The Spirit Of Wisdom and Revelation- Ephesians 1:15-17

In this passage, Paul is informing the believers in Ephesus of his concern for them and of how he prays for them. He begins with the phrase “for this reason”, which links this passage to what immediately precedes it, in reference particularly to verse 13, in which Paul tells them that they “were included in Christ when they heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”. Paul prays for them here because they have accpeted the gospel and been sealed with the Holy Spirit. How does Paul know they have accepted the gospel and been sealed with the Holy Spirit? Because of their “faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints”. It must be noted here that Paul refers to their faith in the “Lord Jesus”, their faith was in Jesus Christ, and all who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and are sealed with the Holy Spirit will live with Him as their Lord, He will be the sovereign ruler of their lives. And how did Paul know that Jesus was the sovereign Lord of their lives? Because of their love for all the saints! Love here is agape, love for those we do not particularly like. Even within the church, there are going to be certain other saints we do not particularly like, as evidenced by our tendency to favor our own little cliques, our own circle of friends, with those outside this group being mere aquaintences. Paul knew they were sealed with the Holy Spirit due to the presence of love for those they did not particularly like, they sought the best for those who may have previously been their enemies and were learning to love those they formerly hated. Paul then tells them of his continual thanksgiving for them, telling them that “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (verse 16). That does not mean that all Paul did was give thanks for the Ephesians, but that every time he prayed, they were in his prayers. Paul then informs them of exactly what he prays for them, of what he would like to see come to pass in their lives, and in the life of every believer in every church for all time. The phrase translated as “I keep asking that” is the Greek hina, literally “in order that”, showing that Paul prayed with a purpose in mind, there was something specific he had in mind for the Ephesians and wanted to see come to pass in their lives. He prayed that God “may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better”. We will examine this phrase very closely in order to see exactly what Paul would like to see come to pass in the lives of all believers. The word translated as “may give” here is the aorist active subjunctive of didomi, to give. The subjunctive is the mood of possibility, showing that what he is requesting has been made possible but is not certain. This raises the question of just what “Spirit” Paul refers to here. The NIV capitalizes the word Spirit, leading to the assumption that the reference here is to the Holy Spirit. But if we remember that Paul has just told them that all who “having believed” (past tense) the gospel “were marked (also past tense) with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”, we must ask why Paul uses the subjunctive here. Why would he say it has been made possible to be done here in verse 17 what he has just said has already been done in verse 13? This leads to the conclusion that Paul’s reference here in verse 17 is not to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit. This conclusion is further supported by three other factors. First, Paul here does not use the word holy with spirit here, as he does in verse 13 in a clear reference to the Holy Spirit. Second, we do not find the definite article here with spirit, and it is common practice in the New Testament to find the definite article with the word spirit every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned. Third, it makes no sense for Paul to tell them it has been made possible here for them to receive what he has just told them they have already received three verse prior to this. All of the above leads to the conclusion that the reference here is not to the Holy Spirit, but to the human spirit. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in them (verse 13), it has been made possible for “wisdom and revelation” to be given to each of their human spirits. The Greek word revelation here is apokalypsis, literally meaning “to uncover”. Paul prays that God will remove the cover from things so that the believers may see things as they really are, and he prays that this revelation would be given to their spirit. The spirit is the faculty of man which distinguishes him from the rest of the created order, it is the neshama which God gives only to Adam in Genesis 2:7, it is what makes human beings the image and likeness of God, for God is Spirit (John 4:24). The fact that we are spirit means that we search for meaning in things, and what Paul prays here for the Ephesians (and for all believers) is that God would reveal to our spirits the true meaning of everything, that we would see things through His eyes, that things would mean what He says they mean, that we would interpret and understand all of reality the way He does. In addition to this revelation, Paul also prays that they would receive “wisdom”. Revelation refers to the reception of knowledge and insight, wisdom refers to knowing what to do with that knowledge and insight. All of this takes place that we may “know Him better”. The word know here is ginosoko, relational and experiential knowledge, growing to know someone rather than something. So what does Paul ultimately pray for them (and for us)? That we all would grow to know Jesus more and more, that we would grow to see the true meaning of things, that we would see things as He does, and that this meaning would be applied in our lives in order that we may be more and more like Him and the world may see more of Him through us.

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