Introduction: this section is a prayer that we might know the power and
privilege we have as followers of Christ.
It is spring and youth sports are in full swing. It is always fun to watch kids
learning a sport especially if you are with someone who knows the game. A good
coach can spot real potential and you might hear one say “she doesn’t know how
good she is.” This coach can see ability in the player that she does even know she
has and the hope is that someone will help that young athlete understand her
abilities and reach her potential.
You can hear similar comments from teachers. They love all the kids in their
class but occasionally they will see one who has great natural gifts in something like
leadership. They understand that one their jobs as a teacher is to help that student
realize the way others follow him so he can grow into a leader.
This is the attitude Paul has in the second part of Ephesians 1. In the first
part of the chapter he said “let me show you what is yours with this new life.” Now
he shares a prayer that we who have faith in God and love for God’s people would
know just how good we are. He wants us to know the possibilities.
They are believers full of love and faith but he prays that “you may know him
Paul is speaking to believers. He characterizes them as those who have faith
in the Lord Jesus and love for God’s people. These are the basic building blocks of
your spiritual journey, the first things you believe in your journey of believing and
becoming. But he prays we will move further down the road. He wants us to know
God better. This profound notion comes from Paul’s Hebrew background not the
Greek culture of Ephesus. For Greeks, knowledge of God was something hidden,
discovered and available only to a few. For Jews, “knowing” is relational. Paul prays
that they will deepen in their relationship with God the Father.
Illustration: sometimes when I do pre-marital counseling I tell the couple,
“you just don’t know each other that well.” This does not mean they shouldn’t get
married, it just means that they will know each other in a much more intimate and
personal level down the road. ”You need time.”
The same could be said about our relationship with God. It should grow and
Paul prays that it will through a the Spirit and through wisdom and revelation. One
way to understand these words is to see wisdom as concrete knowledge – stuff you
need to know about God to keep growing. This comes through reading scripture and
other works about God. Revelation is more experiential and intuitive, the kind of
knowing that comes through prayer and meditating on his word. Both of these are
necessary for our growth.
Paul prays that this knowledge of God will come in three specific areas. He prays for
hope, for inheritance and for power.
Know the hope – so that you have assurance
Paul prays that the church in Ephesus (and indeed all Christians) might know
the hope to which he has called you.
Hope is about the future but here it is also about the past. Last week when we
talked about God’s part in your salvation we saw that God was working in you
before you came to him. That is his calling– His work in your life to bring you to
himself, and it gives you hope. It reminds you that he has carried you this far and he
will carry you into the future.
Inheritance of the saints – so that you have community
My first thought when I read about Paul’s prayer for inheritance is that it is
the same as hope. He wants us to know what we will inherit in the future. But that is
not the case. This is God’s inheritance in his people – the saints, or God’s holy
people. Indeed this prayer is for our belonging which is why we say that this series
on Ephesians is about Believing Becoming and Belonging
Paul want us to understand that there are no barriers, cultural or otherwise,
to being part of God’s family. It is glorious because God’s people are trophies of his
grace. Each has a story; every new person has a story that tells something about
God. We were not meant to live the Christian life alone. It is tempting to think that
the church is passé and that it is filled with hypocrites. This is all too often true. But
the church is like democracy: the answer for bad democracy and bad laws is not
lawlessness but better laws and better democracy. The answer for bad church is
better community, more honest, more accepting, more godly and above all more
loving. Paul would say “I pray that you find it.”
Know the power – live without fear and through failure
The last thing Paul prays for is that we might know the great “power for us
who believe.” He spends the rest of this chapter describing this power. Notice that
he does not pray that we might gain more power or have a new anointing. He prays
only that we know the power we already have through the Holy Spirit. It is the same
power exerted when God raised Christ from the dead, when he conquered death.
It is not only the power exerted in Christ through the resurrection, it is power
that raised him to the highest place of authority in the universe. Paul is piling up
terms here to express that Jesus now has authority equal to the father (at the right
hand) over all the created world. This point seems to be very important to him.
Why? Paul is writing to the Christians in and around Ephesus which was a center of
magic and the occult. Many of these believers spent the early part of their lives
placating evil spirits. In short, they lived in fear. Paul wanted them to know that the
one who was in them was greater than any evil power that would come against
We do not live in a world intimidated by occultists. But most of us still live in
fear. We fear failure, sickness, rejection, loneliness, violence, aging and the loss of
our dreams. We fear for ourselves, for future generations, for our country. Many of
these fears are not irrational. We live in an unpredictable and unstable world. But
the message to the early church is the same one for us. God has given you power and
you do not need to be afraid. He will give you the strength to handle whatever you
are called to face. He has given you resurrection power, which means real change is
possible. He has chosen you and carried you. He will do so in the future.
Many times when we drill down to the basis of our fears we find that at their
heart there is some bad theology. We fear that God does not want the best for us, or
that he will reject us or is not able to sustain us. Paul’s words are meant to remind
us of who Jesus is and what power is available for you his child.
God wants you to know all the blessings that are yours as his child. He calls you to
know him more through wisdom and revelation. He calls you to hope so that you
might have assurance; He calls you to God’s people that you might have community;
he calls you to know his power that you might live without fear.