Ephesians 1:15–2:10 Paul, This Is Too Much!
Key Notes: Knowing God. Be united with Christ. Aspects of power. Passive gains for us.
If Ephesians 1:3–14 is exuberant, the passage for today is ecstatic. Paul piles words on top of each other so that we are overwhelmed. Perhaps he could have talked more slowly to his secretary and made it easier for us to process but the emotional impact is part of the message.
The passage is divided into three parts. The first part (1:15–23) is a prayer for the Ephesians. The second (2:1–3) is a description of the chaos from which the Ephesian Christians have been delivered. The third (2:4–10) is a repeat description of our now exalted position. A telegraphic style will simplify the material, at the expense of its power and beauty. The text should be read aloud.
1:15–23 The prayer for knowledge.
He prays that God will give them a spirit of knowledge of Himself,
so that the eyes of their hearts may be enlightened;
That they will know the hope to which they were called;
That they will know the riches of their inheritance;
And the greatness of God’s power.
This power was demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ,
And His position at the Father’s right hand,
Placing Him far above any other power,
Putting everything under His feet,
Making Him head over the Church, His body.
Jesus Christ fills Heaven and Earth. (Jer.23:23–24)
A study of phrases within the prayer:
1:17 It is not simply God whom he prays we may know, but...
“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him….”
It is the God of Glory Whom we seek to know. It takes a spirit of both wisdom and revelation to understand Him. So we must have both biblical information and wise assembly of the information, in other words, sound theology. But sound theology is not enough. It is possible to know all the correct words and still not know God. He wants us to see Him in His glory. II Cor.3:18
1:17 “…having the eyes of your heart enlightened….”
The heart is spoken of as the fountain of emotions, will and vitality. The enlightened heart understands itself and is open to seeing God.
1:18 “…the hope to which He has called you….”
This hope is not something that we are reaching up for, but something God has called us to — salvation and all that goes with it.
1:18 “…the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints….” is not here the inheritance we have with Him, but the inheritance He has in us! We are His children, whom He loves.
1:19 “…the immeasurable (Gr. hyperballon, “hyperbole”) greatness (megethos) of His power (dunamis) toward us who believe, according to the working (energeia), of the might (kratos) of His strength (ischus).
*Dunamis is potential power, capacity; dynamic, dynamite.
*Energeia is operational power, “energy”; the “erg” is a unit of work in physics.
*Kratos is strength or control; democracy is control by the people.
*Ischus is might or muscle; the ischium is a large pelvic bone. The pelvic girdle is foundational to the strength of athletes in football, wrestling, and martial arts.
All of these aspects of power are combined in God’s accomplishment of the resurrection of Christ. Actually there is a set of accomplishments.
He raised Christ from the dead,
He made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies.
He is set far above all rule, authority, power and dominion. This list of four words (rule, etc.) probably refers to orders of angelic beings. Christ is seated above them. (See also 3:10, 6:12 where two names of angelic orders are repeated.)
God has put everything under His feet.
He is head of the Church. The Church is His Body.
2:1–3 If we are overwhelmed by a the magnitude of the revelations we have learned of, Paul brings us down to earth with a reminder of our previous condition.
*We were dead in trespasses (slipped off base) and sins (falling short of the target).
*We followed the course of this world,
*followed the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit now at work in the disobedient,
*living in the passions of the flesh,
*following desires of body and mind,
*by nature children of wrath like the rest of humanity.
2:4. “But God….” Our rescue is dependent on Him. He brings us back to the Good News.
“…who is rich in mercy….” out of love for us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,
*made us alive with Christ,
*raised us up with Him,
*made us to sit with Him in the heavenlies,
*so that in coming ages He might show the riches of His grace in kindness to us.
Paul repeats part of 1:20--
*raised Him from the dead;
*made Him sit at His right hand;
and adds three “with words”:
alive with Him,
raised with Him and
made to sit with Him.
Our union with Christ is the basis of our going into the spiritual heights with Him. For a complete collection (16) of the “with” Christ words, see notes on Rom.6 (Lesson 9).
2:8–10 “But God”—he goes on to amplify the theme from 2:4.
*For by grace (unmerited favor)
You have been saved (passive)
And this is not your own doing (faith is a gift)
It is a gift of God (passive)
Not because of works (but created for good works)
Lest any man should boast. (all His doing)
For we are His workmanship (passive)
Created in Christ Jesus (passive)
Unto good works
Which God prepared beforehand (passive)
That we should walk in them.
This much-quoted text tells us emphatically that our salvation is all God’s work. He says it in twelve different phrases using the passive voice. Our faith is part of the gift of salvationt. At the end, it is not something we are to do, so much as it is a way to go—“we should walk in them”. The word “workmanship” is "poema", a Greek word which means artistry or poetry. We are not made to be a hut in a cucumber field (Isa.1:8), but a beautiful temple, God's handiwork. Paul will talk about that in the next lesson.
The two objectives of this lesson are
To know God
To be in union with Christ.
Neither of these objectives are high on the agenda of the Church and therefore on the agenda of the individual Christian although they are of tantamount importance.
“This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. ” (Jn.17:3)
That suggests that if we do not know God, we are not saved; we do not have eternal life.
Union with Christ is also of great importance and little spoken of. Our union with Christ is the basis of our salvation. We are identified with Him in a process of death to our old life, and resurrection and uplift into a new life in the Holy Spirit.
We wonder in conclusion why Paul loads our circuits with more information and more detail than we can handle. Our temptation is to beg him to let up on the pressure, soft-pedal the theology, simplify the verbiage. Keep it simple.
Perhaps Paul intends us to do the opposite. Not “please, Lord, take it easy” but
“More! Lord! Give me more! Let me know who You are. May I see Jesus. "