The eye of the heart – Saturday, 28th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 1:15-23
Paul began Chapter one by speaking to the Jews who had embraced Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Then in verse 13 he made it known that the Gentiles too were adopted and inheritors of the promise of salvation; stamped and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Verse 15-23 is the prayer of Paul for the community of Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus. It is a payer of thanksgiving for their faith and for the outpouring of spiritual gifts for these believers. It is a prayer that hopes for a purpose driven life and an understanding of the privilege that they share. But it is not just a prayer as much as it is also a catechesis (verse 20-23) on the working of God in Christ and the power given to Jesus. Let us now look at this text in detail and the prayer that Paul makes.
Paul has “heard” of their faith. This is a faith that he sowed when he visited Ephesus on his first missionary journey and then again when he stayed with them for three years (Acts 20:31) during his third missionary journey. Obviously, their teething problems now resolved (remember this book was written between 80-100 AD), news of their faith and unity has come to him. This faith is a belief in response to the message of Christ. And it is for “this reason” he gives thanks to God.
But Paul has not only heard of their faith (Greek: pistis) but also of their love (agape) for the saints. This love is more than just a feeling it is a love that pushes the whole of ones being to give freely of oneself. When we have faith and love it is always sign of our participation in God’s plan.
This love is given to the “saints” or “holy ones.” While Christians today usually think of saints as especially holy people (canonised by the church), Jesus calls all who follow him to be holy. The New Testament uses the words ho hagio is to refer to Jesus’ disciples, not just to a few exceptional disciples, but to all disciples. The saints are those who by virtue are associated with God, now are set apart to be different from the world; in this case it refers to the members of the Church in Ephesus. Faith and love must go together and Paul acknowledges that the Ephesians possess both a vertical and a horizontal dimension.