16 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” (Ephesians 1:16–17 (ESV)
From today’s text, the Apostle Paul engaged in prayer for the Ephesian believers. What God prompted the apostle to pray on behalf of them, also applies to believers today. What was the content of Paul’s prayer and how does it apply to believers today? For the next several days, we are going to examine the content of this prayer.
The purpose of Paul’s prayer is indicated by the conjunction that which introduces what is called a purpose clause. The purpose of this prayer involves each member of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Paul prayed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give each believer the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Take notice that the definite article the is used immediately before the proper noun Spirit. Also notice that the noun Spirit is capitalized indicating the translators identification that this is a reference to the Holy Spirit.
Paul prays that God the Father would give, or provide, each believer in Christ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Wisdom (σοφία; Sophia) refers to the practical application of God’s Word by the believer into their life and living. Revelation (ἀποκάλυψις; apokalypsis) means to disclose or reveal for the purpose of greater understanding or illumination.
Paul was not praying that the believers in Ephesus, and by implication believers today, needed to still be indwelt, sealed, baptized, gifted or even filled by the Holy Spirit. With the exception of being repeatedly filled (Ephesians 5:18), all of these benefits of and by the Spirit occur in the believer’s life at the point of conversion.
Rather, Paul was praying for the Spirit’s illumination in the individual Christian. Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit to help believers in Christ to not only hear and receive God’s Word, but also to properly understand the intended message and meaning of God’s Word. The goal of this understanding is obedient application of the God’s truth in the believer’s life.
I Corinthians 2:9-11 says, “9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “Illumination is not to be confused with revelation. It is commonplace today to hear people speak about private revelations they claim to have received from the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit in illumination is not the supplying of new information or fresh revelation beyond those found in sacred Scripture.”
Spirit wrought illumination is intended to convict and convince believers of the truth of God’s Word, and then to apply that truth into their lives. In other words, the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God, and with the Word of God, but never against the Word of God. Remember, the Word of God is the Holy Spirit’s book (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give each of us today the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!