By PKD Lee
Paul’s letter to Ephesus contains his teaching on the church. Since he is teaching on the church, we need to interpret the verses which contain a plural noun as referring to the church and not individuals. So when we read Ephesians 1:3-5,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, it is referring to the church which has been chosen before the foundation of the world, to be holy (set apart) and without blame before Jesus. The church has been predestined to be adopted as sons by Jesus Christ. The passage does not mean that individuals have been predestined to be adopted as sons. Individuals can choose to be with Jesus in His church, or choose to be away from Jesus.
Keeping this in mind, we need to read Ephesians 1:15-22 as referring to the church and not to individuals. Paul first commends the church for their genuine faith which is seen in their love for all believers. Seeing the genuineness of their faith, Paul prays that the church may grow in wisdom through the knowledge of Jesus. By this wisdom, Paul envisages that they would understand the greatness of the hope in Jesus Christ.
What do we learn from this passage?
Faith is seen in your love
1. Your faith is seen in your love for believers. We tend to think that our faith is seen in our holiness or the obedience to the all the rules and regulations of the Bible. Paul says no. We obey the rules because we love God and love man, and what shows our holiness is our love for man and not obedience to rules per se. That is the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.
2. Some see faith as believing in the promises of God, basing it upon Abraham believed God would fulfil His promise and became the Father of faith. That may be true, but that belief in God leads to a deep love for fellow believers according to 1 John 5:1-2. If my faith does not convert into love for believers, my faith is erroneous. Usually it is a faith not about my destiny in Jesus but of my provision coming from God.
3. Some see faith as doing miracles, quoting the teaching where Jesus said that if you had faith as mustard seed you could move mountains. The ability to move mountains is to help others and is not for your personal pleasure or glory. If you are not doing miracles of love, your faith is erroneous. In fact in Matthew 7:21f Jesus warns that doing miracles is not a sign of salvation.
Wisdom is knowing Jesus
1. In the Hebrew ‘knowing’ was always experiential and not academic. So wisdom is not knowing all the doctrines but knowing Jesus. It is having a first-hand experience of Jesus in your life. That is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18-24, that he did not preach the wisdom of the world and the intellectual truths, but he preached the experience of Jesus and the fact of His work on the cross, which Paul had first experienced on the Damascus road and later in Arabia.
2. Wisdom is not studying about Jesus from the Bible alone, but experiencing Jesus in your life. This happens when we live what we study in the Bible and see how God takes us through. An academic study of the Bible will not help you to know Jesus. It is obeying the word that will help you know Jesus.
3. Wisdom is not just knowing what to believe but your surrendering your life to Jesus, without knowing where he is taking you, like Abraham did. Different people experience Jesus in totally different experiences, but they know that they have met Jesus. David experienced God in seeing the glory of creation in Ps 19. Most see Jesus in their experience in serving people or interacting with people, since that is what Jesus has called us to do. It is essentially knowing the nature and character of Jesus rather than facts about Jesus.
Jesus is our destiny
1. When we experience Jesus we begin to understand our destiny. Jesus is the head of the church. The resurrection experience of Jesus becomes the experience of the church. The power of the Holy Spirit is available for the church. So we have confidence in all that we do, knowing that God’s presence and power is with us.
2. We do not fear the powers that be, since Jesus is set as the head of all powers. We can trust in Him and do the work He has called us to do.
What does this mean for us?
1. We need to have an active love for all believers.
2. We do not just study the Bible but live the Bible.
3. We have confidence that the power of God is with us.