Prayer to Know God
September 8, 2019
“Father, indeed we are grateful to be here. We are grateful for Your grace, Your goodness, Your love toward us, all that You have provided for us and especially that You have given us Your Word, for it is through Your Word that we come to know Who You are by Your acts in history and by the explanation and examples we are given of Your love, Your power, Your care for Your creatures, and especially Your care for believers.
“Father, we are thankful that we have Your Word, but above all we have God the Holy Spirit who indwells us, and He is the One Who fills us with Your Word, Who enables us to understand all of its dimensions and all that it means, and constantly uses that to bring us into a closer walk with You—coming to understand who You are, what You’ve done—in richer ways as each year goes by.
“We thank You for Your Word, and we pray that as we study today that You will continue to open our minds to what it means and how it should be applied in our own thinking and in our own understanding. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1. We have seen in our study of, Ephesians 1:15–23, that this is a second section is a major long, complex sentence. It is a prayer. As I keep reminding us as we go through these prayers of Paul, they are patterns for us on what our priorities in prayer should be. How should we pray and what should we be praying for?
Somehow we need to get out of our own little insulated life, where we’re focusing on all of the immediate distractions and details of life and problems that we face, get out of the secondary and tertiary issues and get to the primary ones in terms of our focus on our spiritual life. And to that end, we are taking some time to understand this particular prayer of Paul here.
In these prayers, Paul must’ve had an extensive list and probably had it all memorized because of His background and training as a pharisaical rabbi. He would’ve had an incredible ability to remember and memorize things. He had this list of every church he went to, all the people that he had met, and he’s praying for them and their individual needs over and over again.
He says in Ephesians 1:16 that he doesn’t cease to give thanks for the Ephesian believers, making mention of them in His prayers. Then he introduces us to the content of his prayers which we have seen. This he emphasizes by the use of the word “that” here in Ephesians 1:17, which is different from the “that” which we will get to next week in Ephesians 1:18.
The content of the prayer, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory—or as we saw last time, ‘the glorious Father’ emphasizing the glory of God—may give to you the Spirit of wisdom—and as we’ll see today, that should be ‘Spirit’—the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding having already been enlightened, that you may know—three things—what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”
Last time we looked at the first part of Ephesians 1:17. Two lessons ago, Ephesians #040, I talked about the fact that there are some significant interpretational problems in these two or three verses, so we started at the end and we worked backwards just to get that framework. Now I’m spending time going through this going forward, so we really understand what this means, and what its implications for our spiritual life are, and what its application should be.
Last time we looked at the opening statement, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory …”
Two things are emphasized:
1. That God is the God of Jesus Christ.
This emphasizes His humanity, His subordinate relation in hypostatic union, His subordinate relation as the Son of God. As a man He is submissive to the authority of the Father, and so this emphasizes the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ during His ministry on earth.
In fact, He is subordinate to the authority of the Father through all eternity. There’s an authority relationship within the Godhead. That’s important to understand because we have lived in a world for the last 60 years that has great problems with authority, especially in American pop culture, tremendous problems with authority.
They think that somehow authority is bad. Authority is not bad. It’s inherent to the Godhead and has always been there. It was something God established in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden because it provides order and structure and the ability to accomplish the goals of God.
What happens is because of sin, authority gets distorted and abused and corrupted, but authority in and of itself is not evil, it is not wrong, and it does not distort the significance of those who are under authority from those who are over authority.
2. The glory of the Father—that He is a glorious Father.
We looked at Isaiah 6 as we were talking about that, and today we’re going to look at the second part.
To remind you, last week we focused on Isaiah 6, when Isaiah was given this incredible vision—it’s really not a vision—he sees. He’s in the temple and he sees directly into the throne of God. He sees the angels, specifically the Seraphim, but the throne of God, everywhere we see it depicted, emphasizes the myriads and myriads of angels that surround the throne of God.
