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Asbury Bible Commentary – B. A Prayer for Spiritual Insight Within the New Community (1:15–23)
Resources » Asbury Bible Commentary » Part III: The New Testament » EPHESIANS » Commentary » II. Formation of the New Community (1:3–3:21) » B. A Prayer for Spiritual Insight Within the New Community (1:15–23)
B. A Prayer for Spiritual Insight Within the New Community (1:15–23)

That the Gentiles of Asia have received the Gospel by faith, have been received by God through Christ, and have been sealed for the day of redemption has brought joy to Paul's heart. Because of their faith in the Lord Jesus, the apostle has continually given thanks for them. Since he first learned of their becoming part of God's new community and of their love for all the saints (the demonstration of their full participation in this new community), he has been praying for them.

For what has he prayed? He has been asking God to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Why? He wants them to know God better. Paul hopes that they will know God not only as the Father who legally adopted them but also as the Father who loves them. More than legal heirs, they are also children; not only granted citizenship (see 2:12-19), they are members of God's household. It is his prayer that these who belong to the family will get to know God more intimately. If Paul's prayer is answered, God will show himself to the Gentiles in particular and give them insight to understand the divine mystery of grace.

Furthermore, Paul prays for the Ephesians' spiritual enlightenment that they may know the hope to which he has called them, the extent of their inheritance, and the incomparably great power available to them. It would be wonderful if God showed these believing Jews and Gentiles the glorious provision already made for them! If they could envision God's dreams for them, they would not want to miss their realization. If they could see their inheritance, they would certainly not want to lose it. If they could realize the power available to them, they would not need to fail. That power, like the working of his mighty strength in creation and the miracles of the OT, was most powerfully demonstrated when God raised Jesus and exalted him to his right hand in the heavenly realms. Surely that same power is available to keep believers until their inheritance is fully realized. In Ro 8:31-39, Paul spoke of that power: If God could spare his Son from defeat by death, he can spare us from defeat by life. That is what he wants these citizens to see: the hope to which God has called them, the inheritance he has for them, and the power at their disposal. Who, then, would want or need to turn away from God by abandoning faith in Christ as Savior and Lord? Obviously, Paul is trying to convince readers not to defect and return to alien status.

Vv. 20b-22a are creedal in regard to the present role of the risen Son, although they also demonstrate the scope of divine power. Not only did the Father raise the Son from death, but he made him co-regent, with authority far above all [human] rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given on earth. Jesus has authority and dominion both now and in the age to come. Furthermore, God gave Jesus supremacy over all creation (cf. 1Co 15:28) and gave him to the church, his body, as its supreme Head.

Here, then, is the new community, the called-out ones (ekklesia), from both Judaism and paganism that now constitute the church. By divine power and appointment Christ now presides over the church the fullness [or complement] of him who fills everything and provides all spiritual vitality. The fulfillment of the Father's purpose for the Son is his lordship over the church. Jesus, who fills the whole universe with his presence and governs the entire creation with his given authority, finds his completion as Head of the body, the church. A head without a body is incomplete. As the body renders the head complete, so the church fulfills God's purpose for Christ.