A. God’s mystery and man’s place in it revealed.
1. (1-5) Preface to the revelation of the mystery.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles; if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
a. I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles: During his Roman imprisonment Paul was under house arrest. In the day he was free to move around the house with the supervision of soldiers, but every night he was chained to a soldier to make sure he did not escape before his trial before Caesar. But he saw himself as the prisoner of Jesus Christ. He knew that Jesus was the Lord of his life, not the Roman government, so if he was a prisoner, he was Jesus’ prisoner.
i. In the same way, we don’t work for a boss; we work for Jesus. We aren’t parents for children; we are parents for Jesus. The same principle applies to any area of life.
b. For you Gentiles: The entire reason he was under arrest, awaiting trial was because of his missionary efforts on behalf of the Gentiles.
i. Paul suffered for the very truth he would explain to the Ephesians, and this did not make him back down one bit.
ii. The last thing Paul wanted was people to feel sorry for him because he was imprisoned. He wanted his readers to realize that it is a benefit for them that he was a prisoner.
c. If indeed you have heard: This suggests Paul knew his particular calling to the Gentile world was well known among Gentile Christians.
d. You have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you: The word dispensation speaks of the “implemented strategy” of God’s plan in the church. “Here as in Ephesians 1:9, however, it is to be interpreted rather as the implementation of a strategy.” (Wood)
i. “By the dispensation of the grace of God we may understand, either the apostolic office and gifts granted to St. Paul, for the purpose of preaching the Gospel among the Gentiles . . . or the knowledge which God gave him of that gracious and Divine plan which he had formed for the conversion of the Gentiles.” (Clarke)
e. How that by revelation: Paul wanted them to know, “I’m not making this up. This isn’t my invention. God gave me the revelation and I am only His messenger of this truth.” It cost Paul a lot to hold on to this mystery, so he probably would not have made it up himself.
i. It is indeed amazing that God would take a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee, and a persecutor of the church to be the main minister of the mystery, the mystery of the work of the gospel in bringing Jew and Gentile together into one new body.
f. He made known to me the mystery: The principle Paul will describe is a mystery, yet it is known. However, it would never be known if God did not make it known.
i. “In English a ‘mystery’ is something dark, obscure, secret, puzzling. What is ‘mysterious’ is inexplicable, even incomprehensible. The Greek word mysterion is different, however. Although still a ‘secret’, it is no longer closely guarded but open . . . More simply, mysterion is a truth hitherto hidden from human knowledge or understanding but now disclosed by the revelation of God.” (Stott)
g. He made known to me the mystery: Paul did not hesitate to claim that the mystery he will reveal was given to him by revelation. But it was not given to only him by revelation. It was also given specifically to Peter by revelation (Acts 11:1-18), and it is consistent with prophecy in the Old Testament (such as Isaiah 49:6) and the specific words of Jesus (Acts 1:8).
i. However, it seems that God used Paul to declare specifically how Jews and Gentiles would be joined together in one Body of Christ. This was something hinted at through others, but only specifically detailed through Paul’s revelation. Paul trusted that his readers would understand what God revealed to him.
h. Was not made known to the sons of men, as it now has been revealed: The nature of the union of Jews and Gentiles into this new body is the aspect that was not made known. In the Old Testament, the salvation of Gentiles in the Messiah is prophesied, the coming together of Jew and Gentile into the Church is never spoken of.
2. (6-7) The mystery described.
That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
a. That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body: This describes the mystery itself - that believing Jews and believing Gentiles are joined together into one Body of Christ, into one Church, and no longer separated before God as such.
b. Partakers of His promise in Christ: The truth of this mystery means that Gentiles are now full partakers of His promise. This was a privilege no longer reserved only for the believing Jewish person.
c. Through the gospel: This could only happen through the gospel, where all men have an equal standing in Jesus. This is the same gospel Paul is a servant of, because of the gift of grace given to him by the working of God’s power.
