HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:15-20)
Selected by God to build the foundation of the church, the apostles did so by bearing witness to the resurrected Christ, by their teaching, and by prayer.
The apostles were noted for prayer. When there was a need to provide for the widows in the early church, the apostles couldn’t do it because they had to devote themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). When the leaders of the church at Antioch were fasting and praying, the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Paul and Barnabas for the ministry God had called them to (Acts 13:1-3). This was the beginning of Paul’s missionary journeys.
In addition, in the majority of the apostle Paul’s epistles to churches, he starts off sharing how he has been praying for them (Romans 1:9-10, Philippians 1:4, Colossians 1:9). Praying for God’s church was an important component of laying the foundation.
Although the foundation of the church has been laid and the original apostles have passed away, we can still have an apostolic ministry, specifically in the area of prayer. God wants to use us to build his church through prayer.
As we consider Ephesians 1:15-20, we learn principles of apostolic prayer—prayer that builds up God’s church.
Apostolic Prayer Comes from a Right Heart—
an Informed, Caring, and Consistent One
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:15-16)
While Paul was in prison, someone informed him about the faith of the Ephesians and their love for all the saints. It must be noted that faith and love are essential marks of genuine conversion. Those who truly have faith in Christ are new creations, old things are passed away, and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). One of the new things in the life of a true believer is love for other believers. Jesus says, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another” (John 13:35, paraphrase). If we do not love our fellow believers, then we have not passed from death to life. “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14). And as Paul says in Romans 5:5, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
The believers in Ephesus had experienced this outpouring, and therefore loved “all the saints”—not just the saints in their local congregation or city, but saints everywhere. They had been radically changed by God.
One of the things that should be noted about Ephesians 1:15 is how Paul says, “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus.” It seems to be spoken as though he had never met these believers. The problem with this is that he had spent at least three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31). For this reason, along with the fact that “in Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1) is not in the early manuscripts, many scholars believe this letter was written not only to the Ephesians but also to several other congregations in Asia Minor.