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Of all Paul's "prison prayers," this is certainly one of the most encouraging!

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 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: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places ...."

Ephesians 1:15-20


 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15












No doubt about it! Paul was one of the Bible's greatest men of prayer. And, surprisingly, he seems to rise to his highest levels of prayer when he is in prison!

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon are known as Paul's "Prison Epistles." In each of these he has included some magnificent prayers!

For example, in Ephesians 3 he prays that the Believers there may be "rooted and grounded in love!" And that they may "know the love of Christ!" But then he concludes with this request: "That they might be filled with all the fulness of God!" Astounding!

And Paul asks God to grant the Philippians "the fruits of righteousness!" And that they might learn to "approve things that are excellent!"

And for the Colossians Paul asks that they "might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing."  Pleasing God in everything! He longs for them to be "fruitful in every good work!" Now, that's maturity!

And for Philemon Paul prays "that the communication of his faith may become effectual." That means "powerful!" Furthermore, it is petitioned that Philemon learn "every good thing which is in him in Christ Jesus!"

What glorious praying this is!

Having reviewed these examples, I now want to center on a single prayer Text, Ephesians 1:15-20.

Here Paul's prayer directly refers to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He begins with an introductory sentence which we will study today.

Listen to Paul now.

"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints ...." Ephesians 1:15

The two qualities just mentioned here, faith and love, are members of the manifold "fruit of the Spirit" group enumerated in Galatians 5:22-23.

But notice their associations here.

It is "faith" toward Jesus!

And it is "love" toward the saints!

Realize that it is NOT "faith" toward the saints!

Paul is very reticent placing too much confidence in human flesh, even saved human flesh!

He knows the capacity of the human heart!

He even says of himself: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Romans 7:18

At times, even with Paul, it was this bad: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."

He ends his Romans 7 sermon by gasping, "Oh wretched man that I am!"

One day this quick snippet of information was given about Jesus: "For he knew what was in man." John 2:25

We do not put faith in mankind. Humanity will fail us every time!

Put your faith in Jesus!

He never fails!

He is always the Same!

And then, conversely, be careful about how you "brag" about your love for Jesus! Peter learned that lesson the hard way!

One day the Apostle expressed his love to this Lord this way: "And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death."

But Jesus immediately responded: "And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." Luke 22:33-34

Tell other Believers you love them and are praying for them.

And of course worship and adore and love Jesus ... but don't brag about that love! 

Lean of Him to keep it strong!

Paul certainly has the right emphasis here: "faith in the Lord" and "love unto all the saints!"

May we stay balanced as Christians!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- Paul talks a lot more about how much Jesus loves us ... than about how much we love Him!  Think about it.




Paul often said it.

That is, when he was writing to his beloved friends in the churches he had founded.

At least he did so in Romans and Ephesians and First Thessalonians and Philemon.

Said what, Preacher Bagwell?

The great Apostle told these dear Believers that he gave thanks for them every time he remembered them!  And also every time he prayed for them!

Read with me Ephesians 1:16. "Wherefore I also ... cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."

Think of that!

Every time Paul prayed, he remembered the Ephesians!

And every time he remembered them, he also gave thanks unto God for them!

What spiritual instruction this single verse brings!

Paul likely prayed a lot!

He's the one who commanded us to "pray without ceasing." 1st Thessalonians 5:17

And when he did pray ... he always "mentioned" the many converts to Christ, those whom he knew personally.  Probably he had a part in bringing them to Jesus too.

The verb "mention" means "to remember."

Paul had his brothers and sisters in Christ in his mind all the time.

This reminds me of the Jewish High Priest, who carried on his breast ... over his heart, the twelve precious stones that represented all the children of Israel! That is called the Breastplate and is a definite symbol of God's people being on God's heart!

But then the prayers Paul prayed for his brethren triggered another response in his soul. That is ... one of thanksgiving!

The Greek noun for "thanks" is spelled "charis" or "eucharis" and is their word for grace!

Paul bubbles over with grace and joy and love and peace when he prays for these followers of Jesus!

Now that sets an example for us!

When I think of that Brother at Church (or that Sister for you ladies) ... do I remember something he said about me, something critical? Or do I overlook such petty things and rejoice in my heart that my brother is saved and on his way to Heaven?

In fact, when I think of Sister Whomever ... do I immediately pray for her and her family and her growth in the Lord?

Paul would have!

Incorporating this Pauline habit into our lives might transform the way we view our whole Church family!

When I remember them, when I just think of them, I should ...

