EPHESIANS - CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: pephotismenous (RPPMPA) tous ophthalmous tes kardias [humon] eis to eidenai (RAN) humas tis estin (PAI) e elpis tes kleseos autou, tis o ploutos tes doxes tes kleronomias autou en tois hagiois,
Amplified: By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future He has promised to those He called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance He has given to his people. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realise how great is the hope to which He is calling you - the magnificence and splendour of the inheritance promised to Christians - (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: the eyes of your heart being in an enlightened state with a view to your knowing what is the hope of His calling, what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (Eerdmans Publishing - used by permission)
Young's Literal: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, for your knowing what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
I PRAY THAT THE EYES OF YOUR HEART MAY BE ENLIGHTENED: pephotismenous (RPPMPA) tous ophthalmous tes kardias [humon] :
- 1Peter 5:8; Ps 119:18; Isa 6:10; 29:10,18; 32:3; 42:7; Mt 13:15; Lk 24:45; Acts 16:14; 26:18; 2Cor 4:4,6; Heb 10:32
MacDonald - We have seen that the source of spiritual illumination is God; the channel is the Holy Spirit; and the supreme subject is the full knowledge of God. Now we come to the organs of enlightenment: the eyes of your hearts (NKJV margin ) being enlightened. (Believer's Bible Commentary)
Beloved, there is a powerful principle taught in this section. Did you see it? Recall Paul's pronouncement of truth in Colossians 1:27 that believers (Jews and Gentiles) now have Christ in them and that this is their hope of glory. Here Paul prays that the God would shine the light upon this truth in their hearts. The principle is that we should pray for the promises of God to be realized in our hearts. Only the Spirit can reveal spiritual truth. Are you praying the promises of God for yourself and your family and the body of Christ? Don't miss out on this "once in a lifetime" opportunity!
Those for whom Paul is praying were once "spiritually blind" walking around in "spiritual darkness" as he reminded them of later writing that "you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (Eph 5:8-note)
Wiersbe - In the prison prayers of Paul (Eph. 1:15–23; 3:14–21; Phil. 1:9–11; Col. 1:9–12), we discover the blessings he wanted his converts to enjoy. In none of these prayers does Paul request material things. His emphasis is on spiritual perception and real Christian character. He does not ask God to give them what they do not have, but rather prays that God will reveal to them what they already have.
Lawrence Richards has a pithy comment stating that "One way to build our own prayer lives, and to direct our intercession for others, is to model our prayers on those found in Scripture. Here we see a prayer Paul offered with the intention of strengthening Christ’s church. What did Paul ask? That we might know God better (Ep 1:17). That we might look beyond appearances, to see the church as God does—a people transformed to display His glory, unspeakably precious to Him (Ep 1:18). That we might sense and experience the working of “His incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ep 1:19a). I suppose it’s all right to pray for that addition to a new Sunday School wing. Or the funds to go on the radio. But if we want our church to truly be the church, the things Paul prayed for here are vastly more important. (Richards, L. The 365 Day Devotional Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)
Eyes (3788) (ophthalmos) is literally the organ of vision but in Paul's use is obviously figurative. It is a beautiful picture, the heart being regarded as having eyes looking out toward God and all of the spiritual blessings that have their source and supply in God's Beloved Son. Proper understanding of spiritual truth is not dependent on having a keen intellect but rather a tender heart!
Is your heart tender to the Word of God? Do you hunger and thirst for God as a deer does for the water brooks?
Paul is praying for a deeper spiritual understanding, that "Ah Ha" reaction we have when we begin to really understand something and exclaim "I see it! I finally see what you’re telling me, Lord!" That's what Paul is praying for here. Why? Why would he be praying for this "Ah Ha" enlightenment? Remember that the first three chapters are doctrine but the last three begin with how we are to walk. Paul knows that as a man thinks in his heart, his spiritual interior, will determine how he walks. And so he prays that these saints might be able to grasp the breadth and length and height and depth of the great truths in this chapter, so that they might be enabled by the indwelling Spirit and the riches of God's grace to order their steps in a manner which is pleasing to the Lord.
The psalmist understood that the supernatural Word of God was unlike any writing of man and thus pleaded with God to...
Open (Hebrew galah = Piel stem always denotes "to uncover" something which otherwise is normally concealed. LXX translates with apokalupto from apó = from + kalúpto = cover, conceal which means literally to uncover and so to remove the veil or covering exposing to open view what was before hidden. The Greek tense is aorist imperative which speaks in context of a request in the form of a command and speaks of urgency and need) my eyes, that I may behold (careful, sustained, and favorable contemplation - LXX translates with katanoeo from kata = down + noeo is literally to the the mind down on and speaks of giving very careful consideration to some matter, think about very carefully, consider closely. observe fully, consider attentively denotes action of mind apprehending certain facts about a thing) wonderful (amazing, astounding, marvelous, extraordinary or even difficult - things beyond human capability) things from Thy law. (Psalm 119:18) (Comment: When you open your Bible, ask the Author to open your heart)
Heart (2588) (kardia [word study]) is not the literal organ that circulates ancients considered the heart the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, wisdom. The heart the seat of the mind and will, and it could be taught what the brain could never know. The "heart" in Scripture speaks of the very center and core of one's life, the seat of thought and moral judgment.
The heart is the seat of emotions in some cultures, but in the Greek culture it was not. In the Greek culture the seat of emotions would be the intestines. The heart was the seat of understanding.
This deep, interior enlightenment is clearly the result of the work of the Holy Spirit Who leads the believer to know (eido) intuitively all that God has made available to him in Christ (cp Jesus' promise to the disciples - John 16:13, cp 1Jn 2:20, 28, 1Cor 2:10-13, 15-16), and in essence to come to understand what it means to be "in Christ" or "in Him". They knew to a degree what the concept of being "in Christ" meant but not in a deep intuitive way. That is what Paul desires for them and for all believers.
Paul prayed that believers would know the three things mentioned not in their head but in their hearts, the very essence of their being. When we know them in the head and not the heart, we are simply "smarter sinners" but when we know them in our heart, we will become more like our Savior.
Note that the KJV translated from the Greek Textus Receptus (the is from the Nestle-Aland Greek) does not have "heart" (kardia) but has the word "understanding" which is the noun dianoia an old word for the faculty of understanding. It speaks of a clarity of mind or understanding by which one is able to see things intelligibly and clearly and proceed accordingly. Virtually all the authorities agree that "heart" is the correct translation.
May be enlightened (5461) (photizo from phos = light) means to cause light to shine upon some object, in the sense of illuminating it. To give light to, to illuminate. It means to make known in reference to the inner life or transcendent matters and thus shed light upon. The idea is to cause something to be fully known by revealing clearly and in some detail.
Figuratively, as used in this verse, photizo means to make clear, to cause to fully know or to cause to understand and is used of God's enlightenment through revelation. This effect in context undoubtedly refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit Who illuminates spiritual truth to the hearts of believers.
The passive voice indicates that this action is performed on the subject by an outside source, clearly implying the work of the Holy Spirit (aka divine passive). The perfect tense speaks of an enlightenment that has occurred at a point in time and which persists. Paul says this enlightenment is abiding and permanent state.
It is interesting to note that photizo (enlightened) was used by the pagan Mystery religions as a technical term for the rite of initiation into their inner secrets! They worship a lie (as do all cults). We are privileged to worship the Truth, Christ Jesus! May His Spirit enable us to worship Him Monday - Saturday (not just on Sunday) in spirit and in truth. Amen
Luke used ophthalmos figuratively in recording Christ's charge to Paul that He was sending him to the Gentiles...
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness (cf "prince of the power of the air" in Eph 2:2-see note) to light (cf Col 1:13, 14- notes Col 1:13; 1:14) and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness (sending away) of sins and an inheritance (for which they were predestined before the foundation of the world, Ep 1:5-note) among those who have been sanctified (set apart - here referring to the initial act of belief although more commonly in NT referring to the ongoing day to day salvation of the believer = sanctification, which is also by faith) by faith in Me. (Acts 26:18+)
Robert Morgan illustrates the truth in this verse with the following story - Recently when my CD player died, I asked a friend to look at it. “I think the needle is broken,” I told him. “CD players don’t have needles,” he said, laughing. “They use laser beams to read songs encoded on the disk. The eye on yours is dusty.” He cleaned it and the problems disappeared. In his prayer for the Ephesians, Paul asked God to enlighten their eyes so they could better understand the message encoded in His Word.... (Morgan, R. J. Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook: 2002 edition Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Warren Wiersbe - First, enlightenment comes from the Holy Spirit. He is the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Isa. 11:2; John 14:25–26; 16:12–14). With his natural mind, man cannot understand the things of God. He needs the Spirit to enlighten him (1 Cor. 2:9–16). The Holy Spirit reveals truth to us from the Word, and then gives us the wisdom to understand and apply it. He also gives us the power—the enablement—to practice the truth (Eph. 3:14–21). Second, this enlightenment comes to the heart of the believer (Eph. 1:18). Literally this verse reads, “The eyes of your heart being enlightened.” We think of the heart as the emotional part of man, but in the Bible, the heart means the inner man, and includes the emotions, the mind, and the will. The inner man, the heart, has spiritual faculties that parallel the physical senses. The inner man can see (Ps. 119:18; John 3:3), hear (Matt. 13:9; Heb. 5:11), taste (Ps. 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3), smell (Phil. 4:18; 2 Cor. 2:14), and touch (Acts 17:27). This is what Jesus meant when He said of the people: “They seeing see not, and hearing they hear not” (Matt. 13:13). The inability to see and understand spiritual things is not the fault of the intelligence but of the heart. The eyes of the heart must be opened by the Spirit of God. . (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
- Ro 2:12; 4:4; Romans 5:4,5; 8:24,25; Gal 5:5; Col 1:5,23; 1Th 5:8; 2Th 2:16; Titus 2:13; 3:7; 1Pe 1:3; 1Jn 3:1, 2, 3)
- Ro 4:1; Romans 8:28, 29, 30; Phil 3:14; Col 3:15; 1Th 2:12; 2Th 1:11; 1Ti 6:12; 1Pe 3:9; 5:10)
So that (1519) (eis) conveys the primary idea of motion into any place or thing figuratively as here speaks of the purpose for the Ephesian saints having been enlightened. It is only as God enlightens us that we actually can truly know the spiritual truth He wants us to know. See discussion of the value of pausing to ponder this term of purpose or result .
