1. Praise for God's rich blessings in Christ, 1:3-23

ii] A prayer for knowledge


Paul began his letter with his typical greeting, and then moved onto what can best be described as a eulogy, an example of declarative praise. Paul now sets out to pray for his readers, giving thanks for their faith and love, praying for an increase in their knowledge, namely, that they may know Christ better and that they may know the hope that is before them, the riches of their inheritance, and of the divine power operative in them, 1:15-19. Paul then expands on this mighty strength that is theirs in Christ, a strength which has already shown itself in raising Jesus from the dead, 1:20-23.


i] Context: See 1:3-14.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2


iii] Structure: Paul's prayer of thanksgiving for the Ephesians:

the thanksgiving proper / commendation, v15-16;

Paul's prayer for the Ephesians / intercession, v17-19;

A statement of praise to God, v20-23.


iv] Interpretation:

Best calls this prayer a "prayer for those who have everything, because the believers have every spiritual benefit for their spiritual welfare, including election, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, insight, understanding, knowledge of the mystery of his will, and sealing with the Holy Spirit", cf., 1:3-14. For Best, the prayer expresses Paul's desire "for the Ephesian believers to deepen their relationship with the God who has enriched them with every spiritual benefit, and to experience those benefits in a deeper way."


The thanksgiving, v15-16a, is rather limited, but Paul has already expressed his gratitude to God in the eulogy for his readers, ie., the many Gentiles who have equal standing with Jews in the gospel. Given that the letter may well be a circular letter (intended for a wider audience than just the church at Ephesus), it is only to be expected that the personal links are limited. Still, Paul does note that he has heard of the readers faith and love and for this he thanks God.

The prayer, v16b-19, serves as an intercession for "the realization of the blessings of the eulogy in the lives of the readers", O'Brien. The focus of the prayer is on wisdom and knowledge; Paul wants his readers to truly understand the "mystery", that secret once hidden now revealed.

Moving from intercession to praise, v20-23, Paul praises God for the enthronement / exaltation of Christ over all powers; God gave Christ th/ kklhsia/, "to the church", to possess and be possessed - God in his graciousness has given Christ, the cosmic Lord of the universe, to the church, that which is his body. In the now / not yet schema of New Testament eschatology, Paul's statement is more realized than inaugurated - Christ reigns now, in and through the gathered fellowship of believers.


These verses constitute a single sentence in the Gk. (following v3-14, also a single sentence, the second longest sentence in the NT).


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text: 1:15

Thanksgiving, prayer, and praise, v15-23: i] A thanksgiving for the Ephesian believers, v15-16. Paul begins by assuring his readers that he knows of their faith and love and is constantly thanking God for the evidence of these gifts in their lives.

dia touto "for this reason" - because of, on account of this. This causal construction is more inferential than causal; "hence", Moffatt.

kagw "I" - and i. Emphatic, "I also having heard ....."

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "ever since I heard" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, probably introducing a temporal clause, as NIV, with the aorist indicating time prior to the action of the main verb and its complement, both of which are in the present tense, "I have not stopped giving thanks", v16. None-the-less, causal is possible, "because / since"; "as I have heard of your faith", Moffatt.

en + dat. "in" - [of the faith among you] in, on [the lord jesus]. Possibly Jesus is the object of their faith, paralleling their love "for" all the saints (object), although Paul will often use eiV or proV to express "your faith toward Christ", whereas he will often use en, "in" to express the sphere within which faith operates.

thn "-" - [and the love] the [to]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "to all the saints" into a attributive modifier limiting "love"; "which is to/for all the saints."

pantaV touV aJiouV "all the saints" - all the saints. Usually the saints refer to either Jews, the Jerusalem church, even the apostles, but the use of "all" may serve to widen the meaning to "all believers."


ou pauomai (pauw) pres. "I have not stopped" - i do not cease, stop. Main verb. An intended exaggeration to make a positive point (a litotes); "I regularly give thanks for you in my prayers."

eucaristwn (eucaristw) pres. part. "giving thanks" - The participle is complementary, completing the sense of the main verb "I [do not] cease."

