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 him,
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,
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
–Ephesians 1:17–19 ESV
For what does Paul pray to the “Father of glory”? He prays that he will give us …
- “a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (v 17)
- “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened” (v 18)
So Paul is praying for believers at Ephesus—he is praying for Christians gathered in a local community—to have profound new understanding and experience together. The assumption here is that there is a vast gulf between a) what God has given to his children in terms of spiritual blessings, and b) what his children actually understand and experience of those spiritual blessings. Paul is serving as a mediator on behalf of the church at Ephesus—doing so through prayer—that this wide gulf would vanish.
The evidences of this “vanished gulf” are that believers would know, experientially:
- “the hope to which he as called you” (v 18)
- “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (v 18)
- “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (v 19)
Now from the perspective of honor and shame, there does not seem to be much in the opening phrase, “the hope to which he has called you.” However, there is a very significant honor and shame element when one digs a little deeper. This correlating verse, Colossians 1:27, adds much clarity: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Ah, yes, there is the key: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This greatest of all hopes is the avoidance of shame, and the reaching of a destiny “of glory.” And how does one arrive at this “glory”? The secret is simply “Christ in you.”
One could say that for peoples rooted in an honor and shame social system, the gospel is most powerfully and simply, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The reason that “Christ in you” is such a great hope for “glory” is explained in Ephesians 1:20–22, in which the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is explained in the language of honor and shame. This will be unpacked in the next entry.
But before we go further, let’s also consider the other two phrases mentioned above from Ephesians 1:18–19 in the light of the cultural values of honor and shame.
First, from verse 18: “what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Compare this to Ephesians 1:11 in which we are told, “In him we have an inheritance…”, and verses 13–14, in which “we were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance;” here, the inheritance belongs to believers. But here in verse 18, the inheritance belongs to God. Paul prays that believers will know “what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
Could it be that there is a facet of the glory and honor of God Almighty by which He derives pleasure and worth from his inheritance—His relational bounty—in the saints?