|Ephesians, Queen of the Epistles
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
In our last study on this tremendous epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, what many call the queen of Pauls epistles, the most comprehensive statement of the Christian religion, we looked at the tremendous riches that we all have in Christ. We discovered that 2,000 years ago, God took you, He took me, He took every human being, He took the corporate human race that needs redeeming and joined us, put us into Christ so that, at the incarnation, Jesus, the Son of God, and the human race became one and Jesus Christ became the God-man. He became the Substitute and the Representative of the human race. Then we discovered that, by His perfect life and His sacrificial death, by His doing and by His dying, He rewrote the history of the human race and gave us a new status in which you and I stand reconciled to God. We stand justified before the law of God. We discovered the wonderful truth of the in Christ motif, which is the central theme of Pauls theology.
After reminding his readers of this wonderful truth in chapter one of Ephesians, verses 3-14, he now turns in verses 15-23 and prays for spiritual wisdom for his readers. Keep in mind that his readers were Christians who were becoming discouraged because this is one of Pauls prison letters. He is languishing in a Roman prison. He is not concerned about himself because he knows in whom he believes, but he is concerned about his flock, since he has the heart of a pastor. Paul is not just a theologian; he is above all, a pastor and he is concerned about his flock who are becoming discouraged and who are losing their confidence in Jesus Christ. So, first of all, he reminds them of the riches that they have in Jesus Christ and to give this up would be the most foolish thing anyone can ever do.
Having reminded them of the wealth they have in Jesus Christ, that they are sitting in heavenly places in Christ, that they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing pertaining to heaven, that they have been adopted as sons and daughters of God, that they are joint-heirs with Christ having revealed this wonderful truth, he now turns in verse 15, chapter 1 which will be our study. I have entitled this study Spiritual Wisdom, and this is how he introduces his concern. If you have your Bible, it would be helpful to turn to it because it is what the Bible says that has power, not what the speaker is saying to you. Get the truth from the Word of God itself. It has power. The Word of God is powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword says Hebrews. Ephesians 1:15-16:
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Oh, the heart of a pastor constantly praying for his flock! But I want you to notice in verse 15 he brings out two vital, important characteristics of every true believer. Every true believer is:
These are the two characteristics of a true Christian. In fact, these two are really the fulfillment of the law of God.
Turn to 1 John 3:23 and notice how John puts it there, the two basic requirements that God requires from each one of us:
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
If you take these two fundamental characteristics of a true Christian, you will discover that these two are in perfect harmony with the spirit of the Ten Commandments, the moral law of God.
The moral law of God is also divided into two parts. The first four commandments of the Ten Commandments has to do with our relationship with God and when you have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ you will have no other gods before you. You will rest totally in the finished work of Jesus Christ. You will not take His name in vain because He is everything to you.
Number two, when you accept Jesus Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in you and He brings to you an ingredient that you and I cannot generate in and of ourselves because of our sinful condition. That ingredient Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13 by the Greek word agape, the self-emptying, self-sacrificing, changeless love of God which, by the way, Paul will explain in more detail in chapter three of Ephesians and we will study that when we come to it. But Paul is saying that the outward evidence of a truly converted Christian is that he has loved his brother and even the man of the streets as he loves himself.
The greatest proof that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation is when we are redeemed from selfishness, which is the basic element of our sinful nature, and learn and practice love for each other as Christ loved us. These are the two characteristics, Paul says, of a true Christian. And Paul is saying to these people that he is writing to, the Ephesians or to the Christians in Asia Minor, Look, when I heard of these two characteristics in you, I realized that you are really born again Christians and I have not stopped thanking God for the power of the gospel that has touched your lives. And I mention you constantly in my prayers. Oh, what a wonderful pastor Paul was. Paul thanks God for the fruits of the gospel in the lives of those for whom he worked. Verse 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.
Now I have already mentioned in our last study that the word wisdom, the Greek word sofia, means special knowledge and that special knowledge is what we discovered in our last study, the in Christ motif. The in Christ motif is the truth as it is in Christ, the truth that qualifies you and me for heaven, the truth that sets you free, the truth that is the most powerful weapon against the wiles of the devil. All the wealth of the believer is in Christ and, in Christ, you and I are the sons and daughters of God. You and I in Christ are sitting in heavenly places. You and I in Christ are joint heirs with Christ, are adopted children of God, and we shall reign with Him and rule with Him when He takes us to heaven. And Pauls prayer is that his readers would have this knowledge ingrained in their hearts, stamped into their hearts with a hot iron, branded with this truth so that we will never forget it, the revelation that is the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the truth that is in Him.
You cannot come to the knowledge of the gospel through your intellectual powers, through your education, because the gospel is not a philosophy. You cannot come to the knowledge of the gospel by the scientific method because the gospel is not human science. It is the truth as it is in Christ that comes from God to you and me through the convictions of the Holy Spirit. It comes through Revelation and that is what Paul is saying, You have been given the revelation of the truth and my prayer is that you cling to it that you will never forget it, that it will constantly be manifested in your lives. Then he goes on in verse 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....