i. Paul says he is a minister, but that is a title of service, not exaltation. In classical literature of ancient Greece, the minister (diakonos) “is a table waiter who is always at the bidding of his customers.” (Wood)
3. (8-9) Paul’s presentation of the mystery.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
a. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints: Paul marveled at the grace given to him, by which he was called to preach the gospel that makes the mystery a reality. When we consider Paul’s personal history, we see that his calling really was all of grace.
i. “But while Paul was thus thankful for his office, his success in it greatly humbled him. The fuller a vessel becomes the deeper it sinks in the water. A plenitude of grace is a cure for pride.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Preachers ought to grow in grace, for their very calling places them at a great advantage, since they are bound to search the Scriptures, and to be much in prayer. It is a choice mercy to be permitted to preach the gospel. I wish some of you would be ambitious of it, for earnest preachers are wanted.” (Spurgeon)
b. That I should preach: The ancient Greek word translated “preach” literally means “to announce good news.” Paul’s preaching was simply the announcement of the good news of what God has done in Jesus.
c. The unsearchable riches of Christ: They mystery is like great riches for the Gentiles. They can now come before God in a standing they could only dream of before.
i. Paul tried to figure out the greatness of God’s grace, and started tracking it out as one might track out the shore of a lake. But he soon discovered that it wasn’t a lake at all, but an ocean, an immeasurable sea. God’s riches are unsearchable; we will never know them completely.
ii. Unsearchable riches also tells us this is something good. “The doctrines of the gospel are a golden throne upon which Jesus sits, as king-not a hard, cold stone rolled at the door of the sepulcher in which Christ is hidden.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “I am bold to tell you that my Master’s riches of grace are so unsearchable, that he delights to forgive and forget enormous sin; the bigger the sin the more glory to his grace. If you are over head and ears in debt, he is rich enough to discharge your liabilities. If you are at the very gates of hell, he is able to pluck you from the jaws of destruction.” (Spurgeon)
d. To make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery: Having been entrusted with such riches, Paul’s passion was to make this gospel known to all people. He wants everybody to see and share in the fellowship of this mystery - which is a mystery precisely because it was unknown and unknowable until God revealed it.
e. Fellowship of the mystery: We should carefully consider what this phrase means. It demonstrates that these are not only facts to know but also a life to live, united in Jesus with other believers, without any separation such as existed between Jew and Gentile.
f. Which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God: This great truth - the fellowship of the mystery - was hidden before it was revealed after the finished work of Jesus on the cross. This reinforces the idea that there is genuinely something new in the New Covenant, and that it is wrong to consider Israel simply the Old Testament Church and the Church the New Testament Israel.
i. “This statement settles the question once for all concerning the existence of the church, the body of Christ, in and during the Old Testament dispensations. Yet it is one of the most widespread views that the church existed from the beginning of creation and the words of promise contained in the Old Testament prophetic Word are the promises of the church, and its glorious future on the earth, in reigning over the nations.” (Gaebelein)
3. (10-12) The purpose of the mystery.
To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
a. That now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known: God is a Being of infinite wisdom and glory, and He wants His creatures to know His great and manifold wisdom. One purpose in His great plan of the ages is to reveal this wisdom.
i. Understanding the character of God, we can say that this is not for a selfish or self-glorying motive, in the way we think of the proud man showing his brains and accomplishments to everyone. God does this for the glory of His creatures, because the glory of the creature is directly connected to the glory of the Creator.
ii. This wisdom is manifold. The ancient Greek word polupoikilos, has the ideas of intricacy, complexity, and great beauty. “That hath abundance of curious variety in it, such as is seen in the best pictures or textures.” (Trapp)
iii. It also must be made known. Dean Alford points out that the words might be made known are emphatic, strongly contrasting the idea of hidden in Ephesians 3:9.
b. Might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers: This explains how God will reveal His wisdom, and to whom He reveals it. He will reveal it by His work in the church, and He will reveal it to angelic beings (principalities and powers).
i. Of course, God also wants to reveal this wisdom to the church. But in the big picture, God doesn’t use the angels to reveal His wisdom to the saints, but He does use the saints to reveal His wisdom to the angelic beings, both faithful and fallen angels. This reminds us that we are called for something far greater than our own individual salvation and sanctification. We are called to be the means by which God teaches the universe a lesson, and a beautiful lesson.
