Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:18. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.
“… having the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.”
This is a continuation of Paul’s prayer that we receive a revelation in the knowledge of God. Being such a long sentence it is very hard to keep track of all the relationships between the various parts of the prayer.
Paul prays that we may have the eyes of our hearts enlightened The gospel is a matter of the heart. Our relationship with God is a matter of the heart.
When people try to turn faith into a matter of knowledge, they turn the gospel into religion and strip it of all its power to transform the heart. When it becomes legalistic, the outward person is changed but not the inward person. When discipleship is turned into hierarchic power structures or other forms of power, the gospel is perverted.
It is the hear that must be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not measured by Bible knowledge or church attendance.
To be free form religion and to enter into a relationship with Christ, the eyes of our heart need to be enlightened. We need a revelation of God’s great love for us.
This is not something that we can work ourselves into. We cannot convince ourselves that God is love. The enlightening of the eyes of the heart comes as a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a self-revelation by the Father.
Our eyes need to be opened to see what is clearly before us. Paul tells us us in Romans 1 that the majesty of God is seen in creation. Sin has closed our eyes so we are blind to this, but the Holy Spirit can open our eyes so that we are receptive to the Father’s self-revelation.
We may know all the words of faith, we may even be able to perform miracles in the name of Jesus, but if our spiritual eyes are blind none of it makes sense to us; it is all a foreign language that we are yet to learn.
The purpose of the enlightenment of the eyes of our heart is so that we can know the hope to which God has called us.
Many people live with no hope because they do not know they are called. All they see is a meaningless life that ends with death.
But those who know Jesus have a hope. They have a hope for eternity, a life that doesn’t end. Existence finds its meaning only in the light of eternity.
Our hope is this- in the gospel we are reconciled to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ His Son. If we live with Christ we will rise with Him and live for ever with Him.
This is the hope to which we have been called.
In fact, the whole of humanity has been called to this hope. Sin separates us from God and blinds us to this calling. So many people fail to respond to God’s call, and consequently will not experience joy, either in this life or in the life to come.
How tragic it is to live a life that falls short in meaning, that is apart from the knowledge of the grace of God, and then to spend eternity separated from Him.
We are all called to this hope, but we don’t all respond to the call.
The third part of this prayer is that we might know what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.
The Passion Translation puts it this way. “The wealth of God’s glorious inheritance that He finds in us the holy ones.”
We are God’s inheritance. We are the chosen ones, the delight of the Lord.
Christians often focus on the fact that we are heirs of the kingdom. This says that it is also the other way around, that God is looking to us as His inheritance.
We are the gifts that God is seeking.
This often seems hard to understand as we can be so aware of our sin and weaknesses. All of that is covered over by the Blood of Christ. Now the Father is eagerly anticipating us as His gift to be received.
This applies to each one of us personally. I am the wealth of God’s inheritance, and so are you.
It also applies corporately. The whole church is God’s inheritance. We have a responsibility to honour the church, the collection of God’s people, as His inheritance. That is, if God sees the people who comprise the church as a valuable inheritance, then we should value it also.
Every saint is a treasure, even those we find it hard to get along with.
So we must not just honour our brothers and sisters. We must value them also.
When those saints come together in worship, what a treasure we have! Even if the musicians are not the top performers, the congregation all sing off-key and the preacher gives a mediocre message, still this is an immensely valuable treasure in the eyes of God.
Key points from this verse:
- We must have the eyes of our heart enlightened.
- Sin has closed our eyes to God’s self-revelation.
- We have a living hope that sustains us
- We are God’s inheritance
- We must value other christians who are also God’s inheritance