uJper + gen. "for" - for [you]. Expressing representative / advantage; "on behalf of / for the sake of"; "on your behalf."

poioumenoV (poiew) pres. part. "remembering" - making [mention of you]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "when I make mention of you in my prayers."

epi + gen. "in" - upon [the prayers of me]. Probably temporal here; "at the time of my prayers."


ii] A prayer for the Ephesian believers, v17-19. The prayer is directed to God who is described as both the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Glorious One. The title "Father" defines God's substantial relationship with Jesus; "Glorious One", is a common Old Testament description of God, cf., Ps.29:3. Paul prays that his readers may receive, from the Holy Spirit, spiritual understanding, both wisdom and truth.

iJna + subj. "I keep asking that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of Paul's prayer for the Ephesians.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of [our] Lord" - [the god] of the lord [of us, jesus christ]. The genitive is adjectival, expressing subordination; "Lord over us." "Jesus Christ" stands in apposition to Lord.

thV doxhV (a) gen. "of glory" - [the father] of glory. The genitive is possibly ablative, expressing source; the Father is the source of all glory. Probably better taken as adjectival, attributive, limiting "Father"; "the glorious Father." The "glorious Father" stands in apposition to "God". As a descriptive, it serves to show that the Father is well able to answer Paul's prayer.

dwh/ (didwmi) aor. subj. "may give" - may give [to you]. Can be read as an optative, but this is unlikely. In v8-9 Paul declared that the Father had bestowed on the Ephesians "all wisdom and insight", he now prays that they may realize what they already possess. "To you" serves as a dative of indirect object.

pneuma (a atoV) "the Spirit" - a spirit. The Holy Spirit may be intended, as NIV, or the human spirit. If the human spirit, the inner self, is intended, such that Paul's prayer is that a person's inner being will be enabled to receive divine revelation; "may give you a spirit of wisdom", NAB.

sofiaV (a) gen. "of wisdom" - The genitive, as with "revelation", is adjectival, possibly attributive, "an inner self attuned to the knowledge of God's will", or attributed, "spiritual wisdom and revelation."

kain "and" - Possibly coordinative, as NIV, but epexegetic seems more likely, ie., "the revelation in a fuller knowledge of him (in respect of him / himself = God)" probably explains what Paul means by the word "wisdom".

apokaluyewV (iV ewV) gen. "revelation" - of an unveiling of. Genitive, as above. It is likely that the sense of this word for Paul is the same as musthrion, "mystery", which is explained in chapter 3. This mystery is the gospel, "the unsearchable riches of Christ" and not the "Gentiles are heirs together with Israel." Unity is a product of the gospel, not the gospel itself.

en + dat. "so that" - in [a discerning, perceiving, understanding, fuller knowledge of him]. It is possible that en here introduces a final or consecutive clause (purpose and result and are always closely linked ideas), although grammatically this is unlikely. Possibly better reference / respect; "with respect to ..." Bruce argues for "goal", as NIV, namely, that the intended purpose of the gift of wisdom and revelation is so that the believer might grow in their knowledge of God. Yet, it is more likely to adjectival, introducing an epexegetic clause, summarizing the content of the wisdom and revelation; it is a wisdom and revelation that consists of ("in") information about God. This "knowing" of God is called "mystical union." It is the process of entering into communion with God, becoming one with him, even in a sense marrying him. "Consisting in the knowledge of him", O'Brien.


In v18-19, Paul identifies three particular areas of insight that he wants his readers to grasp: a) The hope of glory. This is usually understood as the culmination of all things at the second coming of Christ - the parousia, Col.3:4. This "hope" is well expressed later in 5:27; b) The inheritance in the saints. The inheritance is the salvation of the community of believers; the inheritance of a kingdom promised of old, although possibly the inheritance is Christ's, see below; c) The greatness of God's power. This power of God at work in believers is the same power which raised Christ to life, and is the power which gives us new life within, Rom.6:4, and which will raise us in the last day, Rom.8:11.

