Riches of the glory of God's inheritance
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:15-18
One of the things Paul prays for here is that the saints would know “what [is] the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (18). Now some believe that Paul is talking about the saints as being God’s inheritance. However, Paul has just said that the Holy Spirit is “the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchases possession” (14), and I think it is likely that Paul is referring to the same inheritance in verse 18. It is God’s inheritance in the sense that the inheritance the saints enjoy is both from him and centers around him. We are heirs of God (Rom. 8:17). When Paul says that this inheritance is “in the saints” he doesn’t mean that the saints are the inheritance but that the inheritance is not something we enjoy to ourselves but among the saints; it is something we enjoy in common with other believers.
Now Paul had just prayed that believers will have a strong and confident expectation of the glory to come. However, you cannot have that unless you see and believe in the glory of that inheritance. I once read an interesting story of a swimmer who was determined to swim the English Channel. On the day she attempted it, however, it was very foggy and she couldn’t see the coast she was aiming at. She began to swim, full of determination and hope, but eventually she got to the point where she just couldn’t go on and gave up. She was then pulled into the boat that had been following her across. If I remember the story right, the fog lifted suddenly and there was the coast. She had almost made it. If she had been able to see the coast she might have had the determination to continue. The fact that the coast had been shrouded in fog kept her from being motivated by the goal. In the same way, we do not only need hope but we need that hope to be fed and strengthened by a clear vision of the glory to come.
And so notice how Paul puts this. “The riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” He could have just said, “I want you to know the inheritance that will be enjoyed by all the saints.” Instead of this, he heaps together these descriptive words to help us see just how wonderful and surprising this inheritance really is. Riches, glory, inheritance. This inheritance makes those who possess it incalculably wealthy. The riches of the richest people on earth is nothing compared to what the saints in heaven will inherit. It is breathtakingly glorious. By using words like “riches” and “glory” to describe the inheritance, Paul is not only praying that we will know about the inheritance but that we would see it as a place that is infinitely desirable above earthly joys; in other words, something on which we can place our hopes.
We have all heard about people who are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good, but the Bible does not support this notion. Here, the apostle is saying that if you really want to grow spiritually and have victory over sin you will have to be heavenly minded. You will have to see that the inheritance to come is something that is worth putting your hopes in. And you will have to be the kind of person whose ultimate focus is on the prize to come. Like Moses, who chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Heb. 11:25-26).