Ephesians V: Christ Above All - Ephesians 1:15-23

Ephesians Chapter 1 can be divided up into two halves; vv. 3-12 contain Paul’s great list of blessings, and vv. 15-23 contain Paul’s great prayer on our behalf. Paul has tried his best to describe Jesus and all His blessings to you, but what he really wants is for you to see it for yourself. He’s painted a wonderful picture right in front of you, but he can’t open your eyes. So what can Paul do? Pray. This is Paul’s prayer for the church: I pray that God the Father would enable you to see His power working through Jesus Christ by the Spirit.

The first thing he prays for is that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened for this knowledge. This “spiritual sight” refers to the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination, which, for instance, is what enabled Peter to give his answer when Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?” People with ordinary eyes were saying things like “Elijah, John the Baptist, a prophet like that.” But what did Peter say? “You are the Christ.” Peter saw the truth about Jesus because the eyes of his heart had been enlightened.

Paul’s pairing of wisdom and revelation with knowledge calls us to know God both through hearing and studying His Word and by having our hearts illuminated by the Spirit so that we can truly appreciate that knowledge. Bible study without prayer for spiritual insight is like giving books to a blind man, and praying to know God apart from reading His Word is like putting the textbook under your pillow at night in order to learn. Scripture and Spirit work together to give you the knowledge of God.

In vv. 18-19, we see three things in particular that Paul prays that we would know about God: hope, riches, and power. The hope to which God has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and immeasurable greatness of His power for the benefit of believers. In describing these blessings, Paul piles up the adjectives: you don’t just have a calling; you have a hopeful, divine calling. You don’t just have an inheritance; you need to know the glorious riches of your saintly inheritance. God not only has power that He uses for your benefit, but immeasurably great power, shown forth in effectively strong might!

Even though they’ve begun, our hope and our calling have not yet been realized or fully revealed, and so Paul focuses on the resurrection and ascension power that God put on display through Jesus. God in His great, effective, mighty power has already done for Jesus what He promises to do for you.

What has God’s power done for Jesus? Vv. 20-22 list four things: Jesus has been raised from the dead, seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, God has subjected everything to Jesus, putting all things under His feet, and He has given Jesus headship over the Church.

Once again Paul is in the business of piling up words to highlight the comprehensive sovereignty of Jesus. He has been raised up far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, above every name that can be named, not only now, but forever! The important thing here is not to differentiate between rule and authority, but to see that whatever power we’re talking about, Jesus is above it. God’s power has raised Christ above all, always!

The culminating act of God’s great power was to give Jesus headship over the Church in v.22, but then in a wonderful piece of good news, vs. 23 draws a key distinction between the Church and the world. Everything is under Christ, but where the rest of creation is under Christ’s feet as conquered enemies, the Church is connected to Christ as His body. Because Christ is the Ascended Lord above all, He is the head, the Church is His body, and the world is underfoot. Because God’s plan is to unite all things in Christ, Christ fills all, the Church is His fullness (that which is filled with Christ), and the whole of creation is that which is filled. Christ above all, so that Christ will fill all in all.

That’s the hope of our calling: Christ fills the world with Himself through us. That’s the riches of our glorious inheritance: the meek shall inherit the earth in Christ. And all of this takes place through the power that God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. Pray with Paul for one another that the Spirit will enlighten the eyes of our hearts to see this glorious reality.

Posted on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 by CJ Bowen