14 Aug 2020
“..that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God,…” (Ephesians 1:17)
What Paul was requesting for the Ephesian believers was for a fuller knowledge and closer communion with God. In making known to them what he sought from God on their behalf, Paul was indirectly indicating to them that this ought to be their own supplication as well. If the Ephesian believers needed to ask these blessings, most certainly God’s people today need to do so.
In asking this for the believers, Paul was not implying that they were totally devoid of any knowledge of God but he desired for them an increase of it. He was praying for a fuller, deeper, closer acquaintance and fellowship with Him. (cf Colossians 1:10). In that light, Paul requested God to grant them the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” to attain this. He was effectively asking for the enlargement of the gift of wisdom to be bestowed upon the believers, a fuller capacity to take in the things of God, that He would further manifest Himself to them (John 14:21), that they might perceive more clearly His wondrous glory.
By “the knowledge of God”, we need to know what it means. When the unclean spirit said to Christ, “I know who you are” (Mark 1:24), his knowledge was both real and accurate, but it profited him nothing spiritually. On the other hand “they that know your name and put their trust in you” (Psalm 9:10) speaks of a knowledge which inspires such confidence that its possessor cannot help but believe. It is not a mere notional knowledge of Him but a visual and vital one that is needed. The former kind is one in which ideas or mental images are presented to the understanding to work upon, but the latter brings the reality of them down into the heart. By such a knowledge we behold the glory of the Lord and are “changed into the same image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
As there are degrees of trusting God, there are also degrees in our knowledge of Him, and the the measure in which we know Him will determine the extent to which we trust, love, and obey Him. Conversely, the defectiveness of our faith, love and obedience is to be traced to the inadequacy of our knowledge of God. If we were more intimately acquainted with Him, we would love Him more fervently, trust Him more implicitly, and obey Him more freely.
There is also a knowledge by way of special gifts which is quite different from the spiritual knowledge we are focusing on. One may have much of the former and very little of the latter, as with the Corinthian believers. Yet of these same highly gifted and talented Christians in Corinth, Paul said, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1). They were largely deficient in spiritual knowledge; but there are other believers with a much deeper and closer acquaintance of God, who are incapable of expressing themselves so freely and fluently as the Corinthians. A heart knowledge, not a head knowledge, of God makes a person more holy.
Paul’s petition was that the believers might be granted through the operations of the Holy Spirit a fuller entry into that knowledge of God in which eternal life primarily consists. It was a request that they might perceive more clearly the glory of God, to give them an inward realisation of His marvellous perfections, to make their hearts so in love with these perfections that their wills would choose them for their chief delight. God first prepares the mind by an act of renewal to receive spiritual instructions, giving His people an understanding that they might know Him (1 John 5:20), and then He imparts to them a larger measure of “the spirit of wisdom and revelation.” It is only in His light that we can see light. It is only as He shines upon our understandings and reveals Himself to our hearts that we can become better acquainted with Him. It is by means of the Word that the Holy Spirit carries on the work of God in the soul; therefore whenever we read or meditate upon it, we need to entreat Him to take of the things of God and of Christ and show them to us, apply them to our hearts, that we may be more and more changed into their very image. But it is one thing to be convinced of that need and another to put it into practice. Pride, or self-sufficiency, is the chief deterrent. The things of God are only revealed to those who preserve this humble characteristic of the “little children” (Matthew 11:25).
Paul was not praying for a perfect knowledge of God for the believers; he was requesting for a firsthand, well-rounded, intimate and thorough knowledge of His Person, His character, HIs perfections, especially as He is revealed in and by Christ. This is the ultimate intent of God in HIs grace and favour to us: that we may so know Him as to acquaint ourselves with Him, delight ourselves in Him, be free with Him, enjoy mutual converse with Him. Thus He knows us and we know Him; He owns us and we own up ourselves to Him as our absolute Lord, delight ourselves in Him as our everlasting Portion.This acknowledgement will be evidenced in our daily walk by submitting to His authority, seeking to please Him in all things, and thus becoming more and more lively toward Him. Then obedience will be spontaneous and joyful. The more we increase in this knowledge of God the easier shall we find it to acknowledge Him in all our ways (Proverbs 3:6).
We see the important prayer request of Paul for the Ephesian believers; it is a request we need so much to ask God for; the granting of this petition would surely help us in our quest to know HIm and to be fully known by Him, for is it not this that eternal life is all about!