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Who Do We Pray To? Part 3

by Karl Kemp  
10/08/2011 / Bible Studies

Part 3 continues where Part 2 ended.

Ephesians 1:15-23. (I had a footnote: Ephesians chapter 1 is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site.) "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, (16) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers [his prayers to God the Father, as the following words demonstrate]; (17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ [These words, and much of the content of this passage, strongly demonstrate the preeminent role of God the Father.], the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him ["of Himself"; in the knowledge of God the Father, including the experiential knowledge relationship we have with Him as His born-again children, filled with His Spirit. In this passage we again see the very familiar mention of the Persons of God the Father and the Lord Jesus.]. (18) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling [The New Testament often speaks of God's calling us to eternal glory at the end of this age (Col. 1:5, 27, for example).], what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints [We will inherit the fullness of the riches of God's eternal glory at the end of this age.], (19) and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe [As the following verses demonstrate, Paul is speaking of the resurrection power of God that raised Jesus from the dead that is working in us now, and will work in us in a fuller sense in the future. That power has enabled us to be resurrected spiritually (by the Holy Spirit, in union with the Lord Jesus) and enables us to live in victory over all of God's enemies through the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come" (verse 21).]. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (20) which He [God the Father] brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (21) far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named [with the obvious exception of the Father's name], not only in this age but also in the age to come. And He [God the Father] put all things in subjection under His [Christ's] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to [or, for] the church [The primary idea here is that after God the Father exalted Jesus over all things (excluding only Himself), He gave Him to be the Head of the Christian church, with the result that we Christians benefit from Christ's authority, and we are enabled to be and do what God wills for us to be and to do. There is no authority that has not been put under the feet (under the authority) of the Lord Jesus], (23) which is His body [We, all true Christians, are the body of Christ.], the fullness of Him who fills all in all." We, the Christian church, are filled in a very special sense by Him (the Lord Jesus) who fills the all in all. He fills the all in all in that His authority extends everywhere.

Ephesians 3:14-21. (I had a footnote: Ephesians 3:14-21 are discussed verse-by-verse in my "A Paper on Faith." "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, (15) from whom every family [I would translate "the whole family," with the margin of the NASB.] in heaven and earth derives its name [At a minimum the family includes all the believers, all the members of God's true Israel, including the large number in heaven already.] (16) that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit [the Holy Spirit] in the inner man [We are totally dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit. These words and the following words are discussed in some detail in my "A Paper on Faith."], so that Christ may dwell [may fully dwell] in your hearts through faith; and that you, being [having been] rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, (19) and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God [God the Father]. (20) Now unto Him [God the Father] who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (21) to Him [God the Father] be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen!" Notice that the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are mentioned in these verses along with God the Father to whom the prayer and praise/glory are directed. This is one of many passages where we can see the Trinity.

Ephesians 5:20. "always giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God, even the Father." Again we see two Persons, and God the Father has the preeminent role.

Ephesians 6:10-20. (I had a footnote: Ephesians 6:10-20 are discussed verse-by-verse in my "A Paper on Faith.") I won't quote these verses. In verses 18-20 the apostle Paul exhorts Christians to pray at all times in the Spirit. For one thing this is major feature of our being victorious in the warfare that Paul was speaking about in this passage. Paul doesn't specify who we are to pray to in these verses, but I'm confident that he was thinking of (at least most of) our prayers being addressed to God the Father (see Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21, for example). The Lord Jesus is mentioned in verse 10 and the Holy Spirit in verses 17, 18, so we see the Trinity here too.

Philippians 1:2-11. I'll just quote verses 3, 4 and 9-11 here, "I thank my God [God the Father] in all my remembrance of you, (4) always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all. ... (9) And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, (10) so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ [when the Father will send Him back to save and to judge]; (11) having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God [God the Father]." We again see that God the Father and God the Son, and that God the Father has the preeminent role. So too for the next verses.

