Striking from the viewpoint of the intercessor: I also!
For the apostle himself is suffering in the flesh. He experiences that it is given him in the cause of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer in His behalf. For the Word of God and the testimony which he had, he is in bonds in Caesarea. As he writes these words, there is a chain about his wrist. . . .
Might it not be expected, then, that he would be so oppressed by his condition that his own needs were uppermost in his mind, and that he would request the church of Ephesus to intercede for him, to pray the Lord for a speedy release, perhaps; or, at least for grace that he might be strengthened to bear the cross?
But very remote from his mind are his personal sufferings. No word of complaint escapes his lips. He learned to be content in whatsoever state he might be. Earthly things sink into oblivion. His personal condition does not weigh heavily upon his soul. Nay more, he knows how to rejoice in his sufferings for Christ, and to glory also in tribulation.
And so, he is mindful of the church.
It is in behalf of her that his prayer ascends to the throne of grace.
Always! For he ceases not to give thanks and to mention them in his prayers!
For these the apostles pray in behalf of the Church.
For those things, he prays, which eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, and that have never arisen in the heart of man. Nor could they possibly be seen or heard or arise in man’s heart. They are not the proper objects of perception. They do not belong to the world of our earthly experience. They lie beyond our present horizon; on the other side. . . .
Riches of hope and riches of glory unspeakable!
Hence, with a view to these riches, and earnestly longing that the church may lay hold upon them and possess them, the apostle prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that thus the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened.
For, to be sure, in order to apprehend the spiritual things of the kingdom of God, one must have the power of spiritual perception: the eyes of his understanding, not of his natural but of his spiritual understanding must be enlightened. That it is to this spiritual understanding that the text refers is evident from the original, which may be rendered literally: “the eyes of your heart.” A man has eyes of the body, and the light of the body is the eye; but with these he cannot perceive the things of the kingdom of heaven: they are adapted to the things that are seen. He has eyes of the natural understanding, and these are the light of his soul: the remnant of natural light; but with these he cannot apprehend the spiritual riches of salvation, for even they are of the earth earthy. But a man by nature does not have “eyes of the heart.” The natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit. They are spiritually discerned; and they are foolishness to him. Hence, in order to know and to possess the spiritual riches of grace, the eyes of one’s heart must be enlightened.
And who shall enlighten the eyes of our spiritual understanding except the Spirit of God?
He is the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation. The Spirit of all wisdom is He. He searches the depths of God and knows all things. With the Father and the Son, He is the eternal co-author of that adorable wisdom, according to which all things were made unto and through Christ, Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature and the firstborn of the dead, and the eternal purpose of which is to unite all things in heaven and on earth in one, that is Christ. And, therefore, He is also the Spirit of revelation, that makes known the deep things of God which He searches out, and imparts them unto whomsoever He wills. And as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation He operates in the sphere of the knowledge of God, the knowledge that is eternal life, operates eternally, divinely, infinitely, within the relationship of the Trinity; operates as the Spirit of promise in the glorified Christ, the “quickening spirit;” and operates as the Spirit of Christ in the Church,—always active as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the sphere of the knowledge of God, and imparting the deep things of God to the believers, taking them out of Christ (through the Word), and making the believers receptive for them, capable of apprehending them, enlightening the eyes of their understanding!
Wonderful Spirit of Christ, of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God!
And the apostle prays that he may be given to the Church, to the believers at Ephesus, to the saints of all times.
For He must be given. He proceeds within the divine Family of the adorable Trinity, from the Father and from the Son: from the Father to the Son as the Spirit of the Father; from the Son to the Father at the Spirit of the Son. And He proceeds, too, from the Triune God to the glorified Christ, as the Spirit of truth, of life, of grace, of all the blessings of salvation; and from Christ into the Church, to impart all the fullness of Christ to her.
The Giver, therefore, is the Triune God, as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and, emphatically, as the Father of glory!
For, indeed, Christ is personally the Son of God, and as such He is very God, co-essential and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is very God Himself. And God could not be said to be His God in His eternal divinity. But He is also the Christ, the firstborn of every creature and the firstborn of the dead, the incarnated Lord, Who was sent into the world, Who died on the cross, Who was raised on the third day, and Who was exalted at the right hand of the majesty of God; Who is the head of His body, the Church, the Savior of His people, the head of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ!
His God, too, is God!
God ordained Him from before the foundation of the world; God formed Him and sent Him in the fullness of time; God delivered Him up on the accursed tree; God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him into the highest glory in heaven; God made Him Christ and Lord; and God gave Him the Spirit of promise, making Him the quickening spirit. . . .
He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ!
And as such He is the God of our salvation, who is able and purposing to bestow unspeakable riches upon His Church!
For He is the Father of glory, the implication of all infinite perfection, the shining forth of which is His glory; Who purposes from eternity to impart His glory unto a people that shall show forth His praises!
The God of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Father of glory; the God of our salvation,—He is the Giver of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. To that God and far that Spirit the apostle prays in behalf of the Church!
