Lesson 4: "I ... cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you ..." (1:15-16)g
Paul's Prison Epistles. This is lesson # 4. O.K., in our last lesson we read down through v.14 of the first chapter. If you'll put your eyes back on v. 13-14, just a minute; I would like for us to begin there. V.I3-14 go together to make up one sentence. V.I3 starts off, "In whom." What is that "in whom" business? The subject is "ye", i.e. you: meaning the Ephesians. You did what? You trusted "in whom." The predicate part "in whom" has reference to Jesus; the same as the sentences before this sentence, portray. God hath blessed us (v.3) with "all spiritual blessings...IN CHRIST." How does God adopt us as children (v.5)? "BY JESUS CHRIST." He hath made us accepted, how? (v.6)? "IN THE BELOVED," i.e. in Jesus Christ. "IN WHOM" do we have redemption and forgiveness of sins? (v.7)? He is going to gather together in one all things in who? (v.10)? "IN CHRIST..." Then, (v.11), "IN WHOM?" have we obtained an inheritance? You got it! Who did the Ephesians first trust in? (v.12)? JESUS! You got it! Now, v.13, they, i.e. the Ephesians, trusted in JESUS when? (Got your eyes on it?) "After that ye heard the word of truth." Do you see it? This is described, i.e. the conversion of the first of the Ephesians, you will remember, (at the beginning of Acts ch. 19). Then notice, "the word of truth" is also described (i.e. it is equal to) "the gospel of your salvation." That's two ways of saying the same thing. Then what happened? "After that ye believed," i.e. first trusted in Christ (end of v.12), "ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." Now, read that couple more times. "After...ye believed," i.e. after the Ephesians brethren believed; what happened? They were sealed. Who did the sealing? The Holy Spirit. Now, what do YOU DO when you "seal" something? Did you ever seal a fruit jar when you was canning beans? Have you ever heard of sealing a deal? or sealing an envelope? What are you doing when you: seal a deal, seal an envelope or seal a fruit jar? Doesn't that kind-of "shut the case?" or "close the case?" so-to-speak? I think that's the idea here. The Holy Spirit closed the case.
Now, it may take a little mental pressure just here; but, hang in there just a minute. What is Paul's point? "We have obtained and inheritance." (v.11). Have you got that? Now, who are the heirs of this inheritance? Christians! This inheritance is to those who hear the word of truth and obey the gospel of your salvation, (v.13). And this inheritance IS TO those who have been baptized "into Christ." (Gal. 3:27). When the Ephesians believed THEY WERE BAPTIZED. This is categorically stated (in the first few verses of Acts ch. 19). Please take time out (right here) to go back and re-read that! The case of the Ephesians follows the same divine steps of conversion as every other case of becoming a Christian in the New Testament. Just like Pentecost (Acts ch. 2), just like the eunuch (Acts ch. 8), just like Saul (Acts ch. 9), and just like the Philippian jailer (Acts ch. 16). When the Ephesians believed or trusted in Christ; what happened? They were baptized! They became Christians or saints. They were born again (John 3:5), they were buried with Christ by baptism and raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). They were adopted as "children" of God "by Jesus Christ." (Eph. 1:5, just up the page). Thus, they became heirs; heirs of the promise. They have an inheritance (up in v.11). They have a promise, that promise God made to Abraham: "through thy seed" [not seeds, as of many, now, look at Gal. 3:16]; but, "thy seed, which is Christ." Do you remember that? Take the time to re- read it! It all fits together like a puzzle. And that puzzle makes a beautiful picture.