Philippians 4:4-7. I'll just quote verses 6, 7. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [God the Father]. (7) And the peace of God [God the Father], which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Here again, as with the next passage, the prayer is addressed to God the Father, who has the preeminent role, and we also see the Person of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:19, 20. "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (20) Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen."

Colossians 1:3-14. (I had a footnote: Colossians 1:9-14 are discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.") "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you [to God the Father], (4) since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; (5) because of the hope laid up for you in heaven...(8) and he [Epaphras] also informed us of your love in the Spirit [the Holy Spirit]. (9) For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray [to God the Father] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will [God the Father's will] in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (10) so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [apparently referring to the Lord Jesus] to please Him in all respects [more literally "unto all pleasing"; many commentators understand these words to speak of pleasing God the Father], bearing fruit in every work and increasing in the knowledge of God [or, probably better, growing by the knowledge of God]; (11) strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might [the power and might of God the Father, the One the apostle is praying to, as the following verses confirm] (12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us [or, probably better, who has made us fit] to share in the inheritance [or, probably better, to share in the portion (see my book for the details)] of the saints in [the] light. (13) For He [God the Father] rescued [or, delivered] us from the domain [or, authority] of [the] darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His [God the Father's] beloved Son, (14) in whom [God the Son] we have [the] redemption [God the Father has bought us with the very high (infinite) price of Jesus' blood and redeemed us from being under the authority of sin, spiritual death, Satan and his hosts, and the darkness.], the forgiveness of sins." As I discuss in my book in some detail, "the forgiveness of sins" is not an adequate translation here. The redemption that the apostle is speaking about here includes forgiveness, but a lot more than that. I would translate "the release from our sins with the guilt and the penalties," or the equivalent. And it must be understood that we have been redeemed from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin (not to mention hell), so we could begin to live, as born-again Christians, in the righteousness and holiness of God that the apostle spoke about in Col. 1:10-14 and very many other places, not to mention the other writers of the New Testament. (See my book for the important details.) We see the Trinity here, and God the Father clearly has the preeminent role.

Colossians 3:17. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Our salvation, and our relationship with, and access to, God the Father, who has the preeminent role, is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death.

Colossians 4:2-4. "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; (3) praying [to God the Father, as the following words demonstrate] for us as well, that God [God the Father] will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; (4) that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak." Again we see the prayers are directed to the Person of God the Father, who has the preeminent role in the Trinity, but the Person of Christ Jesus is also mentioned in these verses. So too for the next verses.

1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3. "We give thanks to God [God the Father] always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers [to God the Father]; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of [or, before] our God and Father...."

1 Thessalonians 2:13. "For this reason we also constantly thank God [God the Father] that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe." Thanksgivings like this are a type of prayer. It is very important for us to understand that the gospel that the apostle Paul proclaimed is the Word of God, and God backs up His Word with power for those who take His Word into their hearts and walk by faith. The apostle Paul went on to mention Christ Jesus in the next verse.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. (I had a footnote: 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13 are discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.") "For what thanks can we render to God [God the Father] for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God [God the Father] on your account, (10) as we night and day keep praying [to God the Father] most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith. (11) Now may our God and Father Himself [These words emphasize the preeminent role of God the Father] and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you [[This is the only place in the New Testament that prayer was addressed to God the Father and the Lord Jesus (but see 2 Thess. 2:16), which seems reasonable, even if it doesn't fit the typical pattern. We can certainly see the two Persons of God the Father and the Lord Jesus here. (Paul wasn't addressing this prayer to the divine nature of Jesus and to His human nature.) It was clearly understood by the apostle Paul and the recipients of this epistle (letter) that, even though the Lord Jesus Christ was fully deity with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit), He was happily subordinate to God the Father in His role. In the next verse the apostle addresses a request to the Lord Jesus. These verses are quite unusual, but for one super-important thing, they serve to confirm the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.]]; (12) and may the Lord [the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Christian church] cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you (13) [This verse is discussed in some detail in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" (pages 183-185).]; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father [These words (like in verse 11) emphasize the preeminent role of God the Father.] at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all the saints." It must be understood that the Lord Jesus never does His saving work apart from the will of God the Father, or independent of the authority and power of God the Father (or apart from the Holy Spirit). I believe we can say that the number one desire of God the Son is to always glorify God the Father. For the hearts of the Thessalonian Christians to be established without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ along with all the rest of the saints (including us), will redound to the great glory of God the Father. Of course the Lord Jesus will be glorified too.

