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Sunday, February 17 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study, we saw God’s marvelous plan for the Gentiles and how Paul; a genuine messenger of Christ fitted into this plan. We saw this plan being fulfilled in the Gentile world to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God is known by the church. He then encouraged the Ephesians not to lose heart because he, Paul was suffering in chains and prayed this prayer for the saints. Today’s study is a prayer in continuation of his encouragement.

STRENGTHENED THROUGH HIS SPIRIT READ - Ephesians 3:14-16. 

  • Verse 14: “For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

Following from verses 1-13 where Paul related how God called him to minister to Gentiles Paul bowed in reverence to pray to the Father. He specifically uses the word Father for God. In patriarchal families of that day, the father was the authority figure, a man to be obeyed. 

  • Verse 15: “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named”

The assignment of names is the privilege of the creator.  In human families, the father and mother name their children.  Naming is essential to the child’s identity.  Not only does our name tell us who we are, but it ties us to our parents, who gave us our name. But the Heavenly Father is the ultimate Creator—the One who created all families, both those on earth (who are still alive) and those in heaven (those who have died).  The Heavenly Father thus has the right to assign names to all families—and to all of creation (Genesis 1:5, 8, 10).

Being named by the Heavenly Father gives us our spiritual identity, and ties us to our Father.

  • Verse 16: “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man”  

Paul prays that God would strengthen these Ephesian Christians “with power (dunamis) through his Spirit in the inward man.” The Greek word dunamis (from which we get our word dynamite) speaks of a special kind of power—the ability to do or to accomplish.  It is an enabling sort of power, because it equips us to do good things while leaving us freedom to exercise that power. It is natural that this power would come through the Holy Spirit—the presence of God with us—God dwelling in our hearts—God guiding and empowering us.

Paul prays that the measure of power accorded the Ephesian Christians and consequently us, might be in accord with “the riches of (God’s) glory.”  What a prayer!  The riches of God’s glory are infinite, so Paul is praying for God to shower us with infinite blessings. 

FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD - Read Ephesians 3:17-19. 

  • Verse 17a: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” 

The word dwell here refers to Christ making a home in our hearts and not just that but Him setting up housekeeping in our hearts—Christ making our hearts His dwelling place. The heart refers to the center of one’s being, both physical and spiritual—that which makes the individual person what he or she is—character, intellect, personality, etc.  Paul’s vision is that, having experienced God’s infinite blessings, Christians might harbor Christ’s presence in the innermost parts of their being by faith.

If Christ is to dwell in our hearts, we must receive him in faith.  Christ wants to bless every person, but will not force his way into their hearts.  Faith is the key that unlocks the door.

  • Verse 17b “to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (agape)

As every gardener knows, plants depend on their roots for nurture and sustenance.  The roots might be underground—invisible to the casual observer—but they are absolutely essential to the well-being of the plant. But much also depends on the soil in which the roots are rooted.  If the soil has moisture and nutrients, the roots will extract those and feed the plant—so that the plant can prosper.  However, if the soil contains no moisture or nutrients, the roots will be helpless—unable to support the life of the plant—and the plant will die. But these Christians have no reason to worry about the spiritual soil in which they are rooted.  It is agape—God’s love—the kind of love that a mother showers on her child—the kind of love that focuses on giving rather than getting.

  • Verse 18a: “may be strengthened to comprehend”

Being rooted in and surrounded by God’s love makes it possible for Christians to understand spiritual mysteries—” what is the breadth and length and height and depth.”

The Greek word used in place of the word comprehend is katalambano. It means more than comprehending or understanding.  The Greeks used this word to speak of reaching out to cross the finish line—to win the prize.  Paul is praying that God will strengthen us to enable us to reach out and grasp the prize—to emerge victorious.

  • Verse 18b: “with all the saints”

With Christ rooted in the depths of their being, these Christians join with all the saints—not just those who live nearby, or even those who are still alive. We, today, are joined with all the saints of history when we come to Christ in faith.  We are joined with all the saints of far-away lands—people whose color and culture are different than ours, but who share our faith in Christ. 

  • Verse 18c: “what is the breadth and length and height and depth” 

Having Christ at the center of our lives makes it possible for us to understand “the breadth and length and height and depth”the infinite measure of the One in whom we believe.

  • Verse 19a: “and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge” 

The love that Paul mentions here is Christ’s love for us—not our love for Christ.  He says that Christ’s love surpasses knowledge.  While the Greeks prized knowledge, their knowledge could take them only so far.  For one thing, their knowledge was imperfect.  We have learned so much in the past two thousand years, but our knowledge is also imperfect.  Also, our knowledge, however perfect, cannot bring us into the kingdom of God.  Only Christ’s love has that power.

  • Verse 19b: “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” 

Paul prays “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that…you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (vv. 17, 19).  In other words, the Christ who embodied the Godhead (Colossians 2:9) makes it possible for Christians to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (v. 19b)—so that we also embody the Godhead.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY - Read Ephesians 3:20-21 

  • Verse 20: “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”

Has Paul, in praying for these ordinary Christians to “be filled with all the fullness of God,” asked too much?  Not at all!  God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”—beyond anything our minds can imagine. Earlier, Jesus promised: 

Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.  Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14). 

That too seems too grand to be true—until we consider the meaning of asking in Jesus’ name. 

To pray in Jesus’ name requires that we first try to understand Jesus’ mind so that our prayers represent His will as closely as possible. It is bringing our prayers into accord with the essential character of Jesus. 

When we do that, everything becomes possible. At his ascension, Jesus promised: 

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

We, Jesus’ disciples, are His chosen instruments for proclaiming the Gospel.  It makes sense, then, that He would enable us for that task.  The enabling power is the Holy Spirit.

  • Verse 21: “to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” 

Paul concludes this chapter with a doxology (an expression of glory to God).  Doxologies of this sort are found frequently in both Old and New Testaments (Psalm 28:6; 31:21; 119:12; Romans 11:36; Galatians 1:5, Philippians 4:20, etc.). Jesus called the church to proclaim the glory of God in perpetuity—” forever and ever.”  That is how it has worked out.  It has been two thousand years since Jesus walked the dusty pathways of Israel, but the church is still giving God glory.  We are not only singing songs of glory in our worship, but we are also proclaiming the Gospel far and wide—and feeding the hungry and healing the sick all over the world in the name of the Christ who has called us.  Who could have imagined such a thing?  God could.  Jesus could.  Paul could. 

This study was culled from: https://www.sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/ephesians-314-21/

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