Summary: In Eph. 1:18 Paul prays that their hearts would be enlightened. To enlighten means to make clear or inform. The Greek word Paul uses means to shine; to illuminate. Paul wants their hearts to illuminate and shine with the things he goes on to describe.
THE ENLIGHTENED HEART
In our passage today Paul prays that their hearts would be enlightened. To enlighten means to explain or make clear. It can also mean to tell or inform. Our hearts can be enlightened by being told something new as well as having something we know to be explained or made clearer.
The Greek word Paul uses here, photizo, means to shine, to illuminate, to bring to light. Paul wants their hearts to illuminate and shine with the things he goes on to describe. That should be our prayer too-that our hearts and the hearts of others would receive the light of clarity and understanding regarding Jesus, his words and his ways.
1) Knowing God better (15-17).
Eph 1:15-17, "For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."
Paul starts out by saying, "for this reason". In the preceding verses, he states that they were included in Christ when they heard and responded to the gospel, receiving the deposit that guarantees their glorious inheritance-the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul encourages them by telling them he hasn't stopped giving thanks for them and praying for them.
Paul mentions that he keeps asking that God would give them wisdom and revelation so they would know him better. They knew God and they responded to his call for salvation but that's not the end of it. There's more to learn; more to gain. We need God's wisdom and revelation to come to Christ in the first place and then we need to continue to receive wisdom and revelation in order to build our relationship with him.
Peter said in 2nd Pet. 3:8 that we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are to grow in our understanding of who Jesus is as well as growing in our love for him. Earlier Peter said in 1:2, "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." How do we grow in grace? How do we gain an abundance of grace and peace by knowing God and Jesus?
Paul said that we would know him better. The better we know God the more we understand his grace and the better we experience his peace. We come to see the magnitude of receiving undeserved favor; we develop a greater appreciation for not being treated as our actions deserve. We cherish the ability to be at peace in trying situations. We have sincere gratitude for being able to not be consumed with guilt, fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, etc. We have the peace of God.
To know God better is to know and understand his love on an increasing level. There is knowing about God and there is knowing God. There is knowing information about God and then there is knowing God by having a relationship with him. We see the importance of this by Paul saying he keeps asking for it. This is a repetitive prayer for Paul.
We need to be diligent in that as well. We need to regularly ask that God gives us wisdom to understand him more. We need to pray that he would reveal himself to us in ways that cause us to be more in awe of him. We need God to reveal his word to us, his love to us, his passion to us and his will to us.
Matthew Henry's commentary reads: "Now what is it that Paul prays for in behalf of the Ephesians? Not that they might be freed from persecution; nor that they might possess the riches, honors, or pleasures of the world; but the great thing he prays for is the illumination of their understandings, and that their knowledge might increase and abound: he means it of a practical and experimental knowledge. The graces and comforts of the Spirit are communicated to the soul by the enlightening of the understanding."
When we pray to know God better we are giving ourselves the opportunity to better ourselves and gain what holds everlasting value.
2) The enlightened heart (18-21).
Eph. 1:18-21, "I pray also 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 the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."