(Full disclosure: This is my FAVORITE book, and Ephesians 1 is my favorite chapter! I have studied it about ten times over thirty years and memorized all of Ephesians 1 many years ago. It is so important to digest and understand. So, savor it, soak in it, and pray through it!)
This entire section is one sentence in the Greek! Paul has just presented some amazing truths about the spiritual blessings available to believers. Now, he prays for enlightenment so that believers can fully comprehend them. Generally, he prays for a spirit (not the Holy Spirit but a disposition or attitude) of wisdom and revelation. Wisdom (sophia) is the practical ability to apply God's truth to a definite situation and to act on what one knows and believes. Revelation is the unveiling of God Himself. Paul prays for this so that the believer might know God better. This word "know" (epignōsei) is not just intellectual but a personal and intimate knowledge of God and intimate awareness of His character and will. (I will have a lot more to say on this in 2 Peter! It is so key to understand this!)
Paul specifically prays that we might comprehend (have a factual knowledge of) the . . .
1) Hope of His Calling - Hope means "assurance for the future." Christ will return again for His bride, the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 John 3:1-3). You'll find out in the next chapter what it was like before Christ when we were "without hope" (Ephesians 2:12). In Christ we have a "living hope" (1 Peter 1:3) because of His resurrection. The "call" is what we had when God first drew us to Himself and called us out of darkness into light (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 4:1,4; Philippians 1:3-6;19-21; 2 Timothy 1:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
2) Riches of the Glory of His Inheritance - This is the second of six times Paul will refer to "riches" in the book of Ephesians (1:7, 18; 2:4, 7; 3:8, 16). This could be referring to the present riches in Christ referred to earlier in the chapter, to the future heavenly possession of the riches and glories of God, or at the resurrection of all believers when God will inherit those He has bought through the precious blood of Christ and according to the riches of His grace (1:7).
3) Surpassing Greatness of His Power - Power, dunamis (a spiritually dynamic and living force, power in action), is followed by three big Greek words to emphasize God's resurrection power that is available to us:
enérgeia - working, energetic power
krátos - manifested power, presence of significance of force or strength rather than its exercise
ischús- strength afforded by power (krátos)
"The use of two or three terms for divine power is a common and intentional one that is designed to bring out its greatness" (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 379).
C.S. Lewis hits at the heart of this chapter:
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased (The Weight of Glory, p. 1-2).Once again, God's timing is impeccable. Recently, I sat listening to someone who is settling for those mud pies and making them has brought only temporary satisfaction and guilt because of the sin (because mud pies are dirty!).
As I meditated on this chapter today, I prayed that person would understand the forgiveness and grace of God emphasized in the first part of Ephesians 1 and for an intimate "true" knowledge of God emphasized in the prayer in the second part!
When we truly "know" Him, we see the filth of those mud pies on our fingers and can begin to smell the salt air and feel the cool ocean breeze beckoning us to come for a holiday by the sea! (See also 2 Peter 1:3-4 - the Greek word for "know" is the same one used in Ephesians 1. The true knowledge of God deters us from sin and allows us to become partakers of the divine nature!)
I am praying this prayer for my friend, for you, and for me today! I hope you can do the same.
Here is a question from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, Ephesians 1:15-23:
Do we not for a little pleasure often part with our peace?
Pray through Ephesians 1:15-23 for yourself and those you love.