This is Part 3 of the verse-by-verse study of Ephesians chapter 1. We will start with Eph. 1:18.
(18) I pray that [These three words are in italics in the NASB because they are not included in the Greek. The Greek continues with the participle "being enlightened."] the eyes of your heart [With "heart" here, compare "spirit" in 1:17.] may be enlightened [cf. Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:6; and Heb. 6:4], so that you may know what is the hope of His calling [[Compare Eph. 4:4. "His calling" refers to our call from God the Father. The NIV has, "the hope to which he has called you." We are called to holiness, etc. for this age (cf., e.g., Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:4; 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 1:9; and 1 Pet. 1:15, 16), but since Paul uses the word "hope" here, he is zeroing in on the future glory to which we are called, the glory of the age to come (cf., e.g., Eph. 2:7; Rom. 5:2 ; Col. 1:5 ["the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you have previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel"]; Col. 1:27 ["Christ in you, the hope of glory"]; Titus 3:7; and 1 Pet. 1:13).
For one thing, this hope, which is based on our knowledge of the extreme glory of the age to come, will help stabilize our hearts now (in things like love for God, commitment, steadfastness, right priorities, praise, and thankfulness) and will help motivate us now (cf., e.g., Heb. 6:17-20), enabling us to be strong in faith as we face the difficulties of this present age. The things we hope for are yet future (though they are certain, according to plan and power of God), but the hope is in our hearts now.]], what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance [This speaks of the "inheritance" that comes from God the Father.] in the saints [[Compare Col. 1:12. Instead of "in," the Greek could be translated "in the case of," or "among." This inheritance is given to the saints. "The riches of the glory of [our] inheritance" looks to the future; however, "the pledge [down payment] of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14) enables us to participate in some of this "glory" now (sufficient glory for us to live in the will of God in His truth, righteousness, and holiness). (Cf., e.g., Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:1-14 [Note, for example, that we are called and enabled to be "saints/holy" now.]; Eph. 3:14-21 [Especially note 3:16, "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man."]; John 17:22; and 2 Cor. 3:18.) On the "inheritance in/in the case of/among the saints," cf. Acts 20:32; 26:18; and Col. 1:12.]], (19) and what is the surpassing greatness of His [God the Father's] power [Greek "dunamis"; some other relevant verses that use dunamis are Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:4, 16; 1 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 3:7, 16, 20; Phil. 3:10; and Col. 1:11, 29.] toward [or, to/unto/for] us who believe [This power is toward/to/unto/for those who are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection and in His present life (cf. Eph. 2:5, 6; they are "in Christ"), through faith, by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom.1:4).]. These are [There is no period here in the Greek; these two words were added by the translators of the NASB in italics.] in accordance with the working [compare Phil. 2:13; contrast Eph. 2:2] of the strength of His might [cf. Eph. 6:10] (20) which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand [The right hand is the place of authority; cf. Psalm 110:1. Klyne Snodgrass ("Ephesians," page 75) mentions that the picture of Christ being seated at the Father's right hand builds on Psalm 110:1.] in the heavenly places [[The very power of God that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the Father's right hand will, at the appropriate time, raise us from the dead (those Christians who will have died before the Lord returns will be resurrected; those still alive will be glorified without experiencing death; cf. Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:42, 50-53; 2 Cor. 4:14; Phil. 3:11, 21; 2 Tim. 2:18; Heb. 11:35; and Rev. 20:5, 6). We will begin to reign with the Lord Jesus (and God the Father) in a never-ending reign (cf., e.g., Rev. 3:21; 12:5; and 22:5). But here in Eph. 1:20 the apostle puts the emphasis on the resurrection power working for, and in, us NOW, those who are united with the Lord Jesus Christ through faith in the gospel. We have already been raised/resurrected with Him in a preliminary, spiritual (by the Spirit), very real sense. See, e.g., Rom. 6:1-11; Eph. 1:23-2:10, especially 2:5, 6; Phil. 3:10; Col. 2:9-15; and 3:1-11. Sufficient authority (the very authority of the Lord Jesus) and power have been made available to the church and to each believer to enable us to be "holy and blameless" and to fully accomplish God's will for the church and for each individual Christian (cf., e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 9:1, 2; 10:1, 17-20; 2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10; Eph. 4:27; Titus 2:15; and James 4:7).
I'll quote again from John Stott ("God's New Society," pages 67, 68). "How much do we know of the power of God, which raised Jesus from death and enthroned him over evil? True, the very same power has raised us with Jesus from spiritual death, and enthroned us with Jesus in heavenly places, as Paul will go on to show in 2:1-10. But how much of this is theory, and how much is experience? It is not difficult to think of our human weakness: our tongue or our temper, malice, greed, lust, jealousy, or pride. These things are certainly beyond our power to control. And we have to humble ourselves to admit it. ... But are our weaknesses beyond the power of God? Paul will soon assure us that God is able far to surpass our thoughts and prayers 'by the power at work within us' (3:20), and he will go on to exhort us to 'be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might' (6:10). This is the power of God which raised Jesus from the dead, and raised us with him. It has put all things under his feet; it can put all evil under ours."]], (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. [[Compare, for example, Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 2:10; and 1 Pet. 3:22. If the Lord Jesus didn't have this total authority now, Satan might be able to frustrate God's plans for the body of Christ, or, at least, His plans for individual Christians. However, since Christ does have all authority now, no one can frustrate God's plans, and, for one thing, we can all be, and do, all that God intends. This is not to suggest that the victory is always easy, or that it is automatic (cf., e.g., Eph. 6:10-20); however, God's grace always is sufficient for those who appropriate it (which includes walking in faith and using the authority we have in Christ Jesus).
