the greatness of God’s power.”
In verse 19, Paul uses two exceedingly rare Greek words (exceeding and greatness) to attempt a description of God’s power. It truly is indescribable. And if His power is indescribable, how do we even begin to fathom God Himself?
It is this power of God that Paul is wanting us to know is alive and working in our lives right now. What does that mean and look like? Next week we will have Part 2 in the “God’s Indescribable Power” series.
Read the other Bible Studies in this series:
God’s Indescribable Power (Ephesians 1.19)