As an aside, remember to pause, ponder and practice interrogating each term of purpose like so that asking questions such as "What is Paul explaining?", etc (See 5W/H questions). This simple discipline will serve to slow you down and allow you to more actively engage the text which facilitates more effective interaction with your Teacher the Spirit, the Author of the text! And as you pause to ponder, you are in effect beginning to practice the blessed discipline of Biblical Meditation.
Literally eido/oida refers to perception by sight (perceive, see) as in Mt 2:2+
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw (eido) His star in the east, and have come to worship Him."
Eido/oida is distinguished from ginosko (epiginosko, epignosis - the other major NT word group for knowing) because ginosko generally refers to knowledge obtained by experience or "experiential knowledge". On the other hand, eido/oida often refers more to an intuitive knowledge, although this distinction is not always clear cut. Eido/oida is not so much that which is known by experience as an intuitive insight that is drilled into one's heart. Eido/oida is a perception, a being aware of, an understanding, an intuitive knowledge which in the case of believers can only be given by the Holy Spirit.
And so eido/oida suggests fullness of knowledge, absolute knowledge (that which is without a doubt), rather than a progress in knowledge (cp ginosko) a distinction illustrated in the following passages.
(Paul writes to the believers at Rome) Or do you not know (eido/oida) what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? (Ro 11:2-note)
(Jesus is speaking to unbelieving Jews about His Father in Jn 8:54, and declares to these Jews that) you have not come to know (ginosko) Him, but I know (eido/oida) Him; and if I say that I do not know (eido/oida) Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know (eido/oida) Him, and keep His word. (John 8:55)
Jesus answered and said to him (to Peter who was a bit "put off" that Jesus was preparing to wash Peter's dirty feet!), "What I do you do not realize (eido/oida - know beyond a shadow of a doubt) now, but you shall understand (ginosko - understand by your experience) hereafter. (John 13:7)
Note that it is somewhat difficult to give a crisp, succinct definition of eido, so keep that caveat in mind as you read these notes. The uses will not be listed because of the large number (656 hits in 619 verses searching on Strong's Number in the NT).
Eido was found in the Greek secular writings to describe a theory or hypothesis which had been confirmed.
Here is an example of a use of eido that illustrates the meaning...
But in order that you may know (eido) that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins-- He said to the paralytic--I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home. (Mark 2:10-11) (Comment: Here they would see and they would know beyond a shadow of a doubt about Jesus' authority).
Here is another use of eido, John writing that...
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know (eido) that you have eternal life. (1John 5:13) (Comment: A T Robertson writes that it means "to know with settled intuitive knowledge. He wishes them to have eternal life in Christ [John 20:31] and to know that they have it....")
The point is that when the Holy Spirit opens the spiritual eyes of the heart of Paul's readers, they will be able to perceive and to know these great truths intuitively with a positive knowledge beyond a chance of a doubt. Note that all three clauses (hope, riches, power) are linked to the verb "will know".
This earnest prayer reveals the infinite importance of knowledge as a foundation for walking worthy in this Christian life. Compare Peter's opening blessing for his readers in his second epistle...
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge (epignosis) of God and of Jesus our Lord 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge (epignosis) of Him Who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2Pe 1:2-4-notes 2Peter 1:2; 1:3; 1:4)
Here in Ephesians Paul prays for God to grant them a true experiential knowledge (epignosis) concerning God and then appeals to God to illuminate their tender hearts, the very core of their being, with an intuitive, beyond a chance of doubt knowledge (eido) on three specific issues - hope, riches of His inheritance and power. Why? For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
What (5101) (tis) is singular in contrast to the next clause regarding "riches" which is introduced with "what are" which is plural.
Hope (1680) (elpis) (See also study on Believer's Blessed Hope) expresses a desire of some good with the expectation of obtaining it. Hope in Scripture is the absolute certainty of future good. Not "I hope so" but strong confidence that God is going to do good to us in future. It is an expectation or confidence. Paul says that hope ultimately is a person "Christ Jesus...our hope" (1Timothy 1:1, cp Col 1:27-note).
Christians unlike the Gentiles who have no hope can have hope or firm assurance that God will do good to us in the future because Christ has purchased salvation for us on the cross in the past (see Ro 5:1,2 below), sanctifies them through His Spirit in the present (Gal 5:16-25-note), and will lead them to glory in the future (Col 1:27-note; 1Jn 3:2,3-note ).
As stated above, because of Christ's work for us on the Cross means that believers have...
"been justified (declared righteous or in right standing before God, acquitted of our sins) by faith, we have peace with God (peace "of" God in Php 4:6-7 on the other hand depends on how we respond to our circumstances, testings, etc, and if we do by walking in the Spirit as commanded in Gal 5:17, He gives us peace of God, the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22) through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand (perfect tense speaks of the permanence or abiding nature of this condition "standing in grace") and we exult (continually boast, rejoice) in hope of the glory of God (when we see Jesus face to face - 1Jn 3:2-3)." (See Ro 5:1, 2-notes)
Comment: The firm assurance or hope that believers have in this life is the return of Jesus Christ in glory to take them home into His presence and give them glorified bodies like His.
Paul's prayer that they come to intuitively, absolutely know the hope of their calling is in marked contrast to their former state as idol worshipping pagans who were without "hope and without God in the world." (Eph 2:12-note)
Hope gives us the assurance that we are going toward something better than this present life. Knowing with absolute certainty where we are going should give believers the confidence to live as more than conquerors now.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
(play "The Solid Rock")
Paul reminded the Gentile believers that now in Christ they...
were called in one hope of your calling (Eph 4:4-note)
Comment: The fact that Paul qualifies this "hope" as "one hope" emphasizes that there is the same ultimate, glorious reality for all of the church, whether Jew or Gentile! Paul wants to make certain that both Jewish and Gentile believers fully understand that there is no differentiation between Christians. This expectation of seeing Jesus, our "Blessed Hope" [see below] and being like Him is entertained equally by both groups. All members of the true church are called to the one destiny of being taken out of this world, being like Christ [1John 3:2], and sharing His glory forever.
The hope of our calling is the absolute certainty of our heavenly destiny and includes all that awaits the saints at the return of the Lord Jesus and is what Paul referred to by the phrase the "Blessed hope" writing in Titus that...
the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking (not just any kind of looking but looking anxiously, eagerly, earnestly, expectantly) for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14-See notes Titus 2:11; 2:12; 2:13; 2:14)
Comment: "The Blessed Hope" is the appearing of Christ in His majesty and glory.
In a similar way Peter encouraged his afflicted and persecuted readers with the assurance of their "hope" writing...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope (living because of the resurrection of Christ Who ultimately is our "Hope" as Paul states in 1Timothy 1:1 "Christ Jesus, our hope") through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1Pe 1:3-5-See notes 1 Peter 1:3; 1:4; 1:5)
Comment: Our "living hope" guarantees our inheritance, our protection until the revelation of our the final aspect of our salvation - glorification - when Christ returns "in the last time"
Calling (2821) (klesis) (Click for more in depth discussion of calling - klesis) (Click for analysis of related word kletos, and a discussion of who are "the called") refers to an invitation as to a banquet. NT, metaphorically, invitation to the kingdom of God, the divine call which introduces us to the privileges of the gospel. It's an invitation to come to something special. In the New Testament it's a special invitation from God to man to accept the benefits of His salvation.
What is involved in the calling of the Christian? Your calling involves everything that God has done, is doing, and wants to do one day regarding your salvation. Paul is simply saying, "I just told you about your calling. I just told you about what God has done for you. Now I want you to understand it deeply, deeply in your heart. It involves not only the joy of being blessed with every spiritual blessing. It involves not only the joy of being chosen by Christ before the foundation of the world. It involves being redeemed by His blood. It involves being adopted as His Son. It involves being sealed in Him with His Spirit, but it also involves the hope of His returning, and everything that is to come after He returns for His church." That is the full payment of which we have the earnest right now."
The Christian’s holy calling is described in some detail in Ephesians 1-3, especially Ephesians 1:3-14 where we see the truths that saints are chosen (Eph 1:4-note), predestined (Eph 1:5, 1:11-see notes Ep1:5, 1:11), adopted as sons (Eph 1:5 note), accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6 note), redeemed through His blood (Ephesians 1:7 note), forgiven (Eph 1:7 note), sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ep 1:13-note) and given the earnest of our inheritance (Ep 1:14-note). In addition to a holy calling, saints also have a high ("upward") calling (Php 3:14-note) and a heavenly calling (Heb 3:1-note)
In the present context calling (klesis) refers to those who have been summoned by God (the following phrases are meant to be read as one long sentence which gives a Biblical statement regarding calling)...
