Revelation defined pertains to the insight of eternal realities often hidden by life circumstances, while wisdom provides practical application of the revealed knowledge (BLB, 2017). The revealed knowledge of Christ signifies a deep, full knowledge—real and special. In Paul’s era, Gnostics believed only the perfect had access to knowledge (MacDonald, p. 149). Yet, Jesus gives spiritual knowledge of biblical truths to anyone sealed with His promised Spirit, and then His wisdom guides them in applying and communicating His truths to others. Spiritual wisdom and knowledge of Christ connect to enlightenment (Eph 1:17-18). Consequently, the Apostle Paul petitioned the Ephesus church have wisdom and knowledge, as well as enlightened eyes of understanding (v.18).
The Greek text of this passage reads, “having enlightened the eyes of your heart” (MacDonald, 2007, p. 217). The ancient Mediterranean world viewed the heart and eyes as the “zone of human capacity for thought, judgement, and emotion” (Malina, 1993, pp. 63-67). In this context, the Holy Spirit illuminates the eyes of the believer’s understanding. Moreover, when spoken to others, their spiritual understanding shows a demonstration “of the Spirit and of power,” rather than persuasive words of human wisdom.
Specifically, Paul prayed that Jesus would illuminate the eyes of Ephesians’ understanding to know three spiritual truths of Him: hope, riches, and power. Together, the truths equip the Church to function in the fullness of Jesus’ glory and demonstrate it to others. First, the hope of God’s calling distinguishes the Church as His people (v. 18b). Through His calling, it becomes partakers of the covenant of promise having God’s hope in this fallen world. Second, the riches of His glory come from the status as God’s own inheritance to the saints (v. 18c). Third, the incarnate Jesus makes available the exceeding greatness of His power to accomplish His purpose (v. 19).
So, for what purpose did Paul petition the Father of Glory to grant the Ephesian saints with the spirit of wisdom and revelation knowledge of Him? His intercessory prayer’s ultimate purpose sought to avail a means for others to access inner eyes enlightened with understanding from the Spirit’s leading; in this manner, to unveil the mystery of God speaking with His wisdom to others in mission. As a result, the Church can then model the reconciliation and peace of Jesus’ coming age in this present evil time. In the same way, the Spirit made known the mystery (3:4) to Paul to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (3:6). The Church can access it with confidence to share His reconciliation and bond of peace.
Reconcile means to restore favor and right relationship with God (Rom 5:10-11); who reconciled humanity to Himself through the death of His Son (1 Tim 2:5). God loved the world so much, He manifested Himself in flesh as Jesus, the Son of God, and sacrificed His human life for the unrighteous (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9). Jesus died for the unrighteous showing the glory of God’s unconditional love for all men (Rom 5:6-11). Second Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” The Creator and Father of glory became the Redeemer (Deut 32:6; Isa 63:16; Mal 2:10; Col 1:14-22). Through new birth from justification, the Redeemer gave the Church permanent reconciliation with God. Jesus’ saving blood provides blessings from reconciliation, which locates the Church in His heavenly places.
Even though the Church sits with Christ in heavenly places, it can fall prey to the ideology of the flesh—a false, self-reliant narrative. The world tries to entrap the Church as slaves to its former self, the old man (2 Cor 5:17). In a carnal state, the Church displays a mind governed by false wisdom and knowledge of the flesh and its failings (Rom 8:14). The flesh blocks spiritual wisdom, and subsequently, the revealed knowledge of Christ as an enmity against God.
The Church must maintain the message “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor 5:19). Jesus is the one God incarnate—perfection in glory. Thus, the Church should faithfully wear the identity of His glory by the putting to death old practices from the flesh’s nature through the leading from the Spirit of God (Rom 8:13-14). Committed to His message of reconciliation having its trespasses imputed, the Church gives way to His Spirit to govern the mind with wisdom and revelation. Further, the Church imputed as a new creation expresses Jesus reconciling humanity to God as well one another as the Body—the hope of God’s glory.
In Cor 5:18-20, Paul explains that God has given the Body the ministry of reconciliation calling them Christ’s ambassadors. He gave the charge to share the message of reconciliation with others. Subsequently, the Church must live out a communal witness of reconciliation as Jesus’ ambassadors through His sanctifying power from His indwelt Spirit (Acts 1:8; Rom 8:3-4, 11; 2 Cor 5:19-20). Reconciliation leads to peace as its byproduct, giving the Church right standing in its purpose in Christ.
Through reconciliation, the Church subsequently demonstrates the fulness of Christ’s peace in the present age. In a state of peace, the Church offsets the balance of power in high places. However, the contemporary Church still faces the same lures, many of which Paul mentioned in the Book of Ephesians such as disunity (3:4-6), pagan mind (4:17-24), corrupt household code (5:3-33), and false sense of security (6:12). Today’s secular messages elevate the self to a divine status. The Church must not allow unbiblical messages to entrap it from its heavenly location in Christ’s peace.
Everything for the Body exists in Him. Keeping the liberty of the Spirit with the bond of peace enables a higher, corporate freedom found in Christ. Only His Spirit illuminates the inner self and guides the application of spiritual blessings (v.3), so the peace of God rules its hearts (Col 4:15). Christ’s spiritual peace disrupts demonic activity in high places for the glory of Him in this present evil time. Nevertheless, the Church’s self must limit freedom willingly to accept the bond of peace as a prisoner for the Lord (Eph 4:1).
The early church held the heart as central to motives and priorities influencing how “one thinks, feels, arbitrates, and evaluates” (MacDonald, p.141). Therefore, the wisdom and revealed knowledge of His peace will guide its hearts (4:3). Then, the Church will walk worthy to the hope of His calling with a heart in harmony with the Spirit’s bond of peace (4:4).
Proverbs 3:5-6 commands God’s people not to lean on their own understanding, rather trust and acknowledge him, then He’ll make their paths straight. Walking reconciliation requires trusting His Holy Spirit for direction to a straight path in mission as His ambassadors unified in peace. In Christ, the Father of Glory, the Church finds its source of perfection, His glory, for reconciliation and peace.
Paul asked for wisdom and knowledge for the hope of His calling (1:18a), riches of His glory, and surpassing greatness of His power (vv.18b-19). The triad illustrates Christ as exalted and enthroned as the “head over all things to the church” (v.22). He put all things under His feet, whether principalities, powers, might, or dominion by His divine superiority (vv. 21-22). In Christ, Jesus empowers the Church with authority in His Name over the power of the enemy for reconciliation and peace through His spiritual blessings (Luke 10:19; Eph 1:3-17).
The Church continually must keep itself in Christ to walk worthy of its call and stand against the enemy reconciled in His peace. The King James Version (KJV) of the New Testament mentions “in Christ” 75 times highlighting its importance that the Church as the Bride of Christ ready Herself for the Bridegroom excluding, any worldly influences or distractions. Preparation only comes from close intimacy with Jesus Christ through His indwelt Spirit for the impartation of His wisdom and revelation. While full reconciliation and peace comes to the Church in the future age, the Church’s walk in these attributes brings the coming Kingdom to the lost in the current age.
Jan Paron, PhD