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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Ephesians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

Christ the All in All

Ephesians 1:1-11

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We cannot call Ephesians the Epistle of Paul. It was written by the Holy Ghost through Paul. The Holy Ghost came to take the things of Christ, and to show them unto us. In this Epistle there is nothing but Christ from start to finish. In the first chapter it is, "In Christ," "In Christ," "In Christ." Seven times it is "In Christ." In the second chapter of the Epistle, it is "With Christ," "With Christ," "With Christ." In the third chapter, it is "Of Christ," "Of Christ." The keynote of this Epistle seems to be the third verse of the first chapter: "God * * hath blessed us * *, in Christ." There is another key-verse, the twenty-second verse of the first chapter, He "gave Him to be the Head over all things." That is a marvelous thing, isn't it, that Jesus Christ is the Head, the Climax, the All and in all? He is everything, all things, to His Church.

The Book of Colossians says, "The new man," where Christ "is All, and in all." He is the Beginning and the Ending, and He is everything that comes in between; He is the Alpha and the Omega, and He is all the rest of the alphabet. Aren't you glad that we have a Saviour who is like that?

I. CHRIST THE MESSAGE OF PULPIT AND PEW (Acts 5:42 )

"They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." They ceased not to preach Him; wherever they went, they preached Him. The council had told Peter and the others, saying, Ye shall not preach any more in this Name; if you want to preach something else, all right, but you must not preach any more in this Name. They departed from the council, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name," and immediately, they entered into the synagogue and preached Christ, they ceased not to preach Christ, They never preached anything but Christ. They were so filled with Christ, so much in love with Him, He had done so much for them and He meant so much to them, that they preached Him wherever they went.

In the ninth chapter of Acts, it tells you how Paul commenced his ministry, "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues." That is the way he began to preach and that is the way he continued to preach. In the Word of God, it is always Christ that is preached.

1. Christ was preached to the Jews. Take that marvelous passage in Acts 17:1-34 , where it says that Paul went into the synagogue of the Jews, and contended three Sabbaths, opening and alleging that Jesus was the Christ, and that He must needs have been crucified and have risen from the dead, and that Jesus was coming again, that is what he preached to the Jews.

2. Christ was preached to the Gentiles. If you go to the Book of Galatians, you will read these words: "When it pleased God, * *, that I might preach Him among the heathen (Gentiles, A. S. V.), immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." What did Paul do? He preached Christ, to the Gentiles.

3. What was preached to the Samaritans? It says that Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and "preached Christ unto them." What did he preach to the Ethiopian, a man of great authority under Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians? The Ethiopian had been in Jerusalem to worship, and, as he was returning, the Spirit told Philip to go and join the chariot; and he entered into the chariot and these words are written: "And began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus."

There is but one Name to preach. There is none other Name given under Heaven whereby we must be saved; therefore, if we are going to preach, let us preach the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the central thought in Bible preaching. Preaching Christ is the only kind of preaching that is really worth the while. All other preaching is wasted breath, it is not preaching at all.

Oh, tell me the story that never grows old,

The story of One whom the Prophets foretold;

The Horn of salvation, the Scepter, the Star,

The Light in the darkness they saw from afar.

It never grows old, it never grows old;

The story of Jesus will never grow old.

II. CHRIST, AN EVER-PRESENT REALITY IN CHRISTIANITY (Matthew 28:18-19 )

"Lo, I am with you alway," was the parting promise of our Lord. He is the Christ from whom you can never get away. He is the supreme Christ; He is the ever-present Christ. You cannot separate Him from the faith that is given unto us. Let me give you the distinction between religion, as we know it under the name of Christianity; and religion as some people know it under the name of Confucianism, or Buddhism, or any other ism.

All other religions, excepting Christianity, are summed up in a creed. Christianity is summed up in Christ. Other cults build around doctrines, they build around ethics. Confucius came and he had his students sitting around him. Evidently they admired him, loved him, followed him; they almost adored him; but, when Confucius was dead, Confucianism could live right on. Why? Because Confucianism was built on the ethics of Confucius and not on Confucius. That was true of Mohammedanism; it has been true of every human religion. The men or the women who began religions died, and they left their doctrines, their creeds, their tenets.

Not so with Christianity. If Jesus Christ had died and had never been raised again, Christianity could not have survived a year; it would have been an impossibility. Christianity centers in a Living Person, with whom you walk, with whom you talk, with whom you have fellowship. The Lord Jesus Christ is inseparable from Christianity. You cannot live apart from Him, you cannot walk apart from Him. Do not Christians believe in a creed? Oh, yes, they subscribe to a creed. They are perfectly willing to tell the world what they believe about Jesus Christ. We are not ashamed of our faith, we will contend for the faith. However, it is not our creed we preach, it is the Christ around which our creed is builded, who is our all in all Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Jesus Christ, the Virgin-Born; Jesus Christ, the Perfect God-Man; Jesus Christ, the Sufferer of Calvary; Jesus Christ, Buried; Jesus Christ, Risen; Jesus Christ, Coming; Jesus Christ, Reigning. He is an ever-present reality.