1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18. "Pray without ceasing [to God the Father]; for this is God's will [God the Father's will] for you in Christ Jesus." Again we see the Persons of God the Father and God the Son, and the Father has the preeminent role. So too in the next verses.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-25. "Now may the God of peace Himself [God the Father] sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved [or, be kept] complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." [[Paul prayed that the newly founded church at Thessalonica that had known much opposition from the beginning would be sanctified entirely and then be kept in that state, always ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus. This verse, which is quite important on the topic of holiness, is discussed on pages 178, 179 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."]] Faithful is He who calls you [God the Father], and He also will bring it to pass. (25) Brethren, pray [pray to God the Father, as in verse 23] for us."

2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11, 12. "We ought always to give thanks to God [God the Father] for you, brethren [Giving thanks to God is a type of prayer.], as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater. [As Paul continues with verses 4-10, we see the preeminent role of God the Father.] ... (11) To this end also we pray [to God the Father, as the following words show] for you always, that our God [God the Father] will count you worthy [rather, will make you worthy (by His grace)] of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, (12) so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you [The Lord Jesus Christ is glorified when we live as He wants us to live and do what He wants us to do by God's saving grace in Christ. So too for God the Father (see Eph. 2:10, for example)], and you in Him, according to the grace of our God [God the Father] and the Lord Jesus Christ."

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5, 16. (I had a footnote: 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which is an important verse on the topic of holiness and victory over sin, for one thing, is discussed on pages 181, 182 of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.") "But we should always give thanks to God [God the Father] for you, brethren beloved by the Lord [the Lord Jesus], because God [God the Father] has chosen you from the beginning [see Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8; 17:8, for example] for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit [or "in holiness by the Spirit"; the apostle has already shown (in 1 Thess. 4:1-8 and 5:23, for example) that Christians are called to live in a state of holiness] and faith in the truth." Here we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and the Father has the preeminent role. This is divine order.] (14) It was for this He [God the Father] called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. [See Rom. 8:17, 18, for example. We will gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and even begin to reign with Him at the end of this age if we stay faithful by the sufficient grace of God in Christ, which we are going to do, right?] (15) So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (16) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father [[We certainly see two Persons here. Typically in the New Testament these words would have been addressed to God the Father, and if God the Father and God the Son were both to be mentioned, God the Father would be mentioned first, as in 1 Thess. 3:11. (I had a footnote here: The only other places in the New Testament where the Lord Jesus is mentioned before God the Father are 2 Cor. 13:14 and Gal. 1:1, and neither one of those verses was a prayer.) However, the apostle Paul (in a way that is unusual) emphasizes the role of the Lord Jesus as he continues with this epistle (but not at all denying His subordinate role to God the Father). For one good thing, these verses serve to confirm the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. As some commentators mention, the emphasis on the Lord Jesus in this verse and the following verses may have resulted from the fact that He plays such a significant role in Paul's end-time teaching earlier in this epistle (see 2 Thess. 1:7-2:12). Then too the apostle may have known of a need to exalt the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ in the eyes of some of the Christians at Thessalonica. (What the apostle Paul [and not just Paul] said in his epistles, as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, was greatly influenced by the need of the Christians to whom the epistles were written.) It may be relevant that the epistles to the Thessalonians were written earlier than the rest of Paul's epistles, except for his epistle to the Galatians. (1 and 2 Thessalonians were written about AD 50. 2 Timothy, his latest epistle, was written some 15 years later.) It is important to note that the apostle has already affirmed the preeminent role of God in the Father in this epistle in 2 Thess. 1:1, 3, 11, 12 and 2:11, 13, 14; also see 2 Thess. 1:4-7); so too in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians. The words that follow here in verse 16 refer to God the Father. Paul had already mentioned the love of the Lord Jesus for His people in verse 13.]], who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, (17) comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. (3:1) Finally, brethren, pray for us [The apostle either means pray to God the Father for us, or (in this context) pray to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also possible (in the light of what Paul goes on to say in the rest of this chapter) that he was thinking of praying to the Lord Jesus Christ. I won't count this verse of praying to the Father or the Son.] that the word of the Lord [the word that tells about God's salvation plans in and through the Lord Jesus Christ; the gospel] will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; (2) and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith [faith in God and His Son and His gospel]. (3) But the Lord [the Lord Jesus] is faithful, and He [the Lord Jesus] will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. [From this point on in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, which is the last chapter of this epistle, the apostle Paul addresses his requests to the Lord Jesus (verses 5, 16) and speaks of things He will do. However, as I mentioned, this epistle (along with the rest of the Bible) confirms the preeminent role of God the Father. As I also mentioned, the New Testament makes it clear that God the Son never acts independently of the will of God the Father or independent of His authority and power. Everything the Son does is done in agreement with the will of God the Father and is designed to bring glory to the Father. Of course, God the Son is glorified too.] (4) We have confidence in the Lord [the Lord Jesus] concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. [Paul had confidence that the strengthening and protecting work of the Lord Jesus would prevent the evil one and his followers, including "perverse and evil men," from thwarting God's plans.] (5) May the Lord [the Lord Jesus] direct your hearts into the love of God [probably with the emphasis on our loving God, but we couldn't love Him if He didn't love us first and apart from His enabling grace] and into the steadfastness of Christ." [It is unusual that this prayer was addressed to the Lord Jesus, but these words fit the context well. It is certainly appropriate for the Lord Jesus to direct our hearts into the love of God the Father and to make us steadfast. This is part of the strengthening and protecting work that Paul mentioned in verse 3.] ... (16) Now may the Lord of peace [apparently referring to the Lord Jesus (see John 14:27; 16:33). The "God of peace" is common in the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:23; Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9), referring to God the Father.] Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!"

