Summary: 1) The Spirit’s Power (Ephesians 3:14-16) 2) The Son’s Power (Ephesians 3:17a), 3) The Power to Grasp & to Know (Ephesians 3:17b–19a), 4) The Power to be Filled with God’s Fullness (Ephesians 3:19b), 5) Doxology: Praising the Empowering God (Ephesians 3:2
Currently in Ontario there is a great controversy over the cancelation of a Mississauga power plant. It seems that the cancelation of the contract, cost Ontario taxpayers over $190 million dollars with nothing to show for it. Many have speculated that this was a political move to secure votes in a particular volatile riding. At a time of ever increasing power demands, the source of a sustainable power is an issue that effects every homeowner, business and visitor. (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/07/19/liberals-made-190m-decision-to-scrap-power-plant-when-behind-in-polls-ontarios-finance-minister-admits/)
Power is also central to the life of every Christian. In Ephesians 1:1—3:13 Paul gives the basic truths about the Christian life—who we are in Christ and the great, unlimited resources we have in Him. From 3:14 through the rest of the letter we are exhorted to claim and to live by those truths. In 3:14–21 Paul gives his prayer requests on behalf of the Ephesian believers. In sharing his requests with them, he urges them to live in the full power and effectiveness of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). This second prayer in the book of Ephesians (see also 1:15–23) is a prayer for enablement. God not only is the provider but is also the initiator and motivator. Paul calls on God to activate believer’ power so that they can become faithful children and thereby glorify their heavenly Father.
In this great prayer of request to God and exhortation to His children, Paul prays specifically for 1) The Spirit’s Power (Ephesians 3:14-16) 2) The Son’s Power (Ephesians 3:17a), 3) The Power to Grasp & to Know (Ephesians 3:17b–19a), 4) The Power to be Filled with God’s Fullness (Ephesians 3:19b), 5) Doxology: Praising the Empowering God (Ephesians 3:20–21). Each element builds on the previous ones, making a grand progression of enablement.
1) The Spirit’s Power (Ephesians 3:14-16)
Ephesians 3:14–16 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, (ESV)
For this reason, (that our new identity makes us the dwelling place of God Ephesians 3:2–13,), Paul prays for the Ephesians to use the power that their great status in Christ provides. Because God’s power is in those believers, Paul prays that God would enable them to employ the fullness of that power. Because believers are the habitation of the triune, all–powerful God of the universe, Paul prays that their unlimited energy from Him would be manifested.
Paul approaches the Father with boldness and confidence, knowing that He is more willing for His children to come to Him than they ever are of going to Him. He knows that God has been waiting all the while with a Father’s heart of love and anticipation.
But, in saying, I bow my knees, Paul is not prescribing a required posture for prayer. He did not always pray while kneeling, and Scripture tells of God’s faithful people praying in many different positions. As he prayed for the Ephesians while writing this letter to them, the apostle felt led to bow [his] knees before the Father on their behalf, not because that position or any other is especially sacred, but because it spontaneously reflected his reverence for God’s glory in the midst of his passionate prayer (cf. Ps. 95:1–6).. There does seem to be a theological purpose intended in the position of prayer here. The mention of the posture of kneeling in the terminology for prayer is significant, since the more usual Jewish and early Christian practice was to pray standing (cf. Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11, 13). Kneeling in the ancient world could signify subordination, servility, or worship….( Lincoln, A. T. (1990). Vol. 42: Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary (201). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)
“Before” (pros) is a face-to-face preposition applicable to an intimate relationship (Wood, A. S. (1981). Ephesians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (50). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)
Poem: What then should we ask of the one to whom we come before? John Newton said:
Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring; For His grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much. (as recorded in MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (A. Farstad, Ed.) (Eph 3:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
The reference in verse 15: From whom every family in heaven and on earth is named/derives its name does not teach that God is the spiritual Father of every being in the universe. Scripture clearly teaches two spiritual fatherhoods, God’s and Satan’s. God is the heavenly Father of those who trust in Him and Satan is the spiritual father of those who do not (Jn. 8: 39-44).