Summary: 17th in the series dealing with Paul's prayer for the Ephesians to be fill with the very fulness of God. I follow the obvious sequence of events revealed in the passage by the "so thats" leading up to that fulness.
Ephesians Series #17
“Stairway to God’s Fullness”
I. Our Wealth and Worth In Christ 1-4
A. Paul blessed God for blessing us with every spiritual blessing 1:3-14
B. Paul prayed for their enlightenment 1:15-23
C. Paul detailed our resurrected life in Christ 2:1-10
D. Paul declared our awesome acceptance and reconciliation 2:11-21
E. Paul shared His personal testimony regarding ministry 3:1-13
Paul intended to break out in prayer for the Ephesians in verse one but got sidetracked.
He eventually shares his prayer beginning in verse 14. Paul understood the value of intercessory prayer. He mentions his prayer in nearly all of his letters to churches and individuals. How effective was Paul’s ministry to the Ephesians? (Acts 20:17-38)
Served with all humility among many trials and tribulations
Taught boldly and thoroughly both publically and from house to house
Admonished day and night for three years
Coveted no one’s money
36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38 grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship. Acts 20:17-38
We could spend time talking about the components of Paul’s prayer life. But I am more interested today in the content of his prayer. The content reveals the process involved in becoming filled with the fullness of God. I call this the “Stairway to God’s fullness.”
Being filled with the fullness of God is the “end game” of Paul’s prayer. God created us in His image. We bear His unimaginable image. Only Adam and Eve enjoyed the full expression of that image. The problem is something happened to that image at the very beginning. The only two members of God’s intended harmonious community broke fellowship with the Creator through intentional sin. We have been living with the disastrous results ever since.
Broken community with God and each other became the norm.
But God planned a restoration of that community from the moment it disintegrated. Through Jesus Christ, a new community has been created in the church that is destined to exist forever in harmony with their Creator and each other. Not only do people have a longing for community and harmony, bearers of the image of God have a longing for God’s fullness.
This includes not only a personal sense of God’s presence but also the sense that we are being continually transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
Why do I refer to this as a staircase? A staircase leads us to a higher plane one step at a time.
Each step leads us to the next step. Each step is dependent on the previous one.
Within this prayer are several “so thats”. “So that” is a trigger to a desired result or consequence.
For example, I want you to get some sleep so that you will be refreshed so that you will be able to get up early so that you will be able to finish your work so that we can go to the fair.
We find four “so that” phrases in this prayer unfolding a monumental journey.
F. Paul prayed for the Ephesian’s enablement 3:14-19
Paul shared the significant content of his prayer with the Ephesians.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, Ephesians 3:14-15
Just a few observations before we climb the golden stairs to divine fullness.
• Paul’s effective prayer was motivated by Paul’s eternal perspective concerning the church.
• Paul knelt when he prayed.
A variety of prayer postures can be observed in the Bible. None of them are prescribed. Most of them express a state of mind; humility, joy, intensity, depression, intimacy, distress.
• Paul addressed the Father whom he identified as the Creator of all people and families.
He bowed “toward” the Father. This is an expression of closeness and face to face intimacy.
Because of Jesus, he enjoyed bold and confident access to the Father. The phrase “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name” perhaps is a reference to the fact the God was the head of this new community that existed both in heaven and on earth. The term family can refer to a specific group. In this case the believing family.
Many commentators identify several prayer requests in this prayer. I see one request major request leading to an ultimate end. It is a prayer for an inner strengthening that will ultimately lead to a divine filling. Thus the view of a stairway or upward spiral.
1. Desire for Inner strengthening 16
Paul prays that these believers be strengthened in the inner man