- according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 note)
- to salvation (Romans 8:30 note)
- saints by calling (1Cor 1:2+)
- both Jews and Greeks (1Cor 1:24+)
- having been called "with a holy" (2 Timothy 1:9 note)
- heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1 note)
- out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9 note)
- to walk worthy (Ephesians 4:1 note)
- by grace (Gal 1:6-note)
- not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles (Romans 9:24 note)
- through the "gospel" that we "may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Th 2:14+)
- and be brought "into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1Cor 1:9+)
- and return in triumph "with Him" at the end of this age (Revelation 17:14-note).
THOUGHT - God's great doctrine of our calling should cause all the "called of Jesus Christ" to exclaim "Glory!"...and to earnestly desire to walk worthy of the calling to which they have been called, motivated by the "hope of His calling".
The hope of His calling points to the certain eternal destiny and future glory of the saints. Click for additional discussion on some of the aspects of the hope of this calling. See related in depth study of the Believer's Blessed Hope.
The better we truly know the "hope of His calling", the more we will be motivated to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called".
It is truth too magnificent for words to describe which is why even God’s own revelation requires illumination of His Spirit in order for believers to begin to understand the magnitude of the blessings of salvation that exist for saints.
Jon Courson - Throughout Scripture, the word “hope” always refers to that which is coming, to that which is ahead. I’m convinced the single greatest problem carnal Christians have is that they don’t know the hope of His calling. They don’t know the reality of heaven. Consequently, they constantly strive for material things and are continually caught up in carnal pursuits. They’re depressed and discouraged because they don’t see the big picture of eternity. (Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson)
In summary, Paul is praying for one of the things these believers need to fully understand and to deeply realize -- the hope of God's calling. In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul had just summed up what their calling involved. Now they needed to understand the hope of that calling so that they would then walk worthy of that calling. When you begin to understand what is the hope of His calling in your life, the assurance and certainty associated with that calling and when you begin to realize that now we only have the earnest of that calling, but that one day we’ll have the full payment, then whatever comes your way you can stand fast on the truth of what God has accomplished for you in Christ in the past, present and future. Knowing these truths in a deeper, more intuitive way, you will be empowered by His Spirit to stand firm on Who He is and how faithful He will be to all of His promises towards you. This is why Paul prayed for the eyes of their hearts to really understand these truths.
Paul does not want these believers to be like Chief Crowfoot. As the story goes Crowfoot, the chief of the Blackfoot nation in southern Alberta, gave the Canadian Pacific Railway permission to lay track from Medicine Hat to Calgary, he was given in exchange a lifetime railroad pass. Reportedly, Crowfoot put the pass in a leather pouch and wore it around his neck for the rest of his life—but he never once availed himself of the rights and privileges it spelled out. What a tragedy when believers do the same thing with the riches they possess in Christ, failing to really possess their possessions!
- Eph 1:7,11; 3:8,16
There are two ways to interpret "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints"...
(1) The saints are His inheritance He considers a treasure of incomparable worth! Amazing grace! In Ephesians 1:14-note Paul spoke of our inheritance, but here seems to speak of God's inheritance in believers. As saints, we’re God’s inheritance, His treasure, His prize! Our riches are in God, God’s is in His saints.
(2) The other view is that the inheritance means all that we will inherit in Christ.
View (1) is probably the more valid interpretation although both views are taught in Scripture and the Greek text does allow for both interpretations.
The first view that the saints are God’s inheritance has precedence in the Old Testament, Moses recording that Israel was God's possession...
For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. (Deuteronomy 32:9) (Spurgeon's devotional)
It is amazing that God would even need an inheritance because He owns everything (cp Ps 50:10) and yet here Moses clearly states that the Lord’s portion is His people.
This same truth is found in the first epistle of Peter where we read that believers...
are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1Pe 2:9-note)
It is an amazing thought (which calls for an appropriate response) that as believers in Christ we are no longer our own but that we belong to God. We are His own possession (Titus 2:14, Ro 8:9). He considers each us to be His precious portion. This thought is too great to fully comprehend in this life! We belong to Somebody. We have His "seal" on us, and more accurately within us in the presence of His Holy Spirit.
Paul applies this truth that we are God's inheritance in his letter to the Corinthians writing...
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1Cor 6:19, 20-note)
Comment: In light of this incredible truth, walk in a manner worthy of your high calling, in a manner that gives [glory or] a proper opinion to others of your Owner!
Click for multiple Scriptures dealing with the other view (#2) that the inheritance refers to what believers will inherit one day by virtue of their position in Christ.
“The riches of His glory” refers to the abundant, preeminent glory of God as displayed in His saints.
Illustration - Brian Harbour - Back many years ago, a young boy accompanied his father and mother as they took the wagon into town for supplies. After the supplies had been purchased and were being loaded in the wagon, the owner of the store said to the boy, "Son, you have been such a good boy, I'm going to let you put your hand in the candy jar and get all the candy you can grab." The little boy just stood there and made no move for the candy. The owner put his hand into the jar, grabbed a handful of candy and handed it to the boy. On the way home, the father asked the boy why he didn't reach his own hand into the jar. He said, "It's not like you to be shy." The boy responded, "I wasn't shy. I was just waiting on him. I knew his hand was bigger than mine." That's a good description of the way God gives His riches to us. He gives them to us by the handfuls.
Inheritance (2817) (kleronomia [word study] from kleros = a lot + nemo = to distribute) (see study of related Kleronomos) (see second word study kleronomia) is originally a portion which one receives by lot in a general distribution. In the NT the idea of chance attaching to the lot is eliminated for all believers we inherit all spiritual blessings in Christ. Kleronomia is literally what is received as a gift from someone who has died, but figuratively as in this verse it refers in a religious sense to God's promised salvation, gifts, and benefits.
Note: This is the same explanatory note that is found in Ephesians 1:14-note (if you have already read that one).
Kleronomia is the portion or heritage which one receives by virtue of birth or by special gift from someone who has died (Lk 12:13). In a figurative sense, kleronomia refers to God's promised salvation, gifts, and benefits as our inheritance (which is the use in Eph 5:5-note) and eternal possession for every believer. (See dictionary discussion of Inheritance) and benefits, an
Thayer summarizes kleronomia as (1) an inheritance, property received (or to be received) by inheritance, or (2) what is given to one as a possession.
NIDNTT says that in classical Greek the root word...
kleros is derived from klao, break. In the first instance it means a lot. Used from Homer on it meant originally the fragment of stone or piece of wood which was used as a lot. Lots were drawn to discover the will of the gods. Since land was divided by lot, probably in the framework of common use of the fields, kleros came to mean a share, land received by lot, plot of land, and finally inheritance. The verb belonging to this is kleroo, to draw lots, apportion by lot (only in Eph 1:11-note, Heb 1:4-note). Kleronomia compounded from kleros and nemo, allot, is first the activity of dividing by lot, then the portion so divided, the inheritance. The Kleronomos is one who has been given a kleros, the inheritor. synkleronomos is a fellow heir, and kleronomeo means be an heir, inherit
What is the difference between kleros and kleronomia (in the context of the uses in the Septuagint)? Sometimes both terms are used interchangeably for nahªlâh (e.g. Nu. 18:23, 24.; 32:18, 19.; Josh 17:4; cf. Jdg. 2:9). However, kleros, which meant originally lot, stresses more the individual piece of land allotted by lot, whereas kleronomia points more to the fact of inheritance with all its connotations already mentioned. Kleros may be used in the plural, but kleronomia is never so used. Kleronomia has the richer associations in the context of salvation history. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
Here is an excerpt from Spurgeon's sermon on Ps 47:4 ("He chooses our inheritance for us") entitled "A Wise Desire" in which the prince of preachers speaks of God's inheritance in His Beloved and for the beloved in Christ...
It is a great truth that God does choose the inheritance for his people. It is a very high honor conferred upon God's servants, that it is said of them, "He shall choose their inheritance." As for the worldling, God gives him anything, but for the Christian, God selects the best portion, and chooses his inheritance for him. Says a good divine, "It is one of the greatest glories of the Church of Christ, that our mighty Maker, and our Friend, always chooses our inheritance for us." He gives the worldling husks; but he stops to find out the sweet fruits for his people. He gathers out the fruits from among the leaves, that his people might have the best food, and enjoy the richest pleasures. Oh! it is the satisfaction of God's people to believe in this exalting truth that he chooses their inheritance for them. But, since there are many who dispute it, allow me just to stir up your minds by way of remembrance, by mentioning certain facts which will lead you to see clearly that verily God does choose our lot, and apportion for us our inheritance. (Click to read more about your inheritance in Spurgeon's Sermon A Wise Desire based on Ps 47:4)
F B Meyer commenting on inheritance in 1Peter 1:4-note...
Yes, it is an inheritance. It is a free gift, and yet we have a right to it. We do not ask for it — we were born into its blessed privilege. The child that lies in yonder cradle, over which the coronet is emblazoned, may claim his broad ancestral estates simply by right of birth: and it is on that tenure that the saints hold heaven. By God’s great mercy we have been begotten again (1Pet 1:3-note).
Oh, blessed heritage!
Incorruptible! The gnawing tooth of decay cannot injure it. Moth and rust cannot consume, nor thieves break through to steal. No spendthrift hand can scatter or over-spend its treasures.
Undefiled! Not a stain on its pure robes; not a freckle on its leaves; not a taint of miasma on its atmosphere. Into the city enters nothing that defiles, or works abomination, or makes a lie.
