Commentary on Ephesians, 1:17

Ephesians 1:17
“16 do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, {the glorious Father}, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him”  LEB
“a spirit of”
The latest update of the ESV translation reads:  “the Spirit of…”  NIV reads the same way.
Before the update, the ESV read:  “a spirit of…”
While I believe the ESV to be a very accurate translation, I think the translation team made a mistake in their update. I believe they were correct before they made the change.
This phrase in most translations reads “a spirit of” or “the spirit of.”
The NET Bible reads as follows:
I pray that43 the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,44 may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation45 in your growing knowledge of him,46
Here is their note on this phrase:
Or “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” or “a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” Verse 17 involves a complex exegetical problem revolving around the Greek term πνεῦμα (pneuma). Some take it to mean “the Spirit,” others “a spirit,” and still others “spiritual.” (1) If “the Spirit” is meant, the idea must be a metonymy of cause for effect, because the author had just indicated in vv. 13-14 that the Spirit was already given (hence, there is no need for him to pray that he be given again). But the effect of the Spirit is wisdom and revelation. (2) If “a spirit” is meant, the idea may be that the readers will have the ability to gain wisdom and insight as they read Paul’s letters, but the exact meaning of “a spirit” remains ambiguous. (3) To take the genitives following πνεῦμα as attributed genitives (see ExSyn 89-91), in which the head noun (“S/spirit”) functions semantically like an adjective (“spiritual”) is both grammatically probable and exegetically consistent.
I agree with the translators of the NET Bible, and many other translations (LEB, NAS, KJV, NKJV, HCS, NLT), that this does NOT refer to the Holy Spirit, because Paul would not be praying that the Ephesian Christians receive the Holy Spirit, since we receive the Spirit at conversion, and are already indwelt by Him.
There must be a difference between having wisdom and having a spirit of wisdom. I believe the NET Bible is correct that it refers to spiritual wisdom, as a reference to that which proceeds from the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18,19), as opposed to the wisdom of the world. We see this clearly in 1 Cor 2:12,13:
“12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who [is] from God, in order that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13 [things] which we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in [words] taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual [things] to spiritual [people].”  LEB
Thus what Paul is praying for the Ephesian Christians is that they be given a wisdom and revelation that is of a spiritual nature, as proceeding from the Holy Spirit, and not the sort that is of the world.
Furthermore, I believe Paul’s prayer request has to do with not simply obtaining wisdom and revelation, as of a temporary sort for a specific purpose, but wisdom and revelation that is abiding. In other words, I believe what Paul had in mind is that God would grant to them a wisdom and revelation that not only proceeds from the Holy Spirit, but also that they would walk in it, that it would be of a continuous nature.
When you stop and think about it, praying for a spirit of wisdom and revelation is not the type of language we use today. When we need wisdom, we normally simply pray that God would give us wisdom, or that we would learn to walk in wisdom. This walking in wisdom and revelation that proceeds from the Holy Spirit is what I believe Paul was actually praying for.
Those who walk in the Spirit, will walk in wisdom and revelation as they commit themselves to reading and studying the Word of God. As we give ourselves to the diligent study of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes of understanding (revelation) as we rely upon Him, and He will give us the wisdom to apply His Word to our lives in the process.
We are to walk in wisdom on a daily, even moment by moment, basis. As we saturate our minds with God’s mind, we will learn to walk in wisdom, for it will be the Holy Spirit leading us and empowering us according to what He has taught us (revealed to us).
Christians who spend little time in God’s Word, but spend a lot of time watching television and movies, and stuff on the internet, will not have what is needed to walk in wisdom and revelation. On the contrary, the wisdom they learn will be the wisdom of this world. They will thus not have the spiritual discernment to walk according to the wisdom that comes from God and His revelation.
Little time in God’s Word is not only foolish, but those who have that practice, are short-changing themselves. They’re not taking full advantage of this precious gift that’s been given to us. Having the Word of God, and being able to walk in its light is such a rich blessing. So many Christians around the world live in countries where the Bible is outlawed. They would love to have what we have here in America, and in other free countries.
We take the Bible for granted, and we shouldn’t. We should thank God for it everyday, and pour our hearts into learning it. If we’re not spending quality and quantity time in God’s Word, on a daily basis, we will not be able to walk in God’s will. We will not be able to discern between right and wrong, between holy and unholy, and that which is pleasing to the Lord and not pleasing to the Lord. We will not be able to discern between the spiritual and the worldly.
That’s why I’ve decided to write a commentary on the book of Ephesians. It’s been my experience that most Christians simply aren’t spending much time in God’s Word. And when they do, it’s more of a devotional type of thing. Don’t get me wrong, we need that too. But the real treasure of God’s Word lies below the surface where we have to dig for it. The deeper we dig, the more gold we find.
Therefore, by God’s grace, I’m committed to digging for the treasure of God’s Word, and writing a commentary on the New Testament in the process. Please pray for me as I do.
“in the knowledge of him”
We can only grow in and walk in wisdom and revelation as we grow in “the knowledge of Him.” I believe Paul has two things in mind here. First is the knowledge of God that we gain from our study of the Word of God. This has to do with our understanding about God and His attributes and how He works in our lives. It has to do with the will of God, and what He requires of us as followers of Christ. But also I believe he’s referring to our personal relationship with God.
We as Christians come into a personal relationship with God through His Son. Such a wonderful gift He’s given to us, but how many of us spend much time getting to know Him? How many of us can confidently say that we have a close walk with God? If we don’t believe we’re there yet, why not? Believe me, I’m preaching to myself!
We have this opportunity to get to know this awesome God, in a way the world can’t even begin to comprehend. Yet, many of us don’t really consider how special this privilege is that we have been granted. To know God, to walk with God, to be close to God, to be used by God; is there anything in life to be valued more than that? I think most, if not all Christians would say “no.” However, many live as though they don’t really mean it or believe it.
I don’t know about you, but when I meet the Lord Jesus, I don’t want to meet a stranger. I want to be able to recognize Him as the One I communed with and walked with and served as a true disciple.
I exhort you to let go of the temporary and unimportant things, and seek to know God with a passion. Let Him be your passion.