ii. We are surrounded by invisible spiritual beings, and they intently look upon us. Here, Paul draws back the invisible curtain that hides these beings just as Elisha prayed at Dothan, Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. (2 Kings 6:17) These angelic beings see us perfectly and know us far better than we know them.
iii. “What then have they to learn from us? Ah, they have to learn something which makes them watch us with wonder and with awe. They see in us indeed all our weakness, and all our sin. But they see a nature which, wrecked by itself, was yet made in the image of their God and ours. And they see this God at work upon that wreck to produce results not only wonderful in themselves but doubly wonderful because of the conditions.” (Moule)
iv. “In his immortality, never touched by one drop of our cold river, it is instructive to him beyond all our thought to see his God triumphing over pain and death in some sufferer in the fire of martyrdom, or in the torture of cancer, or in the shipwreck, or just in the silent awe of any form of our departure from the body . . . They see these fallen and mortal beings, this Community of the lost and saved, not only bearing and doing for God here on earth, but spiritually present with Him in the Holy of Holies above.” (Moule)
v. Sometimes Christians get the crazy idea that God saved them and works in their life because they are somehow such great people. The angels see right through this. We might believe that it is because of us; the angels know better. We may think our lives are small and insignificant; the angels know better. We may doubt our high standing, seating in heavenly places; the angels see this spiritual reality with eyes wide open.
vi. “It is as if a great drama is being enacted. History is the theatre, the world is the stage, and the church members in every land are the actors. God himself has written the play, and he directs and produces it. Act by act, scene by scene, the story continues to unfold. But who are the audience? They are the cosmic intelligences, the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” (Stott)
vii. “The Angels are instructed in God’s wisdom . . . by the fact of the great spiritual body, constituted in Christ, which the contemplate, and which is to them the theatre of the glory of God.” (Alford) “The history of the Christian church becomes a graduate school for angels.” (Stott, quoting Mackay)
c. To the principalities and powers in the heavenly places: This means that angelic beings are interested and instructed by the lives of Christians. This is why the conduct of the church is so important: because angelic and demonic beings are looking on, and God’s intent is to teach them through us. Several passages refer to this:
· For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10)
· The things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:12)
· I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. (1 Timothy 5:21)
i. We should take this responsibility seriously, for angels are given the responsibility to carry souls to heaven at death (Luke 16:22) and are the reapers of the final harvest (Matthew 13:39-43).
ii. “And, lastly, what think some of you, would angels say of your walk and conversation? Well, I suppose you don’t care much about them, and yet you should. For who but angels will be the reapers at the last, and who but they shall be the convoy to our spirits across the last dark stream? Who but they shall carry our spirit like that of Lazarus into the Father’s bosom? Surely we should not despise them.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “O be not, ye converts, ignorant of the word of God; be not oblivious of the operations of God in your own souls! The angels desire to look into these things. Do you look into them?” (Spurgeon)
iv. A popular interpretation today sees the principalities and powers as modern political states and economic structures. The idea is that the church primarily is a witness to them, and should redeem governments and social structures through its witness. But Paul specifically wrote that these principalities and powers are in the heavenly places, not in earthly places.
d. According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished: The mystery reveals and furthers God’s eternal purpose in Jesus, previously described in Ephesians 1:10 - that in the fullness of the times, God will gather together (essentially, to sum up or resolve) all things in Jesus.
i. The mystery of the unified Body of Christ is according to that purpose. It is a preview of what Jesus will ultimately do in the fulfillment of summing up all things in Himself.
ii. “The church thus appears to be God’s pilot scheme for the reconciled universe of the future, the mystery of God’s will to be administered in the fullness of the times when the things in heaven and the things on earth are brought together in Christ.” (Bruce)
e. Which He accomplished: There is a sense in which Paul can say that this eternal purpose is already accomplished. Its fulfillment is a certainty (as shown by the initial work of bringing Jew and Gentile together in Jesus), so he can speak of it as already finished.
