Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 3:14-17, the first part of Paul’s second prayer for the church, the prayer which is related to experience. The apostle’s prayer in 1:15-23 is for the saints to receive revelation concerning the church. In 3:14-21 his prayer is for the saints to experience Christ for the church.
The Apostle Paul begins his prayer in verse 14 with the words “for this cause.” The cause for which Paul prayed is hidden in the depths of chapter three. We have seen that in this chapter Paul presents himself as a pattern of one who has seen God’s economy. Paul received the revelation that God’s economy is God’s dispensing of Himself into His chosen ones to make them the expansion, the enlargement, of Christ, who is the embodiment of God, for God’s full expression. Having received such a revelation, Paul became an apostle, a sent one. He was also a prophet, one who spoke for God. Paul not only spoke for God, but he even spoke forth God. As God’s spokesman, Paul ministered the unsearchable riches of Christ to others so that they might see the same revelation and also become apostles and prophets. This means that Paul’s desire was to produce more apostles and prophets. For this purpose he even suffered imprisonment. But the more he was confined in prison, the more revelation he received and the more of Christ he was able to minister to the believers to make them all apostles and prophets. All this is the cause for which Paul prayed in Ephesians 3.
When some hear that all the saints can be apostles and prophets, they may wonder about 1 Corinthians 12:29, a verse which says, “Are all apostles? are all prophets?” Not all are the apostles or the prophets, but, as 1 Corinthians 14:31 says, all can prophesy. The apostles and the prophets were those who took the lead in the New Testament. The difference between us and them is that they were the leaders and we are the followers. But this does not mean that we cannot do what the leading apostles and prophets did. In the same principle, the difference between the elders and all the other members in a local church is that the elders take the lead and the other members follow. This does not mean, however, that the other members cannot do what the elders do. On the contrary, all the members should do what the elders do, and they should do even more. How different this is from the concept in Christianity that the laymen cannot do what the ministers do! The elders are not a higher rank; rather, all are of the same rank. The only difference is that the elders take the lead, like sheep who walk at the front of the flock. Likewise, the leading apostles and prophets are not on a higher level than the rest of the saints. They take the lead, and we all follow them to do what they do.
When I came to this country, I came with a revelation concerning Christ for the church. Having received such a revelation, I was sent here to speak for God and even to speak forth God. I am simply a follower of the apostles and prophets in the New Testament. My burden is for all the saints to become such followers. I hope that one day thousands will be sent out to speak for God. Although we cannot be the leading apostles, we can be the followers. In like manner, we cannot be theprophets, but we all can prophesy. We all can be sent, and we all can speak for Christ. What a privilege, a mercy, and a grace to be the followers of the leading apostles and prophets!
In verses 14 and 15 Paul says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named.” Notice that here Paul does not refer to God, but to the Father. The “Father” here is used in a broad sense, signifying not only the Father of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10), but the Father of every family in the heavens and on earth (v. 15). The Father is the source, not only of the regenerated believers, but also of the God-created mankind (Luke 3:38), of the God-created Israel (Isa. 63:16; 64:8), and of the God-created angels (Job 1:6). The Jews’ concept was that God was Father only to them. So the apostle prayed to the Father of all the families in the heavens and on earth, according to his revelation, not as the Jews, who prayed only to the Father of Israel, according to the Jewish concept.
Since God is the source of the angelic family in the heavens and all the human families on earth, so it is of God that every family is named, just as producers give names to their products and fathers give names to their children.
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