… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Eph 1:17
As the apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus , we find him thankful for the genuine work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of his fellow Christians there. One might think that there is nothing left to pray for people who have received every spiritual blessing. Yet despite his unceasing gratitude for them, Paul is yet not satisfied with their spiritual condition – so he asks for that which would be befitting of a mature Christian. He does not ask for them to be converted, as the fruit of faith and love has already been demonstrated in their midst. Neither is it for them to receive some second blessing that he petitions God for. Nor does he pray for them to increase more and more in their interest in God and heaven. But the main thing he prays for is that they would appreciate to the fullest possible extent the implications of the blessings which they have already received in Christ.
No matter how old one is physically, once a person is born again, they are a child spiritually. They begin a new life in which there is change into the image of Christ from glory to glory. As a result of the continuing grace of God, the new Christian grows in wisdom and understanding. This occurs through what the Scripture calls knowledge. So Paul here prays for that which is the highest and best thing he could pray for; the essence of Paul’s prayer for them is that they might know (v. 18). The knowledge which Paul prays for is not merely knowledge as the Greeks understood it – as wisdom and understanding – but according to Hebrew thinking, knowledge was experiential. There is no other knowledge that is higher than knowing God himself. And such knowledge is impossible apart from revelation. In other words, unless God reveals Himself to man, knowledge of Him cannot be attained. So Paul asks God to grant them the spirit of wisdom and revelation toward the end that they might know Him.
As faith is the first mark of Christian conversion, it can be said that knowledge is then the first mark of Christian discipleship. Though one must careful stating things in this way, as there is no division between conversion and discipleship – every Christian is of necessity a disciple. Think of it in light of natural birth and the ensuing life – in the same way a baby is born once and then lives and grows as a process, so a Christian is regenerated once (at the new birth) and then lives and grows (sanctification). Knowledge of God then is progressive and ever increasing in the disciple’s life.
Cross References: John 17:3, 2 Cor 3:18, 5:17, Eph 3:14-19, 4:11-16, Phil 1:9, 3:7-11, Col 1:9-10, 2 Pet 3:18
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