Isaiah 6:3 specifically talks about that the Seraphim are singing, focusing on the uniqueness of God, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.”
These two words, glory and holiness, are foundational to understanding a lot of what is here in Ephesians 1. These are words that are really common in church settings, and it’s not so common when we are outside of a church setting. So, if you’re a new believer, how the Bible uses these words, glory and holy, may seem kind of strange to you, and that’s why I have taken the time to teach on these.
“Holy” is a word that emphasizes the uniqueness, the distinctiveness of God, the fact that He is special, He’s one-of-a-kind. Last time we went through a number of passages emphasizing the uniqueness of God: that He is God alone and there is none like Him.
The word “glory” emphasizes something that is important. Its literal meaning is something that is heavy or weighty, which means something that is very significant, very important. It focuses on God: He is significant, He is more important than anything in His creation. Because of that, He is to be valued and treasured and He is to be the priority of our life.
Glory also comes to be applied to His entire essence because it is Who God is: His essence, His attributes that make Him special, that make Him holy. He is distinct in all those attributes, and this is His glory.
John 12:41 references this, “These things—that is related to what Jesus had just quoted from Isaiah, specifically, Isaiah 6—these things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”
The glory of God is used in a different sense here because along with His essence and His attributes, there is this physical manifestation of His glory: the splendor, the light of His glory and His presence. This is what overwhelmed Isaiah in that particular vision.
Paul speaks of this, Ephesians 1:17. With his whole training in the Old Testament, he would have thought constantly about Isaiah 6 and the glorious splendor of the Father. What he is praying about is that “… the God of our Lord Jesus Christ …” identifying Him as the Father, God the Father, the Father of glory, or the glorious Father.
Then we get a difficult passage, a difficult clause to understand, that He “… may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”
The connection to the next verse is equally difficult to understand, and it is translated in the New King James, “… the eyes of your understanding being enlightened …”
I pointed out two weeks ago that in the NIV they completely mishandle it, and say that “the eyes of your understanding MAY BE enlightened …” We will see that that’s erroneous, because the grammar there uses a perfect tense participle, which indicates past completed action. That emphasizes the ongoing results of that past completed action, so that we have already had the eyes of our understanding open.
What does it mean when we come to this phrase, “… the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him?”
There are two ways in which this is understood and interpreted, and you will find both of them as you read through your Bible—as I hope you’re doing on a regular basis. When you come to this maybe you ask the question, what does this describe? If you look in the notes of your study Bible, you will see one of two basic approaches to this:
1. This is talking about spiritual wisdom and revelation. In this case, it is generally interpreted to mean that Paul is praying that we have a disposition toward wisdom and revelation. In other words, the word “spirit” there speaks of an attitude or disposition, a way of thinking, and that we are receptive to wisdom and revelation.
2. This “Spirit” is not talking about a lowercase “spirit,” it’s not talking about an attitude or a disposition or the human spirit, but is talking about God the Holy Spirit.
The word that is translated “spirit” is PNEUMA. Pneumonia is based on the Greek word PNEUMA. If you know what a pneumatic drill is, it works on the power of air. That’s from this Greek word PNEUMA. It has a wide range of meanings. It can be translated maybe 14 or 15 different ways that really don’t have anything to do with each other.
For example, its basic meaning is the idea of air, something you neither see nor feel, except that it’s blowing, thus PNEUMA refers to wind. It can refer to breath; it can refer to that immaterial part of man—that which gives him life. So it comes to mean spirit in that sense. It refers to the life-spirit in a person.
It is also applied to the Third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. It can refer to an attitude or mentality, a mindset, mental attitude or disposition. It can refer to an immaterial part of man’s nature, which is that which we lost in spiritual death and we gain in regeneration. And it can also refer to an angel, an immaterial being. It can refer to a holy angel or an evil angel or demon. Sometimes we read in the Scripture an evil spirit. It’s that same word.
