April 16, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Ephesians 1:17-20 (NRSV)
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul prays that we will know “what are the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance among the saints” (1:18). The Greek language could point to the inheritance we will someday receive from God. Or it could refer to the fact that one day God will inherit us. Either way, great things are in store for us because of God’s grace in Christ.
This devotion is part of the series: Why Easter Matters.
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 a catch. If I wanted 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 diabolical internet scams. It pretended to offer me a fortune but really wanted to steal my fortune, however modest it might have been.
In his prayer in Ephesians 1, Paul asks that we might know God better, in part by knowing “the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints” (1:18). 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 can look forward to in the future.
So, we wonder, what we can expect from our participation in this glorious inheritance? We have already learned about this earlier in Ephesians 1. In verses 13-14, 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 among the saints.” 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 God’s holy people”? Are we the inheritors? Or the inheritance?
Our translation (the NRSV) seems to lean toward the first option. The inheritance is “among the saints” not “of the saints.” In this translation, 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 of Ephesians 2:18, 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.
When you think of your future inheritance with God, what comes to mind? What items? What feelings? What experiences?
How might your reflection on your future inheritance impact the way you live today?
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?
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 for me give me energy and motivation to live for your kingdom today in all that I do. Amen.
Banner image by Sean Oulashin on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Core of the Good News.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.