1 Timothy 1:12-17. I'll just quote verse 17. After speaking of his thankfulness to Christ (I had a footnote: The BAGD Greek Lexicon (under charis) understands the first words of 1 Tim. 1:12 in the sense, "be grateful for something." The New Revised Standard Version starts verse 12 with the words, "I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord who strengthened me...." and the New Living Translation has, "How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord....") for the fact that He had strengthened him and put him into service (as a minister), even though he had formerly been "a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor" (verse 13) against Christ and His people, Paul launches into this glorious doxology to God the Father, who sent His Son into the world to save sinners, very much including Paul, who says he was foremost of sinners (verse 15) because of his former antichristian activities. "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God [God the Father], be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." Verses like this one strongly emphasize the preeminent role of God the Father, but they don't deny the full deity of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

1 Timothy 2:1-8. "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men [The verses that follow confirm that these entreaties, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings are addressed to God the Father. Our "mediator" (see verses 5, 6) between God the Father and us, the Lord Jesus, has brought us to God the Father (see John 14:6, for example). We pray to the Father in Jesus' name, even when we don't use the words "in Jesus name" or similar words.], (2) for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (3) This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior [God the Father], (4) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God [referring to God the Father. See Eph. 4:6, for example, which is quoted later in this paper.] and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (6) who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony [God the Son's giving Himself as a ransom for all in God the Father's plan of salvation certainly testified of God's desire to save all men (all who will repent and submit, in faith, to His plan of salvation).] given at the proper time. (7) For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (8) Therefore I want the men in every place to pray [to the One called "God" here, God the Father.] lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension." God the Father is mentioned here in 1 Tim. 2:1-8 along with the Lord Jesus, and the preeminent role of God the Father is strongly emphasized.

We'll continue this article in Part 4.

Copyright by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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