There is not a single concept in the creed that we hold that is not indissolubly linked to the life and Person of Jesus Christ. You cannot take your creed, and separate it from Christ. You can take the creed of any other religion and separate it from the man who founded the religion. You cannot do that with the religion of Jesus Christ. It is all summed up in Him. We preach Christ, He is our ever-present Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

"Oh, serve the Lord with gladness,"

And come before His throne.

He is the great Creator,

And He is God alone;

The heavens declare His glory,

The earth His power displays;

While millions without number

To Him glad anthems raise,

"Oh, serve the Lord with gladness,"

And come before His throne;

He is our great Redeemer,

And He is God alone.

III. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF ALL THINGS TO THE CHRISTIAN (Psalms 19:1-4 )

Wherever he goes, everything, to the Christian, suggests Christ. On every page of the Bible he sees Christ. Some one says, "Do you see Christ in the creation?" Oh, yes, I do see Him there, for "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made." Everything in the creation is in Christ, and Christ is seen in it.

No matter where you open your Bible, you will find Christ there. Anywhere, everywhere, from Genesis through Revelation, the whole story centers in Jesus Christ. If we take Jesus Christ out, we have taken out the very heart, the very blood, the very life from the Bible.

There is no great doctrine in the Word of God, apart from Jesus Christ. If we open the Book of Genesis, and read where it says, "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. * * and the evening and the morning were the second day"; how quickly we are reminded that Christ is the inevitable One in that verse; for He said: "I am the Light of the world": and, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." You cannot have light, without you have Christ.

If we walk into the Garden of Eden and find that Adam is put to sleep, and his side is opened, we cannot but see Christ; for He too was put to sleep by the Father on the Cross, and His side was opened. Thus you may run on down through the Bible, page after page, and you will discover that it tells the message of Jesus Christ.

It must have been a wonderful scene when the Lord walked with the two disciples to Emmaus, that little village outside of Jerusalem. As He walked He opened up the Scriptures. Would you not like to have been there? Would you not like to have heard Him as He began with the Books of Moses, through the Prophets, and the Psalms, and on into the Minor Prophets, and opened up, in the Word of God, the thing's concerning Himself?

When you come into the Gospels, it is a Word concerning Christ, and Christ is the Word. Luke says of Acts: "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." Thus, no matter where the Disciples are going or preaching, and no matter what they are doing in the Book of Acts, it is always the message of Jesus Christ.

Christ is the heart of Romans, He is the very core of Corinthians, He is the All in all in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Thessalonians. Jesus Christ is the center wherever you go in this wonderful Word of God.

He is the center of all, however, not alone of the Bible. Wherever you walk, Christ is there. If you go through a door, He says, "I am the Door." If you look up at the sun, He says, "The Lord is a Sun and Shield." If you look at the sheepcote, He says, "I am the Door of the sheep." If you sit down to a meal, and say, "Won't you pass the bread, please?" He says, "I am the Bread of Life." If you say, "Will you please give me a drink of water?" He says "I am the Living Water."

There is a message everywhere concerning Christ, but only he who sees, takes off his shoes.

IV. CHRIST IS SUPREME ABOVE ALL OTHER MEN (Matthew 12:41-42 )

Christ is supreme above every other man who has ever been born. There is no other person like unto Christ; none other can with Him compare.

A little legend describes the Romans as sending to Paul and saying: "We would like to have you put in the Parthenon some of the relics of your religion; something that will commemorate Christ to the world. Other religions and gods have their riches in the Parthenon and we would like to give you a niche." Paul is said to have replied: "My Christ will have all the Parthenon, or He will have none. He will not share honors with other gods; He will not be crowned along with the crowns of others." Why? Simply this: Christ is the Supreme Christ. He stands over and above all. "Behold, a greater than Solomon is here." Solomon stands before you as the wisest of men, but Christ gave him his wisdom.

Jesus Christ said of John the Baptist, "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John." But what did John say of Christ: "The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." Jesus Christ is above all men. We mean that there are none who can be compared to Jesus Christ. He is, more than any man; more than all. He is above prophets, above priests, above kings. He is King of kings, He is Lord of lords.

You remember when Moses and Elias, the chief among Law-givers and among Prophets, met with Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, that Peter said, "Let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Then, right out of Heaven came the voice of the Father, saying: "This is My beloved Son, hear Him." God seemed to be saying, "Do not put Christ on a par with Moses; do not put Him on a par with Elias, hear Him, He is the Supreme One." Ah, beloved, I fall upon my face, I bow, I bend the knee, I cry out.

"Let angels prostrate fall,

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown Him Lord of all."

Let men and women, let those on earth and those in Heaven, and let those under the earth, let all things bend the knee and fall down before Him, He is the supreme Christ, greater than all men combined; for, there is a sense in which in Him we all live, and move, and have our being.

Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious

See the "Man of sorrows" now

From the fight return victorious:

Every knee to Him shall bow!

Crown Him! crown Him! angels, crown Him!

Crown the Saviour "King of kings!"

Crown the Saviour! angels, crown Him!

Rich the trophies Jesus brings:

In the seat of power enthrone Him,

While the vault of heaven rings.

V. CHRIST IS SUPREME OVER NATURE (Luke 8:24 )

His power is supreme over the elements. Behold Him asleep in the ship, as the waves of Galilee rock the little boat; while the fishermen, so used to the freaks of Galilee, are much afraid. The very demons themselves are whipping the wind and the waves into fury. They are tossing the ship, until it is about to sink. Then Peter came to the sleeping Master, and said: "Master of the elements, (Epistala) we perish." The Son of God, quietly stood forth, and lifted His hand and said, "Peace, be still," and immediately there was a great calm. Then the disciples said, "What manner of Man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

But, does Christ still hold the winds in His hands?

Once when the clouds were gathering, and a cyclone was about to break, a Southern negress fell on her knees in her little cabin and cried: "Dear Jesus, protect Your child." Everything around her frail hut was blown to threads, but her cabin stood untouched. Yes, Christ is still the Master of the wind. A little woman, one day, was very much affrighted and started to run, as the lightning was crashing, and the thunders were roaring. Then her husband, a Lieutenant, said, "What is the matter with you, are you scared of God?" She replied: "I am scared of the lightning and the thunder." He quickly drew his sword, and made as though he would strike her. She did not even duck. He said, "Why didn't you run, why didn't you duck?" She said, "I knew who held the sword. You would not strike me, you are my husband, you are my lover; my whole life is in your heart. I am not afraid of a sword, when you hold it." Well, my friends, He is the Master of the elements. He holdeth the stormy winds in His hands. What a majestic picture you have in the Book of Revelation! Christ is seen riding on the clouds. "Oh, my Lord, my God, the clouds are Thy chariots." When He comes again, He will come like the lightning, flashing from one end of the Heaven even unto the other. I tell you, our Christ is the Christ of power, over the elements.

AN ILLUSTRATION

The other day as I was returning from Central America, I arrived in Washington about 9:30 p. m. I walked through the great waiting room, through the outside doors, facing the shrine of all America. All was dark outside; only one thing was clearly visible. All about the Capitol building batteries of searchlights have been hidden among the trees and on the roofs of the buildings; all hidden, all focused on one object not the Hall of Representatives or the Senate building, not even upon the Hall of Justice. But far above, each contributing light shone upon the dome of the Capitol, that in all of America, in the nighttime, one thing might stand out, the dome of the Capitol. So the Holy Spirit focuses all His glory light on one Being. From Christ Life.


Verses 13-23

The Holy Spirit in Ephesians

Ephesians 1:13-23

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

There are distinct lines of teaching relative to the Holy Spirit in several of Paul's Epistles. The Book of Ephesians has seven outstanding statements regarding the ministry of the Spirit, so also are there seven statements in the Book of Galatians, and likewise seven in the Book of Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. No Book duplicates the message of the other Book, nor do the combined messages, therein, tell us all that God had to say through His Apostles concerning the Holy Ghost.

In our study today we will hold ourselves to seven things concerning the Holy Spirit as found in Ephesians.

By way of introduction we shall speak of what may be termed a prefatory statement which is found in Ephesians 1:13 : "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory." Where could we find any statement in Scripture relative to the Holy Spirit more marvelous than this one?

1. We are described as having trusted. The message which follows therefore is for believing saints, and not for the unregenerate. We heard the Gospel of our salvation which is the Word of Truth, and we believed in Him of whom the Gospel spake.

2. We are described as being sealed after we trusted. This sealing was God's mark of the fact of our regeneration. It is His stamp that we have passed out of death and into life. Being saved we are sealed: sealed unto the day of the redemption of our bodies, unto the day of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection, unto the day when we shall see Him face to face, and be forever with the Lord.

Mark again: God is not sealing sinners but saints. There is no promise from the Holy Spirit that the wicked are either saved, or sealed, or safe. There is a promise to saints that what God seals is safe. No man can break His seal.

What security we have in these opening words of Ephesians! We have been blessed of God with every spiritual blessing. We have been chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

We have been predestinated unto the adoption of sons, by Christ Jesus. This "placing" is not according to anything that we have done, but according to the good pleasure of His will. We have been predestinated to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein we were made accepted in the Beloved.

In all wisdom and prudence God wrought out our redemption through the Blood of Christ, and according to the riches of His grace. This was purposed by God, in Christ.

When we believed we also obtained an inheritance. This inheritance was also predestined, and made sure unto us according to the purpose of God who works everything after His own will.

These marvelous promises should be enough to satisfy any saint. However, the Holy Ghost has one other climactic statement. Here it is: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth." Then He added: "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise."

