Study Notes

Ephesians 1:15-17


As we have been studying Ephesians verse by verse, I have promised you that every Sunday we will hit major Bible topics, some controversial, and some difficult to understand. Today's subject is accurately described with all three of those adjectives: major, controversial, and difficult.

1:15-17 For This Reason

Paul has just finished saying that the Holy Spirit sealed the Ephesians when they heard and believed the gospel. And he says, "For this reason, I thank God for you and pray for you all the time." This is simple to understand and easy to accept. Even the fact that he is praying that they receive a spirit of wisdom and of revelation is understandable after a little bit of thought.

However, it is the description of Who Paul is asking for these things that remains a mystery to many. He is praying to ...

Eph. 1:17 ...the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory...

This confuses most people. After all, if Jesus is God, how can He have a God? And if He has a God, then He Himself must not be God, and if He's not God, then how can He be our God and Savior? I can certainly understand people's confusion.

And so this morning, we're going to focus in on three subjects:

1) Jesus is God; 2) Jesus has a God; and 3) How these two facts mesh, and what it means to us.

1) Our Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus is here called, "our Lord Jesus Christ." Many people misunderstand the word "Lord" to mean "God." In fact, the word is a respectful title meaning, "Master, Possessor, Owner." It comes from a root word that means "supremacy." Even though it is applied to God 99% of the time, it is also something that people called those they were in submission to (1Pet. 3:6; Col. 4:1).

So the fact that He is called Lord does not necessarily testify to His deity, but only to His supremacy, mastery, and ownership of us.

But Jesus is not just Lord, but also God. Thomas, when seeing and touching Jesus after His resurrection, proclaimed,

John 20:28 ..."My Lord and my God!"

Jesus did not say, "Lord, yes. But God? No!" Instead, He said that those who didn't have the privilege of seeing, but still believed this, were blessed.

Thomas was not the only one to proclaim that Jesus is God. The apostle John also did, when he wrote,

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Paul also testified to Jesus' deity when he said that we are...

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus

Simon Peter also called Him,

2Pet. 1:1 ...our God and Savior, Jesus Christ

Jesus's enemies pointed out that He Himself claimed to be God:

John 10:33 ...You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

It was not just the claims of Thomas, John, Paul, Peter, and Jesus. God Himself said that Jesus is God. Hebrews 1 quotes God as saying this:


God called Jesus, "God" and "Lord." We also see the demonstration of Jesus as God in His actions. As we've just read, He created everything (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). And the Bible clearly says,

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Jesus created everything, God created everything.

He also forgave sins, when we know that..

Mark 2:7 "...who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Additionally, we see His divinity in His titles. For one example, God said,

Isa. 44:6 ..."I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me."

While Jesus says,

Rev. 22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

The Scriptures are quite clear: Jesus Christ is God.

2) The God Of Jesus?

Now to completely confuse you: Jesus Christ has a God. All through Jesus' earthly ministry, He said that He was here to submit to God, to do God's will, to obey God. He called God His "Father," and always pointed out that He was not the Father, but the Son. Listen to these things which Jesus said:

John 6:37-38 "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me."

John 8:26, 28-29 "...He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world." ... and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."

John 14:23 ..."If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.

John 15:9-10 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.

And after Jesus rose from the dead, Mary was holding onto Him.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"

All of these references clearly portray Jesus as not being the same Person as the Father:

- The Father gave to the Son.

- The Son submitted to and obeyed the Father.

- The Son came to do the Father's will.

- The Father sent the Son.

- The Son heard from the Father.

- The Son talked to us about the Father.

- The Son was taught by the Father.

- The Father did not leave the Son alone.

- The Son did what was pleasing to the Father.

After reading these things, there can be no thinking that Jesus and the Father were the same Person - these are clearly two separate Persons.

3) Why Both Truths?

We've just proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus has a God, the Father. And yet before that, we conclusively proved that Jesus is God.

Since they are both clear truths in the Word of God, they both must be true, and yet how can we comprehend both of those things being true at once when they seem to contradict one another?

I have heard all the attempts at illustrating the Trinity. "God is like an egg - one egg, three parts: shell, white, and yolk." "God is like water - one thing in three forms: ice, water, and steam." "God made us in His image, and we are body, soul, and spirit."

Frankly, these are all grievously flawed illustrations.

And yet, as a teacher, I feel obligated to take the complicated ideas in the Scripture and make them simple enough for anyone to understand. So yesterday, I asked my 15-year-old daughter if she could give me a simple explanation of this truth. Her response was, "Dad, it's not simple - it can't be. If God was easy to understand, then He wouldn't be God."

Well spoken. In fact, we can no more understand God's tri-une nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, than we can comprehend God's righteousness, His glory, His power, His perfection, or His love. The simple fact is that we are too simple to understand God completely. The Bible says that one day we will get it.

1John 3:2 ...We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

But until that day when we see Him face to face, we must simply accept the truth, even if we cannot comprehend it.

But I want to point out something that the Bible makes clear, something that we can understand, and must apply:

Phil. 2:5-11 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

As Americans and human beings, we are obsessed with our rights, getting what we deserve, and not letting anyone walk all over us.

But Jesus is our example. And although He was in total power, deserving all rights and privileges, and in the primary position of authority, He did not hold onto that. Instead, He made Himself low. He emptied Himself of His rights. He was obedient to the Father. He became a servant of man. He even let Himself be nailed to a cross and killed.

He was motivated to do this by His love for each of us.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

We are all sinners, but God loves us and paid the price of our sin. Jesus Christ - God the Son and the Son of God, died in our place, so that if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life.

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