Ephesians 1:15-1:17 –
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
I want to teach a short lesson on the topic of “knowledge”… God’s Word has a lot to say about knowledge, and the different forms and subjects of knowledge, and today we are going to look at what the Bible calls the “knowledge of God”. Not knowing what God knows, – but knowledge about God…or knowing God. Our scripture is from Eph. 1:15-23 – which has to do with knowing some things about God – but, we have to start from the beginning because of the first words of verse 15 – “For this reason” … we have to know first of all what Paul is talking about… for what reason? That being said, let’s begin with verses 1-14…
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blame-less in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
How many spiritual blessings can we find here in these verses? (These could become five separate teachings…)
1. “chose us to be holy and blameless in His sight”. (“to be” means this is a result of – not the basis for…)
2. “predestined us to be adopted as his sons – through Christ”
3. “we have redemption” – “the forgiveness of sins” (by grace and grace alone.)
4. “made known to us the ‘mystery of Christ’ (Is that a blessing? What is the mystery? )
5. “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (a deposit on our inheritance?)
“For this reason – or, because of all that) … Paul prays, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation, so that you may know Him better…”
In other words, Paul is praying for the Ephesians the most important prayer any Believer can pray for another Believer. That God would take them deeper and deeper into an intimate knowledge of Himself. “Man’s chief end is to know God and to enjoy Him forever.” it was determined in the Westminster Catechism; but Paul knew and taught that basic truth long before that was ever written; … “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him”.
Now something that surprised me about the various translations is that only the NIV translates verse 17 to say “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, giving the word ’Spirit’ a capital “S”. What Paul is praying for the Ephesians, is for something that only the Holy Spirit of God can give. He is praying and asking God for this particular thing because he is praying for spiritual wisdom and revelation, that can only come from God’s Holy Spir-it.
Now does that mean he’s praying for God to give them the Holy Spirit? No. Because he’s writing to believers. They have the Holy Spirit since their salvation. What he is praying for simply, is the Holy Spirit’s help and continued unction in bringing to these faithful believers an ever-greater wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of God. This is the goal of every minister in every church.
The point is this; Man in his natural mind cannot begin to comprehend God. In fact, one basic truth that the scriptures teach us from beginning to end, is that apart from the Spirit and spiritual birth, God is infinitely and eternally out of man’s grasp. “Man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st. Cor. 2:14)
Paul is, in effect, repeating Jesus’ teaching when He told the Pharisee, Nicodemus, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Man cannot have the knowledge of God apart from God’s Spirit; the wisdom, the teaching, and the understanding of the things of the Spirit.
More to come…