Reading the passage and thinking about how its message applies to our celebration of All Saints Day, I am focusing today on the references to saints. The prayer is for those who have faith in the Lord Jesus and love toward all the saints, that they might know the riches of the glorious inheritance among those saints.
Let's pause a moment to think about what we mean when we hear the word "inheritance" and then reflect on what it means in this letter. He calls it glorious and refers to it as being immeasurable greatness of power. But not just money that the descendants can use to buy a lot of expensive stuff for themselves. Rather, the power is working among us to continue the work that Christ began and the work that continues by the church, his body, which fills all in all.
This letter to the Ephesians is also to us, "You have been called. God has immeasurable power, and has put this power to work in Christ by raising him from the dead... The church is the body of Christ."
Simon Barrow, of Ekklesia, has written about the continuing contemporary importance to Christians of the concept and fact of resurrection:
So let’s get straight to the heart of the matter. What does it mean to speak, as Christians should do, of the “bodily resurrection of Jesus”, the wounded and crucified healer, as the very basis of our life?
Rather, to confess that “God raised Jesus” is to believe that everything of substance in the life of Jesus, the human person who is indissolubly God’s person, is dynamically taken up in, through and beyond death into the life of God – a quality of living and a form of life that affirms, but also transcends, anything we can currently mean by the term ‘life’. This is not any old life but “new life”, says the New Testament, in a variety of ways. It is, if you will, God’s unconditioned love recreating possibilities for emergent life that we thought had been lost, sinfully destroyed, denied, wasted, gambled away or blocked off. Not some vague post-mortem assimilation into the Godhead, but a new order of being.
To believe that “Christ has been raised” is to live in a new way, sustained by God rather than our own efforts alone, as if the order of death had no final determination. Among other things, it is to refuse killing as an instrument of policy, as an untruth not just a moral outrage. This is why resurrection, the non-violent, non-vengeful and utterly gracious (‘given’, not made or claimed) form of eschatological living, is the ultimate threat to Caesar and his empire – which finally can only rule by death and its thrall, because it knows of no other possibility that would allow it go on being what it is."I pray that God will send you the Spirit," the author of this letter writes.
Here's what the Spirit does for the church: enlightens the eyes of your heart
--that is, helps you to catch on to what God intends for you to be doing and what God has already done for you.
To these early Christians as they began to form congregations and missions, he is emphasizing power and what power is to be used for.
To these Christians adjusting to their life after the crucifixion of Jesus, he writes of the power available to them through God. God put this power to work in Christ and has made him the head of the church. The church is the body of Christ, "the fullness of him who fills all in all."
As I regularly do, I have been reading Boring & Craddock's People's New Testament Commentary. And, as I regularly am, I am glad that I do. For example,here's their discussion of the phrase, "glorious inheritance":
The phrase refers to God's inheritance, not the believers'. In Old Testament theology, Israel as God's chosen people is often called God's inheritance (Deut 4:20; 9:26, 29; 2 Sam 21:3; 1 Kings 8:51, 53; Ps 28:9; 33:12; 68:9; 78:62, 71; 94:14; 106:5, 4-; Isa 19:25; 47:6; 63:17; Jer 10:16; 51:19). For the author of Ephesians, to be in the church is to be incorporated into the continuing people of God, Israel (2:11-12).