Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, Part Four

Part four of my eight-part series of posts on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is based on the closing verses of chapter three:

[14] For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, [15] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, [16] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21, ESV)

Paul says here that he “bows his knees before the Father.” Remember that he is in prison. He has no privacy. Yet he takes the time to bow his knees. What a witness this must have been to his fellow prisoners and to the prison guards!

We don’t know if he set up a little altar in his cell to focus his prayers or if he just bowed next to his bed.

When I visit people in prison I always tell them that there are no walls, doors or locks that can keep God separated from his children and I have seen some pretty amazing witnessing done inside prison walls.

Acts 16 tells us about when Paul and his friend Silas were in prison in Philippi:

[25] About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, [26] and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (Acts 16:25-26, ESV)

So prison walls did not interfere at all with Paul’s regular practice of praying to and praising God.

Then in the end of this passage again, it’s hard to believe what he wrote based on the fact that he is in prison:

[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

What a beautiful benediction! It’s almost like Paul had planned to end his letter here but instead he goes on for three more chapters which, as we shall see in future posts, have some pretty amazing things in them.

But how impressive is it that Paul would write that God can “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” while he is in prison?

There are so many instances in the Bible where God has done far more abundantly than people ask or think. When Noah emerged from the ark after the great, worldwide flood I’m sure he was convinced that God could do far more abundantly than he could ask or think.

In the fourth chapter of St. Mark, Jesus and his disciples are caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat as the water is pouring in. When the disciples awakened Jesus and he calmed the storm simply by the power of his word they were amazed and asked, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41, ESV)

If Paul can steadfastly maintain that God can do far more abundantly than we ask or think while he is in prison, certainly we can say the same thing no matter what kind of challenging situations we face.

And notice that he says that God able to do this, “according to the power that is at work in us.” We are the ones through whom God does these amazing things.

Then Paul concludes with words that should be always on our lips: “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”

The true test of all we do as Christians and all we do as the church is if it brings glory to God in Christ Jesus. If it brings glory to God it is to be accepted. If it does not bring glory to God, no matter how impressive it may seem, it is not to be accepted.

We could end our look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians here but there is so much more to consider so stay tuned.

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