Updated: Feb 3
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 29, the last Sunday of Pentecost, Christ the King Sunday. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, November 26, 2017. This is important because Paul addressed the power of Christ in the world, whose power is spread through Apostles like Paul and those to whom he wrote in Ephesus.
I apologize for turning selections from Paul’s letters into dissertations of what was written and what the Greek says the meaning is, simply because Paul wrote in a manner that was directed by the Holy Spirit, which intended for his words to be most difficult to grasp. I have explained that I have been led to understand the writings of Nostradamus (relative to his work Les Propheties), which involves close attention to punctuation marks and other ‘guideposts’ of language. However, in the above translation, a long-winded Paul wrote nine verses, with four period marks – seemingly somewhat understandable, if the reader in church takes a breath at those four places of ‘full-stop’ rest.
I have posted the literal translation below, with each break point as indicated by the Greek text found here; and you will find that 180 words of English translation are written (some Greek words indicated multiple English words), all with only one period mark … the one at the end. There is one semi-colon (for emergency air intake), which appears after the 144 words have been stated. However, if this selection of Paul is read line by line, in the way I have shown it, it makes 34 statements, such that the commas act as period marks, with the period mark showing where this selection altogether ends.
Because the translation above (New American Standard Bible version) is taking the standard liberties of normal syntax adjustments between Greek and English, they see the long run-on and attempt to make one tremendously long address be more like a very educated fellow, who would need to puff on his pipe four times, just to keep it lit. When this translation reaches a volunteer reader, who may be scared to death in front of an audience, or even a seasoned reader of Scripture, the speed of the reading means the listeners have only seconds to grasp words that hold deep thoughts – from God. Needless to say, Paul flies quickly over the heads of most readers and listeners, so Paul is known to cause heads to ache thinking about what he meant.
To read Paul in the manner that I have made possible below, the purpose is to slow down and listen to what your heart and mind tell you. In the small and manageable segment bits, one is able to see how this becomes Paul speaking conversationally, in the language of God. One has to be involved in the parts prior to this selection, as one set of words is connected to the next. Still, it makes one think and research. This difficulty is so only those who love God can understand – as were the Ephesians, who (like Paul) were given an ability to “speak in foreign tongues.”
The literal translation below should be read and its intent and meaning grasped, one line segment at a time. Nothing is superfluous or unnecessary.
15. Because of this , I also , having heard of the among you faith in the Lord Jesus , and the love the toward all the saints , 16. not do cease giving thanks for you , mention making in the prayers of me , 17. that the God of the Lord of us , Jesus Christ , the Father the of glory , might give to you spirit of wisdom and revelation , in knowledge of him , 18. being enlightened the eyes of the heart of you , in order the to know you , what is the hope of the calling of him , in the saints , 19. and what the surpassing greatness of the power of him , toward us , those believing according to the working of the might of the strength of him , 20. which he worked in the Christ , having raised him out from dead , and having set at right hand of him , in the heavenly realms , 21. above every principality , and authority , and power , and dominion , and every name being named , not only in the age this , but also in the coming ; 22. and all things he put under the feet of him , and him gave head over all things to the church , 23. which is the body of him , the fullness of the the all things , in all filing .
Now, in this literal translation there are multiple points where an awkward “the” shows. Frequently, the Greek-English text will show no translation for these words, although each one is a version of “the” (such as indicating masculine singular or masculine plural, or other versions of “the”). Sometimes, words will be added or added with brackets, often showing “the [One].” This is an indication that an awkward “the” should be read as “the One,” meaning God.
With this presentation done, I will leave the bulk for the reader to ponder. However, I will address a few elements that spoke to me.
First of all is Paul’s use of the word “pistis,” which is properly translated above as “faith.” The context of that use is Paul’s opening statement (for this selection), “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus.” The literal statement is, “having heard of the among you faith in the Lord Jesus,” where the awkward “the” is “tēn,” which is the singular feminine accusative form of “ho.” Because “pistis” is a feminine noun, a feminine article is attached, meaning this can state, “having heard of among you the faith in the Lord Jesus.”