That fadeth not away! To use the Greek word, it is amaranthine (see amarantinos). Some of the fairest hopes that ever blessed human vision; the most delightful friendships; the most perfect dreams of delight, have faded and withered before our eyes. That never can.
It is kept for us, and we are kept for it. It is reserved in heaven for you.
I have a heritage of joy,
That yet I must not see;
The hand that bled to make it mine,
Is keeping it for me.
Who by the power of God are guarded through faith. (1Pe 1:5-note)— The idea is that we are being brought through an enemy’s country under a strong escortas (escort = a person or group of persons accompanying another to give protection ) the women and children from Lucknow, between the double line of English soldiers, till they were safe from the onset of the Sepoys. We are not in heaven yet; but we are as safe as if we were. (Meyer, F B: Our Daily Homily)
F B Meyer writes about THE SAINTS' INHERITANCE IN GOD (Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 5:5)...
When an emigrant first receives the title-deeds of the broad lands made over to him in the far West, he has no conception, as he descends the steps of the Government office and passes into the crowd, of all that has been conveyed to him in the schedule of parchment. And, though acres vast enough to make an English county are in his possession, rich and loamy soil, or stored with mines of ore, yet he is not sensibly the richer. For long days he travels, towards his inheritance and presently pitches his flimsy shanty upon its borders. But even though he has reached it, several years must pass before he can understand its value, or compel it to minister, with all its products, to his need.
O child of God, thy estate has been procured at the cost of blood and tears; but thou didst not buy it! Its broad acres have been made over to thee by deed of gift. They became thine in the Council chamber of eternity, when the Father gave Himself to thee in Jesus. And they became thine in fact, when thou wast born at the foot of the cross. As soon as thou didst open thine eyes to behold the crucified Lord, thou didst all unconsciously become heir to the lengths and breadths, and depths, and heights of God!
No sooner has the emigrant reached his estate, than he commences to prospect it. He makes a circuit of its bounds; he ascends its loftiest hills; he crosses and recrosses it, that he may know all that has come into his ownership. And this is God's message to thee, O Christian soul! Look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all this land is given to thee! Precious things of the sun and of the moon, for God is light; of the ancient mountains of his faithfulness, and the everlasting hills of his truth; of the fountains and brooks of his love, that gush spontaneously forth to satisfy and enrich.
But next to this, the emigrant encloses some small part of his inheritance, placing around it a tentative fence or partition; and here he begins to expend toil and skill. The giant trees are cut down; and their roots burnt out, or extracted by a team of horses. The unaccustomed soil is brought beneath the yoke of the plough. The grassland yields pasture to the cattle; and there is not a square inch of the enclosed territory that does not minister to the needs of the new proprietor. But not content with this, in the following year he pushes his fences back further into the depth of prairie or forest, and again renews his efforts to compel the land to yield him her secret stores. Year after year the process is repeated, until, perhaps when twenty years have come and gone, the fences are needed no longer, because the extent of occupation is commensurate with the extent of the original purchase.
Let every reader mark this, that supposing two men obtained a grant of an equal number of acres, if other things were equal, their wealth would be in exact proportion to the amount of use which each had made of his special acres. If one had learnt a swifter art of appropriating the wealth that lay open to his hand, he would be actually, though perhaps not potentially, richer than his neighbour. All of which is a parable.
The difference that obtains between Christians is not one of grace, but of the use we make of grace. That there are diversities of gift is manifest; and there always will be a vast difference between those who have five talents and those who have two, in the amount of work done for the kingdom of God. But as far as our inheritance of God's grace is concerned, there are no preferences, no step-children's portions, no arbitrary distinctions. It is not as under the laws of primogeniture, that one child takes all, while the younger children are dismissed with meagre allowances. Each soul has the whole of God. God gives Himself to each. He cannot give more; He will not give less than Himself.
If then you would know why it is that some of God's children live lives so much fuller and richer than others, you must seek it in the differences of their appropriation of God. Some have learnt the happy art of receiving and utilizing every square inch if we may use the expression of that knowledge of God which has been revealed to them. They have laid all God's revealed character under contribution. They have raised harvests of bread out of the Incarnation; and vintages of blood-red grape from the scenes of Gethsemane and Calvary; and pomegranates and all manner of fruit out of the mysteries of the Ascension and the gift of the Holy Ghost. In hours of weakness they drew on God's power; in those of suffering, on his patience; in those of misunderstanding and hatred, on his vindication; in those of apparent defeat and despair, on the promises that gleam over the smoke of the battle, as the Cross before the gaze of Constantine; in death itself, on the life and immortality which find their home in the being of Jehovah.
The analogy that we have quoted, however, fails us utterly in its final working out. The emigrant at last covers his estate, its mines become exhausted, its forests levelled, its soil impoverished; but when a million years have passed, the nature of God will lie before us as utterly unexplored and unexhausted, as when the first-born son of light commenced like a Columbus in the spiritual realm to explore the contents of the illimitable continent, God.
When we were children, the map of Africa gave us a few scattered names around the coast line; but the great interior was blank. Modern maps containing the results Of the explorations of Livingstone, Stanley, Burton, tell another story of river, Savannah, tableland, and of myriads of inhabitants. Probably, ere long the whole will have been opened up to European civilization and commerce. But with God this shall never be. We shall never know the far-away springs of the Niles and Congo's of his nature; we shall never unravel the innermost secret of his being. (The Reciprocal Inheritance)
Saints (40) (hagios) describes men and women who have been set apart from the world by the sanctifying work of the Spirit for a specific purpose determined by God before the foundation of the world (see notes Ephesians 2:10).
Johnson agrees writing that Paul is "not speaking so much about what we have in Christ, but about what he has in us... he thinks of us as His inheritance. In the Old Testament, that’s what Israel was called; she was called “The Lord’s Portion,” the Lord’s inheritance. (cf Deut 32:9) And that’s what we are. We are the Lord’s Portion, the Lord’s Inheritance. We have an inheritance in him, and he has an inheritance in us. God glories in his saints. Isn’t that something? That’s amazing. (Ephesians 1:15-23 Possessing the Possessions in Christ)
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F B Meyer (takes view #1) and sees this verse as referring to believers as God's inheritance writing about...
GOD'S INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS. (Ephesians 1:18) What an extraordinary combination! It is a mystery that God should find his inheritance and portion in the love of men and women like ourselves. But that he should find the riches of glory in them!--this passes thought. It may, however, be explained by a piece of farming that I learnt recently. The other day, when travelling in Scotland, I was introduced to some farmers whose soil was naturally of the poorest description; and yet, in answer to my inquiries, I found that they were able to raise crops of considerable weight and value. This seemed to me very extraordinary. Out of nothing, nothing comes, is the usual rule. But they unravelled the mystery by telling me that they put in, in enriching manure, all that they took out in the days of golden harvest.
Is not this the secret of any grace or wealth there is in Christian lives? Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thee, O Christ of God, be the glory! Whatever Thou dost get out of us, Thou must first put in. And all the crops of golden grain, all the fruits of Christian grace, are Thine from us, because Thou hast by thy blood and tears, by the sunshine of thy love, and the rain of thy grace, enriched natures which in themselves were arid as the desert and barren as the sand. Augustine therefore said truly, "Give what Thou commandest, and then command what Thou wilt."
But we must see to it that we keep nothing back. There must be no reserve put on any part of our being. Spirit, soul, and body must be freely yielded to the great Husbandman. We, who are God's tillage, must make no bargain with his ploughshare, and withhold no acre from the operations of his Spirit.
This is the curse of Christian living. Here is the reason why God is so little to us. We are mean enough to wish to make all we can of God, and to give Him as little as possible of ourselves. We fence off a part of ourselves for God, excluding Him from all the rest. But it is a compact that will not hold. Love will only give itself to love. The shadows of secrecy or reserve on either side will blight a friendship in which all the conditions seem perfectly adjusted. And many a life that might grow rich in its heritage of God is dwindled and marred, because it sets a limitation on God's heritage of itself.
Give all thou hast to God. As He bought, so let Him possess, everything. He will occupy and keep thee. He will bring fruit out of thy rockiest nature, as the Norwegians raise crops on every scrap of soil on their mountain slopes. He will put into thee the grace that thou shalt give back to Him in fruit. He will win for Himself a great name, as He turns thy desert places into gardens, and makes thy wildernesses blossom as the rose.
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Faith and Riches - Do you want to be rich? Do you think your faith will bring you riches? What kind of riches are you looking for?
There's good news and bad news if wealth is what you want. The good news is that God's Word does promise riches to the believer. The "bad" news is that it doesn't have anything to do with money.
Here are some examples of the riches that can be ours as believers in Jesus Christ:
An understanding of God the Father and the Son, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3).(see note)
Christ, "the hope of glory," living in us (Colossians 1:27). (see note)
Mighty strength in our inner being, "through His Spirit" (Ephesians 3:16-note).
Having all our needs met by God (Philippians 4:19) (see note)
The "wisdom and knowledge of God" (Romans 11:33) (see note)
"Redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins," which comes from God's grace (Ephesians 1:7-note).
Yes, God's Word promises us great riches—treasures that we cannot even attempt to purchase with any amount of money. It is these riches that we must seek, enjoy, and use to glorify their source—our heavenly Father.—Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
The treasures of earth are not mine,
I hold not its silver and gold;
But a treasure far greater is mine;
I have riches of value untold.
God's Word promises riches
that money cannot buy.
