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Sunday, June 22, 2014 pm                        Ephesians Index

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS
Paul’s Prayer to the Ephesians
Ephesians 1:15-21

 

Tonight we continue our study of the book of Ephesians.  We have spent the last several lessons examining our blessings in Christ.   Following Paul description of “every spiritual blessing” which included those mentioned, Paul reminds these brethren that he was praying for them.  In our text this evening we will notice what Paul prayer for on their behalf. 

  I.                    The Reputation of the Ephesians

a.        Therefore – Paul has just described the spiritual blessings found in Christ.

b.       While the church at Ephesus had experienced problems, Paul had heard good things about them and that is what he commends them for. 

c.        He had heard of their stand – it is believed that it had been years since Paul had been with these brethren, yet he still thought fondly of them and was concerned about them.  How much do we think about brethren with whom we have had good relationships?

d.       Their faith in the Lord - in difficult times, facing persecutions and other troubles, they still demonstrate faith.  This is more than mere belief in God – they TRUST God and have demonstrated it in their lives (and in the body). 
2 Cor. 5:7 notes that we walk by faith and not by sight. 
Paul commended Philemon for his faith – Philemon 5 – it was a faith toward all the saints (and love)
What type of FAITH do we have as the Lord’s church here?  This faith is not exclusive to individuals.  We need faith as the Lord’s church as well.  Paul’s thoughts about Ephesus are not exclusive to this church.  He praised the church at Colosse in much the same way.  Colossians 1:4, Romans 1:8 finds Paul praising that church as well.  NOTE that he speaks of their faith being spoken of throughout the whole world.  Sometimes church get “reputations” some good and some bad.  As a church we ought to learn to trust God in our decisions.  We must stand with Him regardless of what others think or are doing.  In time it will become known to others.  May we always strive to be known for a faith that stand in “the faith” (Jude 3, Rom. 1:16-17).

e.       Their love for all the saints – agape love – as with faith, this is imperative in our lives. 
It is a fundamental quality in the lives of Christians (Hebrews 13:1, Matt. 22:37-39, etc.)
It is ALSO a fundamental quality that we read of frequently in godly congregations.  Many of the epistles that are written to churches, including Ephesians, call for love.  Consider 1 Corinthians 13 which describes love.  It is within a context dealing with strife within the congregation (1 Cor. 12-14 – spiritual gifts).
As the Lord’s church we ought to love God and His word, one another, and the lost.    Again this is something Paul had heard of with Ephesians.  What about us?

 

  II.                  Paul’s prayer (16-21)

a.        We need to frequently remind ourselves of our need to be praying. 

                                                   i.      1 Thess. 5:17, Ephesians 6:18, Luke 18:1, etc. call for us to be a people of prayer. 

                                                  ii.      Our prayers are not only for our own needs and the needs of our own brethren, but others that we know of.   James 5:16 tells us to pray for one another. 

                                                iii.      Paul had a long list of congregations he prayed for frequently.  Virtually every congregation he worked with was in his thoughts and prayers – Rom. 1:9, Phil. 1:4, Col. 1:9, 1 Thess. 1:2, etc. 

                                                iv.      What a lesson for us.  As we hear of brethren and godly congregations that are struggling with setbacks do we pray for them?  As we hear of congregations that are standing firm and prospering in the Lord do we pray for them?
Here at Rose Ave, we are blessed to partially support a good number of gospel preachers throughout this country.  How often do we pray for these brethren and the works they are a part of?

b.       What he prayed for:  That God would give them:

                                                   i.      The spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him – that they might know the truth and apply it with wisdom.
This would include knowledge “in Him”.  The idea of knowing God is different than simply knowing ABOUT Him.  It is similar to the difference between believing IN God and believing God.  The latter is much deeper and comes with maturity.  Through the wisdom of His word (not simply knowing it, but also DOING it) we develop a relationship with Him.  We are His children and He is our Father.  (John 14:23) Phil. 3:8-10 finds Paul as He suffers loss and serves God he is able to KNOW Him.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 find a challenge to Judah as they faced Babylonian captivity.  23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24        But let him who glories glory in this,

That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.  AND His will for us!

                                                  ii.      That they might know the hope of His calling – there is real hope in His calling!
Hope is confident assurance or expectation. 
Later in this letter Paul will speak of their former conduct noting that they were without hope (Eph. 2:12).  He will also refer to the “one hope” (Eph. 4:5) But now they have hope.  Regardless of what man does if we know God, we can have hope. 
Colossians 1:5 speaks of their hope laid up in heaven.
Heb. 6:19 speaks of our hope being anchored in heaven. 
Heb. 10:23 – they were instructed to hold fast their confession of hope without wavering.
1 John 3:1 – our hope will lead to our purification.  We will take steps toward purity.

                                                iii.      That they might know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.  As we earlier discussed our blessings in Christ we mentioned our inheritance in Ephesians 1:11.  
1 Peter 1:4 describes this inheritance in heaven as incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away (eternal). 
In our text, we find it described as rich and glorious.  God doesn’t give us left-overs.  Our inheritance is not a pittance, but it is as grand and glorious as He is above us.  We are HIS CHILDREN! 

                                                iv.      That they might know the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.  

1.       A closer look at this verse gives us a greater understanding of how powerful God really is.   His POWER is actually demonstrated in the remaining verses of this chapter.  

2.       We often equate power with authority and they do complement one another, but power is the ability to execute one’s authority without hindrance.  GOD has all authority.  The way He has proven that to us is by His power.  These verses emphasize that power.  Let’s consider this for the remainder of our time.
There are 4 words used in our text:

a.         Power  from the Greek, δύναμις (dunamis) which means  the potential to exert force in performing a function.  It is a word that is translated often as might or strength.  Our English word “dynamite” is a derivative of the root of this Greek word.

For example: A police officer might have the authority to apprehend a fleeing car thief, but he may not have the power to do so, which is why when we witness pursuits on our freeways, police officers respond en-masse.  Together they execute their authority with power.
This power is described as both exceeding  (supreme, of far greater degree,  surpassing) and great(ness) – of high magnitude. 
AND it is directed toward US who believe!  God has used His power for us! 

b.       Working – from Greek, ἐνέργεια (energeia) a word from which we get our English word “energy”.  It means, to be engages in an activity or function, focusing on the force being used.  (BDAG) describes it as “the state or quality of being active, working, operation, action”.  God has the ability to put His will into effect.  Think of the scheme of redemption!

c.        Mighty – from the Greek, ἰσχύς (ischus), it means something of great capacity or potential. God is able to execute His will with GREAT ability. In fact it is with GREATER ability than anything man can do.  When we speak of “almighty God” we have this in mind.

d.       Power – is from the Greek, κράτος (kratos) which means, one who has power to rule (this is our idea authority).  But it carries with that authority the might and strength to do it.  When you hear of someone who is able to back up His words it is this idea.

3.       He has demonstrated that power throughout History.  When we read of His works in the Old Testament we see His power. 
In this text Paul mentions 4 ways that He demonstrated His power

a.        By raising Jesus from the dead

b.       By seating Him at His right hand in heaven

c.        By exalting Him above all other sources of authority (Matt. 28:18)

d.       By making Christ head over the church which is His body. 

 

It is in this power that we find the hope of His calling AND the glory of His inheritance.   And when you consider the magnitude of His power do you want it being directed toward you or against you.  Think about that! In our next lesson we are going to examine these four ways that God demonstrated His power.

And thus we have Paul’s prayer for the brethren at Ephesus.  Let us consider these things as we pray and include them when appropriate.