This sealing is God's "earnest." He assures us that we shall enter into our final inheritance, and the sealing stands good as God's earnest until He has obtained the redemption of His purchased possession. Thank God for this opening statement concerning the sealing of the Spirit.

I. THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION (Ephesians 1:17 )

Here is a prayer from the lips of the Apostle. It runs this way: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."

God is not so much interested in our accumulation of knowledge relative to the works which He hath wrought, as He is in our knowledge of Him.

It is not what He has done, but what He is which should chiefly concern us. We want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. We want to know God and the riches of His grace. "We want to know Him, and the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the greatness of His power as manifested toward us when He raised up Christ from the dead.

The natural man cannot see the things of God; neither can he understand them. These things must be made known by the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth.

Christ gave us the promise, that "when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will lead you into all Truth." How wonderful it is that we may have this Holy Spirit of wisdom and of revelation! This Teacher of teachers, who journeys with us, takes of the deep things of God and reveals them unto us.

We are so ignorant that we need to be taught. There is no man, in the flesh, whom we can trust. We would wander in a maze of uncertainty concerning the spiritual things of God had He not given us One who knows what and how to teach us. Now we have no need that any man should teach us, for we have an anointing of the Holy One, and He teaches us all things.

"Holy Spirit, faithful Guide,

Ever near the Christian's side;

Gently lead us by the hand,

Pilgrims in a desert land.

Weary souls for-e'er rejoice,

While they hear that sweetest voice

Whisp'ring softly, 'Wand'rer come,

Follow Me, I'll guide thee Home.'

"Ever present, truest Friend,

Ever near Thine aid to lend,

Leave us not to doubt and fear,

Groping on in darkness drear.

When the storms are raging sore,

Hearts grow faint, and hopes give o'er;

Whisp'ring softly, 'Wand'rer come,

Follow Me, I'll guide thee Home.'"

II. THE SPIRIT OF ACCESS (Ephesians 2:18 )

"For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." The second chapter of Ephesians is discussing the Jew and the Gentile, with emphasis upon the Gentile. The Gentile world, under the Law, never had the direct access unto the Father, as had the Jew. They were "afar off," "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," "strangers from the covenants of promise," "having no hope, and without God in the world." Now, however, through the Blood of Christ, the Gentiles have access as readily as the Jews, for, Christ "is our Peace * * having broken down the middle wall of partition," thus, of Jew and Gentile, "making one new man."

When Jesus Christ died the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from top to bottom. From that hour there was no veil to keep us Gentiles from the Holy of Holies. We both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Here is the thought as we see it: In the first chapter of Ephesians the Holy Spirit teaches us to know God; in the second chapter of Ephesians the Holy Spirit becomes our Guide. He takes our hand and leads us into the very presence of the Father. What a wonderful vision is this that the Paraclete, who is the "One at our side," leads us into the presence of God. This illumines that verse in Jude which says: "Praying in the Holy Ghost." It also gives added force to the seventh statement in the Book of Ephesians about the Spirit: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

"Come, Holy Spirit, like a dove descending,

Rest Thou upon us while we meet to pray;

Show us the Saviour, His great love revealing;

Lead us to Him, the Life, the Truth, the Way."

III. THE SPIRIT AND HIS HABITATION (Ephesians 2:22 )

"In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." There are other Scriptures, notably in Romans and Corinthians and Galatians, where the truth of the personal indwelling of the Spirit in the individual believer, is clearly set forth.

Our bodies are proclaimed as the temples of the Holy Ghost, who is in us, and whom we have of God. Again, we are told, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." In Galatians we read: "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts. " These verses all speak of a personal indwelling of God's Holy Guest in each individual believer.

Our text, however, has another thought. It speaks of the saints being builded together for God's habitation through the Spirit. It is not now the individual, but the saints formed into one body or building.

Thus, the same Spirit who indwells the believer, indwells the Church. How sad when that Church loses the sense of its hallowed Guest!

In Revelation 3:1-22 we read these startling words, addressed to the Laodicean Church: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." Alas! Alas! That God should be seeking entrance into that building" which was formed for His habitation.

We fear that in many churches, today, the Holy Spirit is not recognized. Men sit in the places of authority and headship. They are lording it over God's heritage. Oh, that we might open the doors of the Church wide (not the church building) and let God in the Spirit come in.

"Holy Spirit, all Divine,

Dwell within this heart of mine;

Cast down every idol throne,

Reign supreme and reign alone!"

IV. THE SPIRIT OF STRENGTH (Ephesians 3:16 )

"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man." We now come to a distinctive ministry of the Spirit. This ministry is different from the teaching ministry which we have already considered. It is different from the "access" ministry which has been developed.