"I pray also that" - This phrase is added by the NIV on the assumption that the participial clause "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened" serves as the second element of the prayer request which commenced in v17, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ ..... may give to you ....", ie., it functions as the second direct object / dependent statement of the negated verb "I do not cease [giving thanks]."

pefwtismenouV (fwtizw) perf. pas. part. "may be enlightened" - having been enlightened [the eyes of the heart of you]. The participle possibly forms an epexegetic clause explaining "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation." This is supported by the fact that the participle and its associate noun are accusative, thus possibly forming an accusative absolute, although it may just be influenced by the following accusative articular infinitive. On the other hand, the participle may simply be adverbial, causal, so Wallace; "since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened". The participial clause, "having been enlightened with respect to the eyes of your heart", may be tied to the indirect object of "may give", namely, "to you", v17, cf., O'Brien, 133, Lincoln, 47. Yet, it is likely that it is tied to uJmaV, "you [may know him better]." As such it would be adjectival, attributive; "in order that you, who have been enlightened with respect to the eyes of your heart, may know .....". The idea of the eyes of our hearts being illumined is a rather difficult image, but serves to illustrate the ministry of the Holy Spirit who communicates (illuminates) spiritual truth to the believer. The word is used in the LXX of God's instruction.

eiV to eidenai (oida) perf. inf. "in order that [you] may know" - to the [you] to know = that [you] may know. The accusative articular infinitive governed by the preposition eiV introduces either a purpose or result clause; "in order that / so that we can understand the truth about God's purposes"; "to enable you to see", Barclay.

tiV "-" - what [is the hope]. Introducing the first of three indirect questions: what is the hope, what are the riches and how great the power? Paul prays that we may "realize how great the hope .... the magnificence and splendor of the inheritance .... and how tremendous is the power", Phillips.

autou "he [has called you]" - [of the calling] of him. The "hope" is the sum of the concrete promises made by God in association with his calling of believers.

thV klhsewV gen. "called" - of the calling, invitation. Genitive of source. The strength of this word depends on our own view of predestination. We may properly translate it as "the hope that is associated with his invitation", or "the hope that was given you when God chose you", CEV.

thV doxhV thV klhronomiaV "of [his] glorious inheritance" - [what is the wealth] of the glory of the inheritance. The genitives, "glory" and "inheritance", are adjectival, probably attributive, as NIV, limiting by describing "riches"; "the very glorious inheritance", O,Brien. Larkin suggests that both genitives are attributed giving the sense "rich glory of the inheritance", Abbott.

autou gen. pro. "his" - of him. The NIV takes the pronoun as possessive, but possibly ablative, source, "the rich glory of the inheritance from him."

en "in" - in [the saints].The preposition is local, space; "among the saints." Possibly an eternal inheritance which belongs to him and which he supplies, or the Old Testament idea of God's people as his inheritance; "namely, the possession of His elect people".


autou "his" - [and what is the surpassing greatness of the power] of him. The NIV treats the genitive pronoun as possessive, but possibly expressing source, "from him", or verbal, subjective, "he works the power."

to uJperballon (uperballw) pres. part. "incomparably" - the surpassing, exceeding, going beyond the norm. The participle is adjectival, attributive, and is used for emphasis. God's power is exceedingly great and is operative in believers.

thV dunamewV (iV ewV) gen. "power" - of the power, ability. The genitive is adjectival, attributed; "the surpassing great power", Larkin.

touV pisteuontaV (pisteuw) pres. part. "[for us] who believe" - [to us] the one's believing. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "us".

kata + acc. "that power is like" - according to. Of a standard, "in accordance with / corresponding to." Note the piling up of similar "power" words to make the point that God's power, operative in believers, achieves His promises."

thn energeian (a) "the working" - the working, function, operation. The application of power.

tou kratouV (oV) gen. "of [his] mighty" - of the power, might. Referring to a resident power that can overcome anything that stands in its way. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the working", "strong might", Hoehner, a working / an application of power which consists of God's mighty strength exercised in Christ's resurrection and ascension, or attributed, "mighty strength."

