Home > Uncategorized > The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 14 of 155)

The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 14 of 155)

Today’s verse:

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him… (1.18)

Yesterday Paul told the Ephesians he was praying for them, and now he tells us a specific prayer. In the verses that follow, more about this prayer will be revealed, but for right now let us focus the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” that he asks that they be given.

First, what does it mean to ask that someone be given a particular “spirit”? Sometimes in scripture, the word “spirit,” used in relation to the activity of God, is a reference to the Holy Spirit, though it appears here that the translators did not think so, since they would capitalize the word in this case. In any case, if God is being asked to provide these things, it is certainly the work of his Spirit in some sense. But I suppose the word “spirit” is being used in a more general sense; perhaps today we would say something psychological like “disposition towards” or “motivation for,” or something similar. But the culture of the New Testament era was far less materialistic than our own. I imagine that they would naturally expect that things like wisdom and revelation must come largely from the influence of spiritual beings distinct from the self. I suspect that, in situations like this, they took for granted not only the activity of God but of the heavenly realm in general, of God and his angels–and I believe that they were right to do so.

Anyway, Paul wants God to provide, as he sees fit, the Ephesians with a particular sort of spirit: that of wisdom and revelation. Based on what follows (which we will get to over the next few days), I think it is right to see this in terms of God’s plan: Paul wants the Ephesians to perceive the great plan that God has for his people and for the world. And he has certainly talked about this quite a bit already! But his words so far are just a summary, and they alone cannot supply the Ephesians with what they need to truly absorb God’s story and be transformed by it, thus being made into the image of his Son. The words Paul has said so far are Holy Scripture, to be sure, but for the Ephesians to benefit from it, they need not only the words that the Spirit has spoken through Paul, but also the activity of the Spirit in themselves to open their hearts to those words–in the same way you and I need this activity, as we read those same words. So Paul prays for this.

In the bible, “wisdom” is not just intelligence, but the ability to see things as they actually are and live in harmony with that, to perceive God’s plan and have one’s heart and mind in tune with it. “Revelation” goes further: it is more perceptual, more supernatural, in the modern sense of that idea, at least. With a spirit of wisdom, perhaps what we see is the overall heart of God in his plan, and naturally comprehend his good designs; with a spirit of revelation, perhaps we see more the specifics of what God is doing, the events he is shaping.

Let us pray the same prayer for one another today: that we would see the amazing plan of God, both the overarching themes of his sacrificial love, providence, and redemption, and the specific ways that he is realizing them in the world today, among the people of this world. Let us be in tune with him so that we can be a part of his plan, and share the love of Christ, with the broken world that he died for. When you talk to someone today, remember that that is the true story of the world and that that person is a part of this story.

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