O, indeed, they had that Spirit, and they did possess enlightened eyes of the heart. Did they not believe? Had they not heard and embraced the Word of God? And were they not sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our redemption?
Yes, but, first of all, that Spirit is a constant gift, must continuously be given, if the Church is to partake of His grace.
And secondly, it is the apostle’s desire that the believers may increase in light of spiritual understanding.
That more and more they may possess the unspeakable riches in Christ!
Through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Blessed Spirit of Christ!
For an object of hope are these unspeakable riches, the things which eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, nor have arisen in the heart of man!
And it is to that object of the Christian hope that the text refers in the words: “that ye may know what is the hope of his calling.” And the glory and greatness and unspeakable blessedness of that hope is further described in the words: “and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”
Words are accumulated, human language is, as it were, exhausted, in order to impress on us the great blessedness of this “hope of his calling” which is ours.
It is his inheritance, God’s inheritance, that constitutes the object of the believers’ hope. It is a precious possession, which God has ordained for them that love Him, which He has prepared through and in Christ Jesus our Lord, which in Him He has stored away unto “the last time,” when it shall be revealed in all its fullness and given into the actual possession of the saints. It is his inheritance “in,” or rather, “among his saints.” For the saints are those that are in Christ Jesus, that are given to Him before the foundation of the world, and that are engrafted into Him by the faith which is the gift of God. To them the inheritance is promised. To the sphere of the saints it is limited. Outside of Christ and His saints this inheritance is not found, nor will ever be revealed. Already it is among them, for they possess it in principle, and they have the earnest of it in the Spirit: they are saved by hope. And soon it will be realized unto them, when their adoption shall be finished through the redemption of the body. . . .
Such is the object of the Christian hope!
It is glory! For the apostle speaks of “the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”
Glory is always glory of God. For God alone is glorious. His is all the glory, whether it is in Him or whether it is found in the works of His hands. For God is good, the only Fount of all goodness, the implication of all infinite perfection. And glory is the radiation of that divine goodness, of infinite wisdom, knowledge, truth, righteousness, holiness, mighty power, mercy, grace, love. He is a light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. And his inheritance among the saints is, centrally, this glory of God, bestowed through Christ on them, so that they may be partakers of, reflections of His own glory! For they shall be like Him! Righteous as He is righteous, holy as He is holy they shall be; they shall know as they are known, and thus they “shall see Him as He is,” face to face in heavenly beauty!
The glory of his inheritance in the saints!
Yes, but even so, the subject is not exhausted. Or rather,—for how could the subject possibly be exhausted—the language that may somewhat describe the object of this hope is not quite exhausted. And therefore, it must be added: “the riches” of that glory! For God is unspeakably rich in glory, and so is the glory of his inheritance among the saints. He is One, but manifold are His perfections, and, therefore, His glories as revealed to us. And when the inheritance shall be realized and fully revealed to them and in them, it shall shine forth in millions upon millions of saints radiating with the manifold glory of God. . . .
Riches of glory of the inheritance!
That is the hope, that is, the object of the hope of their calling!
Hope in Scripture may and often does denote the grace of hope, the activity of hoping on the part of the believers; it also may denote the object of this hope, the thing hoped for. The latter is the case here. The riches of the glory of God’s inheritance is the hope of their calling.
Of His calling!
For it is all the work of God. He ordained them, unto this hope. He prepared for them this hope. He redeemed them unto this hope. And He also called them unto this hope, unto the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints. He called them by the preaching of the gospel, and that gospel as well as its preaching is His. And, emphatically, He, not Paul, called them through that preaching. By His almighty Word, through the Spirit, Pie caused the Word of the gospel to resound irresistibly in their hearts, so that they were translated out of darkness into His marvelous light. And they were called unto this hope. For outside of the sphere of this calling there was no hope, no prospect, no inheritance, no way out. But God called them into his inheritance, so that they laid hold upon it, became heirs of it, were saved. . . .
The hope to which they are called!
The hope to which was given them the right, of which they became the heirs through this calling.
That ye may know!
That is the apostle’s earnest desire: that they may know what is the hope of their calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.
That is the purpose, the end, and, therefore, the contents of his prayer.
But do they not know?
O, indeed! Had not the apostle written to them, that they were blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ? Had they not obtained the inheritance? Were they not called unto the hope of the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance among the saints? And were they not sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory? How, then, could it be that they did not know?
The very fact that they did obtain the inheritance, that they were sealed with the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession, and the very fact that they manifested in their walk and conversation that they were quite conscious of the hope of his calling, is the basis of the apostle’s thanksgiving, and motivates his prayer for them. Does he not say: Wherefore. . . . having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints”?
The fact that they knew gave the apostle courage to pray that they might know!
Might know always, constantly, through the Spirit: for only by the constant gift of the Spirit could they know.
And might know more and more, always more!
Until the day of full redemption!
And of perfect knowledge!