Amplified: By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: and what is the superabounding greatness of His inherent power to us who are believing ones as measured by the operative energy of the manifested strength of His might, (Eerdmans Publishing - used by permission)
Young's Literal: and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us who are believing, according to the working of the power of His might,
- Eph 2:10; 3:7,20; Ps 110:2,3; Isa 53:1; Jn 3:6; Acts 26:18; Ro 1:16; 2Cor 4:7; 5:17; Phil 2:13; Col 1:29; 2:12; 1Th 1:5; 2Th 1:11; James 1:18
FILL ME THIS HOUR!
And what is... - And is a connective, which signifies that a word or part of a sentence is to be added to what precedes. And so inspired by the Spirit, Paul emphasizes that God has even more blessings to bestow on His children, the blessing of "resurrection power" so that saved sinners so that we might be enabled to live a supernatural life! Blessing upon blessings! This is amazing grace indeed! Note however that Paul did not pray for power to be given to believers. What he prayed was that they be given a divine awareness (eido = intuitive knowledge) of the power they possessed in Christ! He prayed that they might be enlightened so that experientially they might truly possess their possessions! Is this not every believers great challenge and need?! Our dear Father "has blessed (past tense - it is a completed act!) us with every (how many?) spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Eph 1:3) God grant all of Your children spiritual eyes to perceive and possess our possessions in Christ. Amen!
Surpassing (5235) (huperballo from hupér = above + bállo = cast) literally means to throw beyond the usual mark and figuratively means to excel or surpass. It refers to a degree which exceeds extraordinary and thus excels. It means to attain a degree that extraordinarily exceeds a point on a scale of extent.
God's power goes far beyond all other power. The power of Christ applied in the believer’s behalf can't be defeated because the Creator's power exceeds that of the evil created beings, Satan and his minions.
Note that huperballo is in the present tense indicating that this power is power which continually surpassing or excels all other power! There will never be a day when it is not sufficient to accomplish what God purposes in us and through us to the praise of His glory (what He does in and through us will be seen by others who give Him praise and glory because they realize that it is a supernatural not natural work!) May we learn daily to surrender to the Spirit of Christ, Who energizes our walk, elevating it from a "natural" to a "supernatural" walk.
Alexander Maclaren - It is 'exceeding.' Exceeding what? He does not tell us, but other words in this letter, in the other great prayer which it contains, may help us to supply the missing words. He speaks of the 'love of Christ which passeth knowledge,' and of God being 'able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.' The power which is really at work in Christian men to-day is in its nature properly transcendent and immeasurable, and passes thought and desire and knowledge. (THE MEASURE OF IMMEASURABLE POWER)
Greatness (3174) (megethos from megas = strong, great) refers to magnitude (great size or extent), greatness. In other words God's resurrection power is of such a magnitude and quality that it exceeds all standards of physical magnitude! Do we really believe this is true? Megethos can also take on the sense of “power”. Megethos is used in Lxx in Ex 15:16 "By the greatness of Thine arm' (Where "His arm" is tantamount to His power. And what did the greatness of His arm accomplish? His power delivered over 6 million people save through the Red Sea, while at the same time destroying the entire army of Egypt, the greatest army in the world at that time! Why do we doubt God's power to deliver us out of our "little Red Sea" experiences?
Johnson asks "What is the greatness of the power to us what who believe? Well, look, it’s the power that he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. The resurrection power that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is the power that works in every single believer. Isn’t that magnificent? The power of God that was wrought, by God in Christ works in me. Look at our Lord’s body in the tomb. Cold, with the coldness of death. Still, with the stillness of death. Slain because of our sins. And then look at our Lord now at the right hand of the Father on high. Glorified in the life that is life indeed. And the measure of the power that is to us what who believe is that mighty power which entered into Jesus Christ and resurrected him from the dead. That power works in every one of us, as I stand before you. (Ref)
Wiersbe - He is talking about divine dynamic, eternal energy, available to us! After all, what good is it to have wealth if you are too weak to use it? Or if you are so afraid of robbers that you cannot really enjoy it? John D. Rockefeller was the world’s first billionaire. It is said that for many years, he lived on crackers and milk because of stomach troubles caused by worrying about his wealth. He rarely had a good night’s sleep, and guards stood constantly at his door. Wealthy—but miserable! When he began to share his wealth with others in great philanthropic endeavors, his health improved considerably and he lived to be an old man... God’s power enables us to use God’s wealth. But there is a second reason why we need God’s power. There are enemies who want to rob us of our wealth (Eph 1:21; 6:11; 6:12 see notes Ep 1:21; 6:11; 6:12). We could never defeat these spiritual foes in our own power, but we can through the Spirit’s power. (Ibid)
Power (1411) (dunamis [word study] - words derived from the stem duna— all have the basic meaning of “being able,” of “capacity” in virtue of an ability) (Click word study on dunamis) inherent power in God (like in the Gospel Ro 1;16-note). It refers to inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way, the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. It conveys the idea of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled.
Dunamis - 119x in 115v - NAS Usage: ability(4), meaning(1), mightily(1), mighty(1), miracle(2), miracles(17), miraculous powers(3), power(83), powers(6), strength(2), wealth(1).Matt. 7:22; 11:20f, 23; 13:54, 58; 14:2; 22:29; 24:29f; 25:15; 26:64; Mk. 5:30; 6:2, 5, 14; 9:1, 39; 12:24; 13:25f; 14:62; Lk. 1:17, 35; 4:14, 36; 5:17; 6:19; 8:46; 9:1; 10:13, 19; 19:37; 21:26f; 22:69; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:22; 3:12; 4:7, 33; 6:8; 8:10, 13; 10:38; 19:11; Rom. 1:4, 16, 20; 8:38; 9:17; 15:13, 19; 1 Co. 1:18, 24; 2:4f; 4:19f; 5:4; 6:14; 12:10, 28f; 14:11; 15:24, 43, 56; 2 Co. 1:8; 4:7; 6:7; 8:3; 12:9, 12; 13:4; Gal. 3:5; Eph. 1:19, 21; 3:7, 16, 20; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:11, 29; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Thess. 1:7, 11; 2:9; 2 Tim. 1:7f; 3:5; Heb. 1:3; 2:4; 6:5; 7:16; 11:11, 34; 1 Pet. 1:5; 3:22; 2 Pet. 1:3, 16; 2:11; Rev. 1:16; 3:8; 4:11; 5:12; 7:12; 11:17; 12:10; 13:2; 15:8; 17:13; 18:3; 19:1.
Here are Paul's uses of dunamis in Ephesians...
Eph 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
Eph 1:21-note far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Eph 3:7-note of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
Eph 3:16-note that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
Eph 3:20-note Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (speaking of the power of the Spirit that continually energizes us - see Php 2:13, cp the prayer in Eph 3:16!).
Notice in this one letter Paul prays twice for the saints to experience dunamis which He associates with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Perhaps he perceived a power shortage in the Ephesians saints! Is my life a living epistle, a vibrant testimony to God's supernatural power? (If not it should be - see Jesus' command in Mt 5:16-note!)
Dunamis is the root from which we derive the English word dynamic, (synonyms = energetic, functioning, live, operative, working) which describes that which is marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change. That which is dynamic is characterized by energy or forces that produce motion, as opposed to that which is static. Another English word dynamite, is derived from dunamis and since dunamis is used by Paul to describe the "power of God", some have suggested that the gospel is "God’s dynamite". This is misapplication of this English derivative in an attempt to try to picture the life saving power of the gospel. Dunamis does not refer to explosive power, as if the gospel will blow men to bits but as discussed above, it refers to intrinsic power. The gospel is dynamic, God’s dynamic, and so is powerful in the transformation of human lives. This same power resides in believers because we are in Christ and He is in us.
How is this resurrection power demonstrated even in this letter? Is it not in the resurrection of those who are dead in trespasses and sins from their spiritual stupor and separation from God, releasing them from the shackles of sin and subservience to Satan and setting them free in Christ? This is the miraculous power each believer experienced at the moment of salvation and surely there is no greater manifestation of God's power than this. There stood that awful obstacle—and it is still the great obstacle that stands between all men and God—death in sin and nothing but the power of God could deal with such a situation. But let us not stop here - believers needed resurrection power to be saved the first time (justification) and are in continual need of this same power for "daily salvation" (progressive sanctification, "present tense" salvation) from the world, the flesh and the devil! (See the Three Tenses of Salvation)
Kenneth Wuest says that dunamis... "power in the sense of that which overcomes resistance or effects a change" (In Mark 5:30 literal Greek = “Jesus, perceiving in Himself the out from Him power going out”) It was some of (Jesus') supernatural power which He felt leaving Him in the accomplishing of the miraculous cure". (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3 - used by permission)
William Barclay says that dunamis "is the word from which dynamite comes. It can be used of any kind of extraordinary power. It can be used of the power of growth, of the powers of nature, of the power of a drug, of the power of a man’s genius. It always has the meaning of an effective power which does things and which any man can recognize." (Daily Bible Study)
Paul does not pray, “Lord, give them power.” He prays, “Lord, help their spiritual eyes see, and appropriate the power they already have resident within.” The incomprehensible, dynamic power of the resurrected Christ is already in us.
Wiersbe draws a fitting application of Paul's great prayer for our great need - "The greatest power shortage today is not in our generators or our gas tanks. It is in our personal lives. Will Paul’s prayer be answered in your life? Will you, starting today, begin to know by experience God—God’s calling—God’s riches—and God’s power?"