f. Through faith in Him: The fact of this unity is shown by the truth that we (Jew and Gentile collectively) have the identical boldness, access and confidence before God - because it has nothing to do with national or ethnic identity, only with faith in Him (Jesus).
i. The word for boldness has the idea of “freedom of speech.” We have the freedom to express ourselves before God, without fear or shame. “The Greek word ‘parresia’ translated by ‘boldness’ means really ‘free speech’ - that is, the speaking of all. It is the blessed privilege of prayer.” (Gaebelein)
ii. Divisions in the church have not always been between Jew and Gentile. The Reformers spoke out against the division between “clergy” and “laity” and the teaching of the priesthood of all believers insisted that all had the same access to God.
4. (13) Paul’s current personal participation in the mystery.
Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
a. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart: Though under arrest for the sake of the gospel, Paul asks his readers to not lose heart. Paul didn’t want them to be discouraged for his sake, because Paul was still being used in the service of God’s eternal plan.
b. My tribulations for you: Paul wrote the Letter to the Ephesians from prison, and it is useful to remember why Paul was in prison. He lived his whole life with the passion to bring salvation to his own people, the Jews (Romans 9:1-3). On a strategic visit to Jerusalem he had the opportunity to preach to a vast crowd on or near the temple mount (Acts 21:39-22:22), but the opportunity ended in disaster because the Jewish crowd could not stand the idea of the good news of the Messiah being extended to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21-22). The ensuing riot put Paul in a legal dilemma, from which he used his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar. Now Paul was imprisoned in Rome, waiting for his trial before Caesar - and there because he knew God wanted Gentiles to share in the good news of the Messiah, and he wasn’t afraid to preach that truth.
c. Which is your glory: Paul was being used, and probably in a greater way than he ever imagined. This Roman imprisonment produced the letters of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. They all certainly have a place in God’s eternal plan.
i. In the same manner, each of us has a place in the service of God’s eternal plan. Knowing this and working towards it is a great guard against losing heart in the midst of tribulation.
B. Paul prays in light of the mystery.
1. (14-15) Introduction to the prayer.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
a. For this reason: The basis of Paul’s prayer was his knowledge of God’s purpose. This means he confidently prayed according to God’s will. We can’t pray effectively if we do not have insight into God’s purpose and will.
b. I bow my knees: Paul prayed in the posture of bowing his knees. This position of utmost humility was in contrast to the more normal posture of prayer in that culture, to pray standing with hands raised up.
i. The humility comes when he considers God’s great eternal plan, his place in that plan, and how God’s work is unstoppable even when Paul is imprisoned.
ii. Solomon prayed on his knees (1 Kings 8:54). Ezra prayed on his knees (Ezra 9:5). The Psalmist called us to kneel (Psalm 95:6). Daniel prayed on his knees (Daniel 6:10). People came to Jesus kneeling (Matthew 17:14, Matthew 20:20, and Mark 1:40). Stephen prayed on his knees (Acts 7:60). Peter prayed on his knees (Acts 9:40). Paul prayed on his knees (Acts 20:36), and other early Christians prayed on their knees (Acts 21:5). Most importantly, Jesus prayed on His knees (Luke 22:41). The Bible has enough prayer not on the knees to show us that it isn’t required, but it also has enough prayer on the knees to show us that it is good.
iii. Adam Clarke saw a connection between Solomon’s kneeling prayer at the dedication of the temple and Paul’s kneeling prayer here. “Many parts of this prayer bear a strict resemblance to that offered by Solomon when dedicating the temple . . . The apostle was now dedicating the Christian Church.”
c. To the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Paul directed his prayer to the Father, who is presented as the “planner” among the members of the Trinity. Prayer is usually directed to the Father, through the Son, by the empowering and direction of the Holy Spirit.
d. From whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named: In remembering that all God’s family is called after His name, Paul showed that his mind was rather taken with this idea of the essential unity of the Body of Christ. God is Father of both Jew and Gentile.
i. Charles Spurgeon preached a touching sermon titled, Saints in Heaven and Earth One Family. In it he developed the idea that we are one with our brothers and sisters in heaven, and how this enriches our hope of heaven.
ii. Some commentators think Paul refers to heavenly families in the sense of families of angels. “May not the holy Angels be bound up in spiritual families, though they marry not nor are given in marriage?” (Alford)
2. (16-19) Paul prays again for the Ephesians.
