Much of this material was previously shared in a sermon for my father’s 19th Pastoral Anniversary in September 2021. This lesson, first shared in September 2022, goes into more detail.
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Now, when you think of great superheroes, which heroes come to mind?
Well, it’s hard to talk about superheroes without mentioning Superman. And, Superman is super because he’s more than a mere man.
According to Webster’s, the prefix “super” means “over and above: higher in….quality or degree”1 – “surpassing all.. others”.2
Considering this, compared to any other man, Superman is super.
Now, do you recall Superman’s Kryptonian name? It’s “Kal-El”. And recall that “el” is the Hebrew word for God. In Scripture, you’ll find it in many Hebrew names.
For example, Ezekiel (יְחֶזְקֵאל) means “God [strengthens]”3 or “may God strengthen”4 (חָזַק | ḥāzaq = “be(come) strong, strengthen”).5 Michael (מִיכָאֵל) means: who is like God?6
Also, the name Daniel (דָּנִיֵּאל) means “God’s judge”, or “one who delivers judgment in the name of God”7 or “[God] is my judge”8 (דִּין | dîn I) = “judge, contend, govern…”.9
Growing up in my parents’ house, there was always sign hanging on the door of my room that said “Danny… God is my judge.” And, I believe it’s still there.
Fun fact: legally, Pastor Scotton (Danny Scotton, Sr.) and I’s first name is actually Danny – not Daniel.
And, you know, throughout my life, often when people try to talk down to me, they’ll be like, “Listen here, Daniel.” And I be like, “Uh… that’s not my name.” And God is my judge.
But I digress. In any case, Superman, Kal-El has God in his Hebrew name. And given the accents of Clark Kent’s creators, Kal would likely be pronounced kol, which, in Hebrew, means voice.10 So, loosely, one could translate that name of Superman – Kal-El – as “Voice of God.”
You see, Superman is the creation of two Jewish writers. And if you recall, Kal-El is sent through space in a small ship – not unlike how Moses is sent down the Nile River in a small basket.11
And apparently, though her name later appears as Martha in 1986 (The Man of Steel #1), the first time Superman’s adoptive mother is mentioned – this is in Action Comics #1 in June 1938 – her name is Mary… Mary Kent.
Also, in Superman movies, you’ll often come across the image of Kal-El with his arms stretched wide in the shape of a cross.12 For example:
And, in the 2006 film, Superman Returns, Kal-El’s father, Jor-El (who’s played by actor Marlon Brando) tells his son, “I have sent them you… my only son.”13
And, of course, John 3:16 tells us that God loved the world in this way: that He gave His only (one-of-a-kind) Son, that whoever is faithful to Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
I say all that to say this: Superman is considered to be greatest superhero of all time. And as an archetype, Superman has inspired the creation of many other superheroes in our time. However, Superman is inspired by the Superhero who is over and above all – the Lord our God.
And our God is greater, Our God is stronger, Our God is higher than any other.
Thanks be to God, for over 30 years, in my life, my father, Pastor Scotton, has been my hero. And thanks be to God, for 20 years, in Alpha Baptist Church, Pastor Scotton has done many heroic things. To many others, as well, I bet he’s been a hero.
I bet some would even say that, at being a pastor, Pastor Scotton is super.
But no character in a comic book is nearly as important as the Character of this Cosmic Book. No actor deserves our attention more than the One we serve and act-for.
Watching professional pretenders ain’t nearly as important as seeking confessional surrender. We need to spend less time on people who play make-believe, and more time on trying to make people believe.
You should see how silly these actors look without the visual effects. Yet, in the lives of those who are really not acting, the power of God should have a visual effect.
Brothers and sisters, we all can be heroes. Because the same superpower that raised Christ from the dead, is at work in those who have been made alive in Christ (Eph 2:5).
And do you recall from where Superman gets his power? From the sun (S-U-N). And do you know where we get our power? From the Son (S-O-N).
Thanks be to Christ, it’s so super He rose.
With the power of God, let’s be superheroes.
Now, as most Greek letters did, Paul opens the letter to the Ephesian church with greetings, divine praise and thanksgiving (Eph 1:1f.). But while Greeks would direct thanksgiving and praise to other gods and powers, Paul directs his Christian thanksgiving and praise to the God who’s more powerful than any other.14
Then, in Ephesians 1:16, Paul says:
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Eph 1:16, NIV)
Then, from Ephesians 1:17-23, he explains the content of his prayers.15 Actually, in Greek, verse 15 to at least verse 23 is really one long, compound sentence (probably to even Eph 2:10).16
Just a reminder: verse divisions are not a part of the original, biblical text. As we’ve seen, many times, so called “verses” are not even complete sentences.
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9-21-22 No Pictures Bible Study Slides Ephesians 1_17-23
In conclusion, Paul prays that the Ephesian church would have spiritual illumination concerning the knowledge of God, so that they will know the certain hope of His calling, the glorious riches of the eternal spiritual inheritance and blessings that God gives His holy people, and His immeasurably great power for those who are continually faithful.
And that power – that superpower of the Spirit – it’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him in the heavens at the right hand of God – above any other supernatural power at any place at any time.
It’s the same power that put everything in creation under the feet of Christ, who is God’s gift to the Church. And the Church is His body, which is filled by Him who brings all things to their fulfillment.
As different parts of the body of Christ, we all have different gifts and different functions. But at work in all true Christians is the same superpower from the God who is over and above all.
We thank God for all of the super things Pastor Scotton has done through God’s power. He has been a hero to many on many occasions. And I pray that he has many more occasions.
Yet, we can all be heroes. My brother you can be a super-man. My sister, you can be a super-woman.
Do you have a gift of prophesying, then you can be super in your prophesying! Do you have a gift of serving? You can be super in your service! Do you have a gift of teaching? You can be super in your teaching!
You can be super with encouragement. Super in giving. Super in leading. Super in showing mercy.
With God’s superpower, we can be holy. We can be righteous. We can be united. We can be ignited. So, let’s fan into flame the super gifts of God that are in us! (cf. 2 Tim 1:6).
And with God’s superpower of the Spirit at work in us, we can all heroically proclaim the Gospel of Christ and bring someone into the Body of Christ.
You might not be Wonder Woman, but we’re empowered by the Wonderful Counselor. You might not be as rich as Batman, we have glorious riches in Christ. You might not be Green Lantern, but we’ve been given the Green Light to spread the Gospel.
So let’s make the Gospel go viral – let’s spread it far and wide. In a spiritual sense, we can all be super-spreaders.
Thanks be to Christ, it’s so super He rose.
With the power of God, let’s be superheroes.
May the LORD bless you and keep you.
- Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. [BDAG]
- Arnold, Clinton E. “Ephesians”. In Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Romans to Philemon. Vol. 3. Edited by Clinton E. Arnold. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
- Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–. [EDNT]
- Bratcher, Robert G., and Eugene Albert Nida. A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993. [UBS]
- Fee, Gordon D. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995.
- Foulkes, Francis. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989.
- Gurtner, Daniel M. “Ephesians.” In The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon, edited by Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck, First Edition., 547–67. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2004.
- Isaak, Joshua. “The Secret Hebrew Meaning Behind Superman’s Real Name”. ScreenRant.com. July 31, 2021. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://screenrant.com/superman-secret-hebrew-name-jewish-kal-el-moses/ [SR]
- Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2014.
- Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996. [LN]
- Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.
- Motyer, J. A. The Message of Philippians. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984.
- Silva, MoisÈs, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014. [NIDNTTE]
- Turner, Max. “Ephesians.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 1222–44. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
- Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.