As I penned the previous article about the need for a demonstration of God’s power in our world today, I had a change in direction in my thinking. Many of us have been preaching about the need for people to respond to the love of God seen in Jesus’ self-giving and sacrificial love on the cross as He died for sinners. Praise God, many have responded to this message of love. Does it mean though that people in today’s world also need to see a release of the power of God into our world today? It is obvious that they do! However, as I reflected on that, I realised afresh that many in Jesus’ day had rejected His loving ministry towards them AND had rejected Him in spite of also seeing the power of God active through Him.
I had been studying the multitude of power words in Ephesians 1 and began to focus on verses 18 and 19, “I pray 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 his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Here is the great reminder that for people to be able to understand and experience the power of God, their eyes needed to be enlightened. Only then could they know and experience God’s hope, His riches and His power.
In the text below, the words from Ephesians 1:18-23 are printed on the left in italics. To the right of each significant word in the Bible text I have put the New Testament Greek word to amplify its meaning, especially the meanings of the “power” words.
AN OUTLINE OF THE PASSAGE [Ephesians 1:15-23] SHOWING THE “POWER” WORDS
Paul prayed that his readers might come to know God more intimately, 1:18 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…” What was it that He wanted them to know? Three things in particular.
- THE HOPE OF THEIR CALLING. 1:18.
18 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…”
- “enlightened?” [ Please turn to the previous article No 250 for discussion on this word.]
- “that you may know…” from eídō [εἴδω to see or understand, be aware of, perceive.] God’s supernatural action, in enlightening the eyes of people, was needed for them to be able to understand the truths Paul prays they will come to know and experience. [NOTE 1]
- “what is the hope to which he has called you.” [Hope, elpís, ἐλπίς is not something uncertain. Rather, it is the certainty based on the unchanging character of God, on his unchanging word and especially on His promises to His people. It is certain too because Jesus Christ is the basis of hope, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope.” 1 Tim 1:1. Hope is certain because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Heb 13:8.]
- “Calling” is a reminder that God’s people have been “called out” from the world to belong to Him. That is the meaning of the word for church, the “ecclesia” from the Greek [ekklēsía, ἐκκλησία the “called out” ones.] [NOTE 2]
- THE RICHES OF HIS GLORIOUS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS. 1:18.
18 … that you may know … what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
- what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. [Some may see this as the riches God has in His people. However most see it as the riches which are ours in Christ, that are so much emphasised in Ephesians.] The word for “riches” [ploútos, πλοῦτος] is also found in Ephesians in 1:7, 1:18, 2:7, 3:8 and 3:16. [NOTE 3]
It’s at this point that we need to ensure that our seat belts are on, that we are safely buckled up, as Paul introduces us to a volley of power words in just a few verses.
- THE IMMEASURABLE GREATNESS OF HIS POWER IN US. 1:19-21.
God’s power words.
19 “and what is the
- immeasurable [huperballo from hupér, above, and bállō, to throw or cast.] Can mean exceeding or surpassing. It is the basis of our English word “hyperbole” which is a figure of speech using extreme exaggeration to make a point. His greatness cannot be measured.
- greatness [megethos]. From mega = great. English language uses “megaton’ to describe a powerful bomb.
- of his power [dunamis] toward us who believe, according to [This is one of the main words for power in the New Testament. It is the basis of our English words “dynamic” and “dynamite.”
- the working [energeia] of his might [Most of instantly recognise the close similarity to our English words “energy” from which it is derived. The clever engineers among us go even further and will have spotted the “erg” in the middle of the word which they know is the unit of work or energy in Physics. Clever people, engineers!]
Now comes a little challenge. Many translations have the next 2 power words in the form of an adjective and a noun. Thus ESV “great might.” NIV has “mighty strength”. The problem is that they are all nouns. The NASB version translates it as, “the working of the strength of His might.”
- might [kratos ]. This can mean strength, dominion. It forms the basis of our English words, “democracy” and “theocracy”.
- great [ischus] Used to denote physical and mental strength.
20 that he worked [energeo] in Christ when he [Here is the verb form of “energeia” above.
