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Big Idea:

The same power that raised Jesus now works in us. A truth & power worth understanding.

Key Verses:

1:17-18 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people

Discussion questions for group (If you want them):

– When you pray, what consumes your prayers? What do you pray most for yourself & others?
– What’s the focus of Paul’s prayers?
– What’s the connection for Paul between wisdom, understanding and a close relationship with God?
– In verses 18-19 he lists a number of things he prays for them to know. What are they, and why do you think he prays for those things?
– The same power that is at work in God’s people now is the same power that did something remarkable in history (v.20-23). What is that power? Do you believe that?
– What does it mean for Jesus to fill everything in every way? (v.23)

Application questions:

– If you believe that God’s intention towards you is good, what does that do to how you listen to him / follow him?
– Some pull away from God when they’re stuggling with sin. How does understanding his grace help us to do the opposite?
– How do we encourage each other not merely to know about God, but to know God / draw near to Him?

Notes / Observations:

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v.15 – For Paul, there is always a connection between knowing the truth and the outworking of that truth. Their faith in the Lord Jesus is evidenced by their love for all the saints. The connection of what they believe in the Gospel and their actions towards other Christians, is particularly explored in Ephesians 2 where Paul talks about the idea of the dividing wall of hostility (2:14).

v.16 – Even while Paul is currently in prison, and most other people would be praying for release, his focus is on others knowing and living out the truth of the Gospel. So his prayers are full of thanks for what God is doing in Ephesus.

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v.17 – The “Spirit” here could be either 1) a receptive spirit, eager for the truth which God will reveal; or,
2) reference to the Holy Spirit, the source of wisdom and revelation in the believer.

v.17 – Paul’s prayer is not merely that they have more answers, but that they know God better. So it’s less about answering people’s questions and being articulate than it is about knowing what God has called us. What he wants them to know he outlines in v.18-19.

v.18 – Not ‘hope of your calling,’ i.e., the ‘hope to which he has called you.’ “This hope to which God has called them is linked with ‘the summing up of all things in Christ’, which is the final purpose of God’s saving activity in his Son (1:10). Hope is what the Gentile readers did not have before they believed (2:12). Elsewhere Paul describes the hope to which God has called believers as that of sharing in the glory of God (Rom 5:2), the expectation of appearing with Christ in glory when he is revealed (Col 3:4).” O’Brian

v.18 – The sense here is not so much our inheritance, but God’s inheritance which is those who are “in Christ”. FF Bruce puts this amazing truth beautifully – “That God should set such a high value on a community of sinners, rescued from eternal punishment and still bearing too many traces of their former state, might well seem incredible were it not made clear that he sees them in Christ, as from the beginning he chose them in Christ” [Bruce]

v.19 – Note the use of the word power twice here. The Gospel is not merely an idea or a worldview, but God’s power at work in people.

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v.20 – The supreme manifestation of the power of God is seen in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. His exultation is the guarantee that his people shall be exalted in and with him, cf. 1 Cor 6:14; 15:43; Phil 3:21.

v.20 – Cf. Ps 110:1, and note Jesus own use of this Psalm when brought before the Sanhedrin, Matt 26:64; Mk 12:36; Lk 20:41-44. “To be at someone right hand is to be in the position of special honour and privilege (1 Kings 2:19). In the Old Testament the Lord’s right hand is the position of favour (Ps 80:18; Jer 22:24), victory (Ps 20:6; 44:3; Isa 41:10), and power (Exod 15:6; Ps 89:13; Isa 48:13). For Christ, then, to be seated at God’s right hand meant sharing the Father’s throne (Rev 3:21).” O’Brian

v.21 – Paul seems here to be referring to supernatural powers (cf. 2:2; 3:10).

v.23 – The idea of the church being the body of Christ is mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:12- 27). It’s an idea Paul probably first encountered in Acts when Jesus referred to Paul’s persecution of the church as persecuting Jesus himself (Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14).

v.23 – “Christ pervades all things with his sovereign rule, directing all things to their appointed end (cf. Heb 1:3), and this entails his functioning as the powerful ruler over against the principalities (1:21) and giving grace and strength to his people, the church (4:13, 15- 16).” O’Brian

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