Ephesians 3 21 verses in this chapter
V1 For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles,
Paul is now a prisoner in a Roman prison, and yet not of the Roman authorities, but of Christ. Paul’s view of his life and circumstances is always from the spiritual view-point. He knows the mind and heart of God and is therefore not perturbed about his outward situation.
Paul’s vision and dedication to the person of Christ and the cause of Christ, have made him a prisoner to that same Christ, to do and say whatever his Lord wills, for the gospel. The reason for this is to spread the truth about God to the Gentile nations. It is God’s purpose for Paul to suffer in this way. Christ requires Paul to sacrifice his liberty and life, for the sake of bringing the Gentiles into the Kingdom.
Paul is showing the will of God in this regard to the Jewish Christians. As Christ sacrificed Himself for us, so Paul also sacrifices his life for God.
We also should be living lives that reflect our Saviour and Lord. No Christian is exempt from this life-style. As Jesus paid the price for us, so we should be willing to pay a price so that others might believe and be saved.
He is demonstrating to the Jewish believers, that the new gentile converts are “worth” the effort and have the same importance to God as they do. It is Gods way of combating prejudice and cultural and spiritual pride, which we all have. The love for God and the Gentile believers, as we see in the heart of the Apostle Paul, is heart breaking and heart warming at the same time.
This is the calling of all who love our Lord Jesus, and seek to share His compassion and the offer of free and complete salvation to anyone who believes. The special “mission” and the once a year outreach to the neighborhood will not do it. This involves a total laying down of the life for others, just as Jesus did for us.
V2 if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you,
The mission that God gave to Paul was talked about everywhere. It was outrageous in its breadth and length and infamous for the effect it had on Paul’s own life. Paul reinforces the idea that they must have heard of this mission, because of its greatness and inclusiveness. Paul suffered so greatly because of his obedience to what he was called to do… This should be the case with us too… Paul was the person God chose to administer his grace to Gentiles and Jews. Paul sought to educate the Jewish Christians, and broaden their blinkered view of the mercy of God.
Paul draws attention to the grace of God, specifically here, because he is comforting the believers at Ephesus. He is showing them that God has provided for them in a magnificent way, by bringing the Apostle Paul to minister to them. He ensures that they know it is not some idea he has had or some emotion he has engendered, but it is a desire straight from God Himself to them.
Perhaps the Ephesians were wary of the teachings of the Apostle Paul. After all, he was a persecutor and Christ-hater. They needed to know that what he taught was right, judged by the Scriptures. The witness of the Spirit must resonate if they are to accept what he says. Paul is a spiritual father to many of these smaller churches, and his credibility must come from God and not anyone else.
It is good to weigh up what people say, and not just accept something because someone has a good reputation. Our touch stone is always the Word of God…
V3 how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words,
The application and teaching of the message of God’s grace, which is the mystery that God revealed to Paul, is by direct revelation. This is why Paul is an Apostle, as He has seen and heard the risen Lord Jesus. God has given him deep insight into the Scriptures, which he learned as a child, by the grace of God. This is God’s message and was sent and revealed to Paul by God. God reveals and applies His Word through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul has already written to the Ephesians about this, so God’s mystery is now revealed to His people.
Paul is also legitimizing his ministry and the words that he is now sending to them in this letter. It is a revelation, a supernatural message, a God-given gospel to save the souls of all people who will come and believe.
The Ephesians, like other groups, have no New Testament. The credibility of the messenger comes from the life, the words they say and the witness of the Spirit within.
The mystery is revealed through the Apostle Paul, and to us through the written word. Even though Paul has the burden of this astounding blessing from God, he is not proud or puffed up about his abilities. Paul is clear about God’s Word and knows he is a chosen vessel, and the responsibility he bears as a servant of God is overwhelming to him. He suffers greatly because of this task and this causes him to constantly realize he is not in charge of his own life and all his abilities come for God.
Paul is explaining to his sisters and brothers in Christ, something of this burden and the seriousness of the message he is preaching and teaching. He wants them to know that what he says is from God and can be relied upon.
As we look back into Paul’s younger days and see his upbringing in religion and carefulness about living, we can see the preparation God is making for His future servant. Paul knows the Old Testament Scriptures thoroughly and although it was in pride and error before, yet Paul has been renewed by God and given the new life in Christ, which every Christian has.
Paul has a story of the grace of God, and God has taken the things learned when he was young and has re taught Paul the doctrines of God and the message of repentance and faith from the Scripture Paul already knows.
