What is the Meaning of Ephesians 1.18-23

“Praying to Know God” A Prayer for Holy Spirit-Empowered Insight and Revelation to Know God Goals #2: “Knowing the wealth of His glorious inheritance”

Eph. 1:18-23

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 1.18-23

Ephesians chapter 1. The first part of Ephesians 1 in verses 3-14 is given over to the hymn text describing why we have all the spiritual blessings that we do. And the answer to that is because of the specific blessings mentioned in those verses. Those blessings are the foundation of every other blessing that we have in Christ.

.

In the next section in verses 15-23, we have Paul’s prayer. Paul is praying in response to the great truths in verses 3-14. Paul is praying for believers that we would come to comprehend, in a life-changing way, the truth as he just gave it to us in the earlier part of the chapter. Paul wants us to be able to understand those truths and so he prays.

.

And the main request that he has is found at the end of verse 17. He’s praying that God would give to us … as it is written there… “A spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”

.

And we saw we should understand that this way …. That he is praying that God would give us Holy Spirit-empowered insight and revelation to know God. He is praying that the Holy Spirit would so work in our hearts to give us insight and an unveiling [**hands up*** **hand pointing straight**] into the knowledge of God. A “lifting up of the curtain” as it were of the knowledge of God.

.

Basically as we said last time he is praying that we would know God. And he can pray this in verse 18 because as believers the eyes of our heart have been enlightened.

.

And why does he pray this? Why does he pray that we know God? What is the purpose of knowing God? These are all questions you could ask of verse 18 and 19. What is the purpose of knowing God?

.

In other words, Paul is praying for you that you would know God. “Paul,” you ask, “why are you praying for us that we would know God?” Because, after all, knowledge of God is meant for something beyond itself. It’s not static, it functions within the life of the believer.

.

“So, Paul why are you praying that we would know God?” And he answers with three things. We went over one of them last week.

.

He is praying this way so that you will know three things beginning in verse 18. You could mark these out by the little word “what.” Number 1 Paul is praying that we know God so that we would also know what is the hope of his calling and secondly what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints and thirdly verse 19 what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe.

.

Those three occurrences of the word “what” mark off the three reasons Paul is praying we know God. Paul is praying we know God, verse 17, because our hearts have been enlightened as believers, verse 18. Paul can pray that we know God …. So that we will know what are …. Those three things.

.

As believers, we should know God so that we would know what is the hope of his calling and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints thirdly what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe.

.

And what follows in the rest of the prayer all relates to that third one …. It supports and helps our understanding of God’s power toward us who believe. If you want to know more about the power that is directed towards you as a believer, you could study verses 19 to 23 and come away with some thoughts on the glories of God’s power and how it is effectively pointed straight at you.

.

So if the apostle Paul’s prayer here for Holy Spirit-empowered insight to know God is answered… If you grow in your knowledge of God, then you will be growing in your knowledge of these three things. And as you grow in these three areas you will become equipped to live like Paul wants us to live in chapters 4-6 of Ephesians.

.

We went over the first of these three areas last time when he says in verse 18 that one of the reasons why is praying for us this way is that we would know what is the hope of his calling.

.

And we discovered that to grow in our knowledge of the hope of his calling was directly related to our ability to live in a manner worthy of the calling. Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

.

And we cannot live in a manner worthy of the calling without knowing the hope of his calling. And what Paul is desiring is that we would come to have more confidence {*left hand up*} in God’s most certain {*right hand*} promises. We became beneficiaries of these promises when we first trust in Christ. That is when he called us. And so Paul desires that we would grow in our confidence in God’s most certain promises.

.

If your hope or your confidence grows in what will most certainly take place in the future, you will be empowered to live in a manner worthy of the calling that you have received.

.

So we said last time that one would not live more godly because a pastor gives you helpful hints about how to live. A pastor could rail on certain sins, but that does not, by itself, make the congregation more godly. You will become more godly as you increase in your Spirit-empowered knowledge of God and as that knowledge of God, for one, boosts your confidence in God’s promises for you. So godliness starts with true, Spirit-empowered knowledge. That explains why your pastor is so intent on you gaining knowledge!

.

If you consider your pastor the least bit of someone who has spiritual growth, he did not become that way by someone preaching to him that he should not do this or that. He grew spiritually through Spirit-empowered knowledge of God.