Spurgeon - "See how high Christ is raised! The same power that brought Christ from the dead, and set him on high, works in the salvation of every believer. Nothing less than omnipotence can save a soul; and omnipotence at its very best in the glorification of Christ is none too great for the salvation of a sinner."
Toward (1519) (eis) motion toward = marking that which any person or thing inclines toward (in this case genuine belief)
"TO US-WARD WHO BELIEVE"
The KJV has a unique and memorable way of translating this verse...
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power"
Believe (4100) (pisteuo) refers not just to an intellectual assent to the truths of the gospel but to a saving belief that effects the heart, resulting in a transformed, supernaturally directed conduct based on the truth believed. Thus to believe is to obey and to stake one's life on the truth of the gospel manifesting a lifestyle in accordance with that truth. Vine explains that genuine belief is a firm conviction of the truth, a surrender to that truth and a conduct that results from that surrender. The conduct (works) doesn't save us but does demonstrate the belief to be genuine.
Paul shows the proper relationship of faith and works in this letter, explaining that believers are God's
"workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (See note Ephesians 2:10)
Notice that pisteuo is in the present tense which describes those who are continuously believing as for example would be demonstrated by their lifestyle, which is generally (not perfectly) directed God-ward and Heaven-ward (homeward). The definite article in Greek ("the") precedes pisteuo, which means these are literally "the" believing ones (i.e., they are genuine believers).
Glenn Spencer on believe - This is a condition for the victorious life. In referring to those who believe Paul goes beyond the initial act of faith in God for salvation and speaks of a continuing and growing faith. There are a good number of folks who have believed and been saved who's faith hasn't grown. Right here is where the average Christian fails. The faith that saves is not the faith whereby we live the victorious Christian life. Our faith must grow. Our Lord gave us an object lesson on this truth when He spoke about faith as a grain of mustard seed. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Matthew 13:31-32) He used the mustard seed to teach His disciples an important lesson about faith and victory. Jesus was not teaching us that a little faith could accomplish great things. The emphasis is not on that which is little, but rather that which starts out small and grows into something bigger and stronger. Faith must be exercised in all areas of Christian growth. Saving faith is sufficient for trusting Christ and being saved, but such must grow into Sanctifying faith, Serving faith, Standing faith, and Suffering faith. It takes far more faith to encounter and endure the battles of the Christian life than it did to trust Christ and be born again. Why is there such a power shortage among professing Christians today? Why is there so little power when God states that He has given us His Divine power? Too many people are trusting Christ for the power to save their souls and not trusting Him for the power to live day by day. The power of God is most neglected resource in the Church. Leon Tucker wrote the following words back in 1917: "Power is the one thing the church of God needs most and has least. The work of the Lord languishes for lack of power. The church, like Samson in the lap of a harlot, has divulged the secret of strength and is shorn of power. The church cannot arise and go out as at other times, and this the Philistines well know." Do you have the power of God in your life? If not, why not? It is available. ...Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-note) Obeying that command would settle the matter of walking in the flesh verses walking in the Spirit. The text is clear! If we do walk in the Spirit we will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Herein lies the means of victory! WALK IN THE SPIRIT. (Ephesians- Life In The Heights)
Remember that believers are called to be imitators of Jesus (1Cor 11:1, cf 1Jn 2:6, 1Pe 2:21) and in that light we need to recall that during Jesus' earthly ministry, He lived out His life in the power of the Holy pirit. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35); empowered by the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:16, Lk 4:14); filled with and led by the Holy Spirit (Mt 4:1, Lk 4:1). Jesus healed by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38); cast out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:28); was resurrected from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:11); and was seated at God's right hand in the heavenly places through the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:19, 20). We as His followers, can best imitate our Lord by learning to relinquish self reliance and instead relying on God's power which is manifest and effective through His Spirit in us, as we seek to continually be filled with Him (Eph 5:18) and to walk by Him (Gal 5:16). And remember that this "spiritual journey" is not an "arrival" in this life but is a life long journey (sanctification), albeit it is a journey which is "enabled" by the hope (guaranteed assurance 1Jn 3:2) of our final arrival one day in the future in twinkling of an eye (glorification - 1Cor 15:52).
F B Meyer writes about...
THE POWER OF GOD IN THE ASCENSION LIFE. (Ephesians 1:19) We are bidden to follow our Master in his up ward track, and to sit with Him, in daily happy experience, where He is already seated at the right hand of God. But this is as impossible to our unaided energy, as for the swallow to follow the majestic flight of the golden eagle, soaring sunward. So strong is the gravitation that holds us to earth, so dissipating our cares, so fickle our resolution, that nought but the Divine power and grace can lift us to the level of the Divine life.
But God waits to realize in us all that He has prepared for us; and the third item in the apostle's prayer for his converts is that they might know "the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe."
It is power. It is his power. It is great power: nothing less would suffice. It is exceeding great power, beyond the furthest cast of thought (such is the literal rendering of the word, employed here). It is equivalent to "the energy of the strength of his might, which He energized in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at his own right hand in the heavenlies."
A marvellous lift was there! From the grave of mortality to the throne of the eternal God, who only has immortality; from the darkness of the tomb to the insufferable light; from this small world to the centre and metropolis of the universe. Open the compasses of your faith to measure this measureless abyss; and then marvel at the power which bore your Lord across it, and know that that same power is towards you, if you believe, waiting to do as much for you in your daily experience if you will but let it have its blessed way.
It is a matter of constant complaint with Christian people that they fall so far below their aspirations and hopes. They sigh at the foot of cliffs they cannot scale. The fault is with themselves. As we step into the lifts which are attached to so many factories and offices, and expect them to bear us upward, never doubting for a moment that they will do it if only we keep in the line of their ascent; so, if we would keep in abiding fellowship with the Holy Spirit--i.e., if we would not wilfully step out of the range of his blessed help--we should find ourselves mounting with wings as eagles, and going from strength to strength.
THESE ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WORKING OF THE STRENGTH OF HIS MIGHT: kata ten energeian tou kratous tes ischuos autou:
Wuest: and what is the superabounding greatness of His inherent power to us who are believing ones as measured by the operative energy of the manifested strength of His might, (Eerdmans Publishing - used by permission)
It is difficult to give a clear distinction between the 3 Greek words that expand on the meaning of "the surpassing greatness of His power (dunamis)", but in simple terms it pictures the piling up of similar terms in an attempt to convey the magnitude and capability of God's incomprehensible, infinite power. And God's surpassing power is available to believers because we are in Christ and He is in us, these "positions" picturing an immutable union, a oneness, a solemn and binding covenant relationship. (See The Oneness of Covenant)
Glenn Spencer - Old fashioned Holy Ghost power is the need of the day. God intends that His work be accomplished by His power. We live in a day when denominations, Churches, and religious organizations are running on man-made programs, social agendas, and orders handed down from denominational headquarters. The average ministry is fueled by the flesh. The Word of God is scarcely preached while rock music and religious performers entertain worldly pagans. Such activity is a far cry from what God intended and expects the local Church to be. No amount of worldly noise or manmade programming will make up for the sad lack of the Holy Spirit's presence. Samuel Chadwick writes: "The Church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is College-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles. [Beloved, do you really believe that is true? - see related discussion - A Spirit Filled Church]The Church that multiplies committees and neglects prayer may be fussy, noisy, entertaining and enterprising, but it labours in vain and spends its strength for naught. It is possible to excel in mechanics and fail in dynamic. There is a superabundance of machinery; what is wanting is power. To run an organization needs no God. Man can supply the energy, enterprise and enthusiasm for things human. The real work of a Church depends upon the power of the Spirit." There are too many Christians trying to do the work of God without first being filled with God. If we are to ever see revival we must have the power of God. The power of God in our lives is the result of being Spirit filled and we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) The filling of the Holy Spirit will result in power for service with souls being won to Christ and Christians growing in grace and knowledge. No one can do the work of God successfully without being filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ibid)
On the other hand Alexander Maclaren asks...
Is that heaping together of synonyms or all but synonyms, mere tautology? Surely not. Commentators tell us that they can distinguish differences of meaning between the words, in that the first of them is the more active and outward, and the last of them is the more inward. And so they liken them to fruit and branch and root; but we need simply say that the gathering together of words so nearly co-extensive in their meaning is witness to the effort to condense the infinite within the bounds of human tongue, to speak the unspeakable; and that these reiterated expressions, like the blows of the billows that succeed one another on the beach, are hints of the force of the infinite ocean that lies behind...
'According to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ' - the Resurrection, the Ascension, the session at the right hand of God, the rule over all creatures, and the exaltation above all things on earth or in the heavens - these are the facts which the Apostle brings before us as the pattern-works, the chefs-d'oeuvre of the power that is operating in all Christians. The present glories of the ascended Christ are glories possessed by a Man, and, that being so, they are available as evidences and measures of the power which works in believing souls. In them we see the possibilities of humanity, the ideal for man which God had when He created and breathed His blessing .upon him. It is one of ourselves who has strength enough to bear the burden of the glory, one of ourselves who can stand within the blaze of encircling and indwelling Divinity and be unconsumed. The possibilities of human nature are manifest there. If we want to know what the Divine Power can make of us, let us turn to look with the eye of faith upon what it has made of Jesus Christ. (THE MEASURE OF IMMEASURABLE POWER)
In accordance (2596) (kata) not out of but according to. Not a portion of but proportionate to! If I am a billionaire and I give you ten dollars, I have given you out of my riches, a small portion of my wealth. On the other hand if I give you a million dollars, I have given to you "according to" or more in proportion to my riches. God never gives niggardly to His children but according to the riches of His grace!
