The focus on this Sunday is the moment when Christ begins to work by being present spiritually in the church. Last year on this Sunday, I spoke from the text in Acts that describes that moment; this year I want to lift up a reflection on this in Ephesians. The text for the sermon is given below.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
Questions About this Text
As I begin to think about this text, the first question the occurs to me is: who are you praying for? what are you praying for them?
Paul seems to be focusing here on a process by which Christ grows in us. “As you come to know him” implies to me a process that could take a lifetime to fully embody.
I’m also wondering: what does it mean to have “the eyes of your heart enlightened”?
Finally, I am wondering about the nature of “the hope to which he has called you..”.
So three questions just to begin.
We have in the past few weeks talked a lot about a sense of Christ enacting the passion: death —> resurrection. Now a third term is added: ascension. The meaning of ascension here seems to connect with something often called exaltation. Exaltation means becoming the ultimate power. What does it mean for our lives today if Christ is the ultimate power? How is that power expressed?
At the end of the passage, Paul speaks of the church as the body of Christ. In what sense are we then as part of the church part of the exaltation of Christ?
- There is considerable disagreement among Biblical scholars about the authorship of Ephesians and therefore its date. More seem to date this toward the end of the first century which would mean that it was written by someone using Paul’s style and authority.
- Markus Borg (Anchor Bible commentary) points to the role of light in Plato, Philo, and other ancient sources as a symbol of growing understanding. It’s interesting that Buddhists also see “enlightenment” as seeing the world for what it is in reality.
- P Perkins (New Interpreters Bible Commentary) notes that exaltation is a political act and should be understood in the context of other powers over which Christ is exalted.