.

And so, in this passage, your ability to live godly starts in your prayer closets. You need to get alone with God and pray over His truth.

.

So this is the second part of this same message “Praying to Know God.” You must pray to know God so that that knowledge of God reveals in your heart an increase in your confidence of God’s promises.

.

And now secondly you must pray to know God so that that knowledge of God reveals in your heart … Last part of verse 18 … What are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe. If you grow in your knowledge of God you will grow in your confidence in God’s eternal plan for the future.

.

So I would like to preach on just the second one morning on: “Knowing the wealth of His glorious inheritance.

.

TRANS: And you can see that of the three “what’s”, the one given the most attention is the last one, the “power toward us who believe.” And that is probably because it is directed toward us today; the other two relate to either the past or the future. God’s calling of us was in the past and God’s inheritance in the saints is in the future, but his power toward us is in the present time. And thus Paul gives more attention to it. That power also flows right into chapter 2 when speaks of God raising us from the dead, spiritually speaking.

.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:15-23 15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I can pray this because the eyes of your heart have been enlightened (literally, is what it says), so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance which is in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are or “this power is” in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 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. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

.

  1. Future: The Wealth of His Glorious Inheritance (1:18)

.

EXP: So Paul prays that we would know God so that we will know secondly here what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. The word “riches” you can simply understand as wealth … wealth. And the phrase “the glory of His inheritance” you can understand as His “glorious inheritance.”

.

Paul desires that through our knowledge of God we would come to know as well what is the glorious wealth of God’s inheritance.

.

So notice here this is God’s inheritance that is found in the saints. It is God’s calling God’s inheritance and verse 19 it is God’s power toward us.

.

Did you know that God has an inheritance? Paul wants us to appreciate that.

.

And just to give you an idea of the level of appreciation that there is out there on this topic, I found it very difficult to find any extended discussion in the literature concerning the nature of God’s inheritance. We find it strange, don’t we, that one of Paul’s reasons for us knowing God is that we would come to know God’s inheritance. God has an inheritance…. That’s why many interpreters reinterpret this to mean God’s inheritance for us. Thus, it becomes our inheritance. This is the Christian radio position. It’s much more popular to speak on our inheritance than it is God’s. At least 2 famous Bible teachers that I know of today hold this position.

.

But that is clearly not what this says, it is God’s inheritance. I don’t know about you, but I am jealous for God’s inheritance. What is in it for God? For Paul here, it is important that you know God in order that you might also appreciate God’s inheritance.

.

A lack of interest in and distortion of this topic shows you the self-centered culture that we live in. But I want to show you this morning that just like our growth in our confidence of God’s promises {*hold up both hands*} helps us to grow in godliness, so also does our growth in the knowledge of God’s inheritance help us to grow in godliness.

.

What is an inheritance? An inheritance is simply something God will fully possess, in his own estimation, sometime in the future. Yes, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but there is coming a day when He will fully possess His inheritance.

.

Well, what is his inheritance? The Scripture gives us 3 people groups who are said to be God’s inheritance. They are the people of Israel, the church, and the nations.

.

Israel as God’s Inheritance

Turn quickly to Exodus 19:5 and let’s consider first, the people of Israel as God’s inheritance. Israel became God’s inheritance under the Mosaic covenant. We have various words that describe this concept of God’s inheritance. One of them is “inheritance” and another is “possession” which is what we have in this passage.

.

Exodus 19:5 ~’Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;

.

That phrase “My own possession” is language to describe the treasure or the inheritance that God has in His people.

.

So out of all of the peoples of the earth, under the Mosaic covenant God chose Israel to be his special treasure, His possession, His inheritance. Our English word “inheritance” occurs with reference to Israel in the Joel 3:2. You could turn there. Joel 3 verse 2.

.

Here, God declares that Israel is still his inheritance. And Joel is prophesying concerning the future and here he speaks of the battle of Armageddon when the Lord will return at the end of tribulation period and take rightful ownership of the land of Israel and usher in the millennium.

.

Joel 3:2 I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them [the nations] there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land.

.

So it very well could be that at this time, Israel, both His people and the land become uniquely possessed by God and He begins to reign on this earth. This could be referring to the battle of Armaggedon in Revelation 16:16. The spirits of demons gather together the kings of the whole world together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.