I point this out because the concept many Christians have of “faith” is it means “belief.” As such, “faith in the Lord Jesus,” when said all at once, real fast, in one breath, means to most people: I have heard the story of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension AND I believe that story, as Jesus being the Lord that sits at God’s right hand.” However, the word “faith,” as “pistis,” means more than that.
The word “pistis” brings a translation of “faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness,” while being rooted in “peithô,” which means “persuade” or “be persuaded.” According to HELPS Word Studies, Strong’s word number 4102 (“pistis”) infers a meaning that “is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pistis (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will.”
One should read “yielded believer” as one who has sacrificed self will, in order to serve the LORD. The word means one listens to, obeys, yields to and complies with God’s will, more than being talked into belief by the Lord. Therefore, “faith” is “belief” based on personal experience and not simply word of mouth instructions that sound good.
Second, I would like to address Paul’s use of “hagious” and “hagiois,” both of which are properly translated as “saints.” This represents a repeated usage, which makes Paul’s usage be worthy of further inspection.
In the NASB translation above, we find it within the context of “your love toward all the saints” and “inheritance among the saints.” The literal translations I presented show this as “the love the toward all the saints” and “in the saints,” following the segment that states, “what is the hope of the calling of him.”
In the literal translation, one finds another of the awkward “the” uses, where “the love the toward all the saints” shows the word “tēn” again. The word “agapé” (“love”) is a feminine noun, requiring a feminine “the,” but the intent is to denote “the one of love,” which is relative to “Lord Jesus,” stated in the prior segment. When Paul recognized this “love,” he stated it was sent spiritually to “all” who were saints. Thus, Paul (as a saint) was making an assurance that the Ephesians too were saints.
The preposition “eis” is translated as “toward,” but has definition that can equally be stated as “into, in, unto, to, upon, towards, for, among.” This means the direction of “the love of the Lord Jesus” is not projected outward, but “into, in, unto and among.” Therefore, it is that inner love of the “Lord” that brings “the love into” a “saint,” who becomes reborn as “Jesus.”
This view makes it important to fully grasp what a “saint” means. While looking up that word in English shows synonyms such as “a person who is deemed holy by a Christian church” or “consecrated,” that is itself a failure to grasp the full meaning.
According to HELPS Word Studies, the Greek root word (“hágios”) is properly read as meaning “different (unlike), other (“otherness”), holy; for the believer, 40 (hágios) means “likeness of nature with the Lord” because “different from the world.’” That site continues to state, “The fundamental (core) meaning of 40 (hágios) is “different” – thus a temple in the 1st century was hagios (“holy”) because different from other buildings (Wm. Barclay). In the NT, 40 /hágios (“holy”) has the “technical” meaning “different from the world” because “like the Lord.’”
Following an assumption that Paul fully understood this meaning as “different,” such that Apostles were those “set apart” from normal human beings (be they Jewish or Gentile), Paul was stating the marriage (“the love”) of God with one of deep “faith” means that God is “calling him” (or “calling Jesus”) to be “in the saints.” Therefore, a “saint” has nothing to do with some external reward or bestowing of a title from any institution of men (and/or women), as (just like “faith”) a saint is “never something that can be produced by people.” Only God determines who the saints will be.
This brings about a third element of Paul’s letter that needs clarification. In the NASB translation above, one finds the statement, “may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.” (Ephesians 1:17) This makes it appear as if Paul is making a wish (in the form of a prayer) that continued study (“come to know”) “may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” This can sound to some as if Paul was wishing the Ephesians would use the Holy Scrolls in the same way that witches use magic spell books to educate themselves, so they can call upon the spirits and produce “miracles.”
As ludicrous as this may seem, the ruling class of Jerusalem saw Jesus in this exact light; and atheists of science see all miracles as trickery, never as divine presence.
