Summary: If the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pray this for the Ephesians, then shouldn’t we be praying it for one another? (#10 in the "Every Spiritual Blessing" series)
“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.”
With verse 14 Paul has ended his lengthy and praise-filled salutation to the Ephesians. The more I study the epistles of this man, the more I understand and appreciate those who have been so drawn to him as a person, even now, 2000 years after he walked this earth.
Paul is so filled with Christ; so overflowing with the Holy Spirit in power and love, that he can’t even say ‘hello’ without bursting into a virtual song of wonder and praise.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”... and off he goes!
I recently ran across a statistic compiled by a German scholar whose name I can’t pronounce. He determined that in Paul’s 13 epistles, some very short (Philemon is little more than a page long), he uses the term “In Christ” or some form of it ~ “in Him”, “in the Lord” ~ no less than 164 times! How he loved to talk about Jesus!
Here in the first chapter of Ephesians he spells out all these spiritual blessings God has lavished on us out of the kind intention of His will. He tells us that the end, or the purpose of all this blessing is that we should be to the praise of the Father’s glory. Our calling, our hope, our forgiveness, our redemption, our inheritance, the gift of the Holy Spirit in us, sealing us, preserving and protecting us as God’s own possession.
And it’s important to remind you of those things today as we continue, because Paul begins his next thought with “For this reason...”
Due to the fact that God has blessed us with all these spiritual blessings, and has sealed us unto Himself in the Holy Spirit in order to redeem us to Himself as His own possession.. because He has done all this to make us His (glory to His name)... “for this reason”...
I, Paul, give thanks for you without ceasing, and I never forget to mention you in my prayers, asking God to give this to you: the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
In other words, Paul is praying for the Ephesians the most important prayer any Believer can pray for another Believer. That God would take them deeper and deeper into an intimate knowledge of Himself.
Man’s chief end is to know God and to enjoy Him forever, it was determined in the Westminster Catechism; but Paul knew and taught that basic truth long before.
“...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him”.
Now something that, I must admit, surprised me about the various translations I checked , is that only the NIV translates verse 17 to say “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, giving the word ’Spirit’ a capital S.
The same Greek word is used for spirit throughout the New Testament, whether referring to the Holy Spirit or the spirit of man. The application of it is generally determined by the context. For example, chapter 1:13 uses the term Holy Spirit and that makes it quite obvious. But over in chapter 2, verse 18, when Paul says that we all have our access in one Spirit to the Father, it is understood that he is referring to none other than the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the trinity, as we know that it is His office to bring us, draw us, to God.
So looking closely at our text, verse 17, I have to assert that the wording of it and what Paul is praying for the Ephesians is for something that only the Holy Spirit of God can give.
He is not praying for them to have an attitude, or a strength of determination, or any other thing that can be conjured up, mustered up within a man; he is praying and asking God for this particular thing because he is praying for spiritual wisdom and revelation, that can only come from God.
Now does that mean he’s praying for God to give them the Holy Spirit? No. He’s writing to believers. They have the Holy Spirit since their salvation. What he is praying for simply, is the Holy Spirit’s help and continued unction in bringing to these faithful believers ever greater wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.