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
a. To be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man: Paul asked that they would be strengthened with might, and that the strength would be according to the riches of His glory (a most generous measure). He also prayed that the strength would come through the Holy Spirit and that it would be put into their inner man.
i. There is an inner man just as real as our physical body. We all understand the importance of strength in our physical body, but many are exceedingly weak in the inner man.
ii. According to the riches of His glory: “It would be a disgrace to a king or a nobleman to give no more than a tradesman or a peasant. God acts up to the dignity of his infinite perfections; he gives according to the riches of his glory.” (Clarke)
b. That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith: Paul asked that Jesus would live in these believers, even as Jesus promised in John 14:23: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
i. Two ancient Greek words convey the idea “to live in.” One has the idea of living in a place as a stranger, and the other has the idea of settling down in a place to make it your permanent home. Dwell uses the ancient Greek word for a permanent home. Jesus wants to settle down in your heart, not just visit as a stranger.
ii. “Coming to them in a sense, in a respect, so deep and great, as to constitute a practically new arrival, and remaining where He so arrives not as a Guest, precariously detained, but as a Master resident in His proper home.” (Moule)
iii. The glory of the indwelling Jesus is something for us to know, and to know by faith. It is there for us, but must be taken hold of through faith. “You have your Bible, and you have your knees; use them.” (Carr John Glynn, godfather to H. C. G. Moule)
iv. Why do we need spiritual strength to let Christ dwell within us? It is because there is something in us that resists the influence of the indwelling Jesus. That something can be conquered as the Spirit of God gives us the victory of faith.
v. Through faith has the idea, “through your faith.” This is how Christ dwells in our heart. “The Indwelling is, from one side, the sovereign gift of God. From the other, it is a matter for the simplest and most personal reception by man. And then, the form of that reception is just this - faith; reliance, submissive trust; not animated action, not exalted aspiration, but acceptance.” (Moule)
c. Being rooted and grounded in love: Paul asked that all this would take place as they were rooted and grounded in love. The meaning seems to be that they should be rooted and grounded in their love for one another, more than being rooted and grounded in their love for God and the knowledge of that love.
i. “Two expressions are used: ‘rooted,’ like a living tree which lays hold upon the soil, twists itself round the rocks, and cannot be upturned: ‘grounded,’ like a building which has been settled, as a whole, and will never show any cracks or flaws in the future through failures in the foundation.” (Spurgeon)
d. May be able to comprehend with all the saints: Paul asked that they might be able to understand together, in community every dimension of the love of Jesus. Paul wanted them to know it by experience and not just in words.
i. “In this measurement may you and I be skilled. If we know nothing of mathematics, may we be well-tutored scholars in this spiritual geometry, and be able to comprehend the breadths and lengths of Jesu’s precious love.” (Spurgeon)
e. What is the width and length and depth and height: This means that the love of Jesus has dimensions and that it can be measured.
i. “Alas, to a great many religious people the love of Jesus is not a solid substantial thing at all -it is a beautiful fiction, a sentimental belief, a formal theory, but to Paul it was a real, substantial, measurable fact; he had considered it this way, and that way, and the other way, and it was evidently real to him, whatever it might be to others.” (Spurgeon)
ii. The love of Jesus has width. You can see how wide a river is by noticing how much it covers over. God’s river of love is so wide that it covers over my sin, and it covers over every circumstance of my life, so that all things work together for good. When I doubt His forgiveness or His providence, I am narrowing the mighty river of God’s love. His love is as wide as the world: For God so loved the world (John 3:16)
iii. “Some of them seem to be so taken up with the height and length that they deny the breadth, and you would think from hearing them preach that Christ came into the world to save half-a-dozen, and that they were five of them . . . Out on their narrowness! There will be more in heaven than we expect to see there by a long way; and there will be some there with whom we had very little comfortable fellowship on earth who had fellowship with Christ, and who are therefore taken to dwell with him for ever.” (Spurgeon)
iv. The love of Jesus has length. When considering the length of God’s love, ask yourself “When did the love of God start towards me? How long will it continue?” These truths measure the length of God’s love. Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)
v. The love of Jesus has depth. Philippians 2:7-8 tell us how deep the love of Jesus goes: but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. You can’t go lower than the death of the cross, and that is how deep the love of Jesus is for us.
