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

 

I used to receive hundreds—literally—of emails filled with good news. I had received a glorious inheritance! Someone formerly unknown to me, usually living in some distant country, had died and left me zillions of dollars. How wonderful! But there was catch. To receive my fortune, I needed to send private information and/or a substantial amount of money to some unknown person who would arrange for me to get my millions. Hmmm. Do you suppose this was some sort of trick? I’m afraid so. It was one of those “spammable” internet schemes. It pretended to offer me a fortune but really wanted to steal my fortune, however modest it might have been.

A crown suspended in the air by wires.In his prayer for the recipients of Ephesians, Paul asks that we might know God better, in part by knowing “the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Paul wants us to know that we are participants in some astounding inheritance, and he prays to that end. For sure, he’s not trying to steal anything from us. Rather, Paul wants us to know what we truly have to look forward to in the future.

What we can expect is participation in a glorious inheritance. We have already learned about this in Ephesians 1. In verse 14, for example, the Holy Spirit guarantees our inheritance until we come to possess it in the future. But verse 11 uses the language of inheritance differently, speaking of us as those who have been inherited by God. So, we wonder which use of the inheritance metaphor shows up in Paul’s prayer in verse 18. Paul wants us to know “the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Does this mean “the riches of the glorious inheritance we will receive from God”? Or does it mean “the riches of the glorious inheritance God will receive among his holy ones”? Are we the inheritors? Or the inheritance?

Our translation (the NIV) seems to prefer the first option. We are to know the riches of the inheritance that will be ours one day when we are with the Lord. To be sure, there is such an inheritance (see 1:14, 5:5; also Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 4:7; Colossians 1:12, 3:24). In this rendering of the Greek, the second item for which Paul prays is quite a bit like the first, since our future inheritance is part of the hope of our calling.

Tomorrow, I’ll consider the possibilities of the second option for understanding inheritance in verse 18. For now, let me encourage you to consider the inheritance that will be yours when you are with the Lord.

Something to Think About:

When you think of your future inheritance, what comes to mind? What items? What feelings? What experiences?

How might your reflection on your future inheritance impact the way you live today?

Something to Do:

If you’re in a small group, or if you can get together with a Christian friend, talk about the inheritance God has laid up for you. How do different people envision their future inheritance from the Lord? How does their vision of the future make a difference in their life now?

Prayer:

Gracious God, thank you that your promises are not like those emails that try to fool me and steal from me. Your promises are true and trustworthy. Among these promises is the statement, often made in Scripture, that I will one day receive a glorious inheritance from you. I will do so because I am one of your beloved children. Thank you for adopting me into your family through Christ. Thank you for all that you have stored up for me.

Help me, Lord, to live today in light of the glory of the future. May the assurance of what lies ahead give me energy and motivation to live for your kingdom today in all that I do. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Store your treasure in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:19-34)