- raised [egeiro] him from the dead and [The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is seen as a mighty act of God and a declaration of the divinity of Jesus, Rom 1:4 “and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- seated him [kathizo]. Here is seen the direct action of God, in having raised Jesus from the dead, He then proceeded to seat Jesus at His own right hand in glory. The power of God was seen in the fact that nothing and no one could prevent that from happening.
- at his right hand [This was associated with the highest place of honour and authority.]
- in the heavenly places, [This is seen as the abode of God Himself and as the contrast between the physical world and the spiritual world.]
21 far above all rule [arche means rule. [English words are monarchy, one person as ruler and oligarchy, the rule of a small group.]
- and authority [exousia [This is delegated power. For example, the policeman on traffic control can stop the traffic, not because he is physically powerful, but because he has the authority given to him, to exercise control, by the governing authorities.]
- and power [dunamis [ as seen in verse 19 above]
- and dominion [kuriotes [The Greek word comes from “kurios” meaning “Lord” or “Master” and was used of God and also of Jesus in the New Testament. “Kuriotes” means dominion or civil power and denotes the glory of Christ the King.
- and above every name that is named, not only in this age [The name was important in ancient times. To know the name of someone was to have some power over them. Jesus has been given the name which is superior to every other name, He was and is pre-eminent. As Paul wrote in Philippians 2, the name of Jesus has been given the highest place through His sacrificial death on the cross and by His rising to life. Php 2:9 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”]
- but also in the one to come. [Jesus introduced this new age when He came to earth. He taught that God’s kingdom had come with His coming and that His ability to cast out demons was a sign that kingdom had come in Him, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Mat 12:28. The kingdom of God has been present since Jesus’ first coming but will come in its fullness when He returns.
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church [All other powers have been made subject to Jesus. Conquering kings would often place their feet on their captives to show their victory over them. Jesus is Lord of all, though He allows other powers limited power which is always under His control, 1 Cor 15:25, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”
- head over all things to the church, [ “Head” is kephalḗ, κεφαλή. The word is used of the human head but also can also mean the top thing or person. He is head of the church meaning He motivates and empowers His people by His Spirit as they [hopefully] abide in Him. Many will recognise that kephale is found in English words such as “cephalalgia” for headache and “encephalitis” meaning an inflammation of the brain.
23 which is his body, [body = sṓma, σῶμα is used metaphorically for a body, the whole body of Christians collectively, of which Christ is the head. It is one body but has many members “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Rom 12:5.
- the fulness of him who fills all in all.” [The noun “fulness” is plḗrōma, πλήρωμα and “fills” is the verb form pleróō, πληρόω.] The word for “fulness’ is found in another 3 verses in Ephesians, Eph 1:10 “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” AND Eph 3:19 “and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” AND Eph 4:13 “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Imagine that! In verse 3:19 we are encouraged to believe that it is possible for us to be filled with all the fullness of God! How? Through knowing God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Nothing less than that should be our goal! By His grace! And only by His grace, love and power.
Whew! One could say “That’s a whole lotta power in them thar verses!” So why aren’t we seeing it in our churches? One reason may be that the eyes of many folk have not yet been enlightened to understand these truths.
Another reason may be that we have simply glossed over these words as we have read them or heard them without taking in their deep meanings.
An encouragement! Paul’s prayer for these Ephesians later in Ephesians 3:14-21 is one we can pray for ourselves and for others. These verses echo some of the power words we have seen in this Ephesian 1 passage. Here is the prayer with some power words underlined. I pray it for all who read this article. I would love you to pray it for me!
PAUL’S PRAYER FOR BELIEVERS. Eph 3:14 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
[NOTE 1] The same word [eídō] is used elsewhere in Ephesians to indicate the certainty that comes from true knowledge,
Eph 6:8 ”knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.”
Eph 6:9 “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
Eph 6:21 “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything.”
[NOTE 2] Christians understand the words of Jesus that they have responded to His call on their lives to belong to Him and for His purposes,
Joh 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
[NOTE 3] We note in Ephesians that “riches” is used in the following verses of God’s grace, of the unsearchable riches in Christ and of the riches of God’s glory.
Eph 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”
Here in 1:18, “ … the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
Eph 2:7 “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Eph 3:8 “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Eph 3:16 “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”
Blog No.251. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 30th November 2017