We use His authority (the authority we have in Christ), when, for example, we resist temptation (or other works of the devil/demon spirits) in His name, or when we pray, or minister, in His name. The NASB, NIV, NKJV, and other translations have a period here, and that is one way to punctuate these verses, but my Greek New Testament has the symbol that takes the place of our English colon and semicolon. The KJV has a colon here; the RSV has a semicolon. The semicolon seems an effective punctuation here; this is the punctuation adopted by several commentators.]] (22) And [and] He [God the Father] put all things in subjection under His [Christ's] feet [See Psalm 8:6. Jesus Christ has all authority now, but in the plan and timetable of God, most enemies will not be totally subjugated and removed by judgment until the Lord Jesus returns at the end of this age. (See, e.g., 1 Cor. 15:24-28. 1 Corinthians 15:27 also quoted from Psalm 8:6.)], and gave Him as head over all things to [or, for] the church [[The idea here is that God the Father first gave Jesus Christ all authority (He made Him "head over all things"; cf. Col. 2:10), then He gave Him (with His total authority) to/for (for the benefit of) the church. Snodgrass, for example, says, "The point is that Christ is head of all things for the benefit of the church" ("Ephesians," page 78). As I mentioned, because of this authority, the church (including every Christian) can fully accomplish the will of God. Satan and His forces don't have the authority to stop us.], (23) which is His body [Compare 1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:4, 12, 16; 5:30; and Col. 1:18, 24. To refer to the church as the body of Christ emphasizes the glorious relationship we have with Christ, and with other Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 4:11-16; 5:23; Col. 2:19; and 3:15).], the fullness [[I agree with the commentators who understand "fullness" here in the sense "that which is filled," referring to the church, His body, which is filled, in a very special sense, by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is literally united with each born-again Christian through the indwelling Spirit; He sanctifies the church; He guides the church; He pours out the charismatic gifts upon the church, etc. On a practical level, individual Christians (and the church) aren't actually filled with Christ to the extent we don't know and understand the truth, and to the extent we don't submit to, and walk in, the truth by faith (cf., e.g., Eph. 3:14-19; 4:13-16). It's mandatory for us to do our part (in accordance with the measure assigned to us by God). It's also true that Christ Himself is the fullness of God (cf., e.g., John 1:16; Col. 1:19; and 2:9, 10).]] of Him who fills all in all. [[The Lord Jesus "fills all in all" in the sense that His presence and authority extend everywhere (cf. Eph. 4:10; Jer. 23:24). The apostle certainly emphasized Christ's exalted position and role and what that means for us throughout Ephesians chapter 1: In 1:10 he spoke of an administration that sums up all things in Christ; in 1:20 He is seated at the Father's right hand; in 1:21 He is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named both now and forevermore; in 1:21 all things have been put under His feet, and it is mentioned that He is head over all things; and here in 1:23 it is mentioned that He fills all in all.]]
For further study on Ephesians, Eph. 2:1-10; 3:14-21; and 6:10-20 are discussed in my "A Paper on Faith." Ephesians 1:7; 4:17-24; 5:3-8; and 5:22-33 are discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." Ephesians chapter 4 is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site and it will be on this Christian article site in the near future.
FURTHER DISCUSSION AIMING FOR A BALANCED BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING REGARDING GOD'S LOVE
AND THE LOVE HE EXPECTS FROM HIS BORN-AGAIN CHILDREN
This section was written to supplement what has already been said regarding this important topic under Eph. 1:4. For the most part I will not repeat what was said there or passages of Scripture that were mentioned there. I am not attempting to say everything that could be said on this topic, but I will say enough to bring some balance to the topic. We desperately need the balanced truth of what God's Word teaches.
It is very important for us to know and to emphasize that "God is love" (1 John 4:16) and that He requires His born-again children to walk in love by His grace (e.g., 1 John 4:7-5:1; these particular verses, and there are many similar verses, deal almost exclusively with the need to love our brethren in Christ.) There is no danger of emphasizing the love of God too much as long as we understand what the Bible really teaches about His love and do not reject what the Bible teaches about His wrath, vengeance, and His eternal judgment, because they are supposedly incompatible with His love (which happens quite a bit in our day). And there is no danger of Christians walking in love too much as long as we do not understand love in ways that go against what the Bible teaches about love. (Some Christians are so far out of balance on their ideas of love that they think it is wrong to tell non-Christians that the day of judgment is coming and that God is calling mankind to repent and to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ and that it is wrong to confront Christians with their sin, as if such things are unloving and intolerant. Many modern ideas about love and tolerance are simply unbiblical.)
