gratitude & hoopla: On Experiencing the Hope of Glory and the Power of God

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

16.11.05

On Experiencing the Hope of Glory and the Power of God

I'm still pondering Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in the first chapter. Paul prays that the Ephesians would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they might know God, and the hope to which they have been called, and the power of God on their behalf.

Now, Paul is writing to a church, and to a church moreover that has become known for its love and faith. So these people "know God." They are born again believers. And yet Paul prays that they will gain a spirit of wisdom and revelation, "so that they may know God."

Paul clearly believes they can know God more, know him better, receive more wisdom and revelation concerning him. This is the place we're all in. We can all stand to know more. We say, if we are believers, that we know God, but really we're in a position of great ignorance. We know him, but there is so much more to know.

I looked up these words--wisdom, revelation--in a Greek lexicon.

1) the word wisdom is "sophia." It is human understanding, "the varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by acuteness and experience, and summed up in maxims and proverbs." It corresponds well with our noun, "understanding."

2) the word revelation refers to the laying bear or revealing of something that had till then remained hidden; "used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all." It seems to me that, in the present context, this requires supernatural intervention. As in the case of John, to whom awesome heavenly visions were uncovered (revealed), it is God who reveals. We do not barge into the heavenlies, but to some small degree heavenly things may be revealed to us.

So Paul prays for a spirit of wisdom (intelligence, prudence, keen understanding) and of revelation (the revealing of things hidden), but note well the key modifier: it is wisdom and revelation with regard to the knowledge of God. To have a spirit of wisdom and revelation is to have an attitude of thoughtfulness and a receptivity to God's "uncovering" of Himself!

Finally, in verse 18, we find the reason why. The purpose of this specific prayer is so that the Ephesian Christians may know the hope to which they've been called and the immeasurable power of God on their behalf.

Note: the word "know" is the Greek verb eido, and it connotes experiential knowing, perception with the eyes or the senses, understanding something through the experience of it. For example, I know about the Grand Canyon, but I've never been there. So, though I may know about it, I do not truly eido it. Through study I can learn much about the canyon, but even then I will not know it with this eido kind of knowing. To gain such knowledge, I must take it in with my senses. I must go to the canyon, I must see and experience its grandeur.

In conclusion, it would not be far wrong to say that Paul is praying that the Ephesians would not just know of, but truly know (experience), the hope to which they've been called and the immeasurable power of God on their behalf. He wants them to know better, to know more profoundly, more acutely, this hope and this power. There is never a point in the Christian walk in which this prayer is not supremely appropriate. May you experience ever more distinctly, even at this moment, the hope to which you've been called ("the glorious riches"), and also the incredible power that God wields on your behalf right now.

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