When we come to any text—we’re going to look at 1 Corinthians 2, which is also very complicated because of the many different ways in which PNEUMA is used there—we have to think very logically and precisely, and work through the process and exclude that which doesn’t work, so that we can arrive at that which does work.
Part of the issue is just how the idiom of Greek would have been used to express this and sometimes that’s difficult to bring over and express into English. I’ll have a paraphrase when we get to that.
This is the word “spirit.” It’s applied to wisdom and it’s applied to revelation. So however you take it in relation to wisdom must be the same way that you take it in its relation to revelation.
If you talk about the “spirit of wisdom” and say, “Well, that’s easy to understand. That is an attitude or disposition toward wisdom; that makes sense.” And the way some people want to translate it, it would make sense that we’re talking about an attitude or disposition toward revelation.
That’s where it gets to be a sticky wicket, because the word “revelation” is used very specifically in the New Testament, so we have to start there because in doing so, we will eliminate the possibility that this refers to a mental attitude or a disposition. It is the Greek word APOKALUPSIS.
Whenever you hear something apocalyptic—and every now and then you will read different media counts that something happens, and it just has apocalyptic nuances: there they’re applying that. APOKALUPSIS is the title for the last Book in the New Testament, The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle.
The meaning of the word APOKALUPSIS is revelation, but because the last Book of the Bible is called The Revelation, and it has all of these details about the final battles of Armageddon and the end of human history, apocalyptic has come to be applied to that which looks to some future events in the course of mankind that leads to possibly his destruction.
But the meaning of APOKALUPSIS is revelation. Revelation means to unveil or to disclose something to those who don’t know it. It is the disclosing of information. In the Bible, only God discloses. Man does not disclose. The human spirit is not invested with the ability to reveal—that is, reveal the information that is in Scripture. That’s not the role of the human spirit. It’s not the role of mankind. It’s not what his mental disposition should be, so that pretty much eliminates this as a possibility.
Since revelation means the disclosing of information to us by God, only God can perform this act; therefore, the PNEUMA here, the Spirit, should be capitalized and understood as the Holy Spirit. And that these two words, wisdom and revelation, are describing the basic characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s ministry as His function in the Trinity.
2 Peter 1:20–21 tells us that the prophets of old were moved by God the Holy Spirit. He is the One whose specific area of responsibility is in this area of revelation and preservation of the Scripture. So we see that this is better understood to be a capital “S,” spirit.
The word for wisdom in the Greek is SOPHIA, and we’re tempted, because this is in Greek and this was written to those with a Greek background, to interpret this in terms of Greek wisdom.
Now there are times that it is used that way in terms of Greek philosophy, as we’ll see in our brief look at 1 Corinthians 2 this morning. But it really conveys more the idea of the Old Testament word hokmah, which means skill. It can refer to the skill of a craftsman, the skill of a carpenter, skill of a jeweler.
It can refer to someone who is skillful in the way that they live their life. They are skillful in their decision-making. And this is the idea that comes across with the Greek word SOPHIA. It emphasizes skill. And biblically speaking, that is the skill at living that comes as a result of a study of the Word and application of that in our lives.
Having said all of that, I want to look at this idea of how “spirit” should be translated a little more.
It is translated as an attitude or disposition in a number of places:
Each of these follows the same grammatical pattern as the other, so they’re just like the grammatical pattern that we have here in Ephesians 1:17: they refer to an attitude or a mentality.
Someone who is gentle: they have a spirit of gentleness, not talking about a spirit. There are some that take this as referring to an angel or a demon. Those who have a spirit of bitterness, they would say that they are somehow plagued by an evil spirit or demon who makes them bitter. That is not what it means at all. It’s just an idiom for talking about somebody who is wise or meek or timid, and that’s how it comes across.
A lot of people take it this way; a lot of great scholars take it this way. Dan Wallace—who is a foremost grammarian and has an advanced grammar degree, is published and is well respected—takes it this way. I think he is wrong. I’ve analyzed all of his arguments, but this is very popular.
