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Sunday, May 17, 2015 pm                            Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (17)
Paul’s 2nd Prayer
Ephesians 3:14-21

 

WE continue our study through the book of Ephesians.  In chapters 2 & 3, Paul has established how:   1)we are all sinners, 2)we are all saved the same way “by grace through faith” (our obedient faith that is), 3)as such we are all brought together as one (united) through the blood of  Christ Jesus, whose sacrifice abolished in the flesh the enmity (between Jew and Gentile); 4) therefore we are fellow citizens in the household of God; 5)by the grace of God, Paul was privileged with revealing “the mystery” of God which in times past was not fully known, but is now revealed – that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and of the same body; 6)as a result, he revealed that the church was a part of God’s plan from the foundation of the world; 7)because of all these things, we now (all) have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.  

                As a result of this, Paul now pens the purpose of a 2nd prayer to God for these brethren (the first being recorded in Ephesians 1:15-21).  Tonight we want to notice this prayer, as Paul concludes his doctrinal teaching.  The second half of the book will be a practical application of this unity. 

 I.                    I bow my knees (14-15)

a.        “For this reason” ties this to what Paul has previously said – namely Christ died to bring together all mankind in the church (see introduction of this lesson).  Paul’s prayer, as we study it, is one for qualities that WILL unify us.  That is the theme of this epistle!

b.       I bow my knees – a position of reverence.  The expression is found throughout scripture (Jesus – Luke 22:41; Peter – Acts 9:40; Paul Acts 20:36, Solomon – 1 Kings 8:54, etc.).   
We sometimes wonder, is there a set position with which to pray?  The answer is no! In scripture you find different positions in approaching God (lifting up holy hands – 1 Tim. 2:8, 2 Chron. 6:12; bowing the head – Gen. 24:26, Exodus 4:31;  stand – Mark 11:25; sitting – David – 1 Chron. 17:16; falling on one’s face – Mt. 26:39 – Jesus in the garden,  etc.) 
THE POINT - the heart needs to “reverently bow” and we must be humble in our prayers!
ALSO, we MUST be careful to not unduly draw attention to ourselves in whatever position we assume (cf. Matt. 6:5, Luke 18:10-12 – standing and boastful).

c.        “To the Father” – scripture dictates that our prayers are directed to the Father through Jesus Christ.. 
Ephesians 2:18, “Through Him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
Ephesians 5:20 – we give thanks to God the Father, in the name of Jesus. 
Jesus is our Mediator to the Father 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 8:6; 
We pray to God through Jesus  – John 14:13-14; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:5

d.       “From whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” – a description of God’s family, the saved (cf. Eph. 2:19).  While certainly God is ruler over all creation, this text fits the best as a description of brethren.  This is who Paul is praying for and writing to!

 II.                  That He would grant you… (16-19)

a.        According to the riches of His glory – we have emphasized the greatness of God’s blessings to us.  Eph. 1:3-14, etc.

b.       To be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man – this is a description of the spirit working within us in whatever way He does.  Paul desires that the Spirit do His work in them to build them up together and to strengthen them.
We may not fully understand exactly how He works today, but we know He does (Romans 8:9-11).  To deny that is to dismiss far too many passages of scripture.  1 Corinthians 6:19
AND we know it is not in some miraculous, direct indwelling – we can eliminate this with an in-depth study of the Spirit. 
We must understand that however He works within us it is an influence. 
- Galatians 3:2 associates it with “the hearing of faith”;
- 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 – the message is revealed to us “through His Spirit”. 
- John 16:13 - Jesus even emphasized that to His apostles – He would guide them into all truth.
We have in the word of God all that we need to bring about the unity He desires of us as brethren!
NOTE also that it is the “inner man” – that which makes us who we are. 

c.        That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – Just as the Spirit strengthens us, Paul also mentions Christ dwelling in us. 
AGAIN, we cannot describe this as miraculous or even a direct indwelling.  It is His influence and relationship with us.  John 14:23, Romans 8:9-10, 2 Corinthians 13:5. 
I am convinced that Christ dwells in us much in the same was as God the Father – see 1 John 4:12 – if we love one another, God abides in us;  4:15 – we confess Jesus is the Son of God; 4:16 – we abide in love.  NOTE: This verse also tells us that we abide in God.  It is mutual and describes relationship.
That is what Paul desires – that our relationship with God, Jesus and the Spirit bring us together.

d.       That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints that love – When the Spirt and Christ are dwelling in our hearts we will be rooted in love.  The “love” here is agape.  When we love God we will love one another – again 1 John 4:12, John 13:34-35. 
If we are NOT loving one another, how can God dwell within us? 1 John 4:20-21.
Vs. 18 speaks of our being able to comprehend the love of Christ – he speaks of its width, length, depth and height.  Some seek to distinguish these things – width being its breadth available to all; Length – its existence through eternity; Height – it position and origin with God, and depth- how incomprehensible it is.  But let’s just say it describes the greatness of His love in all things.  A love we will not fully comprehend (see vs. 19- His love passes knowledge).  BUT we can get a good grasp of it by considering how God loves us – Eph. 2:4-5,  John 3:16, Rom. 5:8; John 15:13 – Jesus died for “his friends”, 1 John 4:7-11 actually summarizes this idea well – God IS love!  The better we understand that, the better we can love each other!  And that’s Paul’s point!

e.       That you may be filled with all the fullness of God – another way of saying we are complete in Him.  Colossians 2:10!
Considering the above verses dealing with love, if we are not treating each other as brethren, how can we expect God to dwell within us and bless us????
In addition to this, consider how we are to strive to be like God (and Christ) – 1 Cor. 11:1, etc. That does not mean we become gods, but we seek to emulate His qualities in our lives.  That is being a disciple!  Jesus in Matt. 5:48 said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

 III.                Paul’s confidence in God  (20-21)

a.        Why can Paul offer this prayer?  Because he realizes who God is.  In vs. 20-21 Paul describes the ability of God to help us.  This is a REASON and a source of hope for us to follow Him

b.       To Him who is able – Paul acknowledges, as always, the power of God.  He is able to do these things.   There is nothing too hard for Him (Jer. 32:27, Gen. 18:14). 
God is able – Rom. 14:4 – to make me stand; 1 Cor. 10:13 – deliver me from temptation; 2 Cor. 9:8 to make all grace abound; Heb. 7:25 – to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him

c.        To do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think – He can answer our prayers, and do so in ways we don’t understand. 
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

d.       According to the power that works in us – all that we have discussed is inherent in His power!

e.       To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever – Paul here concludes this by ascribing glory to God in the church.  FRIENDS, when we realize the church belongs to Him (Eph. 1:22-23), was His pattern according to His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10-11), and when we treat each other as we ought to within that body, He will be glorified. 
BUT, even if we fail (as we often do), His will shall prevail “forever and ever”. 

 

And thus Paul continues his admonition for us to seek to be the church that belongs to Christ.  We do this be seek unity first with God and then with one another.  Are you doing your part in this?