“but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Paul is clear about his standing in Christ. Even though he was so privileged to know so much, he realizes he is yet foolish. God has raised him up as a testifier of the folly of following this world. The message he preaches nullifies everything in the world and makes it shameful.
The revelation is a mystery. Only in the unfolding light of the Spirit of God, does the Word really become flesh and the entrance of the light of Christ brings salvation.
“Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear, which didn’t enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
V4 by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ,
Paul says that when they and we, read this letter to the Ephesians, the Christians will be able to understand Paul’s insight into the deep, profound mystery of Christ. In reading the words of this letter, Christians will better understand the saving power of the gospel and how it is relevant to life. We will see the working of the Holy Spirit and how the grace of God is affected in the lives of all who believe.
They will understand the work of grace in their own lives and the significance of their only Saviour, Jesus. The mystery that is kept from the unbelievers, will be made clear to those with spiritual insight.
So Paul legitimizes the message through the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Christians in Ephesus. He suggests that they already know this mystery through reading his words to them. They will understand Paul’s insight by reading the words and listening to the Spirit in their minds and hearts.
The message is heard, the call to repentance is heralded, the claims of Christ are shown and our desperate need of forgiveness is explained. As we speak plainly and openly what Jesus did for ruined people, on the cross, the Holy Spirit works in human hearts and people start to search and believe. How this happens is a mystery to us, because it is the work of the Eternal God, rescuing depraved humanity and raising us to a deep relationship with Him.
Even though this mystery is proclaimed by Paul, he is telling the Christians that they can perceive what he is trying to say. As he explains in the revelation of God’s Word, the deep mystery of Christ and what He has done, Christians can understand as they read. The Word of God is understood in the power of the Holy Spirit, and every Christians has this gift when they put their faith in Christ.
V5 which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit,
This clear revelation was not made so clear, or so obviously real to those in previous generations. The people in the past had a limited view. But now it has been revealed by God to the Apostles and the New Testament prophets, and is an open view of the mystery of salvation. The way to God and full and free forgiveness is offered to everyone. It is written down in plain language so that people can read it, listen to it and understand in mind and heart.
In these days we live in, the Word of God is translated into many written languages, so that every culture and language can access the truth of God. He can be found in spoken word, for those who do not live in cultures that read. The Bible is an open book. The access to literature online, has opened the way to many more people. The fact that many children learn to read in school, means they can access the Word of God.
The fact that someone taught us to read, is an immeasurable blessing. The gift of education is so liberating and broadening to the human psyche, that it should never be taken for granted. We live in “Post-Christian” times and in Western culture, we are loosing our pleasure and sense of gratitude for these blessings. Too many do not read even though they can. The deep things of God are “lost” to the conversations and thought patterns of Christians. We find ourselves with lots of issues, and little Scriptural legacy to relate to. The Word is in front of us and what are we doing with it?
There is no excuse any more. Human kind is left without a hiding place from the living God, as He is revealed in the Living Word. God the father has poured out the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and make clear the Word of God, to all who believe. As we read the truth, God enlivens it to our minds and the Spirit of God opens the eyes of our understanding to see God and our own need of Him. How are we to see that, if we do not search the Scriptures and read them?
Preachers get too easily tarnished by their sense of importance. The Word of God is made to fit the times and seasons, and the “needs” of the people who come to listen. It becomes social. It gets watered down, muddied, fudged…
The plain gospel in not preached and souls are not won for Christ, and Christians forget how to speak to people. Love dies and the power is lost.
Let us revisit the message of the Apostles and Prophets. Let us look at their lives and see how they lived. Look at what was important to them and the sacrifices they made for those things. Look at their power. The courage they displayed as they spoke for God, even before deadly enemies of Christ.
Go back to the Old Testament believers who gave up all for God. Fought battles against monumental foes. Trusted in the living God in danger and against all the odds.
Look at what they overcame. Check the holiness in their lives which made them unattractive, even to their own people. But they would not give up the message. The Prophets were stoned, thrown out of society, murdered in cold blood, ridiculed and scorned by the better class of people.
But they were the ones set apart for God and welcomed into the heavenly kingdom. They are the ones praised by God and set up as a pattern of us all. The Apostle Paul was the New Testament example like this, and bore the marks of following Christ on his own body. His message, recorded here, is the one we know is from God, because the Scripture says so, and because of his credentials.