A couple of weeks ago when I went through this, I gave an example of Dr. Harold Hoehner, who is Dan’s boss—the head of the Greek department at Dallas Seminary—and how he took it as a spirit, an attitude of wisdom and a positive disposition toward revelation when he wrote his commentary on Ephesians in The Bible Knowledge Commentary.
But 20 years after that, when he wrote his massive volume on Ephesians, he reversed course and said, “No, that’s not right.” That’s typical of any of us, that we learn and we grow and we mature. He gives a list of reasons, and I don’t want to drill down too much on this, but it’s important and it leads to something we need to talk about in relation to this.
There are four basic exegetical reasons why we must understand this to be the Holy Spirit.
1. The concept of revelation or disclosure of God’s Word is understood as revealing information that is described in the whole epistle of Ephesians as “the mysteries of God.” That is previously un-revealed information.
This fits with the emphasis that we find in the epistle of Ephesians, that this is written to disclose information. Paul is not saying that they might be given the Holy Spirit. He knows they already have the Holy Spirit, they are already saved, but that in relation to the knowledge of God and the knowledge of these mysteries, that they be particularly receptive to the Holy Spirit’s ministry to them in this area of spiritual growth.
Second, and this is also important, is that understanding from revelation, as I’ve mentioned already:
2. God the Holy Spirit reveals, the human spirit does not reveal.
The basic meaning of APOKALUPSIS, as we see in Scripture, always refers to God doing the revealing.
3. Whenever you have the word PNEUMA—sometimes it has the word “holy” with it, which makes it very clear it’s the Holy Spirit, sometimes it’s just PNEUMA alone. Whenever you have that word in the New Testament and it is in connection with the verb “give,” it always refers to the Holy Spirit. Every time. That’s what you call really sound exegetical information. Every time it’s used with the word “give,” it always refers to the Holy Spirit.
Here are three examples; there are about eight examples in the New Testament.
John 3:34 says, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the spirit—see there you have the verb ‘give’ and in spirit—God does not give the words to give the Spirit by measure.”
What’s important in John 3:34 is that “Spirit” doesn’t have the word “Holy” with it, but it’s clearly understood from the context.
Acts 8:18, “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.”
This is talking about Simon Magus. Here you have the verb “given,” and that which is given is the Holy Spirit.
A third example from 1 John 3:24: again, it doesn’t use the word “Holy” in modifying Spirit, but it’s clear that that’s Who is being talked about:
“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him and He in Him. And by this we know that He abides in us by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
You just go to usage and grammatical constructions and parallels, and you can pretty much resolve the question.
4. This is parallel to Paul’s lengthy explanation of the Holy Spirit’s role in revealing wisdom and knowledge in Corinthians 2:6–16.
This is a long passage, we’re just going to really fly by it this morning, but we need to look at it because this sets a precedent. Where Paul really explained this is in that passage, and the word “wisdom” is central to that passage.
Using one of the Bible study applications that I have, a concordance, has a little whizbang tool you can click on, and it gives you nice little charts and analytics of words and where they’re used and their frequency of use, and all kinds of other information. So, I took some pictures of it, and the top one you can see clearly.
It starts over on the far left with Matthew and goes down through the end of the New Testament, and you can see that they are really small little blips here and there where you have the word used one or two times, but there’s this huge spike right in the middle, and that’s in 1 Corinthians 2–3.
I blew that up a little more in the bottom chart, so that you can see that of all the New Testament, there’s just this intensive repetitive use of the word “wisdom” right here in 1 Corinthians 2–3. So that is where you need to go to get an understanding of the wisdom that Paul is talking about in the role of God the Holy Spirit in disclosing wisdom.
Turn with me to the first part of 1 Corinthians 2. We see that Paul is continuing a discussion from 1 Corinthians 1 where he is contrasting the wisdom of man—Greek philosophy—with the wisdom of God. We usually refer to the wisdom of man as human viewpoint thinking. It doesn’t mean it is stupid; it’s just not right.