.

So, it could be that God is bringing His inheritance Israel to Himself during this time.

.

The Nations

Now, you could just write as a cross reference in your Bible in Eph. 1:18 and put Joel 3:2 and now you could put Psalm 2:8 and then turn to Psalm 2:8 and let’s consider the nations as God’s inheritance. Israel is uniquely God’s inheritance among the nations. But what is also interesting is that the nations also are God’s inheritance. This is predicted in Psalm 2:8.

.

In a unique passage of Scripture, God the Son is recounting a conversation with God the Father. God the Son is the installed King of Psalm 2:6.

.

And God the Son is speaking in verse seven and saying that He is telling the decree of Yahweh…. And Yahweh’s decree is end of verse seven, “You are my Son.” And the Son of God says that the Father had said to Him the contents of verse eight. The Father speaks to the Son and the Father says …

.

Psalms 2:8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

.

And in a unique way, just like that passage in Daniel 7 says, the nations are God’s inheritance. To the Son is given dominion, glory and the kingdom that all the peoples nations and men of every language might serve him.

.

And God will likely receive his inheritance at the end of the tribulation period when He returns to reign upon this earth and actually takes physical possession of those nations.

.

The Church as God’s Inheritance

Now, let’s turn back to Ephesians 1 and let’s consider thirdly the church as God’s inheritance. The church is God’s inheritance. The church as God’s inheritance is what is in view in the book of Ephesians.

.

It says it specifically at the end of verse 18, that we are to know what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance… And the wealth of his glorious inheritance is found … where? In the saints.

.

Saints are those who have trusted in Christ and are now saved. That word “saints” is not reserved for a select few individuals. Everyone who has trusted in Christ, is a saint. And so in the passage here is God’s inheritance and God’s inheritance is the saints. All of the saints make up the true church. And so the church is God’s inheritance.

.

And notice how the church is described. The church is “the riches or the wealth of the glory of his inheritance …. The church is the wealth of his glorious inheritance.”

.

The church, from God’s standpoint is considered a wealth. It is considered a glorious inheritance. The church is a glory to God; it is excellent. God considers the church to be his inheritance, I would say that the church is important.

.

And yes this is speaking of the universal church, all the saints from the ministry of Christ until the Rapture. However, any local church in which there are truly regenerated people is a physical manifestation of that universal church.

.

Therefore then, the local church today takes on this same practical importance to God.

.

I’m going to read Titus 2:14 and you could put this verse as a cross reference here.

And as we said, the church began at the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and finally on the day of Pentecost. The church then is Christ’s special possession as seen in Titus 2:14 [Christ] gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for [… Here is our wording…a people for …] His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

.

The church became Christ’s inheritance when he gave himself for the church. The actual giving of himself for his own possession happened at the cross.

.

And this inheritance wording is also in our passage first, back up in verse 11. Paul writes Ephesians 1:11 we have obtained an inheritance,

.

And you remember we translated that phrase the way it is literally in the Greek and that is, “we have been made an inheritance.” Or we have been made to be an inheritance.

.

The church has been made to be an inheritance. And God will receive His inheritance at the rapture, before the tribulation.

.

And we know this because of Ephesians 1:14 that describes at the end of the verse … “The redemption of God’s own possession.” Possession is inheritance language.

.

And we said that God’s own possession will be redeemed at the rapture and resurrection of the church before the tribulation.

.

This is confirmed in Romans 8:23 … And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

.

So the redemption of our bodies will usher in a time when our sonship in Christ is fully realized and when we receive our inheritance. The redemption of our bodies is the rapture and resurrection before the tribulation period. And also at this time, God himself will receive us to Himself, the church, who is his inheritance.

.

And so the church is God’s inheritance. Our view of God’s church ought to be heightened because the church is literally his inheritance.

.

APP: If God’s people today would grab a hold of this concept of them being God’s inheritance, how would that change us? It would drive me to be more like him. I mean, who am I especially in light of my sin that he should make me, of all people, part of His inheritance? So this drives me to want to be a good inheritance!

.

And if the church were to grab a hold of this concept as God’s inheritance, the local church would be transformed. Will I bring my sin into this church and disrupt it when I know deep in my heart that this is part of God’s inheritance?

.