Working (1753) (energeia from en = in + érgon = work, English = energy) describes effectual working, efficiency or active, effective power. It is exclusively a Pauline word used only to describe superhuman or supernatural power, whether of God or of the devil. It is energetic power, energy put forth or energy put in operation.
In this passage energeia describes the active, energetic, productive power of the Spirit of God at work.
Energeia describes God’s power in raising Christ, Paul instructing the Colossian saints that they have
"been buried with Him (Christ) in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the (supernatural) working (energeia) of God, Who raised Him from the dead (Note well - Paul says the Holy Spirit is God and He was the the One Who "raised Jesus from the dead" - Ro 8:11-note) " (Col 2:12-note).
In Philippians 3:21 Paul states that the Lord Jesus Christ
will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the (supernatural) exertion (energeia) of the power that He has (KJV - according to the working whereby He is able = dunamai in present tense = continuously able) even to subject all things to Himself (Php 3:21-note)
The surpassing power which God's Spirit uses in continually energizing our supernatural life (Php 2:13-note), in ministering to our spiritual needs, is in accordance with, commensurate with His infinite, immeasurable divine energy. Try to grasp the scope of that thought, dearly beloved of God! The next time we feel weak, we need to recall this passage to our mind (a present imperative command in Php 4:8-note), not in the sense of "mind over matter" but in the sense that this is what is true about us, a truth that we need to walk in by faith (2Cor 5:7, Col 2:6), even (especially) during those times we feel weak (cp 2Cor 12:9-10-note) or inadequate (2Cor 3:5-6-note, 1Cor 15:10-note)
Strength (2904) (kratos) refers to manifested power or power that is put forth in action. It is power to overcome what stands in the way. It is power which is able to overcome resistance. It refers to the inherent strength which displays itself in the rule over others.
Kratos means strength or might, the power to rule or control or exert dominion (power to rule, supreme authority, sovereignty, the right to govern or rule or determine).
Might (2479) (ischus) (see note by Wayne Barber ischus) refers to “power as an enduement.” Ischus is the inherent ability which stresses the factuality of the ability, not necessarily the accomplishment. Ischus is inherent power or force. A muscular man’s big muscles display his might, even if he doesn’t use them. It is the reserve of strength. Ischus therefore conveys the sense of endowed power or ability. The idea is that it is the active efficacy of the might that is inherent in God, His indwelling strength. Ischus is that strength which one has in possession or ability. One might think of ischus as God's latent power. It is His capability to function effectively. He is able!
Vincent has a discussion of two related words ischus and dunamis (in his note on 2 Peter 2:11 -
The radical idea of ischus, might, is that of indwelling strength, especially as embodied: might which inheres in physical powers organized and working under individual direction, as an army: which appears in the resistance of physical organisms, as the earth, against which one dashes himself in vain: which dwells in persons or things, and gives them influence or value: which resides in laws or punishments to make them irresistible. This sense comes out clearly in the New Testament in the use of the word and of its cognates. Thus, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy strength” (Mk 12:30): “according to the working of his mighty power” (Eph. 1:19). So the kindred adjective ἰσχυρός. “A strong man” (Mt. 12:29): a mighty famine (Lk 15:14): his letters are powerful (2 Cor. 10:10): a strong consolation (Heb 6:18): a mighty angel (Rev 18:21). Also the verb ischuoo “It is good for nothing” (Mt. 5:13): “shall not be able” (Lk 13:24): “I can do all things” (Phil 4:13): “availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).
Dunamis is rather ability, faculty: not necessarily manifest, as ischus: power residing in one by nature. Thus ability (Mt. 25:15): virtue (Mk 5:30): power (Lk 24:29; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:4): “strength of sin” (1 Cor. 15:56). So of moral vigor. “Strengthened with might in the inner man” (Eph 3:16): “with all might (Col. 1:11). Dunamis is, however, mostly power in action, as in the frequent use of dunamis for miracles, mighty works, they being exhibitions of divine virtue. Thus “power unto salvation” (Ro 1:16): the kingdom coming in power” (Mk 9:1): God himself called power—“the right hand of the power” (Mt. 26:64), and so in classical Greek used to denote the magistrates or authorities. Also of the angelic powers (Eph 1:21; Ro 8:38; 1 Pet 3:22).
Generally, then, it may be said that while both words include the idea of manifestation or of power in action, ischus emphasizes the outward, physical manifestations, and dunamis the inward, spiritual or moral virtue. Plato (“Protagoras,” 350) draws the distinction thus: “I should not have admitted that the able (dunatous) are strong (ischurous), though I have admitted that the strong are able. For there is a difference between ability (dunamin) and strength (ischuo). The former is given by knowledge as well as by madness or rage; but strength comes from nature and a healthy state of the body. Aristotle (“Rhet.,” i., 5) says “strength (ischus) is the power of moving another as one wills; and that other is to be moved either by drawing or pushing or carrying or pressing or compressing; so that the strong (ho ischuros) is strong for all or for some of these things.”
Beth Moore has a discussion on Luke 5:17-note that may help understand ischus.
The phrase that is somewhat enigmatic in Lk 5:17 is power...present...to perform healing - Did Christ sometimes lack the power to heal? I hope this causes you to really think. A good student is not afraid to explore challenging passages. This statement causes us to wonder if times existed when Christ did not have the power to heal the sick. Dissecting the original language provides a key to understanding this statement. The word for “power” in this statement is dunamis, meaning “power, especially achieving power.” Another Greek word often translated “power,” “strength,” or “might” in Scripture is ischus. This word will help us understand what dunamis is and is not. Ischus expresses the fact that God possesses divine power. Dunamis expresses God’s earthward application of His divine power. Dunamis is divine ischus applied to achieve certain earthly results. I hope you catch that Christ was ready and willing to apply His ischus to specifically achieve (dunamis) healing that day. Christ healed many times, but the implication is that healing was part of a far more specific agenda in certain instances. We can break it down this way: Christ is always able. He is often willing. Sometimes He is more than willing—He is utterly resolved. Our fresh insight makes the scene even more provocative. Do you remember the identified audience? The King James Version offers an interesting twist that changes the climate of the room. “There were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by . . . and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Lk 5:17, emphasis mine). The power of the Lord was present to heal the Pharisees and teachers and anyone else who would fall under the power of His Word in that place! Christ hadn’t just come to heal those who were physically sick. He came to heal those who were sick with sin! We can be sure because of the nature of the conflict that ensued.
Ischus - 10 times in the NT translated: might, 5; power, 1; strength, 4.
Mark 12:30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
Mark 12:33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Luke 10:27 And he answered and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Ephesians 1:19 (note) and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
Ephesians 6:10 (note) Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.
2 Thessalonians 1:9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
1 Peter 4:11 (note) Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
2 Peter 2:11 (note) whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.
Revelation 5:12 (note) saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
Revelation 7:12 (note) saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
Ischus - 251 uses in the Septuagint (LXX) -
Ge 4:12; 31:6; 49:3; Ex.9:16; 15:6, 13; 32:11, 18; Lev. 26:20; Num. 14:13, 17; 24:18; Deut. 3:24; 4:37; 8:17f; 9:26, 29; 26:8; 32:13; 33:11, 25, 27; Jos. 6:2; 8:3; 10:7; 17:17; Jdg. 6:14; 16:5f, 9, 15, 17, 19, 30; Ruth 2:1; 1 Sam. 2:9f; 28:20, 22; 30:4; 2 Sam. 6:5; 22:18; 24:2, 4; 1 Ki. 19:8; 2 Ki. 5:1; 15:20; 17:36; 19:3; 23:25; 24:14; 1 Chr. 5:2; 12:21, 25, 28, 30; 16:27f; 29:11f; 2 Chr. 3:17; 6:41; 13:20; 20:6, 12; 25:6; 26:13; 28:6; 35:19; Neh. 4:10; 8:10; Esther 4:17; 10:2; Job 4:2; 5:5; 6:11f, 22, 25; 9:19; 12:16; 16:5; 23:6; 26:2, 12; 30:2, 18; 31:24, 39; 36:5, 19, 22; 37:23; 39:11, 21; 40:16; Ps. 18:1; 22:15; 29:4, 11; 31:10; 33:16; 38:10; 39:10; 61:2; 65:6; 71:9; 78:61; 102:23; 103:20; 111:6; 118:14; 147:5; Prov. 5:10; 8:14; 14:4, 26; 15:6; 18:10; 27:24; 30:25; 31:25; Eccl. 4:1; Song 2:7; 3:5; 5:8; 8:4; Is. 1:31; 2:10, 19, 21; 3:1; 10:13, 33; 11:2; 23:4, 11; 28:6; 29:2; 30:15; 33:11, 13; 37:3; 40:9f, 26, 29, 31; 41:1; 42:13; 44:12; 45:1; 47:5, 9; 49:4f, 26; 51:9; 52:1; 58:1; 61:6; 62:8; 63:1, 15; Jer. 9:23; 10:12; 15:10, 13; 16:19; 20:5; 23:10; 27:5; 32:17; 49:16; 51:15, 53; Lam. 1:6, 14; Ezek. 7:24; 19:11f, 14; 24:21, 25; 26:11; 27:12; 30:6, 15, 18, 21; 31:18; 32:12, 16, 18, 20, 26, 29ff; 33:28; 34:27; Dan. 1:4; 2:37; 3:4, 20; 4:1, 13f, 21ff, 30f; 5:7; 7:7; 8:6f, 22, 24; 10:8, 16f; 11:1, 6f, 10, 15, 17, 19, 25, 34; Hos. 6:9; 7:9; 8:7; Joel 2:22; Amos 2:14; 3:11; 5:9; 6:13; Mic. 3:8; 4:13; 5:4; 7:16; Nah. 1:3; 2:1; 3:9; Hab. 1:11; 3:4; Zech. 4:6; 14:14
Gilbrant on ischus in classical Greek and the Septuagint - Classical Greek - Ischus is common in the most ancient Greek writings, but gradually it diminished in usage (see Moulton-Milligan for the few citations). Usually ischus denotes “power, might, strength, ability.” Ancient understanding is often linked to other kinds of power or authority (e.g., dunamis, exousia; cf. Josephus, Antiquities 11.3.4). Septuagint Usage - Grundmann (“ischuō,” Kittel, 3:397, note 3) asserts that ischus “is the most common word for ‘power’ in the LXX.” It substitutes for 30 Hebrew expressions in the Septuagint where it regularly translates such terms as kōach (“strength, power, ability”), chayil (“capacity, power”), and ‛az (“strength”). These refer to various kinds of ability ranging from physical/ mental expenditure (Genesis 31:6), sexual potency (Genesis 49:3), or God’s power (Exodus 9:16; 15:6). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)
Ischus is used of the ability of human beings in Mark...