Then we have the divine viewpoint—what Scripture presents: a unified view of God from Genesis to Revelation on all things, and that this is the reveal to us in the Scripture by God the Holy Spirit.
The problem in Corinth was that they were emphasizing the wisdom they had in their Greek intellectual tradition, so they were arrogant in their own knowledge and the traditions of their culture and their history, which they were not giving up, to replace it with the wisdom of God.
In this section from the middle of chapter 1 down through the end of chapter 2, you have this emphasis, this contrast: the wisdom of man or the wisdom of God.
Just to give us a little context, I put 1 Corinthians 2:5–7 on the screen where Paul says, “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.”
You’re going to have to hold onto that for about two or three weeks; we may come back to it next week. But remember when we get into the three-part content of this prayer, that the third part is related to knowing and experiencing the power of God in our life. I talked about this Thursday night: the power of God.
He is all-powerful in His omniscience, and He is able to tell us how to handle every problem and to give us the strength to endure and to face any problem, difficulty, circumstance in life, and that the information for handling that is in His Word.
The faith should not be in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. The object of faith is God: His person, and what He has revealed.
1 Corinthians 2:6, “However, we—meaning the apostles—speak wisdom among those who are mature.”
What he means is that immature Christians often do not recognize—or are not willing to accept—the wisdom of Scripture because they haven’t built enough of a frame of reference to really understand what Scripture says. A lot of people have a very superficial view of Scripture. They read it two or three times, and say, “I don’t understand it; and therefore, I don’t see how any of that applies to me.”
Well, God has given us the Word the way He’s given it, so it forces us to study it. It’s not a simple thing. There parts of it that are easy to understand and are simple, but it is something that we need to spend our lives, and yes, guess what? You’ll be spending a lot of eternity probing into the depths of God’s Word, because as Paul says at the end of this chapter, this is the mind of Christ.
We’re never to stop learning. If you don’t like learning, you might have a problem in heaven. Fortunately, you won’t have a sin nature, so if you don’t like learning now, you’ll love it in heaven.
1 Corinthians 2:6, “But, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age—see, that contrasts—not the wisdom of this age—which is compared to the wisdom of men—nor of the wisdom of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.”
You can go get all the degrees you want at all of the advanced, respected institutions of higher learning in the world today or in the world of 200 years ago, and it will not matter to anything in terms of the wisdom of God. For the wisdom of God comes from His omniscience and the wisdom of man comes from their guessing games in terms of experience and rationalism.
1 Corinthians 2:7, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.”
That doesn’t mean a murder mystery or trying to solve a riddle, but it refers to previously unrevealed revelation.
That fits perfectly with what Paul is saying in this prayer in Ephesians 1:17-18. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives wisdom. That relates to all of the theme throughout all of Ephesians, is this new mystery or unrevealed information given to the church in this Church Age.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.”
It is for our significance—to make our lives truly successful.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9, Paul begins to focus on the revelation of God. This is the source of that wisdom. It’s not something mystical, that God just sort of speaks into your soul, it is the external revelation recording of Scripture and the need to study.
“But as it is written—and this is a paraphrase of Isaiah 6:4—‘Eye has not seen—that’s empiricism—nor ear heard …’ That’s empiricism. That is man observing and trying to derive ultimate eternal truth from that which he observes or hears, sees, feels, etc. ‘… nor have entered into the heart of man—the thinking of man. That’s the system of rationalism—the things—see, I’ve added this because all through this section, you see the repetition of this Greek phrase, “the things,” “the things,” “the things.” In contrast to human-derived systems of thought: rationalism and empiricism, you have revelation—the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ”
That is God’s revelation; it’s revealed Scripture. So every time we see “the things” here, it’s always related to the revelation of God, revealed Scripture.
