Ephesians 1:17. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…
We’ve moved from Paul listing our spiritual blessings (1:3-14) to Paul praying for the church in regards to these spiritual blessings (1:15-23). First he gives thanks for the believers (v16) and then he worships God (v17) and now we hear exactly what his prayer to God is for us – that you may know. He prays for the knowledge of God.
What Paul doesn’t pray for.
He doesn’t pray for blessings. Especially physical or earthly blessings. But he doesn’t even ask for spiritual blessings. Why not? BECAUSE WE ALREADY HAVE EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN CHRIST. There is no “second blessing.” There is nothing more spiritually to receive from God than what you already have. There is no more Jesus to gain. No more Holy Spirit to plead for. You have God. What more could we possibly ask for?
And yet this is how many of us pray every day. We ask God for the things that he has already blessed us with. Forgiveness. Holiness. Love. Purpose. Or our prayers are simply for the physical needs.
btw – Paul never prays a prayer for the physical needs of a Church. He does tell them that God will supply their needs. But he doesn’t teach us to pray for sickness cures, and jobs, and safety while traveling, or a hedge of protection.
What Paul does pray for.
OK so what is Paul asking for? The answer is (as we have already said) knowledge.
This may be in response to the Greek view of knowledge as the nearly unobtainable privilege of only the spiritually elite. In Greco-Roman philosophy only the very few would gain knowledge, the knowledge needed to propel them into the next life and union with the logos. But in Paul’s and the Apostle’s view Jesus IS the Logos. The knowledge. The wisdom. And he’s available to everyone. So to “gain knowledge” is simply to grow in your relationship with Christ.
The Titans get to know each other.
How do we know God?
Paul is talking about so much more than just knowing about God. Listing his attributes or spouting off theological arguments. He’s talking about a deeply personal and intimate relationship with God. Walking with God. Talking with God. Experiencing God.
But how do we do this?
Through our union with Christ. We know and experience God through trust in our blessings in Christ. We know God (1:17) by appropriating our spiritual blessings in the heavenly places (1:3-14).
If you are trying to know God in any other way than through the person of Jesus and your union with him, then you are on the wrong track. Jesus is the revelation of the Father, and our union with Jesus is our personal revelation of the Father. How do I know God’s love? The cross of Jesus. How do I know God’s power? The resurrection of Jesus. How do I know God? My union with Jesus.
Why do we need to know God?
This is the purpose of life – to know God. To have an intimate personal relationship with him. We can only do that through our union with Christ (who is God) by the Holy Spirit (who is also God) so that we can experience the love of the Father (also God). The beginning, middle and end of the Christian life is knowing God. That’s why this is the prayer Paul repeats over and over:
Colossians 1:9. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Philippians 1:9. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
Philemon 6. and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
Why know God? Because it is our experience of God through Christ that produces both our happiness and our holiness. It is what brings God glory. To know God is to take more and more pleasure in him. Him. Not his stuff. Not his earthly blessings. But his spiritual blessings which reveal the real him. The more we trust our spiritual blessings in Christ the more we are satisfied with God alone. More and more the need for earthly blessings fades away (much like it did in Paul’s life). And the more we trust in our spiritual blessings in Christ the more we will find ourselves growing in the holiness of Christ-likeness.
“To live is Christ” is to know God. To have a deeply intimate relationship with him beyond mere facts and figures. It is to experience him through the spiritual blessings that are found in Christ alone. And in our blessed God find all of our satisfaction, happiness, and holiness forever.