Author: Ron Graham


Wisdom and Glory
—Ephesians 1:15-23

This lesson is about how Jesus Christ has been given supreme wisdom, power, dominion, and glory.

1 Thankful for God’s Holy People

In verses 15-16, Paul shows his appreciation for the Christians in Ephesus.

Ephesians 1, Verses 15-16

¶“15Since you heard the word of truth, I also have heard that among you there is faith in the Lord Jesus, and love toward all the people made holy. 16So I continually mention you in my prayers, giving thanks for you” (Ephesians 1:15-16).

Thankful for Holy People

The Ephesians heard the word of truth, the gospel of Christ. It wrought a huge change in their lives. Paul will say more about this transformation in chapter 2. But here he mentions their faith in Jesus and their love toward all who, like them, had been made holy. It made Paul happy and grateful to hear about their faith and good works. He prayed for them often.

Notice that Paul refers to Christians as people made holy. Many translations use the word “saints”. That word is related to the word “sanctified”. And that word means “made holy”. A saint is simply a person granted holiness to be fitted for God’s fellowship and service. Every Christian is a saint, because Jesus makes everyone he saves "holy and without blame before him" (Ephesians 1:4).

2 A prayer for the Saints

In verses 17-19, Paul writes a short prayer about how he wishes God’s holy people to be enlightened with true knowledge. Paul did not take that knowledge for granted. On one occasion Paul said to the elders at Ephesus, "After my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-31).

Ephesians 1, Verses 17-19

¶“17I pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory. May he give you the spirit of wisdom. May he give you revelation in his knowledge. 18 May he enlighten the eyes of your minds so that you see the hope of his calling. May you perceive the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the people made holy. 19May you understand the surpassing greatness of his power towards us whose faith is wrought by his mighty power” (Ephesians 1:17-19).

What Paul prayed for.

Paul asks God to grant the Ephesian Christians enlightenment and understanding in knowledge. But this knowledge is not from earth. It is God’s knowledge of the blessings and glorious inheritance that his unmatched power has wrought. It is no secret. It is revealed!

Don't forget hope.

God’s holy people work hard at their faith and love because they are supported by hope. Because of the knowledge God has revealed, Christians hope with full assurance for a glorious inheritance. They know that Christ’s invincible power prepared and protects their heavenly inheritance. And we have already seen that this inheritance is guaranteed by the seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:14).

No Power Matches Christ’s Power.

Paul speaks of "the surpassing greatness of God’s power" (Ephesians 1:19). Since Jesus Christ is exalted to the highest place, he exceeds in power everyone but his Father. Paul now talks more about this power.

3 Christ’s Dominion

In the next three verses, Paul writes about how God’s power changed Christ’s death from a failure to a victory. Paul has already said, "we have redemption through his blood" (Ephesians 1:7). So even the shedding of his blood was not a failure. Now see what God did after that...

Ephesians 1, Verses 20-23

¶“20This power was at work in Christ. God raised Christ from the dead, and seated him in the heavenly realms at his right hand. 21He was exalted above every highness, authority, power, lord, and title —not only in this age, but also in the age to come. 22God put all things under Christ’s feet. God committed him to be head over all things to the people he called out. 23They are his body, his fullness. In all things, he fills all” (Ephesians 1:20-23).

Head Over All Things

Following Christ’s death, God’s power was "at work in Christ..."

At God’s Right Hand

When God seated Jesus Christ at his right hand, he shared his throne with his Son. As Jesus said, "I overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne" (Revelation 3:21). God said to his Son, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever..." (Hebrews 1:8).

His Called Out People, His Body, His Fullness

Paul says that Christ is "head over all things to the ekklesia" (Ephesians 1:23). This word means “called out” and refers to the one body of people whom Jesus has made holy. He has called them out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Heaven where he now reigns as king.

Paul calls this body of people “the fullness” of Christ. This is what Christ died for. This is what God purposed from the beginning, "to bring all things to a head in Christ" in one body (Ephesians 1:10, 4:4). That body was not a phenomenon of the first century alone. It is still a reality today.

Since this ekklesia is the fullness of Christ, Christians should be joined to no other body; gather and worship as no other ekklesia; make no division in the body; honour no other name but the heavenly King’s.