The Spirit now is described as dwelling within us, that He might strengthen us. There is a little verse which says that when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

God found us in our sins, altogether weak. He quickened us; gave us a new life. He raised us up, and gave us a new position. He made us to sit together with Him in Heavenly places, gave us a new fellowship. And yet, with all of these blessings, which we have in Him the conflicts of the earth-walk and the earth conversation often stagger us.

We know we are God's and that God is ours, yet we cry, "Where is some one to help us to fight our fight, and meet our difficulties?" "How can we do His will and work?" Then the Holy Spirit says to us, "I have come to strengthen you."

In line with this is that wonderful promise in Acts 1:8 . "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

"Come, Holy Spirit, come;

Let Thy bright beams arise,

Dispel the darkness from our minds.

And open all our eyes.

"Revive our drooping faith,

Our doubts and fears remove,

And kindle in our breasts the flame

Of never-dying love.

"Convince us of our sin,

Then lead to Jesus' Blood,

And to our wondering view reveal

The secret love of God.

"'Tis Thine to cleanse the heart,

To sanctify the soul,

To pour fresh life in every part,

And new-create the whole."

V. THE SPIRIT IN UNITY (Ephesians 4:3 )

"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Here is something else, something different from anything we have before considered, and something most revealing.

There is but one body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling; there is but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. The word "one" does not only suggest solidarity; it also suggests unity.

We read of the Trinity, three in one. In Him there is oneness of purpose, oneness of thought. So also since there is but one Lord, one Spirit, one Father, one hope, one baptism, one faith, and, may we say, there should be but one church.

We mean that the church should be as one even as God is One. The church should be endeavoring to keep the "oneness," that is, the "unity" of the Spirit.

How grievous it must be to the Lord to hear some one say: "I am of Paul," or, "I am of Apollos," or, "I am of Cephas." How much better to say: "I am of the Lord."

When Jesus Christ prayed that last memorable prayer, He said, "That they all may be one." How beautiful it is for brethren to dwell together in unity in oneness. On the day of Pentecost they were all of one heart, of one mind, of one soul.

Satan's effort is to cause divisions, or schisms among the saints. The work of the Holy Spirit is the work of unification.

"Come, Holy Ghost, in love,

Shed on us from above

Thine own bright ray:

Divinely good Thou art;

Thy sacred gifts impart

To gladden each sad heart:

Oh, come today!

"Come, tenderest Friend and best,

Our most delightful Guest,

With soothing power:

Rest, which the weary know;

Shade, 'mid the noontide glow;

Peace, when deep griefs o'erflow:

Cheer us this hour."

VI. THE SPIRIT AND THE, SAINTS (Ephesians 4:30 )

"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." We now have before us a statement which should give us pause. Heretofore Ephesians has brought before us what the Spirit has done for us, or, seeks to do for us. Here He discusses our attitude toward Him.

The word "grieve" means to "bring sorrow."

The Holy Spirit of God comes in order that He may show us the things of God, and we must not refuse to listen to His voice.

The Holy Spirit comes to us that He may dwell within us. Let us not grieve Him by refusing Him the sway of our lives.

The Holy Spirit comes to be our strength. Let us not grieve Him by walking in the energy of our flesh. The Holy Spirit comes to cement us into perfect unity in Christ. Let us not foster divisions. The Holy Spirit comes to make us like our Lord; let us not grieve Him; let us, therefore put away all bitterness, and all lying, and all corrupt communication, and wrath, and clamor, and evil speaking, and all malice.

How often have we, who name the Name of Christ, felt the Holy Spirit grieved within us? We were conscious of the fact that we had said something, or had done something that brought Him sorrow.

Let us, from this hour, determine that we will so live that we may bring joy to our Holy Indweller. Let us be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. If we do this the Holy Spirit in us will rejoice, and our joy will be full.

VII. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS FRUIT (Ephesians 5:9 )

"For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth." In another Epistle, that to the Galatians, we read that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. Here we read of the fruit of the Spirit, as being in all goodness, and in all righteousness, and in all truth.

These words are given us to contrast the words in the fourth chapter, which we have just considered. Words which tell us of the things which grieve the Spirit. If the Spirit is fruitful within us, our lives will be filled with goodness and with righteousness, and with truth.

We feel impelled to listen to a final statement of Ephesians, concerning the Holy Spirit. In the sixth chapter we read of two other things. The first is relative to the "Sword of the Spirit," which is the Word of God; and the second is "praying in the Spirit."

Since the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; we are certain that there is an enemy both within, and without, which would keep us from this delightful experience of the Spirit's fruitfulness.

Principalities and powers are centered against us from above, and the flesh is warring against us within to bring us into subjection. We have, however, two weapons of warfare in the Spirit. The Word of Truth is given us as the Spirit's Sword.

An illustration of the effectiveness of this method of battle is found in the Book of Revelation where we read of the saint's victory over Satan, and his cohorts. Here are the words: "And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony."

