Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

To whom did Paul pray? (Eph. 1:17)

Here Paul prayed to the Father. But it is helpful to note how he addressed him: he calls him ‘the God of our Lord Jesus Christ’. We are so familiar with this that we can fail to sense the wonder of it. Paul had been an ardent Jew, who had prayed to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because he had made a covenant with Israel. As a Jew Paul had despised Jesus Christ, but on the Damascus road he realised that Jesus was Lord. No longer was Paul under the covenant that God had made with his forefathers; rather he was a member of the new covenant community made up of those who had been saved by Jesus. He was praying to the same God, but praying in a manner suitable to how God had revealed himself in Christ.

Paul also describes him as ‘the Father of glory’ or ‘the glorious Father’. Stephen used a similar title for God when he described his appearing to Abraham (Acts 7:2). Glory has the idea of perfection, of that which is worthy of praise. It describes God’s abilities. In Romans 6:4 Paul writes that Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, a reference to the Father’s power. In Romans 1:23, idolatry is described as an action that replaces the glory of the incorruptible God with images of corruptible things. Again there, Paul has God’s abilities in mind, such as his pre-existence and his power to create, when he refers to God’s glory. So Paul reminds himself of the Father’s abilities as he proceeds to pray.

Glory can also refer to the place where God lives, his environment. Jesus in John 17 prays that the Father would give him the glory that he had known before creation. It is a word that describes Heaven, the perfect world. So Paul reminds himself of the Father’s location as he proceeds to pray.

Glory also refers to the divine character. Paul tells believers that the process of becoming Christ-like is one in which a person is changed from glory to glory as he or she becomes further conformed to the image of Christ, as his features of love, mercy and grace are produced in them. So Paul reminds himself of God’s holy and gracious character as he prays.

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