V6 that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News,
Paul again reiterates the “mystery” The message of the gospel. It is a mystery to all who do not believe, but is revealed to all who seek God. It is a message not made from human ideas, nor is it even likely that we would make up such a gospel. It is a gospel of resurrection, of the human soul and making it fit and willing to be alive to God.
When the Gentiles believe the Word, they become heirs to God. They take the same position before God, as the Jewish Believers. Gentiles are in the body of Christ (the spiritual church) and share together in the promises of Christ. They are now fully a part of the everlasting covenant of grace. There is now no division between peoples. Ethnicity is a purely earthly consideration. The only requirement is repentance from the heart of the person who comes to God, and faith, given by God.
Every Christian from any ethnic or language group is a “sharer together in the promise of Christ.” There are no divisions and there is a unity that transcends the mortal. The church of Christ unseen, lives, and has always lived in human history. There are in effect, no divisions.
There is a three-fold aspect to the opening of the doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles. They are joint heirs in the body of Christ. The outsiders are now brought right into the family of God and are part of the body of Christ, His church with Him at the head. They are members of that body. Every member is necessary and all work together for the building of the everlasting kingdom. No one member is above another, as all contribute to the healthy functioning of the body of Christ.
The Gentiles are now also joint owners and active participants of all the promises given by God in His son Jesus.
These Gentiles, these outsiders are now part of all God ahs promised to His people because of the gospel. These people have heard the good news of salvation and the necessity of eternal life in Jesus, which they have believed. They enter the same kingdom of God through repentance and faith.
The Gentile people, which is the rest of humanity outside Judaism, can now enter in and enjoy all the blessings of God. They are on the same footing as the Jewish believers. This truth has caused much rancor among the Jewish believers and non-believers alike. It is a gross human failing that we do not like to think that people we look down on are the same value as ourselves. Human pride shown itself in many ways, and we can hide behind the façade of “truth” “purity” “doctrinal issues” and so on. We do not want the outsiders to get in. We imagine we are the harbingers of all good and correctness, and so set ourselves up to fail.
“For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2
Paul is encouraging these believers to have large hearts and to view each other and those not in the fellowship, with love and compassion. He seeks to dispel all spiritual pride and encourage the outreach to people who have not heard or believed.
We are to regard others as God regards, them. Find out God’s ways as we read and study the Word. Repent of bad attitudes and ask for love and wisdom in all we do.
“Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
V7 of which I was made a servant according to the gift of that grace of God, which was given me according to the working of his power.
Paul did not choose to be an evangelist or an Apostle. It was a gift of Gods’ grace and mercy towards him, that rescued him from a sinful and hateful life towards God. Paul was significantly rebellious towards God, and was only changed by God’s grace. Paul is a servant of God and of the message of the gospel. His dedication is in direct contrast to his former rebellion. God made Paul fit and able for this task by the working of His great power.
Paul, the worst of sinners, becomes the mighty Apostle to the Gentiles. And yet this power is not recognised by the people of this world. It is the power of the Spirit as an Apostle in God’s kingdom, not this world. The rulers of this world have no respect of this gospel, although some have been intrigued by it, and have even asked Paul to speak it to them.
“Agrippa said to Paul, “With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?” Acts 26:28
Agrippa listened to Paul’s message, but wouldn’t come to God. He wanted to be further persuaded…He had no faith…
“As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, “Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you.” Acts 24:25
Felix listened and was convicted, but he put it off. He wanted to hear about God on is own terms.
Paul spoke to the mighty and the lowly. It is by faith alone that anyone can come to God. The power of God is what saves the sinner.
Paul is a mighty Apostle, but is a servant, as Christ himself was a servant to us. To be able to shoulder this work requires the power of God working in Paul by the Holy Spirit who dwells within him.
The Holy Spirit is the gift within. As Christians we do not appreciate that incredible gift we possess. The Holy Spirit of God, the third person of the trinity, dwells in us… we have the power of the eternal God within us… This ought to make a difference to our lives, the things we desire, the attitudes of our hearts, the things we attempt for God. Sisters and brothers, we ought to stand out. People should be amazed at us. We should have such courage, strength, godliness, love, joy, and all the fruit of the Holy Spirit living in our lives. God living in us…
The Apostle Paul knew it. His life reflected the wisdom and power of God, because the Holy Spirit dwelt within him. There are no super people. All we possess are sins. But if we have surrendered to God, we will exhibit such gifts and graces that people will not like us.! We will not worry about that, we will seek the Lord and His righteousness. Worldly considerations will fade away and we will rejoice in the Lord our God.