2. In addition to this Sword of the Spirit is added another effective method of victory, and that is the expression: "Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." If defeat ever comes into your life, remember this twofold method of victory: first the wielding of the Sword of the Spirit, and second, the praying in the Spirit.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Do you remember dear old grandmother? In the days of her feebleness, do you remember, how, one day, she started up the steps of your home? She got out of breath and caught hold of the banisters. Finally she got up to the first landing. Do you remember the little settee you had built there? Well, dear old grandma, tired out, dropped down on the settee unable to proceed. Then you ran up the steps, calling: "Wait a moment, Grandma, I am coming." You remember how you put your arm around the dear, precious, old grandmother, and you said, "Now you can make it, for I will help you up." Have you ever gone into the life of prayer and fallen down fainting on the first landing? Then it was the Holy Ghost said, "I know, you don't know how to pray, I will help you." Then He put His arm through yours, and lifted you up. Thank God, He will teach us how to pray!


Verses 15-23

A Prayer for Converts

Ephesians 1:15-23

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

I want you to allow me to divide up this prayer for you, so that you may be able to get a bird's-eye view of it all at once.

1. We have two things said about God. He is called, in verse seventeen, "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ" and also, "The Father of Glory."

2. We have a twofold statement about the Holy Spirit. He is called, "The Spirit of Wisdom," and He is also called, "The Spirit of * * Revelation in the knowledge of Him."

3. We have a threefold statement concerning what God wants us to know, as follows: (1) "What is the hope of His calling." (2) "The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." (3) "The exceeding greatness of His power."

4. We have a fourfold statement about the resurrection and ascension of Christ. These all revolve around what God wrought in Christ when, (1) He raised Him from the dead. (2) He set Him at His own right hand. (3) He put all things under His feet. (4) He gave Him to be Head to the Church.

5. We have a fivefold statement relative to Christ's exaltation. (1) He was raised far above all principality. (2) He was raised far above all power. (3) He was raised far above all might. (4) He was raised far above all dominion. (5) He was raised far above every name that is named, both in this age and in the age to come.

With this outline before us, you will be ready to grant that Paul's prayer for converts was based upon a wonderful statement of truth. There is first of all a twofold statement concerning God; then a twofold statement concerning the Spirit; then a threefold statement, then a fourfold, and finally, a fivefold statement.

It is of interest to notice how the Apostle prayed all of this in behalf of young converts. One would have supposed that he was praying for matured saints.

In verse fifteen we read: "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you making mention of you in my prayers."

Paul's prayer began the moment he heard the news of their salvation, and continued, steadfastly, from time to time.

Paul did not pray that the converts might be kept from stumbling and falling into the snare of Satan. He did not pray that they might be active in the Lord's work, and that they might accomplish great things for God. His prayer was different. The supreme plea which Paul brought before God was that the saints at Ephesus, who had been saved by faith, might now obtain a new and large vision of Christ Jesus in His ascended and seated power.

After all, is this not the chief thing? We need a vision of Christ more than anything else. When we have that vision before us, we will not only be kept from the power and dominion of sin, but we will, also, be lifted to new heights in service, and to enlarged possibilities in holy living.

There are so many people who pray down in the lower strata of the air. They pray for the temporals; they pray for physical strength, and for power in accomplishment. We believe that a study of Paul's prayer for the Ephesians will lift us up into a higher realm in our own prayer life. May God grant that this may be so.

I. PAUL'S PRAYER DISCLOSES A TWOFOLD NAMING OF GOD (Ephesians 1:17 , f.c)

1. Paul said, "I pray * * that the GOD of our Lord Jesus Christ." We wonder why Paul said, "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ" instead of the "Father" of our Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps, a few Scriptural suggestions will explain this to us.

There were three things concerning Jesus Christ which are about to be presented to the Ephesians. The first thing had to do with His resurrection. The second thing had to do with His ascension. The third thing had to do with His seat at the right hand of God.

Concerning the first thing: Who was it that brought the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead? Hebrews 13:20 puts it this way, "Now the GOD of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus." The word "Father" is not used.

Who was it that exalted Christ in His ascension? Philippians 2:9 says, "God also hath highly exalted Him." Another Scripture says, "God hath made that same Jesus, * * Lord and Christ." Again the word "Father" is not used.

Who was it that placed Christ at the right hand? At Pentecost Peter told us, "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted." Still the word is God, and not Father.

When we read, therefore, of "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ," in our key-text, the word "God" and not "Father" is used, because that which is about to be said of Him has to do directly with us. In Paul's prayer it is God, who has wrought, toward us, in Christ Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is evidently giving us a renewed vision of God, in His attitude toward us, through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a God of all grace, and a God of mercy, and a God of love, as He moves in our behalf in His marvelous work of redemption, in Christ Jesus.

2. Paul said, "I pray that * * the FATHER of Glory." There are two renditions in different versions of the Scriptures. One reads, "The Father of Glory," and the other reads, "The glory of the Father." A similar translation is given concerning the Gospel of Christ. Some versions read, "The glorious Gospel," while other versions read, "The Gospel of Glory."

