We live in a world that encourages impulsiveness, superficiality, speed, and information. We plan, execute our plans, and create strategies for when those plans don’t succeed. We often justify neglecting people, tasks, and worldly events because of our personal needs and interests. We continue in less-than-helpful (or sinful) habits and routines because they are so dear to us and ingrained in our psyche. We know we should pay more attention to God’s Word, but so many things on our schedules distract us, even when we set aside time to read, pray, study, or meditate. And, we don’t think to pray for God’s help to change us. If this sounds like a personal confession, it is. I have abysmal sleeping habits. I use my phone too long in bed or when I awake and think I can’t get back to sleep. Yesterday, after meditating on our passage, I confessed to God that I haven’t really wanted to change. The realization that this was my first time admitting not wishing to change hit me like a brick. I’ve been asking for God’s help for months, but this was the first time I confessed to wanting to use my phone and not give it up, even if it meant waking tired and with a muddled mind. I hadn’t gone deep enough before. If I continue examining myself with God’s help, I’m sure there’s more to it. Is there something you have been struggling with that you’ve been handling superficially? Are there issues or people whom you have sloughed off instead of spending time thinking about or relating to them? Today we’ll see how Christ gives his disciples wisdom, revelation, hope, riches, inheritance, tremendous power, and protection under his rule, authority, and dominion. I hope and pray that we will embrace and grow in our understanding and appreciation of the blessings of Christ’s wisdom, revelation, and power through the Holy Spirit, who is working mightily in us.
We Need the Holy Spirit’s Help
“Though the Scriptures themselves are light for us, there is need for additional illumination so that we may clearly perceive the light. The same Holy Spirit who inspires the Scripture, works to illumine the Scripture for our benefit. He sheds more light on the original light. Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit. He helps us to hear, receive, and properly understand the message of God’s Word.” (1) “[May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:17-21) “This was one part of the apostle’s prayers for the saints at Ephesus, that they might increase in divine knowledge…practical and experimental; and which is joined with love of him, faith in him, and obedience to him…and though it is but imperfect, yet is progressive; and for the progression of it, the apostle prays; for it is certain, that these saints had a knowledge of Christ, but this was not perfect; and a larger measure of it was desirable: and in order to this, he prays for the Spirit, as a ‘spirit of wisdom’; who implants spiritual wisdom in the hearts of men, and instructs them in the Gospel, the hidden wisdom of God, leads them into all truths, and opens to them the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, which are hid in Christ, the wisdom of God…The eyes of your understanding being enlightened…to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin; the insufficiency of their own righteousness; the beauty, glory, fulness, and suitableness of Christ, as a Saviour; the excellency, truth, and usefulness of the doctrines of the Gospel; in which their understandings were before dark, but now had light into them.” (2) Being Christ’s disciples, we are blessed by the Spirit’s wisdom, revelation, hope, and riches.
The Greatness of God’s Power
Paul prays for Christ’s people to understand that they have the same power from God that raised Christ from the dead. “Paul piles up’ power words’ to express the immeasurable greatness of God’s power, working, and great might toward believers. Power over supernatural forces through magic and the occult was a great concern in ancient Ephesus (Acts 19:19), but the power of the living God in Christ trumps all competing authorities (Acts 19:20).” (3) We are also living in a world that is obsessed with the power of people, the “universe,” a “higher” power, or the power of love and faith—but not God’s power. These folks don’t believe in the God of the Bible—the true God who has created everything and continues to sustain and rule over all events, people, and circumstances. “God revealed great power in creating the world out of nothing, but He revealed even greater power in redeeming the world when it was worse than nothing. In the former, He had no opposition; in the latter, the law, devil, and flesh resisted Him. It would have been impossible for our Mediator to endure the power of darkness, the curse of the law, and the fury of His Father without almighty arms underneath Him. ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold’ (Isa. 42:1). God put forth great power in His work of redemption (Eph. 1:19–20). God is incomparable not only in what He has done, but also in what He can do. He can do whatever He wills, and He can do more than He wills. His arm is as large as His mind, and His hand is equal to His heart. His pleasure is the only boundary of His strength…He ‘is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Eph. 3:20)…’For with God nothing shall be impossible’ (Luke 1:37).” (4) This is the power that God shares with us through the Holy Spirit to the extent that a human being can employ it.
Our Power in Christ
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe… The objects of the divine power here intended, are believers in Christ…the understanding is enlightened, the will is subdued, the affections are set on other objects, and the mind and conscience are cleansed and purified…this work of faith cannot be ascribed to anything short of the exceeding greatness of divine power” (5) “The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in believers…Jesus’s majestic use of power and authority in the interest of His people is the Christians’ model. Paul reminds his Gentile readers of two specific ways in which Christ’s power has blessed them: He brought them from death to life and from alienation from God’s people to inclusion with them.” (6) “It is amazing that God should so treasure as His inheritance a gathering of people who were once dead in trespasses and objects of His wrath, making His church the venue to display His manifold wisdom. This outcome results only from His grace and redounds only to His glory.” (7)
Christ’s Mediatorial Work Blesses Us
In Ephesians 1:21, Paul addresses the implications of Christ’s ascension after his resurrection, “…far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” “It was prophetic of the ascension of all believers, who are already set with Christ in heavenly places, Eph. 2:6, and are destined to be with Him forever, John 17:24.” (8) Christ not only gives us his wisdom, revelation, hope, riches, inheritance, and power, but protection under his rule, authority, and dominion, being raised with him in heaven. Do we embrace and grow in our understanding and appreciation of the blessings of Christ’s gifts? Do we employ his wisdom, revelation, and power through the Holy Spirit, who is working mightily in us? I confess I don’t. Do you? “He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard…Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:31-34)
Related Scripture: Mark 16:19; Acts 2:23-24; 1 Corinthians 2:9-11; Ephesians 3:7-10; 4:4-6; Colossians 1:9-12, 27; Philippians 2:9; 3:21; 2 Peter 3.
1. The Reformation Study Bible, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.
2. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Ephesians 1:19-21, (digital edition), Crossway, 200.
3. Swinnock, George, The Blessed and Boundless God, Reformation Heritage Books, 2014, Kindle Edition.
4. Gill, John, John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Ephesians 1:19-20, https:// www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/Ephesians-1.html
5. Reformation Study Bible, Ibid, Ephesians 1:19, p. 2092.
6. Reformation Study Bible, Ibid, Ephesians 1:18, p. 2092
7. Berkoff, L., Systematic Theology,” p. 351, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, Reprinted 1993.
November 3, 2022