“In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight.” Matthew 10:21
How wonderful that the “Man of sorrows” could rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit.. why not those who belong to Him and have that same Spirit of joy?
Perhaps we are too timid to show it, or too fearful to express our love so passionately and gloriously.
V8 To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Paul recognizes where he stands in the pecking order of God’s people. He realizes he is less in status and stature than the very least Christian in the Kingdom. He remembers past sins and his hatred of the people of God and how he had to be brought to repentance so dramatically by God. His hard heart has been changed and Paul humbles himself in the kingdom and realizes that to be great means being less than all. He is willing for this humility.
And yet God has given him the grace to preach the good news to the Gentiles – the peoples who he was so prejudiced against. Paul is clear about the gospel and his grasp of the doctrines of God is secure, since he has studied the Word of God and is taught by the Spirit of God. Paul’s early upbringing in the Jewish schools and his learned love for the Jewish scriptures and the zeal for God that he was brought up with, has prepared him for this task. God has brought all things to fruition in His servant Paul. Paul’s zeal is now for the people he rejected as worthless, but who God has brought into the kingdom.
He is the Apostle to the Gentiles, and that is diametrically opposed to his upbringing, or religious stance. God has totally changed his point of view, yet kept the love and zeal that was part of Paul’s character.
Paul knows he is at the bottom of the pile in terms of this world, but sees the glory in the job God has given him to do as he has the privilege of preaching the immeasurable riches that belong to Christ. He accepts the calling to be the Apostle to those he once hated and his life has been turned around so that God can be glorified in Paul’s work and devotion.
V9 “and to make all men see what is the administration* of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ,”
Paul’s task is to show everyone the outworking of this mystery of salvation. It is called a mystery because in the past ages it has been hidden in the mind and will of God. Paul is now setting down words, and explaining what this mystery is. He is telling us how salvation works, and that it has been so from the beginning. God’s character and will is revealed in the Old Testament scriptures, and can be seen by eyes that are enlightened by the Holy Spirit. But it is not plainly seen, as it is in the New Testament.
Now, as it were, the scales have been taken away and we all have full gospel light.
It has been hidden in the past to so many, but is now set forward for anyone to understand and believe. The Eternal Father who made everything, has now purposed that it is revealed. The New Testament scriptures are not yet gathered together, so the plain message of Paul and those who serve God in those early times, are to be regarded. The New Testament prophets are revealing the message of salvation in a way not shown before.
The reason for God’s rescue of sinful people has been hidden in the past, but now it is made clear so that we are without excuse. As God created all living and non-living things in our solar system, so He has made this spiritual way – this spiritual message of a way back to Himself. It is God who chooses to do as He pleases and not human kind. God is gathering in a holy people from every human tribe and language and when His kingdom is complete, there will be no reason for time and space to continue. God will take His completed building of living stones to the place where it is supposed to be and will be there forever.
V10 to the intent that now through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places,
God’s intention and His will at this time in history, that is, the New Testament period up to our present age, is to show His complete and great wisdom. His wisdom is not like anything seen or known before. It is to be shown to rulers and authorities, who live and rule the heavenly realms. Angels stand amazed at this rescue plan, outside the bounds of anything even they have seen or known. This is the divine rescue mission.
God is putting on a demonstration of what His grace can do. He is showing His wisdom through His church, the wisdom of saving these sinful and undeserving creatures and rescuing them by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. This is the wisdom of grace.
When the holy angels fell, there was no salvation for them. They were forever damned to be committed to evil and to torment those who God had set His heart upon. Satan, the most glorious and beautiful of all God had made, is now fallen into deep darkness, with no rescue or hope. He is the accuser of Gods people and torments them into discomfort and doubt, if he can. He keeps the human heart blind to the truth of how it can be saved. The work of God is to completely overcome his plans, and awaken souls to everlasting life.
The heavenly powers and authorities, see this played out on the stage of planet earth and it is revealed to them, the love of God and the limitless extent of His mercy to those who believe.
God’s demonstration of power is clearly seen by the authorities in the heavens, and amazingly unseen by so many of His human creatures.! Only humans are naturally oblivious to the reality of spiritual life.