thV iscuoV (uV uoV) "strength" - of the strength [of him]. Referring to the exercise / functioning of power. The genitive is probably ablative, source / origin, so Hoehner; "from his strength / power / might."


iii] Praise, v20-23. Having prayed that the Ephesians might experience "his incomparable great power for us who believe", Paul goes on to muse on the source of that power, the extent of which "has been demonstrated in what God has already done in Christ, particularly in raising him from the dead and exalting him", Lincoln.

hJn rel. pro. "which" - which. Direct object of the verb "he worked."

enhrgnsen (energew) "he exerted" - he worked, exerted. This verb governs "raised" and "seated", and in v22, "placed" and "appointed". The exercise of God's power may be observed in these four actions.

en + dat. "in" - in [christ]. The preposition here is best taken as adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to / regard to Christ."

egeiraV (egeirw) aor. part. "when he raised" - having raised [him]. Probably best taken as a temporal participle, along with "seated", as NIV, although possibly instrumental, "by means of", so Hoehner, Larkin.

ek + gen. "from [the dead]" - out of, from [dead]. Expressing separation.

en dexia/ "at [his] right hand" - on / at right [of him in the heavenlies]. Local; space. A position of authority and honor; "seated him at the right hand of God."


Christ's reign is cosmic, it is over all things; His rule is over our universe, and also over the heavenly realm, over powers both good and evil.

uJperanw+ gen. "far above" - far above, high above [all rule and authority and power]. Local, expressing space. Describing a position of authority above secular and angelic powers.

kuristhtoV (hV) gen. "dominion" - [and] lordship. This word, in particular, although all four words used by Paul here, probably refer to orders in the angelic realm, as commonly understood by the Jews. Paul has in mind spiritual beings - most likely evil as well as good. To a Jewish mind at the time, the heavenly realm has multiple dimensions. The "principalities and powers" (most likely evil forces) reign over part, but Christ's rule is over all. Also, his rule is not just for this age, but also for the age to come. So, his rule is eternal as well as universal.

kai "and" - Possibly ascensive, "even".

onomazomenou (onomazw) gen. pres. pas. part. "that can be given" - [every name] being named. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "title". This serves as a catch-all covering every other possible power or authority. All are under Christ; "he rules over all beings", CEV.

en + dat. "in" - [not only] in [this age]. Temporal use of the preposition.

alla "but" - but [and = also] Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ...., but ....".

tw/ mellonti (mellw) dat. pres. part. "[in] the one to come" - [in] the one about = coming. The participle functions as a substantive, as NIV, or if aiwni, "age" is assumed, then adjectival, attributive, limiting "age"; "in the age (which is) to come", Moffatt.


Here Paul quotes Psalm 8:6 which expresses the wonder of human dominion over creation prior to the fall, Gen.1:26-28. Christ, the second Adam, now exercises the rule we ourselves were to exercise, but failed to exercise because of our rebellion against God. Jesus, the perfect man, takes up the human right of headship (authority, lordship, dominion, supreme head) over God's domain. Christ is "head over everything", the supreme head of the cosmos, the source of all power and might, and he gives to the church (th/ ekklhsia/, dative of indirect object after the verb "to give") this authority. The church, the gathered fellowship of believers, "the body" of Christ, "the fullness of him", possesses in its very being the supreme head of the cosmos. It is he who facilitates the "incomparable power for us who believe" for the full realization of "the riches of his glorious inheritance" / the promised covenant blessings. Through our identification with Christ, the community of believers (the church) inherits his dominion over all. The church, the new Israel, becomes the new Adam with dominion, not just over the earth, but heaven and earth, to facilitate the "glorious inheritance."

