For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
The whole power and meaning of that glorious exclamation, "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners," depend on the truth expressed in the previous verse: "We have access by one Spirit to the Father." Paul has told the Gentile Ephesians that they are no longer outcasts from the grand privileges of the Jew; he has asserted that they are actually in fellowship with the prophets and apostles, and the universal Church of the holy; but all the magnificence of the assertion rises out of the principal fact that in Christ they come by one spirit to God. In short, he finds the proof end pledge of Christian citizenship in the power and freedom of Christian prayer. Our subject, then, becomes — The citizenship of the Christian: its foundation; its nature; its present lessons.
I. ITS FOUNDATION. In access to the Father — in the power of approaching Him in full, free, trustful prayer — lies the foundation proof that we are "fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." We have to see how that conviction rises in the praying soul — how the very fact of Christian prayer contains the proof and pledge that we are citizens of an eternal kingdom. In doing this let us glance at two principles that are here involved.
1. Christian prayer is the approach of the individual soul to God as its Father. By access to God, Paul means the approach to God in which the human spirit comes near to Him as a real Divine Presence, to worship Him in full, free, trustful love; hence it is evident that a man may often have prayed, and yet never have realized this idea of prayer.
2. That prayer of the individual soul must lead it to the united worship of God's Church. "We come by one Spirit unto the Father." Paul has been speaking of atonement and reconciliation. He knew that these were individual; but he seems to imply that until Greek and Jew were united in worship the worship was incomplete. Note one or two facts on this point which are very significant. We cannot always pray alone. God has so made us that our power of praying needs the help of our brethren. There are times when the deep emotions of our nature will not utter themselves, and we groan, being burdened. We need the help of some other soul that has the divine gift of uttering the want we cannot utter, that it may bear us upon its wings of holy sympathy towards the throne.
II. THE NATURE OF OUR CITIZENSHIP. Taking the points we have just noticed, and combining them, let us see how they point to a fellow citizenship with the Church of all ages.
1. Prayer a witness to our fellowship with the Church of all time. Realizing God's Fatherhood in the holy converse of prayer, we are nearer men. Our selfishness — our narrow, isolating peculiarities begin to fade. In our highest prayers we realize common wants. No man ever poured out his soul to God, under the sense of His presence, who did not feel that he was nearer the family of the Father. To take the most obvious illustration, is it not when the cries of confession, of unrest, of aspiration, of hope, mingle in worship that we feel it? Are we not, then, fellow pilgrims, fellow sufferers, fellow warriors? Then our differences vanish, and we know, in some measure, how we belong to the "household of God." But it stays not there. The past claims kindred with us in prayer.
2. Prayer a witness to our fellowship with the Church of eternity. This is harder to be realized, because of our earthliness — we see so dimly through the material veil. But the "household of God" implies this fellowship.
III. ITS LESSONS.
1. Live as members of the kingdom.
2. Expect the signs of citizenship. The crown of thorns; the Cross.
3. Live in hope of the final ingathering. Paul's words point to this. From this hope our efforts and aspirations derive their greatest power; and we feel that our fellow citizenship is incomplete till we pass from the "earthly tabernacle" into the eternal home of the Father.
(E. L. Hull, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.