V11 according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s amazing demonstration to all powers and authorities, happened just as he purposed it to be. The entire plan and purpose was settled in the past ages of eternity, and fully carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. God accomplished His plan from Himself and of Himself. Jesus is the center and power for the whole accomplishment. He is our Saviour, and He is able to save all who come to Him.
The plan God purposed is for eternity. It is not centered on the here and now of time and space, but will come to full fruition in the eternal kingdom when time is over and done. The plan was purposed before time even started, and as God foreknew what would be in those early days in the garden of Eden, so he purposed and set out a plan to save some people who would come to Him. The whole of human history is the outworking of that plan. The highs and the deep lows of our earthly history, is the exercise of God’s saving power to rescue souls from death to life.
All this is centered on the cross of Jesus. The coming of Christ as the Saviour of the world was the key point of that grand plan. That spotless sacrifice for the sins of these rescued people was the turning point from death to life. The message is for “Whoever will” The door of salvation swings wide and the offer goes out across every land and ever people to repent and come to God.
Who ever the Son sets free is free indeed. No one can thwart the plan of God or resist the love of Christ when He calls them to Himself. Human purpose is a dead thing. We are not able to choose the Lord. We will never come, because we will never see our need, without the light of Christ in the power of the Spirit, showing us our utter destitution before and holy God. Without our Saviour, Jesus, we are without hope and without God in the world.
V12 In him we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him.
I write this in the personal…
I, being in Christ and having faith in what he has done for me, I can come close to God. I have freedom to do so, because of Jesus. This is a privilege that is hard for me to take in. Only the holy can approach God, and in myself I am not holy. However, being sheltered in the righteousness of Christ, I am made fit to enter in.
I have confidence to do so because I am cleansed and made holy by the work of redemption that Jesus did for me on the cross. I have access to the very throne of God, because of Him. This is the glory of God’s people and brings all glory to Him.
What Paul is preaching and teaching, is not a theory he has come up with. It is not some morphing of the Jewish religion, to make a name for himself. It is not some angry reaction against people who oppose him.! It is a revelation from God. It is a personal faith, a personal relationship with the living God.
Not a craven, fearful cow-towing to a higher authority, but freedom..! A holy boldness to speak with God and listen to Him. I am now a belonger. This is how I can now live my life, through faith in the Son of God.
Once sinful world-orientated creatures can now approach the Living, holy and awe-inspiring God with full confidence that they can enter His presence with joy. This is the fruit of peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. When I believe I become part of Christ in a wonderful and mysterious way, and as I believe in Him I can approach God.
V13 Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory.
Paul has suffered so much loss and personal pain. His ministry to the Ephesians, and many of the people of God, has resulted in trouble for him. He asks them not to be cast down about that situation, or to be discouraged that God permits it to happen. Paul walks the life of faith, knowing that God is in control. He knows that to serve God is the path to worldly loss and bodily and mind pain.
He tells them these sufferings are for their glory. Paul does not wallow in his troubles, because his faith assures him they are the necessity of his walk with God. His view of suffering is not human. He bears his burdens with the fortitude of the Spirit and encourages others to have the same attitude.
The suffering of the Christians is like the suffering of their Saviour. The sufferings of Jesus are a glory and a wonder to every Christian who would be like Him. In these days, we seem to imagine we as Christians have the right to a good and peaceful life. We think suffering is the mark of God’s displeasure of people who are sinful. Like Job’s friends, we accuse suffering saints of hidden sins that God is punishing them for. Considering Paul’s sufferings and their pervasive nature, he must have been the worst sinner of all.! Indeed, Paul calls himself that. Perhaps this was part of his suffering as well.
But Paul has found the way out of these mindsets. He is totally dedicated to his Saviour, Jesus. He knows why he suffers and encourages us to persevere under trials, that we might enter into the fellowship of His sufferings and be like Him, who we also love. To search for an easy life, is not the way of peace. Inner peace with God stands secure because of the promises, even though all around is conflict. Indeed, conflict is our state of being, as we grapple with sin and spiritual lethargy.
V14 For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
For the reasons Paul has outlined, the revelation from Jesus Christ before all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly kingdom; God’s eternal purpose in saving those who the Son, Jesus Christ died for; and the freedom all God’s people have to approach God; Paul kneels.
Paul is humbled by the grace shown to sinful people and himself in particular. He is conscious of his privileges and so he bows himself down before his Father. This father is also our father. This worship and attitude of thankfulness and praise is the only appropriate response.
