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Thanksgiving and Prayer March 31, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Ephesians 1:15-23.

Summary: Paul begins by stating that since the Ephesians – who are Gentile Christians – have 1) received a heavenly inheritance and 2) been sealed with the Holy Spirit, ever since he heard of their faith in Christ and their love for other believers, he has been constantly giving thanks for them and praying for them. He prays that God – who is glorious and sent Christ to do His work – will give them the Holy Spirit, who is the author of the Gospel and reveals the divine excellence of God, so that they can know Him better and that their souls will be illuminated. Paul also prays that they will appreciate the hope that they have in God and the abundance and greatness of their divine inheritance as believers. In addition, he prays that they will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power that He has shown to believers. In particular, God exerted the might of his power when He raised Christ from the grave and seated Him at His right hand in heaven. Indeed, God exalted Christ above all angels and all honors that can be bestowed – either in this life or the next life. Moreover, God has subjected all creatures to Christ and has made Him the source of the life of His church. Paul concludes by stating that the Spirit of Christ fills His church – and He fills the entire universe.

Thoughts: In verses 19 and 20, Paul praises God for His great strength as evidenced by His raising Christ from the dead. Hodge offers some thoughts on this point:

The original here offers a remarkable accumulation of words: “according to the energy of the might of his power”…Whatever be the precise distinction in the meaning of the words, their accumulation expresses the highest form of power. It was caused by nothing less than the omnipotence of God. No created power can raise the dead or make alive those who are dead in trespasses and sins.

Unfortunately, Christians often forget that God is so powerful that He raised His only Son from the grave. Believers who have endured the death of a loved one or close friend, though, gain a greater appreciation for God’s power; we are confronted by the power of death, which highlights the amazing fact that God conquered it. Also, when Christians are confronted by their sins on a daily basis, they wonder how God could declare them to be righteous and not condemn them based on their sins. Yet that provides further evidence of His amazing power; even though we have difficulty grasping the concept of infinity, we know that the Holy Spirit will help us comprehend God’s infinite power as evidenced by His conquering death – both physical and spiritual.

In verse 21, we see that Christ has been raised by God above all angels and all honors. Hodge offers some intriguing thoughts on this point:

This letter and especially the letter to the Colossians contain many intimations that the emanation theory, which later developed into Gnosticism, had already arrived in Asia Minor. As the advocates of that theory used these terms to designate the different emanations from the central Being, Paul may have borrowed their phraseology in order to refute their doctrine.

It is neat that by delving into the New Testament, one can gain valuable insights into its historical context – which influenced its human authors in both subtle and overt ways. In particular, before reading Hodge’s commentary I was unaware that Gnosticism could have been implicitly refuted by Paul in this passage. On a related note, I am reminded of the time that I saw a copy of the Gospel of Thomas in a bookstore, though I didn’t have time to read through it. This passage reminds us that the books of the New Testament played a salient role in refuting many of the heresies that swirled about the early church. We should be thankful that God inspired these sacred writers to propagate the truths that we still cling to.

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1. Thanksgiving and Prayer « Ringing In - September 30, 2012

[…] In Ephesians, one can find an analogous passage in 1:15-23, which I’ve blogged about. Perusing that post reminds me that Hodge also referenced the Gnostic heresy in his […]


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