1 Corinthians 2:12, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world …”
Remember I told you there are about 15 different meanings of the word PNEUMA. One of them is thinking or attitude. Here the word PNEUMA is used, “spirit of the world,” the thinking of the world. That isn’t what we received as believers,
“… not the thinking of the world, but the Spirit who is from God.”
Most of the time, and in most translations, “spirit” is translated with a capital “S.” And my contention for 30 years has been they haven’t paid attention to the text.
All through 1 Corinthians, whenever Paul is talking about the Spirit of God, he either refers to it as the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God, where he uses “Spirit” plus the genitive “of God,” the “Spirit of God,” the “Spirit of God.”
You can review this whole section—I’ve done it before—“Spirit of God,” “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of God.” And right in the middle of all these different phrases where it says “the Spirit of God,” this phrase stands out like a sore thumb, because it isn’t PNEUMA TOU THEOU, it is PNEUMA EK TOU THEOU. He throws a preposition in the middle.
In fact, he adds a couple of articles, TO PNEUMA EK TOU THEOU, and that means it’s the spirit who comes from God. It is not the Holy Spirit. The genitive has that sense, but this is marking out this particular statement as something distinct.
This is not the Holy Spirit who came from God, this is the human spirit which is created anew in us at the instant of regeneration. We will understand that fully in just a minute.
We have received “the spirit who is from God.” This is what enables us to now understand spiritual truth. This is what Paul is describing with that phrase at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 1:18, “… having already been enlightened in our heart.”
This is what happens: in the inner man, we receive something new at the instant of salvation. Something is born again, born anew, and now we have a capacity to understand the things that have been revealed by God to us. We have the human spirit who is from God.
1 Corinthians 2:12–13, “… so that we may know the things—again we have that phrase, that which is revealed in Scripture—freely given to us by God, which things—that is the revealed Scripture—we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit …”
That’s the Holy Spirit. It is now talking about what is in Ephesians 1:17, “the spirit of wisdom and revelation …” This is His role as our Teacher, illuminating the meaning of the Scripture to us.
1 Corinthians 2:13, “… combing spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”
Putting Scripture together, as I’m doing today, putting Ephesians 1:17–18 together with 1 Corinthians 2:12–14. It gives us a greater understanding of the process of learning and growing in the Scripture.
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But a natural man—terrible translation—a natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him …”
“The Spirit of God” here is the usual way it’s written TO PNEUMA TOU THEOU, not “the spirit who is from God …”
“… for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised.”
This word translated “natural” is PSUCHIKOS in Greek. PSUCHE is the word for soul. It’s the root of our word psychology or psychiatry. It refers to the immaterial part of man, the soul.
So it’s talking about the fact that there are humans who are just soulish. They’re missing something that is identified down at the end as “the spirit.” This is the human spirit. Now let me show you why we can say that in Scripture.
Jude 19 uses the same terminology, but it’s not translated that way:
“These are the ones who cause divisions—talking about the false teachers—worldly minded …” It doesn’t say “worldly minded;” worldly in Greek is COSMOS. It doesn’t say anything about that. “… devoid of the Spirit.”
They interpreted the PNEUMA there to be Holy Spirit, and they capitalized it.
But in the Greek, the word for worldly-minded is PSUCHIKOS. It’s the natural man; that is the unsaved man, the unregenerate man.
This is explained for us in a simple phrase that means not having spirit: PNEUMA ME ECHONTES. ECHONTES means having; the ME is not; and then PNEUMA. So, what does PSUCHIKOS mean? It means you don’t have a human spirit, you’re missing something.
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But a natural man—or a soulish man—does not accept the things—that is, revealed Scripture—of the Spirit of God …” The unsaved man can’t understand Scripture; it’s gobbledygook to him. “… for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
There you have the Greek word PNEUMATIKOS, referring to the human spirit.
In the Old Testament in Genesis 2:17 we’re told that the penalty for eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was that Adam and Eve would “surely die.”