Paul thought of what he had been saved from, and it would have caused him much pain. His sorrow for those times would have overwhelmed him, except for the reality of his Father God, who forgave him freely on the basis of grace alone.
So we who love the Lord, can look back and see the grace of God in our lives. We can remember the point of forgiveness and realty of knowing the Holy Spirit in our lives, cleansing us by pointing out our sin and giving us the desire and power to change. We can now kneel, like the Apostle, before our loving Father, in full confidence and faith.
There is no fear in this laying down of arms. We can know that God is for us and we need never fear the hurt of humankind.
V15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
The Father in heaven, the Father of all things and peoples, is the Eternal Father. All of mankind, the angels – all beings in heaven and earth receive their name from God the Father. The human family/race gets its name from the Father, those who have lived in the past, those alive now and those who are to yet come into being. No matter how we may try to get away from the person of God, we cannot.
The record of our ignominious beginnings in the garden, are full of the glory of God and His love towards our stubborn and rebellious race. He gave us names and we have long records of names of families and tribes in the Old Testament Scriptures, for we are important to God and no one is an accident.
Our history is bound up with His will. Our languages and cultures have impressions of His ways and truth. Our minds wait to be made alive to Him. Without Him we are dead to our very inner selves, and only operate as functioning bodies. Our minds cannot help think of Him, even if it is just to blame. Our words are spoken, though they are cursing and blasphemy. We are made by a greater one, and not by ourselves. No matter how we try to escape the fact of God, we cannot.
We must spend huge amounts of energy to avoid the obvious reality of God and keep ourselves well informed about all media and writing in case we should be confronted by His words and our atheism be denied.
We can play Russian roulette with our souls, thinking we have some kind of say over our destiny. But we are still at the mercy of forces and outcomes that we cannot foresee or control. God is our maker, and we wait on Him.
V16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person,
Paul’s over arching prayer for the Christian family at Ephesus and the whole world who would read this letter, is that God would give them strength by His power. He prays that the glorious riches of God’s love, and power would reach to them and they would experience that power, through the working of the Holy Spirit in their souls.
That power will make them spiritually strong and their relationship with God would become strong, and they will realize the depths of His glorious riches in His grace.
The realization is not from learning or human intelligence, but through the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our behaviour, and the motivation to do what is right as we follow Christ. The strength of the Christian is not outward, but an inner Spiritual power from God. Christians are not at the mercy of the forces and tastes of this world, but are enervated by the very life of God. This comes through the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is the mark of belonging in every Christian believer.
As we follow Christ and learn His ways, so we progress in holiness and become more dependent on the power of the Spirit. The outer life might fade away, but the inner person is being renewed every day.
“Therefore we don’t faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
The Christian does not get more fearful, but more faithful and pressing hard on their powerful God.
V17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
The power of the Holy Spirit within the soul of the Christian, is Christ’s presence living in the heart by faith. A living faith shows Christ within, dwelling in the life and expressed through deeds and words. Christians are to be firmly grounded in the ways of love and to be established in practicing it in daily life. Their love for God and His Word is the wellspring of their affections, and the touchstone of all behaviour, attitude and speaking. We cannot say we love God, and then resent our fellow people around us. We cannot be worshipping God and have cold hearts to others.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6
Love is all. Any other motivation is suspect.
We cannot depend on any outward mark or expression, but only a true heart of love for God.
The fire of the Spirit is a constant flame in the heart of the Christian. It can burn low, at times, and we become lethargic towards our God and uncaring towards the people around us. Only the fuel of the Word of God and prayer continually, can cause that flame to grow and become more potent. We should long for a strong and obvious flame of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This will show itself in works and words of kindness and the fruit of the Spirit will become a powerful reality for all who seek Him.
Love is the constant standard and state of being. Love reigns supreme in the Christian where Christ lives in power. The love of Christ in the life of Believer is Gods’ power revealed. We pray for that power to become further deepened and with strong roots that will not fail, even in times of adversity.
V18 may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth,
Christians are to have power. All God’s people are to have power together in grasping the truth of God. They are to know in their minds, emotions, spiritual life how amazing is the love of Christ. To be able to see and grasp the width, length, height and depth of this limitless love, cannot be understood in the natural mind. It is a spiritual understanding and even in our human lives, we fail to grasp it. In all of eternity we will, still be still be trying to understand it.