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' (Mark 12.30)
Ischus is used of angelic power in 2 Peter...
whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. (See note 2 Peter 2:11)
Ischus is used as an attribute of God in the Revelation...
saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." (See note Revelation 5:12)
Vincent - The radical idea of ischus, might, is that of indwelling strength, especially as embodied: might which inheres in physical powers organized and working under individual direction, as an army: which appears in the resistance of physical organisms, as the earth, against which one dashes himself in vain: which dwells in persons or things, and gives them influence or value: which resides in laws or punishments to make them irresistible
Kratos is exercised strength whereas ischus refers to great inherent strength. Nevertheless, the distinctions in these words is somewhat difficult to appreciate and convey in the form of a simple definition.
Constable strings these words together writing that...
Power (Gr. dunamis) refers to a spiritually dynamic living force. “Working,” “strength,” and “might” or “mighty” further describe this power. These three words describe it as energetic, inherent in God, and able to overcome resistance respectively. This is the power of God that is available to believers.
In Ephesians 1:19 and Ephesians 6:10, ischus describes the strength of God bestowed upon believers.
What does this "working of the strength of His might" look like? Paul presents a fourfold demonstration of the very same power which God makes available to believers - God “raised Him from the dead” (Ep 1:20 -note), “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 1:20), “subjected all things under His feet” (Ep 1:22-note), and “gave Him as head over the church” (Ephesians 1:22).
In summary, because we are in Christ and He is in us, believers possess resurrection (and ascension) power, and Paul's prayer is for the Spirit to shine the light on this incredible, difficult to comprehend truth that we might know it beyond a "shadow of a doubt" and live in the light of this truth. In short, Paul prays for our position in Christ to become our practice in Christ.
This was even Paul's desire expressed so powerfully in Philippians writing...
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Php 3:10-note)
Warren Wiersbe sums up Paul's prayer for the saints to know the power they possess - The power of the Holy Spirit, through the resurrected, ascended Christ, is available to all Christians—by faith. His power is to “us-ward who believe” (Eph. 1:19). It is grace that supplies the wealth, but it is faith that lays hold of the wealth (cp 2Cor 5:7-note). We are saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9), and we live “by grace,” through faith (1Cor. 15:10-note). In the four Gospels, we see God’s power at work in the ministry of Jesus Christ, but in the Book of Acts, we see that same power at work in ordinary men and women, members of the body of Christ. What a transformation took place in Peter’s life between the end of the Gospels and the beginning of Acts. What made the difference? The resurrection power of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8-note, cp Col 1:29-note, Eph 3:20-note). (Ibid)
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John Piper - Resurrection Power Now - So my message for believers in Jesus is this: The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and what became of him after his resurrection, shows the greatness of God’s power toward us now in this life. Perhaps you can remember three words to capture this message: resurrection power now. I’m taking this message from this phrase in Ephesians 1:19: “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” I know that the vast majority of you do not feel that power. It sounds idealistic. It sounds like religious hype. It sounds vague and theoretical. It does not correspond to experience, and so you instinctively feel like this sermon is going to be like a piece of fiction. I don’t blame you for feeling that way. I have often felt that way myself. But by God’s grace the word of God may change your mind and your heart. I can’t. God can. God may. (The Immeasurable Greatness of His Power Toward Us)
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Adrian Rogers on Heaven Will Break Loose! - Now, I want to ask you a question: Are you sitting in this auditorium, this morning, or are you sitting in heavenly places? The answer is yes, yes, yes. Physically, we are here; but, in Christ, we have been raised. When He died, we died. His death had our name on it. When He was raised from the grave, we were raised from the grave. When He ascended, we ascended. When He is seated at the right hand of God, so are we, in Christ. If I were to put you in a barrel and put that barrel in the Mississippi River, where would you be? In the Mississippi River, right? Well, if you're in Christ, and Christ is at the right hand of God, where are you? Seated with Him. The devil hopes you don't understand this. That's the reason Paul said, "I am praying that your eyes will be opened, that you will be enlightened, that you will understand this" (Ephesians 1:18). That's my prayer, that you'll understand it: "the exceeding greatness of His power" (Ephesians 1:19). Imagine a couple of demons speaking. One demon says to the other, "Demon, if those liberal theologians ever really let Jesus Christ out of that tomb, and those so-called Baptist preachers begin to preach it—whew! Hell help us, all Heaven will break loose." Don't you think it's time all Heaven broke loose? Don't you think it's time that the people of God begin to understand and to exercise Kingdom Authority?
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Morning and Evening, Spurgeon - In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power. What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost. This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God's grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, "Thou shalt," man shall not say, "I will not." Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner. It was everlasting power. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. "Because he lives we live also." "For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God." "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. " Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!
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Sublimal Messages Don't Work - Americans spend $50 million a year on subliminal message tapes designed to help them do everything from improve their self-image to stop smoking. But there's no hidden message in the National Research Council's verdict on such techniques. The Council's report, released in September 1991, concludes that subliminal messages simply don't work. They don't deliver the life-transforming power they promise. What a disappointment to someone who helped contribute to that $50 million figure! But while countless people place, or rather misplace, their faith in the transforming power of subliminal messages, living faith in Jesus Christ cannot fail to do its transforming work. (6000 Plus Illustrations for Communicating Biblical Truths)
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Help Them To Achieve (Ephesians 1:15-23) - Newspaper columnist Jean Calmen once wrote about a teacher she called Miss K. In her youth, Calmen had been a student of Miss K's, so she sent the teacher a copy of a column she was especially proud of.
Miss K had always taught her students to have confidence in their abilities. That's why Calmen was disappointed when her aging teacher responded with a handwritten note that said, "I was aware of the fact that you were intelligent, but I never thought that someday I would be reading articles from your pen in the newspaper." Calmen had expected her former teacher to say, "I knew you could do that."
If anyone should instill hope and bring out the best in others, it should be the Christian. In Ephesians 1, the apostle Paul let his "students" know that he prayed for them constantly. And he did so with great expectations. He wanted them to rise above self-serving behavior and develop the character and likeness of Christ. He told them they could do anything God wanted them to do through Christ who would strengthen them (Phil. 4:13).
As we experience God's power in our own lives, we can encourage others. Together we can help each other achieve great things for Him. --M R De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
If someone sees the best in me,
I make the best my goal;
His faith that God will strengthen me
Encourages my soul. --DJD
A little spark of accomplishment
can ignite great endeavors.
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Illustration - In 218 b.c. Hannibal invaded Italy in the second of three Punic Wars that determined the fate of Rome and Carthage. From her own people Rome raised an army, animated it with patriotism, and ordered it to fight. The wealthy devoted their treasure to the cause, and all classes sacrificed everyday amenities for troops in the field. For fifteen years the Romans defended their homeland against the brilliant Carthaginian—and could never drive him out. But their willingness to persevere assured victory, for Hannibal could never conquer them. He finally disembarked his troops from a lack of support at home. God demands that we obstinately oppose Satan, as those Romans untiringly harried Hannibal. Victory is ours! We may not be able to conquer Satan all at once, but he cannot conquer us at all. No, not at all. We shall conquer him eventually, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us. (Hurley, V. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations Dallas: Word Publishers)
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Power for You-Today! by Theodore Epp - Ephesians 1: 19-23 The Scriptures frequently refer to God's power as it relates to the believer.
Ephesians 6:10 says, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."
Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Colossians 1:29 records Paul's testimony: "I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
God's power is sufficient for our every need. None of us has to live a defeated life. But those who do not make use of God's available power live miserable, defeated lives.
There's more than enough power to break the hold of all sinful habits; more than enough to give deliverance from temptation; more than enough to enable the believer to live above circumstances. Paul said that God's power is "to us-ward who believe" (Eph. 1:19).
God's power is made available to us by His indwelling presence. Paul referred to this when he told the Colossians that God's power "worketh in me mightily" (1:29).
So the dynamo of Christian living is within the believer because God is within the believer. Hebrews 13:21 records the prayer, "Make you perfect [mature] in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight."
The person who has received Christ is a new creation. Referring to himself as a believer, Paul wrote: "I am [have been] crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Eph. 3:20). (Back to the Bible)