God is the Glorious Father, because He is the Father of Glory. If He were not all-glorious in His character, He could not be the Father of the glory unto which we have been called. George Washington was "the father of his country," but our God is "the Father of Glory."

II. PAUL'S PRAYER DISCLOSES A TWOFOLD NAMING OF THE SPIRIT (Ephesians 1:17 , l.c.)

As Paul prayed, he realized the utter inability of the saints at Ephesus, in their own wisdom and power, to comprehend the wonderful things which God had wrought toward them in Christ Jesus. He knew that the natural mind could not embrace such marvelous spiritual conceptions.

It was for this cause that Paul prayed that God might grant to His saints, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.

The Holy Spirit once said to the saints, "The anointing which ye have received of Him * * teacheth you of all things." The Lord Jesus, likewise, laid great emphasis on the fact that, "When the Comforter is come," "He shall teach you all things."

When young people sit down with an open Bible before them, they need to tarry for a moment, in prayer, asking God the Holy Spirit, to shine upon the pages of Divine revelation. It is impossible not only for the young, but also for the old; not only for the ignorant, but also for the wise, to understand intellectually the things of God, and the things pertaining to Christ.

It is because the mind of man cannot grasp the things which are of God, that so many well educated, and fully equipped men of mind, utterly wander in a labyrinth of doubt and of perplexity, when they seek to know and to explain the Word of God.

III. PAUL'S PRAYER DISCLOSES THREE THINGS WHICH GOD WANTS US TO KNOW: FIRST, HE WANTS US TO KNOW THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING (Ephesians 1:18 , f.c)

1. Paul's personal yearnings. We all remember how Paul said, concerning himself, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

The Apostle Paul did not pray for others what he did not desire for himself. His one ambition was to know the hope of His calling, and to press toward it. That wonderful longing became the predominant ambition of Paul's being. He wanted to know Christ, and the fellowship of His suffering, and the power of His resurrection, being conformed unto His death, that he might attain unto the prize of the high calling of God, which is the goal desired of the ones who attain the out-resurrection.

2. Paul's desire for others. There was nothing selfish in Paul's make-up. That which was the consuming passion of his own soul, was also his passion and desire for others. He wanted to attain the prize of the high calling, but he wanted us also to attain. He could say of himself, "I therefore so run" that I "may obtain." He could also say to others, "So run that ye may obtain."

The Book of Hebrews reminds the saints that they are partakers of a Heavenly calling. It is for this cause that throughout the Book saints are urged to hold fast "the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."

Let us, however, not seek to selfishly know the hope of His calling, and to attain unto its prize, but let us unite with Paul in endeavoring to consider others, encouraging and exhorting them, that they too may know the hope of His calling, and so much the more, as we see the day approaching.

IV. PAUL'S PRAYER DISCLOSES: SECONDLY, HE WANTS US TO KNOW THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS (Ephesians 1:18 , l.c)

1. The usual thought is our inheritance in Him. We delight in talking and in thinking about our riches in Christ Jesus. We know that we are the heirs of God, and the joint-heirs with Christ. We know that if we suffer, we shall reign with Him. We know something of what God has said relative to the City that cometh down from God out of Heaven. All of this is ours, in Christ Jesus.

2. The supreme thought is Christ's inheritance in us. It is a wonderful thing when the truth of our value to God grips us For our part, we are not so sure but that we need to give more weight to what we are to Him. He has said, "They shall be Mine, * * in that day when I make up My jewels." It is when our Lord sees those who have been saved through His Blood, that His soul will be satisfied. He has loved us with an everlasting love.

It is the inspiration of this thought, "what we are to Him," that stirs us up to larger attempts, and to a closer walk with God. If He loves us with so great a love, if we are His jewels, if we are His joy, if He sold all that He had in order that He might obtain us, we certainly should bestir ourselves to please Him.

Oh, what a joy it should be to us to know that God is counting on us! We are the riches of the glory of His inheritance.

V. PAUL'S PRAYER DISCLOSES: THIRDLY, HE WANTS US TO KNOW WHAT IS THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER (Ephesians 1:19 )

1. Our verse suggests the high peak of the power of God. There are many things which show forth the power of God, His creation tells of His power. The least thing in that creation discloses unparalleled power. There is God's power in the wind, in the waves of the sea. Even light is stored with power.

We stood once at Niagara Falls, and heard the roar of her power. Afterward, we went down into a great powerhouse. The building was prepared to harness but a very small degree of the energy of the rushing waters, and yet, it produced power enough to light the cities of Niagara and of Buffalo, to run their streetcars, and many of their factories.

What, then, is the exceeding greatness of God's power? It is a power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead; when He set Him at His own right hand in the Heavenlies; and when He set Him far above all principalities and powers. This will be developed in this study. Let us notice that this "exceeding power" of God, this "exceeding greatness of His power," was manifested toward us. Therefore,

2. Our verse suggests the power of God toward us. How it humbles us when we consider what God hath wrought in our behalf!