In the literal translations I have presented, this single statement of “coming to know” “God the Father” and “Jesus Christ” (so “faith” and “love of the saints” can manifest) is actually split into two segments: “might give to you spirit of wisdom and revelation,” and “in knowledge of him.” The conditional form of “may give” is harder to see, than is “might give,” where “might” becomes a clearer statement of meeting the conditions that warrant the “giving” of a “gift.”
Those conditions are then to be seen as set by “God the Father,” where one “might” get the “gifts” “of wisdom and revelation,” if one has received within “Jesus Christ.” That then allows the “Christ” Mind to be the source of “wisdom and revelation,” so that all this comes “within,” as the “knowledge of him.” It says one can ONLY “come to know Jesus Christ” by BEING the resurrection of the Son of God in earthly form.
The fourth item I will address is the use of the word “elpis,” which has correctly been translated as “hope.” The NASB translation shows this word appearing in the statement, “you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (Ephesians 1:18b) The literal translation that I have provided shows this in the segment stating, “what is the hope of the calling of him.”
An English translation of the word “hope” finds verb usage as: “To wish for a particular event that one considers possible;” and “To desire and consider possible.” As a noun it means, “The longing or desire for something accompanied by the belief in the possibility of its occurrence.” When its meaning is applied to Christian ideology, the definition becomes, “The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.” These definitions have become so ingrained into the intellect of humans that speak English fluently that one reads “hope” in a Scriptural context and immediately thinks, “That is some big wish made by Paul for the Ephesians to live up to.”
That is not what Paul meant when he wrote the word “elpis.” The word is rooted in the Greek word “elpō,” which means, “to anticipate, welcome” – properly, expectation of what is sure (certain); hope.” As such, “elpis” means “expectation, trust, and confidence,” which means that “hope” becomes the conditions by which God calls His Son to use a believer as one of His saints.
Hope is the expectation of devoted service. It is the trust that God has in His Son. It is the confidence that the presence of the Holy Spirit brings to an Apostle. Therefore, the only “hope, desire, longing and wishing” is not IN the saint, but in those who are called to Jesus by one confidently presenting hope in a world of despair.
Finally, I would like to the verse that states, “and above every name that is named” (NASB), which I show literally to say, “and every name being named.” (Ephesians 1:21e). This segment follows a trinity of traits held by Christ, as King (the theme of Christ the King Sunday): authority, power, and dominion. All fall with his realm of “principality,” where Jesus Christ rules as the Prince of Peace. Because this series of kingly attributes leads to Paul writing of the church (“ekklésia”), it is easy to bounce right over this speed bump that says, “every name being named.”
Since God rules in Heaven, Jesus Christ can only be King of the Earth. Because Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36) the Earth is the matter of which human beings are made – flesh, sinew, bones and blood, all metaphorically deemed as “clay”.
This means the verses that say, “and him gave head over all things to the church, which is the body of him” (Ephesians 1:22b and Ephesians 1:23a) are directly referring to the physical body of a saint as the church of him, where that body’s brain, in the head, becomes the throne upon which the Mind of Christ rules. Christ is King of the kingdom of saints, where each individual is a church and a collection of saints represents the Church.
When this view is grasped, then one can read “and every name being named” as “pantos onomatos” is stating “each character” or “all reputation” that is “authority, and power, and dominion” of “Christ, raised from dead” (as one born mortal to one eternal in Spirit), that only goes by one name – Jesus Christ. Therefore, the realm of Christ is that which is “onomazomenou,” or “being named” in “each character” identified as saints.
As I see that I have now surpassed the 2,800 word mark (given that about 360 are from stating the Epistle twice), I will conclude with these observations. These observations (I feel) are most important for Christians to understand. Of course, I could go word-by-word in this selection of Paul’s letter to the Christians of Ephesus, and exceed 4,000 words AND still leave many interpretations incomplete. So, I will leave the rest for the reader, as holy homework.