Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 1: 15-23 (NIV)
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 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 also 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 the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him 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 fulness of him who fills everything in every way.
“For this reason” is how this part of the letter begins, casting back to the preceding outpouring of praise (verses 11-14). The Apostle Paul’s enthusiasm not only recognised that Gentiles in Ephesus had been included in God’s plan of salvation but also rejoiced that the grace of God, “purposed in Christ” (verse 9) ensured that these same Gentiles, having believed, had been marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.
Paul’s prayer life, as described in this passage, sets an outstanding example for us to attempt to emulate, just as it did for his first-century readers. (We can safely assume that, just as Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus, he prayed for members of churches wherever he had been and also for the saints in Jerusalem and Judea too!) This part of his letter tells us that:
- he had not stopped giving thanks to God for them;
- he remembered them in his prayers;
- he kept asking of God on their behalf; and
- he prayed that God would open the eyes of their hearts.
Paul’s reasons were so that these Ephesian Christians would know God better and would know true hope together with the riches of God’s inheritance and his great power and mighty strength. Paul’s writing suggests almost breathless excitement and a grasping for superlatives which will help him to depict to his readers the glory of God and the triumph of Christ.
We do well to pay close attention to the vision Paul has given of the glorified Christ. Seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, this once-despised prisoner of Jew and Gentile is now far above every “rule and authority, power and dominion” that our tiny minds can imagine. The One we call Jesus is above “every title than can be given” in times present, times past and times yet to come! All things, ALL things have been placed by God under his feet. He is head over everything now and forever and is thereby head over his body, the church of God, of whom we are grateful members.
Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord Jesus, to see you now as you truly are. Amen.