When we behold the Babe born, and lying in a manger, it was all for us.

When we behold Christ dwelling in Nazareth, subject to His parents, it was all for us.

When we behold Christ moving among the people, healing, and helping, teaching and talking of God, it was all for us.

When we behold Christ in the Garden at the trial, at the whipping post, on the Cross, buried, it was all for us.

When we behold the Christ raised from the dead, ascending through the clouds, seated at the Father's right hand, it was all for us.

How can we ever cease to praise Him! God opened up every channel of His power, every avenue of His strength, when He wrought in Christ our full redemption,

VI. PAUL'S PRAYER DISCLOSES A FOURFOLD STATEMENT CONCERNING THE POWER OF GOD (Ephesians 1:20-23 )

1. The power displayed in the resurrection of Christ. Jesus Christ said: "I have power to lay it (My life) down, and I have power to take it again." This power was His, because He was God. Another Scripture says, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus."

The power of the resurrection is magnified, in that it was toward us. This suggests that Christ's resurrection includes our resurrection. Indeed the time is coming when all who are in their graves shall hear His voice and come forth.

2. The power of God displayed in the ascension of Christ. We read in our verse of the exceeding greatness of God's power, when He set Christ at His own right hand. Few of us, perhaps, have ever realized the power of the ascension. We know that gravity holds us to the earth. We know also, that, to ascend up into the skies we must have power to overcome that gravity. This is accomplished in a small way by the airship.

There is, however, another need of power in the ascension of Christ. The" Lord Jesus went up through principalities and powers, because as we shall see in a moment He went up far above them.

The twenty-fourth Psalm gives a vivid picture of the ascension. When the angelic hosts asked, "Who is this King of Glory?" The response is given, "The Lord mighty in battle. * * He is the King of Glory."

3. The power displayed in the putting of all things under the feet of Christ. Seldom do we think of the mighty power of Satan and of Satan's hordes. We know that the archangel Michael durst not bring against Satan a railing accusation. Satan is the one who has weakened the nations, and has made the world as a wilderness. It is he who has led men captive at His will.

In the earth life of Christ Satan even sought to swerve the Son of God from His integrity.

What then is the depths of the meaning of the word, "The exceeding greatness of His power" when He set Christ far above all principality, and all power, and all might, and all dominion, both in this age and in the age to come? The mind fails to grasp the power of God so displayed.

4. The power displayed in giving Christ to be head over all things to His Church. There is but one voice which has authority in the Church, and that is the voice of Christ. Once more the mind seeks to grasp the power of the ascended Lord. We see the saints of all ages, who have composed the Church. Some of them are in Heaven, some are on earth; all are bending the knee before the Son of God as they worship His Name, Even now we can hear them in their glad acclaim as they are saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."

AN ILLUSTRATION

The mighty power of God is toward us. However, that power is made real to us only who believe. Let no one imagine that the blessings of Heaven, as manifested toward us in Christ Jesus, will be his unless he is willing to receive the Lord Jesus as his Saviour.

Some one has said: "While standing one day on the platform of the Aberdeen Station of the North-British Railway, I observed a carriage with a board on it, intimating that it ran all the way from Aberdeen to London. The doors of it were open. A few individuals looked for this particular carriage, and on seeing "London" on it, they threw in their traveling rugs, entered, and, seating themselves, prepared for the journey.

"Having furnished themselves with tickets, and satisfied themselves that they were in the right carriage, they felt the utmost confidence, nor did I observe any one of them coming out of the carriage, and running about in a state of excitement, calling to those around them, 'Am I right? am I right?'

"Nor did I see any one refusing to enter, because the carriage provided for only a limited number to proceed by that train. There might be 80,000 inhabitants in and around Aberdeen; but still there was not one who talked of it as absurd to provide accommodation for only about twenty persons, for practically it was found to be perfectly sufficient The carriage is for the whole city and neighbor-hood, but carries only such of the inhabitants as come and seat themselves in it from day to day, "God has made provision of a similar kind. He has provided a train of grace to carry this lost world's inhabitants to Heaven; but only for as many as are willing to avail themselves of the gracious provision.

"All who will may come, and, through justification by faith alone, may seat themselves in a carriage marked, 'From Guilt to Glory.' Whenever you hear the free and general offer of salvation, you need not stand revolving the question in your own mind, 'Is it for me?' for just as the railway companies carry all who comply with their printed regulations irrespective of moral character, so if you come to the station of grace at the advertized time, which is 'now' (2 Corinthians 6:2 ) you will find the train of salvation ready; and the only regulation to be complied with by you, is that you consent to let the Lord Jesus Christ charge Himself with paying for your seat, which cannot surely be anything but an easy and desirable arrangement, seeing you have no means of paying for yourself,"

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Ephesians 1:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/ephesians-1.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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