For The Church
This study was written for and published by Gracefully Truthful. For more studies like this one, visit their website!
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
My Papa was a letter-writer.
In his lifetime, he wrote thousands of letters to people around the world, including many to his own family members. Papa claimed a corner of their kitchen counter as his letter-writing and Bible-studying station. His worn Bible sat on top of the yellow, lined notebook paper Gamma bought in bulk for him, and his highlighters and favorite pens were within reach at all times. I was scolded many-a-time for taking his pen from his station and not bringing it back.
When I left the home our family shared and headed to college, the letters started and they didn’t stop. Papa went Home to Heaven almost four years ago, yet the letters keep coming, because every once in a while, I happen across an unopened letter.
Recently, as I was going through keepsake boxes at my parents’ house, I found such a letter. With a jump in my heart, I clutched it and imagined Papa writing it, his sprawling cursive shaky from Parkinson's and with the occasional German word mix-up.
But I didn’t open it.
Instead, I tucked it away for another day.
I couldn’t bring myself to open what could be my last message from Papa, despite the words of love and wisdom most likely filling the inside.
I imagine that same joy and excitement circulated when an early church received a letter from Paul. Paul did a lot of writing while imprisoned; this Journey Theme focuses on his letter to the church in Ephesus.
I also imagine, unlike me, they didn’t save their letter for another time. They delved right in, unaware this personal letter was inspired by the Holy Spirit and would become part of the Bible we read today.
Let’s dissect this prison prayer; for such a short prayer, it’s crammed with goodness!
Paul begins by explaining how thankful he is for the Ephesians’ faith in Jesus and love for all of the saints (ie, Christians), because it evidences their participation in God’s great work in the world. He shares how he has been praying for them with thankfulness both for them and their growth.
Paul prays with four main points:
Furthermore, Paul is praying for the whole, global Church (including us!) to know Him in all of the facets of His character. For example, we may know Him as Savior, but not as Father, Friend, Guide, and Sustainer. Since we are made in His image, the more intimately we know Him, the more we will understand ourselves in light of Him.
How do we know God better?
Through enlightenment and revelation from the Holy Spirit as He opens the eyes of our “hearts” (again, meaning spirits or souls).
Second, Paul prays we’ll know the hope of God’s calling.
In Greek, “church” is a combination of two words: “ek,” meaning out of, and “kaleo,” meaning to call.
Church literally meant “called out.”
We. Are. Called.
We’ve been called out of darkness and into His marvelous light! (1 Peter 2:9)
Paul is reminding the church in Ephesus, and the global Church,
we have great hope
because of by Whom we are called,
what we are called to do,
and because this world is not our final resting place.
Third, Paul fervently prays we’ll know God’s riches, but get this, he’s talking about US! WE are God’s riches! Just as man’s wealth lies with his treasure, God’s wealth is found in us, His treasures.
God deals with us on the basis of our future. We see throughout Scripture how He calls people what they will become, not what they are at the time (as when he called Gideon a valiant warrior while he was still cowering in fear). God’s riches lie in who we will be when we are glorified with God.
Paul is reminding the Church
we have great value in God’s eyes and much to bring to the Kingdom!
Lastly, Paul prays we will know the great power found in God; this power was fully displayed when Jesus was resurrected from the grave. With that same power, God saved us from the grave and has breathed new life into us.
Toward us who believe, according to the
Those are some big, descriptive words right there!
God is mighty! He has all power! And we have access to that power because we know Him!
Paul ends this prayer by reminding us Jesus Christ, KING Jesus, has ALL power and all authority. He is the head; we are His body.
So, Church (that’s us, sisters), grab onto our love-letter from God (the Bible), and flip to the letter Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus (and ultimately, the Church as a whole).
Allow his prayer to wash over you,
understanding Paul was praying
we would know the Almighty intimately,
we would be filled with the hope of our calling,
we would remember our value in the Kingdom,
and we would grasp His great power, which we also possess through Jesus Christ!
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