Ephesians 3:14–21comment (0)
October 7, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 3:14–21
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
God’s Power Strengthens
Most Christians are not bowled over when they hear that God can use His power to give them greater spiritual strength. Neither are most of them shocked to hear that such strength results in better understanding and experience of God’s love. However, many Christians are less familiar with and likely even less comfortable with the idea of experiencing “all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). This biblical truth may be so new or strange that they reject it without giving it further consideration. Or they may ask questions such as what does it mean, what does it describe, is it real and life related? Whichever way they respond, Christians need to find clear answers to these and other related questions in order to experience this area of spiritual growth and have greater spiritual strength.
What We Need (14–16)
This week’s lesson passage is the second of two prayers recorded in Ephesians. The first (1:15–23) stressed enlightenment (1:18); the second (3:14–21) stressed enablement (3:16). Both are prayers we should pray for ourselves and others. This second prayer is packed with spiritual truth. Paul prayed for spiritual strength for his readers. Notice Paul’s posture in prayer, “I bow my knees.” The Bible nowhere commands any one bodily posture for prayer, but bowing the knees suggests an attitude of submission, reverence and humility. Regardless of physical posture, such should be our spiritual posture in prayer. When Paul wrote “the Father from whom the whole family on earth and in heaven is named,” he was not teaching the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. There is a sense in which as Creator, God is the Father of each person, but as Savior, He is the Father of only those who have trusted Christ. In Scripture, there is no such thing as the fatherhood of God that saves all people. Paul was referring here to believers from throughout history, those who are dead and are in heaven and those who are alive on earth. Paul’s primary petition was that his readers will be strengthened inwardly by the Holy Spirit, that the power of the Holy Spirit may enable his readers to live the Christian life with power. The Christian faith is not some religious package tacked on to one’s life, nor is it merely religious exercise. It is an inner transformation produced by the Word of God and the Spirit of God as we trust Jesus. Spiritual power is a mark of every believer who submits to God’s Word and God’s Spirit. As the Scripture is studied and obeyed, the inner person will grow stronger through the Holy Spirit’s empowering ministry. Furthermore the power of the Holy Spirit is given to us “according to the riches of His glory.” His enablement is not limited to some special class of Christians but is limitless and abundantly available to every believer.
What We Receive (17–19)
The result of being empowered by the Holy Spirit in this way means that Christ settles down and is at home in our lives. Every believer is indwelt by Christ at the moment of salvation, but He is “at home” when the believer’s life is cleansed of sin and surrendered to the Holy Spirit. The Christian will begin to grasp a profound knowledge of God’s love — it goes beyond our full intellectual capacity to understand, yet we can still know it by experience. No Christian ever has to worry about having enough spiritual resources to meet the demands of life. Believers can experience the greatness of God, the super abundance of grace to us in the Lord Jesus. To be filled with the fullness of God does not mean that believers become the Deity. It does mean that all God’s spiritual resources are available to us.
Whom We Ask (20–21)
As Paul prayed and thought of such a marvelous spiritual experience as the fullness of God, he broke out in a doxology, a suitable benediction for such a powerful prayer. God’s Spirit working in us is able to accomplish things beyond our fondest dreams. Greater still is the amazing truth that God’s glory will be manifested in the body of His redeemed. We need not hesitate to ask God for more spiritual strength because He always has the resources to meet our needs.