In our Christian lives, as we gain strength and understanding, so we progressively grasp the love of Christ. As we grasp this with amazement, so we must also walk in that love. We fail to walk in the Way, when we fail to realize or remember what we have been saved from.
It is easy to get the attitude that somehow a Christian is better than other people, and somehow we deserve to be saved more than others. It is the Lord who saves. He alone can awaken the conscience and soul to seek Him. It is the Lord Jesus Christ himself who has bought the pardon for deep-dyed sinners, and only He can rescue us. It is only because of His love that we are saved. It is only because of His love, we are not consumed!
We are not loving beings. When we see His love for us, and our hearts are melted and we repent and are saved, we are changed, but the remnants of the disease still trouble the Christian. The temptations are still there. Until we reach eternity, we will fight against the lack of love that we have and the desire to give in to our sinful tendencies. As we walk with Christ, his love will teach us, and we can grow in it’s beauty and become more like Him.
V19 and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The love of Christ is far beyond our futile understanding. Our human minds cannot take it in, because our nature’s tendency is the opposite way. God’s ways are past finding out, and also the workings of His mighty love. The ability to love is given to those who come to God. Unbelievers can have a semblance of this love, because the Holy Spirit of God has a restraining and positive working even in un-resurrected hearts. God works out all things in conformity with His will and this includes everyone, not just those who are called to be His people.
However, if we belong to God and are part of the heavenly kingdom, we have the Holy Spirit permanently residing in us. The very life of God has become the life-giving force in our person. We are not just a body, but a living soul. We are a living soul, first, and a body as part of that. Our prayer must be to be daily filled with His goodness and love and to be a conduit for the working of the Spirit in our own lives and others lives. It is a daily known experience, not a one-off event. We walk every day in obedience to the Lord and in fellowship with the gracious Holy Spirit. The normal event in our lives, is the filling of the Spirit to the fullest amount that God gives. We are to be full of God.
The Christian knows this in the experience of the soul. We can be filled right up with it, right up to the fullness of God.! Do we experience this or seek this? How earnestly do we seek this? Will we leave my sin and shame behind in order to get this kind of love? Only the redeemed heart has any such desires or any ability to seek it.
As I look out across the face of Christianity in the West, it seems so far away. There are also false claims about religion. How is the believer to judge these? How necessary it is to immerse ourselves in the Word, so that we would know more. We cannot accept everything we hear and see. No reputation of man can be relied upon. Only the totally reliable word of God is sufficient for every need.
Once we start to deviate for the Word, or start to leave bits out that don’t fit our cultural view, we are on the way to disaster. Error, moral failure, lack of fear of God, falsehood, will all take hold of our minds.
We see these things already in many churches.
V20 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,
We do not realise the power that is with in us, even as God’s people. God is able to do more than we would every dream of… God can do things in our lives and in other peoples lives, which we would never think of asking for. Things we would never imagine or miracles that would never enter our heads to ask for. The greatest miracles are carried out by God, in human minds and hearts – things that affect our thoughts and the things we long for.
We ask for so little, because we do not believe, or we don’t want to have to face that kind of life with God. We are satisfied with very little of the grace of God, and have no stomach for fighting or sacrifice. So we loose out.
If the Holy Spirit dwells within, what can He not do? God can do anything in and through a human being who believes and obeys and succumbs to that power. What if all our thoughts, ideas, words, deeds, are motivated by the Spirit within?
What would happen if we could see this in someone’s life? It would cause quite a stir if it should happen to even one Christian..!! But maybe not, for we have no eyes to see it.
“Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.
Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?” But we have Christ’s mind.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-16
Christians are no ordinary people. We are quite different, and others should see it and wonder at what God can do.
V21 to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen
The Christians ultimate satisfaction and motivation in all these incredible blessings, is the glory of God. The Christian seeks glory for God in the church of Jesus Christ, and in the people belonging to Christ, through each succeeding generation of people. It is not a church built with human hands, or organized by a human committee, but a living edifice to God, living stones that make a spiritual house for the glory of God.
Glory surrounds Christ in God and His people forever. This is the purpose in all that happens in time and space, in eternity and in that everlasting Kingdom… Glory is the result of the plan of God, the death of His Son and the indwelling Holy Spirit. We will all give Him all praise in that kingdom and may we also give it now as we triumph in Him.
We go back to Ephesians chapter 1. All we are and have are for the glory of God, that His delight will be seen in us and our delight in Him.
“making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;” Ephesians 1:9-10