All the wealth that you and I possess in the world is nothing. The true wealth is in Christ. Let me put it this way. The most valuable thing that Christians possess today is not their bank account, it is not their property, it is not all the material things that you possess that you admire and enjoy because all these will be burnt up one day. What then is the greatest wealth of a believer? It is something that you cannot touch; it is not tangible; it is something that you cannot see; it is something that is in your heart and that is your faith in Jesus Christ.
The righteousness that qualifies you and me for heaven, the righteousness that presents us perfect and blameless before God, is always in Christ, never in us. Not even what Christ does in us contributes towards that righteousness that qualifies us for heaven now and in the judgment. It is always in Christ. And where is Christ? He is in heaven where no thief can enter. It is guaranteed. But the faith that makes that righteousness yours, the faith that makes the justification you have in Christ effective in you is not in Christ; it is in you. That Satan can touch and that is the greatest desire of the enemy of all souls whom we call the devil. The moment you accept Christ, while you are a citizen of heaven and salvation is guaranteed, please remember, you are still living in enemy territory and Satan will do his very best to destroy that faith so that you will be deprived of the joy of salvation that is yours in Christ.
So Paul is praying to his flock and through his flock to us, because this book was recorded for us, he is praying that the eyes of our understanding, the eyes of your understanding, he is using the eyes as a model of a window that brings into your mind the truth as it is in Christ. Without Christ, we are in darkness; we are groping hopelessly in darkness, without hope, without peace, full of distress, full of guilt. But when the eyes of the windows, of our faith are opened and in comes the truth as it is in Christ and you and I become enlightened, that is what Paul is saying in verse 18 of chapter one of Ephesians, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. We saints are the wealthiest people in the universe because we are joint heirs with Christ.
In 1 John 3, the apostle John the beloved John tells us that it does not matter what we are but, when He comes, we shall be like Him. Why? Because we have become the sons and daughters of God and joint heirs with Christ. That is what Paul says in Romans 8:17, we are co-heirs with Christ. This is our hope; this is our inheritance and let nobody rob you of this, says Paul.
Then in verse 19 of chapter l of Ephesians he adds:
...And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength....
Now there are two words here in the Greek that are translated by the same English word power so I need to explain what Paul is saying here. The first usage of power, in his incomparably great power, is the Greek word dynamis from which we have the English word dynamite and dynamite is powerful. It can blow you and me to pieces; it can blow our buildings into pieces; it can blow whole mountains out of existence. And that is what Paul is saying, Gods incomparably great power.
Have you discovered the power of God? Let me give you an example of Gods power. Man has created many wonderful things. Science today has discovered for us many wonderful things and produced many wonderful things so that life has become wonderful today in the 20th century. But do you know man cannot do anything without pre-existing matter. But when God created this world, He spoke. His breath is creative; His breath is energy; His breath is power; it is dynamis, it is dynamite. He spoke and it happened. It is hard for the scientific mind to understand this but we, by faith, believe the worlds were formed without the use of any pre-existing matter. This is what Hebrews 11 is telling us in verse 3:
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at Gods command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Faith in a God that has power in His very breath that He can create something out of nothing. This is the power that will raise us from the grave. When a person dies and is buried, after some time his flesh is eaten up by worms. All that is left is bones, but when Christ comes and He says, Arise, His breath is energy; it is power; it is creative power. You and I who are sleeping in Christ, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 50 onward, will rise up incorruptible and then we who are alive will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. 1 Corinthians 15:53:
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
That is the power, the exceeding power that is available to you and me in Christ and, of course, towards us who believe according to the working of his mighty power.
The second use of power, in That power is like the working of his mighty strength, is ischys. What this actually means is the mighty energy, Gods breath is power and His mighty energy. Science is desperately trying to figure out what life is made up of and they have tried various methods but life is energy and the source of energy is God. This energy is available to you in a mighty way to those of you who believe. Because of this mighty energy, mighty power which He revealed, listen to Ephesians 1:20-21:
[That power is like the working of his mighty strength,] which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 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.
You know, the power of sin is death; the wages of sin is death; the greatest manifestation of the power of sin is death. How many of you, how many human beings have in and of themselves conquered death? The answer is no one, because sin is greater than you and me. But God allowed our sins, your sins, my sins to put Christ in the grave, but you know something? Our sins could not keep Him there and, when the third day came, He conquered the grave and, in conquering the grave, He conquered sin, your sins, my sins. So when Christ was raised from the dead, God revealed to the universe, He revealed to this doomed world, the power of the gospel in Jesus Christ.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He said to His Father, Father, forgive them, referring to those who were crucifying Him, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing [Luke 23:34]. God was willing to forgive the Jews for crucifying their Messiah. God was willing to do that. They had not reached the point of no return, but after Christ rose from the dead, there was no longer an excuse for rejecting Him because the resurrection of Christ was the greatest proof that He was the Messiah. Only the Messiah could be raised from the dead. Only the Messiah who was God in human flesh could conquer the grave. And when Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father (as Romans 6:4 says), He revealed the power that is in Him; He revealed the truth that Jesus was the Savior of all mankind, that He condemned sin in the flesh and left it in the grave.
