"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Paul's Second Prayer For The Ephesians (3:14-21) INTRODUCTION 1. In the previous lesson we saw where Paul was about to start his second prayer for the Ephesians in Ep 3:1... a. However, he interrupts himself when describing himself as "the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles" b. Lest they be troubled at whatever tribulations he endured as a prisoner (Ep 3:13), Paul stresses the fact that: 1) His apostleship to the Gentiles (even with its tribulations) was a gift to him through the wonderful grace of God
- Ep 3:2-7 2) His purpose was to "preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" - Ep 3:8-11 3) That in Christ he had "boldness and access with confidence through faith" in Christ - Ep 3:12 2. Having completed his brief interruption, in Ep 3:14-21 Paul now continues with his second prayer for the Ephesians (the first having been in Ep 1:15-23) 3. The phrase "For this reason..." (Ep 3:14; also 3:1) indicates that Paul expresses his prayer in response to those things mentioned earlier, such as: a. The wonderful salvation by grace through faith - Ep 2:1-10 b. The work by Christ on the cross whereby Gentiles can now become "fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise" - Ep 2:11-22; 3:6 [With gratitude in his heart for God's grace toward the Gentiles, Paul now prays in their behalf, starting with...] I. THE "INVOCATION" (14-15) A. POSTURE IN PRAYER... 1. In this prayer, Paul "bows the knee", a posture in prayer commonly found throughout the Scriptures
- cf. Lk 22:41; Ac 9:40; 20:36; 21:5 2. However, there does not appear to be an "official posture" when it comes to prayer... a. Solomon "stood" when he prayed to dedicate the temple
- 1 Kin 8:22 b. David "sat" before the Lord when he prayed about the future of his kingdom - 1 Chron 17:16 c. Jesus "fell on His face" when He prayed in Gethsemane
- Mt 26:39 B. THE ADDRESSEE IN PRAYER... 1. The pattern and example of prayer in the New Testament church was: a. "To" the Father - Ep 3:14; 5:20 b. "In the name of" or "through" the Lord Jesus Christ
- Ep 5:20; Col 3:17 c. And "in" the Spirit - Ep 6:18; Jude 20; cf. Ro 8:26-27 2. There is little evidence of anyone praying "to" Jesus, and even less of praying "to" the Holy Spirit; clearly it is the Father to whom we are to address our prayers - cf. Mt 6:9 [To the Father, then, Paul addresses his prayer. The prayer itself is divided into three parts (indicated in the Greek by the word "hina"), and is like a staircase with three steps, each step leading to the next...] II. THE "PETITION" (16-19) A. TO BE STRENGTHENED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD... (16-17) 1. Paul had mentioned earlier about God's power "toward us who believe" - Ep 1:19 2. Now he prays that the Ephesians might be "strengthened with might" 3. Such strength is "according to the riches of His glory" 4. God's strength is administered "through His Spirit in (lit., into) the inner man" a. A Christian's body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you" - cf. 1Co 6:19 b. One design of the indwelling Spirit is to help one "put to death the deeds of the body" - cf. Ro 8:11-13 5. But the purpose of such "strengthening" by the Spirit in our text is for a different purpose, first hinted at in verse 17... a. First, that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" 1) To the degree God strengthens (by the Spirit) the believer's "inner man", so it is said that Christ Himself indwells the heart of the believer 2) Thus the Spirit is the instrumental agent by which Christ indwells the believer, just as Ep 2:22 suggests the Spirit is instrumental agent by which God inhabits His church b. Second, that they may be "rooted and grounded in love" 1) One work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is to instill the love of God in the heart - cf. Ro 5:5; Ga 5:22 2) When strengthened by God through the Spirit in the inner man, one becomes "rooted and grounded in love" [Strengthened by God through His Spirit, so that Christ is dwelling in our hearts and we are well-established "in love", the next step is ... B. TO COMPREHEND THE LOVE OF CHRIST... (18-19a) 1. "may be ABLE..." a. The word "able" means "to be eminently able; to have full strength" b. Thus the prayer for strength in the first part of the prayer - Ep 3:16 2. "...to comprehend" a. I.e., to understand, to grasp b. As Paul says later in verse 19, "to know..." 3. It is the "love of Christ" that Paul is praying that we be strong to grasp... a. He wants us to know everything about this wonderful love ("width and length...") b. But this love of Christ is something which "passes knowledge"! 1) How is it possible for us to "know" the love of Christ, if it "passes knowledge"? 2) Only in the sense that no matter how much we learn about Christ's love, even with the strength God's Spirit provides, there is always much more to grasp! 3) "...there is a real knowledge of Christ's love possible to us, a knowledge that is capable of increase as we are the more strengthened by power in the inner man, while a complete or exhaustive knowledge must ever remain beyond our capacity." (The Expositor's Greek Testament, W. Robertson Nicoll, editor, vol. 3, p. 316) [It is only as we begin to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge that we are beginning to experience the last step for which Paul is praying...] C. TO BE FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD... (19b) 1. This is the objective, the goal, of all that was said previously 2. One begins to be filled with "all the fullness of God"... a. As they are strengthened by God (i.e., the Father) b. Which is through His Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit) c. Whereby in their hearts may dwell the Christ (i.e., the Son) 3. With the help of the all members of the Godhead, then, one is "filled" the more they begin to comprehend the wonderful "love of Christ" ("For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" - cf. Col 2:9) [Such is the petition that Paul makes on behalf of the Ephesians... 1. That they be strengthened by the Spirit of God 2. So they can comprehend the love of Christ 3. And thus be filled with all the fullness of God Is God "able" to fulfill this petition? There is no doubt in Paul's mind, as we see how he closes the prayer...] III. THE "DOXOLOGY" (20-21) A. GLORY TO GOD, FOR WHAT HE IS ABLE TO DO! (20) 1. As Paul ascribes praise to God, he does so for what he confident God is able to do 2. As expressed by Paul, God's "ability to do" is... a. "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (far beyond our imagination!) b. "according to the power that works in us" - cf. Ep 1:19; 3:16 B. GLORY TO GOD, IN THE CHURCH BY CHRIST JESUS FOREVER! (21) 1. Paul sees "the church" as the means by which much glory can be given to God 2. Certainly if Paul's prayer is answered... a. That "all the saints" may be able to comprehend the love of Christ - Ep 3:18 b. That they may all be 'filled with all the fullness of God" - Ep 3:19 ...the church will have the potential to bring much glory to God! - cf. 2Th 1:11-12 3. Of course, such potential is to come only "by Christ Jesus"; but if it does, then it will be "throughout all ages, world without end"! CONCLUSION 1. Do we desire to give God glory throughout all ages, world without end? a. We ought to, in view of all things we have considered in Ep 1-3 b. If so, then it must be "by Jesus Christ", and that can be only as we... 1) Come to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge 2) Allow ourselves to "be filled with all the fullness of God" 2. How can we be sure to be filled with all the fullness of God? a. For one who is already a Christian, we should follow Paul's example and start with prayer (such as the one in our text)... b. For one who is not a Christian, then one needs first to become a child of God - cf. Ga 3:26-27 In our next lesson, we will begin to consider how we can "walk" so as to bring glory to God...