vi. The love of Jesus has height. To see the height of God’s love, ask yourself, “How high does it lift me?” It lifts me to heavenly places where I am seated with Christ. He has faised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).
vii. Can we really comprehend the width and length and depth and height of God’s love? To come to any understanding of the dimensions of God’s love, we must come to the cross. The cross pointed in four ways, essentially in every direction, because . . .
· God’s love is wide enough to include every person.
· God’s love is long enough to last through all eternity.
· God’s love is deep enough to reach the worst sinner.
· God’s love is high enough to take us to heaven.
f. To know the love of Christ: Paul wrote of something we can know. This isn’t speculation, guesswork, emotions, or feelings. This is something to know.
i. “One of these philosophers kindly says that religion is a matter of belief; not of knowledge. This is clean in opposition to all the teaching of Scripture.” (Spurgeon)
g. That you may be filled with all the fullness of God: Paul asked God to fill these Christians unto all the fullness of God. The word unto is a better translation than the word with. Paul wanted Christians to experience life in Jesus Christ, the fullness of God (Colossians 2:9), and to be filled to their capacity with Jesus, even as God is filled to His own capacity with His own character and attributes.
i. “Among all the great sayings in this prayer, this is the greatest. To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater; but to be filled with all the fullness of God utterly bewilders the sense and confounds the understanding.” (Clarke)
3. (20-21) A glorious doxology.
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, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
a. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think: As Paul came to this great height (what can there be higher than the fullness of God?), it is logical to ask how this can ever be. How can something so far above us ever become reality? It can only happen because God is able to do far beyond what we ask or think.
i. This doxology does not only belong to the prayer that precedes it, but also to every glorious privilege and blessing spoken of the first three chapters. Who is able to bring such things to pass? Only God can do this, because He can do far beyond our ability to think or ask.
ii. Paul says that God is able to do above all that we ask or think. The we includes Paul and the other apostles - and they certainly knew that Jesus could do great things.
· You can ask for every good thing you have ever experienced - God can do above that.
· You can think of or imagine things beyond your experience - God can do above that.
· You can imagine good things that are beyond your ability to name - God can do above that.
iii. Spurgeon on the phrase exceedingly abundantly: “He has constructed here in the Greek an expression which is altogether his own. No language was powerful enough for the apostle, - I mean for the Holy Ghost speaking through the apostle, - for very often Paul has to coin words and phrases to shadow forth his meaning, and here is one, ‘He is able to do exceeding abundantly,’ so abundantly that it exceeds measure and description.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Therefore he is able to do all things, and able to do superabundantly above the greatest abundance.” (Clarke)
b. According to the power that works in us: God is able to do this in our life now, not beginning with heaven. This power . . . works in us now.
i. The things Paul prayed for in the previous verses (spiritual strength, the indwelling Jesus, experiential knowledge of God’s love, and the fullness of God) belong to us as children of God. However, they must be received by believing prayer and can be furthered in the lives of others by our prayers for them.
c. To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus: The only fitting response to this great God is to give Him glory - especially in the church, the company of His redeemed, and that He receive that glory throughout all ages, world without end - Amen!
i. When the church understands and walks in God’s eternal purpose, God will be glorified and the church will fulfill its important duty of simply glorifying God.
ii. “But the apostle felt that he must not say, ‘Unto him be glory in my soul.’ He wished that, but his one soul afforded far too little space, and so he cried ‘unto him, be glory in the church.’ He calls upon all the people of God to praise the divine name.” (Spurgeon)
© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission