Never really thought of it this way before this morning but, in a sense, if you want to keep your head from exploding, speed reading Ephesians 1 may be the better way to go. There is so much packed into this first portion of Paul’s letter that to slow down and really process it all feels like more than the mind can take in. Maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, if my finite, mortal mind were capable of containing an understanding of “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places” (1:3), then maybe those blessings would have to be pretty few in number or pretty “unspiritual” in nature.
Or, if in the section I’m reading this morning, Ephesians 1:15-23, I really could grasp the hope, the riches, and the power toward us who believe, then I probably wouldn’t need what Paul prayed for — that God would give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, enlightening the eyes of my heart to see what can’t be seen and to know what is beyond knowledge.
To see what can’t be seen? To know what is beyond knowledge? Did I just say that? Ouch! My head hurts.
So, maybe not surprising that my wheels are spinning this morning as I chew on “the riches of His glorious inheritance.”
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 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, 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 . . .
(Ephesians 1:16-19a ESV)
The hope, the riches, the power. That’s what Paul wanted the Ephesians to know. Not just know about, but to know experientially. To know the hope, to know the riches, and to know the power because, through the Spirit, they would encounter, and interact with, the hope, the riches, and the power.
So what does it mean to know “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints”? What doesn’t help is that some translations render it “the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints” (CSB). What is His glorious inheritance?
Is it future? Is it the “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1Pet. 1:4)? Our future reward (Col. 3:24) when we come into the kingdom? That future, glorious inheritance what will be ours among the saints. So that to know it, is to live in light of it? Believing that we really are joint-heirs with Christ — so that, when He comes into His kingdom, we’ll come into ours as well — and thus, less worried about accumulating stuff here on earth but driven by storing up treasure in heaven? Is that the inheritance, heaven?
Or, is it present? Is the inheritance, the saints themselves? His glorious inheritance, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession . . . God’s people” (1Pet. 2:9-10)? Jesus having given Himself for us so that He might “redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession” (Tit. 2:14)? So that, to know the riches is to love the saints? That to experience the abundance is to experience community with other trophies of God’s grace? To experience this bountiful blessing is to recognize the power of the cross, and the glorious grace of God, in the face of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Is that the inheritance in the saints, the saints themselves?
Yes! To both!
And that’s the head-exploding wonder of the gospel. Both are true! The riches of His glorious inheritance, the body of Christ, can be known, through the Spirit, in the saints. And, the riches of His glorious inheritance, the kingdom of Christ, will be known, through the Spirit, among the saints.
Yes AND Amen! Both are true.
But I can barely contain it. Really can’t fully fathom it.
My head hurts. Oh, but my heart is full.
Thank God for His unfathomable grace. To Him be inexpressible glory!