            1. Pray for them.

            2. Then thank God for them too!

What a difference such behavior would make in all our lives!

Try it!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul's prayers were always so ... spiritually mature.

He was just not bothered by a lot of material things, dismissing such concerns with one quick verse. He said: "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11

As an example of real prayer, near to the heart of God, read Paul's petition in Ephesians 1:17. "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."

The verb "may give" is in the subjunctive mood, so typical of New Testament prayer. Here Paul is expressing a desire, a longing, a yearning or craving!

Do notice that he calls on "the Father of Glory!" He is also the God of our Lord Jesus. This is praying to God the Father through God the the Son referencing God the Holy Spirit!

The Apostle here asks for the Ephesians directly, and all believers indirectly, "the spirit!" I believe this is a direct indication that the Holy Spirit is in view. In our King James Bible the word "spirit" is not always capitalized, even when referring to the Holy Spirit.  Punctuation rules in 1611 did not require such. As an example, see Psalm 51:11 where David prayed to God: "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me."

Paul is praying for the Ephesians to be "gifted" with the Holy Spirit!

Filled with the Spirit!

Controlled by the Spirit!

Led by the Spirit!

But, especially, directed by the Spirit in three of His distinct ministries.

The "wisdom" of the Spirit is sought!

"Sophia" means skill or intelligence or aptitude at godly living! It is built upon a root word that means "clear" or clean or holy or pure!  There will be no real wisdom from God ... without clean living!

Paul wants his people to have the Wisdom of the Spirit in their lives!

Then, "revelation," which translates "apokalupsis," an unveiling! The Holy Spirit is our God-given Teacher, "guiding us into all truth." John 16:13

Think of this!

Paul is asking God that we be showered with the Holy Spirit's wisdom and revelation in the "knowledge" of Jesus!

"Epignosis" here means full knowledge! Experiential knowledge! Personal knowledge! Such as Paul had!

This only comes through the Holy Spirit as He walks with us and communes with us and points us to Jesus and lives within us day by day!

What a prayer!

It probably should put most of us to shame!

But, wait a minute!

This prayer, the Bible prayer, this Pauline prayer can be mine too!

It's in the Bible God gave me!

I can pray it for those I love!

Why not?

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul's prayer continues.

He asks for the Ephesians that ... "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."  Ephesians 1:18

"Understanding" is "dianoia" in Greek. It incorporates their word for one's "mind."  It indicates how one "thinks through" a situation.  His or her reasonings or cogitations or meditations are involved. It is translated "imaginations" in Luke 1:51. And Paul, using this same word for understanding, says of unsaved Gentiles ... "having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." See. If one is saved, his understanding is enlightened!  If unsaved, it's darkened! In 2nd Peter 3:1 "pure minds" are mentioned.

Paul personifies our understanding, letting it have "eyes." This Greek word gives us the English term "ophthalmologist."

"Enlightened," a perfect passive participle here, means "to illuminate" or "shine upon" something. It describes an act that has been performed and completed, but with lasting results!

This is a "seeing" that is linked to "knowing" however. This verb "to know" hints at given knowledge, not earned knowledge.  Illumination from God by His Grace is indicated here. 

The "hope of His calling" is quite a unique term! It is mentioned elsewhere only in Ephesians 4:4. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."

Hope ("elpis") means expectation. It's a first cousin to faith! Once in the King James Bible "elpis" is translated faith.

"Calling" in Paul's vocabulary almost always speaks of God's "call" to us ... to be saved. It also can mean the "call" to preach the Word of God.

I believe that the "hope of one's calling" involves such things as a heavenly home in the future, fellowship with Jesus in the present, and no guilt over the past!  Also such hope would surely include answers to prayer, victory over the devil and harmony within our relationships!

What potential the Christian life brings!

Next Paul wants us to see and know the riches ("ploutos," our word pluto) Jesus has "in the saints," in you and me!

What a thought this is!

Usually one ponders our "riches" in Christ Jesus! That's a common New Testament theme developed in places like Ephesians 2:7 and 3:8 and especially 4:19. But Colossians 1:27 and 2:2 refer to them also!

But here ... it is Christ's riches, His "inheritance" in us that is being emphasized!

"Inheritance" means "property received" or a "personal possession," usually based upon a person's identity!

Because Jesus obeyed His Father and died on the Cross, He was given an "inheritance!" God "rewarded" Jesus with a Bride!  With "seed" for His Bloodshed! With, to use Paul's wording here, with an inheritance!

Fellow saint, we are precious in His eyes!