Will I fail to play my part in Christ’s local church? He values the church so much! What a privilege to be counted among and to be participating in God’s inheritance!

.

And think for a minute of the original recipients of this letter. Remember God was saving hostile people, the Jews and the Gentiles, and putting them into the same church. By nature they are at each other’s throats. Their natural predisposition towards one another is to murder one another!

.

They needed to get a hold of this concept that the church is God’s inheritance … “Are you going to hate the other members of God’s inheritance?” Would you bicker and complain in the midst of God’s inheritance or against God’s inheritance? With what respect and careful dealings ought we to have with God’s inheritance?

.

No church today could ever come close to the temptation of getting “rubbed the wrong way” as the Ephesian church.

.

Paul’s argument here in his prayer is that as you come to know God, truly, is that you will come to know the glorious wealth of his inheritance.

.

You will come to value and appreciate the local manifestation of his church. And for many of us here our odometers over the years have testified to the value that we have placed on God’s church. I commend you for that; may God richly bless you. And let’s not lose our diligence but increase in our knowledge of God and our value of his inheritance in the saints.

.

If you valued something, how would you know? If you value your spouse, how would that show itself? If you valued another person, how would you know?

.

ILL: Do you realize that God has led us to this passage the day when many churches are altering their services to accommodate what is happening in the world? Today is the day when men strap on their helmets and watch the most watched sporting event of the year. Today is the Super Bowl! For those of you who don’t know, that’s a football game! And many churches change their service times to accommodate that. What is the real value that the church has of itself today? Does what goes on on Super Bowl Sunday help us understand that?

.

I pulled an article off the web from chirstiannews.net and here is what it said.

.

[1]A number of churches across the country have decided to cancel, move or substitute their Sunday night services as the Super Bowl presents a conflict with their regular service times.

.

Now, before I go further, understand this that the Super Bowl is one of the most watched events every year. Some 169 million people are expected to tune in at least at some point during the game. It is broadcasted in “30 languages to 180 different countries. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that the NFL is the most profitable sports league in the world.”[2]

.

What are churches doing in light of this?

.

NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, a megachurch with five campuses [and over 7,000 members], held services last night as it anticipated that most members would skip Sunday services to watch football. The church writes on one of the main banners on its website … “We’re moving service times for the big game.”

.

NewSpring also produced a special Superbowl video to make the announcement about the time change, which features two men watching the game, one of whom talks about his love for Super Bowl commercials as his friend insinuates that he is just hurt that he is not in the game.

.

“We all love watching the big game, so for one weekend only we are moving our Sunday night service to Saturday night,” the ad announces, “so that you don’t have to miss a single play.”

.

Lead pastor Perry Noble stated that he has attempted in years past to hold Sunday night services in spite of the game, but to little avail.

.

He says … “I’ve been in church work for over 20 years, and the one thing I can say is that attendance on Super Bowl Sunday night in church has always been awful!” he wrote on his blog. “We’ve tried different approaches to remedy this, but nothing has worked. People just have not come to church.”

.

Noble says … “We want people to come to church, and we think church should do whatever it takes to get people in the doors.”

.

Barnabas Piper of World Magazine also recently discussed the topic in an article entitled “Separation of Church and Super Bowl.”

.

“To go or not to go, this is the question facing thousands of churchgoers on Super Bowl Sunday evening. Of course, all sorts of moral expectations and qualifications underpin that question,” Piper writes. “Is it wrong to skip church in favor of a Super Bowl party?”

.

He asserted that it was not, stating that those who believe otherwise are legalistic.

.

“No church should make its people feel guilty for missing a service in favor of the big game. This is as much a church culture issue as it is a scheduling one,” Piper stated. “Those churches that have created an environment where attendance is mandatory and ‘skipping’ is shameful have missed the point of gathering to worship … And to judge those who miss a service in favor of gathering with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company and, hopefully, a great game, is legalism.”[3]

.

However, some folks who read that article on World Magazine disagreed….

.

One of the commenters responded this way … “I do not think that sincerely seeking to obey out of gratitude for so great a salvation is ‘legalism’ as this author suggests,” wrote one commenter. “In fact, I think many times when one smugly accuses another Christian of ‘legalism’ it is just a defense mechanism for an underlying ‘antinomianism’ that seems to be rampant in modern Christianity.” Antinomianism is a “no law” teaching, “I can do whatever I want” attitude.

