I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…

Ephesians 1:18-20

 

In yesterday’s devotion, I considered the implications of Paul’s enthusiastic use of language when he prays that we will know God’s power. Paul uses four synonyms to underscore the incomparable greatness of God’s power.

A sculpture of wire and lights in a person's hands.Today, I want to focus on one little word, a seemingly unimpressive word… “for.” It appears in the English translation of verse 19 as Paul prays that we will know God’s “incomparably great power for us who believe.” If you were to dig down into the original language of this phrase, you’d find that “for” translates the Greek word eis. Then, if you were look up this word in a Greek-English dictionary, you’d find a wide variety of options for translation, including: “into, in, toward, to, for the purpose of, for.”

What is Paul trying to say about the relationship between God’s power and us by using the Greek word eis? Many commentators see an emphasis here on the location of God’s power. It is “in us.” Later in Ephesians, Paul will say explicitly that God’s power is working “within us” (Greek en hemin; 3:20). In Romans, Paul explains that this power is the presence of the Holy Spirit “living in” us (Romans 5:5). So, there’s no question about the fact that God’s power is indeed in us.

But the use of eis in Ephesians 1:19 seems to point not so much to the location of God’s power as to the fact that God’s power is for us, for our benefit, for our salvation, for our empowerment to participate in God’s work of redeeming all creation. Not only is God’s power given to us through the Spirit, but also God’s power is consistently working to help us who trust in him. The more we know God, the more we will know that he is using his incomparably great power for us, for our good as well as for the good of all things.

Something to Think About:

In what ways have you experienced God’s power being “for you”?

If you really believed that the power of God was at work in your life, what difference might this make in how you live each day?

How do you need to experience God’s power today?

Something to Do:

Pay attention today to see if you can observe God’s power at work, in you, in your workplace, in the people around you, or in the world.

Prayer:

Gracious God, how I thank you for the exercise of your power. You have done and are doing wonderful things with your might. What’s even more amazing to me is that your power is at work “for me,” not against me, but for me. You are doing what is best for me. What an astounding truth! What an astounding reality! Thank you! Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The right use of power (Psalm 136)

One Comment

  • I am constantly amazed at the effect of one little word in Scripture.
    Thank you, Dr. Roberts. God bless you!

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