Paul goes on. Christ redeemed us, was raised, and was taken to heaven far above all principalities, that is, in verse 21 of Ephesians 1, and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come. Oh, Christ is pre-eminent, dear reader. Christ is the ruler of the universe; He is the King of kings and no power is greater than Him. He has subdued all the power that can be mustered by Satan. He conquered the evil one and set us free. And now He is at the right hand of God interceding for us, making available for us His Holy Spirit, sending His angels to minister to us. What a wonderful Savior we have. I do not know about you, but I am excited about this wonderful epistle and this wonderful message that Paul is expounding here in the book of Ephesians.
And so I read in the concluding verses of chapter one of Ephesians, verses 22 and 23:
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The church is described in the New Testament as the body of Christ. Christ is the Head, we are the body. The body receives its direction, its power, from the Head and the Head of the Christian, the Head of the church is Jesus Christ and He is the Head of the universe. Everything is under His feet and so, when the Bible says that Christ is the King of kings, we are kings of whom He is the King. We shall reign with Him one day; we shall rule with Him. We are His disciples, we are His followers, we are part of Him, we are under grace and grace is the power, the energy of God, not only which saved us in Christ but which is now available to us. And we are the body of Christ, verse 23, which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Everything that is true of the body is true because of the Head.
Let me conclude this wonderful truth. In this chapter one of Ephesians, Paul first of all introduces or reminds his listeners, because Paul has already preached the gospel to his readers, of the riches in Christ. Paul tells them that, in Christ, they are sitting in heavenly places. They have been blessed with every spiritual blessing pertaining to heaven. They have been adopted as sons and daughters of God. They have now become one with Christ and now they are forgiven; they are righteous; they stand justified; they have a peace; they have a hope; they have an inheritance that is greater than anything that this world can offer.
Paul goes on, in the second half of this chapter one, to pray, praying to his God that this flock of his, which includes you and me, may understand this truth as it is in Christ. We may be filled with the truth as it is in Christ so that we may be filled with the fullness of God; we may understand the power of God, the energy of God, that is available to you and me.
Now Paul is saying he wants the body, the church, to experience this power because the source of our power is not our promises; it is not our resolutions. Our hope, our security, our power for living the Christian life, our inheritance all of it is in Christ. As I mentioned in our last study, there is nothing that you and I have, nothing in this world and the world to come apart from Jesus Christ. Outside of Him, we have nothing but sin, condemnation, and death. In Christ, we are forgiven; in Christ, we stand justified; in Christ, we have been reconciled to God; in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to be our Comforter, to seal and guarantee our salvation, to give us strength, power, energy to live the Christian life, to remind us that we are Gods children.
Everything is ours in Christ and, therefore, it is my prayer that none of us will give up this hope. It is my prayer that you will accept this wonderful truth as it is in Christ. It is my prayer that you will be blessed with this special knowledge, with this wisdom from above, this revelation of the truth as it is in Christ, that you may enjoy with me the inheritance, the hope, the joy of being a Christian, the knowledge that one day you and I will sit at the right hand of God with Jesus Christ, reigning with Him, ruling with Him, free from all that sin has brought to us the curse, its condemnation, its effect, its sickness, and death. All of it will be taken away because Jesus has conquered sin; He has conquered the grave. He was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father. It is my prayer, my sincere prayer, that this wisdom, this knowledge will become yours, not only for a season, but permanently, that you will always hold on to your position in Christ, that your faith shall endure unto the end.
Before Jesus left this earth, He said to His disciples in Matthew, chapter 10, verses 16 to 22: You will be brought before the councils; you will be persecuted; you will be flogged; you will be mistreated; you will be thrown into dungeons; you will be fed to the wild animals, all kinds of terrible things you will face, but I am with you. Dont give up your faith for only the one whose faith endures to the end will be saved. In Hebrews 10, verse 35, the writer of Hebrews tells us:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
Then in verse 38 of chapter 10 of Hebrews he says:
But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.
But his prayer, as Pauls prayer is here, is that we shall believe unto the saving of our souls and that which makes my faith strong, unshakable, is the wisdom, the knowledge that in Jesus Christ I have an inheritance, I have a hope guaranteed that can never be destroyed by Satan and it is my prayer that we shall hold on to this truth that our faith will not waver until that day when Christ will come. This is my prayer in Jesus name. Amen.