Ephesians 3:14-21

Prayer: Paul prays[1] for his “fellow citizens” (2:19) for whom he is imprisoned. As he prays, he first gives thought to who God is. He is the progenitor of every human family.[2] He is the namer of the patriarch of all mankind, hence, the ultimate source of every family name.[3] Paul calls on this global God, to whom he has access (as do all the elect around the world),[4] asking Him to do great things for His beloved church. Even though Paul suffers tribulations in prison, he desires to love and minister to God’s people. He bows his knees to pray.

Strength, Knowledge & Filling: Paul first prays[5] that God would generously strengthen His people on the inside, according to the riches of His glory (Isa. 6:3). Paul prays this because God’s power is what manifests the presence of Christ in our hearts (in the depth of our being!). Christ was strong in His courage, teaching, obedience, suffering, sacrifice, endurance and love.[6] By the power of God, we manifest the same strength in us.[7] His next prayer is that we would know the profound love of Christ (esp. in His riches toward us).[8] The last prayer is for divine filling, that we would be filled up to all of the fullness of God (in His communicable attributes!). Paul prays big, because God is big.[9] Why ask for anything less? We seek for that which will maximize God’s glory.

[1] This is clearly a prayer, since Paul is on his knees and makes a request (3:16, “that He would grant you”).

[2] Angels do not form families (Matt. 22:30). Thus, those “in heaven” refer to saints who are in heaven.

[3] God is the namer of very first human namers (Gen. 5:2). From them come all namers thereafter (Acts 17:26).

[4] Cf. 3:12. The saints’ confidence of answered prayer is largely in intercessory prayer (1 John 5:14-16).

[5] The Greek sentence structure shows a progressive three-layer prayer: “thatand thatthat” (3:16, 17, 19).

[6] Cf. John 18:3-5; Matt. 7:29; Phil. 2:8; Matt. 17:12; John 10:18; Heb. 12:2-3; John 13:1.

[7] Christ dwelling in us is much like the common NT language for Christ in us. Cf. Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:7-10.

[8] “To comprehend” (3:18) and “to know” (3:19) are closely connected in the Greek, indicating that the four dimensions are parallel to the love of Christ. The dimensions also harken to the “tracing” mentioned in 3:8.

[9] Hence, Paul breaks out in a doxology “to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all…” (3:20).