Note that Paul is not saying Christ is head of all things including the church. Yes, Christ is head of the church, but that is not what Paul is saying. Paul is saying that Christ is given to the church, such that the church possesses Christ, it is his body, and Christ exercises his cosmic reign in and through the church, now and for eternity. The church referred to here is not an institution, but the gathering of believers, earthly and heavenly / local and universal.

uJpetaxen (uJpotassw) aor. "God placed" - [and] he subordinated, subjected, placed. Expressing the establishment of rank; "God has placed everything under the power of Christ", Phillips.

panta adj. "all things" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to place." Emphatic by position.

uJpo + acc. "under" - Expressing subordination.

touV podaV (ouV odoV) "feet" - the feet [of him]. To be placed under someone's feet is to be placed under their authority.

edwken (didwmi) aor. "appointed" - [and] gave. "Installed" or "appointed" is possible, although "gave" is better, so Best. The Father gave Christ, the supreme ruler, to the church.

kefalhn (h) "[him] to be head [over everything]" - [him] as head [over all things]. Accusative complement of the direct object "him" in a double accusative construction. Here the image of Christ as the head of the body, the church, is not filled out. Paul later develops the image of Christ as the head of the body, probably in terms of nourishment, with individual believers as the different members. Here "head" is used in the sense of authority /power over everything, not authority over the church as such.

th/ ekklhsia dat. "to the church" - Possibly a dative of interest, advantage, "for, on behalf of the church", so NIV. Technically the dative should be classed as a dative of indirect object; "gave .... to the church." Either way "the greatness of God's power, which was effective in Christ's exaltation, is toward us who believe", Lincoln. The Father gave Christ authority / headship / rule over all things, which in the here and now is exercised in the church. The authority we failed to exercise on earth, Christ now exercises over the cosmos, and this in / with / through us.


Christ is the one in whom the fullness of deity resides, and that fullness of deity resides within the community of believers, local and universal, "filling all in all." In the local setting, Christ resides through the indwelling Spirit who is present in the assembly of believers.

hJtiV rel. pro. "which" - which [is]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. Introducing a definition of the church as Christ's "body". The tendency is to see this image in the terms of authority, ie., Christ the "head" of the "body", the church (cf. Col.1:18). This is how Ephesians 5:22-33 is interpreted in relation to a husband as "head" over his wife. Yet, when instructing husbands, Paul doesn't even mention authority, but rather speaks of their identity found in union with their wife. The "one flesh" image of marriage illustrates Christ's relationship to the church, not his headship over it, 5:32. Although, in 1:22 Paul has said that Christ is "head over everything", it is head over everything "for / to" the church, not head over the church. Clearly the "body" image in v23 is one of identity. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 12:12, "as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts make up the one body, so also is Christ." As Jesus put it himself, "I am the vine and you are the branches." The body image simply teaches that we (the church) are "one flesh" with Christ (identified with Christ), by grace through faith, and therefore, we share his glory.

to swma "body" - the body [of him]. Often used of the church as the body of Christ in the sense that he gives life to it through his Spirit, ie., through his presence in its midst when it assembles.

to plhrwma (a) "the fullness" - the fullness. Possibly "fulfilled / complete". The phrase "the fullness of the one filling all in / with all" stands in apposition to "body" and thus defines it. This is a key word in the New Testament and probably finds its origins in the Old Testament where the word at times expresses the presence of divine glory. It is best to see Christ as the one who is complete in himself in that he possess the fullness of diety and whose completeness is present in the church. The church is not an extension of Christ, which then makes Him complete, an unfortunate idea that originated with Chrysostom.

tou ..... plhroumenou (plhrow) - pres. pas. / mid. part "of him who fills" - of the one filling / being filled. The participle serves as a substantive, as NIV. The NIV follows the common translation of this phrase as pres. mid, part, ie., Christ is doing the filling. This translation goes back to Tyndale, then the AV, "that filleth all in all", and so on. Larkin suggests that the middle voice should be given its full force; "Christ is filling for himself all things in every way." Yet, the passive is possible, ie., Christ is the one being filled; "the fullness of him who all in all (in every way) is being filled", so Best.

ta panta en pasin "everything in every way" - all things with / in all things. The phrase is best used adverbially, O'Brien, Lincoln, "all in all", cf., Col.2:10, "and in him you are made full."


Ephesians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]