Alright, in v.14, it says the Holy Spirit gave them [i.e. the Ephesians] "the earnest of our inheritance." What is an "earnest?" We would probably use the words: down payment. Have you ever made a down payment on something? A car? Furniture? or something else? If you haven't, you must be a lot better off, than most of us, financially (i.e.). What did you do when you made that down payment? You sealed the deal. Right? You showed that merchant you was serious. You convinced him he would eventually get the rest of it. Now, at the end of v.13 and in v.14; Paul said the Ephesians were sealed (do you see that?) with an earnest (or down payment). What is Paul talking about? Well, you and I have the New Testament. Our contract (our covenant or testament, if you prefer to call it that) is in writing. We have a written contract. But, the Ephesians didn't have the New Testament, as you and I know it. I'm talking about that book in your hand, (or it should be in your hand), that you are reading from...God's word. Now, God gave the Ephesians something that proves without doubt; that God will eventually give them the rest of his promise, i.e. a home in heaven (John 14:1-2-3). What did the Ephesians get? I tell you what! I'll let you read it. Please turn to Acts 19:6. After the first of the Ephesians were baptized (Acts 19:5); what happened? Have you got it? "When Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and [what happened? are you listening?] "they spake with tongues, and prophesied." That was their earnest! Have you got it? You and I have the New Testament. But, someone says; yes! BUT, if we saw a miracle today: it would force us to believe also. Hey!! Do you remember what Abraham told the rich man, in the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus? If they will not believe the scriptures, they would not believe a miracle. Is that about it? (Luke 16:31).
The Ephesians received spiritual gifts just like the Corinthians. Do you remember I Cor. ch. 12-13-14? Paul told the Corinthians, "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." (I Cor. 13:10). The New Testament is perfect in this sense (II Tim. 3:17). Those miracles were in part. Miracles were an earnest to the Ephesians, i.e. it carried divine proof. But, when the New Testament was complete; miracles were done away. We don't have miracles today; we have the New Testament. A lot of people have trouble with that; so, get a good grip on this. Make sure you understand this point.
O.K., we better read some more! Are you ready? Beginning in v.15, we'll read the rest of the chapter. Have you got your eyes on it? Here we go (v.15), "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; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom of revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
Alright, backer up to v.15. "Wherefore!" What does wherefore mean? Wherefore means: "for which reason." Paul had just allude to the conversion of the Ephesians. We backed up and re-read Acts ch. 19, where Paul baptized about a dozen that knew only the baptism of John, when Paul first came to Ephesus. Then those converts received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of Paul's hands, an "earnest or down payment (Paul called it in v. 14). AND you need to remind yourself: Paul was with the Ephesians for about three years, back then. That had been four or five years before Paul was doing this writing under the weight of that chain. So, Paul knew of their conversion and their growth while he was there. Now, it was for that reason, i.e. "wherefore" or for that reason; Paul was greatly elated to hear (probably through Tychicus) that they were still growing spiritually. Now, re-read v.15. What had Paul heard? He "heard of your [i.e. their] faith in the Lord Jesus." And, what else? Paul had heard of their "love unto all the saints." Possibly, Paul had received several reports; we don't know. So, Paul (here) informs them he had continually prayed for them. He was thankful for them (v.16). Now, what did Paul ask for in his prayers? "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you [i.e. the Ephesians] the spirit of wisdom..." Now what is "the spirit of wisdom?" Notice, in the KJV that the word "spirit" is not here capitalized as you find the word down in 2:18 and 2:22. Thus, here in 1:17, it means the human spirit. Therefore Paul prayed that they might receive "the spirit of wisdom", i.e. that they would seek more understanding and insight into things divine, i.e. spiritual wisdom, we might say. Wisdom comes from the idea of being "wise," which means to be able to sort out the information you have and use that information wisely and profitably. In other words, simply general comprehension. And then, in addition to that (end of v.17), Paul prayed that they might receive "revelation in the knowledge of him." Then1, in addition to that (v.18) Paul prayed that "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened." This is an extension and an elaboration of the previous thought. Then, middle of v.18, Paul continued to describe his prayers on behalf of the Ephesians. He prayed: "that ye may know." To know something is to understand the truth of the matter; the facts of the case in their proper context. Paul prayed that they know what?: (1) "the hope of his calling." In other words, the purpose for which God called us into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ. And (#2) Paul prayed that they might KNOW "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." God cares about man. Paul wanted the Ephesians to realize this. That was Paul's petition. And (#3) Paul prayed that they might KNOW also (v.19) "what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe." We sometimes forget the greatness of God's power. However, Paul's prayer was that they might remember the greatness of God's power; how through the Holy Spirit, Jesus was raised from the dead. How at the consummation of this age, the dead shall be raised and those living at that time shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye (I Cor. 15:52).
