The Apostle's Prayer for Our Experience of Christ, Life-Study of Ephesians, Message Thirty-Two, pp. 275-276
I. THE APOSTLE'S PRAYER
FOR OUR EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST
A. "For This Cause"
Scripture Reading: Eph. 3:14-17
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...