What was lost? What was lost is the human spirit. Without it, they’re separated from God.
We see in the Scriptures that there are three parts of a human being.
1. You have a human body.
2. You have a soul that is comprised of:
3. In your self-consciousness, when you have a human spirit as Adam and Eve were created with, then you have God-consciousness. You can relate to God. You can think God’s thoughts after them in your mentality. You have God’s values in your conscience, and you make right decisions.
When they made a wrong decision, they died spiritually, and they lost that human spirit which enables the soul to have a relationship with God. We call that spiritual death or separation from God.
At the instant of regeneration, the human spirit is created and given to us. Something now is born and born again, so we go from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive.
Titus 3:5 describes this as “the washing of regeneration.” Something is born. Something comes into existence that wasn’t there, “and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”
Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23 each speak of distinct immaterial parts of the human as soul and spirit. Sometimes these words in other passages may overlap in meaning or be interchangeable. But in these two passages they’re spoken of clearly, as two distinct immaterial parts of man.
Back to Ephesians 1:17.
What this is saying is that Paul is praying not for them to receive the spirit, because they already have it, but that there would be a special receptivity to the Holy Spirit’s ministry in giving wisdom and revelation to them.
He’s not praying for them to receive the Holy Spirit. He’s praying that the Holy Spirit, who has already enlightened them at regeneration, will give them the continued insight into skillful living from the revealed Word of God: the mysteries which Paul talks about throughout Ephesians.
This is “… in the knowledge of Him.”
It uses a special word here for knowledge, EPIGNOSIS, which is the idea of full knowledge or intimate knowledge.
In Scripture two words are used for knowledge: GNOSIS and EPIGNOSIS.
The outer circle, which includes the inner circle is the word GNOSIS. It can describe all kinds of knowledge. But when there is a distinction in meaning, GNOSIS emphasizes a more abstract or general knowledge; whereas EPIGNOSIS emphasizes a more intimate knowledge—a direct knowledge that leads to application.
Paul is praying that the Spirit of God would provide increased wisdom and revelation in the area of a more in-depth knowledge of God.
Is that how you pray? Is that what we pray for every day? This is what it’s all about in terms of spiritual growth. This should be a major element in the way we pray.
Just briefly because I’ve hit it so many times, that last phrase Ephesians 1: “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”
Slides 37 and 38
It’s a perfect passive participle, which means that the eyes of our understanding have been enlightened. That’s the NET translation.
“Since—or as I translate it, ‘… because’ the eyes of your heart have already been enlightened.”
Our prayer is to know God: not just to know information, not to be able to recite a systematic theology on theology proper, but to have a more intimate relationship.
We have to understand the facts, we have to understand solid theology, but that’s a means to an end.
Jeremiah 9:23–24, “Thus says the Lord, ‘let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor the rich man glory in his riches, but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, executing lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight …’ ”
“Father, we thank You for Your Word, for the way in which Scripture enlightens other Scripture, for the way in which we can probe its depths, and each time we come to a greater appreciation of all that You have given us and all that You have provided for us.
“That we have the Holy Spirit who indwells us, that He fills us with Your Word, and that in that we see what Paul is praying for here and the way we should pray, is praying that the Spirit who provides wisdom and insight and skill for living, the Spirit who reveals Your Word, that He leads us and helps us through our study of Your Word to develop a more intimate knowledge of You, a closer walk with You.
“Father, we pray for anyone here, who is wondering what this is all about and how to be saved; maybe they have no assurance of their salvation when they die, that they might come to understand that eternal life is based simply on trusting in Christ as Savior.
“There are no works involved; there is no morality shift. There is no bargaining with You. There’s no ritual involved. It is simply trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior, believing on Him and accepting His work on the Cross on our behalf. We pray that those who are not saved who might be listening to this, either here or online, that they would have a clear understanding of the gospel, that they might believe and have eternal life. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”