(Vs. 15.) Good reports had come to Paul of the Ephesians' "faith in the Lord Jesus". (They had seen the glory of his person and the fulness of his grace.) Paul also had heard of their love for all believers Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, lesser and greater. Their faith was the cause of their love, the evidence of their justification (Rom. 5:1; John 13:35).
These two graces are inseparable. Faith and love go together and are found in the same persons. Where they exist, they cannot be hidden. Faith will confess and lean on Christ, and love will manifest itself in word and in deed (1 John 4:8).
(Vs. 16.) When we discover a work of God's grace in other people, it always leads us to two special responses:
1. We give thanks to God for them because this life and love in them is not a product of their merit but the gift of God.
2. We pray for them. We need to pray continually for one another as much after we are saved as before (1 Sam. 12:23).
In the next verses Paul gives us a summary of his prayers to God on their behalf.
1. v. 17. "That God may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." These people already knew the Lord, as was indicated by their faith in him; but this is a prayer for the increase of that knowledge (2 Peter 3:18; Phil. 3:10). This knowledge of Christ and its increase can only come by and through the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (John 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-13).
2. v. 18. "That the eyes of your understanding may be flooded with light and understanding" that you might see (1) the sinfulness of sin, (2) the insufficiency of your own righteousness, and (3) the beauty, glory and suitableness of Christ as Redeemer and Lord. The natural man, being in darkness, neither sees nor understands these mysteries (2 Cot. 4:3-6). We need a better view of them.
3. v. 18. "That you may know what is the hope of his calling." By which is meant either (1) the hope of external happiness, (2) Christ, who is our hope, (3) the grace of hope, which is an exercise of faith, or (4) all three! For the hope of eternal glory is founded on Christ, and the grace of hope lives only in the heart where Christ dwells! As we know more of Christ, we know more of the hope of his calling".
4. v. 18. "That ye may know the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." The elect are the Lord's portion and inheritance, in whom he is glorified and will be glorified (Eph. 2:7). This seems to be speaking of the heavenly inheritance which the Lord is preparing for us (John 14:2,3). Paul said there are no words to describe it (2 Cor. 12: 2-4).
5. Vs. 19. "That you may know the exceeding greatness of his power to us who believe." This is the power of God in our conversion and faith, the power that regenerated us, raised us from the dead and formed Christ in us (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13).
(Vs. 20.) This power of God that quickened us and made us to live spiritually is compared with that power which raised Christ from the dead. Christ was raised for our justification as our Representative. We live because he lives, and we are free from sin because Our Surety, who bore our sins, is now free from them. But there is a likeness between his resurrection and our quickening.
1. His resurrection is called a begetting. He is the first-begotten from the dead. Our regeneration is termed a begetting (1 Peter 1:3).
2. His human body was lifeless, as natural men are without spiritual life.
3. His human body could not raise itself, as we cannot give ourselves life.
4. His resurrection was the pure, unaided work of God, as is our regeneration (Eph. 2:1).
5. His resurrection led to his exaltation at the right hand of God and is where in our representative (Christ) we who are regenerated are already seated! (Eph. 2:6.)
(Vs. 21.) Christ, our Lord, is exalted far above all rule or authority, above all power and dominion in heaven, earth, or hell, and above every name that is named or title that can be conferred in this world or the world to come (Col. 1:16-18; Phil. 2:9-11). He has authority over all, especially his church!
(Vs. 22, 23.) Christ has all authority (Matt. 28:18; John 17:2). Christ is the supreme Head of his church. This headship is an honourable, glorifying gift to him as Mediator. But it is also a grace gift to the church, for he rules for our good, he performs all offices for our salvation and he communicates all good things to us (Ps. 8:6).