"...And to Goodness, Knowledge...": Part Five

This e-Pistle article is a continuation of a study of 2 Peter 1:5 – 8 begun in the previous five entries. It is also the fifth article considering Peter’s admonition to add “knowledge” upon “faith” and “goodness” (2 Peter 1:5).

The knowledge that we, as believers, are to seek to develop is the pursuit of a lifetime. We will certainly continue to grow in our knowledge of God and His ways into eternity. But for the purposes of this particular study, we have turned to the Epistle to the Ephesians to examine three areas of knowledge for which the Apostle Paul prayed for his brethren in Christ at Ephesus. In previous articles, we have examined “the hope to which He has called (us)” and “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” The last article explored how important it is for believers to know the third area Paul mentioned in his prayer, and we now continue the study of that phrase.

“His Incomparably Great Power for Us Who Believe”

Notice what is underlined in the quotation above. Paul does not pray merely that his readers would know God’s incomparably great power. He identifies that power as “for us who believe.” It was Paul’s fervent prayer that the Ephesian Christians would have an intellectual and experiential knowledge of God’s great power as it related to them, and as it was available to them. How important it is for Christians to know this about the power of God and to experience God’s power in their lives! Although it is incomparably great, the efficacy of God’s power is not reserved by Him for Himself alone. God has assigned the effects of His power for the benefit of His creatures and given us access to this incomparably great power as we live out our Christian lives.

“That power is like the working of His mighty strength…” 

Immediately following, at the end of verse 19 and continuing on through the end of the chapter, Paul describes God’s exertion of His power in the resurrection of Christ from the dead and in the “seating” of Christ at His right hand in the heavenly realms. He identifies Christ’s exaltation as “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.” Finally, Paul asserts the supremacy and headship of Christ over all things “for the Church.” This is reminiscent of the great passage in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, where Paul focuses on the pre-eminence of Christ in what scholars speculate may have been one of the earliest hymns of the early Church (Colossians 1:15 – 20). And yet, though the supremacy of Christ is the foundational truth in both of these passages, in Ephesians, Paul is seeking to make a point which he feels is vital for the believer to know and understand. This point is that the same power, which raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand above all authority and power, also “raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

When we contemplate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, we wonder at the power of God. We are in awe when we consider that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given” to Him (Matthew 28:18). But here we are told that God utilized that same incomparably great power to effect our spiritual resurrection from being dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1 – 5), and to exalt us with Christ and in Christ, who in turn gives His disciples “authority… to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:18).

We and our children need to know that the power at work in our salvation is no lesser a power because it applies to lesser creatures. It is in fact the incomparably great power of Almighty God. There is tremendous comfort and confidence in knowing this truth. If we have indeed passed from death unto life, we must certainly have experienced this power as well. And the experience of the incomparably great power of God is vital to knowing that power.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” 

Interestingly, Paul exhorts his readers to the experience of God’s power in his final thoughts in the letter to the Ephesians. The Greek phrase Paul uses at the end of 1:19 (“the might of His strength”) is the same phrase he uses in 6:10. Here, he instructs his readers to make use of the power of God (“the might of His strength”) in taking their stand against the devil’s schemes. 

When we read that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), it is easy to be prone to fear and to the feeling that the struggle is too great for us, especially for Christian children and young people. But we must know that the power available to us in this struggle is none other than the power which raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, above all these rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of evil mentioned in 6:12. It is the same power by which we have been raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms (2:6). And by the power of His own word, we have been given authority to overcome all the power of the enemy!

According to Jesus’ instruction, we are not to rejoice that “the spirits submit” to us, but that by God’s incomparably great power, our “names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). And while we rejoice in the efficacy of God’s power for our salvation, we are to daily prepare ourselves for the struggle for which He has equipped us with “His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

As we parents seek to pass on the knowledge of God’s power to our children and young people, it seems that our study of Ephesians would point us to emphasize two significant truths: 1) God has used the greatest of power to accomplish His salvation for us who believe; and 2) though our spiritual struggle is against power that is greater than our own, God has armed us with His incomparably great power, and we are instructed that it is His power we use to “be strong” and “stand firm.” Regularly affirming the supremacy of God’s power in the life of the believer can provide encouragement to children as they face hardship and temptation. It can also help to hold us accountable to make use of the powerful means of escape God has faithfully provided with every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

This study of 2 Peter 1:5 - 8 will continue in the next e-Pistle article, "...And to Knowledge, Self-Control..."