“That God would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”
What does “revelation” mean? The bible lists several types:
- Natural revelation (creation, logic, science, etc).
- Special revelation (God’s speaking, theophanic appearances, etc).
2a. The Bible.
2b. Words of knowledge/prophetic utterances
So when Paul wants God to give them a spirit of revelation, which kind does he mean? I think all sides can rule out (1), since it wouldn’t make much sense in the context of Paul’s prayer. Let’s leave aside all varieties of (2) for a moment. (3) could work but I am not sure Paul means that. Strictly speaking, if (3) obtains then we have the following:
(3*) God would give a spirit of wisdom and Jesus in the knowledge of him.
Technically, that’s true. And that’s not a bad way to pray. But from our perspective I’m not sure that adds too much to the discussion. What does it mean to have a spirit of Jesus? Well, basic Sunday School lessons could work here, and the Bible elsewhere commends the Spirit of Christ. But if revelation = Jesus, then what content does that add to our knowledge? It’s not immediately clear. And I don’t think that’s what cessationists have in mind when they say “revelation.” Sure, they will quote Hebrews 1, thinking revelation ceased with the coming of Christ, but that only proves that Jesus is the final word, not the Bible.
Therefore, I suggest that when a cessationist reads Ephesians 1:17, he sees it as saying,
(2a*) God will give you a spirit of the closed canon of Scripture.
It’s not immediately wrong, but it’s clunky and almost certainly not what Paul had in mind.