How humbling this though should be to the likes of us!

As far as I can tell, this is the only time in the New Testament such a word picture is used. Although I think Isaiah 53 has a "hint" of such a relationship! "He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." All these verses are from Isaiah 53. Jesus has a "portion," a part of the "spoils" of Calvary. That would be us sinners saved by God's Grace!


                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul longed for the new Christians under his ministry to grow, to grow in the Lord!

He regularly prayed that they might learn to understand the riches of God's amazing grace!

Once particularly, in Ephesians 1:19, Paul prayed that the saints there might know more of God's POWER!

Here is how the Holy Spirit led Paul to phrase his request.

He asked the Lord to allow the Believers to know ... "what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power."

The Apostle literally longs for Christians everywhere to know God's power!

But look at the degree of God's power that's available!

It is "exceeding" power!

This verbal adjective is spelled "huperballo" and is the equivalent of our English word hyperbole! Literally it means "to throw" ("ballo") far away or "beyond" ("hyper") the expected limit!  It is "out of bounds" power!  It is superabundant power! It is overflowing power!

Also notice that it is "great" power! This word, "greatness," is "megathos" and is used in this form only once in the whole New Testament.

It surely sounds like God has made available to us constantly growing supplies of power!

Paul wants us to know this!

Power, the noun, is "dunamis" and means inherent power or inbred power, placed in us at the moment of our new birth! 

This "dynamite" power is given "to us-ward" ... in Greek "eis hemas" ... into us! Also it can mean among us or upon us!

God's power ... in every believer!

The verb "believe" is a present participle, suggesting that our trusting Christ is an on-going habitual matter! 

And all this is based upon ("according to" ... "kata" in Greek) the working ("energeia") of God's mighty ("ischus") power ("kratos")!

The power the Lord invests in you and me is in direct proportion to the mighty power God Himself possesses!

Look at the diverse "power" words Paul has utilized here!

1. Dunamis, which is inherent power, power "within" us!  God put it there when He saved us or filled us with His Holy Spirit!

2. Erergeia, which is power in exercise, in operation, in motion!

3. Ischus, which is strength, particularly physical strength or just brute strength!  Muscular strength!

4. And then kratos, which is manifested power! Demonstrated power!

What a list!

Every major New Testament "strength" or "might" word is here called into service to encourage our hearts!

All four terms describe the power God has placed within each of His precious children!

May we realize this today!

May we truly know such power!

And may we use it to the glory of God!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




This is to me perhaps the single most powerful verse in all the New Testament concerning the godly Christian life!

Paul has been praying … for the Ephesians.

Not for money or clothing or some other physical need, but for their spiritual growth!

That’s just the way he prays!

He has just asked the Lord to let the Ephesians know something of the power that is available to them … power to live for God day by day!

19 is an introductory verse to this little package of spiritual “dynamite!” Paul writes “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power …”

The power available to a saint of God is indescribable!

It is the very same Power … “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places!”

That’s verse twenty!

The verb “wrought” is spelled “energeo.” It is our word “energized!” God the Father “energized” Jesus back to life!  He raised Him from the dead!

Now, whatever massive amount of Power that took … that very same amount is accessible “to” us!  “Eis” or “into” us according to the Greek preposition the Holy Spirit chose here!

Within you, dear believing friend, is the Holy Spirit of God!

He IS the Power that raised Jesus from the grave!

He IS the Power Who drew you to Jesus!

He IS the Power Who gave you saving faith and a longing to be born again!

He IS the Power Who placed you, upon your exercising that saving faith, into the Body of Christ!

He IS the Person of God who indwells you every second of your life on earth!

He IS the One Who gives you victory over sin!

And He IS also able to do anything needed to get you to Heaven!


How can we fail?

Rather, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Or, truly with Paul we can say to God’s Glory: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Or, because of This available Power, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- Think of the Power of God necessary to touch Jesus and warm His dead Body back to life!

To invade that guarded tomb!

To lift Jesus through those moist yet hardened grave Clothes!

To let Him see how to fold His head napkin in such darkness!

To bring Him right through a rock sepulcher!

The Power to allow Him to appear to people repeatedly for nearly six weeks, forty days!

Then the Power to bring Him ascended to Glory, placing Him at the Father's Right Hand!

Yes, the very Power by Which Jesus lived!

That Power ... now lives in us!

I could not ... I would not say it!

Except that's precisely the message of Ephesians 1:20-21!


If you doubt my words, read the Text again!

Father, let the saints know ... "what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places ...."

That glorious Text says it all!





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