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When a baby is born, his eyes are opened to a whole new world, a different dimension than anything he has ever known. He is very limited as to what he can see at birth. As the baby develops his eyes start to focus in on more things and he also starts to see not just what is close up, but things that are farther away. Still there is a growing process in terms of how much he can really understand and how well he can relate to what he sees — this growing process can be described as enlightenment.

Just being alive would be abnormal as time goes by. However, many Christians seem content with just being alive, with having their eyes opened to some of the blessings of this new spiritual dimension, but never really growing in any depth in their personal knowledge of God and ability to relate to Him.

We need to catch the vision for our opportunity to know God better. We want to be able to see things that are far off, not just those things that are up close. We don’t want our vision clouded by our own indifference, our persistence in sin, our love for the world, etc. We need to be open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our heart.

(Walt Russell’s message on this text was helpful — Grace Fellowship Church, Baltimore MD. His Big Idea = THE EYES OF OUR HEART NEED DIVINE FOCUS TO PERCEIVE MORE FULLY GOD AND HIS WORK FOR US.)


Verses 3-14 presented a fantastic account of how God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Now Paul is switching gears and praying that God will give us spiritual insight to understand, appreciate, and appropriate these blessings.

It is important to keep the balance between:

1) Praise for what God has given us, and

2) Petition for what we realize we need for spiritual growth

The danger of being lopsided here:

1) Some people are complacent with their limited understanding of God and have no appetite to go deeper

2) Some people are always praying for new spiritual blessings while seemingly ignorant of what they already have


Yes, we have the Holy Spirit who has sealed us.

Praise God!

Yes, we need the Holy Spirit in His ministry of enlightening us.

Petition God for His grace in this area.


I. MOTIVATION for this request for spiritual enlightenment =

THE REALITY OF THEIR SPIRITUAL LIFE = cause for both thanksgiving and pastoral concern

A. “for this reason” —

these Gentile believers genuinely possessed the Holy Spirit who had sealed them and been the downpayment for their full inheritance.

B. They genuinely lived the spiritual life — 2 fundamental qualities:

1. “Faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you”

2. “your love for all the saints”

Paul was in prison and had time to pray for these saints on a regular basis. He gave thanks for them and expressed his pastoral concern in praying for their growth.


A. This gift of the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit flows out of the grace of God

1. God is addressed as:

a. “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”

If our Lord, the object of our faith and our all-sufficient one for deliverance in every respect willingly submitted to God the Father here on this earth and needed insight, etc. how much more we do.

b. “the Father of glory”

His characteristic quality is glory. He is the one that deserves the preeminence in every respect. If the one we have the opportunity to get to know is the Father of glory, how can we be diverted by lesser pursuits?

Remember the refrain: “to the praise of the glory of His grace”

2. God’s grace is the key; not our works or merit

B. This gift centers in the work of the Holy Spirit

“Spirit of wisdom and revelation”

Why do I think this refers to the Holy Spirit and not just a capacity or disposition in our human spirit?

1) the two are closely related anyway since the Holy Spirit would have to produce such a capacity

2) emphasis on the work of the Trinity

3) prominence of the Holy Spirit in the entire epistle

4) context in 1:13-14 dealt specifically with the Holy Spirit

5) concept of “revelation” is better connected with Holy Spirit

6) parallel verse from OT — Isaiah 11:2 “And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord”

1. “Wisdom” — intellectual insight into things as they really are

not just wisdom in understanding the Word of God, but wisdom in our

trials — in how to face all the pressures of our daily lives

2. “Revelation” — the unveiling of something previously hidden or unknown

Could be some confusion here. In our technical doctrinal classifications we tend to label this as the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit (helping us to understand what God has already revealed) since we do not believe God is revealing new truth today (through dreams, prophecies, etc.). But in a non-technical sense the Holy Spirit is constantly revealing new insights to us.

C. This gift operates in the sphere of the full experiential knowledge of God

“in the full knowledge of him”


Best translation of this Perfect tense in Greek here:

“since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened” — Refers to the present possession of something received or experienced in the past. It was at salvation that the eyes of our heart were opened by God’s grace through faith. Now we need these eyes focused by God’s grace through faith. This prayer for spiritual enlightenment regarding the full knowledge of God can only apply to those who already have spiritual vision. That is why the reality of spiritual life in others should motivate us to pray in this way for them.

(Study Luke 24:13-35) for a good example of spiritual enlightenment)

IV. PURPOSE OF THE REQUEST = that we would understand:

A. His Goal for us = “the hope of His calling”

Primarily centers on holiness and being completely like the Lord Jesus Christ; includes our resurrection body and full inheritance

B. His gift for HImself = “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

This refers to the inheritance that will belong to God, not the inheritance that will belong to the saints. Reasons:

1) Note the same two-sided emphasis in verse 14 — the Holy Spirit secures the saints’ future both for the saints and for God

2) The phrase “in the saints” only makes sense in this view

3) There are prallel verses like Titus 2:14.

We are valuable to God. This should improve our sense of worth.

C. His Guarantee for Success = “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe … “

CONCLUSION: (from Walt Russell)

We do not know what was the short-term response of the church in Ephesus to Paul’s heart-felt prayer for them. We do have an insight into their response some 35 years later when the Apostle John recounted Jesus Christ’s assessment of the church in Rev 2:1-7. The particularly tragic part of that assessment is in verse 4: “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” The eyes of their hearts had grown dull over the years. Instead of loving their wonderful God more and more each year, they lost even the early flush of love that they had felt toward Him. They lost the focus of the eyes of their heart.

There is no priority in life that is greater than the priority of coming to know God better. How does that fit in your priority scale?

1) Pray for the Holy Spirit to enable you to get to know God more fully each day.

2) Invest significant time this week getting to know God better.