It seems that a big part of the problem has arisen because many Christians have adopted worldly ideas about what love means (the world of our day loves words like love, tolerance, and peace), ideas that substantially miss, and often directly contradict, dominant themes of the Bible. The primary problem that I am concerned with - and it is a very serious problem - is the idea that since God is love, He cannot have great wrath, eternal wrath, and He certainly cannot cast people into hell. This idea contradicts the Bible; it also is one of the main reasons that there is so little repentance and fear of God among so many Christians in our day. Why take the warnings of the Bible seriously?
Some Verses that Speak of God's Love for All People and/or of Our Need to Love All People: Matt. 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-38; 10:25-37; John 3:16; Acts 14:17; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 10:31-33; 1 Tim. 2:1-6; and Titus 3:1-4. First I'll comment on Matt. 5:38-48 (what I say here has much application for many of the other verses listed). These verses are important, but there are very definite limits to what Jesus said here. These verses do not begin to say that God loves all people the same or that He will continue to love forever those who never do repent of rejecting Him and the gospel and of persecuting His people. ((I had a footnote: The age we are living in is an age characterized by the grace of God in Christ, but a major feature of the gospel is that the day of judgment is coming at the end of this age and that the only way to get ready for that day is through salvation in Christ Jesus. Forgiveness is part of the gospel, but repenting and beginning to live for God in righteousness and holiness in the light of the coming day of judgment - by grace through faith - is a bigger part of the gospel. Also, even though this age is characterized by grace, there are limits to how much sin people (and especially Christians) can (temporarily) get by with.)) Hundreds of verses show otherwise; I'll list many such verses as we continue; quite a few such verses have already been listed under the words "in love" under Eph. 1:4. Rather than continuing forever to manifest love for the evil/unrighteous/unrepentant with limited blessings like the sun and the rain (see Matt. 5:45), He will, according to Jesus, cast them into the eternal lake of fire. Instead of experiencing His love, they will experience His eternal wrath.
We Christians do not know who will repent, for one thing, so throughout this life we are called to love all people (which includes treating them like we want to be treated and being concerned for their welfare, especially their eternal welfare). This does not mean that we love all people the same, or that this love will continue forever. For one thing, a large number of verses show that we are to have a special love for our brethren in the family of God.
One of the most important things we must know about love is that God demands that we love Him first (before self, life in this world, family, friends, all people, occupations, things, etc.); see, for example, Luke 10:27; 14:25-33. This is one area where half-baked, out-of-balance ideas about love have often led to serious error for Christians. If we Christians do not love God (I mean the God of the Bible) with top priority, we are missing what Biblical love is all about, and we are assuredly walking in the flesh to a significant extent. The devil loves love as long as love for God is left out. Human, religious "love" (which often includes things like doing good works, emphasizing unity with everyone and tolerance for everything but the truth) as a substitute for God and His truth is as destructive as any other idol men worship and promote. If we love God, we will obey Him, and we will love His Word, His righteousness, and His people.
Let's briefly consider John 3:16. This is a significant verse, but many read way too much into it and do not balance out what is said here with the rest of the verses in the passage (and in the rest of the Bible). John 3:18, 36, for example, show that those who willfully reject the gospel are condemned already (that is, they are condemned from the time that they willfully reject the gospel, unless they later repent) and that the wrath of God (not the love of God) abides on them. In a very real sense, they have already had their final judgment. (I had a footnote: John 5:24 shows that it is also true, and it is a glorious truth indeed, that those who do submit to the gospel in faith have already had their final judgment. This does not mean that they could not later reverse this judgment if they are foolish enough to turn away from their faith commitment to Christ and His salvation.) When God sent His Son, He knew what was in the hearts of all men. He knew that many were committed to evil and that they would not receive Christ or submit to the gospel in faith. He knew that Christ's coming would force such people to manifest what was in their hearts - Christ's coming to such people, or the gospel's coming to them, greatly increases their sinful status before God (see, e.g., John 3:19-21; 15:18-25).
I am thankful that 1 Tim. 2:1-6 are in the Bible. It is important for us to know that God "desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4) and that Christ died for all men (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). At the same time, we cannot limit ourselves to these verses and read into them ideas that contradict other things the apostle Paul (and other writers of the New Testament) taught. Even though it is true that Christ died for all and that God calls for all to repent and submit to the gospel in faith, it is also true that God (who knows the hearts of all men) did not choose all men for salvation and write their names in the Lamb's book of life (see under Eph. 1:4; and see on Rom. 8:28-30 in the paper on Rom. 8:16-39). Many verses show that some people are children of the devil (cf., e.g., Matt. 13:36-43; John 8:31-47; Acts 13:10; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; and 1 John 3:8, 10, 12). In at least most of these verses, the idea is included that these people never will repent.
2 John 1:10, 11 show that we should not help false ministers in their work (those who are not teaching the truth, even if they call themselves Christians), which provides another qualification to the idea that we just love everybody the same. It is true, of course, that we would be concerned for such people, especially concerned for their eternal souls - for one thing, there always is the possibility that false ministers will repent.
Part 3 ends here. We will complete this study in Part 4