This is an actual prayer that Paul told his Ephesian readers he was praying for them. As such and because it is part of God’s revelation to humans through Paul I won’t try to change it in any significant way. The main changes I will make will be to change the “you” and your” [meaning the Ephesian readers] in the letter to “we,” “us” and “our” to make it applicable to ourselves and to fellow believers in the world today. I will also, on this occasion, add the “Notes On The Passage” at the end of the article, after the “Suggested Prayer” as the passage has so many significant words. It helps if we can appreciate their rich meaning.
THE PASSAGE. Ephesians 1:15-23 begins with these words, Eph 1:15 “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
Paul then goes on to tell them what he was praying for them using “you” and “yours.” They were words they could then pray for themselves as well as for others. So we will change the wording to make it a prayer that we can pray for ourselves and others by using “we,” “us” and “our”
.THE SUGGESTED PRAYER FROM Ephesians 1:15-23
“Dear Lord, we acknowledge that You are the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that You would give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation to know You better. 18 Please enlighten our hearts and minds so that we can know the hope to which You have called us, what are the riches of Your glorious inheritance in us as Your people, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of Your power toward us who believe, according to the working of Your great might 20 that You worked in Christ when You raised him from the dead and seated him at Your right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 We thank You that You put all things under Jesus’ feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. AMEN!”
SOME NOTES ON THE PASSAGE. Ephesians 1:15-23
Books could be written on the content and meaning of this prayer but the following are some of the significant meanings in the wording of the prayer.
- The motivation behind the prayer. Paul thanks God for their faith in Christ and for their love for His people. Eph 1:15-16, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers”
- The content of the prayer. That God would work within them by His Spirit to give them an understanding of God and that He would give them eyes to see and understand 3 things in particular. Namely their hope in Christ, the riches of their inheritance in Christ and the greatness of His power towards them.
- We notice in the prayer an emphasis on power words perhaps to encourage them to understand the powerful resources they had through their faith in Christ and in the indwelling Spirit of God who had sealed them with His presence.
- The power words include the following:-
- “the immeasurable greatness of his power,” verse 19. “Immeasurable” is [hyperballō; ὑπερβάλλω meaning literally to throw beyond’.] It is the root of our English word ‘hyperbole.’ It is beyond measure.
- “greatness” is [megathos; μέγεθος from ‘mega’ meaning great.] This is the only occurrence in the New Testament of this word.
- “power” is used throughout the NT for describing power of various sorts. It is [dynamis; δύναμις, the origin of our English words dynamic, dynamite etc.]
- “according to the working of His great might,” verse 19. “Working” is [energeia; ἐνέργεια the root of our words ‘energy’ and ‘energize’. It denotes effectual power at work. [Note. Literally the phrase reads “according to the might (kratos) of His strength (ischys).”]
- “Great” is the Greek word [ischys; ἰσχύς which means ability or strength.]
- “Might” is the Greek word [kratos; κράτος, which is used for strength, power or dominion.] English words derive from it including ‘democracy’ where ‘demo’ is from ‘demos’ meaning people and ‘cracy’ is from ‘kratos’ meaning dominion or rule. So the whole phrase speaks of God’s great power at work. What form did this power take? Resurrection power as we will see!
- “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,” verse 20. Paul changes from the noun ‘working’ in the previous verse to the verb [energeō; ἐνεργέω, to be active, to work efficiently.] Human forces might have seemed to have triumphed in the death and burial of Jesus, but God showed His immeasurable great effectual power in raising Him from the dead to sit at His right hand in heaven.
- The power words continue with Paul’s statement in his prayer of the place of Jesus in the purposes of God. He is described as being “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” What an ongoing volley of words denoting the authority and power of Jesus following His death, resurrection, ascension and session [being seated] at the right hand of God!
- “far above” is hyperanō; ὑπεράνω meaning far above or beyond every form of power which he enumerates as “all rule’ where “rule“ is [archē; ἀρχή, meaning first or chief in time, place or rank. English words derived from it include ‘monarchy’ meaning one ruler and ‘oligarchy’ the rule by a few [oligos; ὀλίγος means ‘few’.]
- “Authority” is [exousia; ἐξουσία meaning privilege or delegated power.]
- “Power” is again our word [dynamis; δύναμις] used above in verse 19.
- “Dominion” is [kyriotēs; κυριότης meaning having power over or ruling over. Jesus’ name is greater than any other name signifying that He is greater than any other person or power that has ever existed or will ever exist!
- One might have thought that Paul could find no other term to exalt Jesus but he manages to do so in the final verses 22 and 23, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
- “he put all things under his feet” is probably a refence to Psalm 8:6 “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.” This was a reference to the state of humans before the fall when they were meant to exercise authority over the created world. But that delegated authority was stolen from them by the guile of Satan whom Jesus described as “the ruler of the kingdom of the air,” Eph 2:2 and as “the prince of this world,” In John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11.
- Jesus as Perfect Man has come and died to bring victory over Satan thus putting Satan under His feet. The writer to the Hebrews puts it like this, Heb 2:6 “It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honour, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
- JESUS IS in control! Every knee WILL eventually bow before Him! 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.”
Praying the prayer that Paul prayed for his friends in Ephesus may help us play our part in bringing God’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom power to earth, sooner than later [in human terms.]
“Let us pray!” In the way Paul showed us how to pray, using the terms he used under the inspiration of the Lord Himself [and recorded for our benefit and blessing!]
Blog No.289. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 8th September 2018