As Paul continued to.express to the Ephesians the content of his prayers for them, and as he came to the idea of the exceeding greatness of God's power; Paul naturally shifted the emphasis to Jesus. All of this power, God wrought in Christ (v.20) "when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." Paul here expressly states that Jesus is presently on the right hand of God. We talked about the phrase "in heavenly places" once before (back up in v.3). In v.21-22-23, Paul continued to comment upon Jesus the Christ. The words "principality," "power" and "dominion" used in v.21 are usually associated with civil government and civil authority. God's Son is much greater, much higher, than any such authorities. Then, at the end of v.21; the apostle extends the idea even beyond this world to the realm of the angels and any other heavenly hosts. This reminds one of the first chapter in the book of Hebrews. Then in v.22- 23, Paul says about Jesus what Jesus said about himself back in the great commission, Matt. 28:18. All authority belongs to Jesus Christ, in heaven and in earth. Jesus is the head over the church. In all respects, Jesus is the head over the church. The church is a body of believers and that body of believers belongs to Jesus. They are His possession. That body, known as the church, or the saved, is composed of the servants of King Jesus, the citizens of his kingdom. In Colossians 2:9, Paul said that in Jesus dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. So far as us humans are concerned; Jesus has all power, all authority. Thus, it seems it ought to go without saying that no body, no person or group of persons, has the right to legislate for Jesus. It seems, it ought to go without saying, that creed books, confessions of faith, prayer books, councils, and all such ecclesiastical authority are a bunch of bunk. They are a usurpation of Christ's authority. There is no place for them. All authority belongs to Jesus; not the Vatican council, not the ruling bishops, not anybody. That is not only true in this world. Notice at the end of v.21; that is true "also in that which is to come." You don't have to worry about any revolutions or any power changes.
Please take a moment to program into your computer brain; that Christ's body is the church. Verse 22-23 here specifically says that the body is the church. Christ's body is Christ's Church. The church equals the body. Have you got it programmed? Now, when we come across a verse like Eph. 4:4, just a couple chapters down, that says: "There is one body", you will very clearly understand that to mean: "There is one church." Right? Paul wrote that at the same time he wrote this. When someone asks you: where do you find that one church business in the Bible; you've got it. Right? There is one body, there is one church. Christ is its head. Christ is its owner. Therefore, it should be called Christ's church. Shouldn't it? If not, why not? Yes, but Bro. Horsley, a rose by another name smells just as sweet. Look, take your roses and go on home. I'm not talking about roses; I'm talking about churches. Peter and John told the council (Acts 4:12), "neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Did you hear that? Peter said that salvation cannot be found in any other. Now, who are you going to believe? Peter or some denominational preacher out smelling roses? Do you think you can find salvation some place else? Peter said that salvation is found in a name: the name of Jesus. Jesus has all authority! (Matt. 28:18). But, I'll venture to say; that you can find within five miles of your house a body of people meeting that not only use another name; they even go so far as to advertise that other name on their church building, THE CHURCH OF THE blankety-blank. And, they will try to tell you: there is salvation in that church. I'm NOT talking about the building; I'm talking about the body of people who meet there. They have never been baptized into Christ. As a matter of fact they will probably tell you baptism, the re-enactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus has nothing to do with salvation. Some will even tell you the church has nothing to do with salvation. But, v.6 in this chapter, said: "he hath made us accepted in the beloved," i.e. in Jesus. Our sins are forgiven through His blood (v.7). The church is His body (v.22-23). And Peter said, there is salvation "in none other name." WHAT DO YOU THINK? It's your decision! It's your salvation! Have a good day.