.

Another comments …

.

“It is sad to see our idolization of sports in general and Super Bowl in particular. It has become one of the biggest holidays of the year. We wait for the commercials and click our tongues at the immorality, but keep on watching [for the wrong reasons],” opined another. “The best place for us would be [a place of] sincere worship.”

.

….

.

The article on Christiannews.net continues … “It has also been reported that some churches have canceled worship services altogether, and will instead show the game on the church’s big screen for the congregation.”

.

And that’s the end of the article.

.

Well, what do you think? I read the comments of this article on Christiannews.net and none of them were in favor of churches altering a church’s Sunday schedule for the Super Bowl.

.

Terry Braun

Woo hoo we have arrived. After over 30 years of seeking the seeker we now find our churches largely populated with seekers. Not sure what a seeker is, but the God of the Bible says there’s no such thing.

.

[deacon name]n Henry

wow… what gospel are they teaching again? If it’s a gospel other than Christ and the one the apostles preached, God has one word for them – …. “But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

.

Juliana Lyon

But [deacon name]n, they can’t interfere with idol worship?!? Especially not when the pastor’s [idol] temple is playing the other [idol] temple. :/

.

APP: If people really knew God and if the churches were led by people who knew God, would there not be clear evidence within that church that they considered what they did together as more important than anything in the world? They are sending a message that what the world has is more valuable than the church. Christ has the nations as His inheritance, but the world’s system will be destroyed. A church calendar should reflect that truth.

.

ILL: … It’s kind of like this: let’s say, every week you get $100,000 for showing up somewhere. There would be no better place you rather be. But then something comes up and this other place is offering you 5 cents for coming… “well, let’s do that instead!”

.

That doesn’t make any sense. What’s more important than participating in the inheritance of God! This is the value that God places on the saints ….

.

People who know God …as a by-product of that, they value His church and what the church is all about. People who know God value Christ’s church to the point that they are not surprised when they learn that the church is God’s inheritance. “Oh, that makes sense …” “I mean, I didn’t know that, but I value Christ’s church a lot too!” They can say that b/c they have been increasing in their knowledge of God.

.

Nothing of this world could ever deter someone like that from participating in and furthering Christ’s causes in and through the church. They work, are diligent, and they glory in Christ’s causes and design for the church.

.

APP: And let me make one final application. The husband and wife relationship is a picture of Christ and His church.

.

The inestimable value that Christ has in His Church … His inheritance … husbands, take that as a picture for your relationship to your wife.

.

One of the reason we have bad marriages in the churches today is because of a lack of understanding of the value that Christ places on the church. The more you come to understand the value Christ has for His church as His glorious inheritance, they more you will be equipped to love your wives.

.

Ephesians 5:25-27 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

.

Men if your value of the church {*left hand*} grows and becomes more in line with {*right hand*} the value that Christ places on the church, your love for your wife will grow. Men, would Christ talk that way to His church, His inheritance? Then don’t talk that way to your wife. How would Christ speak to His church? Then speak that way. But you have to come to value Christ’s inheritance first and that takes true knowledge of God.

.

Wives, the more you grow in the teaching of Christ’s inheritance as the church, the more you will come to appreciate your own husband and desire to be a good inheritance! Should the church speak that way of her Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ?

.

Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

.

Would the church complain and bicker about her Lord the way you do? Wives, be that treasured inheritance for your husband. Husbands, value your wife as the glorious wealth to you that she is. Folks, the reason you struggle in your marriage is because you lack knowledge of God! You need Spirit-empowered knowledge of God so that you come to know the glorious wealth of the inheritance that God has in His church!

.

So, we must pray. Pray that you increase in the knowledge of God so that you might know how valuable God’s inheritance is: that inheritance is His saints.

.

Glorious things of Thee, O Church, is Spoken number… 220 …. Explain theology and then notice the last stanza!

.

Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Ephesians 1.18-23

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Ephesians Main Page

.

  1. http://christiannews.net/2013/02/03/churches-cancel-services-for-super-bowl/

  2. http://news.discovery.com/human/life/8-nfl-facts-that-will-piss-you-off-during-the-super-bowl-140131.htm

  3. http://www.worldmag.com/2013/02/separation_of_church_and_super_bowl

253 views
253 views
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap