Weds 28th June - Ephesians 1:15-23
Meditation on Ephesians 1:15-23
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Having drawn breath after the first fourteen verses of this letter we now need to take another deep breath as we look at the remaining verses of this chapter. It’s like climbing a mountain – as you climb higher, the view gets more expansive and there are cries of ‘wow’!
Paul has outlined the blessings that are poured out on those who belong to the Lord Jesus and it’s because of this new and developing relationship with the Lord that he moves into prayer for the believers in Ephesus. This prayer is one which has been prayed down through the centuries for Christians and for churches around the globe. It’s a universal prayer and one which we can pray for each other.
Paul bases his thanksgiving and prayers on…
- the blessings we have in Christ – ‘For this reason…’
- the faith of those who have accepted these blessings and have come into a personal relationship with Christ
- the love they have shown for each other as fellow Christians.
Paul says that he has ‘heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus’.
He also says that he has heard about ‘your love for all the saints’.
The outcome of this is…
Notice that these are ongoing – “I have not stopped giving thanks…, remembering you in my prayers.”
Do we ‘love’ each other’?
Do we ‘give thanks’ for each other?
Do we ‘pray’ for each other?
This is a powerful prayer, invoking the involvement of our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- God, the glorious Father
- the Lord Jesus Christ
- the Spirit of wisdom and revelation
This is a repetitive prayer – “I keep asking…”
This is not, as Jesus said, “vain repetition as the heathen use”.
This is genuine, ongoing prayer – how about praying this prayer each day for a month, giving thanks for our brothers and sisters in the church and praying for them. Perhaps the following month we could pray for our brothers and sisters in the local churches. Dare we go further? Yes – the following months pray for our brothers and sisters across the UK.
Yes, you’ve sussed it out – finally, praying through a month for our brothers and sisters around the world.
THE OUTCOMES OF THIS THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER Verses 17b-19b
‘that you might know Him better.’
When Jesus prayed for us, He also had outcomes for His prayer. John 17:20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me.”
Pause for a moment: Our Father, God, the glorious Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, wants you and me to ‘know Him better’.
What a contrast to Islam. I am writing this at the start of the week of the Hajj – the annual pilgrimage of millions of Muslims, starting in Mecca in Saudi Arabia.(The following extract is taken from a BBC article explaining the Hajj.) And this pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, each of which every Muslim is expected to do once in their lifetime if they are physically able and can afford to do so. (That rules me out on both counts!)
‘Mecca is the place where the Islamic religion started. It is where the Prophet Muhammad was born and received the first revelations from Allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God) that went on to become the Koran - the holy book read by Muslims.
The city is home to the Ka'bah, built by prophet Abraham and his son prophet Ishmael. Muslims pray in the direction of this sacred building, which is found within the Great Mosque of Mecca.
The Ka'bah is the holiest site in Islam and symbolises the oneness of God.
Muslims carry out a number of important rituals while they are on the pilgrimage.
Men are required to wear two sheets of white cloth, which are worn in a specific way. Women wear traditional clothing and must cover their head, but not their face. These clothes symbolise the equality of all Muslims before Allah.
During the first stage of Hajj, Muslims walk around the Ka'bah in an anti-clockwise direction seven times. This is known as Tawaf and is done to show that all Muslims are equal.
The next ritual requires Muslims to run between two hills, Safa and Marwah, seven times. Muslims believe that the prophet Abraham's wife Hagar did this when she was in search of water for her infant son Ishmael. Ishmael is believed to have struck his foot on the ground and this produced a spring of water known as Zamzam. It is common for those on the pilgrimage to take water from Zamzam with them when they go back home.
Pilgrims travel to the plain of Arafat. This is where the Prophet Muhammad gave his final sermon and Muslims pray to God here for forgiveness and guidance.
Muslims also stop at three pillars called Jamarat in the city of Mina. This is where pilgrims throw stones at pillars which stand at the place where Satan is believed to have tempted the prophet Abraham.
Muslims celebrate the festival Eid ul-Adha during Hajj. This is the second holy festival in the year.
Eid ul-Adha marks Allah asking the prophet Abraham, in a dream, to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to Allah. Ishmael agreed to it but as Abraham was about to kill his son, Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead, rewarding them for their faith and willingness to follow the request.’
Thank God we don’t have to do such a pilgrimage to earn our salvation. We give thanks that, in Christ, we have been brought into the family of our ‘glorious Father’ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Paul adds three more outcomes of such prayers – remembering the first one as ‘that you may know Him better.’
His longing is that ‘the eyes of our heart may be enlightened…’
- ‘that you may know the hope to which He has called you.’ Verse 18a
You and I first became a Christian when God called us to respond in faith to His invitation to join His family. He called us for a purpose. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he reminded him of his calling – ‘…God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.’ (2 Timothy 1:9)
That hope is with us through our life as the Spirit of God works in us to make us more like Jesus.
That hope takes us on into eternity when we shall see Him, be like Him and be with Him for all eternity.
What a hope!
- ‘that you may know the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints’ Verse 18b This looks forward to heaven when we will enter into our inheritance which Jesus has granted us through His death and resurrection. As Paul reminds the Corinthians, ‘no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.’
- ‘that you may know His incomparably great power for us who believe’ Verse 19a
This power enables us to live the Christian life. This covers the time between our being called, when we first became a Christian, and our being glorified, when we take our inheritance which was promised us when we became Christians. It is power for living.
THE POWER SOURCE Verses 19b-21
This power which is available to each of us is dynamic and is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus.
- God raised Jesus from the dead. That resurrection power is available to each one of us in our Christian journey.
- God seated Jesus in heaven – at His own right hand. That resurrection power is available to each one of us in our Christian journey.
- God exalted Jesus to throne in heaven from which He rules unchallenged. There can be no coup. Jesus is Lord over everything and everyone. ‘Jesus is Lord’ we sometimes sing. Paul takes us further when he reminds us that Jesus is Lord…
- ‘far above all rule’
- ‘far above all authority’
- ‘far above all power’
- ‘far above all dominion’
- ‘far above every title that can be given’
Jesus is supreme – both now and throughout eternity.
HE IS VICTORIOUS KING Verse 22-23
It may not seem like it at the present time but the enemy, Satan, is a defeated enemy. He tried to upend Job and he challenged God accordingly. Read the following verses from chapters 1 and 2 of Job.
Job 1:6-12 and Job 2:1-8.
Although Job went through the wringer, God made it clear to Satan, ‘so far and no further.’
Paul says it is a different way but the meaning is the same – ‘God placed everything under His feet.’
Jesus is supreme over everything and everyone – over the church, over the world, over the enemy.
We give thanks and we pray. What a privilege.