17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened;
Why do we pray for someone? What determines the content of our prayers? I’m sure you would agree with me that we are normally motivated by need. Someone is sick and we pray for healing. Another person is unemployed and we pray for a new job. When faced with an important decision we ask the Lord for wisdom. In these verses we will see why Paul prays for the believers in Ephesus. What is so important that would cause him to repeatedly turn to God in prayer?
Paul asks the Father to give the Ephesians “the spirit of wisdom and revelation.” While the Greek word for “spirit” is often used in reference to the Holy Spirit, such an interpretation here doesn’t really make sense. After all, we just need to go back a few verses to read that the Holy Spirit was given to the Ephesian believers. Why pray for something they already have? Another meaning of this word, and which is more logical in this context, is “the mindset or influence which fills and governs the soul of a person.” In other words, Paul is praying for the Ephesians to be so filled with wisdom and revelation that their thoughts and actions are governed by them. The source of this wisdom and revelation is, of course, God Himself, which is why Paul is praying about this. Neither the Ephesians, nor we, can find them in ourselves.
What is the purpose? What does this wisdom and revelation lead to? Paul goes on to say that the end result will be the ability to know God better. The Greek word for “knowledge” refers to knowing in a way that is “true, accurate, thorough and complete.” Having a correct view of God is key to any spiritual understanding or growth. This is why Satan fights so hard so that mankind has a distorted or wrong view of its Creator.
The result of this accurate knowledge of God is enlightenment, which helps us in three important ways. But I’m getting ahead of myself! (We’ll learn about those three areas in my next post).
When Paul talks about the “eyes of your understanding” he’s referring to their capacity of knowing something. You could call it their mental vision. The word “enlighten” means “to make someone see or understand.” The grammatical use of this verb indicates that this enlightening has already happened. So basically Paul is saying that when the Ephesians have a correct knowledge of God they are then able to see and understand truth more clearly. Just like when a nearsighted person can see everything in detail when he puts on the right pair of glasses, so we can see reality more accurately when we know God better.
To summarize, Paul is praying for the Ephesians to be so full of the wisdom and revelation that come from God that they know Him better, resulting in the ability to see and understand spiritual reality accurately.
None of this comes naturally, which is why Paul is praying so hard for the Ephesians about this. He knows they desperately need the wisdom, revelation, and enlightenment that only God can give. And so do you and I! Satan and his demons are masters at lies and deceit, which are effective not only with unbelievers, but with God’s own children as well. We should never overestimate our ability to see and understand spiritual truth. We should never be satisfied with our knowledge of God. Otherwise, we will be easy prey for the devil’s lies!