18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Paul continued his prayer for the Ephesians in this verse, that they would have a clear picture of what it meant to have fellowship with God.
18 the eyes of your understanding
The New Testament translates the word “understanding” as heart in other passages. “Heart” does not refer to emotions but to intelligence, a total apprehension of God. The heart in biblical times meant the essence of life that originates thoughts. The “eye” or inner vision, the ability to look within, looks at the core of our lives.
Information or gathering of fact is not the same as “understanding.” It is possible to have information but not spiritual intelligence. Meaning and significance go beyond facts.
Paul said that the Ephesians had spiritual insight at a point in the past with the present result of being illumined about divine truth (perfect tense). This was a prayer for a permanent work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He wanted their capacity for understanding God’s truth to last. If believers are to see things clearly from God’s viewpoint, it is necessary to have an attitude of receptivity or positive volition.
“Being enlightened” is in the present tense, indicating continual process and implying accumulated understanding of principles of Scriptures resident in the soul that are ready to be applied to experience.
God’s illumination provides principles to guide our emotions, not the reverse.
There are times when we come to the point where divine truth does not affect us, motivate us. This is because we have lost perspective on the hope we have in Christ. In this situation we sink into indifference when it comes to the living Word of God. We lose the reality of it. We know, for example, about the Rapture of the church, but it does not engage our soul. We have a wonderful day awaiting us, but we do not take notice (Ro 8:18-21).
The enlightening of the soul does not occur at the point of salvation. Neither does it occur at any one point in the Christian life. Spiritual living is progressive. Our spiritual understanding must grow every day; otherwise, we will go into reversion in our spiritual life. Dependence on what God has to say about how we live is at the core of this. The Holy Spirit will minister to us when we take this approach.
Spiritual comprehension is important to God. Satan is in the business of spiritual blindness (2 Co 3:3-6). God is in the business of light that shines in our hearts (Eph 5:14). Christians need to sharpen their spiritual eyesight.